When desire goes wild and worshipping designer brands

When desire goes wild and worshipping designer brands

Desire is a natural part of the human system

زُيِّنَ لِلنَّاسِ حُبُّ الشَّهَوَاتِ مِنَ النِّسَاءِ وَالْبَنِينَ وَالْقَنَاطِيرِ الْمُقَنطَرَةِ مِنَ الذَّهَبِ وَالْفِضَّةِ وَالْخَيْلِ الْمُسَوَّمَةِ وَالْأَنْعَامِ وَالْحَرْثِ ۗ ذَٰلِكَ مَتَاعُ الْحَيَاةِ الدُّنْيَا ۖ وَاللَّهُ عِندَهُ حُسْنُ الْمَآبِ

Adorned for the people is the love of desires, such as women, and children, and piles upon piles of gold and silver, and branded horses, and livestock, and fields. These are the conveniences of the worldly life, but with God lies the finest resort. [3:14]

There are three verses in the Quran which talk about following shahawat (base desires), for instance desire for food or drink or fashion, as these are destructive when uncontrolled and can become addictive. Following al hawa (pleasure and lusts)

It is part of our nature to love these things. These desires are embedded in our system for a reason as they are part of a greater purpose, which is the survival of the human race. Thus the attractions between the sexes is necessary for procreation. Without this the human race would die out. However these feelings of attraction need to be controlled and this desire should be fulfilled in moderation, in a halal way, which is through marriage.

Similarly loving children is a necessary part of human nature which is essential for the continuation of the human race.

The desire for wealth, and piles of gold is necessary for us to conduct trade and business so that we have the circulation of goods which we need. This is the all part of the system Allah created for our species to thrive. Every aspect of our being is a part of the perfection of Allah’s system.

Desire has to be controlled

Problems arise when desires grow unchecked. The more you feed them, the more your appetite for them grows. Indulging desires excessively is harmful and this is why Allah has commanded us to be moderate. It can take one off the straight path and down the path of addiction and  corruption and negligence of one’s obligations and duties. In the Quran, Allah Almighty talks about those who missed their prayers, because they were to engrossed in following their desires. We see in the ayah the tension between doing what is right and the craving to fulfil one’s appetite for pleasure:

وَاللَّهُ يُرِيدُ أَن يَتُوبَ عَلَيْكُمْ وَيُرِيدُ الَّذِينَ يَتَّبِعُونَ الشَّهَوَاتِ أَن تَمِيلُوا مَيْلًا عَظِيمًا

God intends to redeem you, but those who follow their desires want you to turn away utterly. [4:27]

۞ فَخَلَفَ مِن بَعْدِهِمْ خَلْفٌ أَضَاعُوا الصَّلَاةَ وَاتَّبَعُوا الشَّهَوَاتِ ۖ فَسَوْفَ يَلْقَوْنَ غَيًّا

But they were succeeded by generations who lost the prayers and followed their appetites. They will meet perdition. [19:59]

Extreme desire leads to hell

At its extreme giving into one’s cravings can lead to leaving Islam and going down the path to hell. In the Quran, we have the parable of the one who was given knowledge from Allah, but because he was immersed in pursuing his desires, he was no better than a dog. Rather than elevating himself through the worship of Allah, he is in a perpetual state of craving, hankering for more fulfilment.

وَلَوْ شِئْنَا لَرَفَعْنَاهُ بِهَا وَلَٰكِنَّهُ أَخْلَدَ إِلَى الْأَرْضِ وَاتَّبَعَ هَوَاهُ ۚ فَمَثَلُهُ كَمَثَلِ الْكَلْبِ إِن تَحْمِلْ عَلَيْهِ يَلْهَثْ أَوْ تَتْرُكْهُ يَلْهَث ۚ ذَّٰلِكَ مَثَلُ الْقَوْمِ الَّذِينَ كَذَّبُوا بِآيَاتِنَا ۚ فَاقْصُصِ الْقَصَصَ لَعَلَّهُمْ يَتَفَكَّرُونَ

Had We willed, We could have elevated him through them; but he clung to the ground, and followed his desires. His metaphor is that of a dog: if you chase it, it pants; and if you leave it alone, it pants. Such is the metaphor of the people who deny Our signs. So tell the tale, so that they may ponder. [7:176]

Desire can lead to rejecting the truth

Pursuing desire can prevent people from following the truth as we saw in the biography of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) whose people rejected the message and the eternal bliss of the afterlife because they preferred to indulge in the pleasures of this world. Therefore the people of Makkah fought Islam and resisted the truth because it brought limits to their hedonism. Hedonism is heedlessness.

وَاصْبِرْ نَفْسَكَ مَعَ الَّذِينَ يَدْعُونَ رَبَّهُم بِالْغَدَاةِ وَالْعَشِيِّ يُرِيدُونَ وَجْهَهُ ۖ وَلَا تَعْدُ عَيْنَاكَ عَنْهُمْ تُرِيدُ زِينَةَ الْحَيَاةِ الدُّنْيَا ۖ وَلَا تُطِعْ مَنْ أَغْفَلْنَا قَلْبَهُ عَن ذِكْرِنَا وَاتَّبَعَ هَوَاهُ وَكَانَ أَمْرُهُ فُرُطًا

And content yourself with those who pray to their Lord morning and evening, desiring His Presence. And do not turn your eyes away from them, desiring the glitter of this world. And do not obey him whose heart We have made heedless of Our remembrance—so he follows his own desires—and his priorities are confused. [18:28]

When desire becomes a god

Some people treat their desire as god, they obey whatever their desires dictate. This is very dangerous. This is why Allah warned us against following our desires in the Quran.

