The question arises, can morality be learned and taught? The answer is why not? But this is a general answer. When the question is faced directly and a person is asked: Have you done all you could to improve your moral life? Have you met with the desired change? The reply generally is: No, I have tried but it is very difficult. Ask any one in a group if morals can be improved?, the answer would be: Yes. But when you ask if the person concerned has succeeded in actually improving his morals, he would say: I have done my best but I have not succeeded. The position is paradoxical. We have in most matters, a poor opinion about others but a good opinion about ourselves. But in the matter of moral change and improvement by effort and exercise, human behaviour is the other way about. Somehow others seem to be able to do something to improve their morals, but not we. We have some special difficulties or circumstances which do not let us. However, the Holy Quran is quite explicit on the point. According to the Holy Quran, moral life is capable of improvement. Says the Holy Quran:
Continue to admonish, for admonition always helps. (87:10)
A Prophet is never to tire of giving good advice to his people. Good counsel never goes unrewarded. The Holy Quran is definitely optimistic in this respect and it is a thing worth noting. No wonder the Promised Messiah — on him be peace — who drew for everything he taught on the Holy Quran, held fast to this teaching of the Holy Book. What he said to his followers again and again and in different ways inspired hope. Once he said:
Think not, you are sinners. Will your prayers be heard? Do not think like this. Man makes mistakes, but a time comes when he is able to overpower his sinning self. This power to overpower the sinning self is also built into the nature of man. Water puts out fire. This is part of its nature. Howsoever you may heat it, when water drops on fire it must put it out. That is natural. So is man a purifier by nature. Every man has this purifying property. Do not feel defeated because you have been involved in sin. Sin is like a stain on the surface of a piece of cloth. It can be washed away. Your habits, your dispositions may be dominated ever so much by your passions. Pray to God weeping, crying, He will not let your prayers go waste. He is full of compassion. (Badr 1907)
The Promised Messiah’s message is full of hope. It is the message of the Holy Quran, amplified in his style by the Promised Messiah. The optimism which permeates the Holy Quran is unequalled in any other Holy Book. The way it is amplified by the Promised Messiah is indeed unequalled by any similar writer on the subject.
It becomes crystal-clear from the Promised Messiah’s words quoted above that human nature has a built-in something which when put to use washes away all sin and the sought-for resulting improvement is there for all to see.