I guess this is what blogs are for: personal reflection. This is a reflection on something that happened to me this week. I had written a grant proposal that would pay for my summer salary so that I may write a book: Economic Analysis of Islamic Law
. I thought that I had a reasonable chance to get funded. Alas, I received a letter on Monday telling me that I did not get the funding. I felt depressed about it, and when I tried to put a positive spin on it, I thought to myself that this is better, since it will free up more time to work on statistics of extremes, which may help me to get other research grants or consulting and training work on risk management.
How sick! I didn't recognize fully how terrible this was until I started preparing a khutba for Friday. The topic: زهد, or disineterest in worldly things. I guess my aim was to soothe myself, and put yet another positive spin on my disappointment at not receiving the funding.
The true disease is obvious: if I was only willing to do the work on Islamic law and economics if I got paid for it, then I am in large part doing it for the money. All of my self deception about refusing to serve as a consultant to providers of so-called "Islamic finance" (which couldn't be farther from Islam) must then be a mixture of pride and sour grapes. I must be as much of a hypocrite as the self-appointed "scholars" who told their benefactors at Dow Jones that they would do God's work for free, but "if paid, [they] should be paid handsomely". I am just another mercenary and peddler of religion.
Unless... Unless I sacrifice my summer salary and consulting income, and decide to work on the book anyway, on my own time. There is still a good chance that this is also driven by pride and self-deception, but at the very least there will be no direct financial component to the decision.
For now, I am depressed to discover how materialistic I am in reality -- how far I am from زهد. I am obviously someone who gets happy when I get money, success, fame, etc., and gets sad when he loses those things. That is the opposite of faith... That is the ultimate disease of the heart -- not only being attached to the world, but also tying pretensions of doing religiously meaningful work to material gains.