Allah created humans as unique living beings with distinctive features of rational skills. He put man under testing to select the right path between instinctive needs and use of reasoning against a set code of ethics and responsibilities imposed by the Creator. Due to the open choice of freedom, it is up to a respondent which direction to choose to get the final award when facing His lord on the Resurrection Day. Self-awareness is the step toward human growth in understanding the worth of inner satisfaction and the surrounding natural beauty and blessings. By supporting others through self-awareness, we gain spiritual happiness and a feeling of satisfaction towards our own self as if we have supported or quenched our own needs. The pleasure of such awareness can be revived in prayers, charities, fasting, Hajj, social community gatherings, etc., by feeling as a part of the whole united fellow human beings under an All-kind, All-providing, All-forgiving sole Authority. This practice can be recharged after midnight prayers with deep breathing and self-relaxation, to develop further mental peace by feelings of contentment through comparing to those who are less blessed.
Muslims should recharge for the self-accountability process by awakening the sleeping self (self-oriented prodigal self) and then reset the self-programming with simple short applicable goals based on self-encouragement to achieve it. I would like to share my personal and clients’ experiences that clinically reciting or listening to the Qur’an (with an authentic translation) while calm and relaxing at midnight develops a deep and soothing, healthy impact on human nature. It generates self-control (biggest reward in Islamic practices) called patience and Tawakal (trust in the Lord) which is the key to success for a Muslim. Instead of criticizing or advising others, you should concentrate on your self-command, equipped with knowledge of the Qur’an as the final source of divine words and feel involved in deeds without getting entangled into lengthy planning. There is no need to get attention by self-projection or boasting as people are attracted by a practical worker, not an annoying charlatan.
Peace and prosperity are within the self and not from outside, illusory appearances, and they come through the practices and application of the golden rules about mankind as disclosed in the verses of the Qur’an. An ignorant and arrogant person who is clinically trapped in insecurity and is living in a hollow, self-centered world, is unable to enrich himself by the natural wonders, human love and divine proofs as he cannot come out of his mental state to understand others and observe, listen and use senses to connect to the world.
In Islam, self-correction is the best battle for the survival of mankind. Self-awareness, developed with recognition of the self-accountability process, enlightens a person to the highest level of purity of a soul (mental state) needed to be with Allah Almighty. In order refine one’s self in performing religious practices, there are certain stages of awareness to be accomplished for peace of mind and the Lord’s blessings.
Starting with recitation > comprehending > observing > concentrating > visualizing + feeling then lead to a state of highness (altered state of consciousness) in a secluded atmosphere where no interruptions may derail the deep mental state of relationship between the Creator and His creature (the devoted) through practice in all Islamic obligatory services like Salat (prayers). Through reflection and repentance over sins and feeling the gracious attribute of Allah’s as “All-Forgiveness,” one can get relief from guilt feelings which bother a person, and the process of self-correction and self-accountability lead to the peak of self-confidence in a true believer of Islam. The slow and steady deep breathing with closed eyes further develops a close bond with the Almighty Allah in recalling His blessings by a psychologically disturbed person. Regularity and devotion are the keys to strengthen this bond. Through reflection, these practices are refined to control all the scattered thoughts and unconscious interceptions of which people try to get rid in life.Allah is gracious and merciful to all who look and seek for the right path; therefore, he has established a link with the true followers and believers is guided in V-2:152.
In fact, by nature, human beings (Adam’s progeny) forget the right path in the whirl of selfish desires among worldly attractions. According to this well-known saying, “To error is human and God is forgiving in nature.” So, one must surrender to his Lord by accepting one’s faults, repent and have full faith (hundred percent) that the Master is All-kind, All-merciful, All- powerful and All-forgiver of all types of faults in His human beings.
In Islamic Practices, Feelings are the Essence of Involvement in Each Human Deed
The Lord is observing the intention and purity of carrying out the prescribed deeds for His acceptance through involvement in the religious duties like Salat (regular prayers), Swam (fasting), Zakat (charities), Hajj, etc. In fact it is a direct bond between an individual and the Immortal Authority who is All-Seeing, All-Listening and All-Knowing of the covert behavior of human beings. There is no need of any translator between the concerned person and the sole Master, in which he would be lost to get relief from the pains, guilt, personal needs and fears, physical and mental strains, family or jobs challenges, etc.
