What is enjoyment? Why has it been given?
They say: man comes to the world once. The end has no beginning. Get enjoyment and spend your life passing with lightning speed with enjoyment and delight. Do not think about concepts such as belief, hereafter, worship, halal (permissible), haram (forbidden) and death which remind you of your responsibilities and restrict your enjoyments. You must be as free and unrestricted as a butterfly. “Drink wine and love the beautiful if you have intelligence and consciousness / Do not bother whether the world exists or not.”
This is a philosophy of life and it is called Hedonism. It can be defined as “searching for pleasure”. Its origin dates back to the Greeks. Its first philosopher is Epicurus. Although Epicurus is said to be the first, that does not make any sense to me. In my conviction, Satan is the first and soul is the second. Epicurus can only be the third! We see a similar of those opinions at Omar Khayyam later.
The philosophy is phrased as a slogan by Nedim’s line “Let’s laugh, have fun and enjoy the world to the full.” The materialist communities of today have been victims of the pliers of enjoyment. That epidemic aims at our country by the work of some evil centers. Brains of the juveniles are washed by so-called arts. It is enough for you to pay attention to the words of songs.
First of all, I would like to discuss the inner face of hedonism. A system must be addressing to the entire or the majority of a community so that it can be accepted. However, hedonism comprises a partial minority but bars out the majority. It is because, children, the sick, the poor, the elderly and calamity-stricken people constitute the majority of the community. Getting enjoyment as they wish, satisfying every kind of their desires, tasting every kind of pleasure are peculiar only to a certain group. Somebody should both be young, healthy and at the same time rich so that he would be in pursuit of joy. Is it not foolish to say “Eat, drink, get enjoyment and pleasure” to a poor who cannot find enough food, to a sick person who is suffering from pain and to an elderly who is waiting for the death at the door of the grave? A poor person can only find consolation by considering and expecting that in the hereafter he would reach the pleasures he could not taste in this world. The sick can get peace by praying to their Creator by realizing their impotence.
The elderly, who bent double with age and are obliged to retire from the transitory pleasures, can get rid of inexpressible sorrows through considering that death is not nonexistence but a means of going to an eternal world.
As Sadi, one of the most important figures of the Eastern Philosophy, said; “People are the members of a body.” Life continues by mutual help and solidarity of the organs. The social life depends on the cooperation of the members and taking care of each other favorably.
Every person having intelligent, heart and conscience feel compassion for his fellow men and he should do so. People who can be indifferent to the troubles, sorrows and afflictions of the people around them are the ones who have lost their humane features.
Are the ones considering their pleasure and living for enjoyment despite weeping orphans, wailing patients and trembling elderly considered as human beings?
Hedonists do not like working, too. They do not want to spend any effort for earning money. Working necessitates making sacrifices from time and pleasure. Then, how will they get money that will be spent for pleasure? Of course, from pure and innocent people. Therefore, as hedonism increases in the community, profiteering increases. On one side, there are the ones who practice illegal earning as an occupation; on the other side are the ones who cannot earn enough although they work. The world is the world of tyrannical freeloaders and oppressed fellows.
If enjoyment becomes the aim, family foundations get weakened because, family, which is the seed of the community, can only continue by self-sacrifice. The mentality, considering women as “means of forbidden pleasures”, does not consider mothers as “champions of compassion.” And children are the enemies who decrease the money, which is a means of pleasure, by sharing it. So they should be killed before being born.
Heroes are the ones who make tribes become states. Ideal men are the ones who make captive nations become masters. Brave men are the ones who arouse, carry away communities which are in the death sleep and make them run toward lofty targets. Ones who are drifted by their personal desires cannot be heroes. Ones who lie on the couch of debauchery cannot make sacrifices. Egoists cannot understand the ones who live for a meaning and die for their causes. A community comprised of those has been spoiled internally.
The brains of those who suppose that the aim of life is pleasure are in their stomachs. They do not consider that pleasures other than physical pleasures may exist. They are unfamiliar with the pleasure of giving food to the poor, caressing orphans and helping indigent people. They are fond of loud music, comedy films splitting their sides laughing, and lascivious literature. Their lives pass by dreaming of new enjoyments. They cut across all boundaries for pleasure. Since repeating joys begin to give no more taste, they chase new and different pleasures. When they cannot find any, it is time to numb their minds. Their new friends are opium, heroin and alcohol from now on. A community that sleeps, becomes numb and passes out emerges. Such a community cannot distinguish their friends from their enemies. The door of freedom begins to get closed and door of captivity begins to get opened. Ones which are taken ill by that dreadful disease which is a leprosy of spirit are dead spiritually. If they are dead, then they cannot protect their properties. That is why foreign materialistic groups and their internal dummies put pleasure and enjoyment forth as a target!
