Quran Journey Series: Quranic Reflections- VI

Jul 25th, 2013 | By | Category: Quran Journey Series, Religion


In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent the Merciful

“Have you seen the one who takes as his god his own desire? Then would you be responsible for him? Or think you that most of them listen or understand? They are only like cattle;- nay, they are worse astray in their Path.” (25:43)
One of the most heinous and discreet forms of ‘shirk’ (polytheism) is self-worship, when one begins to deify his own desires, that is one follows the command of his desires to such an extent that he ignores and trespasses every moral restraint that stands in his way. He becomes so obsessed with his self that it turns him blind towards the rights of others, his duties to His Lord and his fellow-beings. He indulges in self-serving pursuits; he seeks power, luxury, wealth, fame, importance, comfort, convenience for himself. ‘God’  is the deity to be obeyed, submitted to, adored, worshipped, loved, venerated etc. When something other than God begins to claim all this and becomes the object of our devotion, attention, worship, it becomes a false deity, a partner in the worship of God. Very often we give this quasi-divine status to our own selves and our desires when we blindly pursue them and forget all limits.

According to philosophers and psychologists, the human personality consists of the ‘id,’ which is the reservoir of animal desires, carnal instincts and physical drives like those of hunger and sex. The id creates strong impulses rooted in desire, which are only held in check by higher human consciousness, the ‘superego’  that internalizes values, morals and norms of behaviour. This control of the id impulses makes us human, and the more we are in command of our id desires, the higher we are on the scale of humanity. The strongest imperative of the superego is Faith that comes through religion. It keeps the animal self (nafs e ammara) in check, allowing it limited permissible means of expression. Animals are entirely id, lacking in the higher spiritual consciousness. This is why animals express and pursue their natural physical impulses freely. Their lives revolve entirely around hunting for food, and procreation. When human beings let the id dominate and give it free rein, they descend to the animal level, a primitive level of existence. However, in sophisticated societies, this is called ‘the libertarian culture’ that celebrates ‘individual liberty.’ However, when individual liberty enslaves one to carnal instincts whose imperious command one blindly follows, it is not true liberty and freedom any more.

Such a self-obsessed person will reflect utterly irresponsible behaviour. He will lose all restraint that comes from higher consciousness and will act with recklessness and irresponsibility. According to Abdullah bin Masood (R.A) the Prophet (SAW) said,

‘If you have no shame, then do what you wish.’ (Bukhari)

Allah says that such lovers of the Self must be left to their own, to be consumed by the fire of their own vain lusts and bestial passions, as they have reached the very depths of degeneracy_ fallen from the glory of  ‘Ahsan i taqween’  (the best of all creation) to the level of  ‘asfalasafileen’ (lowest of the low).’  (reference from Surah Tin)

In their state of intense self-absorption and self-indulgence, their heart and soul becomes deadened, till they can no longer respond to the Call to Faith. The Power of the Revelation goes undetected by them, and does not make any echo in their soul. Their existence becomes comparable to vile beasts who live only through the five external senses. They become what the Quran says

‘ deaf, dumb and blind, so they return not.’ (2:18) 

This is because

‘their hearts have a disease’ (2:10) 

_the disease of self-love. The God-given heart with its capacity for adoration, benevolence, love, gentleness, sacrifice and nobility becomes a piece of flesh.

“And their hearts are sealed,  so that they apprehend not.”  (9:87)

Elsewhere in the Quran Allah has compared their hearts to stones:

‘Then, after that, your hearts were hardened and became as stones or even worse in hardness. And indeed, there are stones out of which rivers gush forth, and indeed, there are of them (stones) which split asunder so that water flows from them, and indeed, there are of them (stones) which fall down for fear of Allah. And Allah is not unaware of what you do.’ (2:74)

Their eyes can no longer see the Signs of God in the universe, and hence they become blind while in possession of physical sight; their ears can no longer register the Call of Allah, and hence they become deaf.

“Such are they whose hearts and ears and eyes God hath sealed. And such are the heedless.”  (16:108).

Their God-given faculties are used only for the lower animal functions of receiving external stimuli; they become caged in the material universe, and make for themselves a paradise out of it_ but it is a temporary paradise of unrestrained exercise of base impulse and desire, destined to eternal perdition.

Narrated by Abu Hurayrah (ra) that Rasulullah صلى الله عليه وسلم said

“The world is the prison of the believer and paradise of the disbeliever.” (Muslim)


Maryam Sakeenah

About the author

Maryam Sakeenah teaches Sociology, Literature and Islamic Studies in Lahore, Pakistan. She authored a book documenting Islamic and Oriental responses to the Clash of Civilizations thesis. Maryam is also a social worker running an organization providing free virtual primary education for the poor.

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