Thursday, April 30, 2009
Have you ever stopped to ask yourself why sincerity is fundamental in Islam? The concept was mentioned in Qur’an around 27 times and numerous verses explain its gravity and significance:
Indeed, God does not forgive association with Him, but He forgives what is less than that for whom He wills. And he who associates others with God has certainly fabricated a tremendous sin. (4[an-Nisā']: 48)
Indeed, God does not forgive association with Him, but He forgives what is less than that for whom He wills. And he who associates others with God has certainly gone far astray. (4[an-Nisā']: 116)
And he who associates with God - it is as though he had fallen from the sky and was snatched by the birds or the wind carried him down into a remote place. (22[al-Hajj]: 31)
I remember how taken aback I was when I first realized how crucial it is to purify your intention and to make sure that every little deed you do is for God’s sake alone. Now, this is not easy! What do you do with your ego then, the innate need to stand out and be praised for your deeds? What do you do with the wish to please others and be granted their approval and admiration? Yet, in spite of the difficulty to attain that in everything you do, sincerity must be that important for a reason and maybe entails some sort of benefit to human beings.
It was almost a couple of weeks ago that I was blessed with the why!
I was working on a research on the impact of work on health and wellness when I came across the “dualistic approach to passion” by Vallerand and his colleagues (Vallerand et al., 2003) . They define Passion as, “a strong inclination towards an activity (e.g., work) that is important, liked and involves investing considerable time in its pursuit.” They distinguish between Harmonious Passion (HP) and Obsessive Passion or addiction (OP); the former being integrated into one’s identity and undertaken freely and willingly while the latter is not well integrated into one’s identity and is the result of internal pressure (e.g., to increase one’s self-esteem in the eyes of others).
It was found that the activity actually controls the person when it is Obsessive Passion; while it is the person that controls the activity under Harmonious Passion. This means that not acting in order to increase self-esteem in the eyes of others leads to more positive effects, less negative effects and higher levels flow; while Obsessive Passion produces the opposite effects.
Furthermore, when not aiming to please but rather choosing an activity freely, the individual is engaged in the activity more fully and flexibly leading to greater concentration, absorption, flow, and positive effect.
After developing measures of both types of passion, Vellard and his colleagues suggest that Harmonious Passion would likely be correlated with psychological health while Obsessive Passion can actually lead to psychological distress! So it is where you choose to direct your passion and intention that may either create motivation, increase well-being, and provide meaning in one’s life or can lead to negative emotions, rigid persistence, and unbalanced life.
It is your choice really.