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The Mature Human (Insan-i Kamil)

The Mature Human (Insan-i Kamil)

It has become an accepted spiritual notion that each part of the universe in some way reflects the whole. Contemporary spirituality has borrowed the holographic model from contemporary science. This notion has always existed within Sufism (tasawwuf) and is expressed in the idea that the human being is not merely a drop that can merge with the Ocean, but a drop that contains the Ocean.

Every divine attribute is latent within the human heart, and by the cooperation of the human will with divine grace, these attributes can be awakened and manifested. We human beings contain within ourselves the potential to experience maturity -or completion- to experience our intimate relationship to the whole of Being in such a way that we reflect this completion through ourselves. The highest spiritual attainment of the human being is expressed by the phrase Insan-i Kamil, the Mature Human Being.

Human maturity is not visible from the perspective of the average human being; nor is it successfully theorized or described by science, sociology, philosophy or psychology; it is a gift from the Creator of the human being. It is a proposal that comes from the Heart of Nature through its revelatory dialog with humanity. When Nature bears its final fruit, it is the Mature Human, who speaks with the voice and the intelligence of Nature itself, expressing the attributes of completion. Human maturity is our innate destiny. However, it requires our conscious cooperation with divine grace. What we can know about our essential humanness comes from those who have become mature human beings and who are able to listen, within their own hearts, to the guidance of the Creative Power.

Sufism (tasawwuf) received the implicit knowledge of maturity first from the Qur’an, which describes itself as “a mercy and guidance for humanity”.

Sufism also draws upon the ever more explicit understanding of this maturity as witnessed in the lives and teaching of its many saints (awliya) and masters beginning with the Prophet Muhammad (saws).

Spirituality adequate to the times we live in has to be centered in the reality of human completion itself. If it is based on any partial description of the human being, it will be insufficient. No matter what is sought to supplement this insufficiency, if the starting point is less than the wholeness of the human, the result will only be a distorted version of the human being.

The attributes of the mature human being (insan-i kamil) are the attributes of Allah appropriately reflected in the human nature. Allah has innumerable qualities, ninety-nine of which are mentioned in the Qur’an. Some of these are the everyday attributes of a human: seeing, hearing, speech, will, life, awareness. The Sufi recognizes that these qualities are reflected through the human being from the Absolute Being. Becoming a mature human is being able to reflect more and more of the divine qualities in everyday life.

This world is the mirror of divine qualities, the site of their manifestation. Recognizing these qualities in the heart is at the same time recognizing them in actual life. There is no separation in the field of Oneness (tawhîd). There is, therefore, no conflict between the human life and the spiritual life. Only when the human life becomes shaped by the demands and illusions of the isolated ego, it is reduced to a caricature, to a distortion of its wholeness. Otherwise, to be fully human is to fulfill our spiritual destiny.