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A Psychological Factor

Fear and Favour

by Anwar Shaikh

Fear is the state of mind denoted by a painful emotion. A frightened person feels his energies drain away by apprehension of a real or imaginary danger which affects his physiological working adversely, and he becomes depressed, dwarfed and degraded. In such a situation he needs favour, which is an expression of kindness in words or deeds; he wants to be carolled, consoled and cajoled. Psychologically, fear is a poison and favour is an antidote; the former is a thirsty traveller and the latter is a sweet well.

Fear and favour are the psychological opposites; concepts of morality, individual discipline and social order are impossible without them. Unfortunately, they are highly susceptible to manipulation, and thus the quality of individual and social life comes to depend on the will of manipulators. To understand their significance, we ought to look at their major features. Let us first consider the mechanism of fear:

1. Fear

1. Fear, as a general rule, is debilitating. By its depressive effect, it lowers one's normal level of thinking and acting. Thus one feels half a man when in the grip of fear.

This type of fear may be called "irrational," and is the usual kind. It is a product of morbid imagination where every thing is foul, filthy and facinorous.

2. Fear threatens personality, which is infused with the will to survive, and thus inclined to protect itself against external pressures. When it provokes the defensive mechanism of personality, it becomes rational fear, which brings out the best in a person, and acts as a remedy to neutralise the dread, and checks its further augmentation. The rational fear is like an antidote which, despite being a poison, acts to destroy the effects of poison.

3. Irrational fear is the ambassador of regression. Instead of tackling difficult situations, it seeks escape through make-believe. For example, when one is told there is God who is Almighty, the person suffering from irrational fear starts prostrating before Him to qualify for His mercy. He builds around his mind an impenetrable web of faith, which cannot be pierced by reason, and he feels jubilant in this golden cage of superstition. This is what makes ignorance a bliss though it is a fountain of moral insensitivity and degredation. The Muslim faithfuls, for this reason, believe that murdering the infidels, plundering their assets, and raping their women is an act of piety, which pleases Allah to guarantee them salvation!

On the contrary, rational fear is inclined to mitigate its depressive effect, and acts as a tool of enquiry. Such a fear is progressive; fear of the unknown has unleashed man's power of reasoning which has opened the door to modern sciences, and fear of death has weakened the hold of spiritual charlatans by discovering a host of medicines and surgical techniques.

4. The personality stabilised by faith to overcome the menace of irrational fear suffers frorn imbalance. A Muslim dreams of a God, who will accommodate him in paradise even if he were the most sordid person on earth, but the Almighty would throw a non-Muslim into hell, despite being the most splendid fellow on this planet. Such a person lacks the sense of justice.

Similarly, a Hindu, believing in Ahimsa or non- violence, lacks the sense of honour because he is reluctant to kill the attacker of, his wife, daughter or mother.

Thus, faith is a hallucinatory drug which makes a person see what is not there, and vice versa. It is the most heartening mirage in a desert despite being lethal in reality. In fact, it is a hag looking young through plastic suirgery and cosmetic elegance; it is a highly venomous serpent having the most beautiful appearance.

5. Analgesia i.e. insensibility to pain, is a rare condition among humans. A person suffering from analgesia does not feel physical pain, and therefore has no fear of stabbing and laceration.

Since fear is the ambassador of pain, there is a basic relationship between the two, and this fact plays an important role in the development of individuality and society. For example, the law frightens people to behave themselves, as well as protects them from the fear of lawlessness. Thus fear is the guardian of human rights.

Again, fear is the cornerstone of morality. I do not molest you because I am afraid of being molested by you. Thus fear of pain is the foundation of moral by and mutual respect.

In fact, fear is the rider, which controls the untamed stallion of human species and keeps it on the right road through a worthy deportment. It is a beautician whose consummate skills keep in check many ugly spots, which would have appeared on the face of Lady Humanity through licence and unruly conduct to destroy her charms, fascinations and enticements.

6. Irrational fear is not necessarily the fear induced by a third party; it may be the failure of one's own reasoning power. This is a blackout caused by electric breakdown; the sudden facing of a cat by a mouse or sinking of a ship by an unexpected storm.

7. Irrational fear is the agent of intellectual paralysis; the victim is so demoralised that he seeks solution through surrender, refuge and protection. This is the condition that makes a stag run at twice its normal speed; it is a stream which flows downward only and knows nothing about upward movement. It is Sir Isaac Newton's Apple which is prone to plump lower all the time. Perhaps, the best description is man himself, who invents gods and goddesses to mitigate fear of the unknown and seeks relief through supplications and prostrations.

