Disbelief is not the only Spiritual Disease

There are some other Muslims who act upon some of the Quranic commands. For example they offer prayers, keep fasts etc. But there is no soul of life in their actions. They ignore other teachings of the Quran. Over and above this, they consider themselves owners of ‘Qalbe Saleem’ (an immaculate conscience). They think that divine retribution prescribed for spiritual diseases concerns only the disbelievers. Due to this wrong notion they become proud and continue in this compounded ignorance forever. (Compounded ignorance is that they are ignorant of their ignorance!)

They have a mistaken notion that the only spiritual disease is Disbelief. It is only one of its kinds. There are many other spiritual ailments and Quran has mentioned their cures in various places. 

Despite being a Muslim, one can be afflicted with spiritual diseases. The following two verses are sufficient to prove this statement. If the hypocrites and those in whose hearts is a disease and the agitators in the city do not desist, We shall most certainly set you over them.[42] And that those in whose hearts is a disease and the unbelievers may say: What does Allah mean by this parable?[43] 

As you see both these verses mention Muslims who have disease in the heart, which is why they are mentioned separately along with the disbelievers and hypocrites.

Now who is that Muslim who has never been a target of changing thoughts and satanic whisperings? Who has remained steadfast in Allah’s service and never looked towards or attracted by evil? Who could claim to be absolutely pure of selfish desires? All these are some of the diseases of the heart, and polytheism is just one of its kind. Allah says,

And most of them do not believe in Allah without associating others (with Him).[44]

It is related from Imam Baqir (a.s.) that “associating” in this verse implies associating in obedience. On one hand people believe in the Oneness of Allah and consider Him alone worthy of worship. But on the other hand they obey the Satan also. They become obedient to him in performing sinful acts. Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq (a.s.) says, “Indeed this verse is aimed at more than two-thirds of the people.”[45]

Who is that Muslim who has remained free all his life from jealousy, malice, pride and greed? The Holy Quran has mentioned the spiritual ailments. Thus it is obligatory upon all Muslims to study them. In addition to the Quran they must also pay attention to the sayings of the Prophet’s Progeny (Ahle Bayt). They should act upon the laws framed by the scholars based on Quran and traditions. Beware, that the chance of repentance passes away. [Lack of belief is real ignorance]

Such diseases that are compared to blindness, dumbness and deafness by the Holy Quran afflict a heart that is bereft of faith, Deaf, dumb (and) blind, so they do not understand.[46]

That is, the hearts of those whose ears are incapable of hearing the truth, whose tongues cannot speak truth and whose eyes cannot see the reality. 

The Quran also says,

And whoever is blind in this, he shall (also) be blind in the hereafter.[47] This verse and other such verses inform us that in the Hereafter the apparent form of people will be the same as their inner form. For example, On the day when hidden things shall be made manifest.[48]

Thus one who has not seen Allah with his inner eye, has not trusted the truth and has not aligned himself with the right way, in the Hereafter, too, he shall not be able to see Allah’s bounties. In the same way one who has not perceived truth by the ears of his heart and has not accepted it, he would not be able to hear the pleasurable bounties of Paradise and its inmates.

Such hearts do not have a healthy faith. Hearts bereft of faith are sick. The Almighty says,

There is a disease in their hearts.[49] 

So a seal is set upon their hearts.[50]

Nay, on the hearts there are locks.[51]

Nay! Rather, what they used to do has become like rust upon their hearts.[52]

They are as cattle, nay, they are in worse errors.[53]

Surely the vilest of animals in Allah’s sight are those who disbelieve.[54]

[A disbeliever is worse than animals] 

The superiority of men over animals is that Allah has given human beings the capacity to perceive the truth. He can heed advice and act upon it. One who does not use this ability is deprived of the status of a human being. All that remains in him is a beast or an animal. 

In the first supplication of Sahifa Sajjadiya Imam Zainul Abideen (a.s.) says, “And were they to be such, they would certainly have gone beyond the bounds of humanity into the frontiers of beastliness. They would have conformed to the description which He has given in His Unique Book, saying, “What are they except like brutes or even more aberrant from the way?”

[The Dead]

The Holy Quran refers to the disbelievers as dead men. It says,

Surely you do not make the dead to hear, and you do not make the deaf to hear the call when they go back retreating.[55]

We should know that belief is the nourishment of the soul. If the body does not get proper nourishment it’s shape and capabilities deteriorate. If this continues the capacities are destroyed completely. This ultimately leads to death. The same can be said for a soul that lacks belief. Lack of belief causes this soul to become afflicted with spiritual diseases. In comparison to this his humanity becomes weak. He becomes heedless of a pure and spiritual life. Till finally the human being in him dies and he becomes involved in eternal perdition.

