The following is a translation from the book: Mafaheem Islaamiyah Al-Juz’u-l-Awwal, Islamic concepts – Volume One by Muhammad Hussein Abdullah published in 1994.
The Gharaa’iz (instincts), the Haajat Al-‘Udwiyah (organic needs) and At-Tafkeer (thinking)
رَبُّنَا الَّذِي أَعْطَى كُلَّ شَيْءٍ خَلْقَهُ ثُمَّ هَدَى
Our Lord is He who gave each thing its form of creation and then guided its aright (Ta Ha 50).
The human being is matter and Allah Ta’Aalaa has placed within him the Rooh, the secret of life, and He also provided man with a Taaqah Hayyawiyah (A vital energy) that is represented within the follow specific human attributes: The Gharaa’iz (instincts), organic needs and At-Tafkeer (thought).
The Gharaa’iz are special attributes within the human being which drive him to incline towards things and actions or to abstain from things and actions. This is so that he can satisfy a matter that exists internally within him.
The researchers and scientists have differed in respect to the number of these instincts. The reason for this difference goes back to the fact that the senses do not fall upon the reality of these instincts and because the ‘Aql (mind) cannot comprehend this reality directly. They ended up considering the manifestations of instincts as instincts in themselves and as a result they came up with a great number of instincts like the instinct of fear, of being attracted to the opposite sex, instinct related to compassion or kindness, of ownership, reverence or of curiosity and so on.
However after examining these manifestations which have been considered to be instincts, it has been found that all of these manifestations fall within three categories and that each of these categories belong to an instinct.
The first kind of these three categories which includes the manifestation of fear, the love or desire to own, curiosity, love of the nation or people, of sovereignty and dominance amongst other manifestations, all return back to the Ghareezah Al-Baqaa’ (the survival instinct) because all of these manifestations lead to actions which serve the survival of the person in his individual capacity.
The second kind of these manifestations which include the like of the sexual inclination, motherliness, fatherliness, love towards children, compassion for the human and the inclination to aid the one in need amongst other manifestations all return back to the Ghareezah An-Naw’i (the instinct of kind (also known as procreation instinct). This is because all of these manifestations lead to actions that serve the survival of the human kind as a kind and not as an individual.
The third kind of these manifestations which include the like of the inclination to respect heroes (champions), the inclination to worship Allah and the feelings of deficiency, weakness, inability and need amongst others all return to the Ghareezah At-Tadayyun (instinct of religiosity or to revere/worship/sanctify). This is because these manifestations push the person to search for the complete and fully capable creator who does not rely upon anything in respect to existence whilst all created things rely upon Him for their existence.
The Ghareezah (instinct) is therefore a Khaasiyah Fitriyah (natural attribute or specific existing feature) that exists within the human for the sake and purpose of safeguarding or preserving his survival (i.e. that he continues and remains), for the sake of the preservation of his kind and so that he can be guided by it to the existence of the creator. This instinct or these instincts do not fall under the senses directly and the mind can only perceive their presence through realising and perceiving their manifestations.
Indeed Allah (swt) has created the Khaasiyaat (specific attributes) and has inspired the human or the animal to utilise them. Allah (swt) said upon the tongue of Moosaa (as) when he responded to Fir’aun:
قَالَ رَبُّنَا الَّذِي أَعْطَى كُلَّ شَيْءٍ خَلْقَهُ ثُمَّ هَدَى
He (Moosaa) said: ‘Our Lord is He who gave to each thing its form and nature and then guided it aright’ (TaHa 50).
This means that He (swt) has placed in everything (human and animal) its Khaasiyaat (specific attributes) and then guided him or it through the means of these Khaasiyaat to undertake acts by which he or it would satisfy the hungers or urges resulting from the instincts and organic needs. Some have provided the following as the Tafseer (explanation) of the Aayah: ‘That Allah (swt) created for every male animal a female from its own kind and then inspired him with the manner of how to have relations or mate’. Therefore they explained the word ‘Khalqahu’ (His creation) with the meaning of ‘like it’ or ‘the like of it’ in creation. The first meaning provided above is more comprehensive and the wordings of the text carry its meaning. It is therefore more correct and this is because the Aayah begins with ‘Kulla Shay’in’ (Everything) and ‘Kulla Shay’in’ is a general worded expression that encompasses every created thing.
Allah (swt) said:
وَأَوْحَى رَبُّكَ إِلَى النَّحْلِ أَنِ اتَّخِذِي مِنَ الْجِبَالِ بُيُوتًا
And your Lord inspired the bee for it to take from the mountains homes and from amongst the trees and from that which they construct (An-Nahl 68).
This means that He (swt) have them (bees) a Khaasiyah (specific or special attribute) that enabled them to build their hives in the mountains.
Allah (swt) has guided to some of the manifestations of these Gharaa’iz (instincts).
Allah (swt) said:
أَوَلَمْ يَرَوْا أَنَّا خَلَقْنَا لَهُمْ مِمَّا عَمِلَتْ أَيْدِينَا أَنْعَامًا فَهُمْ لَهَا مَالِكُونَ
Do they not see that We have created for them from what Our hands have made, cattle, so that (then) they are their owners (YaSeen 71).
