By Mohamedarif Suleman,
In various instances, we have been advised by many of our aimmah (AS) that purity of the mind and to train the mind to cherish good, positive and pure thoughts, is perhaps a more important function that we must continuously perform. Niyyat, we are further reminded, is of superlative importance when it comes to the performance of good or bad deeds. Embroidered in this school of thought is the recognition that the mind is the home of all actions and that when we think good thoughts, we will act in a given good manner and that when we house all evil thought, we are bound to act in a certain negative manner. And it therefore follows that looking at a woman (or man) in a lustful manner “which your right hand does not possess” is prohibited because once a person takes the first step of looking, further adulteration of thought will naturally take place. Of course, there is the aspect of developing self control simultaneously with restraint that was discussed lastly.
The mind has strange and very advanced powers, and those engrossed in the study of the mind can very well vouch this fact. Psychologists such as the infamous Sigmund Freud has in many cases advanced theories, some rather absurd, but all that point to the undeniable relation between body and mind, and the circular influence that each has on the other. Much of his work was based on what is now referred to as ego-psychology. This theory insinuates that any single personality is divided into three separate persons, namely the Id, the ego and the super ego. For those not as yet initiated to the definitions, the id is the collective conception of all our primitive instinctive impulses, death on one hand and life on the other; the super ego is that part of the personality which we have developed and shaped after the pattern or example of the authorities which influenced our bringing up, such as the parents or guardians. In simple terms, the id is the brute within a man which is animalistic and basic in nature and is embroiled in a constant struggle of survival, and the super ego is the refined and civilized man within us that strives to conform to norms and to excel in mundane activities and affairs. Both may eventually target the same goal.
Torn between the two is the ego, which not only has to withstand the demands of the instinctive id and to justify itself before the criticisms of the super ego, but it must be in addition take notice of the real possibilities of the outer world; so that the mentally healthy ego adapts itself in three directions and has to bring the three principles of pleasure, reality and morals into harmonious relations. Freud called these conditions psychoses.
Based on the above premise, we come to define terms such as ‘’amentia’’, where reality is denied completely (ego is not in control, super ego rules). For example, the death of a loved person is simply not recognized. Or we have ‘’schizophrenia’’ in which the interest of the outer world is directed inwards. The outer world is falsified so far as it is necessary to make it compatible with the demands of the id and the super ego.
And so if the mind is potently divisive in its substance, there is really no wonder why Islam, through regulated and balanced lifestyle succeeds in keeping the naturally opposing forces of the mind in perfect harmony. Through recitation of duas and the Holy Quran, which yield a person to the realities of life and death, thereby putting an end to the struggle for survival and instead assisting in the surrender to death, through the exemplary Ahadith of the lives of our aimmah and through the sunnah of the Holy Prophet (SAW), that collectively prescribe a common code of public and private etiquette so that there is an end to the human restlessness in achieving worldly gains at the expense of mental and physical health, Islam surely attempts to reconcile these three separate chambers of our minds. And lastly, as we keep remembering the names of Allah (SWT) during this Holy month, our hearts, which are probably likened to Freud’s Id, are as well put to rest.