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Last Updated: 2015/04/04
Summary of question
what is dignity? How can it be achieved? And what status do dignified people posses before God?
question
what is dignity? How can it be achieved? And what status do dignified people posses before God?
Concise answer
Dignity can be defined as the act of avoiding the degradation of oneself and baseness and a magnanimous man is the one who is free from all the indecencies.
 
Indecency (antonym for dignity) equals degradation and humiliation and one has to equip oneself with the weapon of piety and abstinence to reach the apex of dignity. Piety means abstaining from anything that is tempting enough to make humans commit sins.
 
As Imam Ali (P.B.U.H) stated: those who follow piety will achieve whatever they desire forever-God will place them in His House of Dignity( elevates them) , a house belonging only to God. Its ceiling is the divine empyrean of God lit by divine beauty, its pilgrims angels and divine prophets are the companions.
Detailed Answer
dignity can be defined as the act of avoiding degradation of oneself and baseness and a magnanimous man is the one who is free from all the indecencies[1].
Indecent (La’im) is the antonym of dignified ( Karim).[2]Therefore, indecency(Lia’mat) is the opposite status of dignity(Keramt) and degraded (la’lim) an antonym for dignified(karim)[3].
 
Dignity in the Immaculate Imams’ viewpoint:
 
Islam’s holy prophet (P.B.U.H) states: “God is the All-generous and likes generosity.[4]
Imam Ali (P.B.U.H) states: “He who helps before he is asked is generous[5] and he is not easily shaken by the hardships of life”.[6]
“Dignified human is he who avoids sins (Haram) and is free from all the defects.[7]
 
A dignified person abhors what an indecent person takes pride in[8].
A dignified person is he who saves his face by means of  money but an indecent mean person saves money at the expense of losing face.[9]
 
If a person knows his soul’s grandeur through dignity, worldly things will lose their value in his eye.[10]
 
Pathway to dignity
 
A clear comparison has been made on the meanings of dignity and indecency in the traditions (Hadiths) of Imams. Dignity can be described as the act of avoiding  degradation and baseness since it is a valuable quality and also one of the divine features. Conversely, whatever drives man away from dignity and closeness to God is rooted in degradation, meanness and ugliness. As our holy prophet states: “love of the worldly things is the root of all the mistakes and onset of committing sin[11]. That is why world is called Donya in Arabic (degraded) and because it is really worthless[12]. As it was mentioned above, dignity is the opposite of indecency and dignified the antonym for indecent and one can find dignity and greatness in degraded worldly things. Imam Ali (P.B.U.H) states: world degrades and humiliates man[13]. Dignity is the exact opposite station of indecency. One has to equip oneself with the weapon of piety and abstinence to reach the apex of dignity. As Imam Ali once stated: dignity can not be achieved without piety[14]. In Holy Quran God says: the most dignified among you are those who are the most god-fearing ones[15].
Imam Ali(P.B.U.H): the key to generosity is piety[16].
 
 
Definition of piety
 
As Imam Ali states: piety is the power of abstinence from committing sin[17]. “ Taqwa( piety and righteousness) heals wounded souls, lights hearts, cures physical illnesses, cleanses souls, shelters you in harsh conditions, and lights up the path ahead. So dress yourselves in piety both internally and externally and submit yourselves fully to God so that Taqwa becomes an inseparable part of your bodies and dominates all you do. Look at Taqwa as the key to  the elixir of life, an aid to achieve your desires, a shelter in hardships, a light for dark graves, a relief in the long days in purgatory; since  piety protects you from disasters and horrible stations in purgatory  and hell fire awaiting you. Therefore he who decides to be pious will be safe from hardships, problems turn sweet and pains will go away, constant and tiring misfortunes become easy to cope with and lost dignity and greatness starts ascending like rain drops . God will grant His mercy again and His blessings grow abundant, once being withdrawn. [18]
 
 
Dignity and the Divine Soul
 
The holy Quran speaks of human as a decent and dignified creature. If a person gains dignity he has followed his true and natural path and has found his real essence. Submission to God and ascending are compatible with human soul whereas rebellion against God and descend are against human nature. However, dignity is harmonious with human nature and God Himself says: “we dignified human being[19]”. In the creation of human being a precious quality I.e. dignity has been used .if he had been created like other creatures made of soil , he  would not be considered as a dignified creature but human has peripheral and original aspects .his peripheral aspect  is composed of soil and his real aspect is derived from God. In holy Quran God attributes human soul to Himself and his body to nature called Tin (clay)[20] . He does not say “ I created man from clay and immaterial soul” but He says “ I crated man first of clay and then bestowed him with My soul”. Since human soul is related to God’s great Soul human being also is dignified and his possessing God’s soul equals having dignity[21].
 
 
Rewards for a dignified person
 
As Imam Ali stated : “God has recommended you to be pious and set it His ultimate satisfaction, so fear the God in whose presence you are and He who has control over your lives and watches your actions and states all the time.
If you conceal something, He will know. If you do it overtly, He will record your action. There are dignified and great angels who record your deeds and they neither forget the rightdoings nor record something incorrectly. Bear in mind that he who follows piety will be delivered and escapes from darkness through the light of guidance and achieves whatever he wants, God will give him a dignified dwelling of His a house whose ceiling is heaven and is lit by divine beauty and he is visited by angels and accompanied by divine prophets.[22]
 

[1] . Javadi Amoli, Abdollah, Dignity in Quran, p.22
[2] . Sa’alebi Neishaburi, Feqho-al-loqa, p.139
[3]. Javadi Amoli, Abdollah, Dignity in Quran, p.22
[4] . Muhammadi Reyshahri, Muhammad, (Huseini ,Seyed Hamid) Montakhabe Mizan-ol-Hikma. H. 5493
[5] .Amadi, Abdol Vahid, Qerarol-Hekam & dorarol-Hekam, Daneshgah publication, v.1, p.365, H.1389
[6] . ibid, v.2, p.1, H.1555.
[7] . ibid, v.2, p.4, H.1565.
[8] . ibid, v.2, p.44, H.177.
[9] . ibid, v.2, p.154, H.2145.
[10] . ibid, v.5, p.451, H.9130.
[11] . Muhammadi Reyshahri, Muhammad, (Huseini ,Seyed Hamid) Montakhabe Mizan-ol-Hikma. H. 2194
[12] . ibid, H.2171
[13] . ibid, H.2192
[14] . Nahjolbalaqe, T.113
[15] . Hujarat, 13.
[16] . Muhammadi Reyshahri, Muhammad, (Husseini ,Seyed Hamid) Montakhabe Mizan-ol-Hikma. H. 6664
[17] . ibid, H.6683
[18] . Nahjolbalaqe, S.197
[19] . Asra’, 70.
[20] .p.71-72
[21] . Javadi Amoli, Abdollah, Dignity in Quran, p.62
[22] . Nahjolbalaqe, S.183.
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