Lust. Want. A Shiny New Necklace.

.بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

“…and it may be that you dislike a thing while it is good for you, and it may be that you love a thing while it is evil for you; and Allah knows while you know not.”

— Qur’an, (2:216).

The ‘Seven Deadly Sins’: a summary of what humanity’s possible vices are, the very trees that go on to bear sinful fruit. One of these cardinal sins, or capital vices, is: lust [the others: pride, envy, wrath, sloth… ah, I thought I could remember the whole list without having to Google it. But alas: greed and gluttony, returns Google]. Apparently, linguistically, the word ‘lust’ is connected to ‘luxury’. It’s wanting things; it’s pursuing ‘pleasure’ through the means of having, excess, abundance [that’s for Jannah though].

For example: ‘luxury’, apparently, used to be used interchangeably with ‘adultery’. Which… makes sense. It’s desiring and pursuing more than what you have and need; more than what is good for you. It’s interesting: we can view the concept of sin, perhaps as… either doing too much, or doing too little than what ought to be done. An expected moment of fleeting ‘pleasure’, and ultimately destructive.

I am thinking about lust because…

“.لو أن لابنِ آدمَ واديًا من ذَهَبٍ أَحَبَّ أن يكونَ له واديانِ، ولَنْ يملأَ فَاهُ إلا الترابُ”

If the son of Adam were to own a valley of gold, he would desire to have two valleys. Nothing can fill his mouth except dust [i.e. in the grave].”

— Prophet Muhammad (SAW), Sahih Bukhāri and Muslim.

Recently, I bought something that I quite love. Because of both its aesthetic, and its symbolic value: a necklace. It’s shiny, and I love it, Alhamduli Llah. But, as with new things in general, the initial novelty wears off. And we human beings, Insaan, Children of Adam: we do love our novelty, don’t we?

The excitement, the shiny. But time tends to make that wear away. But you can only really, properly love what you really, properly know.

‘Lust’ might be: the fact that other girls’ little brothers seem so sweet and affectionate, Maa Shaa Allah. ‘Love‘ might be: the fact that I know that my brother is the type to… charge me £5 to hug him. And he has his quiet, sweeter moments too, Allah hummabārik. I would not exchange him for any, any, any other little brother anywhere.

After having this shiny, golden thing for about… maybe a week or two… I started thinking about having another thing of the same nature. Why am I being so mysterious about this? It’s a necklace.

When you get quite used to having/wearing something, you tend to just… take it for granted. It sort of blends into the background, just a part of your reality. And it tends to be distance from it, temporally, spatially, which makes you appreciate it more. And/or intentional regular consideration.

[Also: novelty is good. In terms of learning new things, experiences, variation in terms of food and activities and so on. Novelty is good when it is towards good ends.]

My necklace has scratches on it now. It isn’t ‘new-new’. I actually have it now, and it is a part of my life; not a detached concept that I can think about having, ‘want‘. But I suppose that if time can lead me to loving this thing more, then I love the thing. [Inevitable] scratches and bumps and ‘flaws’ (character) and loss-of-colour and all.

And if time, and the fact that it will become scratched and so forth over time, leads to me losing my ‘love’ for it… then maybe ’twas lust for the idea of a thing; the expectations and so forth that I had projected onto it. Shiny. An egoic want. Before becoming acquainted with its inevitable flaws.

New clothes do wear away, over time. Develop little tears and so on. People, and places, and things, aren’t just ‘concepts’ whose shininess, novelty, ‘uncorrupted-ness’, are going to last indefinitely.

Your siblings, for example, and/or your parents, and so on, are people you (generally) love. There’s no real way to see them as ‘wow! New! Shiny! Super good, with no perceptible downsides’ anymore, at all. Am I making sense here?

I love that in Islam, we have this real emphasis on gratitude. Our egos can be… tremendously wanting things. Never ‘enough’. Want ‘more‘.

But we’re supposed to stop and think, look at the real good things (and not just… concepts, advertised on TV, or YouTube, or social media, or in our imaginations) that we have. All Praise and Thanks are for Allah. And, beyond what our fallible, greedy egos can find themselves craving, often: Allah knows best.

[I’m saying this to myself, first and foremost. I do not need a scimitar necklace with an engraving in Arabic, but for a brief while, I really ‘wanted’ one. Just like, I suppose, the lamp I’d seen when I went to Istanbul, and I really ‘loved’ it. I have it now, and… how often do I even look at it? Sad but true.

Besides: I have a real, breathing, walking, talking ‘sword’ already, since this is what my brother’s name means, in Arabic.]

Maybe now, whenever I find myself craving something that… I don’t need, and which doesn’t serve a better purpose: I should probably wait a bit. Wait for those (however ‘powerful’) sentiments to subside; wait. Wait for lust to give way a little, for rationality to shine through. Say Alhamduli Llah for what I do have, and try to love those things more: many of these things had been ‘new’ once too, but that is not where their value had lay.

It’s also a pretty cool metaphysical law of Allah’s, which He has outlined in His Book:

And ˹remember˺ when your Lord proclaimed, ‘If you are grateful, I will certainly give you more. But if you are ungrateful, surely My punishment is severe.’”

Qur’an, (14:7). [Underlining my own].

The things we (think we) want. And what is genuinely good for us: Allah knows better than we do, concerning our own selves, concerning both those things. [Things might seem one way, to the all-too-deceivable human mind. But what are they, and Whose Vision is Objective Sight?]

My eyes have been wrong before; my thoughts have lied to me too. So, to Whom shall I look, to discern what is, separate from my uncertain, unknowing, human mind, actually True?

All we really have to do is: keep saying ‘thank you’. Keep connected, in submission to, our Creator. Keep our duty to Him, and be mindful of Him. And He will provide for you, without you even ‘asking’, perhaps, [though, of course, we can and should make Du’a for the good things we want] and often from sources we’d never imagine/expect. [Qur’an, (65:3)].

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