Qur’anic verses clearly remind the followers that when, where, how and how much a person remembers Allah, He too with the same intensity and purity responds to the caller. If one needs His help, call him deeply and silently, alone or in a crowd, and one will feel His support in confronting any challenges without any fear. Those who only trust in Him and fear the punishment for bad deeds, are never afraid of any big powers in the universe as unconditional support of truth is that He is at the back of such persons. He loves His creatures, is open and generous in His blessings, and equally treats all creatures on the basis of individual devotion and attachment to Him. He is not cruel but the cruel deeds of people bring catastrophes, torments and suffering to them when they forget the Master and behave as superior and as a challenge to the Master, which forces Him to teach them a lesson of disobeying their original Master. He is generous in forgiving the sins if one sincerely repents on the past and does not repeat it. So, one should FeelHim in daily life affairs and ask Him for help, as it is His attribute that He is the most generous in provisions and needful to all, V-27:77,” And truly, it (this Qur’an) is a guide and a mercy to the believers. Verily, your Lord will decide between them (various sects) by His Judgment. And He is the All-Mighty, the All-Knowing. So put your trust in Allah; surely, you (O Muhammad) are on manifest truth. Verily, you cannot make the dead to hear (i.e. benefit them and similarly the disbelievers), nor can you make the deaf to hear the call, when they flee, turning their backs. Nor can you lead the blind out of their error, you can only make to hear those who believe in Our Ayat (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.), and who have submitted (themselves to Allah in Islam as Muslims).”
In short, Islamic practices are the logical use of senses to recharge the mental bond with the Lord. It is establishing a direct contact in time and space where reward is for submission and generating power within oneself for which there is no need of a mediator between Allah and His reward. This link begins right at the life of an individual but he, in the pursuit of worldly charms, forgets it till he faces some unforeseen troubles then he unconsciously cries for help but keeps on losing the contact until the final moment of death comes, when it will be of no use because it will be too late to repent. If a person forgives others, then the Lord will forgive him too for his abnormal actions. The relationship is based directly on the obedience to the words of Allah where reward is for reward (doing good deeds/obedience), and punishment is for the punishment (evil deeds/disobedience) on the scale of judgment. Allah is close to His simple, honest, loving and caring individuals. They play an active role in avoiding aggressive and possessive acts, and are sincere and committed to the fellow human beings, as Lord will treat them with extensive blessings.
In the Qur’an, both preventive and curative measures for crimes were revealed for the guidance of all peoples. Exemplary punishments were set for the followers through following the exact criminal punishment for people of all nations, tribes, sects or sexes. Even Jews were called to follow the Muslims’ laws and on the spot hand-cutting or stoning of sex-offenders was practiced for the correction of society. Due to such strict justice system and its application by the followers, many non-Muslims converted to Islam.
Besides Islamic mental hygienic rules, life pattern and an integrated Muslim culture and social rules, main emphasis is given to daily obligatory practices to create harmony, peace and contentment in the Muslim life. Islam gives key importance to practices and application in the specific life pattern in Muslim culture as a whole. After taking oath as a Muslim to believe and obey only one God (monotheism) and Muhammad (PBUH) as his Prophet, all activities of the Muslim are under His observation as He is omnipresent and all actions are recorded (public or private), with the inner feelings and intentions used in the performance. It is quoted that when you pray or act, you come with purified body and clothes in a place of worship as if you are present in the court of the most magnificent Authority of the world, presenting your message in a meek and humble form, perceiving His presence and talking to Him with an appeal to be forgiven, blessed and raised to a high status on Day of Judgment. The central point of focusing in reading and comprehending the true spirit of God’s message is, that the Prophet and his followers were directed that Qur’an is an easy and simple book to read but it is also full of wisdom and knowledge. Comprehension of its true spirit and the meanings used in it can be achieved through the following method: read, then stop, understand its components, then re-read and comprehend it, observe and feel the message, then again concentrate on its verses, afterwards perceive and preserve the message in mind, then visualize with feelings what has beam described in its revealed verses.
Obligations like Salat, fasting, Zakat, hajj, charities created a state of elevation in the practicing Muslim where there is a direct link between the creature and Creator as if whispering and requesting for blessings and forgiveness from a Loved One living thousands of miles away but being controlled by his deep involvement and devotion. Psychologically, it is an altered state of mind where one cuts down mental and physical interaction with the outer world. The words forgiver, kind, merciful and blessing to mankind of God has been frequently appeared in Qur’an that how much He loves his unique creature. This is an open invitation to correct and remind the apostates, polytheists, and pagans about their Creator with the sole authority to give life, death and rebirth.
