Reflection No. 4:47 on Q 10:44 – Injustice to the Self

إِنَّاللَّهَلَايَظْلِمُالنَّاسَشَيْئًاوَلَٰكِنَّالنَّاسَأَنْفُسَهُمْيَظْلِمُونَ
Innallāha lā yazlimun-nāsa shay’an walākinnan-nāsa anfusahum yazlimūn
Surely Allah does not wrong people in the least; rather it is people wrong themselves. .
(Sūrat Yūnus, No.10, Āyat 44)

The Holy Quran often talks about injustice against the self. Human beings know that oppression and injustice is wrong and condemned but strangely enough they often go through life oppressing their own selves.  The question is: Why? To be unjust to someone is to wrong him, to disregard his rights. How can a person do this to himself? What type of injustice is this? To answer that let us look at some interpretations of this form of injustice.

Āyatullāh Murtadhā Mutahharī states in his book Hikmatha wa Andarzha, that there are two causes of injustice to the self:

a) The first is ignorance or heedlessness of the self. Human beings do not purposely and knowingly wrong themselves. They do it thinking they are doing good to themselves, oblivious of the real effect of their actions. A man wrote to Abu Dhar, a renowned companion of the Holy Prophet (s) asking for advice. Abu Dhar responded to him, ‘If you can, do not do evil to the one you love most’. The man was perplexed and asked for an explanation. Abu Dhar wrote back, ‘Who I meant by the person you love most is yourself. When you sin against Allah you have done evil to the self’.

b) The other cause of injustice to the self is when the human being knowingly wrongs himself. This is because he is made up of different parts. He has a body which falls sick sometimes and a mind that shows him how he can get better. So the body and mind work together to regain health. Sometimes the mind is pitted against the body, or the heart (i.e. emotions) against the mind. Thus one part of the human being wrongs another part. This constant battle taking place within the human being is another cause of injustice. The intelligence and wisdom of the mind, unfortunately, do not always win this battle.

A trader who cheats people and derives profit illegally becomes rich. He is able to feed his body and provide it with material comforts. But this same trader also has a conscience and a soul. By cheating others he has deprived his conscience of the fulfillment it needs. It becomes impoverished and withers. Thus one part of him acts unjustly to the other.

Tafsīre Namūne describes this type of injustice as an enforced lack of insight and blindness to the truth. Human beings are born with a pure and natural instinct. With time this pure nature becomes tarnished and is not cleansed or polished. This is injustice for it robs a person of potential nobility.

Imam Ali (a) describes injustice to the self thus: To be pleased with the transient abode rather than the eternal one is injustice to the self (MH, H.11202) and To disobey Allah and obey the Shaytān is injustice to the self (MH, H.11203).

Recite this verse often to consciously remind yourself of staying away from injustice to your own self. You cannot afford to wrong yourself when you are all you have to take back to God.

Source:
Āyatuallāh Nāsir Makārim Shirāzī (Ed.); Tafsīre Namūne;
Muhammadi Rayshahrī, Mizānul Hikmah;
Āyatullāh Murtadhā Mutahharī, Hikmatha wa Andarzha.