Pleasure is a means. It was created so that personal life and generation would continue. If there were not pleasure in nutrition, eating and drinking would be a torment. We would not eat, drink and take the nutrition that is our indispensable need. Life would not sustain. Similar to that, if there were no pleasure in marriage, we would not marry and start families, increase in numbers and make the earth well populated and prosperous. Humankind would be extinct. However, we have been created for faith and worshipping. We must live and sustain our generation in order to fulfill those sublime duties. What is wrong is substituting the means for the end. Those living for pleasure are compared to the ones feeding their donkeys but starving to death.
One reason of the creation of pleasure and taste is that: we have been sent to this world for an examination. Here is not the place of pleasure and reward. Like every king, Allah, who is the owner of the world, has some orders and prohibitions. Haram (forbidden) pleasures are also a part of that examination. We are asked to stay within the sphere of what is licit. We have been created with a free will. It is up to us to live within the framework of halals (permissible things) and to go to Heaven or to be possessed by haram pleasures and to go to Hell.
As a matter of fact, a person who does not acknowledge Allah, know the hereafter and is not aware of his servitude cannot be happy in the world, either, because, the pleasures of the world are transitory. Pain begins at the point where pleasure ceases. That circle goes on till death. Even considering that pleasures are transitory is enough to make life a misery. Those who take complete pleasure from life are only the believers. They know that the pleasures are transitory but Allah who bestows the bounties is the Enduring. He is powerful over creating the continuation of the ceasing bounties, too. Even if He does not give them in this world, He can give them in the hereafter, which is the station of eternal happiness. Then it is meaningless to get sorry by considering the lasting of the bounties. If a poor man, who grieves that a basket of apples in his house will finish, learns that the king will not leave him without apples and he will give apples to him when his apples are finished, he feels happy and receives a perfect pleasure.
The most important feature that distinguishes human beings from animals is the reason. However, if that wonderful ability is not used properly, it gives affliction. The past and the future can be considered by means of reason. An unbelieving man bewails when he remembers his good days that has passed by. And the future is full of unknown dangers. For someone who regards death as the end of everything, the past is a place of nonexistence. The future is a mouth of dragon that will absorb him. Since he is not bowing to the will of Allah, every event makes his spirit tremble. If his appearance is considered, he is supposed to be happy; however, his spiritual world has become like Hell through grieves whereas death is not nonexistence but a beginning for a believer. It is a means of passing to the luminous next world. And the future is under the command of Allah, who has eternal compassion. The world and things in it are transitory but Allah is the enduring.
If man stayed in this world eternally, then he could give importance to his pleasure more than necessary. However, the winds of death are blowing every moment in the world. We witness the struggle of life with death around us. We see the face of death in every creature. Flowers smiling on their branches yesterday are under feet today. Trees that were green brides of spring and summer are inside shrouds in winter. What is remaining behind birds flying in the blue sky is a handful of feather ball. We see that juveniles standing erect like “alif” have been curved like a “daal”. Eyes shining with gloss of pleasure are filled with earth. Our beloved ones leave us one by one. All ways go to the grave. We know without doubt that our end is also old age and death. Then, death, which does not stay behind life in the assertion of hehemony, should have demands from us. Then, it is man’s most important matter and no one will remain indifferent to that fact. While a hedonist is trembling before death, a Muslim is comfortable, because death does not mean decomposing under earth but joining his beloved Prophet and his other beloved ones. Azrael, who terrifies the others, is a reliable trustee. And the funeral ceremony is the same as the wedding procession for them. Since going is towards the Merciful, the Compassionate, the grave changes into a rose garden.
