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Chapter 6: What Is The Face Of Your Soul?

As the cart pulled through the village, the screams of a desperate woman seeking help echoed in the air, but in vain. Not because the people of the village were heartless, but because it was the abandoned section of the village.

The cart pulled in front of a broken cottage, the woman with much struggle alighted the cart and went into the cottage and after much struggle and pain, finally delivered. However, to her much surprise, they were quadruplets. She knew it was more than one baby, but she never thought they would be four.

As time passed and the kids grew each had a unique characteristic in them. One of them was a smart analytical kid who would evaluate all information rationally and arrive at proven conclusions. His decision makings were well calculated and universally accepted.

The other one was a daydreamer, he would dream of dragons, castles, flying mountains, magic portions, fairies & magic wands, super-beings with superpowers, etc… His decisions were based on fantasy, with no rationale in it, and would not appeal to common sense. Apparently, no one would approach him for guidance and advice, however, he had a way with words. He would so beautifully present his thoughts and ideas that it would keep the people involved, take them away from the reality of their lives. People would sit and listen to him for hours and hours, such that they would forget that they are hungry or that they have a shop or family to attend to. Sometimes they would get so involved in the stories, that they began to believe that the story is their real life. While their true actual life is a hurdle in living their fantasy life.

Another one of them was extremely greedy. He had this undying desire to get as much as he can, of whatever he can. He had no limitation to his wants, he wanted more food, more clothes, more land, more money, more power, more everything. If he could, he would have had more of ‘more’ too.

And the last one of them was unique in his own way. He could not understand or rationally think, however, he believed that all problems can be solved by the fist. He would probably hit first and talk later, if someone would wish him a good morning, I guess he would punch him back and say “Yeah now its good morning for me.” Maybe I should put it in simple words that the last one was no brains and all might kind of a person.

Years passed and now they are fully grown up, they set out in search of work to earn a living. While passing through a country they come to know that the King is seeking a vizier to help him rule efficiently. Each of them bearing a unique ability decided to give it a try.

The first one to approach the king was the ‘All might and no brains’.

He said “My Lord, I will make the best vizier for you, for your kingdom is vast and rich and such a kingdom deserves to be protected. I will design the defense system for you that is impenetrable, no one would dare to approach your land. No one will ever dream of invading your kingdom. Not only that but I would make strict laws for homeland security. Ensuring that there is no internal threat to your position or kingdom.”

“My Lord, any head that rises will be immediately put down, any hand that points will be immediately cut down, any voice raised will be immediately suffocated. You will rule powerfully and peacefully for years to come.”

Though his ideas were appealing, however, the king felt a certain discomfort due to his hostile approach. The king was looking for a better option.

Next, the greedy one approached the king and said “My king! I will make the best vizier for you. While your kingdom is vast and rich, yet there are lands to be conquered, there are riches to be gained. The royal treasures can become the grand treasure that has no comparison. We would march our armies into our neighboring countries. We will invade the faraway lands. We will get the riches from across the world. The king needs a new queen and I know exactly where will you find one. My king, you are too lenient with your people, we should increase the taxes and build mansions and castles with the extra revenue. You would be the King like no other and I will be the vizier like no other.”

Then came the daydreamer and said “My lord! Look no further, for your needs will be fulfilled by this humble servant, who humbles himself in your lofty presence. My Lord, If I be your vizier, your kingdom would be spoken of for 1000s of years to come, history will record your kingdom as a kingdom of magnanimity. The boundaries of which would spread from the east to west, the sun would never set in your kingdom, it would be the land of dreams and opportunities. People from far and near would come to your kingdom to achieve their dreams. Your palace will overflow with mastery, fine-arts, gold, and jewels. People would bow to your greatness and graciousness. People would swear upon your royalty and honesty. Poets would praise your lands as the heavens on earth and your esteemed self as a God. Look no further My lord, it is time to fulfill your dreams and the dreams of your people….”

The king was highly impressed with him and highly inclined to appoint him as his vizier. However, he also wanted to give a fair chance to the smart one.

While the smart one started his argument, the other two asked the ‘daydreamer’, how are you going to achieve all that you said?” He replied “with the help of you two. That way not only I get to be the vizier, but you get to be my partners.”