So Allah (swt) created things for the human being including livestock (cattle) so that they can own them in order to satisfy the love of ownership which is a manifestation from amongst the manifestations of the survival instinct.
And Allah (swt) said when addressing Ibraaheem (as):
قَالَ إِنِّي جَاعِلُكَ لِلنَّاسِ إِمَامًا قَالَ وَمِنْ ذُرِّيَّتِي قَالَ لَا يَنَالُ عَهْدِي الظَّالِمِينَ
Verily I am going to make you a leader for mankind. He (Ibraaheem) said: And from my offspring? He (swt) said: My covenant does not include the Zhaalimeen (transgressors) (Al-Baqarah 124).
Here the love of Ibraaheem (as) for his offspring, which is a manifestation from among the manifestations of the Ghareezat An-Naw’i (The instinct of (human kind) or procreation), made him ask Allah (swt) to bestow the Imaamah (leadership) upon them. This was in order to satisfy the instinct of kind (procreation) that he been provided with as part of his nature. So Allah (swt) said to him: ‘My covenant does not include the Zhaalimeen (transgressors)’ making clear that the Imaamah (leadership) will belong to his progeny and offspring who are from the Saaliheen (righteous) and that this covenant will not cover those of them who are transgressors.
Allah (swt) said in Soorah Yousuf:
وَلَقَدْ هَمَّتْ بِهِ وَهَمَّ بِهَا لَوْلَا أَنْ رَأَى بُرْهَانَ رَبِّهِ
And indeed she did desire him and he would have inclined to her had he not seen the clear proof from his Lord (Yousuf 24).
So the sexual inclination which is a manifestation from amongst the manifestations of the Ghareezat An-Naw’i (Instinct of kind/procreation) was present in the wife of the Al-Azeez and she desired Yousuf (as) motivated by this inclination to satisfy the procreation instinct. This manifestation was also present within Yousuf (as) however he did not act as she did because Allah (swt) had shown him that which prevented him from that desire. The wording: ‘LawLaa’ (had not) is a tool (in the language) which prevents the existence and so Yousuf (as) refrained from desiring her due to his seeing of the Burhaan (proof and evidence) from his Lord. Therefore the meaning of the Aayah is: ‘Had Yousuf (as) not seen the Burhaan (clear proof) from his Lord he would have desired the wife of Al-‘Azeez (his owner) as the result of his sexual inclination towards her. However he did not desire her (or move to fulfil the inclination) because he saw from his Lord that which prevented him from desiring her.
Allah (swt) said:
وَإِذَا مَسَّ الْإِنْسَانَ ضُرٌّ دَعَا رَبَّهُ مُنِيبًا إِلَيْهِ
And when adversity touches man he calls upon his Lord turning to Him (in repentance alone) (Az-Zumar 8).
And He (swt) said:
إِنَّا نَخَافُ مِنْ رَبِّنَا يَوْمًا عَبُوسًا قَمْطَرِيرًا
Verily we fear from our Lord a Day, difficult and distressful (Al-Insaan 10).
Here the Inaabah (turning) towards Allah and the fear from His punishment are from the manifestations of the Ghareezat At-Tadayyun (instinct of religiosity or to revere/worship/sanctify).
The three instincts are present in the Insaan (human being) and it is not possible get rid of them or dispossess the human from them. However some of the manifestations of a single instinct can be suppressed, erased or one of them can fill the place of another. So it is possible for the love of the wife to take of fill the place of the love of the mother, or the love for dominance and control to take the place of the love of ownership, or the reverence and sanctification of humans and idols to take the place of worship to Allah Ta’Aalaa. However despite this it is not possible to completely erase the instinct entirely and remove it completely from the human and this is because the instinct is a part of the essence of the human being whilst an instinctual manifestation is not part of the essence of the human.
As for how the human understands the belonging of a manifestation from amongst the manifestations to a (particular) instinct from amongst the instincts then this occurs in the following way. He studies the reality of the manifestation and then if this manifestation was an inclination towards a matter or refraining from it resulting in an action that serves the survival of the human himself, then in this case the manifestation belongs to the Ghareezat Al-Baqaa’ (survival instinct) and this would be like the fear, courage and tight-fistedness amongst other manifestations. If the manifestation resulted in an action that served the survival of the human kind (species) then this manifestation would belong to the Ghareezat An-Naw’i (instinct of kind or procreation) and this would be like the compassion, sympathy, affection and the sexual inclination amongst other manifestations. And if the an action resulted from a manifestation that served the feelings of the human in respect to his weakness, inability and need for the Creator, then this manifestation would belong to the Ghareezat At-Tadayyun (the reverence and worship instinct) and this would be like the fear he feels of the Last Day, his inclination towards respecting those who are powerful or strong or his amazement and awe towards the Universe’s system amongst other manifestations.
