An unpredictable state of mind

Updated 07 May 2015

An unpredictable state of mind

What is the underlying cause of the way that some people suddenly become infuriated or emotional and start weeping or behave in some unexpected way in the face of day-to-day events?
* Why is it essential to avoid falling prey to this disorder, which mainly damages the victim himself and is generally described as someone “having a hair trigger?”
* What must be done to free oneself from the condition?
Some people live their lives according to rules they themselves have invented. These people can easily make concessions regarding these rules when it comes to their own worldly desires. Because they have no guide who will direct the course of their lives, ensure they maintain a stable character, and whom they have a total belief. For that reason, their characters are prone to sudden variations. Among the distinguishing features of such people are, for instance, their suddenly slamming doors and acting aggressively toward people around them or shouting in a loud voice although they had been sitting perfectly calmly just five minutes ago, or suddenly bursting into tears having just said how happy they were.
The fundamental reason for this behavioral defect that all believers must scrupulously avoid, is that such people fail to frame their behavior, speech, actions, thoughts and reactions to events in the light of the moral values of the Qur’an.

The Obstacles to a Balanced Nature
Following one’s worldly desires
In the Qur’an, Almighty God reveals that people have been created with a tendency toward selfish passions. If someone permits his worldly concerns to rule him, then all his behavior will be shaped by selfish wishes. These selfish desires will prevent him displaying a stable, consisted and balanced nature. As a result of the prompting of worldly concerns he may suddenly become enraged, or emotional, or sulky, or jealous and start taking sudden decisions in the light of these emotions. His character will always come as a surprise, therefore, to those around him. There will be no consistency between one moment and another. His state of mind, thoughts, feeling, decisions and perspectives can change at any moment. Because of his unbalanced and inconsistent behavior, such a person will always inspire feeling of unease and distrust in those around him.
In the Qur’an, God warns us that worldly passions will always encourage one to evil and that Satan will oblige people to behave inconsistently, irrationally and emotionally, as dictated by their desires. He also imparts the glad tidings that people who adopt the Qur’an as their guide in the face of this, however, and who act according to the stirring of their consciences, will achieve the ideal character and enjoy superiority in both this world and the hereafter.
A believer achieves this strong and superior character by following the path shown by God. Since the Qur’an is his guide, his behavior and reactions in the face of events are always shaped according to Qur’anic moral values. How he will behave, his perspective on events and the logic he adopts will never come as a surprise to those around him. His mind, conscience, behavior and speech always reflect the stability required by Qur’anic virtue, and his nature is therefore always to be trusted.
Acting emotionally
Emotionality is not regarded as undesirable in societies oblivious to religious moral values. Indeed, it is generally believed that a certain amount of emotionality in a person’s make-up is an important attribute. According to that way of thinking, the behavior caused by emotionality is human feelings that need to be let out. For that reason, character defects stemming from emotionality, such as “touchiness, dissatisfaction, sulking, weeping, an introverted state of mind, apathy, jealousy or anger,” are encouraged by suggesting they are “emotions representing human nature.” Nothing could be more wrong, however.
Emotionality that is widespread in societies oblivious to the moral values of the Qur’an lead to people having weak characters. Since people react to events in the light of their own emotions, they tend to act irrationally. They become unable to think logically and accurately or to make sound deductions. And this leads to people being unpredictable and inflicting material and psychological damage on themselves and those around them.
However, since the Qur’an rules the whole of a believer’s life and character, he possesses the most accurate knowledge regarding the promptings of one’s passions and how to combat it. He knows that emotionality clouds one’s reason, prevents one thinking straight and seeing the truth, and also makes one weak and lacking in resistance.

The solution to an unpredictable character
Sincere devotion to God, genuine submission and knowing that everything transpires under His control and that everything is for the best prevent one falling prey to one’s emotions and behaving badly. Because of his powerful love and fear of God, the believer scrupulously avoids all forms of behavior that might result from emotionality.
Believers regulate their whole lives according to Qur’anic moral virtues. They know that avoiding the defects of personality prevalent in societies devoid of faith and exhibiting a strong character will serve as a role model for others and behave in complete awareness of that responsibility. As God reveals in the Qur’an in the words “It is the people who are safe-guarded from the avarice of their own selves who are successful” (Surat al-Hashr, 9), they strive to cleanse their desires of evil. God has revealed that in return for that effort believers will enjoy peace, blessings and happiness in this world and the hereafter:
“What is with you runs out but what is with Allah goes on for ever. Those who were steadfast will be recompensed according to the best of what they did. Anyone who acts rightly, male or female, being a believer, We will give them a good life and We will recompense them according to the best of what they did.” (Surat An-Nahl, 96-97)
People who are prone to enormous distress, who fall prey to weeping or rage or jealousy, or who sulk in silence and become totally introverted are unaware of God’s might, that He has created all things with goodness, wisdom and justice, that He can perform whatever He wishes whenever He wishes, and that He will heed people’s prayers.
All sorrow, anger and jealousy stem from weakness of faith and errors originating from that perspective.

The writer has authored more than 300 books translated in 73 languages on politics, religion and science.


