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In the Name of God بسم الله

A question on monasticism and its relation to materialism

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According to the following source,

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Man is compelled to obey his instinctive urges.

Yet according to the same source,

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The awliya' and saints used to abstain even from many permissible pleasures…sensual lusts, appetites, comforts, and amusements

In relation to this I ask the following:

Isn’t the basic human need for sexual intercourse, even if solely for procreation, also infected with a degree of lust and/or appetite? So if one is to abstain from “sensual lusts/appetites,” how can one avoid them during the sexual act itself? When one engages in sexual intercourse one also feels pleasurable sensations.

This dilemma in part explains why Christianity historically associated holiness with monasticism, because in this state the sensual aspects of intercourse were avoided. (If the sexual act were not in part appetitive and/or lust-driven, then it might have been a different matter.)

Since humans obviously need to engage in procreation, how can they suppress the “pleasurable” feelings and sensations that occur during the sexual act itself? (I apologise if this is seems a frivolous or stupid question.)

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On 12/8/2023 at 12:20 AM, Northwest said:

 also infected with a degree of lust and/or appetite? So if one is to abstain from “sensual lusts/appetites,” how can one avoid them during the sexual act itself? When one engages in sexual intercourse one also feels pleasurable sensations.

 

On 12/8/2023 at 12:20 AM, Northwest said:

Since humans obviously need to engage in procreation, how can they suppress the “pleasurable” feelings and sensations that occur during the sexual act itself? (I apologise if this is seems a frivolous or stupid question.)

Hi, at first is not about suppressing “pleasurable” feelings and sensations " but on the other hand it's about not becoming slave of  "instinctive urges" also preserving ethical codes which when someone can benefits from "“pleasurable” feelings and sensations that occur during the sexual act itself" but on the other hand that person doesn't loss his/her intellect & will which their instinctive urges won't rule all of their life which they don't become dirty animals in form of humans which there is nothing in shia Islam about suppressing the “pleasurable” feelings but on the other hand is about true management of it for having balance in all aspects of life for reaching to salvation through true & recommended forms of pleasure through advices procedures of infallible prophet Muhammad (pbu) & infallible Imams (عليه السلام) for reaching to everlasting pleasures in hereafter while we benefit from temporal pleasures as tool which this world doesn't become our only purpose but on ther hand it becomes a handful tool for hereafter .

 

On 12/8/2023 at 12:20 AM, Northwest said:

This dilemma in part explains why Christianity historically associated holiness with monasticism, because in this state the sensual aspects of intercourse were avoided. (If the sexual act were not in part appetitive and/or lust-driven, then it might have been a different matter.)

This is real dillema of Christanity which is totally black & white which you have only two option of becoming likewise a dirty sexual animal in human form or becoming sterilized & suppressing all natural instincts in hope of pleasure in hereafter. 

In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful. Praise be to Allah, the Lord of all worlds. May peace and blessings be upon our beloved Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ), his pure progeny, and his noble companions.

The Arabic Hadith of Imam Ali (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) states:

اذْكُرُوا انْقِطَاعَ الَّلذَّاتِ، وَبَقَاءَ التَّبِعَاتِ۔
This enlightening Hadith can be translated as:

Remember pleasures will pass away while the consequences will stay.

(These consequences can be both positive or negative, depending on the nature of our actions)

 

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Let us delve into the exegesis of this Hadith by examining the key words and their meanings. The word (inqita'a) "انْقِطَاعَ" refers to the cessation or ending of something. In this context, it signifies the temporary nature of worldly pleasures and delights. The word (al-lathat) "الَّلذَّاتِ" refers to the pleasures and joys that we experience in this life. These include material possessions, physical comforts, and worldly achievements.