The manifestation is not the action and so the inclination towards owning is not (in itself) owning because the inclination towards ownership is represented in feelings inside of the person towards things in order to take them into his possession whilst ownership represents the undertaking of the action like buying a car or stealing property for example. The manifestation as such does not satisfy the instinct but rather it is the action alone which the manifestation motivates him towards which satisfies the instinct or realises a part of that satisfaction. The inclination to please Allah is not the same as the ‘Ibaadah (acts of worship) because the ‘Ibaadah satisfies the instinct of sanctification (Ghareezat At-Tadayyun) whilst no satisfaction is achieved by the mere inclination alone. Similarly the sexual inclination does not satisfy the instinct of (human) kind (Ghareezat An-Naw’i) whilst the engagement in relations between the man and the woman does satisfy some of this instinct. If this engagement continued repeatedly without that leading to offspring then this action would then not satisfy the instinct from the angle of this manifestation because the origin in respect to the action resulting from the manifestation is for it to serve the instinct that this manifestation belongs to. Therefore relations between the man and woman that does not produce offspring does not realise the complete satisfaction because it does not lead to the continuation of the human kind and as such does not serve the instinct of the (human) kind (Ghareezat An-Naw’i).
The manifestations are enticing conduits for that which satisfies the human external to him. So the survival instinct for example exists to preserve and safeguard the survival instinct in his individualistic capacity and it requires a satisfaction from outside the human by way of these conduits represented in the manifestations of the survival instinct, like the inclination towards ownership, supremacy, control and bravery amongst others, for the sake of attracting or enticing the necessary things to satisfy that instinct.
These instincts and what branches from them in terms of manifestations differ in respect to their strength and weakness from one human to another and they differ in strength and weakness within the individual person himself. They differ in accordance to their type of external influences and in accordance to the age that that person has reached.
So we can find a person full of vitality who wishes to satisfy his three instincts which are powerful in him whilst we find another person who in his age is more laidback and weak suffices with very little in order to satisfy these instincts which are weaker within him. From another angle we find a person going out to satisfy his survival instinct which is powerful in him or his instinct of kind (procreation) whilst not being (overly) concerned to satisfy his instinct of religiosity. Or we notice the affection a man has towards the mother and his attachment to her diverts him from his sexual inclination and his love to his wife or the opposite could also occur. We also notice that the sexual inclination in most cases is stronger amongst the young and then begins to weaken in older age. This is whilst engaging in ‘Ibaadah (acts of worship) and having fear of the Last Day is greater in most cases amongst those of elder age than it is amongst the young.
This disparity in respect to the instincts amongst the people leads to some of them to undertake actions that other do not go forth to undertake. This is either due to the reason of the strength or weakness in respect to the instincts or due to the disparity in respect to the effecting and influencing factors. This then makes the judgments of the people upon actions and things which have a relationship to the satisfaction of their instincts differ, be in disparity, contradictory to one another or influenced by the environment i.e. by external influencing factors. This could then lead to a variety of (different) forms of satisfaction. This includes the correct satisfaction and this is the undertaking of the person of an action to satisfy an instinct with something that is the right place for its satisfaction and by the manner that the correct system has specified for its satisfaction. So for example approaching the woman with a correct contract represents a satisfaction for the sexual inclination and this is a correct satisfaction for the Ghareezat An-Naw’i (Instinct of (human) kind or procreation instinct). This is because the woman which is an external influencing factor for the sexual inclination represents the correct place that Allah (swt) has created for the man to satisfy his inclination in and He (swt) regulated the action to satisfy this inclination by way of marriage.
However if the man approached a woman who is not Halaal for him or he approached her in the absence of marriage then his satisfaction to the sexual inclination would be incorrect because it would represent a satisfaction that is in opposition to the correct system and even if it was undertaken in the (correct) place for its satisfaction (i.e. a woman). If the man was to approach an animal or another male like him then this would be an irregular (Shaadh) satisfaction of the sexual inclination because it represents a satisfaction of an instinct in other than the right place of its satisfaction whilst at the same time representing a form of satisfaction that is in opposition to the correct system for the satisfaction.
The satisfying of the Ghareezat At-Tadayyun (religious instinct) by a person in accordance to the command of Allah Ta’Aalaa by way of a specific action like the Salaah for example represents a sound and correct satisfaction. As for worshipping Allah (swt) by other than what Allah Ta’Aalaa has commanded like the person revolving around himself for example would constitute incorrect satisfaction and even if the worshipper had intended the pleasure of Allah in his act.
As for the worshipping idols whilst considering them to be deities, then this represents an irregular (Shaadh) satisfaction because it does not represent the (correct) place for the satisfaction of the instinct of religiosity. This is because it does not satisfy the feelings of deficiency and weakness (inability) which are present within the human and because they (the idols) are even more deficient and incapable than the human being.
Satisfying the survival instinct in accordance to the actions which Allah (swt) has commanded like attaining ownership by way of buying represents a correct satisfaction whilst satisfying it by stealing the property of others represents a false and incorrect satisfaction because the Shar’a (Islamic legislation) has prohibited that. As for when the survival instinct is satisfied by a Muslim by way of trade for example in order to gain ownership of alcohol or pork then this represents an irregular (Shaadh) satisfaction because these things are prohibited; they hold no value in accordance to Islaam and it is not permitted for them to be owned and as such they do not represent a (valid) place for its satisfaction.