By: Bilal Kuşpinar
“What is human nature?” is undoubtedly an intriguing question that has engendered much debate throughout the history of humanity from the time of the ancient philosophy up to the present. This seemingly simple but inherently complex question, despite the existence of numerous researches and studies on it, still remains to be a crucial problem and hence continues to occupy the minds of many thinkers and scientists around the globe. Human being has so far been defined by philosophers as “a rational animal” or “a social/political animal” or “a homo-economics” or “a homo-faber”, whereas he has been viewed by the scientists who have specialized particularly in biology and anatomy, as “a living organism possessed of a relatively more developed brain than the other animals” or “a physiologically driven machine made up of complex biochemical molecules”. All of these views and conceptions, espoused mainly by both philosophers and scientists, though important and useful, furnish in effect a very limited and partial –mostly physical- perception of human being, while leaving aside many other internal, immaterial and spiritual dimensions of human being. As will be demonstrated in our current study, these essential dimensions that are lacking in the writings of philosophers and scientists appear to have been thoroughly included and carefully treated in the moral discourses and spiritual teachings of the Sufis, who generally consider human being as a whole but with an emphasis on his inner/inmost reality. Sufis’ holistic and comprehensive conception of human being as such is of paramount importance for us today, since it helps us to understand better who we are and what sort of meaning the world we live in have, as well as what all other beings therein conveys to us. Moreover, the way we perceive human beings are intimately linked to the way we perceive the rest of the world. Our vision and understanding of human beings enables us to determine the mode of relationship we need to develop towards all other human fellows and all other beings in the universe. In this study, therefore, we shall examine the question of human nature from the perspective of a prominent Sufi-poet, Mawlana Jalal al-Din Rumi, whose intellectual and spiritual legacy that had been instituted by his immediate disciples as the Mawlawi Sufi Order left a far-reaching impact on the later development of the history of Islamic thought and civilization.