The Creation Of The Universe

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The Common Psychology and Forms of Behavior in Ignorantism (5/6)

12- Opportunism and Self-Interest

One of the most distinguishing features of anyone who takes the Qur'an as his guide is exceptional altruism. Such a person knows that all his possessions actually belong to Allah and have been given to him in trust to seek His approval, for which reason they have to be consumed on our Lord's behalf. That expenditure—in other words, the giving of alms—is one of the main religious observances in Islam.

Believers must give the assets they possess, to the fullest extent possible, to those listed by Allah in the Qur'an:

The alms are for: the poor, the destitute, those who collect it, reconciling people's hearts, freeing slaves, those in debt, spending in the way of Allah, and travelers. It is a legal obligation from Allah. Allah is All-Knowing, All-Wise. (Surat at-Tawba, 60)

This religious observance, to be performed for Allah's pleasure, is a source of great pleasure, joy and contentment for believers, and its importance is emphasized in various verses of the Qur'an. In Surat al-Baqara, it is revealed that those with true devoutness are those who, "despite their love for it, give away their wealth to their relatives and to orphans and the very poor, and to travelers and beggars and to set slaves free" (Surat al-Baqara, 177). And in Surat al-Insan it is revealed that believers "... give food, despite their love for it, to the poor and orphans and captives" (Surat al-Insan, 8). Another verse describes the importance of the subject: You will not attain true goodness until you give of what you love. Whatever you give away, Allah knows it. (Surah Al 'Imran, 92)

No doubt, one of the most important characteristics of a society of altruistic believers is their practice of giving alms in order to gain the approval of Allah. Members of the society think about the general interest, rather than their own individual concerns, and behave accordingly. When their own interests conflict with those of another member, they act in accord with that other individual in order to gain Allah's approval. Examples of the superior moral values experienced between believers who migrated to Madina and the believers living there are described in the following terms in the Qur'an:

Those who were already settled in the abode, and in faith, before they came, love those who have migrated to them and do not find in their hearts any need for what they have been given and prefer them to themselves even if they themselves are needy. It is the people who are safe-guarded from the avarice of their own selves who are successful. (Surat al-Hashr, 9)

In contrast, the Religion of the Ignorant constructs a model of society totally based on personal interests. Someone raised in Ignorantism is encouraged from childhood to develop a self-interested, egotistical character. The model that people observe in their families, friends and society as a whole is a self-interested, opportunistic one that observes and defends personal interests only. Under such influences, a child learns that it is "Everyone for himself."

Self-interest and opportunism are features of this religion. Extracting the most advantage for one's own interests under all circumstances is an indication of clever self-interest. Accordingly, people must consider their own interests wherever they may find themselves, and act for their own maximum advantage.

Relations between individuals are also shaped according to that principle. In the workplace, employees seek to extract the maximum advantage from their employer, and vice-versa. The customer seeks to extract the most from the sales representative, the sales representative from the customer, and friends from one another.

In societies living by the Religion of the Ignorant, exploitation is regarded as normal and becomes the basis of society's moral values. Everyone makes constant, intense efforts to exploit those one step below them on the ladder. Missing such an opportunity is regarded as naiveté, or stupidity. Such a mindset, based on the philosophy of "You only live once," stems from having no fear of Allah. This conflict of interests leads to people having vulgar characters.

On occasion, some members of Ignorantism sometimes engage in altruism, and helping the poor and needy. Yet these allegedly altruistic adherents of the Religion of the Ignorant don't do these things sincerely in order to gain the approval of Allah, as is the case with believers, but to show off to others. The situation of such people is described as follows in one verse:

You who believe! Do not nullify your charity by demands for gratitude or insulting words, like him who spends his wealth, showing off to people and not believing in Allah and the Last Day. His likeness is that of a smooth rock coated with soil, which, when heavy rain falls on it, is left stripped bare. They have no power over anything they have earned. Allah does not guide disbelieving people. (Surat al-Baqara, 264)

Such people donate large sums of money to organizations set up to help the poor or orphans. Yet these donations inevitably take place in the media spotlight, where hundreds of thousands can witness this philanthropy. And that is the goal in mind. These people are in fact very mean and never make the slightest effort to help others. With these ostentatious donations, they are actually engaging in a form of commerce. In return for the money they donate, they are purchasing a good image in society, which feeds their pride and represents a kind of capital for even more profitable investments. It is revealed in the Qur'an that such people are actually very parsimonious and that the alms they donate are given solely for reasons of show:

As for those who are tight-fisted and direct others to be tight-fisted, and hide the bounty Allah has given them, We have prepared a humiliating punishment for those who disbelieve, and also for those who spend their wealth to show off to people, not believing in Allah and the Last Day. Anyone who has made satan his comrade, what an evil comrade he is! What harm would it have done them to have believed in Allah and the Last Day and to have given of what Allah has provided for them? Allah knows everything about them. (Surat an-Nisa', 37-39)

It is stated in other verses that parsimony is a characteristic of unbelievers:

Have you seen him who turns away and gives little, and that grudgingly? (Surat an-Najm, 33-34)

In Surat al-Qalam garden owners with the parsimonious character of Ignorantism are referred to. The verses read:

We have tried them as We tried the owners of the garden when they swore that they would harvest in the morning but did not say the redeeming words, "If Allah wills." (Surat al-Qalam, 17-18)

In the morning they called out to one another, "Leave early for your land if you want to pick the fruit." So they set off, quietly saying to one another, "Do not let any poor man into it today while you are there." (Surat al-Qalam, 21-24)

The garden owners described in the verses try to go to their work without encountering any poor people, because they do not wish to help them. When they do meet one, however, they will be obliged to give them money, out of their concern that people will form an unwelcome opinion of them. In short, they have a most insincere, hypocritical and vulgar character—one of the classic features of the Religion of the Ignorant.

