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Islamic Society ( 18 Apr 2022, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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The Attribution Syndrome: Muslims Should Use Their God-Given Prudence And Acquire Piety Rather Than Constantly Blaming Shaitan For Their Shortcomings

By Sumit Paul, New Age Islam

19 April 2022

We Must Avoid Attribution Syndrome For Our Own Good And Mental Peace. A Momin Must Never Forget That His Rectitude And Moral Compass Are In His Hands. None Can Influence It, Not Even The So-Called Satan

As a student of Semitic religions and civilizations, I've always been intrigued by the 'negative obsession' of the followers of the three faiths, viz, Judaism, Christianity and Islam. I'm afraid, Islam is numero uno in this obsession. Whatever untoward happens to a Muslim individual or the Ummah (Arabic for the community) is quickly imputed to Iblees (Satan) as if it's forever on the prowl to mislead a Muslim. While it could be a religio-theological belief, this perennial attribution to Shaitan validates the Urdu maxim, Tabele Ki Bala Bandar Ke Sar (I don't think it has an apposite equivalent in any other language). Psychologically speaking, this is Attribution Syndrome. We often use an apt adage in Hindi and Urdu: Naach Na Jaane, Aangan Tedha (a bad workman blames his tools). An individual, whether a Muslim or belonging to any other faith, is wholly responsible for his good and bad deeds.

One of the teachings in Hadees also states that one must apply his/her Aql-E-Saleem (prudence) and follow the righteous path (compiled by Sahih-al-Bukhari). If every time one is led up the garden path, where's an individual's volition to guide him? Where's his free will? Moreover, condemning Satan day in and day out seems an everyday ritualistic chore for a Muslim. Rabia Basri justifiably asked, " How can I hate Satan when there's not even a smidgen of hatred in my heart? The only emotion I know is Love. "

In one of his path-breaking parables, Lebanese-American writer, poet and visual artist Kahlil Gibran narrates the story of a compassionate man who refuses to participate in Rami-al-Jamarat (Arabic term for Stoning of the Satan). It's worthwhile to mention that during this ritual, Muslims throw pebbles at the three pillars called ‘Jamarat’, located in the city of Mina, just east of Mecca. During the night spent in Muzdalifah, pilgrims gather 70 stones to pelt the three pillars representing Satan on the 10th of Dhul Hijjah, i.e. the day of Hajj. His logic was that he couldn't degrade himself by hurling stones at Satan, however evil he may have been. So very true. Fariduddin Attar wrote in Pahlavi (precursor to Persian): Chee Az Min Ahtiraam In Bil Wazaaf, Shee Un Iblees (I respect everyone equally and that includes Satan as well).

To a scripture-driven average Muslim, this sounds outright sacrilegious. But it's not. When we keep condemning anything or anyone, Satan to be precise, our hearts swell with hatred and hatred leads to rancour. We must avoid that for our own good and mental peace. A Momin must never forget that his rectitude and moral compass are in his hands. None can influence it, not even the so-called Satan. You're responsible for your deeds and destiny, not Satan. Own up to your mistakes and moral creases, introspect, iron them out and don't ever impute them to Satan or misfortune. That's a defeatist mentality which shows the fragile fabric of your persona.

The blind Egyptian exegete on Islam, Dr Taha Hussain, wrote that,' Satan is a spiritual emblem, and one of the earliest Islamic totems, that symbolises negativity and deviation. He's not a fallen angel but actually a manifestation of your own fall from grace. Try not to fall from the pedestal of highest moral uprightness and you shall be in the good books of the Almighty.' Wish all Muslims could emulate this. And why just Muslims, this is to be followed by all whose moral integrity remains unfazed by external powers and fabricated esoteric beliefs, books and characters.


An occasional columnist for New Age Islam, Sumit Paul is a researcher in comparative religions, with special reference to Islam. He has contributed articles to world's premier publications in several languages including Persian.


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