The ego has three states. Nafs al-ammara, commanding ego (12:53), which tempts to commit sin, nafs al-lawwama, the reproaching ego, which similar as conscience, and nafs al-mutmainna, the ego which has found contentment in Him and found peace (89: 27-28).
Now I will only deal with the reproachful ego.
And I do call to witness the self-reproaching spirit: (Eschew Evil). (Quran 75:2)
Let's see the case of Nasrudin with the judge.
Nasrudin was taking an evening stroll when he stumbled over a man lying on the grass, drunk. Rolling him over, he recognized the drunkard to be none other than the judge – a man famous for passing stiff sentences for moral offences. Seeing that the judge was unconscious, Nasrudin removed his ornate slippers and coat and went on his way. It was only as the judge stumbled home next day that he realized that he had been robbed. Livid, he told the police to search every house until they had found the culprit.
It was not long before Nasrudin was hauled into court.
“Where did you get those slippers and that coat?” demanded the judge.
“I borrowed them from a drunk I found lying in the gutter last night” replied the Mulla. “I have since tried to return them but do not know the identity of the man. You don’t happen to know him, do you?”
“Certainly not!” replied the judge realizing that any other answer would ruin his reputation. “Case dismissed!”
The case shows well that compunction awoke in the judge in an instant as soon as he was exposed to doom. The nafs el-lawwama came into operation. But it's not that simple. Three things must be fulfilled in order to awake the self-criticism, conscience. One is the fear from a sanction. It can be a worldly and an afterlife sanction. In the case of the judge, we see a fear from a worldly failure. The other is the set of value which we compare to the weight of our actions and intentions. According to the values of the parable, the drunken state is a bad value and comparing to that, if the state of drunkenness provokes an unfavorable judgment, then conscience can awaken. It is a matter when it can awaken and that’s the third factor! If the nafs al-lawwama is functioning properly, it will take effect even before the act is committed, i.e., the judge would not even reach the state of drunkenness. Thus, the self-blame came into effect retrospectively because he was afraid of failure.
This is a malfunctioning nafs al-lawwama. It would be a trouble if we only felt remorse after cheating our business partner or fucking the neighbor’s wife. Where is the brake then? The brake setting is wrong!
And now let's put together. The problem with conscience of today is these three things:
- deterrent effect of only the worldly sanction and disregard of the one in the afterlife
- false set of values are used as a standard
- delay in the restraining power of conscience.
Let's take them one by one. The man of today has no consciousness of the afterlife. It was simply extinct, destroyed. It is rare to find someone where it works. Secular thinking has succeeded to reach the level that everything what is not attributed to the genius of man should be considered as a ridiculous, obscurant and belongs to a world of custom that should be ashamed. In the long run, this has led to the fact that the consciousness of the afterlife and in this context, the accountability there cannot be evoked easily today. Most people are more afraid of how many years they will get in prison if they embezzle and don’t even think about the questions what God will ask about it.
As far as set of values are concerned, I think we can find the biggest trouble here. As humanity itself became a junk in terms of biology, they ate so much of their own poisons, destroyed their own health, immune system, etc., their thinking became aberrant, too. What used to be a sin, has become a pattern to be followed today. The man of today doesn't feel himself guilty when he fucks the wife of his best friend, but when he doesn't! Not when he transfers a few million from the account of the company to his own account, but when he doesn't! Not when he incites people to hatred, but when he doesn’t! The benchmark of our conduct is set up by values that are completely contrary to the teachings of our Scriptures. We live under the rule of thinking that has gone through a counterselection when people have a sense of lack when they don't shaft the other. And here is the accusation against the many worthless churches, because no matter what they teach, while they are also the greedy followers of today’s values!
The third is the late-acting deterrent force. But in vain we talk about this in detail if the previous two are no longer work!
The stories of Nasrudin in their time used to teach in addition to the humor. Today those are just humorous stories and people don’t even understand where the teaching is?
I often meditate on the lofty speech of some speakers, in which they exude the greatness of the principle that they represent. Just as truth is worth nothing without power, so thought is worth a piece of shit if it is not applied.