DISADVANTAGES OF FOLLOWING THE DESIRES
By Shaykh Saalih Aal Taalib
From Islaamic Propagation & Education Committee, Al-Madeenah Al-Munawwarah (Sermons of the two Holy Mosques)
5 Rabee’uth-thaanee 1426 (13, May 2005)
All praise is due to Allaah, Lord of all the worlds. Peace and blessings be upon the Messenger (sallallaahu ‘alayihi wa sallam), his household and his companions.
Fellow Muslims! Fear Allaah as He should be feared. Allaah says, “O you who believe! Fear Allaah (by doing all that He has ordered and by abstaining from all that He has forbidden) as He should be feared. (Obey Him, be thankful to Him, and remember Him always), and die not except in a state of Islaam (as Muslims (with complete submission to Allaah)).” (Aal ‘Imraan 3:102)
Piety is a sign of faith. It is through it that one can remain steadfast upon the straight path.
Know that the best guidance is the guidance of Muhammad (sallallaahu ‘alayihi wa sallam); the worst of all matters are innovations, every innovation is error, and every error leads to Hell.
Fellow Muslims! Allaah created the creatures that they may worship Him alone and abide by His commands and prohibitions. Allaah says, “And I (Allaah) created not the jinn and mankind except that they should worship Me (Alone).” (Adh-Dhaariyaat 51:56)
Allaah also says, “O mankind! Worship your Lord (Allaah), Who created you and those who were before you so that you may become pious.” (Al-Baqarah 2:21)
The Messengers (sallallaahu ‘alayihi wa sallam) were not sent, the Books were not revealed and the Paradise and Hell were not created except for this great fact, and to bring mankind out of worshipping their desires into worshipping their Creator alone. They are requested to believe in His oneness, implement His commands and abstain from His prohibitions in all aspects of life. They are also commanded to return to His law in all affairs and to surrender to His decisions in all situations. The Book of Allaah and the Sunnah of His Messenger (sallallaahu ‘alayihi wa sallam) jointly aim at this goal, so that man can perform only deeds that pleas Allaah. If man goes against this goal, he is threatened with punishment in this world and the Hereafter. Allaah says, “And let those who oppose the Messenger’s (Muhammad (peace be upon him)) commandment (i.e. his Sunnah legal ways, orders, acts of worship, statements, etc) (among the sects) beware, lest some Fitnah (disbelief, trials, afflictions, earthquakes, killing, overpowered by a tyrant, etc.) befall them or a painful torment be inflicted on them.” (An-Noor 24:63)
Brethren in faith! The foundation of disobedience to Allaah is following the desire and surrendering to transient interests and passing lusts. Allaah regards following the desire as an antithesis of guidance. He says, “Judge you between men in truth (and justice) and follow not your desire – for it will mislead you from the Path of Allaah.” (Saad 38:28)
And He says, “Then for him who transgressed all bounds, (in disbelief, oppression and evil deeds of disobedience to Allaah). And preferred the life of this world (by following his evil desires and lusts), Verily, his abode will be Hell-fire; But as for him who feared standing before his Lord, and restrained himself from impure evil desires and lusts. Verily, Paradise will be his abode.” (An-Naazi’aat 79:37-41)
Allaah also says about His Messenger (sallallaahu ‘alayihi wa sallam), “Nor does he speak of (his own) desire. It is only a Revelation revealed.” (An-Najm 53:3-4)
It is known by experience and by textual evidence that benefits of this world and those of the Hereafter cannot be attained through following the desire and uncontrolled surrendering to whims. Doing so rather leads to anarchy, killings, wars and destruction.
Fellow Muslims! There cannot be real Islaam if the mind does not surrender and submit totally to the wills of Allaah. Allaah says, “Say (O Muhammad (sallallaahu ‘alayihi wa sallam)): Verily, my SalÃ¢t (prayer), my sacrifice, my living, and my dying are for Allaah, the Lord of the ‘AlamÃ®n (mankind, jinn and all that exists). “He has no partner. And of this I have been commanded, and I am the first of the Muslims.” (Al-An’aam 6:162-163)
The essence of Islaam is to surrender to Allaah through obedience. It means unreserved and willing acceptance of His decisions and injunctions in all aspects of life. That is the essence of Islaam. Whoever counters the law of Allaah with his own opinion does not surrender to Him. He is rather a slave of his own desires, and he is the one referred to by Allaah’s word, “Have you seen him who takes his own lust (vain desires) as his ilÃ¢h (god), and Allaah knowing (him as such), left him astray, and sealed his hearing and his heart, and put a cover on his sight, who then will guide him after Allaah? Will you not then remember?” (Al-Jaathiyah 45:23)
Allaah also says, “But if they answer you not (i.e. do not bring the Book nor believe in your doctrine of Islaamic Monotheism), then know that they only follow their own lusts. And who is more astray than one who follows his own lusts, without guidance from Allaah? Verily Allaah guides not the people who are ZÃ¢limÃ»n (wrong-doers, disobedient to Allaah, and polytheists).” (Al-Qasas 28:50)
Surrendering to the will of Allaah in all matters is not only the essence of Islaam; it is also a condition for true eemaan. Allaah says, “But no, by your Lord, they can have no Faith, until they make you (O Muhammad (peace be upon him)) judge in all disputes between them, and find in themselves no resistance against your decisions, and accept (them) with full submission.” (An-Nisaa 4:65)
In the hadeeth, the Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu ‘alayihi wa sallam) said, “None of you truly believes until he subjects his desire to that which I have brought.”
