God-Awareness & its Role in Man’s Life | Part 2 – From God-Awareness to Self-Awareness & Its Psychological Effects

Read Part 1 here.


God-Awareness & its Role in Man’s Life

The Importance of God-Awareness in Man’s life

Human beings have an intense connection with God.  We have presential knowledge of Him.  Our soul is divine.  Our theomorphic nature (fiṭrah) has been formed, shaped, and molded by Him.  We are inclined towards Him.  Ayatullah Misbah Yazdi (h) says, “Man’s heart is a heavenly reality and an other-worldly essence which longs for the highest realm and the Holy Essence of Truth.”  Islamic Teachings are also God-oriented and push mankind towards His Divine Unity.  All Islamic Sciences, in each and every field, have established God as their central axis and focal point, whether it be in the theological, jurisprudential, or moral sciences.  The practitioners of these sciences also desire to have every dimension of their being function in a God-centric way.  This is the natural result and corollary of God-Awareness.

Therefore, in addition to being aware of God in terms of cognition and belief, human beings must also act and behave in a God-conscious manner.  It is due to this point that actions devoid of a Godly, divine orientation are not considered religious actions.  Faith remains incomplete if it does not include a propensity towards God-Awareness, behavior which gravitates towards Him, and activities which are Tawheed-based.  Thus, if religiosity is supposed to have a positive effect on psychological functions and mental well-being, it will be beholden to God-Awareness as well.  In that situation, an individual will not only be aware of God; but rather, they will be God-conscious in each and every moment.  This type of person will think with God in mind.  They will feel with God in mind.  They will strive with God in mind.  In every moment of their life, in all psychological aspects, from their thinking to their emotional reactions to their conduct, they will be aware of God.

If God-Awareness forms a part of a human being’s existential and psychological structure and establishes the formative inception of personality structures, which in this case would help provide psychological order, unity, and integration, then negligence and God-Awareness will stand opposing each other with regards to integration or lack thereof in personality and psychological structures of individuals.  Thus, there will be inconsistency and inactivity found in their apparent behavior.  Based on this, the Islamic Sciences regard unawareness, negligence, heedlessness, inattention, thoughtlessness, and obliviousness as the most significant factor for disrupting and distorting our psychological well-being and order.  This situation occurs with the formation of disorders within the most vital psychological structure, the cognitive system, and as a consequence of that, within the emotional and behavioral systems.

وَلَقَد ذَرَأنا لِجَهَنَّمَ كَثيرًا مِنَ الجِنِّ وَالإِنسِ ۖ لَهُم قُلوبٌ لا يَفقَهونَ بِها وَلَهُم أَعيُنٌ لا يُبصِرونَ بِها وَلَهُم آذانٌ لا يَسمَعونَ بِها ۚ أُولٰئِكَ كَالأَنعامِ بَل هُم أَضَلُّ ۚ أُولٰئِكَ هُمُ الغافِلونَ

17:179 – Certainly We have created for hell many of the jinn and humans: they have hearts with which they do not understand, they have eyes with which they do not see, they have ears with which they do not hear. They are like cattle; rather they are more astray. It is they who are heedless.

أُولٰئِكَ الَّذينَ طَبَعَ اللَّهُ عَلىٰ قُلوبِهِم وَسَمعِهِم وَأَبصارِهِم ۖ وَأُولٰئِكَ هُمُ الغافِلونَ

16:108 – They are the ones on whose hearts Allah has set a seal, and on their hearing and their sight [as well], and it is they who are heedless.

وَمَن أَعرَضَ عَن ذِكري فَإِنَّ لَهُ مَعيشَةً ضَنكًا وَنَحشُرُهُ يَومَ القِيامَةِ أَعمىٰ

20:124 – But whoever neglects My remembrance, he shall lead a despicable life, and on the Day of Resurrection We shall raise him blind.’

اقتَرَبَ لِلنّاسِ حِسابُهُم وَهُم في غَفلَةٍ مُعرِضونَ

ما يَأتيهِم مِن ذِكرٍ مِن رَبِّهِم مُحدَثٍ إِلَّا استَمَعوهُ وَهُم يَلعَبونَ

لاهِيَةً قُلوبُهُم ۗ وَأَسَرُّوا النَّجوَى الَّذينَ ظَلَموا هَل هٰذا إِلّا بَشَرٌ مِثلُكُم ۖ أَفَتَأتونَ السِّحرَ وَأَنتُم تُبصِرونَ

21:1-3 – Mankind’s reckoning has drawn near to them, yet they are disregardful in [their] obliviousness.  There does not come to them any new reminder from their Lord but they listen to it as they play around, their hearts set on diversions. The wrongdoers secretly whisper together, [saying], ‘Is not this [man] just a human being like yourselves? Will you give in to magic with open eyes?’