The beauty of prayer in Islam

Updated 23 September 2016

The beauty of prayer in Islam

GOING deeper into our spiritual state during prayers (salah) requires that we have a presence of heart and are mindful of the words being said during the prayers.
Our prayer will feel shorter, yet when we look at how much time we actually spent, we will think, “Did I just spend 10 minutes?” or even 15 and 20 minutes.
A person who began applying this said he wished the prayer would never end.
A feeling that Ibn Al-Qayyim describes as “what the competitors compete for… it is nourishment for the soul and the delight of the eyes,” and he also said, “If this feeling leaves the heart, it is as though it is a body with no soul.”

The love of Allah
Some people’s relationship with Allah is limited to following orders and leaving prohibitions, so that one does not enter hell. Of course, we must follow orders and leave prohibitions, but it needs to be done out of more than fear and hope; it should also be done out of love for Allah. Allah says in the Qur’an: “… Allah will bring forth [in place of them] a people He will love and who will love Him.” (Qur’an, 5:54)
We often find that when a lover meets the beloved, hearts are stirred and there is warmth in that meeting. Yet when we meet Allah, there is not even an ounce of this same feeling. Allah says in the Qur’an: “And (yet) among the people are those who take other than Allah as equals (to Him). They love them as they (should) love Allah. But those who believe are stronger in love for Allah.” (Qur’an, 2:165)
And those who believe are stronger in love for Allah. There should be a feeling of longing, and when we raise our hands to start the prayer, warmth and love should fill our hearts because we are now meeting with Allah. A dua of the Prophet (peace be upon him): “O Allah, I ask You for the longing to meet You” (An-Nisa’i, Al-Hakim)
Ibn Al-Qayyim says in his book Tareeq Al-Hijratain that Allah loves His Messengers and His believing servants, and they love Him and nothing is more beloved to them than Him. The love of one’s parents has a certain type of sweetness, as does the love of one’s children, but the love of Allah far supersedes any of that. The Prophet, peace be upon him, said: “Any person who combines these three qualities will experience the sweetness of faith: 1) that God and His messenger are dearer to him than anything else; 2) that his love of others is purely for God’s sake; and 3) that he hates to relapse into disbelief as much as he hates to be thrown in the fire.” (Bukhari)
Thus, the first thing he mentioned was: “… that God and His messenger are more beloved to him than anything else…”
Ibn Al-Qayyim says: “Since ‘there is nothing like unto Him’ (Qur’an, 42:11), there is nothing like experiencing love for Him.”
If you feel this love for Him, it will be a feeling so intense, so sweet, that you would wish the prayer would never ever end.
Do you truly want to feel this love? Then ask yourself: ‘why do you or should you love Allah?’
Know that you love people for one (or all, in varying degrees) of three reasons: For their beauty, because of their exalted character or/and because they have done good to you. And know that Allah combines all of these three to the utmost degree.

All-embracing beauty
We’ve all been touched by beauty. It is almost fitrah (natural disposition) to love what is beautiful. Ali ibn Abi Talib, may Allah be pleased with him, said about the Prophet, peace be upon him, that it was “as if the sun is shining from his face.” Jabir (may God be pleased with him) said: “The Messenger of Allah was more handsome, beautiful, and radiant than the full moon” (Tirmidhi)
Allah made all His Prophets have a certain beauty so that people would have a natural inclination toward them.
And beauty is more than what is in the face, because beauty is in all of creation and somehow has the ability to take our breath away and give us peace simultaneously. The glimmer of the crescent moon on a calm night, the intensity of a waterfall as the water drops for thousands of feet, the sunset by the sea … certain scenes of natural unspoiled beauty stirs something in us. As Allah is the One Who made it beautiful, so what of Allah’s beauty?
Ibn Al-Qayyim said: “And it is enough to realize Allah’s Beauty when we know that every internal and external beauty in this life and the next are created by Him, so what of the beauty of their Creator?”
This fitrah for loving what is beautiful is because Allah is beautiful. One of His Names is Al-Jameel (the Most Beautiful). Ibn Al-Qayyim states that the beauty of Allah is something that a person cannot imagine and only He knows it. There is nothing of it in creation save for glimpses.
Ibn Al-Qayyim says if all of creation were the most beautiful they could be (so let’s imagine, ever single human being looked as beautiful as Yusuf, peace be upon him, and the whole world was like Paradise), and all of them combined from the beginning of time until the Day of Judgment, they would not even be like a ray in comparison to the sun when compared to Allah. Allah’s beauty is so intense that we will not even be able to take it in this life. In the Qur’an, Allah describes Musa’s (peace be upon him) request: “And when Moses arrived at Our appointed time and his Lord spoke to him, he said, ‘My Lord, show me (Yourself) that I may look at You.’ (Allah) said: ‘You will not see Me but look at the mountain; if it should remain in place, then you will see Me.’ But when his Lord appeared to the mountain He rendered it level, and Moses fell unconscious.” (Qur’an, 7:143)
Even the mountain could not bear the beauty of Allah and crumbled, and when Musa, peace be upon him, saw this (he did not even see Allah), he fell unconscious. This is why on the Day of Judgment it is Allah’s light that will shine on everything. We talk about breathtaking beauty, but we have yet to experience Allah’s beauty. While things in this world can be beautiful or majestic or if they combine both they are finite, true majesty and beauty are for Allah: “And there will remain the Face of your Lord, Owner of Majesty and Honor.” (Qur’an, 55:27)
Keeping all of this in mind, the Prophet, peace be upon him, said: “Allah directs His Face toward the face of His servant who is praying, as long as he does not turn away” (Tirmidhi).
Remember this in your prayer, and ask Allah to allow you the joy of seeing Him in Paradise.