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Thursday 27th of June 2019
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Islam and Human Inclinations

Islam ordains that we should fulfill our natural instincts and inclinations. It is mentioned in many traditions that human beings have no right to suppress their natural instincts and emotions under false notions of morality.

The Quran says that just as a person should be concerned about his hereafter, he should also be concerned about his worldly life. He should also be concerned about his natural inclinations and emotions.

وَ ابْتَغِ فِيمَا ءَاتَئكَ اللَّهُ الدَّارَ الاَْخِرَةَ وَ لَا تَنسَ نَصِيبَكَ مِنَ الدُّنْيَا وَ أَحْسِن كَمَا أَحْسَنَ اللَّهُ إِلَيْكَ وَ لَا تَبْغِ الْفَسَادَ فىِ الْأَرْضِ إِنَّ اللَّهَ لَا يحُِبُّ الْمُفْسِدِين

And seek the abode of the hereafter in that which Allah hath given thee and neglect not thy portion of the world, and be thou kind even as Allah hath been kind to thee, and seek not corruption in the earth; Lo! Allah loveth not corrupters. (Sura al Qasas 28:77)

This means that you should utilize whatever wealth and status Allah has bestowed on you to prepare for your hereafter. But remember that you should not ignore your worldly needs in the process. You should strike a balance between the two and not lean overly to one side. Getting totally absorbed with worldly matters only is not desirable. Similarly, dedicating one’s wealth, health, youth and wisdom only for the hereafter too is not required of a person.

During the time of the Prophet (s) and his vicegerents, some people had adopted a misguided way. They wrongly thought that a person has to think only of the hereafter all the time and that the world should be shunned. They believed that they should abstain from the natural and legitimate instincts. But when the Prophet (s) and the Imams (a.s.) learnt of this erroneous view, they opposed it strongly.

The author of Wasail quotes one tradition thus: Three women approached the Prophet (s) one day. One of them said, “O Prophet! My husband has shunned the company of his wife.” The second said, “My husband has stopped eating meat!” The third said, “My husband has stopped using perfume!” Hearing the women, the Prophet (s) was upset. He saw that misguided ideas were beginning to take root amongst his followers. Although it was not the time for any mandatory prayer, he proceeded to the mosque. He went in such a great hurry that even his cloak was not properly placed on his shoulder and one end of it was touching the ground. He ordered the people to assemble in the mosque. People rushed there leaving aside their tasks. The Prophet (s) ascended the pulpit and said,” I have heard that my companions are getting wrong ideas.” He added, “I am Allah’s Messenger, I eat meat and delicious food! I wear good clothes! I wear perfumes and keep the company of my wives and have conjugal relations with them! Whosoever opposes my ways is not my follower!” The Prophet (s) has repeated this sentence on several occasions: ‘One who does not adopt my ways is not a Muslim’.

There is another anecdote similar to this one, quoted by Faydh Kashani in al-Saafi. This proves the point that the need was very much felt to repeat this important instruction. Once when a verse pertaining to the retribution for sinners in the hereafter was revealed, some believers got very scared and started abstaining from worldly necessities and pleasures. Faydh records that once a woman came to Bibi Ayesha for some errand. Although the woman was married, she was devoid of the normal embellishments married women generally wear. Hadhrat Ayesha asked her, “Has your husband expired?” She replied in the negative and said that he had left home and retired to the wilderness with two of his friends for prayer and penance in loneliness. She also said that he had vowed to have no conjugal relations with her. One of her husbands’ friends’ had vowed not to eat good food. The third friend had vowed not to keep social contact with others. Bibi Ayesha related this conversation to the Holy Prophet (s).

The Prophet (s) was very upset with the actions of the three men. This tradition, too, quotes that the Prophet hurried to the mosque in such a state that his cloak was not properly draped over his shoulder. Although it was not yet time for salah, he went to the mosque. He asked people to assemble in the mosque and addressed them from the pulpit. “I have heard that misguided ideas are taking root in the minds of the Muslims. I have heard that some Muslims have retired to the hills and caves to busy themselves in prayers. They do not maintain relations with their wives, they do not eat good food and abstain from meeting people socially. I, your Prophet, do eat good food and keep affectionate relations with my spouses! Faman raghiba an sunnati falaisa minni One who abandons my ways is not from me!Every person who obstructs the growth of progeny, who avoids marrying and spends all his time in prayer is not a Muslim.” This was the way of the Holy Prophet as well as that of the Infallible Imams.

It is recorded in history that when Amir al Mu’minin (a.s.) entered the Mosque of Kufa for the first time, he found some persons busy offering prayers although it was not yet the time for mandatory prayers. When he enquired about them, he was told that they were ‘Rijal al Haq’ - the People of the Truth!The Imam (a.s.) asked, “Who are these Rijal al Haq?” The reply was, “These are the persons who have forsaken the world. They eat, if they get some food to eat. Otherwise they starve and keep praying in the mosque!” Hadhrat Ali (a.s.) was angry at hearing this. As recorded by Asad al Ghaba, he flogged those people and said, “Don’t set wrong examples for the Muslims! Your practice is un-Islamic!” Then he added in anger, “Even dogs live like you. If someone takes pity on them and gives some food, they eat. Otherwise, they keep starving.” Then Hadhrat Ali (a.s) had them thrown out from the mosque.

