Just the other day, I read a short post by someone that made an interesting connection between heaven and the religious motivation that makes us humans lust after it.
I’d never thought about it before and my first reaction (in the context of Islam) after reading the post was, “This actually makes sense!” Islam fosters our greed for heaven. Greed, which is considered a vice in Islam.
So let’s delve a little deeper into the matter here. If we choose to oversimplify things, then yes, it does seem strange that Islam uses the same thing it prohibits and preaches against vehemently, to make its followers strive after heaven. However, there are lots of concepts in Islam that aren’t that simple. Most concepts are subject to interpretation and that varies across individuals.
What is greed? Google says it’s an “Intense and selfish desire for something, esp. wealth, power, or food.” Wikipedia says its “the inordinate desire to possess wealth, goods, or objects of abstract value with the intention to keep it for one’s self, far beyond the dictates of basic survival and comfort. It is applied to a markedly high desire for and pursuit of wealth, status, and power.”
Based on these definitions, there’s nothing positive about greed. But, I’ve come to the conclusion that what matters is the outcome. What’s the end result of our killing our greed? Will it achieve something good or bad? For those fundamentalists who lust after the bounties promised to the righteous in heaven, and take innocent lives for it, it’s as much a vice as for the power hungry feudal lord who wants more land/money to enhance his influence and supremacy. There’s no difference. Thinking along the same lines, if prisoners are offered a shorter sentence for better behavior it’s actually bringing about a positive outcome. If their greed for freedom will make them better persons who will refrain from doing the acts that landed them in jail, then that’s a good thing.
So essentially, it’s all about the outcome.