 

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On the other hand, the word (baqaa) "بَقَاءَ" means permanence or continuity. It highlights the enduring nature of the consequences that follow our actions in this world and the hereafter. The word (at-tabi'at) "التَّبِعَاتِ" refers to the consequences or aftermath of our deeds. These consequences can be both positive or negative, depending on the nature of our actions

 

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To further understand the wisdom behind this Hadith, let us turn to the Quran for guidance. Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ) reminds us in Surah Al-Kahf, verse 46:

Wealth and children are [but] adornment of the worldly life. But the enduring good deeds are better to your Lord for reward and better for [one's] hope.
This verse emphasizes the transient nature of worldly possessions and the importance of focusing on everlasting good deeds.

Additionally, in Surah Al-Hadid, verse 20, Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ) states:

Know that the life of this world is but amusement and diversion and adornment and boasting to one another and competition in increase of wealth and children - like the example of a rain whose [resulting] plant growth pleases the tillers; then it dries and you see it turned yellow; then it becomes [scattered] debris. And in the Hereafter is severe punishment and forgiveness from Allah and approval. And what is the worldly life except the enjoyment of delusion

These verses from the Quran highlight the fleeting nature of worldly pleasures and the importance of focusing on actions that have lasting consequences. They remind us that material possessions and temporary joys are merely adornments of this worldly life, while the consequences of our deeds will remain with us in the hereafter.

Imam Ali's (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) statement serves as a powerful reminder for Muslims to prioritize actions that have lasting benefits. It encourages us to reflect on the consequences of our choices and to strive for deeds that will bring us closer to Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ) and secure our place in the eternal life to come.

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By remembering the impermanence of worldly pleasures and focusing on the enduring consequences of our actions, we can cultivate a mindset that is rooted in seeking the pleasure of Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ) and preparing for the everlasting life in the hereafter. This Hadith serves as a powerful motivation to engage in acts of worship, kindness, and righteousness, as these are the deeds that will truly benefit us in the long run.

In conclusion, the Hadith of Imam Ali (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) reminds us to be mindful of the temporary nature of worldly pleasures and to prioritize actions that have lasting consequences. By reflecting on the Quranic verses that emphasize the transience of this life and the importance of enduring good deeds, we can strive to lead a life that is focused on seeking the pleasure of Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ) and securing our place in the eternal hereafter. May Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ) grant us the wisdom and strength to remember this profound lesson and act upon it in our daily lives.

https://sayingsofimamali.com/pleasures.html

 

Imam Ali was educated in the Prophet's school with teachings that governed all his actions since then. One of his high qualities was self-reliance.

 

Those, who disagreed with Imam Ali and were intolerant of his justice, were searching for ease and luxury. They oppressed people to deprive them of their rights for the sake of their own pleasures in this worldly life.

Imam Ali was far above al these bad conducts. Once he wrote to the wali of Basra: “Remember that every follower usually follows his leader and imitates him. You know that your imam is contented with two pieces of bread as his victual and two rags as his cloths. Certainly you can not do so but at least try to help me with piety and uprightness. By Allah, I have neither treasured gold nor collected money out of this world ...”

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He often said: “How can I be satisfied to be called Ameer-al-Mu’mineen (the commander of the believers) by people and do not share in their hardships or I do not

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become an example for them in the difficulties. Shall I be comfortable with a full stomach and there are hungry stomachs around me? I must live in the lowest level so that the poor may be able to endure poverty easily.”

Imam Ali (s) went to visit his companion Ala’ ibn Ziyad. When he saw his large house, he said to him: “You are in need of such house in the afterworld more than in this world. But if you want so, you are to receive guests in it, to take care of your relatives and to pay poor-rate and alms.”

Then Ala’ said to him: “O Ameer-al-Mu’mineen, I complain about my brother Aassim, who has left his family to worship God.” Imam Ali (s) sent for him. When he came, Imam Ali said to him: “O enemy of yourself, surely Satan has misled you. Do not you feel pity for your wife and children? Do you think that if you practice what Allah has made lawful for you, He will dislike you? You will be unthankful to Allah in doing so.”

 

He said: “O Ameer-al-Mu’mineen, you yourself put on coarse dress and eat single food.”