Fellow Muslims! Though the Islaamic laws and regulations cater for the interests of mankind, these laws are not subjects to human whims and desires. Allaah says, “And if the truth had been in accordance with their desires, verily, the heavens and the earth, and whosoever is therein would have been corrupted! Nay, We have brought them their reminder, but they turn away from their reminder.” (Al-Mu’minoon 23:71)
Shaykhul-Islaam ibn Taymiyyah said, “It is only a revealed Book from the heaven can settle disputes between people. If people were to be referred to their own opinions, every one of them would surely have an opinion.”
Dear brethren! A Muslim may be weak, giving Satan an opportunity to force him into committing a sin. If he repents from that sin, Allaah will accept his repentance; but if he dies before he repents Allaah might punish him if He wishes or forgive him if He wishes. This is the situation of most people. All children of Adam are sinners and the best of the sinners are those who repent.
The blameworthy person who deserves the threat of punishment is someone who is supercilious, argues in support of his sins and desire, opposes Allaah’s injunctions with his own opinion, aims at demeaning Islaam, wages war against all virtues that goes against his lusts and calls unto all things that fancies his desires. This person follows the path of the philosophers of old by giving in to only the likes and dislikes of his desire until he gets lost in the darkness of lusts and error like a vessel which is upset, not recognizing what is good or rejecting what is abominable.
Shaykhul-Islaam ibn Taymiyyah said, “Following desires in matters of religion is more heinous than following desires in lustful things. The former was the situation of those who disbelieved among people of the ure and the polytheists. These are those meant by the Prophet’s saying in the hadeeth narrated by Hudhayfah, “There are people at the gates of Hell, calling people unto it. Whoever responds to their call they will throw them into the Fire. I said: Messenger of Allah, describe them for us. He said: All right. They will be a people from among us and who speak our language.”
The Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu ‘alayihi wa sallam) also said, “A people are going to emerge from among my nation who will be infested with desires as rabies afflicts its victim, leaving out no vein or joint unaffected.” Aboo Daawood)
Ash-Shaatibee said, “What they do is that they follow the judgement of their mere reason and make that it a partner with the law of Allaah in approving or disapproving things. If they had stopped at that the matter would have been easier but they transcended all these limits until they launched war against Allaah and His Messenger (sallallaahu ‘alayihi wa sallam) by opposing the Book of Allaah and the Sunnah of His Messenger.”
Fellow Muslims! There is no place for individual reasoning in the presence of textual evidence, and there should be no consideration for the opinion of anyone in the presence of the decision of Allaah and that of His Messenger. Allaah says, “It is not for a believer, man or woman, when Allaah and His Messenger (sallallaahu ‘alayihi wa sallam) have decreed a matter that they should have any option in their decision. And whoever disobeys Allaah and His Messenger (sallallaahu ‘alayihi wa sallam), he has indeed strayed in a plain error.” (Al-Ahzaab 33:36)
Showing dislike for the law of Allaah and seeking for other laws besides His destroy deeds. Allaah says, “That is because they hate that which Allaah has sent down (this Qur’aan and Islaamic laws, etc.); so He has made their deeds fruitless.” (Muhammad 47:9)
Ibn Rajab said, “Sins are committed because of giving preference to the desire above the love for Allaah and His Messenger (sallallaahu ‘alayihi wa sallam). Innovations in religion happen as a result of preferring desires to the law of Allaah, and this is more dangerous. If a mind is already used to desire, weaning that mind off the desire then becomes difficult.
