Materialism: The Ultimate Evil

Category: Featured, Highlights, World Affairs Topics: Materialism

Materialism is a philosophical belief, or a worldview, that supposes that matter is the only thing that exists. There is no other fundamental substance in the universe.

Everything else is the result of material interactions among physical objects. In other words, all things originate from matter, depend on it, and in the end return to it as the principal element of existence. It doesn't require exceptional intelligence to conclude that, in this way, matter is virtually rendered a supreme being, life’s be-all and end-all, and even a numen.

As a form of Global Religion, Materialism steers the world towards ruin

Materialism is a form of religion, too. It not only tends to provide answers to all the vital questions, but also strives to define, as well as determine, the individual and collective behavioral patterns of people. Materialism found its most faithful ally in science, quickly corrupting it and changing it into scientism.

Since materialism promotes an array of concepts and components that are worthy of reverence and living for - such as the ego, carnal desires, self-centeredness, material wealth and physical comfort – which are indicative of multiple “holy cows” (a belief system called polytheism), and since the material objects of veneration are identifiable with the material world, functioning as the former’s receptacle and ultimate manifestation (a worldview called pantheism) – that equates materialism with a form of paganism.

In fact, such signifies the most advanced form of paganism. The history of non-belief is nothing but an evolution of pagan beliefs and practices, with its latest and possibly final phase embodied in the extreme anti-spiritual, anti-moral and anti-commonsensical aspects of the modern Western-driven so-called civilization.

The stage was set for this last leg of the paganism evolution during the Age of the Enlightenment. It was then that the notion of “civilization” was coined for the first time in history, in order to capture the essence of the latest developments. No wonder that Adam Ferguson (d. 1816) - a Scottish philosopher who was the first to articulate in English the new idea of “civilization” - said that “civilization” represents the advancement of mankind as a species from rudeness to the highest level of refinement, akin to a person’s biological progress from infancy to manhood.

Hence, the term “enlightenment” meant rejecting any supernatural divine being and embracing man as the measure of all things. It also involved dismissing any metaphysical realm and embracing the physical world as the sole stage for human, and consequently all existential, destiny. Life is focused on the present, on now and here; there are no promises for the future or elsewhere. Man is solely accountable for his own fate and that of his fellow beings. This philosophy led to man being seen as a self-reliant entity, playing the roles of both a deity and a servant, and a master and a slave.

That is why, to Immanuel Kant (d. 1804) - a German philosopher and one of the key figures of the Enlightenment - being enlightened means using one's own understanding, and knowledge stemming therefrom, without relying on external sources like teachers, authorities, religion, or God. “Dare to know!” (Sapere aude) or 'Have the courage to use your own understanding,' encapsulated the spirit of the Enlightenment. It follows that this sort of knowledge serves as the precursor of equally self-determining action.

Even Francis Fukuyama’s thesis of “the end of history and the last man” can be viewed in this light. The thesis stands for the anticipated ultimate triumph over the truth, tradition, history, morality, decency, humanity and common sense, all of which are to be replaced by a universe of relative meanings and subjective values governed by a pantheon of materialistic-cum-narcissistic deities. Once triumphant, 'the last man' is expected to take a ceremonial victory lap within the fictional arena of liberal democracy, ruthlessly trampling on and obliterating the remaining shreds of humanity’s reason, prudence, beauty, valor and hope.

As a brief aside, one must consider the ongoing inhumane Gaza genocide carried out and perpetuated by the representatives of the institutionalized West and its fraudulent civilization to understand what the future may hold for the world. The Gaza genocide is a stark reminder of the historical roots, established identity, legacy and awaited final “civilizational” bravado of the West and its materialistic penchant. It underscores the fact that the Western style of matter-worship is the most destructive, most dehumanizing and most desacralizing force.

There is no comparison in history. It has zero tolerance for any sort of 'the other', particularly when that 'the other' hinders its unholy ambitions and the fulfillment of its primary aims. The more one ponders the predicament, the more it seems likely that the Western materialistic un-civilization may serve as the backdrop - and potentially the catalyst -for the apocalyptic end of the world, given its pervasive, destructive nature that seems irreversible.

