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People versus sensual desires

With regard to sensual desires, people can be divided into several groups: The first group is of those who do as they wish: nothing stops them, they always seek material desires and prefer this world's life to the hereafter. The Holy Qur'an says, "and woe to the unbelievers on account of the severe chastisement those who love this world's life more than the hereafter." Persistence in seeking the material and sensual desires, and not wanting to give them up, is a source of disbelief.Religion orders man to control his desires, but he does not want to. So he does not accept religion, to easily de what he wishes to. The people in this category do not acknowledge any limits to their sensual desires. God, the Exalted, says in the Qur'an. "Nay! Man desires to give the lie to what is before him.” The second group is of those who acknowledge limits to their desires, and strive to stay away from unlawful things, but do not shun satisfying sensual desires for things that are undesirable, things whose nature is dubious, and things that are permissible. Those included in this group are yet divided into several branches: some shun the grave sins, but once in a while commit minor ones.Others commit grave sins, too. Some immediately repent, whereas others do not, and persist. these, however, struggle to give up the grave sins as much as possible. All the third group is of those whose principle is to oppose passionate desires, except for the cases in which God is pleased with their desires, and they give it only to earn God's satisfaction, not to follow their powerful sensual impulse. For them it is a principle not to obey what their tendencies urge them to: rather, they choose God's satisfaction as a criterion.

Members of this group vary in hierarchy. The primary aim of the prophets has been to deliver mankind from the lowly state, that is, from an irresponsible life and from the bondage of the soul. (As long as individuals do not evolve from this level, they will never associate with the prophets and their message. How can one be a follower of the prophets when he is not willing to restrain his desires?) One must accept certain limits, guard against his urges, and not indulge in whatever his heart tells him.There is however a great distance between this stage and the stage where one refrains from doing anything without God's permission and without earning His satisfaction. Depending on their belief, the believers proceed between these two extremities that cannot be measured numerically. prophets , too, are ranked in an hierarchy, whose zenith is occupied by the sacred being of the Seal of the Prophets, Fatimah al-Zahra' , and the Twelve Imams from the progeny of the Prophet, God bless him and his descendants. These Fourteen Beacons of pure light originate from a single light and occupy the highest rank of the hierarchy. The other Prophets occupy lower positions. A believer should strive to raise himself from a lower level to a higher one a struggle that, of course, depends on his own effort and on the success from God. No one can predict the end result of his life.

There are people who ascend to higher planes. There are some, who after attaining the loftiest human planes, fall to lowly states in life. For those occupying higher positions on the ladder, hazards are more serious, destructive and sometimes annihilating, than they are for the persons at lower positions, because a fall from the first step does not make much difference. The moral injunctions that the infallible Imams have introduced make man recognize the sensitive stage he is occupying. If he responds positively to his sensual desires, he will slide and move further away from God.

The more he opposes his caprice for the sake of God, the closer he gets to God. There are, of course, people who oppose many of their desires in order to reach a higher plane that is worthless. For example, they pretend that they are ascetics, so they eat little, wear rags, live in shacks and disregard ranks and dignities so that they might be known as ascetics. These people may fail to see through the tricks and deception their soul uses, perceiving themselves to be meritorious: people of piety, given to recitation and recollection of God's name, fasting most of the time, avoiding nice houses, fancying they have advanced. But it is this complacency that drives them to destruction.It is the very pride and self-conceit-imagining that they are better than others that brings them perdition. Those who followed their desire for material enjoyments enjoyed them, however transient it might have been. But these wretched people were deprived of the enjoyments in this world and in the next, as the Holy Qur'an says, "Say: Shall We inform you of the greatest losers in (their) deeds? (These are) they whose labor is lost in this world's that they are well-versed in skills of work of hands. life and they think We must seek refuge in God from being deceived by our soul, and by fancying that we have become righteous. This is the moment when we begin to follow Satan and are caught in his trap. Those who are good-doers abase themselves before God, as done by Imam 'Alī ibn al-Ḥusayn.

"Is there anyone who is in a worse state than I am?" Considering the Imam's rank what should others say? If we take after this mentality, practice and characteristic, we will get so bewildered that we will utter the same words. Such is man, sometimes he does not consider himself lower than others; he has his reasons: committed no blameworthy deeds, no theft, no murders, no adultery, no etc, etc. It is because of this vainglory that he is inferior to all Such people are often a cause for deviation, division, and group orientation: that is, they consider themselves superior and make others follow them. But they are unable to perceive that it is the love for fame and leadership love that they treasure more than other sins, a mentality that causes them to fall. The more knowledgeable one becomes, the more powerful and cunning his soul will grow, with tricks too many to count and snares too many to recognize. In ordinary men, the soul's power to play tricks is weaker than it is in men of knowledge. The former group's tricks are very simple Moreover, they may readily feel sorry, and deliver themselves from the evil grip of their caprices, whereas a man of knowledge's desire may so deceive him that he will not be able to get rid of it once it has him in its grip, We must, therefore, be very careful. We do not, however, mean that it is undesirable to begin our quest for perfection in comparison to the time we have lost and not acquired knowledge, the attaining of perfection would entail greater danger if we fell that dangers ensuing from our soul and from the Devil would fill the universe.

