How to Cure Moral Maladies
All moral and behavioral corruptions ensue from the absence of faith in one’s heart. Faith is not solely a matter of bringing words to the lips. It is not just reading, discussing, or quoting others; it requires sincerity of intention.
There are various illnesses of the soul that should be recognized and cured just like a wound on our skin, which can be outrightly seen and cured with medicine.
Six of these illnesses of the soul will be introduced, here, evaluated, and suggestions given for their cure; they are: `Ujb, Kibr, Hasad, Ghathab, `Asabiyyah and Riya’.
`Ujb, in the opinion of some religious scholars of Islam, is the magnification of one’s virtues and good deeds (self-admiration), and the satisfaction with them accompanied with a feeling of superiority because of them, while at the same time, excusing the self from all failings and faults.
However, `Ujb applies to both good and bad actions. A virtuous person may become conceited about his good deeds, as well as, a doer of wicked deeds may feel proud of himself and his conduct. Some who are ignorant but consider themselves learned are the most wretched of creatures.
The Qur’an states: “And what of him, the evil of whose deeds has been decked out fair to him, so that he thinks them good…” (35:8) and “Whatever of good befalleth thee (O man), it is from Allah, and whatever of ill befalleth thee it is from thyself.” (4:79)
`Ujb, in itself, is a destructive vice, which ruins faith and actions and is a product of self-love. Therefore, if you have been struck with this illness, ask yourself some questions.
Are you really a ‘Muslim’ and free from the dirt of shirk (making partners to Allah)? Is there any shame and repentance in your heart? In your actions, do you consider Allah alone? Do you not desire to clear your soul and make it ready to receive true guidance?
Kibr is a psychic state in which a person feels a sense of superiority and behaves high-handedly with others. When self-love is filled to the brim it shows itself as high-handed treatment of others where the individual believes that others are inferior to him.
To cure yourself of pride bring to mind how you were created. You were created from the matter of the universe, which is absolute potentiality and pure weakness, and molded you into an elemental bodily form, which are the lowest and the meanest of the existents of the universe.
After that, you were given the form of sperm, which you loathe to touch and take great pains to clean your hands if they become dirty by it. Then, you were kept in the twin reproductive glands of the father. And after that through the urinary tract, in a terribly ugly state, you were brought into the mother’s womb and united with the egg. You traveled a distance, dark and narrow, then, became attached at such a place to live there for a term but, the description of it will disgust you.
After being placed there, you were given the form of a fetus as a lump of clotted blood. You were nourished, there, with such a food that you will feel ashamed if you hear about it. During all these stages you were the lowest and meanest of creatures.
At the time of death, the mechanism of your life is broken down and you become an inanimate, inorganic substance. After a few hours people will not be able to tolerate the stench emanating from your body and they will be averse to the look of your body and face.
If your self wishes that you should take a prideful position, work against its incitements, admonish it severely and resolutely for the way of virtue. If the self wants you to refrain from joining the company of poor people, go and sit with them, dine with them or travel with them.
Repentance (tawbah) will clean the impurity of pride when the self is melted in the oven of self-reproach with the fuel of remorse, and returns to Allah.
Hasad (envy or jealousy) is a state in which a person wishes for the deprivation of a blessing, talent or merit, real or imagined, possessed by another person.
The causes of envy have been confined to seven:
Sense of supremacy
Wonder: envious persons are puzzled to see blessings enjoyed by the object of their envy.
Fear: envious persons fear that their aims or objectives will be gained by the one whom they envy.
Love of authority
Viciousness of nature: a person of this nature does not like to see others enjoying any kind of good whatsoever.
All of these cures, in some estimations, are derived from feelings of inferiority and dejection.
Envy is one of the deadliest diseases of the heart where the envious one is affected with this vice due to his love of mundane, worldly things.
But, don’t think that a person entangled by this vice cannot be cured. As long as man exists in this realm of transition and change, it is possible for him to transform all his attributes and moral characteristics. However strong a habit may be, as long as one has life, a stop can be put to bad habits and good ones can be built.
