What is Narcissism?
A pattern of traits and behaviours which signify infatuation and obsession with one’s self to the exclusion of all others and the egotistic and ruthless pursuit of one’s gratification, dominance and ambition.
Narcissism is named after the ancient Greek myth of Narcissus who was a handsome Greek youth who rejected the desperate advances of the nymph Echo. In punishment of his cruelty, he was doomed to fall in love with his own reflection in a pool of water. Unable to consummate his love, he pined away and changed into the flower that bears his name to this very day.
What is Narcissistic Personality Disorder?
The Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) has been recognized as a separate mental health disorder in the third edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) in 1980.
If you have the narcissistic personality disorder, you may come across as conceited, boastful or pretentious. You often monopolize conversations. You may belittle or look down on people you perceive as inferior. You may feel a sense of entitlement — and when you don’t receive special treatment, you may become impatient or angry. You may insist on having “the best” of everything — for instance, the best car, athletic club or medical care.
At the same time, you have trouble handling anything that may be perceived as criticism. You may have secret feelings of insecurity, shame, vulnerability and humiliation. To feel better, you may react with rage or contempt and try to belittle the other person to make yourself appear superior. Or you may feel depressed and moody because you fall short of perfection.
The cases for chronic NPD are quite rare, there are one in a million registered cases of Narcissistic Personality Disorder. However, researchers have agreed that nowadays, narcissism is on a rise – many find a relation between the high rise of social media and technology.
Narcissistic Personality Disorder in Islam
In Islam, it can be considered as a disease of the heart.
Al-Bukhari and Muslim have reported on the authority of Abdullah ibn Umar that the Messenger of Allah (saw) said: “Truly, Allah will not take away knowledge by snatching it away from people, but by taking away the lives of the people of knowledge one by one until none of them survives. Then the people will adopt the ignorant ones as their leaders. They will be asked to deliver judgements and they will give them without knowledge, with the result that they will go astray and lead others astray.”
It should be noted that Narcissistic Personality Disorder can be categorized as a disease, a disease of the heart to be more specific.
The hearts are of three types:
The correct heart that is secure from all desires that oppose the command of Allah and His prohibitions, and it is secure from all doubts that contradict what He informs. Just as it is secure from worshipping anything else besides Allah and from seeking judgment from any person other than His Messenger.
The dead heart, this being the opposite of the correct heart containing no life, neither knowing its Lord nor worshipping Him.
The heart that has some life but also has a defect. So it contains love of Allah, faith in Him, sincerity and trust towards Him from those things that are essential to it remaining alive. It also contains the love of vain desires and preference for them, despicable morals and manners from those things that cause it to die, and it is continuously wavering between these two conditions.
So the first type of heart is the living, humble, soft and gentle heart. The second is the dry, harsh and dead heart. The third is the heart which is diseased, it can either be made secure or have its destruction sealed.
All of the diseases of the heart are founded upon desires and doubts. The life of the heart and its illumination is the cause of all good to be found in it and its death and darkness is the cause of all evil to be found in it.
The heart can never be alive and correct except through cognizance of the truth, loving it and preferring it to everything else. There can never be any happiness, joy or correction for it unless it makes its sole object of worship and desires Allah alone.
This can never be perfected except through purification of heart, repentance, and its relinquishing itself from all types of false love and despicable manners. This can never be attained except through striving hard against one’s soul that incites to wards evil, and bringing it to account and combating the satans from among the jinn by holding fast to Allah; knowing their plots and objectives, and safeguarding oneself from them through remembrance of Allah, the Exalted, and seeking refuge with Him from them.
Cure of NPD in Islam
Diseases of mind are a tricky business, we cannot know through mere blood samples if they are cured. It needs control and constant practice to train the mind, and thus, we must continue to spend time in remembrance of Allah, seek His refuge and reflect over His words.
It was noted in Al-Bukhari that Prophet Muhammad peace and blessings be upon him said:
“The heart becoming defective and weak revolves around two basic matters: the corruption of knowledge and the corruption of intent. These, in turn, lead to two destructive illnesses – anger and misguidance. Misguidance being the end result of the corruption of intent. So these two diseases are the lords of all the ailments that afflict the heart. Its cure lies in guidance based on knowledge. Guidance based on knowledge is to know the truth and to follow it. The whole of the Quran is a cure for these two diseases and others and it contains perfect guidance.”
When ‘Ubadah ibn as-Samit was asked about this hadith he said: “If you want, I will tell you what the highest knowledge is, which raises people in rank: it is humility.”
He said this because there are two types of knowledge. The first produces its fruit in the heart. It is knowledge of Allah, the Exalted – His Names, His Attributes, and His Acts – which commands fear, respect, exaltation, love, supplication and reliance on Him. this is the beneficial type of knowledge. As ibn Mas’ud said: “they will recite the Qur’an, but it will not go beyond their throats. The Qur’an is only beneficial when it reaches the heart and is firmly planted in it.”
Qur’an came as a form of cure from the psychological and social diseases that were spread during the times of Jahilliyah. The guidance provided in Qur’an helps us heal and seek refuge in Allah Subhana Wa Ta’ala. The Qur’an guides us towards the right path through the Words of Allah.
As it has been noted a number of times in the Qur’an itself:
“He will heal the breast of a believing folk. [Surah Tawbah (9): 14]
And when I become sick, He heals me. [Surah Shu’ara (26): 80]
…There has come unto you an exhortation from your Lord, a healing for that which is in your breasts, a guidance and mercy for the believers. [Surah Yunus (10): 57]
And We reveal of the Quran that which is a healing and a mercy for the believers … [Surah Isra (17) : 82]
It is a guidance and a healing for those who believe. [Surah Fussilat (41) : 44]”
So, seek refuge in Allah. Try to maintain a constant relationship with Qur’an.
Read, Recite and Reflect them.
Reflection and thinking over the verses of Qur’an help us gain the different perspective of our sufferings, difficulties and especially, insignificance. In a huge world of humans, jinns, and so many creatures created by Allah Subhana Wa Ta’ala, and in the stories of the nations destroyed in the blink of an eye, we realize our own insignificance and at the same time the fickleness of our nature.
Also, supplicate. Make du’a to Allah Subhana Wa Ta’ala, because, there is no disease that Allah Subhana Wa Ta’ala cannot cure.