Islam Denounces Materialism

Being the only religion of truth, and owing it to man as Almighty God’s vicegerent on earth, Islam abhors materialism. Seeing it as an unparalleled source of misery for individuals and societies, Islam likewise shuts the doors that may steer towards the jaws of materialism that like a black hole devour all virtue, finesse and purpose. But it must be borne in mind that Islam is not against matter per se. Rather, matter is loathed and prohibited only as an end, not means, and as a substance, not accident (something that is not essential to the truth).

In its capacity as an indispensable aspect of life, yet the truth, matter serves as a reflection of spiritual truths and provides the framework for their function. It carries a spiritual essence and serves as a gateway to metaphysical realms. While matter is a valid and functional element, it should not overshadow essential priorities.

Primary concerns should remain primary, and secondary concerns should remain secondary. Objectives should not be confused with the means to achieve them. The enduring and absolute aspects of life should always take precedence over the temporary and provisional ones. In essence, heavenly rewards should not be sacrificed for earthly gains, and eternal life should not be exchanged for temporary worldly provisions.

Definitely, God-worship cannot be replaced with matter-worship. The Holy Qur’an sums up this principle as follows: “Indeed, those who do not expect the meeting with Us and are satisfied with the life of this world and feel secure therein and those who are heedless of Our signs - for those their refuge will be the Fire because of what they used to earn” (Yunus, 7-8).

It comes as no surprise that feeling content with the world, indulging in its pleasures, and being at ease with what it provides, is often linked to not anticipating or striving for a connection with the Creator and overlooking His signs. This is because embracing materialism involves severing ties with the Creator and the spiritual realm.

To be a Muslim involves using matter to achieve spiritual objectives. It also entails utilizing matter to nurture the spirit, and detracting from and, whenever necessary, even extinguishing matter for the sake of enhancing spiritual vitality. In Islam, it goes without saying, matter is to be employed as a conduit to and a way to access the world of the spirit.

Certain practices, sites and pious stations, such as mosques, the five daily prayers, the Qur’an, dhikr (remembrance of God) and contemplation, are to be viewed as special openings (portals) to the spiritual world. Through them, individuals can free themselves from the fetters of matter and establish a connection with the embracing essence and “hands” of the spirit.

For this reason, for example, the ordinance of the five daily prayers was prescribed during the mi’raj (the ascension of Prophet Muhammad into heaven). This suggests the ordinance’s importance along the earth-heaven axis. Mosques are called the houses of God. The Ka’bah in Makkah is the compulsory direction of prayer and a recommended reference point for numerous activities of Muslims.

It represents several heavenly Ka’bahs, one of them being al-Bayt al-Ma’mur at the seventh heaven. The Qur’an, as God’s Holy Word, is a means and channel for communicating with the Creator. Dhikr is a platform for believing souls and hearts to reach out to their ontological source: Almighty God, and with it to find peace and satisfaction.

Finally, when a believing person dies his death marks the climax of his worldly spiritual cravings and matter-defying undertakings. It denotes the culmination of a liberation process, because just as materialism incapacitates and enslaves, Islam liberates and empowers.

While materialism diverts its devotees from the infinite and profound worship of the Creator to the narrow and trivial worship of creation, Islam takes its followers on a path towards self-emancipation, self-actualization and perpetual growth. The world of materialism is so small and lacking in significance that many of its followers in the end feel trapped in a state of psychological, and even existential, claustrophobia.

As per the message of the Qur’an, being a believer is comparable to having an expanded breast and comforted heart, whereas being a non-believer is like having a narrow and constricted breast “as though he were climbing into the sky” (al-An’am, 125). Its immense expanse notwithstanding, the world eventually constrains and smothers a matter-worshiper.

Towards this end is the supplication of the Prophet: “(O Allah) do not make this world our greatest concern, nor the limit of our knowledge” (Jami’ al-Tirmidhi). A believing person’s departure from this world is characterized by a full integration, yet unification, with the spiritual world. The joyous occasion will confirm that the earthly stay was a mission accomplished.