A practical remedy for this vice is to be, even if you must force yourself, kind and affectionate with the person of whom you are jealous. By showing your affection, you should be of the mind that you want to rid yourself of this sickness. Your inner self will tell you to hurt or malign him, but you should act against the inclinations of the self and be friendly with him. Try to see his virtues and good qualities. Even though this may seem unnatural to you in the beginning, eventually your behavior will become less artificial.
Ghathab (anger) is a state of agitation that is produced in the heart’s blood, arousing a desire for vengeance. When this agitation becomes more violent, it intensifies the fire of anger. A violent commotion in the blood seizes the heart, filling the arteries and brain with a flurry of dark smoke, thereafter, the mind and intellect lose control and become powerless. A person in such a state is extremely difficult to calm and often times when overtures are made to do so the person becomes even more enraged.
Of course, the Power of Anger is one of the greatest favors that Allah has conferred on His creatures. With anger, a person can defend himself against destruction and extinction. Without this feature, a person may become timid, weak, lazy or may be plagued with moral weaknesses such as, lack of restraint, patience, constancy, and perseverance when needed, which may lead to the love of comfort, submissiveness to oppression, insults and disgrace and, finally spiritlessness.
On the other hand, uncontrolled anger is the product of spiritual weakness, insufficiency of faith, immoderation of character and soul, love of the world and concern for mundane things and the fear of losing the pleasures of this life.
The Qur’an states: “…who restrain anger, and pardon (all) men; for Allah loves those who do good;” (3:134)
Among the fundamental remedies of anger, is the extermination of the factors responsible for causing it. There are many factors responsible for exciting anger, but a few, here, can be mentioned. One of them is self-love, which in turn, brings about love of wealth, glory, and honor and the desire to impose one’s will and expand one’s domain of power.
Another factor is imagining that one has made great accomplishments or possesses great merits to which must be forever nurtured and cared for, forgetting that Allah is the one who is ultimately responsible for our accomplishments, if we really have any.
If the love of these things is eradicated from the heart this vice will be completely wiped out, and therefore, the soul will be vacant to be taken over by moral virtues.
`Asabiyyah is the characteristic of the person who supports his kinsmen and relatives even for a wrong and unjust cause. It is manifested in patronizing; defending one’s kindred and those with whom one has some kind of affinity or relation.
If a man supports his kinsmen and friends purely for the sake of upholding justice and defeating injustice, this kind of `asabiyyah is commendable and praiseworthy. But, if it is the contrary with the purpose of supporting vices and wrongs, the individual is a corrupted soul, confusing vice with virtue.
The Qur’an states: “…For you, ye have taken (for worship) idols besides Allah, out of mutual love and regard for each other in this life; but on the Day of Judgment ye shall disown each other and curse each other, and your abode with be the Fire…” (29:25)
It behooves the one who may be afflicted with this vice to bring to mind that all associations and relationships are merely transitory accidents and are perishable. The only relationship that is permanent and lasting and the only `asabiyyah that is true, is the relationship between the Creator and the created being and is prior to all the ties of lineage and alliance.
Riya’ in any of its forms amounts to shirk (polytheism) and means to falsely make oneself appear to be virtuous, good natured or a true believer in Allah in front of people for the sake of earning their respect and admiration.
This kind of person considers himself a believer, when in reality he is an idolater.
The Qur’an states: “Fain would they deceive Allah and those who believe, but they only deceive themselves, and realize (it) not!” (2:9)
If you see that riya’ has crept into your heart, your heart has not really surrendered itself to reason, and faith has not lit up your heart yet.
To combat this vice, it may be enough to bring to mind that there is no one in this world, who has concealed his good deeds that Allah has not revealed them. And there is no one in this world who could conceal his wicked deeds forever, that Allah did not expose him or her.
Therefore, if you have been made a prisoner of this cursed behavior, be aware that your work should be for the sake of Allah, not for people.
A few steps used in trying to free oneself from this malady are the following:
1. Cross-examine yourself for every detail in your deeds.
2. Ask yourself what motivation you have.
3. Ask yourself why you feel it necessary to inform others about your deeds.
4. Realize that humans are weak creatures and the reality is that Allah, alone, is the ultimate power.
Fight bravely against your carnal self.
Pray that the Almighty will help you.