Bahasa Indonesia: ini adalah kaligrafi bismillah (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
In the name of The God, The Most Gracious The Most Merciful.
We are not supposed to commit sins, either in the world around us, or in our minds. Nor are we supposed to let our minds be distracted by this world or this life.
According to 2:235 of The Qur’an, God knows that men will have thoughts about the women:
“And you commit no error if you declare your intentions of marrying women or keep them secret. God knows that you indeed think about them; however, do not date them secretly, except to communicate righteous words. And do not tie the knot of wedding until the scripture is fulfilled. And know that God knows your innermost thoughts; consequently you shall be mindful of Him. And know that indeed God is All Forgiving, Clement” – ‘Ali Fazeli’s literal translation.
“You commit no sin by announcing your engagement to the women, or keeping it secret. GOD knows that you will think about them. Do not meet them secretly, unless you have something righteous to discuss. Do not consummate the marriage until their interim is fulfilled. You should know that GOD knows your innermost thoughts, and observe Him. You should know that GOD is Forgiver, Clement” – Rashad Khalifa‘s translation.
Jesus in The Gospel apparently forbade people from sinful thought. He specifically forbade lustful thoughts: “But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matt 5:28). Here Jesus is basically confirming the concept that thinking of committing a sin is the same as actually committing a sin, because he is saying that looking at a woman, and having lustful thoughts about her – i.e. having sinful thoughts like ones of getting funky with her, or whatever kinky things you’re into – is the same as actually crumpling the bedding with her. He is saying that thinking about having sex is the same as actually having sex. It is not okay to look at someone and do the old Oohbaby Routine. I know it’s fun, and tempting, but you’re not allowed to do that; you shall avert your eyes in those situations. Looking upon others with lust is not a must, it’s a must-not. Looking lustfully at others is an example of sinful thought.
In 79:37-41 The Qur’an teaches that those who were preoccupied with this life will end up in Hell, while those who enjoined the mind from sinful lusts and revered their Lord‘s majesty will enter Paradise:
“Then, for the one who has transgressed, and has preferred this worldly life, indeed the Inferno will be his abode. As for those who fear the majesty of their Lord and restrain the soul from desire, the Garden will be their abode” – ‘Ali Fazeli’s literal translation.
“As for the one who transgressed. Who was preoccupied with this life. Hell will be the abode. As for the one who reverenced the majesty of his Lord, and enjoined the self from sinful lusts. Paradise will be the abode” – Rashad Khalifa’s translation.
The Arabic word that Fazeli translates as “soul” and Khalifa translates as “self” is “nefs.” It more literally means “mind” or “consciousness.” It’s the real you inside your body, i.e. your “self” or “soul.” Thus, these verses teach:
We must not let our minds be distracted or preoccupied with this worldly life, nor shall we harbor sinful thoughts, for even thinking of committing a sin is the same as actually committing a sin. Instead we must revere God’s majesty.
Now in Surah 12 of The Qur’an it tells the story of when the wife of an Egyptian governor tried to seduce the prophet Yusuf, (Joseph). When she finally admitted to it, she said: “I do not claim innocense for my Self. The Self is an advocate of vice, except for those who have attained mercy from my Lord. My Lord is Forgiver, Most Merciful” (The Qur’an 12:53, Rashad Khalifa’s translation). I see no reason to disagree with her. Allah must have mentioned this in His Qur’an because it is true. “Nefs” can also mean “ego” because the mind or Self is an advocate of vice, which is what the ego does. “Ego” is not a literal meaning of “nefs,” but it can imply “ego” simply because ego is part of the nature of the mind or Self.
In Surah 27 The Qur’an tells the story of when Solomon had the jinn-spirits teleport and remodel the interior of the Queen of Sheba’s palace. He then had her come and visit him, and showed her the palace. She recognized the palace. When she entered it and found it’s floors paved with crystal, she was amazed and converted to Submission, saying, “My Lord, I have wronged my soul. I now submit with Solomon to GOD, Lord of the universe,” (The Qur’an 27:43, Rashad Khalifa’s translation; ‘Ali Fazeli’s translation says: “My Lord, indeed I have committed injustice against myself, and I offer peace with Solomon to God, Lord of the multiverse”). And of course the word for “soul” or “self” in the Arabic of this verse is “nefs.” Thus her saying in this verse could be translated as: “My Lord, I have wronged my mind…” and implies that when we commit the sin she was guilty of – disbelief – we wrong our minds. Disbelief degrades our consciousnesses. But this saying of hers, I believe, is a tool God has provided us with that we can use to purify our minds after we have wronged them.
