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Innate Guidance
Siddiq Bukhary


The following discussion has been taken from the General Discussion Forum of Studying Islam (, one of our sister sites. While Jhangeer Hanif is the moderator of this discussion, Siddiq Bukhari has compiled it for publication in the journal (Editor).

Jhangeer Hanif: If it is innate guidance that says that homosexuality, for example, is a blatant sexual deviation, then what about many gays and lesbians who say that their innate guidance has guided them to homosexuality? Similarly, what about the millions of East Asians who eat animals like lizards, monkeys and dogs? What about the innate guidance they possess in this matter?

Amatullahi: The innate guidance of the homosexuals did not guide them to these actions, rather it was that sense of adventure which the “sick” mind leads itself to. People follow their desires and feel that whatever they want they can do. They also don’t have a sense of control over their desires.

The mind (“nafs”) is of three types: nafs al-mutma’innah (the satisfied), nafs al-lawwamah (self-reproaching) and nafs al-ammaratun bi al-su (inclined to evil). A person decides which mind he adopts. Thus the homosexuals pamper the one they felt suited them - the last type. But deep down inside them, I am sure they know what they are doing is wrong and abnormal.

The East Asians on the other hand may have grown up to see their fathers eating of these animals and just like the kuffar followed them blindly. People ignore the innate guidance for Satan’s guidance.

AminahStar: They did not nurture the innate guidance given to them; therefore they now believe this is not wrong.

Jhangeer Hanif: You are of the view that it is up to us to choose what “mind” or “nafs” (as you have described it) we wish to have. As we choose it, our course of life would change?

A person who chose the nafs al-mutma’innah (the satisfied) would always remain purified and who chose nafs al-ammaratun bi al-su (inclined to evil) would do evil things like homosexuals?

According to my understanding of your statement, you want to say that these three types are not present within every normal human being all the time?

Amatullahi: No, they are present in every normal human being. It depends on how one uses the mind. Iman itself decreases with bad deeds and increases with good deeds according to my understanding. There are certain verses which refer to this fact e.g. when one recites the Qur’an Allah said it increases one in Iman.

If one chooses what he definitely knows to be wrong, then he has surely decided his fate by following his desire. On the other hand one, who is always fighting with one’s self to stay on the right track, may occasionally find himself falling off. In the end he stands a better chance of following his innate guidance.

Ayesha: I believe good and evil reside within us. It is our choice to let one of these prevail. The execution of the choice, however, is not that simple. It is a struggle every step of the way.

Homosexuality has not been medically proven a natural state of mind to date. Coupled with the fact that it is one of the severely punishable sins in the sight of God, we have a reason to believe it goes against the innate guidance in its very fibre. Natural instincts have a code of execution in religion and are not punishable if the rules are followed. Homosexuality, however, has clearly been declared a grave sin and a gross act of going against nature.

I have one question though...why do we have to correlate eating lizards to innate guidance? For example, I have a fairly strong aversion to seafood. This can only be taken as a matter of personal preference. I feel aversion to something that my religion has allowed. If some of the East Asians like eating lizards and everything that breathes on the face of this earth, should it not be taken in the same light?

AminahStar: I think that the ability for our innate guidance to function depends a lot on how we have followed it in our lives. If we have constantly gone against it, it diminishes.

In the case of homosexuality, when a person first thinks about it, it is wrong to them. After this, one must decide whether to entertain the idea and go against the innate guidance that determined it wrong or quickly dismiss the idea and follow this guidance. If one chooses to disregard the innate guidance and entertain bad thoughts, it will still seem bad to them at first, and guilt may bring them back to the correct thinking. On the other hand if one continues and ignores these guilt feelings, little by little, the innate guidance will not function.

It is a gradual process that breaks down our innate guidance, and I think a gradual process can also restore it. If you don’t use something correctly, of course it will break. The same thing happens with innate guidance.

In the case of eating things that do not sound appealing, I agree with Ayesha, I don’t think this is in our innate guidance to distinguish right from wrong in this matter. I think that we must rely on revealed guidance for this.