At the time when Hadhrat Ali (a.s.) had assumed the temporal Caliphate, he visited Basra. He visited the house of one of the elite persons of the city and objected to the pomp and show on display there. In order to evade Hadhrat Ali (a.s.)’s question, the person changed the subject and said, “O Amir al Mu’minin (a.s.)! I have a brother who lives like a hermit. He avoids all company and has forsaken the world. He sits in one place praying all the while!” Imam (a.s) left the opulent person alone because now a more important issue had occupied his attention. He sent for the brother and asked, “Why have you forsaken the world?” The person replied, “O Ali! I see you and I want to be like you!”

Imam Ali (a.s.) said, “No! You cannot be like me! I am the chief of the Muslims and the chief must adopt the standard of living of the most downtrodden of the Muslims! For you, the correct way is to adopt the middle path. You should not forsake the world. You must toil to earn a fair livelihood. You must adopt a progressive way of life so that you live contentedly with your wife and children!” In the twelfth chapter of the book Wasail al Shia,there are many traditions of the Imams (a.s.)that condemn procrastination and laziness and exhort Muslims to engage in hard work.

One person came to Imam Jafar al-Sadiq (a.s.) and said, “O Hadhrat! I have grown very old and have no work. I sit in a corner of the mosque and keep remembering the hereafter! I keep praying!” The person had assumed that the Imam (a.s.) would appreciate and praise his actions. On the contrary, three times the Imam (a.s.) said, “Hadha min amal ash Shaitan” -This is not an act of a human being! This is not the way of a Muslim! This is the way of Satan. Satan has succeeded in his stratagem that is why you have forsaken the world and busied yourself only in prayer!The man asked, “O son of the Prophet (s)! Then what should I do?”

The Imam (a.s.) replied, “As long as you have strength in your body and limbs, continue to do work that can benefit you and your family! If you don’t have sufficient work, then help your neighbors and relatives.” Then the Imam added, “Yes! But you must ensure that you don’t sacrifice your hereafter for worldly gains! As soon as the time for a mandatory prayer arrives, leave all else and offer the prayer! Pray when it is time for prayer, and work when it is time for work!”

I would like to say some words about Amir al Mu’minin (a.s.), and I want the young boys and girls to keep in their minds what I am saying. The biographers of Hadhrat Amir al Mu’minin have recorded that he was a lion by day and a supplicant (Abid) at the night. At the time of prayer his dedication would be complete and while at work he would toil so hard that innumerable oases for the benefit of the society are credited to him during the twenty-five years of his working life. He always helped the poor, weak and disabled persons. We should remember that shunning the company of others and suppressing legitimate desires is not allowed in Islam. Islam permits its followers to have legitimate desires and to strive for their fulfillment.

 Experience shows and even the psychologists will tell you that people who live in isolation, people who shun the world, the youth who can marry but do not, over a period of time their desires descend to the subconscious and these people fall prey to psychological diseases. Once a person is under this psychological pressure he becomes worse than a dog if he were to get any power or authority. If he does not have any power or authority he becomes disheartened, and presents a very morose and gloomy appearance. Such people are unable to socially interact with others. The society shuns them. They may not be economically depressed but are psychologically incapable of taking on the responsibilities of a family. Such men become a source of trouble for themselves and their wives and such ladies remain depressed and it is to be borne in mind that depressed people cannot raise children effectively. 

The people who are unable to shoulder the responsibilities of married life, those whose hearts have hardened because of committing sin after sin, fit the following description given by the Holy Quran: 

إِنَّ شَرَّ الدَّوَابّ ِ عِندَ اللَّهِ الصُّمُّ الْبُكْمُ الَّذِينَ لَا يَعْقِلُون 

Lo! The worst of beasts in Allah’s sight are the deaf, the dumb, who have no sense. (Sura al-Anfal 8:22).

Those who have brains but do not think are worse than beasts. They are worse than dogs and the impure (najis) animals. Some people stifle their sexual instinct, while others stifle their natural religious inclination. Both these type of people invite grief and disappointment. The Holy Quran says about such a person that he possesses eyes but he cannot see, he has ears but he cannot hear, he owns a heart but is unable to understand. Such a person is like a wild animal or even worse than that. He paves the way to Hell for himslf. 

وَ لَقَدْ ذَرَأْنَا لِجَهَنَّمَ كَثِيرًا مِّنَ الجِْنّ ِ وَ الْانسِ لهَُمْ قُلُوبٌ لَّا يَفْقَهُونَ بهَِا وَ لهَُمْ أَعْينُ ٌ لَّا يُبْصِرُونَ بهَِا وَ لهَُمْ ءَاذَانٌ لَّا يَسْمَعُونَ بهَِا أُوْلَئكَ كاَلْأَنْعَمِ بَلْ هُمْ أَضَلُّ أُوْلَئكَ هُمُ الْغَفِلُون

Already have we urged unto Hell many of the jinn and humankind, having hearts wherewith they understand not, and having eyes wherewith they see not, and having ears wherewith they hear not. These are as the cattle—nay, but they are worse! These are the neglectful. (Sura al-’Araf 7:179).

This means that a group prepares itself for hell. Their hereafter is Hell. These are the people whose religious instinct has been stifled. Their naturally endowed instinct of searching for God has become extinct. Curbing the religious instinct, of course, is a sin. Suppressing ones sexual instinct, depriving oneself of food, isolating oneself from the society etc. are things which can reach the subconscious level. When this happens it becomes a barrier to perfection. Then it is very difficult to get that person back on track.


source : Islamic Family-Life Ethics /Ayatullah Hussein Madhahiri
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