By committing any sins we wrong our own consciousnesses. We degrade and corrupt our minds when we knowingly and willingly engage in sinful behaviors. But we have a prayer given to us in God’s Qur’an with which we may purify and fix our Selves, our minds, our consciousnesses. It is the Queen of Sheba’s Prayer: “My Lord, I have wronged my mind, and I now submit with Solomon to God, Lord of The Worlds.” Note: The Arabic word translated as “universe” by Rashad and “multiverse” by ‘Ali Fazeli is “Al’alameen.” It’s actual meaning is more like “The worlds.” Anyways, by repeating her prayer we purify our minds.
Socrates confirmed the concept that it is spiritually imperative that we restrain our Selves from the materials of this world. Here is part of the dialogue between Socrates and his disciple Cebes, in Phaedo – one of the books by his disciple Plato in which Plato recorded Socrates’ real discussions and sayings:
“Socrates: “And are we to suppose that the soul, which is invisible, in passing to the true Hades, which like her is invisible, and pure, and noble, and on her way to the good and wise God, whither, if God will, my soul is also soon to go-that the soul, I repeat, if this be her nature and origin, is blown away and perishes immediately on quitting the body as the many say? That can never be, dear Simmias and Cebes. The truth rather is that the soul which is pure at departing draws after her no bodily taint, having never voluntarily had connection with the body, which she is ever avoiding, herself gathered into herself (for such abstraction has been the study of her life). And what does this mean but that she has been a true disciple of philosophy and has practised how to die easily? And is not philosophy the practice of death?”Cebes: “Certainly.”
Socrates: “That soul, I say, herself invisible, departs to the invisible worldto the divine and immortal and rational: thither arriving, she lives in bliss and is released from the error and folly of men, their fears and wild passionsand all other human ills, and forever dwells, as they say of the initiated, in company with the gods. Is not this true, Cebes?”
“Yes,” said Cebes, “beyond a doubt.”
Socrates: “But the soul which has been polluted, and is impure at the time of her departure, and is the companion and servant of the body always, and is in love with and fascinated by the body and by the desires and pleasures of the body, until she is led to believe that the truth only exists in a bodily form, which a man may touch and see and taste and use for the purposes of his lusts-the soul, I mean, accustomed to hate and fear and avoid the intellectual principle, which to the bodily eye is dark and invisible, and can be attained only by philosophy-do you suppose that such a soul as this will depart pure and unalloyed?” Cebes: “That is impossible,” he replied. “She is engrossed by the corporeal, which the continual association and constant care of the body have made natural to her.”
Socrates: “Very true.” “
Socrates also says the following to his disciple Simmias in Phaedo 66d-e:
“And when they consider all this, must not true philosophers make a reflection, of which they will speak to one another in such words as these: We have found, they will say, a path of speculation which seems to bring us and the argument to the conclusion that while we are in the body, and while the soul is mingled with this mass of evil, our desire will not be satisfied, and our desire is of the truth. For the body is a source of endless trouble to us by reason of the mere requirement of food; and also is liable to diseases which overtake and impede us in the search after truth: and by filling us so full of loves, and lusts, and fears, and fancies, and idols, and every sort of folly, prevents our ever having, as people say, so much as a thought. For whence come wars, and fightings, and factions? whence but from the body and the lusts of the body? For wars are occasioned by the love of money, and money has to be acquired for the sake and in the service of the body; and in consequence of all these things the time which ought to be given to philosophy is lost. Moreover, if there is time and an inclination toward philosophy, yet the body introduces a turmoil and confusion and fear into the course of speculation, and hinders us from seeing the truth: and all experience shows that if we would have pure knowledge of anything we must be quit of the body, and the soul in herself must behold all things in themselves: then I suppose that we shall attain that whichwe desire, and of which we say that we are lovers, and that is wisdom, not while we live, but after death, as the argument shows; for if while in company with the body the soul cannot have pure knowledge, one of two things seems to follow-either knowledge is not to be attained at all, or, if at all, after death. For then, and not till then, the soul will be in herself alone and without the body. In this present life, I reckon that we make the nearest approach to knowledge when we have the least possible concern or interest in the body, and are not saturated with the bodily nature, but remain pure until the hour when God himself is pleased to release us. And then the foolishness of the body will be cleared away and we shall be pure and hold converse with other pure souls, and know of ourselves the clear light everywhere; and this is surely the light of truth. For no impure thing is allowed to approach the pure. These are the sort of words, Simmias, which the true lovers of wisdom cannot help saying to one another, and thinking. You will agree with me in that?”
