And, for example, with wilful obstinacy man expends his emotions on trivial, fleeting, transient things. Then he sees that he pursues for a year something not worth even a minute’s obstinacy. Also, just to be obstinate, he persists in something damaging and harmful. Then he sees that this powerful emotion was not given to him for such things and that to expend it on them is contrary to wisdom and truth. So he utilizes his intense obstinacy, not on those unnecessary transient matters, but on the elevated and eternal truths of belief and essentials of Islam and service and duties pertaining to the hereafter. Worldly obstinacy, a base quality, is transformed into true obstinacy; that is, ardent steadfastness and constancy in what is right, a fine and good quality.
As these three examples show, if man uses the faculties given to him on account of the soul and this world, and behaves heedlessly as though he were going to remain here for ever, they will be the cause of bad morals and will be misspent and futile. But if he expends the lesser of them on the matters of this world and the more intense of them on spiritual duties and tasks pertaining to the hereafter, they become the source of laudable morals and the means to happiness in this world and the next in conformity with wisdom and reality.
My guess is that one reason the advice and admonitions given at the present time have been ineffective is that those offering them say: “Don’t be ambitious! Don’t be greedy! Don’t hate! Don’t be obstinate! Don’t love the world!” That is, they propose something that is apparently impossible for those they address like changing their inborn natures. If only they would say: “Turn these emotions towards beneficial things, change their direction, their channel,” both their advice would be effective, and they would be proposing something within those persons’ will power.
F o u r t h l y : The differences between Islam and belief (or faith–êma\n) have been frequently discussed by Islamic scholars. One group has said that they are the same, while another has said that they are not the same but that you cannot have one without the other. They have expressed various ideas similar to this. I myself have understood the following difference:
Islam is a preference, while belief is a conviction. To put it another way, Islam is to take the part of the truth and is submission and obedience to it, and belief is acceptance of and assent to the truth. Long ago I saw certain irreligious people who fervently supported the injunctions of the