A Muslim has to carry out fasting as prescribed in the Qur’an to have full control on his senses strictly in the spirit of purifying himself of instinctive needs under the observation of the omnipresent God. God says that he likes the patience and obedience of His true believers. Fasting is also a practice to realize the feelings and emotional state of hungry, thirsty, needy fellow human beings. God appreciates the support of deserving needy fellows as He will call to question the people, who had more than their needs, whether they looked after their neighbors, relatives, orphans, sick, handicapped, travelers and others in their community whether they have eaten or had the necessities.
The basic concept of feeling and understanding the needs of other human beings is so important that God describes such action just as you have directly met His needs. Therefore, it is narrated that on the annual Eid day of sacrificing an animal in the name of God is to distribute it among the poor and one’s relatives, while keeping only one third for personal use. In this way, God tests the devotion and sacrificing because He does not need conditioned actions or rituals of blood or flesh, but the inner feelings, mental attachment and emotional aspects of human nature in devotion.
Performing hajj once in life is the obligatory duty of a healthy and well-off person who can afford it. The main goal is to obey the order of God and perform it with the goal of developing feelings of unity, tolerance, forgiveness, and understanding the role of Ibrahim and his son Ishmael to give up all the dearest possessions of life for the will of God. The concept of unity is the basic concept in Islam which starts from the feelings of love, belongingness, mutual sacrificing and reciprocal feelings. Next, this relation of unity is reinforced at community gatherings at mosques. The next level of unity is extended in annual gatherings on the Eid day after the month of fasting to celebrate the blessings of God and helping the needy as well as deserving poor community people. The Hajj is an international gathering of Muslims to take care of the Muslims in the world who are facing a variety of human issues, such as abuse of their rights and daily life sufferings, etc.
Psychologically, when a child is born and confronting environmental pressures, develops anxiety and parents do not provide the psychological needs (warmth, love, security, respect, belongingness, appreciation) besides the physiological one, he remains empty and anxious to make it up from a psycho-social bond in the prevailing society. If the society itself loses its responsibility for fulfilling the human needs as a social model, the grown up becomes self-centered and aggressive in reactions to resolve the anxiety and insecurity by an active hoarding instinct (craze for wealth, power, affluence in society). Clinically, such behavior, instead of resolving the early life psychoses, triggers the intensity to hoard more and more as wealth and power do not replace the deprivations and psychological sufferings; the aggressive needs of insecurity turn into oppressive activities which further creates a gap between his psychological needs from other suffering people in the same setup. Such people are then trapped in a self-centered void and their mind becomes unstable to understand the differences between right and wrong. When to the stored hatred for mankind for his psychological deprivations is added rivalry, prejudice and fear of losing his hoarded wealth or power, he reacts frantically. Blind with selfish motives, if he is given guidance to purify his self, like a silk-worm in its cocoon, he is unable to see, hear, or comprehend and instead reacts like an arrogant, aggressive oppressor, ending himself under his one-sided track of reactions. Qur’an has preset the state of rigid, aggressive people in various surahs.
Most of the psychological and psycho physical diseases among oversensitive Muslims are due to poor trust in the attributions of Allah as they keep checking their negative thoughts (which they have not enacted in life) with the exaggerated punishment of kefirs by Allah. Actually, the basis of such sinful feelings is the popular literature and sayings of Mullahs/Imams who use this tool to control the masses as they proclaim themselves the agents of release from sins and the sources for entering paradise. The Qur’an narrated that such claiming is associating with the Lord and will be strictly punished (V-17:22) as Allah is the sole authority over His creature (V-25:3). Most of the neurotic symptoms in the semi-educated, because of ignorance of the true religion with personality impoverishment (like teenagers) or various personality disorders, are encouraged by the traditional healers who are in the business of treating hysteria, hypochondria, obsession compulsion, phobia and various anxiety or personality disorder. Such practices were prevalent in African tribes known as Voodoo death, which were based on the belief of the super power of the religious head of the tribe.