أَرَأَيْتَ مَنِ اتَّخَذَ إِلَٰهَهُ هَوَاهُ أَفَأَنتَ تَكُونُ عَلَيْهِ وَكِيلًا

Have you seen him who chose his desire as his god? Would you be an agent for him? [25:43]

فَإِن لَّمْ يَسْتَجِيبُوا لَكَ فَاعْلَمْ أَنَّمَا يَتَّبِعُونَ أَهْوَاءَهُمْ ۚ وَمَنْ أَضَلُّ مِمَّنِ اتَّبَعَ هَوَاهُ بِغَيْرِ هُدًى مِّنَ اللَّهِ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ لَا يَهْدِي الْقَوْمَ الظَّالِمِينَ

But if they fail to respond to you, know that they follow their fancies. And who is more lost than him who follows his fancy without guidance from God? God does not guide the unjust people. [28:50]

أَفَرَأَيْتَ مَنِ اتَّخَذَ إِلَٰهَهُ هَوَاهُ وَأَضَلَّهُ اللَّهُ عَلَىٰ عِلْمٍ وَخَتَمَ عَلَىٰ سَمْعِهِ وَقَلْبِهِ وَجَعَلَ عَلَىٰ بَصَرِهِ غِشَاوَةً فَمَن يَهْدِيهِ مِن بَعْدِ اللَّهِ ۚ أَفَلَا تَذَكَّرُونَ

Have you considered him who has taken his desire for his god? God has knowingly led him astray, and has sealed his hearing and his heart, and has placed a veil over his vision. Who will guide him after God? Will you not reflect? [45:23]

Those who control desire are on the path to paradise

If you fight against your non halal desires and fulfil halal desires in moderation, paradise will be your shelter. The path to Jannah is through controlling your desire.

In Surat an-Naziat Allah says:

وَأَمَّا مَنْ خَافَ مَقَامَ رَبِّهِ وَنَهَى النَّفْسَ عَنِ الْهَوَىٰ

But as for him who feared the Standing of his Lord, and restrained the self from desires. [79:40]

فَإِنَّ الْجَنَّةَ هِيَ الْمَأْوَىٰ

Then Paradise is the shelter. [79:41]

Ramadan a full month’s training course in self-control and trains us to curb our appetites.

Don’t be a slave to designer brands

Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) reported that the Prophet (peace be on him) said:

عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ، قَالَ قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ ـ صلى الله عليه وسلم ـ ‏ “‏ تَعِسَ عَبْدُ الدِّينَارِ وَعَبْدُ الدِّرْهَمِ وَعَبْدُ الْقَطِيفَةِ وَعَبْدُ الْخَمِيصَةِ إِنْ أُعْطِيَ رَضِيَ وَإِنْ لَمْ يُعْطَ لَمْ يرض‏”‏ ‏.‏

“May he be miserable, the slave of the dinar and dirham, and the slave of the striped silk cloak. If he is given anything, he is satisfied; but if not, he is unsatisfied”. (Bukhari)

Dinar is from gold and dirham is from silver, khamila, qatifah and khamisha are striped silk and velvet. This hadith is referring to those who are enslaved to fashion. These days people are obsessed by brands to the extent they are slaves to fashion. They have to have the latest clothes, bags, gadgets… They are consumers sucked in by marketing and blindly following the trend.

In Islam you are allowed to dress well and wear expensive clothes. The Prophet (peace be upon him) would wear an expensive outfit at Eid, as befitted the occasion. However, if not having the latest outfit makes you miserable, you need to check yourself. Islam teaches us to have a balance between our needs and wants. We are not permitted to squander wealth.

Don’t be a billboard

Do not be a slave to fashion. Fashions keep changing, so why waste money on what you do not need, and which is bad for the environment? Islam doesn’t promote ugliness, Islam promotes beauty but with moderation. Do not waste your time and effort on an addiction to fashion and brands. Those who cannot wear something unbranded or carry bags that are not designer are suffering from arrogance. We have choices, but as long as an outfit is smart and covers you, that is what matters, not the label. Companies pay to advertise their clothes, yet people feel happy to walk around as billboards. Remember that you are not a billboard.

In Surat Taha Allah Almighty says that what matters is what we have put in our account, whereas pursuing desires distract us from our real purpose:

إِنَّ السَّاعَةَ آتِيَةٌ أَكَادُ أُخْفِيهَا لِتُجْزَىٰ كُلُّ نَفْسٍ بِمَا تَسْعَىٰ

The Hour is coming—but I keep it almost hidden—so that each soul will be paid for what it endeavours. [20:15]

فَلَا يَصُدَّنَّكَ عَنْهَا مَن لَّا يُؤْمِنُ بِهَا وَاتَّبَعَ هَوَاهُ فَتَرْدَىٰ

And do not let him who denies it and follows his desire turn you away from it, lest you fall. [20:16]

Shaykh Haytham Tamim 14th March 2023

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Shaykh Haytham Tamim is the founder and main teacher of the Utrujj Foundation. He has provided a leading vision for Islamic learning in the UK, which has influenced the way Islamic knowledge is disseminated. He has orchestrated the design and delivery of over 200 unique courses since Utrujj started in 2001. His extensive expertise spans over 30 years across the main Islamic jurisprudence schools of thought. He has studied with some of the foremost scholars in their expertise; he holds some of the highest Ijazahs (certificates) in Quran, Hadith (the Prophetic traditions) and Fiqh (Islamic rulings). His own gift for teaching was evident when he gave his first sermon to a large audience at the age of 17 and went on to serve as a senior lecturer of Islamic transactions and comparative jurisprudence at the Islamic University of Beirut (Shariah College). He has continued to teach; travelling around the UK, Europe and wider afield, and won the 2015 BISCA award (British Imams & Scholars Contributions & Achievements Awards) for Outstanding Contribution to Education and Teaching.