[Death of the Soul]

There is a great difference between physical and spiritual death. When the physical body dies its physical discomfort is over. Just like a bird that escapes from a cage. However, even after the death of the soul its pain does not terminate. Not only one is troubled by the spiritual ailments one is also tortured by the bad morals that are the consequences of this. 

Then therein he shall neither live nor die.[56] He shall be involved in a life-death struggle. He would not die so that he could get rid of the pain. Neither would he get a life of comfort. The Holy Quran also says,

Is he who was dead then We raised him to life and made for him a light by which he walks among the people, like him whose likeness is that of one in utter darkness whence he cannot come forth?[57]

Similarly the verse,

Whoever does good whether male or female and he is a believer, We will most certainly make him live a happy life.[58] These verses prove that apart from this animal life man also has another kind of purified life. One must obtain such a life. Traditions have compared it to the spirit of faith (Ruhul Iman). One who posses this life remains forever in peace and safety and in such a well being that there is no existence of fear or terror. He gains everlasting joy and happiness.

Why should he not be pleased? He can see, hear and feel such things, as the other people are incapable of. A person whose humanity is alive is submerged in the sea of divine friendship in this world and the Hereafter. He remains happy due to his proximity to Allah.

[More Ugly than a Monkey!]

As we have mentioned, the outward appearance of man shall resemble his inner self. Everyone will be raised in his spiritual form. All those who are evil in this world and possess beastly qualities, those that are beyond the frontiers of humanity and lack the spirit of belief or a purified life, they shall be deprived of the real elegance on the Day of Judgment. They shall be raised in terrible forms. Muhaddith Faiz has quoted a tradition in his book Ainul Yaqeen,

“People shall be raised in such terrible forms that monkeys and pigs are better.” For more details please refer to my book Ma’ad.[59]

[Peaceful life and a comfortable Hereafter]

If someone asks: You say that the life of the faithful is pure in both the worlds. A believer always remains in comfort, bounties and happiness. On the other hand the disbeliever is involved in grief and calamities! He is a prisoner of selfish desires. He is in everlasting depravity and sorrow. But we see that many faithful people are involved in various calamities, difficulties and problems. While on the other hand a large number of infidels spend their life in affluence and comfort?

The reply to this objection is that the heart of a believer is like a garden. A believer has to face material difficulties in the world. But he is not aggrieved of these problems. These thorns only prick the body and are confined within the boundaries of the garden. However, the garden of the heart has no place for these thorns. Even in this material world the soul of the believer is safe from all calamities. 

Those are they who shall have the security and they are those who go aright.[60] The sole desire of a believer in this world is that his Lord should be pleased with him. Such a person does not despair due to failures and material setbacks.

He considers only Allah as his guardian and the guardian of others. He recognizes the power, wisdom and mercy of Allah. He considers Allah his Master and considers himself His slave. That is because Allah is the Protector of those who believe, and because the unbelievers shall have no protector for them.[61] Thus a believer does not become sorrowful and aggrieved by the difficulties of this worldly life. They do not even make him angry. Allah keeps the hearts of the believer peaceful in this world also. 

He it is Who sent down tranquility into the hearts of the believers.[62]

[Hope in Allah - The strongest support for a believer]

A believer always faces adversity with determination. He does not stumble, nor does his feet tremble. He does not fall down on this path. He knows that behind every calamity is hidden wisdom and he alone shall be eligible for the benefit of this hidden wisdom. All that he hopes from Allah is that He removes this difficulty or in this way recompenses it so that even the physical pain does not remain for him.

If you suffer pain, then surely they (too) suffer pain as you suffer pain, and you hope from Allah what they do not hope.[63] That is, you hope for salvation from problems, forgiveness and rewards, but the unbelievers have no such hopes. They remain forever in the darkness of hopelessness.

[The disbeliever’s heart is a Horrible Ruin]

The heart of a believer is not worried of problems and difficulties. Only they affect his physical and apparent body. Whereas all the happiness that faithless people achieve is limited to their apparent selves. Rather their hearts are such terrible ruins that they are never inhabited by such pleasures. The darkness of their hearts cannot be dispelled by their sensual desires. Their hearts remain restless, uncomfortable and sorrowful. 

