All men and women have a unique kind of faculty, that is, conscience, which is the center of moral sensitivity. This faculty is a natural gift to all. The Qur’an refers to this faculty in the chapter Al-A‘raf (The Heights): If an evil impulse from Satan provokes you, seek refuge with God; He is all-hearing and all-knowing. When any evil suggestion from Satan touches those who fear God, they are instantly alerted and become watchful; but the followers of devils are led relentlessly into error by them. They never desist. (7:200-202)
These Qur’anic verses give clear guidance on how to maintain our spiritual purity. Each time a person comes under the influence of an evil temptation, his conscience, or his moral sensitivity, becomes alive. It warns him almost instantly, emerging as a moral teacher. It persuades man not to succumb to wrong temptations and not to deviate from the right path. Anyone who listens to his inner voice is surely saved from becoming a victim of evil forces. But one who fails to pay heed to it will lose the opportunity to act righteously. And that will be his last chance.
Nature has endowed us with two very important faculties: reason and conscience. Reason works in logical terms, while conscience works in terms of sensitivity. Experience shows that reason sometimes guides us rightly but, quite often, its analysis is wrong, is based on faulty logic. Conscience, on the other hand, never fails. Conscience is the strongest check against wrongdoing. The difference between a man and an animal is that a man has a conscience, while an animal is quite lacking in this faculty. Animals are not sensitive to right and wrong. They entertain no such ideas. But man has the highly distinctive quality of possessing a conscience. Anyone who wants to live on this planet as an honest person or as a man of character must keep a guard upon his conscience or moral sensitivity. Nothing else can guarantee one’s personal morality. Anyone who listens to his inner voice is surely saved from becoming a victim of evil forces. But one who fails to pay heed to it will lose the opportunity to act righteously. And that will be his last chance.
There are numerous examples in history of many men and women who decided to do some evil deed and then their conscience was aroused, their moral sensitivity was awakened and the result was positive: they abandoned their evil plan. They refrained from indulging in the evil practices that they had in mind. Conscience, or the faculty of sensitivity, is the greatest bounty from God to man. Conscience, or the faculty of sensitivity, is like a divine judge sitting in everyone’s heart. There are some who observe that human sensitivity is a kind of natural weakness. Should one adopt the formula of tit for tat? This would be an unwise course to follow, for the ‘tit for tat’ formula has nothing positive about it. It is simply a reaction. And the reaction cannot work. You have to see things in terms of results and not in terms of your own sentiments. When you are living in a society, you cannot afford any kind of arrogant behavior. You have to be a realist. You have to be tolerant. You have to adjust with other people, rather than trying to impose your opinion upon them.