Rational fear, on the contrary, is a messenger of challenge; it investigates it, own causes and seeks alleviation through resistance, revenge and restoration. This type of fear is a sword which is impatient to jump out ot its scabbard; it is a lion which roars louder as its pain increases; it is the crusader who fights with supreme courage when faced with death.

The fear which provokes reaction is progressive even though it may be destructive in the short run, but the fear which induces submission, surrender and servility, is regressive though it may be rewarding temporarily.

8. The best form of fear is the fear for other people's welfare and a genuine desire coupled with action to remove the causes of public fear.

The person mlativated by this type of fear is a model of humanity. He is more than a saint. In, fact, he is a god irrespective or his race, colour or creed.

9. Fear creates ooth love and hate. Fear of losing one's lave owing to one's own clumsiness may make the lover show his/her iove more ardently but the fear of losing one's love through the machinations of a rival, may be the ambassador of extreme detestation. Thus fear is a being with two heads - one monstrous, and the other angelic.

10. Fear is more effective on female than male. It is because the female is mother endowed with love and care of young ones and it can be achieved with greater erficiency through co-operation and submission rather than retaliation and aggression. This female tendency is reinforced by the fact that motherhood is the greatest institution of love, and therefore, it shirks most situations requiring resistance. Thus women are usually escapists though ten per cent of them have the male characteristics of striking back. As a result, women are more prone to daydreaming than men, and this is what makes them superstitious. It is usually the mothers who instil superstitiousness in their children.

For securing more followers, the religion-mongers have exploited this female weakness. Declaring her unclean and the servant of man by God's will, they deprived her of all social opportunities so that she should devote most of her time to bringing up children as required by the religious dogma in complete contradiction of reality.

It is not only mothers, who love their children; fathers do it as well. Yet there is a marked difference in expressing their affection. The mother is a dove but the father is an eagle; the former is a serene spring but the latter is a roaring stream.

11. Fear is inward-looking; a frightened person is a coward who does not seek satisfaction through action but imaginatiom if he is a beggar he dreams of wearing a crown to reduce the stress of humiliation; if he is outdone by his rival, he enjoys his downfall through a train of vagaries.

12. Fear is the ambassadar of distrust and hatred. Loyalty secured through threat, torment and torture is fragile, frivolous and frustrating. Such a fear is like a blackmailer who makes his victim toe the line through dismay, dread and deviousness. A tyrant is yet another example: the day he can no longer perpetuate his tyranny, his subjects feel the urge to rise against him.

Loyalty secured through fear requires more fear to reinforce it.

13. Fear strikes at the root of happiness. The frightened person feels sad and the tendency of retaliation gives him satistaction when he sees other people unhappy. This psychological attitude is at work even when he feels sympathy for a victim of sorrow, who appears as a member of his own fraternity.

This is the reason that a well-performed tragedy, where the characters look real, gratifies the spectator: it is either because they represent the consequences of his own fear and he feels sympathy for them - or his retaliatory outlook receives gratification from other people's consternation.

Enjoyment of fear demonstrates that it is a disorder: a pervert dressed up as a prophet, a plunderer disguised as a peer, a persecutor pretending to be a peacemaker.

14. Because of the grief that fear engenders, people hate it and, therefore, he who can project himself as the eliminator of fear, is considered a hero, prophet, messiah or god.

15. The worst aspect of fear is its susceptibility to manipulation, especially for subjecting people to a person's own ambition. Its flagrant form is what may be termed as Urge of Dominance; it is a person's intense desire to donninate others through any means.

Dominance urge is also found in fowls and animals. Chickens peck one another for this reason and Kangaroos demonstrate Lek behaviour for asserting their dominance. In humans, it is the worst: Genghis Khan murdered nearly half the world to frighten them into submission; Tamburlaine made it a habit to murder the Arabs and build towers with their heads for securing their submission. Because of its high importance to humanity, I shall discuss Dominance-Urge as a separate issue in the next chapter.

Manipulation of fear is at its worst when a person promulgates that God has prepared a flaming hell, which is infested with poisonous scorpions and cobras. He projects himself as the Saviour and claims that whoever believes in him, shall be saved. Thus, he manipulates fear to gain converts, and asserts that faith is the fountain of salvation.

This is the worst exploitation of fear because faith is a form of induced blindness known as brainwashing. If someone believes in something through rational examination, it is an opinion or judgement, which is likely to change with a counter-argument, but faith is something actuated by deception; it is teased by reason and pleased by superstition.