Actually these desires are the coverings of the heart. The interior of these hearts is filled with dread and horror. An infidel tries to remain engrossed in worldly matters so that he could forget his internal ache. However, these desires cause a lot of burning in the wilderness of his heart. They increase the desolateness of his heart. It is another matter if he keeps himself ignorant of this reality. When the activities of this world come to an end such people will taste the horrifying and terrible Hell.

The Quran says,

Certainly you were heedless of it, but now We have removed from you your veil, so your sight today is sharp.[64] That is, now you are seeing things that you did not even imagine before.

[The Unbeliever’s dread will never end]

The unbeliever has to bear the difficulties in this world also. He remains forever in poverty or disease. The enemy always has an upper hand on him. Whenever he is not busy in the fulfillment of his carnal desires he sits down in shame and despair. Everywhere he sees the darkness of disbelief and hopelessness. He has no hope in the Almighty. Comparing himself to the world he feels degraded. Seeing the condition of his life he becomes sorrowful. He complains with his tongue and this continues till he begins to prefer death and commits suicide thinking that this would relieve him from the worldly difficulties. However, it was a wrong notion. He is not annihilated by physical death. The horror of his heart remains with him forever. There is no escape from all this for a disbeliever while they remain on disbelief.

And whoever turns away from My reminder, his shall be a straitened life, and We will raise him on the day of resurrection, blind.[65] And those whose hearts are not illuminated by the light of faith they shall be deprived of light in the Hereafter also. It shall be said: Turn back and seek a light.[66]

[Joy and Sorrow]

No matter how happy an unbeliever may seem in this life, his heart is always sorrowful and under stress. First of all he cannot fulfill all his desires. Human desires are unlimited. Due to various hurdles he is not able to achieve even one percent of his wishes. That is why he burns forever in the fire of depravation and finds himself surrounded by the difficulties imposed on him by the barriers. Another thing is that he is always fearful of losing the bounties he possesses. He knows that his material treasure is going to be destroyed one day and that it shall be taken away from him by death.

Now it is Allah and the faith in the Day of recompense that can keep a man happy. A believer is content even when there is scarcity of bounties. He doesn’t even fear the destruction of his material belongings. He knows that the best of bounties, better than material things is present in his very heart. And that is faith in Allah. Even with regard to the Hereafter he is happy due to the hope he reposes in his Lord. Say: In the grace of Allah and in His mercy — in that they should rejoice.[67]

[Acquire as much belief as possible]

From the discussion so far we realize that the greatest treasure for man in this world and the Hereafter is a healthy and a perfect soul and it should not be afflicted with the disease of the absence of faith. In the same way greatest misfortune for man in both the worlds is absence of belief. Thus it is most important for us to strive to gain belief. We should always try to increase our faith. When the heart is illuminated by faith, most diseases are cured automatically. Lack of faith is a fatal disease of the heart and it causes other spiritual ailments or worsens them. Thus we should keep ourselves safe from this deadly illness.

Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq (a.s.) is quoted in Tafsir Safi explaining the exegesis of the throne verse (Ayatul Kursi): “Allah is the guardian of those who have accepted belief. Allah brings these very people from the darkness into Light. That is, He brings them out from the darkness of sins into the light of repentance and forgiveness.” Thus the most important thing is belief. One can keep aloof from every type of evil due to ones faith alone.

[Belief means Certainty]

It should not remain unsaid that belief means certainty in the necessary facts regarding Tawheed (Oneness of Allah) and Day of Judgment. Such a belief is effective in curing the diseases of the heart and the light of certainty guides man to the truth that Allah is his creator and the Creator of other people. All of us are slaves of the Almighty. Allah has bestowed all that we possess. Everything belongs to Allah. We all have to return to the Day of Judgment and the world of recompense (Hereafter). One who has faith in these fundamentals is free from diseases like jealousy, greed and enmity. The brilliance and luminosity of the light of certainty dispels all the shadows and ailments. If there remain in us moral ills we should know that either we lack certainty of belief or it is very weak.

[Conclusion of this Introduction]

Thus anyone who wishes to have a peaceful heart and the best of the world and the Hereafter should achieve certainty regarding the beliefs. It is the cure for numerous diseases. He must give precedence to this over his other desires. The aim of this introduction was to emphasize the importance of certainty for our respected readers. The foundation of all beliefs rests on certainty. Therefore we have kept the section on beliefs before the section on morals. If divine assistance continues we shall soon discuss in detail the diseases of disbelief, hypocrisy, polytheism and doubt. We shall also mention their cures and describe the method of achieving certainty. In the next section we shall describe the Moral ills.