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Entangled in the web of desires

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#1 [Permalink] Posted on 28th April 2017 12:30
Let us try completing this sentence:
I wish.........

The options for what we wish can be infinite, no?

Our wishes and inclinations drive us forward in life and make us who we are. Only a low-spirited, depressed soul would be wish-less because our wishes prove that we are alive and we have feeling hearts. Yes, these wishes can be good or bad, right or wrong, but this much is true that wishing an act is not wrong, it's rather pretty natural.

Animals have wishes too. It is just that their wishes revolve around only their basic needs like food, love, territory and safety, while the wishes of us humans are not that narrow. Also, their wishes can make them wild and non-accommodating for each other while humans are, supposedly, different. In fact, it is the way we can wish 'thoughtfully' that makes us humans and them non-humans.

So as a basic rule, as far as our wishes don't make us behave like animals, it is alright to wish. In other words, our wishes can be limitless in number but individually, each of them has to be limited. In order to understand, let us consider an example:

A typical high-schoolar can wish for good grades, good friends, a good repute among the teachers, and the list can go on. But when it comes to 'how much' he/she should wish for good grades or for good friends etc, it is something that he/she needs to learn to place inside brackets. So our wishes can be in the pattern of a bracket plus a bracket plus a bracket plus.........

Now learning to have 'bracketed'wishes is extremely important. And who can teach that skill to us better than Allah SWT; the Wish-Granter Himself?

So let us learn!
The first thing to know is that Allah SWT knows that we have an inbuilt ability to wish for something wrong or to wish for something right in a wrong manner. And since He SWT knows that it can be harmful for us to do so, He SWT has completely prohibited us from wishing for what is wrong, and for the right wishes, He SWT has shown us the right way to wish.

While to wish for something wrong (unlawful as per Shari'ah) is a plainly grievous sin, the wrong way to wish for a permissible thing is to desire that thing in excess; called 'Shahwat'. The term 'excess' needs explanation, but first let's see what is wrong with a wish that is in excess.

Our Beloved Prophet (Sallallahu alaihi wasallam) has said: "Your love (excessive desire) for something blinds and deafens you." (Abu Daw'ud)
This means that when we desire something in excess, it makes us lose our senses and understanding. It might make us unable to see or hear and thus to pay heed to reasonable advice.

It then might also make us indulge in unlawful ways of getting that thing because our ability to think is over-powered by that excessive desire and we are unable to see beyond it. Thus the concept of being 'madly in love' with something or someone is what defines Shahwat (excessive desire).

Now on the basis of what Allah SWT has taught us, let us see if we suffer from this 'excessive desire syndrome'.


You and I need to imagine a time when we really, really desire something; a time when we think our hearts are stuck in that thing and, despite all our efforts, we fail to get it out of our minds. It can be anything: a scoop of chocolate ice-cream, a toy, a gadget, a dress, a book, a sport or hobby, a nod of acceptance from 'someone special' or even a trip to somewhere we have dreamed of going all our lives! How does that wish affect the attitude of each one of us?

- Does the thought of not having that thing affect me emotionally; make me angry or depressed or unmotivated?

- If that desire is not fulfilled, does it badly affect me physically as well? For example, some people experience headaches or panic attacks if they don't get what they want -even if they are mundane things like tea or sugary foods!

- Does the thought of not getting that thing make me have ungrateful feelings towards Allah SWT?

- Do I find myself thinking about 'my wish' even during Salah?

- Does following that excessive desire make me get carried away often and disobey Allah SWT openly e.g. miss Salah, look at non-mahrams, listen to music or have unclean thoughts (immodesty, pride, envy, selfishness)?

- Do I have a 'want-it-at-all-cost' feeling for it? Do I fancy 'unlawful ways' of fulfilling that desire if I am unable to get it the lawful way?

- Does the thought of not getting that thing make me have an urge for violence; to hurt/harm someone or myself in words or through action?

A 'yes' to any of the above is a Shahwat indicator for us and it means that our wishes and inclinations towards certain things are out of their 'brackets'. Now the problem is 'what to do'! How to get rid of something so utterly damaging!


Rasulullah (Sallallahu alaihi wasallam) once said that if we really knew what we will undergo after death, we would never eat or drink with desire; we would laugh less and cry more. (Bukhari) ....... i.e. if we truely believed that there will be a time when we will be accounted for our deeds, we'd be cautious even at fulfilling our basic needs of eating and drinking. It is only true that many times the only reason for our wishes to be out of their proportion is our short-sightedness; forgetting about the Hereafter and thinking that 'this life is all there is'. This notion makes us extremely greedy and impatient because we feel that 'it's now or never'. The only way to overcome this weakness is to often remember and reinforce the idea that 'I-am-here-temporarily', 'the-real-life-is-yet-to-come', 'Allah SWT-will-ask-me-about-it', and so on.

In order to mend this distorted vision of ours, there are a few practical tips:

Never forget that.....

- I am supposed to be the master of my wishes and my wishes should never be my masters.

- I have to reduce the 'opportunities' for myself to be attacked by the 'excessive desire syndrome'. Good company that makes me stay grounded and remember Akhirah (hereafter), sensitivity towards the under-privileged folks and constant gratitude to Allah SWT for what I have, shall be my 'defence' in this never-ending battle.

- Even if I ran wildly after my wishes and even if I attained each of them, the satisfaction that my heart desires lies only with Allah SWT and His pleasure.

You know, not all the desires that are in excess are bad. Our Beloved Prophet (Sallallahu alaihi wasallam) was blessed by Allah SWT with an 'excessive desire' for the night prayer (Tahajjud). And when it comes to really loving and desiring someone, we as believers have the standard set for us already by Allah SWT: "...those who believe are most extreme in their love for Allah." (Al-Baqarah:165)

Now these are the things that we are to wish for without any brackets at all. Happy wishing!!

Taken from: Radiance Magazine (Vol 2/ Iss 6)
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