All this is a trick of Satan whose final desire is to stop our inclining towards gaining perfection. However, we should show our grudge against him by seeking God's help and by proceeding to attain it, for God gives more assistance to those who come to Him, as is mentioned in the Divine Tradition, I will move ten steps in the direction of the one who takes one step in My direction." When God helps someone, it will be easier for that person to oppose his desires however hard it is, an attempt that is difficult at the outset Love is murderous from the first So that he, who is an outsider, runs away If one continues fighting his desires, implores God for success and remains persistent, things will gradually become easier for him the strife against the soul will become easier; he will feel distracted if he misses an opportunity to pray, because he has been deprived of the Divine grace.

We have mentioned a few traces, dangers and deceptions of the soul, in order for one to develop greater awareness of these dangers. However, this does not mean that the soul is an undefeatable giant confronting us. Rather, the soul means these same desires that are within us. Thus, the spirit, is called the soul because it is the origin of these desires. "It opposes you in obeying God, and obeys you in what dislikes." If you decide to do something that God does not like, the sensual soul will place itself at your service with all its power and obey you. But when you want to pray, it will not allow you to concentrate on your prayer.This is why you lose your presence of mind. The more you endeavor to concentrate, the more it will resist, making your thoughts wander in various directions. "It exceeds all limits when it has had its full (meal) and complains when it is hungry." It is a quality of the soul to voice complaints, to continuously lament when it is hungry, and to rebel when it has had a full meal. If you give in to what your heart desires and to what your soul demands, your soul, acting like a wild horse, will have made you follow it headlong. Then, you will be unable to hold it in check.

If you wish to tame this horse, it is necessary to keep it a bit hungry, refusing some of its demands, and controlling it, so that you will be able to benefit from it in the service of God, and have it permanently subordinated to the reason and the Divine law. "It is angry when it is poor and becomes arrogant when it is free from want." Such is the soul. When it is wealthy it behaves arrogantly; when poor, becomes ill-humored and pessimistic about everything: the system, friends, and neighbors, as if he has a claim on them. To it, patience, tolerance and forbearance are meaningless words, and the whole world seems constraining locus. "It becomes forgetful in senility and heedless when it is secure." When in danger, the soul tries to focus its attention on how to get out of the jam, but it becomes heedless when it is secure. For example, when cities are being bombarded by missiles, the soul behaves warily, that is, it repents, turns to God, implores to Him, prays, resorts to God's awliya' and recites Ziyarat-e 'Ashūrā.

After peace is restored and minds are at rest, all prayer is totally abandoned, and resorting to God's awliya' and reciting of Ziyarat 'Ashura wane. This is a quality of the soul: when it is secure, it becomes heedless, neglects God and forgets punishments and troubles. "It is a peer of the Devil." The soul is a peer of the Devil that has taken an oath to lead mankind astray. "He (Satan) said: Then by Thy might I will surely make them live an evil life, all, except Thy servants from among them, the purified ones." It is through the soul, that the Devil deceives man, pulling him into hell. It is the carnal soul that leaves the door open for Satan to enter, encouraging man to follow him. One should thus consider which is wiser: to tolerate the Devil or to fight it off. "Their example is like the parable of the ostrich that eats a lot and when it is burdened, it does not fly."

When the soul is told to study, pray and concentrate, it disregards the command, feigns nervousness and disability to do as it is told. But when there is a comic film to watch on T.V., it is able to fully concentrate and miss a single detail. In performing the ritual prayer, it claims not to be to do likewise. "And it is like the oleander, nice in color and bitter in taste The carnal soul and its crafts are attractive from without, but poses from within; it is outwardly disguised in piety, knowledge and act but inwardly nurturing satanic stimuli, and wrong notions atractive, impressive in style of language, but misleading in comem.Where the followers of the carnal soul are bound for is unknown. They are first houst of performing acts of devotion, obeying God, and acquiring knowledge of Him, but in practice, they soon neglect the ritual prayer and the performing of worship. They do not take it seriously if they miss their prayer.

They consider everything as being arbitrary and knowledge as being relativistic As a result, their belief system weakens. They no longer feel it their duty and responsibility to perform the ritual prayer, to devote attention to God and to spiritualities.  

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