Clash of False Egos
Mainly, our world is peopled with two types of lunatics; certified and uncertified. Certified lunatics are comparatively reasonable for they do not propagate and publicize their madness whereas uncertified ones camouflage their insanity by driving thousands and millions of people into similar madness. They, uncertified lunatics, force a vaster number of people to empathize with their delusions and, for this smart solution; they are not put into lunatic asylum.
Human person is more imaginative, self-loving and ego-strutting than rational. World, right through the history, have been a lunatic asylum and arch-lunatics have always been inventing “supporting myths” to conceal their passionate madness under the indiscernible cover of collective insanity. Thanks to Freud, psychoanalysis studied the individual manifestations of this process in lunatics and gifted the world with some world-shattering insights. For example:
“A man who has suffered some humiliation invents a theory that he is king of the world, and develops all kinds of ingenious explanations of the fact that he is not treated with that respect which his exalted position demands. In this case, his delusion is one with which his neighbors do not sympathize, so they lock him up. But if, instead of asserting only his own greatness, he asserts the greatness of his nation, or his class or his religion, he wins hosts of adherents, and becomes a political or religious leader, even if, to the impartial outsider, his views seem just as absurd as of those found in asylums. In this way collective insanity grows up, which follows laws very similar to those of individual insanity”1.
So, most of our religious and political actions are products of associated beliefs following the laws of individual and collective insanity. We follow the method of rationalization—the process of fabricating proofs to support what seems to ourselves rational but is ,in fact, quite irrational. If the lunatic is isolated, he could be overpowered. However, when millions of people share a delusion, war is inevitable for every nation or religious community is led by an arch-lunatic with similar grounds and magnitude of madness!
Another wonderful insight, concerning collective insanity, provided by psychology is “cognitive dissonance”.
As mentioned above, people act in ways which are consistent with what they know. In other words, beliefs produce actions! However, inconsistencies occur between how a person acts and what he knows. Consequently, as we see, everyone is justifying his behavior and beliefs.
A father who decided to send his child to a particular educational institution may engulf you with his description of the advantages of the particular institution.
The same rule applies on political and religious beliefs. There is however and additional question to ask. Why should these people reason about? The answer is this, “the action was taken or a belief was accepted with insufficient justification and, after the action was taken and belief was accepted, the person is trying to find supplementary justification for it.
For example, if you tell the above-mentioned father against the educational institution, it is plausible, that he would either get his son out of the institution or he would be playing down his doubts with more authoritative arguments.
Now, he would study the brochures of the institution to get supportive arguments for advocating his choice. Nevertheless, he is not getting information or knowledge but reducing the dissonance—reducing the gap between what he knows and what he does! And this is what our Zakir Naiks are doing! They study or learn books by rote not for knowledge, wisdom or guidance—but for reducing dissonance (to avoid looking fools) and do the similar service for those who are trembling with dissonance!
However, they call themselves rational but “dissonance reducing behavior is always irrational”! It is always maladaptive for it prevents people from learning essential facts or finding valid solutions to their problems.
On the other hand, this behavior serves one purpose. Dissonance reducing way is ego-defensive behavior. By reducing dissonance we stubbornly uphold an optimistic image of ourselves—an image that depicts us as good, smart and worthwhile even if, in reality, we are the opposites! Therefore, dissonance reducing behavior is highly disastrous!
The third most important insight is called labeling! It is—we see what we want to see and ignore what we want to ignore! In other, and clearer, words—we don’t see but our emotions and desires! So every arch-lunatic wears the glass of bias and hatred to see “others” and hang the glass while seeing the “same”.
Moreover, human person has two raw instamatics: Eros and Thanatos. Eros is the tendency towards cohesion, unity and “oneness” (Tauheed in Quranic terms) and Thanatos is drive towards death, destruction and disharmony (Iblees or Satan is metaphoric personification of Thanatos or Hawa in Quran).
State, establishment or society, led by arch-lunatics, cleverly channelizes these instincts. Enemy-based state or society is satanic machinery that directs death instinct towards “others” (forged and fictitious enemies) and life instinct towards the “same” (manufactured or imposed friends). Here, I would love to draw readers’ attention towards another insight into this matter in Islamic history.
If we see the tragedy of Karbala, we can discern the dirty character of enemy-based state more closely. Karbala tragedy is an ever-green prime example of the truth that this kind of state, society or social-fantasy-bond (based on enemy image) is an evil. And seeing from this angle, we can realize the worth of Hussain’s (May Allah be pleased with him) sacrifice and filthiness of Yazid as personification of Thanatos—the death! The incident, the tragedy reminds and suggests that the real evolution in human affairs is not possible without purifying the very basis of socio-political structure based on otherness and enemy-image!
Moreover, it is pity that most of us love Hussain but serve Thanatos! We love Hussain but we are ablaze in the hell of otherness! We will burn in hell until we are nursing an enemy-image and until our “civilized states” are based on otherness! Sartre was right when he said:
“Otherness is hell”
Allama Mohammad Iqbal went even deeper and came up with a clearer vision:
Mita diya mery Saqi nein alam e man o tu
Pila kay mujh ko ma’ye la ilaha illa hu
[My Saqi (Mohammad Peace be upon him) wiped away the boundaries demarking the worlds of “I and you” by making me drink the wine of la ilaha illa hu……]
It follows that whosoever is entangled in worlds of I and you has not tasted a single drop from Islam—the ocean of love! For Islam, as Sufis say, is antidote of hatred and otherness.
Science and philosophy cannot solve this puzzle of otherness. Only religion, and in all religions the Sufi/Mystic thread, offers the best remedy of this dangerous in-built enemy (nafs and hawa in Sufi/Quranic terms), for religion neither channelizes nor directs the death-instinct toward others but help us to overcome and wipe it away.