The smart one started “O Great King! Let's be practical here, your kingdom needs a vizier, not an ordinary one but the one who can understand the needs of the Kingdom, the king, and the people, who can analyze the situation at hand and provide an appropriate and rational solution. While it's true that a King needs to maintain His treasury to respond to any contingencies or an emergency, however, this does not mean that the king is at the liberty to harass and oppress his own people by taxing them heavily. My Lord, there is nothing better than peace. Hence, while expanding the country could be one option, the other option can be to maintain peace with the neighboring countries. That way the internal economy would grow and it would lead to international trade as well. War by itself costs money, over and above it destroys the morale of the citizens and hampers the economy dramatically….”

And he went on to explain with his rational approach why the king should or should not take certain decisions. The king was highly impressed and had arrived at the conclusion of appointing the smart one as the vizier when the ‘daydreamer’ interrupted and said, “My lord! Why don't you ponder over this matter and declare your results tomorrow?” Then he turned to the other two and said “Come what may my brothers, the smart one should not become the vizier, for he may not leave any post for us in this kingdom.”

Hence began the enmity of ‘Aql (Intellect/reason), Shahwat (Greed), Ghadhab (Anger), and Wahm (Fantasy). By now you must have understood that who among the four is ‘Aql, Shahwat, Ghadhab, and Wahm?

The soul is like the king of the body. The body obeys the command of the soul. However, the question is who is the adviser of the soul? Is it Shahwat the ‘Greedy’ one, Ghadhab the ‘All might & no brains’, Wahm the ‘Daydreamer’ or ‘Aql the ‘Smart one’.

Whoever it is the soul acts according to it and commands the body to act in accordance with it. If the Vizier is Shahwat, Ghadhab or Wahm then the state of the soul is that of ammara which seeks to fulfill the animalistic desires and does not care for the others. Another great challenge here is that if any of the three take the post of vizier they would ensure that ‘Aql is annulled and would not allow it to play any role at all.

However, if the vizier is ‘Aql (intellect) then Shahwat (greed), Ghadhab (anger), and Wahm (fantasy) takes the directions from it and obeys it, instead of ruling it and this is the most correct way, that ‘Aql should direct and not be directed. When ‘Aql takes over from any of the other three, the soul moves into a new state called ‘Lawammah’ and after a long rule of ‘Aql, the soul moves into the final state called “Mutma’innah” (content or at peace).

يَا أَيَّتُهَا النَّفْسُ الْمُطْمَئِنَّةُ

O soul at peace! (89:27).

ارْجِعِي إِلَىٰ رَبِّكِ رَاضِيَةً مَرْضِيَّةً

Return to your Lord, pleased and pleasing! (89:28).

Clearly, if the wahm takes over the soul, it would keep you busy in your dreams and fantasies and if the greed takes over the soul, then we get busy in life trying to earn more money, get a bigger house, get a better position, work for a better company, drive a more luxurious car, etc… and if Ghadhab takes over the soul then we are arrogant, hasty, and brute in our decisions, without being considerate towards others.

However, the more challenging question is what happens when the ‘Aql (Intellect) takes over the soul?

Our great scholars have discussed this in detail, when one of the faculties takes over, they become the primary decision maker and summon other faculties at their service. Hence if wahm is the vizier then Ghadhab, shahwat, and ‘Aql all have to play to its tune, and the same goes with the other faculties. If one of them becomes vizier, others have to play to its tune. However, let me emphasize again wahm, Ghadhab, and shahwat are always in concurrence with each other. While ‘Aql is always at loggerheads with them.

If ‘Aql becomes the vizier it summons the other faculties to serve it. When ‘Aql calls for service, it restricts their extremism and maintains their performance at a balance or optimum level. If Ghadhab is out of balance then either it is an outrage or its timidity and if it is well balanced then it is courage. Hence, it’s the ‘Aql that maintains the balance of all the faculties and its ‘Aql that deserves to act as vizier to our soul. If ‘Aql takes the throne, then Ghadhab is mediated at courage, shahwat is mediated at chastity, wahm is mediated at justice and ‘Aql attains wisdom1.

فَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ مَا اسْتَطَعْتُمْ وَاسْمَعُوا وَأَطِيعُوا وَأَنْفِقُوا خَيْرًا لِأَنْفُسِكُمْ ۗ وَمَنْ يُوقَ شُحَّ نَفْسِهِ فَأُولَٰئِكَ هُمُ الْمُفْلِحُونَ

So be wary of Allah, as much as you can, and listen and obey, and spend [in the way of Allah]; that is better for yourselves. Those who are saved from their own greed—it is they who are the felicitous. (Holy Qur’an, 64:16).

  • 1. Al-Maqamat al-A’liya, summary of Mi’raj us Sa’dat – Hajj Sheikh Abbas al-Qummi, pg 8.