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Those who Take Vain Desires and Passions as god

In the previous section, we analyzed the two aspects of the soul: the one inspiring evil, and wicked deeds, and the other guarding against every inculcation of evil. In the Qur’an the word “hewa” is used to express the evil side of the soul. Hewa is defined as “desire, passion, sexual desire, lust, and all negative internal factors spoiling man”.

The unique guidance for unbelievers is this negative and evil side of the soul, namely the hewa. Satisfying vain desires and passions becomes a way of living for them. Consequently, all their mental faculties and efforts are focused on the gratification of whims. In such a state of mind, it becomes almost impossible for an unbeliever to comprehend the teachings of religion. The Qur’an recounts this fact:

And among them are men who listen to you, but in the end, when they leave you, they say to those who have received knowledge, “What is it he said just then?” Such are men whose hearts Allah has sealed, and who follow their own lusts. (Muhammad, 16)

One who surrenders himself to the evil side of his soul turns to his soul whenever he needs to arrive at a judgment. In this sense, whims and desires become the basis upon which to judge between right and wrong.  This is also a clear manifestation that a person worships his own soul, or to put it another way, his ego. In the Quran this state is called “taking one’s own vain desire as one’s god” in the following verse:

Then do you see such a person as takes as his god his own vain desire?Allah has, knowing (him as such), left him astray, and sealed his hearing and hs heart and understanding and put a veil over his eyes.Who, then, will guide him after Allah has withdrawn His guidance? Will you not then receive admonition? (Al-Jathiya,23)

In the Qur’an, one who is guided by his passions and desires, and is thus lacking in a sound mind capable of thinking, is characterized as “deaf and blind.” Believers, on the other hand are endowed with a sound mind, with which they can judge between right and wrong, and an insight with which they have a full grasp of all happenings around them. In the following verses people and societies devoid of understanding due to their following their own lusts as mentioned:

Say: “O people of the Book! Exceed not in your religion the bounds (of what is proper), trespassing beyond the truth, nor follow the vain desires of people who went wrong in times gone by, who misled many, and strayed (themselves) from the straight path. (Al-Maeda, 77)
Say: “I am forbidden to worship those - others than Allah - whom you call upon.” Say: “I will not follow your vain desires: If I did, I would stray from the path, and would not be of the company of those who receive guidance.” (Al-Anaam, 56)
Why should you not eat meat on which Allah’s name has been pronounced, when He has explained to you in detail what is forbidden to you - except under compulsion of necessity? But many people are misled by their appetites through ignorance. Your Lord knows best those who transgress. (Al-Anaam, 119)
Thus We have revealed it to be a judgment of authority in Arabic. Were you to follow their (vain) desires after the knowledge which has reached you, you would find neither protector nor defender against Allah. (Al-Rad, 37)
Do you see such a one as takes for his god his own passion (or impulse)? Could you be a disposer of his affairs? (Al-Furqan, 43)
O you who believe! Stand out firmly for justice, as witnesses to Allah, even against yourselves, or your parents, or your kin, and whether it be (against) rich or poor: for Allah can best protect both. Do not follow the lusts (of your hearts), lest you swerve from the truth; and if you distort (justice) or decline to do justice, truly, Allah is well-acquainted with all that you do. (An-Nisa, 135)
No, the wrong-doers (merely) follow their own lusts, being devoid of knowledge. But who will guide those whom Allah leaves astray? For them there will be no helpers. (Al-Room, 29)
“Therefore, let not such as do not believe therein but follow their own lusts, divert you therefrom, lest you perish!” (Ta-Ha, 16)
If the Truth had been in accord with their desires, truly the heavens and the earth, and all beings therein would have been in confusion and corruption! No, We have sent them their scriptures, but they turn away from their admonition. (Al-Momenoon, 71)
To you We sent the Scripture in truth, confirming the scripture that came before it, and guarding it in safety: so judge between them by what Allah has revealed, and do not follow their vain desires, diverging from the truth that has come to you. For each among you we have prescribed a law and an open way. If Allah had so willed, He would have made you a single people, but (His plan is) to test you in what He has given you: so strive as in a race in all virtues. The goal of all of you is Allah; it is He who will show you the truth of the matters in which you dispute; and this (He commands): Judge between them by what Allah has revealed, and do not follow their vain desires, but beware of them lest they turn you away from any of that (teaching) which Allah has sent down to you. And if they turn away, be assured that for their sins it is Allah’s purpose to punish them. And truly most men are rebellious. (Al-Maeda, 48-49)

Following lusts and vain desires makes the individual blind to his faults. Such a person rapidly meets with eternal disaster.

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