I think that I have said enough about the nature of Fear. Now, let us have a look at its opposite i e. Favour.

2. Favour

Favour, as stated previously, is the sweet well whereas fear is the thirsty traveller. It is a basic characteristic of the cosmic constitution that everything comes in opposite pairs, and thus cannot be conceived on its own. There is no such thing as positive without negative, sweet without bitter, wise without fool or deep without shallow. The zest of life is found in balancing the two, and the extremes render no real satisfaction. For example, too much happiness is no better than too much grief because they both indicate their saturation points where any further addition has a negative value.

What is favour? This is not possible to answer in one sentence but the concept of favour can be understood by the description of its various aspects though some of them may be contradictory:

1. Favour is not a wage or return. It implies an element of courtesy or generosity. It can be a gift or act of kindness, yet that gift or kindness has to be within the bounds of reason and normality. Feeding a hungry person is an act of favour but transferring one's huge piece of land into the name of the hungry person is not a favour because it is not normally done.

Favour is what dew is to flowers and not an act of watering by the gardener; it is icing on the cake, it is saccharine in hard water.

2. Favour is the tendency to be free from the ill effects of fear. It is a desire to recoup one's happiness; it is the wish of a drowning man to be saved; a cry of an afflicted person to be consoled.

3. Favour, in essence, is something for nothing. Therefore, it appeals to a person's instinct of greed or helplessness.

When one cannot get something through personal merit or effort, one expects it as a favour. It is like someone's lost property found by another. It is an unexpected win against hefty odds: it is a sudden wave pushing the nearly scuttled boat to the shore.

4. A favour is never earned; it is something which is always given. What is earned cannot qualify as a favour. It is like the water of a river which fields receive without any effort on their part; it is the sunrays which illumine dark holes; it is the fragrance wafted by the breeze.

5. Favour though basically a virtue, can also be a vice, depending on the intention of the giver.

Giving narcotics to the unaddicted is not a virtue but a vice because it seeks to cause addiction for future gains. Similarly, a programme of public welfare for vote- gathering is vicious because it robs the hard-working taxpayers to pamper the lazy louts.

6. A genuine favour cannot be paid for because it is something which is gratis.

A favour based on expectation is not a favour. Such a "favour" is a kind of unstated loan; a sprat to catch mackerel; a decoy to victimise the innocent, a golden pre-election promise to fool people.

7. A favour from a total stranger is an act of considerable surprise, though it may be quite genuine for having no strings at all. Such a favour is a sudden outpour from a clear sky; the win of a skinny person against a heavy- weight boxer; the desire of a wolf to nurse a wounded lamb.

8. A favour is usually a test of a donee's pride. The prouder a person the lesser his chances to accept it. On the contrary, the shallower a person, the more likely he is to grab it.

When a proud person is compelled by the force of circumstances to accept a favour, he not only feels obliged to the benefactor but also earnestly looks for an opportunity to return it gracefully. He is like a football which must bounce back when depressed; a large bell which sounds melodiously when struck.

9. A true favour must emanate from a legitimate source. The largess of a robber is the distribution of other people's property. Therefore, it is a display of one's vanity; an exhibition of egoism, a show of false pride.

Giving away booty is not charity but the demonstration of a guilty conscience dressed up as a virtue for self- appeasement.

10. The one who does favour for the good of the receiver is a saint, but the one who does it with a concealed motive is a devil.

Again, a true donor looks for the donee, and does not belittle him by making a show of his favour. His gift is like the happy dream which only the dreamer can see.

On the contrary, a false donor exhibits his act to make him look what he is not. He is like the lightning, which dazzles temporarily instead of acting as a reliable guide; he is the rolling cloud which only thunders to make its presence felt but does not bring rain.

11. Favour is a burden on the sensitive but a hobby for the stolid. The sensitive person when burdened with a favour, becomes an asset for the donor without his knowledge; he is like the fertile soil which multiplies yield of the seed a hundred times but a favour to the stolid is like rain falling on a parched desert.

12. The greater fear requires a correspordingly higher favour to neutralise its devastating effects. The Prophet Muhammad had to invent a paradise with most delicate ever-young women and gushing fountains of wine to encounter the horrors of his burning hell infested with scorpions and cobras.

13. A favour is received properly when the donee feels indebted to the benefactor without feeling a sense of humiliation. If he feels belittled, the favour is an assault on his honour, a mockery of his pride, a public humiliation of a private citizen.