Basically, in Phaedo, Socrates reasons that we must enjoin our minds from the body and from indulgence of the senses in order to purify our minds. He even mentions that those who do so – those who do not over indulge in the senses – attain paradise. And he also mentions in Phaedo that the people who do not practice such restraint are punished after death because due to their over indulgence of the body and the senses, and due to their obsession with this material and visible world, their souls have become too material, impure, and corporeal. It is strange though, that he reasons that their natural punishment is this: Since their minds or souls become so corporeal due to their obsession with their bodies, their senses, and the visible world, their souls are dragged back into the material world by physical weight, and they are not freed from this world; they become visible, and end up lingering in this world until their material cravings end up dragging them back into a physical body. They get reincarnated. But the forms they are reincarnated in are commensurate with the sins they are guilty of; for example, Socrates says gluttons might be reincarnated as asses or other such beasts. Socrates considered this a natural punishment for their sins and their failure to enjoin their minds from the body and from indulging the senses excessively. Socrates taught that in order to have pristine perception of wisdom, we must purify our minds by sense-withdrawal; abstaining from indulging the senses beyond what is necessary. I have not cited references for all of this information about Socrates because all of this information is contained within Phaedo, and I strongly encourage those who read this article to also thoroughly read Phaedo for their Selves. Note: I do not necessarily agree with Socrates concerning reincarnation. As a Muslim I was brought up with the doctrine that we only live one human life on Earth. I am still carefully studying The Qur’an in order to determine whether or not it is more or less logical to conclude that The Qur’an supports or at least allows for the theory of reincarnation. I’ll inshallah go over that in a different article. The main point here is that Socrates believed people ought to purify their minds and not be distracted by worldly things, in order to be more righteous and wise.
Before I conclude this article, there is one more thing I must go over; I must discuss that there are prayers in The Qur’an we can use to gain Allah’s protection from sinful thought. Allah in His Qur’an has provided us with a prayer that I believe will gain Allah’s protection for us against the temptations that cause us to over indulge our bodies and senses, be obsessed with our bodies, senses, and the material and visible world, and to commit sins; and against sinful thought in general. It is prescribed for us in The Qur’an in 23:97-98:
“Say, “My Lord, I seek refuge in You from the whispers of the devils. And I seek refuge in you, my Lord, lest they come near me.”” (Rashad Khalifa).
“And say, I seek refuge in You, my Lord from the whispers of the demons. And I seek refuge in You lest they come near me.” (‘Ali Fazeli).
There are plenty of prayers for protection in The Qur’an, actually. The last two Surahs are good examples. The final Surah, Surat Annas, also happens to prove that the whispering of the devils or demons means when they whisper thoughts into our minds – or our “hearts” – in order to encourage us to sin. This is Surat Annas:
“Say, I seek refuge in the Lord of the people. King of the people. God of the people. From the evil of the sneaky whisperer. The one who whispers into the hearts of the people. From amongst the jinns and the people.” (‘Ali Fazeli).
So here is the conclusion to this article: we are not supposed to let our minds be distracted by worldly things, or to even think of committing sins. Even if we only think of them, we are sinning in our minds. If we commit sins in our minds we wrong our minds and corrupt them. Sins corrupt the mind. In fact, actually committing them still involves wronging the mind, because our actions begin as thoughts in our minds and then we act on them. If we have wronged our minds, we can purify our minds by saying, “My Lord, I have wronged my mind, and I now submit with Solomon to God, Lord of The Worlds.” To gain Allah’s protection from sinful thought, we may say, “My Lord, I seek refuge in you from the whispers of the devils. And I seek refuge in You, my Lord, lest they come near me.”