There are plenty of young and aged Muslims who try to be perfect and like angels without any human feelings and purified in spirit, which is abnormal thinking leading to guilt feelings and obsessive-compulsive disorder. In Islam, a sin is only a sin when a person with intentions actually performs a prohibited deed; otherwise, imagining a sin is not a sin till it is performed consciously with pleasure and satisfaction. In other words, thinking to kill a person, without actually killing a person intentionally, is not a crime in the human or divine court. The self-induced punishment based on abnormal thinking can be religiously and logically corrected but if one continues to do so, it will become a crime as one has decided by his own will to keep doing which is not allowed in the Qur’an: it is revealed that it is mankind who is cruel to himself as Allah is not cruel to His creature. Therefore, those who are involved in self-exhibition or self-torturing deeds may be engaged in attention seeking behavior or sympathy, which is against the verdict of the Qur’an (V-10:44) as Allah is merciful and kind to His creatures. One of the fundamental clinical principles about the psychological issues, severe negative thinking is based on the anxiety of uncontrolled thoughts and the fear that they may practically take place with the inability to handle them. It is remarkable that such thoughts are merely thoughts generated from poor self-confidence or poor knowledge and ignorance. In comparison to non-Muslims, this phenomenon is easy to resolve in Muslims who have a strong background of the Qur’an and attributes of Allah. By gradually developing insight (systematic desensitization process), and sole trust in the Almighty Allah who has control over all the people, objects, time and space, the concerned person is asked to, instead of running from the scary thoughts, just challenge them to harm him. As the thoughts have no realistic value, they come and go in the mind; one need not be scared as self-based negative thinking is based on past failures and poor self-confidence which enable evil thoughts to overwhelm an ignorant and ill-informed person. Instead, there should be trust in Allah (V-12:87) that He is the protector of an empowered Muslim to fight with Satan-related fantasies of mind. Satan tries to control a weak Muslim with poor knowledge of the Qur’an but if he is inspired by the logical rules of the Qur’an, irrational thoughts lose their value within no time.
The Muslims who has negative ideas and depression has just forsaken the Islamic concept that Allah is the sole Provider and Almighty power of the universe. According to the Qur’an, Allah knows better what and how much He blesses a person. He is generous and knows the covert actions and intentions of His creatures, but mankind is impatient and reactive in nature. Mostly those who avoid rule of contentment and love self-projection, are trapped in negative ideas and waste their energy in fantasies instead of utilizing it in short, calculated goals and blind trust in the Creator. The simple formula is a) no expectations, no depression, b) earn by action, and c) do not be dependent on others who are already dependent on the blessings of the Master of the universe. One should never be disappointed from the blessings of the gracious Lord. Allah has fixed criteria of awarding the mankind as He is just and rewards a person according to his labor. V-33:1-3,” O Prophet (Muhammad)! Keep your duty to Allah, and obey not the disbelievers and the hypocrites (i.e., do not follow their advices). Verily! Allah is Ever All-Knower, All-Wise. And follow that which is inspired in you from your Lord. Verily, Allah is Well-Acquainted with what you do. And put your trust in Allah, and Sufficient is Allah as a Wakil (Trustee, or Disposer of affairs)”.
If a sin is done intentionally to seek illegal (prohibited deed) pleasure, it is a sin but if repented with the intention not to repeat it, it is purified and blessed by the All-forgiver. Washing mania is the act of purifying inner guilt (imagined or real) by a Muslim; its solution is to develop deep Tawakal in Allah’s forgiveness with patience (V-16:126-127) and follow the directions given of washing three times for purification by passing water over the body in woozo or bath. If after doing so one remains in this obsession and is unsatisfied, then it means he is not following Islamic laws or words of Allah rather practicing his/her own self-created verdict of Islam. No doubt, one needs professional support to emerge from the whirl of thinking of an obsessed mind but Islam has a precise system narrated in the Holy Book.
They are on (true) guidance from their Lord, and they are the successful. Verily, those who disbelieve, it is the same to them whether you (O Muhammad Peace be upon him) warn them or do not warn them, they will not believe. Allah has set a seal on their hearts and on their hearings, (i.e. they are closed from accepting Allah's Guidance), and on their eyes there is a covering. Theirs will be a great torment. And of mankind, there are some (hypocrites) who say: "We believe in Allah and the Last Day" while in fact they believe not.” (V-2: 5-8)
It is essential to realize that human father (Adam) was created by a mixture of Earth (clay) and water, then animated by the Lord, and later was multiplied with Hawwa/Eve. Whenever his children, who turned into various groups and nations, disobeyed the Lord, He crushed them through the land/clay (Earthquakes), water (great floods) and air (tornadoes) or mixtures of these elements (catastrophes), but the children of Adam never learnt a lesson from the guidelines of His messengers, so this history is repeated as the order of Creator has set principles for mankind till the end of this present universe.
Every human is aware of this life-death cycle but never learns the lesson. The Qur’an discloses that Ruh (the life) contains knowing, feeling and thinking aspects of human nature. When a person dies, the Ruh migrates and the body becomes lifeless like the electricity: when it is off, the computer/TV become useless. Intellectual skills empower a person to make rational decisions against the tide of wild instincts. The Qur’an provides knowledge how to control and keep a rational balance in life to fight against the environmental stimulators which overcharge the wild instincts. In fact, Taqwa (happily following the prescribed orders of Allah and remaining afraid of adopting the prohibited deeds) and Tawakal (blind trust in support of Allah) encourages him to take a strong stand without any fear of any influential authority or hardships by overcoming it with the support of Almighty Allah.