14. There is no such thing as "owing or returning a favour.'' Such a favour is just a debt payable in due course and may carry a rate of interest many times its usual size. On the contrary, a genuine benefactor feels overpaid by a glow of gratitude on the face of the beneficiary.

A favour is always gratis: it is like sunshine; it is a gentle breeze; it is spring at its best. Like all bounties of nature, a favour is free.

15. Favour, like fear is also susceptible to manipulation. It is limited bv its definition. Unlimited favour springs from a deceitful motive and therefore, it is destructive. Freeing a culprit each time he appears before a magistrate, is injustice to others as well as injurious to his own character. Similarly, the concept of Intercession as found in Islam is the bane of morality. Favour is meant to appease, please and release the depressed, oppressed and suppressed but when it becomes abundant it loses its curative and blissful value and resembles the torrenrial rain which destroys crops; it is excessive heat which ruins cooking; it is a fair- weather friend who, in fact, is an enemy.

However, as previously stated, when the magnitude of fear becomes excessive, the stature of favour rises proportionately owing to the natural reciprocity that exists between the two. The exaggerated forms of fear and favour have been used by men who project themselves as God to be adored for the satisfaction of their dominance-urge. They use this device to gain followers. On the one hand, they frighten people with hell-fire and on the other, they promise paradise to the faithful. Though the claimant gets what he wants i.e. the godly status, which is absolutely fake, but the followers lurch in the sea of darkness for being cut off from the truth, and thus become ungodly. This point does reveal the true value of fear and favour. If they were not susceptible to manipulation, humans would easily march on the road to Godhead, which is barricaded by the dominance-urge of those who earnestly desire to be treated as God at the expense of other people's potential of divinity.

Owing to the manipulative power of fear and favour, it is essential to illustrate them further with the Muhammadan concepts of hell and paradise, which have decisively affected the minds of at least one billion people during our time. In fact, hell and paradise represent the technique of stick and carrot i.e. humbling people with the alternatives of force and bribe. First, let us have a look at the concept of hell that the Prophet Muhammad presented:

a. Hell

This is the most tormenting and terrible place. ( Salvation: 65 )
    Why? See for yourself:

    "The dweller of hell is given to drink oozing pus, the which he gulps, and can scarce swallow, and death comes upon him from every side, yet he cannot die; and still beyond him is a harsh chastisement." ( Abraham: 20 )

    "Surely those who disbelieve in Our signs - We (Allah) shall certainly roast them at a Fire; as often as their skins are wholy burned, We shall give them in exchange other skins, that they may taste the punishment." (Women: 55-60)

The Koran tells us about the normal food and drink of the unbelievers (Rangers: 458): there is a gigantic tree called Ez-Zakkoum, which sprouts in "the root of Hell:" its spathes are like the heads of satans; the dwellers of hell eat it and are given a brew of boiling water to drink.

The "Terror: 50," further adds that after eating of Zakkoum, they drink boiling water,"lapping down like thirsty camels."

The theme of Ez-Zakkoum is further continued in "Smoke: 45:"

    "Behold the Tree of Ez-Zakkoum
    is the food of the wicked,
    like molten copper, bubbling in the belly
    like the bubbling water .."
    "... As for the unbelievers,
    for them garments of fire shall be cut,
    and there shall be poured over their heads
    boiling water
    Whereby whatsoever is in their abdomens
    and their skins shall be melted, for them await
    hooked iron rods:
    as often as they desire in their anguish to come forth
    from it, they shall be restored into it.."
    ( The Pilgrimage: 20 )

    The Backbiter: 2 gives further description of hell

    "It is the roaring fire of God lit over the hearts in
    stretching columns."

    The Tiding: 20-30 further states:

    "Behold Hell has become an ambush,
    for the insolent a resort,
    Therein ... tasting neither coolness nor any drink
    save boiling water and pus .....
    Surely for the Godfearing (believers) awaits
    a place of security, gardens and vineyards
    (paradise) and maidens with swelling breasts...
    and a cup overflowing .."

b. Paradise

Paradise is the opposite of hell (fear) and represents favour. Now compare its delights with the dreads of hell to realise how human instincts of fear and favour have been exploited for gaining recruits to the Islamic faith:
    " ... for them (the Muslims) is reserved a definite
    provision, fruit and a great honour in the Gardens of
    Bliss reclining upon couches arranged face to face, a
    cup from a fountain being passed round to them,
    while, a pleasure to the drinkers .....
    and with them wide-eyed maidens
    flexing their glances
    as if they were slightly concealed pearls.",
    (The Rangers: 40-45)