Brethren in faith! Allaah has created a limitation to man’s sense of reasoning. It is impossible for human mind to have perfect understanding of everything. Encompassing all things in knowledge is an exclusive attribute of Allaah alone. Humans’ understanding is defective and they would never agree on any theory. That is why you see them adopting an opinion today and abandoning it tomorrow for another view, and in the next tomorrow they move to another different opinion. If every decision taken through human reasoning was correct that would have been enough to guarantee the well-being of the entire humanity in their worldly life and in their Hereafter, there would never have been any need for sending Messengers and there would have been no need for divine messages.
It is therefore incumbent upon the Muslim to beware of following the dangerously erroneous path of rejecting any part of Allaah’s injunctions or disliking it or giving preference to the desire and reason over the Revelation. The followers of the Sunnah are unanimous that whoever commits a number of forbidden things that are less than polytheism, such a person is not regarded a disbeliever; and that whoever regards such forbidden things as lawful â€“ even if he does not commit them â€“ such a person has disbelieved, if those things fall among things that should be known ion the religion by necessity.
Let those who seek salvation read the saying of Allaah that goes thus, “And verily, this is my Straight Path, so follow it, and follow not (other) paths, for they will separate you away from His Path. This He has ordained for you that you may become pious.” (Al-An’aam 6:153)
Fellow Muslims! Intellect is commendable in man. If not, obligations would not have been exclusively ordained upon man. Allaah addresses human intellect in many verses in His Book. He commands man to think and reason. He even makes reasoning a justification. He ends many of His commandments with His saying, “That you may reason.”
Though it is Allaah Who created intellect in man, He makes them different from one another. He created in human nature desire and passion but makes Revelation the judge over all that, that He may put human being to trial. He who submits himself to Allaah alone is the real Muslim who obeys Allaah and therefore, deserves Paradise. But he who is conceited and uses his intellect to rebel against Allaah, he is promised a punishment.
The scholars mentioned the characteristics of the people of desire and those who gave preference to their defective reason over the perfect Islaamic law and injunction. As these characteristics were found the earlier people of desire, they are also found in latter ones. One of these characteristics is following the not-so-clear texts of the Qur’aan. Allaah says, “So as for those in whose hearts there is a deviation (from the truth) they follow that which is not entirely clear thereof, seeking Al-Fitnah (polytheism and trials, etc.), and seeking for its hidden meanings, but none knows its hidden meanings save Allaah. And those who are firmly grounded in knowledge say: “We believe in it; the whole of it (clear and unclear Verses) are from our Lord.” And none receive admonition except men of understanding.” (Aal ‘Imraan 3:7)
Another characteristic of the people of desire is that they insult the earlier Muslims, like the Prophet’s companions who are known for their knowledge and piety and who are emulated by those who came after them. The people of desire only praise those who agree with their whims like the philosophers.
The people of desire are also known for their disrespect for the injunctions of Islaam and their indifference to opposing them. Some of them even went to the extent of mocking these injunctions and making fun of those who adhere to them and criticizing and blaming them.
Another characteristic of the people of desire is that they do not follow the Sunnah in their acts of worship, manners and situations. In spite of this, you find one of them equaling themselves with eminent scholars of the Sunnah. They are like those Allaah describes in the Qur’aan as, “And among men is he who disputes about Allaah, without knowledge or guidance, or a Book giving light (from Allaah), bending his neck in pride (far astray from the Path of Allaah), and leading (others) too (far) astray from the Path of Allaah. For him there is disgrace in this worldly life, and on the Day of Resurrection We shall make him taste the torment of burning (Fire). That is because of what your hands have sent forth, and verily, Allaah is not unjust to (His) slaves.” (Al-Hajj 22:8-10)
O Allaah! Make our hearts firm upon your religion and guide those Muslims who have gone astray.
ON FOLLOWING DESIRES
By Imam Ibn ul Qayyim al Jawziyyah
‘Unlawful desires are usually associated with ugliness. They leave behind a lingering sensation of pain and guilt. Hence, whenever you are tempted, think about liberating yourself. Think about all the remorse that would accompany the realisation of those desires, and then make up your mind. Struggling your way through obedience is not an easy task. It is, however, associated with goodness and soothing pleasures. Whenever you overburden yourself (with unlawful desires) think about how nice it would be to repent and set yourself free. Think about the pleasures that lawful desires will provide and try to make the correct choice. The dilemma you will experience should be reduced by remembering the sweet pleasure and the ultimate happiness that your obedience (to Allah) will provide. Also make your struggle less of one by picturing the punishment that follows disobedience to Allah. Logically your mind should opt for the more rewarding option and help you to endure the pain of denying yourself the realisation of such desires.’