“O David! We made you a vicegerent in the earth so that you judge among people with truth, and follow not the passion (hawa) that sways you away from the path of Allah” (Al-Qur’an 38: 26).
There could be no confusion caused by the word hawa (passion/false ego) if we keep in mind the above psychological traps and ambush we, human being, are exposed to. Whether the passion consists of love for the same, hatred for the others or anger, it can be so powerful as to “disguise rational judgment”.
The shocking truth this holy verse reveals is that “the best qualified of judges, even the prophets, are not immune and invulnerable to the influence of “hawa”.
When the best qualified judges, according to Quran, are not immune to the influence of hawa—where the persons of relatively lower moral and inner stature (Zakir Naiks) stand as the cases in point!
However, talking about Muhammad (PBUH) Holy Quran donates human kind with a powerful flash of wisdom as boundless and ceaseless guidance:
“Nor does he speak of his own hawa…. But revelation revealed” [Surah: 53, Verse: 3,4]
I would invite my brothers and sisters to ponder on one inevitable and most vital question. While Muhammad (PBUH) as Quran testifies is immune and invulnerable to the influence of hawa, how could slaves of hawa talk about him? What they know abut Prophetic Consciousness? Nothing! So whatever they say is like blinds talking about colors! Deaf talking about music! They are like the people planning marathon race of immovable mountains! Is it possible for those who have made god of their own blinds passion to even talk about Holy Prophet who does not speak of his own hawa?
Quran clearly answers this question in its distinctive lucid simplicity:
“Have you seen (the predicament of) one who chooses for his god his own hawa? Would you then be a guardian over him?” (Al-Qur’an 25: 43).
Allah is warning Prophet Mohammad (May peace be upon him) that his teachings would have little or no impact on those who are under the influence of hawa! It is clear that when hawa dominates a person’s outlook, he/she could not reach the truth. Now, see the teachers (allegorically Zakir Naiks) in the light of above verses of Holy Quran.
The great Persian Sufi poet, Jalal-ul-Din Rumi, highlights this point after relating the ancient Indian story of “The Blind Men and Elephant” in Masnavi. The story have been used by Sufis and mystics of all religions to point to the nature of reality and human perspective with a suggestion that what seems an absolute truth may be relative due to the deceptive nature of half truths. Rumi suggests that, “sensual eye is just like the palm of the hand. The palm has not means of covering the whole of the beast (elephant)”
The eye of the Sea is one thing and the foam another. Let the foam go, and gaze with the eye of the Sea. Day and night foam-flecks are flung from the sea: of amazing! You behold the foam but not the Sea. We are like boats dashing together; our eyes are darkened, yet we are in clear water. [Rumi – Tales from Masnavi; by Arberry, A. J. p.71]
Sufis go deeper into this verse to bring transforming pearls of wisdom. In above verse (25: 43) they say, it is clear that Allah has no opposite but “people make their own idols of their nafs or hawa”! And those, it is clear, who make gods of their hawa are in fact surrendering before their own wills, filthy passions and refusing to surrender before the Will of Allah. Islam means “surrender before Will of Allah”, what about those who bow down before their raw passions and false egos?
We came to the point that would not be digestible even for my brothers and sisters in Islam. Kafirs or Mushriks, in the light of above verses, are not to be found in fictitious or socio-politically imposed enemies or others—every one, even if he/she is Muslim by birth or choice and chooses his/her god his/her own hawa is Kafir or Mushrik! Otherness is manufactured by hawa with the ingredients provided by ego-serving reason—while Allah (the beneficent, the merciful) resides and manifests in the hearts purified with fire of devotion and all-inclusive love!
Iqbal’s Muse captures this sweet truth (sorry if it is bitter to some) in the most beautiful and sweeping couplet that is, at the same time, as precise as a scientific equation:
Taza mery zameer mein marka e kuhan hu’a
Aql e tmam Bu Lahib, Ishq e tamam Mustaf’a
[The most ancient (but timeless) battle revived in my conscience, Aql (passion or ego-serving reason) is “all” Abu Lahib & ishq (devotion, love or bhakti) is “all” Mustafa (Muhammad peace be upon him]
In the above couplet, the word tamam (all) tells the whole truth. There are two camps. Either you belong to the camp of love or devotion—if so, you are following Muhammad. Mohammad (PBUH) is timeless and space-less metaphor of love and devotion with countless manifestations in different times in history or spaces in geographical layouts. But keep in mind—where there is love there is no false ego! There is no hatred! There is no otherness!
Or you belong to opposing camp—if so you are the follower of Abu Lahib—the personification of hawa and ego-serving reason. There is no third option!
Zakir Naiks, mullahs, pundits, paid priests—all are servants and slaves of false ego or hawa! They are blindly infatuated with their own nafs but they deceive themselves by covering their filthy, stingy and foul-smelling passions under sacred names and higher ideals. They teach under the spell of hawa for “teaching and speaking are the love affairs of ego/hawa”. They teach, without knowing what to teach, for human person has dangerous and irresistible urge to teach for the sake of teaching! They are indulged in nothing but unclean and irreligious clash of false egos. They would bring nothing in the world but make it battle-field of lower desires in the name of God. I have nothing to advise them for Baba Bulhy Shah had already advised:
Mullah chod dei ilm kitaban da
Aiwein chaya’ee bhar azaban da
Wuzu kar laiye shauq shraban da
Teray andar bahar paliti hei
[O mullah i.e. paid pious man! Get rid of your borrowed bookish knowledge! You are carrying heavily crushing weight for nothing! Come! Let me wash your self with wine of devotion and love! For there is nothing but muck and refuse within you… and filth in your all surroundings & you are spreading it all around]