Self-respect and self-awareness is the base of human awareness in the preaching of the Qur’an. Proofs in nature and the blessings of living being are reminded to mankind to be thankful to the Provider. This practice is introduced in religious services and daily life to feel the sufferings of the suffered class (depressed, poor, deprived, handicapped, sick, weak, psychologically afflicted, etc.) by the healthy, wealthy and influential people that they all are born alike with nothing in hand, so they should assist and support others with respect as they wish to be respected. As religious training, the model of the Prophet to share and feel the suffering of others is taken like pain in any part of the body intuited by the whole nervous system, and in the same way, a Muslim should feel within himself about other human beings. This sensitivity towards others’ feelings became a main cause of embracing Islam among the deprived classes and sensitive intelligentsia.
History has proved when Muslims worked on the principle of awareness of others’ feelings, those nations not only progressed with reciprocal reinforcement but they also become the symbols of prosperity and leadership for the other non-Muslim states and their suppressed classes invited them by surrendering to the Muslim forces. In fact, when the feelings of awareness emerge in a rational person, it even made the dire opponents of Islam think over it and then brought an abrupt change in the prevailing psychological mechanism, that then they embraced the religion of revolution. The rise and fall of Muslim history is based on this principle when the people practically enforced the mutual sacrificing spirit which led to the state of Medina which spread across the borders but when they left the spirit of humanity, they regressed to the sectarian and political chaos of the early dark period of the Arabs. As these people have slumbered and are lost in self-projection, Allah has put seals on such minds, so just claiming to be a Muslim is not sufficient to be treated as a venerated, practical Muslim.
Self-awareness is not a philosophy or theoretical version; rather, it is the mental functioning and application of one’s own individual (self) power in its natural flow of interacting with inner feelings and outer experiences of the surroundings of a person. Unfortunately, in the pressure of environmental factors, flow of desires, excessive use of mental power with the wrong philosophy of life, a person loses his self-control and becomes trapped in the fear of individual weakness based on faulty past experiences which block the application of the mental functioning skills in the present and future worries. At times, he is physically present in an environment but mentally lost, not even knowing what he has performed due to a mechanized life. At times, those people who try to crush their self (human nature) or to prove they are superhuman with extreme practices (like chilla, starvation or sleep deprivation, etc.) in religious affair as perfectionists, do not understand that only Allah is perfect and go against the moderate and peaceful teachings of the Qur’an, and so they end with neurotic or psychotic symptoms. It is quoted in the Holy Book that to err is human and the Lord’s attribute is to forgive, as nobody will enter paradise due to his own good quantity of deeds because it is hard to go back to His unaccountable blessings in life.
The extreme perfectionist appears to have no trust in the gracious forgiving nature of the Lord. It is illustrated in the Qur’an about the mental state of human beings that they are thankless and reactive creatures, greedy and senseless in their deeds, blaming other, refusing to learn from faults, and desirous to plunder the sources of others by forgetting their short lives under control of the Immortal Authority. An illustration is given about a normal healthy person who functions normally in life, who by accident loses his sight or cannot walk then he realizes the worth of all and cries for help to the Lord he never liked to recall in life but if the curse is lifted from him, he is again lost in attractions of life and boasts that he has regained by his reason and knowledge. All such details about human nature are presented with simple examples in various verses, such as given in Surah Al-Zomar (39), which is full of knowledge for a logical analysis for self-correction to meet the accountability process.
As already stated in various chapters of this book, there are innumerable instances in the current scientific technology, social and natural sciences to comprehend complex concepts like the presence of Allah, Allah’s control over the universe, accountability of Amalnama (recorded history sheet), and the programming of the universe by Allah. The main riddle is that where is the Master of the universe and how He is running this most complicated system of the universe and observing each individual and his inner thoughts and feelings, which are not be judged by any outside sources, etc. A simple example to cite is when 313 weak and poorly armored but fully committed Muslims got victory over 1,000 chosen, fully armed tribal autocrats of Mecca.
The principle of self-awareness in daily life and religious practices strengthens self-confidence when one feels that he is being observed by the Almighty absolute power of the universe and he is following His directions, for which He is happy and stimulates the self-confidence to control the fear of others’ power and status, developing self-respect, self-control and self-correction based on positive self-induction. Instead of worrying or depending on worldly sources, he acts, relaxes, and responds boldly with an integrated self to face the challenges in life.