يَعلَمونَ ظاهِرًا مِنَ الحَياةِ الدُّنيا وَهُم عَنِ الآخِرَةِ هُم غافِلونَ

أَوَلَم يَتَفَكَّروا في أَنفُسِهِم ۗ ما خَلَقَ اللَّهُ السَّماواتِ وَالأَرضَ وَما بَينَهُما إِلّا بِالحَقِّ وَأَجَلٍ مُسَمًّى ۗ وَإِنَّ كَثيرًا مِنَ النّاسِ بِلِقاءِ رَبِّهِم لَكافِرونَ

30:7-8 – They know just an outward aspect of the life of the world, but they are oblivious of the Hereafter.  Have they not reflected in their own souls? Allah did not create the heavens and the earth and whatever is between them except with reason and for a specified term. Indeed, many of the people disbelieve in the encounter with their Lord.

وَاصبِر نَفسَكَ مَعَ الَّذينَ يَدعونَ رَبَّهُم بِالغَداةِ وَالعَشِيِّ يُريدونَ وَجهَهُ ۖ وَلا تَعدُ عَيناكَ عَنهُم تُريدُ زينَةَ الحَياةِ الدُّنيا ۖ وَلا تُطِع مَن أَغفَلنا قَلبَهُ عَن ذِكرِنا وَاتَّبَعَ هَواهُ وَكانَ أَمرُهُ فُرُطًا

18:28 – Content yourself with the company of those who supplicate their Lord morning and evening, desiring His Face, and do not lose sight of them, desiring the glitter of the life of this world.  And do not obey him whose heart We have made oblivious to Our remembrance, and who follows his own desires, and whose conduct is [mere] recklessness.

Therefore, the most fundamental component of acquiring a sound personality and man’s true position is awareness and attention.  Awareness of the self is obtained through awareness of God.  In other words, finding God leads to finding oneself, or God-Awareness is a result of self-awareness.

وَلا تَكونوا كَالَّذينَ نَسُوا اللَّهَ فَأَنساهُم أَنفُسَهُم ۚ أُولٰئِكَ هُمُ الفاسِقونَ

59:19 – And do not be like those who forget Allah, so He makes them forget their own selves. It is they who are open sinners.

The outcome of this type of self-awareness will be personality integration and unity, psychological health and well-being, self-organization, behavioral adjustment, and human development, happiness, and perfection.

The Purpose of Identifying the Relationship Between God-Awareness & Self-Awareness

The existence of the relationship between God-Awareness and self-awareness and its effects on personality development, behavior regulation, and mental well-being is a pertinent function of all monotheistic religions, particularly Islam.  Some psychologists have emphasized upon God’s existence within the unconscious mind, the effects of finding God on self-recovery and personality integration, and the deep internal connection between God and the self which aids in curing cognitive disorders.

The science of psychology focuses its discussions on the self and then on self-awareness.  Within the sciences of theology, spirituality, and mysticism, God-Awareness and self-awareness is also discussed; however, they do not delve into psychological explanations.  Thus, research in the field of self-awareness, specifically the practical implications of the relationship between God-Awareness and self-awareness and its effects on the cognitive system and human personality finds increased importance.  Moreover, the attitude of Islamic Sciences towards psychology and how the former may help develop the latter additionally needs to be explored.

Empirically supported research and findings in psychology and personality studies have been used to shed light on religiosity, religious activities, and internal religious orientation.  However, the attempts to explain the nature of the effects has been unsatisfactory and unconvincing.  Although some efforts have been put forward in this regard, it becomes obvious that more research needs to be produced in order to properly understand the underlying psychological and religious concepts and structures which are functioning together.  This is particularly true in western research circles, where the Islamic Religious Sciences have not been fully studied.  With all of this mind, in this book, we will try to examine the various mechanisms, functions, and structures at play both psychologically and religiously.  We will present field research in the process of this investigation.  Concerning the empirical research for this topic, different methods will be used such as utilizing evaluation techniques mentioned in Islamic sources.

This book has 2 goals:

  • To explain and describe, in Islamic-Psychological terms, the concepts and structures of God-Awareness, the self, and self-awareness
  • To research the relationship between God-Awareness and self-awareness and to elucidate the nature of its effects

Fundamental Questions

  • What relationship does God-Awareness have with self-awareness?
  • What are the levels and components of God-Awareness?
  • How can the concepts of the self and self-awareness be described?
  • Does God-Awareness have an effect on self-awareness? How?
  • Does an individual’s level of God-Awareness and self-awareness fluctuate with the increase in age and level of information?
  • How can we evaluate God-Awareness according to Islamic and scientific standards?

Concepts & Terms (Theoretical & Practical)

God-Awareness – recognition, awareness, and feeling the presence of God; feeling a connection to Him which is everlasting and unbreakable

Self-awareness – an adaptive, dynamic, and integrated structure which is tied to the development of cognitive and emotional structures and processes; includes attention, evaluation, perception, and awareness of the self’s existential dimensions, characteristics, thoughts, feelings, attitudes and tendencies through the course of time.