Imam Ali (s) replied: “Woe unto you! You are not like me. Certainly God has made it obligatory for the just leaders to live like the poor people so that the poor grouch their poverty and indigence.” Therefore he himself repaired his shoes with his hand and he himself patched his clothes.

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Observe his (the judge) judgments always and be openhanded to him to satisfy his needs so that he won’t be in need of the people. Give him a position in your court so high that none can even dream of coveting it and so high that neither backbiting nor intrigue can touch him. Think of this so much for this religion was captive under the control of the evildoers. They used it according to their fancies and as a means to obtain the vain pleasures of this worldly life.

” He said: “Allah may have mercy upon him, who supports rightfulness when he sees it and rejects wrongfulness when he sees it and who supports the oppressed against the oppressor.”

But the worldly governments try to change the law for the benefit of them and hence they cause harms to their peoples because they are cruel and merciless and they have no faith in the merciful God; consequently they violate the principles of the law and then they run after the pleasures of their short life.

https://erfan.ir/english/21310.html

 

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On 12/7/2023 at 3:50 PM, Northwest said:

According to the following source,

Yet according to the same source,

In relation to this I ask the following:

Isn’t the basic human need for sexual intercourse, even if solely for procreation, also infected with a degree of lust and/or appetite? So if one is to abstain from “sensual lusts/appetites,” how can one avoid them during the sexual act itself? When one engages in sexual intercourse one also feels pleasurable sensations.

This dilemma in part explains why Christianity historically associated holiness with monasticism, because in this state the sensual aspects of intercourse were avoided. (If the sexual act were not in part appetitive and/or lust-driven, then it might have been a different matter.)

Since humans obviously need to engage in procreation, how can they suppress the “pleasurable” feelings and sensations that occur during the sexual act itself? (I apologise if this is seems a frivolous or stupid question.)

There is a concept in Islam called 'Zahed'. There is no exact translation in English but it is a practice of all the Prophets, Imams, and those who wish to get closer to Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى). The basis of the concept is taking concrete actions in order to stop oneself from becoming overly attached to this dunya (the lower life). It is not like monasticism, and it is often mistranslated and misunderstood as this. Monasticism means abstaining completely from things like sex, etc. Being a Zahed is recognizing that things like sex, food, working, doing business, having social interactions with different people, etc, are healthy, productive, and essential to life so long as one actively tries to keep oneself from getting overly attached to them. One of the best ways to practice being a Zahed is doing the Islamic fast. This is a good example because it doesn't entail depriving yourself from food or drink for long periods of time like what is practiced in other religions. It is not a full 24 hours (like the Jewish fast) or days long fast (like in Hinduism). It is enough time for you to realize that you are hungry and live with the fact that you are hungry and thirst for a few hours and do this with patience and good nature (ideally, although there are many Muslims that don't do the 'good nature' part.  lol) and then eat and break the fast. 

The cumulative effect of this is that it teaches us that we think we need to eat every 4 to 6 hours (while we are awake) and drink something every 2 to 3 hours but we actually don't and can go longer than that. This makes us flexible and decreases our attachment to eating and drinking. It also increases our patience and tolerance, makes us healthier, makes us more happy and positive, etc. There are so many benefits to this one practice (abstaining from eating and drinking for some hours) that we are still discovering them up to this day. This is only one of the practices of being a Zahid and there are others which can be done. BTW, the fasting is also from sex and sexual acts in those hours so that people who are so overly attached to this will realize that they don't have to do this as a compulsion, i.e. being overly attached, but can wait a while. 

The cumulative effects of fasting plus some of the other practices (like doing the Midnight Prayer, which does the same thing with our over attachment to sleep) is that we become more of a 'free floating spirit' rather than a spirit confined in the iron cage of the body. We realize that we are not our body and that our body and physical needs are only a small part of who we are and not the important part of who we are, although we need to fulfill these needs. We then become an ascendant being, a being which knows that it is ascending this mundane world toward the bigger and greater realm of the unseen world and we have hope. 

 

 

 

Edited by Abu Hadi
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