Does a virtuous person self-improve?

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It is very sad that personal development, as it is used today, is limited to everyday work such as success in work, school, and politics. Of course, it is important for a person to be successful in his job, school or political life or similar fields; but when it comes to human beings, their development should not be so simple. The personal development is currently fixed on money-making which is a type of belittlement of humanness, lack of knowledge of humanity and is a pure waste.

Human Resources units (HR) in many corporate companies. These HR units set criteria for some of their staff every year. They make plans for success. If you have sold 100 units this year, they set goals such as ‘you have to sell 120 units next year.’ They make their employees run like race horses. If, for any reason, you have not achieved your goal, they will deduct the bonus you will get and heat you up for the next year. They put you in the camp again. You go to personal development trainings again and again and try to make up your shortcomings. This process thus goes on and on. If they do not achieve their targets, employees lose their jobs.

What are the Skills Targeted with Personal Development?

Whatever your job maybe, “the personal development” wants to make you the best in that field. No limit. Personal development specialists say, “People are born with potential. But there are good and better in the world. In other words, human beings can develop in terms of quality as well as physical ability. We can call the personal development as the work that takes the potential of the person a little further in any field. The most basic point of personal development is self-knowledge. A person’s knowing himself, his determining his condition in different areas, and his decision to improve himself in the areas he thinks he is weaker is the moment when the personal development process begins.”

Based on a certain methodology, specialists direct psychologically and mentally healthy individuals towards the subjects such as clarifying goals, overcoming indecision, changing perspective, making a difference, increasing motivation, managing the time well, increasing self-confidence, gaining experience, being success-oriented, keeping up with change and time, renewing the image, and social communication. But they never touch on the real potential of man and the wisdom of creation, namely virtue, morality, honesty, and being a servant of the Creator. Their goal is only to succeed in the business environment and to improve social status.

What is Virtue?

“(O People of the Book!) It is not (enough) righteousness [virtue] that you turn your faces toward the east or the west (for worship), but [true] righteousness

[virtue]

  is [in] one who believes in God, the Last Day, the angels, the Book(s), and the prophets and gives wealth, in spite of love for it, to relatives, orphans, the needy, the traveller, those who ask, and for freeing slaves; [and who] establishes The Prayer and gives Zakah (charity); for (they) fulfil their promise when they promise, and are patient in hardship (poverty), illness and in [the fiercest of times] during battle. Those are the ones who have been true, and it is those who are the righteous

[virtuous]

.” (Qur’an: 2:177)

In this verse, the qualities of the god-fearing and virtuous person are clearly revealed. Doesn’t having such qualities that befit the creation of man and his character of being servant make a person successful in every field of life, including business life?

When you look at the commercial balance sheets of the last 20 years, you can see that commercial crises are directly proportional to the deterioration of the balance of payments. It is observed that the tradesman delays his payments or never pays when the slightest problem occurs. The occurrence of similar behaviours in many firms, witnessing the disregard of ethics, shows the seriousness [of the problem]. Because the balance of payments works on a chain. For example, you hired some contracters, and the job has been completed by the company that got the tender, but you have delayed the payment and did not pay that company. You postponed the due dates. You have extended it two or even five times the term you spoke. The company that got the job could not pay the salaries of its employees and the costs of the materials it received. As a chain, if the suppliers did not pay their suppliers, the break caused by you will cause congestion and the market will slow down.

Companies may make a loss; unexpected extraordinary events may occur. However, if you do not pay while you have money in your safe, this can be called first having no work ethic, and second the desire to hold the money in interest banks. There is also the idea of ​​loss of interest if you break the term, and the loss of income against gold or foreign currency. These issues mentioned as examples are incompatible with Islamic moral values. Commercial immorality, which occupies the market with the force of interest lobbies or banks, also disrupts the order established by themselves in the first place.

Personal development specialists need to see that they need to address the human and the issues that make people into “real humans”, and put on their agenda that being virtuous is the most important subject of personal development. Otherwise, the understanding that every way to achieve the goal is permissible will prevail and this will take the human, who is forced to succeed no matter what, away from humane anxiety and approaches, and hurt the individuals and the society.

Akhism and Personal Development

There are varying reports as per the origin of the name of “Akhism.” The first claim is that it comes from the Arabic word akhi which means “my brother”. The second possible root is a Turkish word. The word “akı” which means to be “generous”. In any way, being directly connected to the Islamic understanding with its principles that are based on the Qur’an and Sunnah of the Prophet, Akhism has been adopted and easily spread due to its reminding ukuwwah (brotherhood) which has an important place in tasawwuf. Since they accepted Islam and settled in Anatolia, Turks have embraced the ideal of futuwwah (Turkish-Islamic guild) and ornamented it with their own bravery, generosity and heroic qualities. Nevertheless, Islamic thought and life, which are the main determinants of Akhism, have survived in every period and region. Taking all its principles from the original source of the religion, Akhism’s regulations were called “futuvvatnamas”.

The rules of Akhism, its moral and commercial principles were written in the futuwwatnamas. The person to enter the guild (organization) had to comply with the religious and moral instructions specified in these books. According to futuwwatnama, the qualities that should be found in the members of the organization were loyalty, truthfulness, reliability, generosity, humility, advice to fellow brothers, guiding them to the right path, forgiveness and repentance. Bad qualities such as drinking, adultery, lie, gossip, cheating were the reasons that required dismissal from one’s profession.

Why did we break off from our historical past which based the foundations of today’s ‘personal development’ in its real sense within the Islamic commercial institutions on the basis of virtue and morality? Why did we get away from virtue and named ‘only gaining advantage’ as personal development and thus disrupt the system?We must put this seriously in front of us and take precautions. Otherwise, we cannot become a virtuous society by including the decomposed, corrupt, defective states of the so called “western or modern values” on success incorporated into our structure.

Awareness

Awareness is to be able to direct your attention to be able to focus on the present moment. It is, therefore, to remember to return to our life which is now and here when our mind travels to the past or the future. If we are watching the past or the future through the eyes of our mind, it means that we have lost the chance to notice what we see with our real eyes. Thus, we face past or future worries, anxieties and fears that do not exist at the moment. When we realize that our mind is taking such rides, awareness is the tool that will help us catch our present life again. What you need to do is to focus your attention on now and here again when your mind moves away from the moment.

Awareness is to loosen our ties with our thoughts and feelings. The best thing we can do against our worries, anxieties, sorrows and fears is to set them free. When we stop busying ourselves with them and release them, the negative effects of these emotions on us will begin to disappear. Trying to control our thoughts and feelings is like trying to block the waves in the sea; we cannot do this. When we are able to leave them on their own, we can finally see them disappear by hitting the shore; the clearest definition of this is tawakkul (trust). In other words, after one does his part, he should not get stuck there and leave the rest to Allah. Do your duty, do not interfere with the deeds of Allah!

CONCLUSION

We should pay more attention to personal development than ever before. But while doing this, it is essential not to take “the human” out of context. In other words, we should prioritize faith, morality, merit and virtue for man, knowing that he is a servant created by Allah and has duty towards Him. Yes, the method comes before the essence. It is essential for man to discover and unleash his potential. However, while doing this, it is necessary to do it without forgetting that he is a human being, knowing his duties towards Allah and should do it in the right way as commanded. And this is only possible in the context of the Quran and Sunnah.