We state that the aim of life is not pleasure. Why have we been created, then? Let us search for the answer to that question, now:
We see the most perfect harmony described as “unity in multiplicity” in the universe. Every creature fulfils its duty without deficiency. Inanimate beings serve for the life. The most exalted life was bestowed to humans. We can say without any doubt that the universe works for humans. Plants are at animal’s service and animals are at human beings’ service. As every creature has a purpose, then man has also been created for a purpose. Considering the opposite is absurd. Then, what sort of a purpose can it be? The answer of that question is our Lord’s words. All divine books draw attention to the same point and say: Your basic duty is getting knowledge of Allah and worshipping Him, who has created you from non existence and makes you live by countless bounties. If you want an eternal youthfulness, an eternal happiness and inexhaustible pleasures, obey His orders and avoid His prohibitions. Pleasures of the world are like illusory mirages. If you are possessed by the attractiveness of fleeting pleasures and forget your real target, you will be from those upon whom the wrath is brought. Disobedience and unbelief are ingratitude.
A guest should obey the orders of the host. A man who does not listen to the person who makes him eat and drink and provides his comfort and does what he feels like is ungrateful. A guest who does not recognize the possessor of the guesthouse although his duty is thanking him deserves punishment. Similarly the situation of a servant who has come to the world guesthouse and has been granted bounties but does not recognize Allah is like that.
By the way, I would like to mention another issue: the Western psychologists always do the unforgivable mistake of confusing soul with spirit. Of course, some of their imitators living with us repeat the same mistake, too. The result is considering the desires of soul as if it were the desires of spirit and basing the psychological systems on that wrong acceptance. Here are their suggestions: “Repress none of your desires, do not restrain them and satisfy them right away.” Those ideas are accepted. Sins are legitimated under the cover of attire of science. Thus, unruly “scientific perverts” and “intellectual barbarous persons” who do not set a limit to their wild desires increase. Weak persons are oppressed, innocents are tainted and lambs are offered to wolves.
However, sprit and soul are different beings. Although both are present in the same person, their characteristics are completely different. One of them disgusts something that the other takes pleasure from. Soul is charmed at glory. It is never saturated. It always wants more. It is saucy, mutinous and brazen. It gets stronger as it obtains (its wishes). In the end, it comes to such a degree that it causes man to judge as “the aim of life is pleasure.” It sneaks off responsibility. Regulations, prohibitions and rules are the concepts it dislikes most. It does not like religion and ethics just because of that because, they remind man that he is not aimless, he cannot graze like an animal wherever he wants and he was created for worshipping. They tell him that disobedience to Allah is ingratitude.
Spirit also has sustenance peculiar to him. It becomes mature through knowledge, swallows through worship and is exalted through contemplation. Its most important aim is considering its Lord by seeing the wonderful arts in creatures, giving thanks to Him by feeling gratitude towards Him for the bounties He has granted. In this way, it gets rid of the sorrows arising from the past and anxieties arising from the future. It attains comfort through submission to Allah and reliance on Allah. Its organs take value according to the works they perform. Abilities used only for physical pleasures lose their values. Spirit is aware of that fact. Is it possible for the ones who give their intelligence and other spiritual tools into the service of their stomach and sexual desires? Is happiness can be in question where masters are in service of the servants?
The result of hedonism is pessimism because “There is no pleasure in something that does not continue.” Is it possible to be happy for a person who knows that the bounties of the world and himself are transitory? Increase in the substances numbing mind in the debauched communities also demonstrates that fact. Moreover, committing suicides takes place more in the Western communities, which have got enough of physical pleasures, and that situation shows that they are not happy. Why would a happy person make his mind get numbed and commit suicide!
I have always believed that if the those who are fond of their pleasures would definitely believe in the pleasures in Heaven, they would busy themselves with worship more than everyone else because the origins of every pleasure are there. And the pleasures of the world are only shadows. I would like to say the following to the hedonists: “Do you want to live in pleasure and delight eternally? Do not halt, drink from the water life of belief and juice of worship. Tomorrow may be too late. Do not depend on the other day.
In short: “True enjoyment, pain-free pleasure, grief-free joy, and life’s happiness are only to be found in belief and in the sphere of the truths of belief.” Therefore, what should be said to the ones demanding pleasure and happiness is the following: “If you want the pleasure and enjoyment of life, give life to your life through belief, and adorn it with religious duties, and preserve it by abstaining from sins.”
- What sort of consequences would someone eventually face if s/he clung to the transitory pleasures of the world?
- What does Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) explicate in the translation of the following hadith? "Hell has been surrounded with desires, and Paradise has been surrounded with hardships.(1)?
- What are the positive effects of belief in the hereafter on human life?
- It is said that the people in the hell will get used to the torture in the hell. I think this means diminution of their torture. What is your idea about it? I will be glad if you explain it by verses and hadiths.
- Second Warning by Badiuzzaman Said Nursi Regarding Prayers