Human Behaviour: Emotions
by Prof. Dr.Omar
Hassan Kasule Sr.
Humans, like animals,
have emotions. They may be pleasant such as joy or unpleasant such
as anger. Emotions involve both mental and physical aspects. The
mental aspects involve the human intellect, the reception and interpretation
of sensory signals and synthesis of all these into a resultant emotional
state. Physical effects follow the emotional state. One of the physical
effects is the way emotions are expressed. Humans have developed
very sophisticated ways of expressing their emotions using the facial
muscles, the eyes, a complex body language and least of all verbal
expressions. Humans are also adept at hiding or even suppressing
their emotions. They can also with some effort pretend to be in
an emotional state that is not true; however the effort can not
be sustained for any measurable length of time.
Humans, like animals,
are motivated to take action by basic drives that are almost instinctual
in essence. These drives are all related to the basic need of survival.
The basic drives are hunger, thirst, sex, self-protection, and security.
Surat Quraish emphasizes food and personal security. The food and
sex are the strongest drives and are necessary for the preservation
of the species. The food drive is so strong that the Prophet recommended
eating before prayer (KS p. 315). The sexual drive in its purely
animal form is mere lust, shahwat (MB # 2110 p 989. There is disagreement
whether the basic drives are innate or are external (elicited by
rewards and incentives). Our preference is for the opinion that
they are innate. It appears from many scientific observations that
there is a biologic basis for some of the drives. The hypothalamus
and the limbic system control rage and aggression. The cortex, the
limbic system, the hypothalamus, and the endocrine glands control
sex behaviour. Hunger is controlled by the satiety and feeding centres.
The thirst centre controls drinking.
Humans have drives
more and above the animal drives described above. These drives are
higher and nobler; they are not elicited by hope for reward or fear
of punishment. The main human drives are: altruism, iithhar (p 1250
59:9; p 171 12:91, 20:72, 59:9), faith, iman (p 1250 6:158, 10:100),
consciousness of Allah, taqwah (p 1253 91:7-8), pleasure of Allah,
ridhallah (89:27-28), seeking knowledge, appreciation of aesthetic
beauty, and self-actualisation.
drives and emotions
Drives are from inside
but emotions are from outside. There is a close relation between
the two. Drives lead to and control emotions. Satisfaction of drives
is associated with pleasant emotions. Dissatisfaction of drives
is associated with unpleasant emotions. Many unpleasant emotions
may result from conflict between drives. Unpleasant emotions can
also occur when the drive is unattainable or it is in conflict with
results of logical intellectual analysis. A drive could be satisfied
in more than one way. For example the sex drive could be satisfied
through legal marriage (Muslim # 3242) or through illegal sexual
intercourse. The purpose of religion is to direct humans to correct
control of their drives. It is wrong to deny that drives exist or
to try to suppress them. Suppression will be successful for only
a short time. It is better to direct and channel the drives in a
Intentions and actions
Actions are based on
and follow intentions. There are many ambivalent situations when
two contradictory drives are present at the same time. Humans differ
from animals in that they are above to control, their drives. This
control is not always perfect. It depends on the individual and
the circumstances. Humans are rewarded according to how well they
control these drives. Rewards are given for suppressing negative
drives or redirecting them such that they become positive and useful.
Punishment is given when positive drives are not nurtured or are
expressed in the wrong context. In His mercy to humans, Allah rewards
them for good intentions and does not punish them for bad intentions.
There is punishment only if a negative intention is actually translated
into a negative action (Muslim #230, 231, 233, 234, 235, 236, 237).
Love of Allah is the
highest level of love (2:165, 3:31, 5:54, 9:24). Human love for
Allah is reciprocated by Allah's love for humans. Allah's love is
denied to non-believers (2:276, 3:32, 22:38, 30:45). Love of the
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) comes next to the love of Allah (Muslim
#70,71). Love of Allah and His messenger are part of faith (iman)
(KS p. 179). There is love for blood relatives (9:24), children
(12:8), and the erotic love for spouses (12:30). Sexual love can
be a disease if excessive and for the wrong reasons. It could be
positive such as the Prophet’s love for Aisha and negative such
as the love of Aziz’s wife for Yusuf (12:30). Excessive uncontrolled
sexual love/passion (‘ishq) can be a disease treated by marriage
or fasting. Love is also possible for unrelated people and friends.
Love of the material possessions of the earth, hubb al duniya is
the opposite of the love of Allah (2:165, 2:216, 3:14, 3:92, 3;152,
3:188, 9:24, 14:3, 16:107, 38:31-32, 41:17, 75:20, 76:27, 89:20,
MB # 2106 p 988. Hope
has to do with good feelings about the future. Tomorrow is better
than today. Only those with iman can have a sense of hope. This
is because they have a larger picture and see a larger reality.
Hope is from Allah (Muslim #6875, 6877, 6878, 6880).
The Qur'an has mentioned
happiness (suruur) 2:69, 3;120, 3;170, 3;188, 6:44, 9;50, 9:81,
10:22, 40:58, 11:10, 13:36, 19:26, 20:40, 23:53, 25:74, 27:19, 27:36,
28:9, 28:13, 28;76, 30:4, 30:32, 30:36, 33:17, 33:51, 40:75, 40:83,
42:48, 57:23, 76:11, 80:38-37, 84:9). It is a state of good feeling
that is temporary because the challenges of daily life for adults
preclude continuous elation. Elation could be due to material or
even non-material things.
The Qur'an discussed fear (20:67, 3;151, 8:2, 8:17, 22:35, 23:60,
28:10, 33:10, 33:26, 40:18, 59:2, 59:13). It was also mentioned
in the hadith (MB # 2106 p 988). It is an emotion that arises due
to real threats or sometimes for no reason at all.
Rage and aggression
Anger, ghadhab al insan
(9:58, 21:87, 7:154, 42:37, (KS 415). A person should be angry only
for Allah (7:150, 7:154, 20:86). Rage and aggression are related
to drives and emotions. Rage is natural (Muslim #6319) and can not
be avoided. What is needed is self-control to avoid negative side-effects
(KS p. 68, Muslim #6311, 6313, 6314, 6316, 6317). Quarrelling, usually
associated with rage, is discouraged (MB#1107). Other ways of controlling
rage are fasting (Muslim #2563) and recitation of the Qur'an (KS
Humans can hate for
various reasons most of the time related to self-interest or one
of the diseases of the heart. It is unfortunate that the emotions
of love and hate are closely related. Humans normally hate those
they loved before such as wives (4:19) or those they are supposed
to love such as female children (16:57-59, 16:62, 43:17-18).
Human behaviour in
the default state of fitrah will be perfect. The human has both
the good and bad drives. In the natural state the good will dominate
over the bad. However humans do not always live in a natural state.
Their upbringing and environment affects the balance between the
bad and the good. The environment can suppress or reinforce either
the good or the bad.