After that, only eternal joy and happiness within the matchless setting of the Hereafter will remain, the ongoing experience of reaping the benefits of conquering life's trials. This world of matter will prove as inconsequential then as it was in the past in the hearts and minds of the believers. Because it was insignificant in life, it would not pose an obstacle in the afterlife.

The essence of this new state of being is captured in the words of either God or the angels of death, signaling how virtuous servants will be received as they come back to God when they pass away: “Serene soul, return to your Lord, well-pleased and pleasing (to Him); enter among My (righteous) servants, and enter My Paradise” (al-Fajr, 27-30).

Just like that, the angels of death convey words of salutation to a believer on his deathbed: “The ones whom the angels take in death, (being) good and pure; (the angels) will say; ‘Peace be upon you. Enter Paradise for what you used to do’” (al-Ra’d 32).

In addition, Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him and his family, said that when a believing person is about to depart this world and enter the Hereafter, there come down to him from heaven angels with white faces like the sun.

After the brief ritual of taking the soul, which is filled with honor and respect for the person, the angels ascend with him through the seven heavens. This journey is marked by the angels at each heaven honoring the person further. At the seventh heaven, Almighty God will say: “Record the book of My slave in ‘Illiyyun in the seventh heaven, and return him to the earth, for from it I created them, to it I will return them and from it I will bring them forth once again.”

Upon returning to the grave, the person will receive additional honors. By answering the questions of the grave, he will be rewarded with a bed and clothing from Paradise, along with a gate to Paradise being opened for him. He will also experience the fragrance of Paradise, and his grave will expand as far as his eyes can see. This blissful state will continue until the Day of Resurrection, where he will witness the ultimate honor before being granted entry into Paradise (Sunan Abi Dawud; Musnad Ahmad Bin Hanbal).

Islam and materialism are sworn enemies

Thus, while denying the heavenly truth and consistently obstructing its path to humanity is the essence of materialism, Islam embodies the opposite. It upholds the truth and works towards removing the barriers that separate it from the yearning souls of humanity. It is undeniable that Islam and materialism are sworn enemies, often set on a collision course.

Which is the reason why Islam is seen as the primary opponent and danger to the self-proclaimed savior-like essence of both modernity and postmodernity The two existential paradigms managed to annihilate all religions standing in their way by promoting the gospel of materialism, leaving behind only spiritual and moral devastation.

Despite the odds, Islam remains the only one standing, not just defying them but also flourishing with its distinct life paradigm. In light of Islam’s unbeatable and at the same time irresistible nature, supporters of the modern and post-modern materialism had no choice but to resort to a novel approach, leading to what may be one of the most vicious and senseless crusades ever witnessed: islamophobia.

The intention is to portray Islam as opposed to civilization, human values and progress. Moreover, Islam is to be presented as unpragmatic and out of touch with reality. That is to say – if truth be told – Islam goes against the ideology of materialism and its endless derivatives, and against the artificial world constructed by the systems of matter-worship.

The Painful Consequences of Materialism

The life of a believer revolves around conquering matter and subjecting it to the interests of the spiritual realm, hence the moment of death signifies liberation and victory, after which a new beginning ensues. A believer will transition into a stage that he had been getting ready for, and into a state that he had been crafting for himself while in this world. In the Hereafter, he feels at home.

In contrast, for someone who values material possessions above all else, death represents a sudden departure from everything familiar and desired, leading into uncharted territory. He is unprepared for what awaits him after death and finds himself in the Hereafter as a stranger with no friends, protectors, or provisions.

He will discover that even though he was somebody and had material possessions, he truly was nobody and had nothing. Abandoned by his materialistic lifestyle and “gods,” he will come to understand the real meaning of happiness and despair, sense and nonsense, and of affluence and poverty, but it will be too late. The Hereafter is the time of judgment and recompence, not of second thoughts and amendments.