Jhangeer Hanif: As regards the point of dissension asserted by Ayesha and then AminahStar, I’d like to ask them:

Do you see any difference between a general aversion of mankind reported in human history towards some animals as food and the behaviour of one or two people towards something?

If we have to rely on the revealed guidance in the matters of food, why do not we find a complete list of what is forbidden and what is not?

Why did the Holy Qur’an give a general statement that all good things are made lawful to us? Why does it not explain these good things? How can we determine from the revealed guidance these good things if we have not been provided an exhaustive list of them?

AminahStar: I do not think I agree with the statement that there are three different types of minds that we can choose to adopt.

I think it is just a matter of going against our guidance or following it.

As far as the above question, it is a little vague, can you please rephrase it?

Ayesha: The very fact that an exhaustive list of good things has not been given makes some of the things debatable (for instance food here).

Should it not be left to the taste of a certain society to choose what they wish to eat (leaving out the things that have been clearly forbidden e.g. liquor, pork, blood etc.). A certain bunch of people can enjoy eating frogs and another bunch of people can feel aversion to it. The fact that eating frog has not been clearly prohibited should be the basis why we can call it allowed.

Actually I am reversing the very argument you gave.

Your explanation would make me understand better insha allah.

Jhangeer Hanif: Since AminahStar said that we should rely on revealed guidance regarding what we should eat and what not, I asked: Why then did Allah not give us a complete list of what we should eat and what we should not eat? This shows that we are not supposed to exclusively rely on divine source as regards eating habits. It is our innate sense which will help us know what we should eat and what we should not. Do you agree?

I now come to Ayesha’s remarks, the basic point to note here is again the stance of the Holy Qur’an regarding edibles. It declares that all good things are allowed to eat.

They ask you [O Muhammad] what is made lawful for them. Say: [all] good things are made lawful for you. (5:4)

 In another verse, the Holy Qur’an says:

Say, I find not in that which is revealed to me aught prohibited to an eater that he eats thereof; except it be carrion or blood poured forth, swine flesh for that verily is foul or the abomination which was immolated to the name of other than Allah. (6:145)

 You may note in the first verse that the stress is definitely on allowing all good things for eating. The Holy Qur’an never provided an exhaustive list of what is edible and what is not. It only prohibited those things which mankind was not in a definite position to decide about their prohibition. Take for instance, the pig. This animal does behave like a vegetarian as well as a carnivore. In the former case, it appears to be like goat, ram etc and in the latter it falls within the category of fox, lions etc. How should it then be treated? Allah guided mankind that they should take it within the category of forbidden animals as are endorsed by their common sense. It is noteworthy to mention that the entire mankind never considered eagle, vulture or fox or lion as allowed to be eaten. The reason being they innately knew what they should take for food.

Similar is the case with other prohibitions mentioned above. A goat or a ram slaughtered in a ceremonial way is permissible to be eaten but what should be done if it is dead before we slaughter it? Allah said: Carrion is forbidden as is mentioned in the verse above; mankind should not eat dead beasts even if they are originally allowed to be eaten.

Thus, Allah allowed us to eat every good thing and in doing so, He left the determination of good things to our innate ability to know what is edible and what not. It should be appreciated that man, even now when perverted attitudes are rampant, still has some consensus regarding food. Even in these times, a majority of people do not adorn their dining tables with “vultures” or “donkeys” cooked in corn oil!

I understand there is some deviation. However, I would forward some points for your consideration. Deviation can be determined since it does not have the support of all mankind. The second thing is that this deviation is traceable to some point of history backward where it originates. People having awareness of the western culture know that “mini skirts” is not the dress which the ladies have always been wearing in the west. Some decades back, we can see that ladies in the west would wear as much proper a dress as any practicing Muslim lady can think of. This can particularly be viewed in the motion pictures of that time. To my mind, deviation regarding eating habits can be traced back if any committed person of these regions take up this job.

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