Conclusion: How Can A Sincere Person Escape Superficiality?
In the behavior and conversations characteristic of superficiality, there is a basic problem of mind and spirit. For this reason, the best way to escape superficiality is not to address and correct these individual kinds of behavior one by one—because if a person encountered a situation he had not addressed before, he would revert to superficial behavior. And problems would arise in theory and practice, because a person’s thoughts and point of view are reflected in his behavior. He finds it difficult to do something he regards as unreasonable or unnecessary. However, the solution to superficiality is not the lengthy, difficult or complicated process it is thought to be. In fact, it is very easy.
The solution is to fear Allah and practice the morality of the Qur’an. Everyone who has faith in Allah and lives his life totally according to the Qur’an will be saved from superficiality. If he fears Allah as he should and behaves always and everywhere according to his conscience, he will be kept from doing superficial things. Such a person gives up following his lower self and, as Allah points out in the Qur’an, he will try to cleanse his self from wickedness:
He who purifies it has succeeded, he who covers it up has failed. (Surat ash-Shams, 9-10)
Not following the superficiality of the lower self is an important matter for a person who wants to escape from this kind of character. It is possible only by practicing the precepts of the Qur’an. The lower self is the source of deceit and wickedness and leads people to pursue empty and harmful things; in short, it is the source of much falsehood and superficiality. From it spring selfishness, pride, ambition, greed, anger and all kinds of wickedness in thought and deed. In order not to fall into superficiality and suffer harm in this world and the next, one must not follow one’s lower self. In the Qur’an, Allah tells us about some advice that the Prophet Musa (as) gave to his people:
“... You wronged yourselves by adopting the calf so turn towards your Maker and kill your own selves. That is the best thing for you in your Maker’s sight... ” (Surat al-Baqara, 54)
Those who purify their selves gain understanding and maturity and distance themselves from everything superficial. Allah tells us that human beings can gain honor only by obeying the Qur’an:
... We have given them their dhikr [that by which one is remembered, i.e., with praise], but they have turned away from it. (Surat al- Muminun, 71)
For this reason, Muslims who fully apply the verses of the Qur’an are noble, honorable and respectable individuals. Allah tells us that they have the highest moral character:
Do not give up and do not be downhearted. You shall be uppermost if you are believers. (Surah Al ‘Imran, 139)
This is a very important matter for those who have faith; they must ponder it well and not think that the debased culture of superficiality is limited to certain areas. For example, it is typically superficial to show a different character in different situations and to act mainly to please others. Lying about an ordinary daily matter thinking it to be insignificant, not doing as much as one could to spread religious morality, noticing where an act of generosity is needed but having no desire to do it, not saying something positive when the opportunity presents itself, attempting to justify one’s ego, speaking sarcastically to others, behaving immodestly ...All these are examples of superficial behavior. Contrary to what one might think, there is no great or small superficiality. In order to escape it, a person must have the absolutely honest intention to practice religious morality and give up deceiving himself with various excuses. In the Qur’an, Allah promises this salvation and other good things to His servants:
By it, Allah guides those who follow what pleases Him to the ways of peace. He will bring them from the darkness to the light by His permission... (Surat al-Ma’ida, 16)
The way to escape superficiality is to practice the morality of the Qur’an—the only kind of morality that fits human nature. A person who has decided to submit his heart and spirit totally to Allah, who intends to live in a way pleasing to Him and to purify himself from any trace of superficiality, can easily escape this culture. It is not important that a person may have adopted and practiced debased culture in the past; the important thing is that person’s final state and his final decision to win Allah’s favor:
. . . Allah has pardoned all that took place in the past; but if anyone does it again Allah will take revenge on him. Allah is Almighty, Exactor of Revenge. (Surat al-Ma’ida: 95)
Say to those who disbelieve that if they stop, they will be forgiven what is past; but if they return to it, they have the pattern of previous peoples in the past. (Surat al-Anfal: 38)
. . . except for what may have already taken place. That is an indecent act, a loathsome thing and an evil path. (Surat an-Nisa’: 22)