Desires are an integral part of human nature. All men and women have a strong tilt towards fulfilling their desires and this is their greatest weakness. Pointing out the gravity of this failing, the chapter Al-Jathiyah (Kneeling) of the Qur’an admonishes us on this subject in alarming terms: Consider the one who has taken his own desire as a deity, whom God allows to stray in the face of knowledge, sealing his ears and heart and covering his eyes—who can guide such a person after God [has abandoned him]? Will you not take heed? (45:23)
Desire is an essential part of one’s personality. But it is like grease to an engine and not like the driver of that engine. Desire can serve as a motive force, but mindless yielding to desire will lead to disaster. If you want to be successful, try to steer your life in a rational manner. Don’t give it over to your desires. Remember that where desire is blind, reason has the capacity to discern the true nature of things. It is said that man is a slave to desire. But this saying expresses only half of the truth. It is a fact that the human mind is full of desires but, at the same time, it is also true that man’s mind has the capacity for logical thought.
When you find that your mind is overwhelmed by desire, examine that desire in the light of reality. Assess it in terms of its potential results, and find out objectively whether it is feasible or not to fulfill it. Judge it by all the possible effects it can have, whether good or bad. Then, after a complete examination, if you are satisfied that its results will be beneficial, go ahead and fulfill your desire—but with great care and planning. Don’t run after your desires. Even if you are following your desires, check and re-check them again and again. Don’t wait for the end result, but keep evaluating and re-evaluating them as you go along. It is also very important to turn back if you find that you have taken the wrong step. Stop your journey before reaching the point of no return.
Right desires are helpful for the development of your character. But bad desires are detrimental to your personality. Then there are different kinds of desires, some of which are improper. You have to distance yourself from desires of this kind. Other desires are quite proper and you may entertain them. But always keep this fact in mind that every desire must remain within certain boundaries. Even good desires are useful only in a limited manner. Right desires are helpful for the development of your character. But bad desires are detrimental to your personality. If you follow your bad desires, they can ruin your future to the extent that you cannot ever recover from their effects. You must therefore live a life that is reason-based and not desire-based.
Never judge a desire for its own sake: always judge it in terms of the result of its fulfillment. This result is the only criterion by which it may be determined whether a desire is good or bad for your life. Desire cannot be eliminated, but it can certainly be controlled. Don’t become a victim of your desires. Prove to be well in control of your desires.