What is interesting is that matter-worshippers – like the rest of non-believers all of whom, one way or another, fail to realize and honor the matter-spirit and this world-Hereafter dynamics – will get what they deserve and will be punished mainly along the lines of that which they worshiped. Their case will be analogous to a principle according to which if one lives in the name of and for matter, he dies of matter, and will be punished by matter.

Though the Hereafter is all about the vivacity of the spiritual truths, a matter-worshipper will still be deprived of their advantageous presence and providential function. Miserable, he lived through a life imprisoned by worthless matter, so his predicament will continue but in different circumstances and with different rules.

During death and in the grave

As soon as he dies, such a person’s soul, instead of being honored and taken through the seven heavens to its Creator – like the soul of a believer - it will not be permitted to reach beyond the first and lowest earthly heaven.

The gates will remain closed to prevent such a soul from passing through. Constantly reproached and disapproved of by the angels, the soul will be mercilessly thrown down to earth and laid to rest in its grave. It seems like the message is suggesting that the soul was confined in the material world during life and should not be set free even in death. It ought to be kept caged.

The Prophet said about this: “Then they (the angels of death carrying an evil soul) ascend and they do not pass by any group of angels but they say: ‘Who is this evil soul?’, and they say: ‘It is So and So the son of So and So’, calling him by the worst names by which he was known in this world, until they reach the lowest heaven.

They ask for it to be opened to them and it is not opened. The Prophet then recited: “…For them the gates of heaven will not be opened, and they will not enter Paradise until the camel goes through the eye of the needle” (al-A’raf, 40). The Prophet added: “Then Allah will say: ‘Record the book of My slave in Sijjin in the lowest earth, and return him to the earth, for from it I created them, to it I will return them and from it I will bring them forth once again.’

So, the evil soul is cast down to earth.” Then the Prophet recited another verse of the Qur’an: “…And whoever assigns partners to Allah, it is as if he had fallen from the sky, and the birds had snatched him, or the wind had thrown him to a far-off place” (al-Hajj 31) (Sunan Abi Dawud; Musnad Ahmad Bin Hanbal).

In actual fact, even the mere transition from life to death is an extremely excruciating experience for an evil soul, as it is reluctant to leave its physical body (matter) and face the unknown. That certainly serves as a warning of what is to come. The Prophet described the moment saying that the soul disperses inside the body and eventually comes out cutting the veins and nerves, like a skewer passing through wet wool. All this happens while the angel of death in charge of the process repeats: “O evil soul, come forth to the wrath of Allah and His anger” (Sunan Abi Dawud; Musnad Ahmad Bin Hanbal).

Furthermore, when in the grave – which to the believers will be expanded, just as their beings and lives had been expanded while on earth, and will be converted into a garden of the gardens of Paradise – a non-believer will fail to pass the exam and will be punished accordingly. Here again, after receiving a bed and clothing from Hell and after a gate to Hell is opened for him, the world of matter will be used as an instrument of punishment. As the Prophet said that a non-believer’s grave will be constricted – just as his being and life had been constricted by non-belief in this world - and will compress him until his ribs interlock (Sunan Abi Dawud; Musnad Ahmad Bin Hanbal).

On the Day of Judgment

After the Day of Judgment, the same person will be cast into Hell, which has a feature as follows. The Qur’an highlights that for non-believers - those who deny the Hour or the Day of Judgment (that is, the entirety of the Hereafter) – a blazing fire (Hell) is prepared. When that fire sees non-believers from a distant place, they will hear its fury and roaring. They will then be “thrown into a narrow place therein bound in chains; they will cry out thereupon for destruction. (They will be told) ‘Do not cry this day for one destruction but cry for much destruction’” (al-Furqan, 11-14).

It stands to reason that being thrown into Hell’s narrow place, bound in chains, stands for a symbolic representation of the spiritual state of non-believers in this life – and Almighty Allah knows best. The punishment is commensurate with the nature of the crime. Non-believers lived small and within the narrow perspectives of goodness and accountability, so they will be resurrected and punished accordingly. They lived stuck in matter (a lifestyle expressed through various forms of falsehood), chained by its deceits, so it is fitting to mete out a punishment that mirrors their actions.

