Human Potential: Greater than Angels or Lower than Beasts

Human Potential: The Two Paths Presented to Us

by Shaykh Yusuf Weltch

This is the first of a series of articles by SeekersGuidance internal scholar Shaykh Yusuf Weltch on human potential. Shaykh Yusuf poses thought-provoking ideas about what humans are capable of; both success and destruction. The potential of both is within us – how do flee to Allah?

Amazing it is, the human’s potential. To become greater than the angels, in their beauty and perfection, or worse than the lowliest of beasts, in their selfish appetite driven temper. Why is it, though, I wonder, that we don’t have more angelic humans? Perhaps the answer is gravity.

I’m not talking about the gravity that caused Isaac Newton’s headache, per se. Rather the idea that falling is easier than climbing.

Although we have the potential for both great virtue and vice, the former requires strength and a strong resolve as opposed to the latter. Among the mind-boggling manifestations of human potential, is that the human can accomplish great feats and unheard of triumphs, when and only when he truly desires it.

Humans have climbed the highest of mountains and walked between skyscrapers with nothing holding them except a tightrope beneath their feet. Humans have the capacity to transcend their animalistic ways and adopt their God-given potential, however, only when deep desire and fervent zeal penetrates to the core of his heart.

Allah Most High says, “ But whoever desires the Hereafter and strives for it accordingly, and is a ˹true˺ believer, it is they whose striving will be appreciated.” (Qur’an; 17:19)

The human’s striving is in accordance with their desire. The stronger the desire the greater the striving. It is because of this desire that the human dares to cast aside their animalistic desires for higher aims and purposes.

So for those whose deepest desire is a relationship with their Creator – a deep desire and yearning for reunion with the Divine – their striving manifests itself in their throwing off the garments of their lowly human qualities and transcending human norms and customs to a station indescribable.

At such a point, Allah Most High takes on the concern of their affairs and they live and act by God, for God, with God, and to God. Allah frees them from the shackles of worldly concerns and needs and they evaporate in the sea of true eternal love and gnosis.

As great as these words sound, very few have placed even the tip of a finger in such a sea or had even a moment of such realization. Most are trapped within the bonds of mere humanness, enslaved by worldly concerns, and subjugated to human norms and customs. What is the cause? An absence of desire. An absence of aspiration. A heart bereft of true yearning.

Imam Abdullah al-Haddad – a great 11 century scholar of Hadramawt – expressed that one’s start on the journey to God is by a strong impulse in their heart that urges them, pushes them, and compels them to turn fully to God and the Hereafter. It turns their attention away from the world and the concerns of creation.

He goes on to say that whoever Allah blesses with such a noble impulse must know its magnificent value and that it is the most tremendous blessing that Allah has bestowed upon them…

Allah has placed us before two paths – a path of virtue and a path of vice. We were then honored by our ability to choose. A trust of sorts. Such a trust that the heavens, earth, and mountains refused to carry. But the human bore its immense burden. Will we choose our appetites, our lusts, the constant seeking to inflate our egos? Will we choose to be pompous and arrogant? Will we allow ourselves to fall the proverbial fall from heaven?

Or will we finally realize that nothing in the mirage of the created realm could equate in any comparison to a relationship with the Creator of all. Will we finally wake up from our heedlessness and answer the call of Allah. What are we waiting for?! If we have Allah, we have everything and we escape the bondage of our lowly nature. Allah Most High tells us, “Flee to Allah..” (Qur’an; 51:50).

Let us then flee from the lowly and base inclinations and desires that will never be.

About the Author

Shaykh Yusuf Weltch is a teacher of Arabic, Islamic law, and spirituality. After accepting Islam in 2008, he then completed four years at the Darul Uloom seminary in New York where he studied Arabic and the traditional sciences. He then traveled to Tarim, Yemen, where he stayed for three years studying in Dar Al-Mustafa under some of the greatest scholars of our time, including Habib Umar Bin Hafiz, Habib Kadhim al-Saqqaf, and Shaykh Umar al-Khatib. In Tarim, Shaykh Yusuf completed the memorization of the Qur’an and studied inheritance law, legal methodology, hadith methodology, Qur’anic exegesis, Islamic history, and a number of texts on spirituality. He joined the SeekersGuidance teachers team in the summer of 2019.Join a free course taught by Shaykh Yusuf Weltch: