DAY 23. SATURDAY. 18 APRIL 2020
VANITY – A SHROUD THAT UNCOVERS
Anas ibn Malik reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “If you were not already sinning, I would fear for you what is much worse than that: vanity.” Source: Shu’ab al-Imān 6765.
Al-Munawi said, “That is because the disobedient sinner recognizes his faults and hopes for repentance. The vain person is deluded by their own deeds, so their repentance is unlikely. They are ‘those who think they are doing good deeds.” (18:104) Source: Fayḍ al-Qadīr 7488
COVID-19 LOCKDOWN has made us simple in what we are now accustomed to do in our homes because we do it ourselves. We are probably wearing the same clothes for two days and minimising laundry but not dishes. There is more time to eat and therefore, more dishes and more utensils because we seem to be hungry all the time. The culinary skills of both men and women have improved this time and it has made headlines too. It is as if gluttony is on display in our homes of plenty whilst, the world out there goes hungry.
‘Vanity is the flatterer of the soul’ very much like food is to the gut. Vanity and food; what a mixture to begin a conversation that got me thinking today. In an enlightening ZOOM discussion this morning the topic of vanity came up and it made the group focus on its effects. I found the discussion very instructive because it gave reason for introspection.
Introspection is hard especially when you have to look at yourself in relation to yourself and the life goals you set to understand who you really are. In the beginning of this I looked at the world of Hollywood and Bollywood and saw that it is the industry of vanity. Vanity flair if you want to rename it. These two super industries of entertainment have got the world’s attention at their feet from young too old. The nature of their business is to sell you vanity by purchasing your time. Time is what they have purchased with such alluring messages that you give them days, months and years without question. Vanity reigns supreme and in a flash, we have become theirs in our lifestyles.
These actors who have attained so much of popularity and fame are also restless souls because the vanity that the industry shrouds them with, gives them little room for self-realisation and more depth to fulfil the desires of the fans. However, the flip side of this fame and fortune is the high rate of suicides amongst actors and actresses.
The list is endless and it begs the mind to question why did it happen. These people had all the fame, fortune and wealth but they were not happy to live. Many articles have been written on the subject and there is thread of evidence that depression and illness, disapproval, annoyance, resentment, bafflement are contributing factors. The reading of their stories is not pleasant because you see the effect they had on fans who are baffled and also suffer a kind of trauma. The the industry in which they worked have to deal with issues related to their work. Therefore, the cycle of loss is experienced by all. In all of this, these actors have sold us a lifestyle of vanity which we have become accustomed too and no fault of them, we have become self-indulgent because our vanity knows no bounds.
The actors have got their issues and they have to deal with it too but, what about us? Today we are seeing the proliferation of TIK TOK videos amongst an array of others celebrating our activities from foolish to serious where as main actors, we cast our own roles and are heroes in it. How vain? Yet it has become so popular that little children are also on the social media platform celebrating the self. Furthermore, without realising it, we have justified these minute movies as a pass time, a hobby and a means to a possible career. The time for reading is gone with the wind and; making time to be part of a meaningful conversation is awkward when you want to be gone in sixty seconds because the action on Instagram is fast and furious.
My learning today of a Sheikh’s wisdom saying that the source of dissatisfaction is self satisfaction because being pleased with your own ego is your own downfall, made me introspect even more. The learning was deep as it illustrated that vanity is so powerful that it veils your faults and sends you down the abyss of decline but, you are unaware. This means that a person must know the weakness that resides in him/herself because vanity resides within you and the stimulus is outside as well.
Irascible and sanctimonious people too find their place in the realm of vanity because its where their self-importance reigns supreme. In his book, IRSHAD. WISDOM OF THE SUFI MASTER, Sheikh Mizaffer says this about vanity:
“Vanity, or self-love, is an illness which commonly afflicts dogmatic and sanctimonious people. Satan works on them even to the point of making lose value of their prayers, fasting and pilgrimage, deceiving them into believing that nobody keeps God’s commands as well as they. In this manner he frustrates their good deeds.. this serious affliction is called hypocrisy concealed polytheism.“
In the end we do not want to be spiritually bankrupt therefore, we need to look at how we fair with vanity. To assist us in this, I have come to understand through the reading of Sheikh Mizaffer that sending noble benedictions on Nabi Muhammad (s) is such a worthy action because our faith he says, will not be perfect until we love him more than everything we own.