In this regard, those who stockpile gold and silver - obviously due to their materialistic tendencies - without utilizing them as prescribed will be punished using the same riches they have amassed. The Qur’an says: “And those who hoard gold and silver and spend it not in the way of Allah - give them tidings of a painful punishment. The Day when it will be heated in the fire of Hell and seared therewith will be their foreheads, their flanks, and their backs, (it will be said), ‘This is what you hoarded for yourselves, so taste what you used to hoard’” (al-Tawbah 34-35).

Also, on the Day of Judgement, some people will be raised up blind. Upon their inquiry about their blindness (“my Lord, why have you raised me blind while I was (once) seeing?”), they will be told that they had turned away from Allah’s remembrance. Because they forgot, they are forgotten, and because they were blind to the truth, they were truly made blind. “Thus did Our signs come to you, and you forgot them; and thus will you this day be forgotten. And thus do We recompense he who transgressed and did not believe in the signs of his Lord. And the punishment of the Hereafter is more severe and more enduring” (Ta Ha, 124-127).

But the greatest irony for a non-believer on the Judgment Day will be this. Even though he will realize – belatedly though - that matter was inconsequential and worthless, he will still wish to become part of it, to try somehow to avoid his doom. As a consequence of his poor life decisions and cowardly choices, he will continue to behave in a cowardly manner. He will wish the most contemptable and most worthless outcome for himself. He will have nothing from his earlier life to use for his defense, so he will also wish to become nothing. He will desire to become dust (al-Naba’, 40).

That means, since God made him from dust, a non-believer would wish that he was never created, that he remained dust. In addition, certain interpretations of the Qur’an indicate that animals will be resurrected briefly before being turned to dust. Upon observing that, a non-believer will also want to achieve the same. Animals will seem to be in better condition than him when he looks around.

This likewise demonstrates the disdain for disbelief. It holds less importance than the lives of animals in this world, a fact that will be evident even in the events of the Hereafter. Indeed, the cycle is complete when living a life below that of animals in this world results in desiring a similar status in the next, and when, at first despicable, “nothing” ultimately proves a better proposition than “something.”

In the same vein are the words of the Qur’an that on the Day of Judgement, those who disbelieved and disobeyed the Prophet will wish that the earth was made one with them (could be turned into dust) (al-Nisa’, 42).

There is another blow to non-believers here. They are in their state because they were easily tricked and ensnared by Satan, revering and following him, even if it be unconsciously. But that very Satan refused to bow down to Adam because Adam was created from dust, while Satan, being made of fire, considered fire a superior element to dust.

This belief made him see himself as superior to Adam and mankind in general. Such is one of the reasons why Satan is a sworn enemy of humanity, vowing to destroy them and their prospects in both worlds. Worshiping material possessions has been a successful strategy of Satan in deceiving and harming humanity.

Then again, being who he is, Satan has no intention of granting anything beneficial to his sworn enemy. He desires to destroy man in the most painful and dramatic manner possible.

Therefore, man’s wishing for the most contemptable thing on the Day of Judgment – which is to turn into mere dust either to become nothing or “attain” the level of animals – is evidence that, by embracing materialism, Satan's followers have degraded themselves to the point where, in their most desperate moments, they could only ask for what is rejected not only by Satan, but also whoever possesses good judgment. Satan himself can be seen as a materialist, but his materialism is refined and exclusive, while he directs his followers towards that which is most disgraceful and humiliating.

Lastly, a person’s materialism extends to his entire being as well. As reductionist as he is, a materialistic person reduces himself to no more than a physical entity, a nicely shaped chunk of matter. He lacks a soul, leading a life that is both nihilistic and hedonistic. Again, on the Day of Judgement, such a person will face the consequences he only desired and lived by. He will be consigned to Hell above all as a piece of matter.

This is reflected in the Qur'ans mention that the fuel for the hellfire will be “people and stones” (al-Baqarah, 24). In truth, the fuel will consist of the same substance, which is matter, but in two forms: stones and individuals who have become lifeless matter.

  Category: Featured, Highlights, World Affairs
  Topics: Materialism

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