Dwelling on Melancholy, A Characteristic of the Modern Society

Finding the essence of life is the ultimate concern of those who believe that death is the gate to nothingness. But, being certain that there is no escape from death, they surrender to the idea that life is a realm of absurdity, and that the only way to face such absurdity is to try to invent hope in it. This type of belief creates an antagonism within the self (absurdity vs. hope), causing one’s mind to dwell on negativity and anxiety.


Most of today’s societies are shaped with such a belief. On one hand, there is the belief that consumerism and accumulation are the path to happiness and safety. This belief gives the illusion of an everlasting life, and by consequence, creates the elusive belief in immortality. One might think how such a belief can be possible, when everyone believes that death is not only certain but necessary! The answer lies, indeed, on the complex nature of the human being. When the human being loses reasoning, he/she lives an absurd life. This is never even acknowledged by the person who cannot fathom that he/she is the source of the absurdity. Rather, he/she invents the excuse that existence is what is absurd. The Quran instructed us regarding such a belief, and blamed those adhering to it. One example is of the story of the owner of the two gardens in Surah Al Kahf. Reflect on his utterance when he entered his garden:  “And he entered his garden while he was unjust to himself. He said, 'I do not think that this will perish – ever. Nor do I deem that the Hour (of Judgment) will (ever) come. Even if I am brought back to my Lord, I shall surely find (there) something better in exchange'” (18:35-36). Also reflect on Surah Al Humaza, describing slanderers and backbiters: “Woe to every scorner and mocker – who collects wealth and [continuously] counts it, thinking that his wealth would make him last for ever!” (104:1-3). One driven toward consumerism and accumulation inherits a life within a realm of doubt and worries. In this type of life, the elusive hope is entertained with the pillar of this belief, the ever-continued expansion of consumerism and accumulation.


On the other hand, the ideas defined by this belief – conveyed in teaching, spread in the media, expressed in literature, portrayed in movies – are reshaping the perception of people, making this belief to be appreciated, embraced and highly praised! The accounts of absurd lives, painful counts, sad stories, depressed scenes, etc., became a refuge to the partisans of such a belief. It is like people nowadays rejoice the fact to be lost, to be depressed. Hence, having one's mind and emotions dwell on melancholy seems to be the trend! One might then understand the reasons of the very high increase of the mental illness nowadays! 


Understanding such characteristics of the modern society, one realizes the necessity of a path of purification, setting back the nature of human being to its reason, to its original Fitrah (natural disposition). All the paths targeting the correction of the societies, tried through the political agendas, activist efforts, religious attempts, etc., will not be of any help, as long as the foundation is not restored to its original setting! But, all the  project of correction nowadays, instead of trying to regain the true identity of the human being, works on embracing the new identity set by this belief. Indeed, the intention is not to really correct but to serve the appetite of consuming, accumulating, leading, triumphing, hence becoming “immortal.”


But, the true believer knows that the path of purification is solely in fleeing to Allah (swt). He is the one who owns death, life and resurrection. He owns the stores of everything: “And there is not a thing but that with Us are its depositories, and We do not send it down except according to a known [i.e., specified] measure” (15:21). “And that it is He who makes [one] laugh and weep. And that it is He who causes death and gives life” (53:43-44).


The one seeking everlasting peace needs to surrender to Allah (swt), by starting his/her fight against being fully contaminated by the above described belief. Indeed, exposure and proximity to it by simply being a member of the society, makes one vulnerable, susceptible to the corruption of his/her perception!


Trust in Allah (swt), believe in His words, hold to the path of His Prophet (pbuh), be certain of the path, rejoice in the result before achieving it – for indeed, Allah never breaks His promise – lower your gaze to the worldly life, open your heart to listen and your mind to think, and have the glad tidings of bliss in the true eternal life, the gate to which is the “peaceful” death.


“Indeed, those who have said, 'Our Lord is Allah' and then remained on a right course – the angels will descend upon them (at the time of their death), [saying], 'Do not fear and do not grieve but receive good tidings of Paradise, which you were promised. We [angels] were your allies in worldly life and [are so] in the Hereafter. And you will have therein whatever your souls desire, and you will have therein whatever you request [or wish]. As accommodation from a [Lord who is] Forgiving and Merciful'” (41: 30-32).

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