     "Surely for the God-fearing
    awaits a place of security,
    gardens and vineyards
    and maidens with swelling bosoms."
    ( The Tidings: 30 )

The attraction of paradise is made more impelling when wine is made a part of paradisiac living:
    "Surely the pious shall be in bliss,
    upon couches gazing:
    You find in their faces the shining bliss
    as they are offered to drink of wine sealed,
    whose seal is musk ... and whose mixture
    is Tasnim, a fountain at which to drink
    those brought nigh." (The Stinters: 20-25)
For better illustration of the point under discussion, I may also refer to Hadith Tirmzi, volume two (p. 35-40) which gives details of houris, the ever-young virgins of paradise:
    1. A houri is a most beautiful young woman with a transparent body. The marrow of her bones is visible like the interior lines of pearls and rubies. She looks like a red wine in a white glass.

    2. She is of white colour, and free from the routine physical disabilities of an ordinary woman such as menstruation, menopause, urinal and offal discharge, child bearing, and the related pollution.

    3. She is a woman characterised by modesty and flexing glances; she never looks at any man except her husband, and feels grateful for being the wife of her husband.

    4. A houri is a young woman, free from odium and animosity. Besides, she knows the meaning of love and has the ability to put it into practice.

    5. A houri is an immortal woman, who does not age. She speaks softly and does not raise voice at her man; she is always reconciled with him. Having been brought up in luxury, she is a luxury herself.

    6. A houri is a girl of tender age, having large rising breasts which are round, and not inclined to dangle. Houris dwell in palaces of splendid surroundings.

Now add to this description of houris, what Mishkat, volume three says on pages 83-97:
    7. If a houri looks down from her abode in heaven onto the earth, the whole distance shall be filled with light and fragrance .....

    8. A houri's face is more radiant than a mirror, and one can see one's image in her cheek. The marrow of her shins is visible to the eyes.

    9. Every man who enters paradise shall be given seventy-two houris; no matter at what age he had died, then he enters paradise, he will become a thirty-year-old, and he will not age any further.

    10. Tirmzi, vol. 2 states on page 138:

    A man in paradise shall be given virility equal to that of one hundred men.

It should be noted that men who are so potent, shall not be inclined to do anything except love-making. Surely, love-making is better than burning in hell!

To what has been said above, I may add a bit more about the surroundings of paradise to depict its appeal to the faithful:

Paradise is constructed in such a way that every brick of gold is followed by a brick of silver; instead of mud or cement, saffron is used to hold them together; even its pebbles are diamonds and rubies. He who enters paradise, shall be free from grief: he will live there forever, remain eternally young and will never die.

Paradise is generously dotted with streams of milk, honey and wine; its climate is neither cold nor hot but just nice. The inhabitants of paradise shall be given winged horses created out of rubies which will take the rider wherever he wants to go.

The inhabitants live in palaces and pavilions constructed from the most precious and beautiful diamonds, and every man shall have eighty thousand servants to serve him.

One is inclined to think that the above description of paradise is quite tempting to invite people to Islam. With a view to sharpening the appeal of his message, the Prophet used the device of contradistinction to compare heaven with hell for gaining devotees by such ploys, which lack the dignity behoving His lofty station. It is a human weakness to be adored and worshipped, and its fountain lies in man's inherent imperfection, which seeks redress through other people's submission, surrender and supplication. This is the pivot of dominance-urge, which is satisfied by pleas, petitions and prayers of the vanquished and subordinates to convince the dominant of his greatness, glitter and grandeur, which is really not there because man is mortal and intrinsically so vulnerable that he can be humbled any time by disease, death or disaster. It is just vanity, and a form of make-believe, for any man to pretend to be God or live as such through the memory of one's fellow-beings. The true God is too great to concern himself with the prayers or curses of man.

As I shall explain later, every human has the potential to become a part of Godhead, the highest and eternal state of existence. This is why I hold that man is God and God is man. This elevation is attainable through looking into one's self and improving it. In fact, this is the Realm of Mysticism where everybody carries his own seed of eternity.

"You reap what you sow;" is the cardinal law of the Kingdom of Mysticism. Though candid, it is tough. Man who prefers ease to drudgery, is susceptible to the greed of prophets, who suffer from uncontrollable dominance-urge, and want to be treated as God on the pretence that they possess Intercessory powers and can guarantee salvation to the believers. Thus faith takes precedence over deed. This total dependence on the prophet who is goaded by the dominance- urge, destroys his followers' divine potential by turning them into worshippers, the lowest position that a person can have. What is Urge of Dominance?

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