Believers of noble characters seek only the approval of Allah and compete with one another in doing good. In order to please Allah, what matters is not the skill that people show in accumulating wealth and property, but how much they consider His approval in what they do. The cleverness acceptable in the Sight of Allah is attentiveness and consciousness to constantly observe the interests of believers, raise their levels of well-being, always seek the greatest measure of Allah's approval, refuse to be swept away by evil and worldly desires and to be deceived by satan and his whisperings, constantly increase in faith and reason and improve moral values. In this way, the noble characters of Muslims who seek maximum approval from Allah are also reflected outwardly. This is described in the Qur'an:

Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah, and those who are with him are fierce to the disbelievers, merciful to one another. You see them bowing and prostrating, seeking Allah's good favor and His pleasure. Their mark is on their faces, the traces of prostration. That is their likeness in the Torah. And their likeness in the Gospel is that of a seed which puts up a shoot and makes it strong so that it thickens and grows up straight upon its stalk, filling the sowers with delight—so that by them He may infuriate the disbelievers. Allah has promised those of them who believe and do right actions forgiveness and an immense reward. (Surat al-Fath, 29)

The Psychology of Imposition

In Ignorantism, controlling and establishing dominion over the others, and directing them in the manner one wants are important and necessary for survival, as is portraying oneself as different from how one really is. This may be summarized as imposing one's will. In the Religion of the Ignorant, one of the ways of rising to the top is mastery of the art of imposing one's will on others, which has its own unique techniques and tactics. This is such an important matter that a great many books have been written offering advice on the subject.

Naturally, the most important means employed in imposing one's will on others are finding weaknesses in others that stem from features of Ignorantism. The more an individual's character conforms to the Religion of the Ignorant, the greater his weaknesses, and thus capacity to be imposed on.

Weaknesses such as pride and arrogance, the desire to put on a show, the urge to be praised and appreciated, sentimentality, portraying oneself as different to how one really is, and efforts to take advantage of situations, can easily be manipulated with expert techniques in any direction one wishes.

The people to be imposed upon—who might be anyone, from a public employee to a bridegroom candidate that one is too keen to marry—must possess some means that could possibly secure an advantage for one. In all social arenas—business, school, commerce, politics, social life, marriage—there are people that might be of assistance to others, that might help them secure an advantage of some sort, or help them strengthen their social position, once they have been imposed upon. All that is necessary is that the necessary connection be established in light of the relevant position and conditions.

The degrees of imposition are directly proportional to the expertise, effort and determination of the individual doing the imposing. In the same way, the cleverness, expectations and weaknesses of the person being imposed affect that imposition and its extent.

13- Hangers-On

Another ugly character revealed by Ignorantism is the hanger-on. The most obvious of these people live as though they were rich when they are not actually so, wear expensive clothes and live in good houses they really cannot afford, even though their families are in difficult financial circumstances. Such people come by these means by riding on the coattails of someone they specially select. They live their lives by using that person's money, acquaintances, and everything else they possess. In return they perform various functions, such as doing all that person's dirty work, satisfying their wishes and maintaining their self-confidence.

If you look carefully, you can spot a hanger-on beside almost every wealthy or famous individual. Both dress in the same way, but you can immediately tell the hanger-on. He's the one who is constantly humiliated, shouted at, who performs services, constantly praises the other party, agrees with whatever he says, and does everything he wants. The other party is praised, has all his wishes met, all his words agreed with and generally humiliates the hanger-on.

The hanger-on's most important duty is to entertain the person he is with, restore his spirits and maintain his self-confidence. That means telling that person how attractive he is when he feels himself to be ugly, cheering him up when he is downcast, laughing at his jokes, listening to his problems and coming up with solutions, and consoling him by showing the respect that nobody else truly feels for him.

These two people spend every hour of the day together. They go everywhere together, go the hairdresser and places of entertainment together, live together and even spend the nights together. When shopping, hangers-on generally wait for the other to try on clothes, help him dress, say which clothes suit him, hold his bags, answer the mobile phone for him, pass on messages, and fulfill all his wishes. After buying many things for himself, the person trying on the clothes will then buy the hanger-on a few items as recompense for all the services he has performed. The wealthy party generally picks up the tab for his hanger-on whenever they go out to eat, to the barber, or to a place of entertainment.

Another distinguishing feature of a hanger-on is that he generally stays in the home of the person he's attached to, rather than in his own. He uses the facilities provided there, wears the clothes in his friend's wardrobe, eats in that house, and orders around the serving staff as if they were his own. In order to do all this, however, he constantly flatters his friend's parents, and behaves in a very intimate manner. The parents begin to regard this individual as one of the household, in order that their child should not be left alone, accept the situation and start looking after the hanger-on. This causes them no discomfort since one of the hanger-on's main talents lies in imposing himself on others. The hanger-on is able to adapt any form of behavior to his own interests. He has a great understanding of how to be all things to all men, immediately adopting the style that someone else likes. Such people generally have no personality of their own, and being entirely without integrity, can immediately change personality in the light of the circumstances.

 

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