The Two Abrahams – Priority of Needs

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is a world renowned framework for sociology and motivational theory in psychology. Its being taught in clasess, in business management and also training centres. It depicts what sort of motivation and effort and its direct relation with human behaviour.

It comprises of a three-tier category of human needs (can be classified into 5 rungs), most commonly shown within a pyramid. From the bottom of the hierarchy upwards, the needs are:

  1. Basic Needs : food and clothing, safety and security
  2. Psychological Needs : love and belonging needs (friendship, intimacy)
  3. Self Fulfilment Needs : esteem, and self-actualization.

The theory specifies that Needs lower down in the hierarchy must be satisfied before individuals can attend to needs higher up. The goal is to achieve self-actualization.

Basis of Maslow’s theory

This 1943 theory is widely known to have first referred to the Blackfeet tribe, an American Indian tribe, the theory still being referred to in many way of to this day. However, in recent times, the theory has drawn a lot of criticism mainly on its being viewed as an Animalcentric theory.

All animals seek survival and safety, and many animals, especially mammals, also invest efforts to belong and gain esteem… The first four of Maslow’s classical five rungs feature nothing exceptionally human.

Abulof, Uriel (2017). “Be Yourself! How Am I Not Myself?”.

Different Approach

Whilst Abraham Maslow focuses more on establishing one bodily physical needs to achieve innate soul peace and elightenment, Prophet Abraham list of priorities focuses from inner soul satisfaction and a top down approach. The list of priorities is in a total opposite between the two Abrahams. One has moved away from his Jewish roots, whilst the other is the epicentre of the Abrahamic faith belief.

Prophet Ibrahim’s Holistic Dua (Abraham’s act of supplication)

Prophet Ibrahim was longing for a righteous offspring and eventually he was given a baby boy described as Halim (Quran 37:101). However, not long after, he was instructed by God to bring his forebearing baby and Hajar to a barren land in the middle of the desert. The place was then after, called Mecca.

With this backdrop, as part of the instruction, he had to leave both Hajar and his beloved child there. Hajar couldnt fathom it and asked for clarity. Once she clarified, she accepted the fate believing that Allah will not cause harm to her and her child as it was His command. Not long after, the food and water ran out, she went looking for water and ran back and forth between Mount Safa and Marwa. Hence it has become one of the ritual pillars when performing Hajj to this day.

It was not easy on Prophet Ibrahim either. What father does not worry about the safety and security of his long-awaited new born child? Or for his partner? Whilst taking the painful steps leaving his beloved, he made an extraordinary and profound Dua.

The sequence of the prayer normally would reflect the order of importance and needs. We can feel the pain yet his obedience to the Almighty’s command and asked for:

  1. To Establish Prayer
  2. Make the hearts of people incline towards them
  3. Be provided with fruits (sustenance)

Establish Prayer

This is a Self-fulfillment needs. We normally only think about prayers, about charities, about helping others, about religion in general, when our tummies are full, our hearts content and our basic needs are fulfilled. But, in Islam, which was epitomed by the Propher Ibrahim’s words, the first is to worship God, and the rest will be given by God through His many ways.

Hearts of People Incline

This is the middle of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, the psychological needs. According to the Dua, after the self fulfilment, one needs moral support from fellow humans. This is evident that, without companionship, we tend to falter and fall astray. This highlighted beautifully in another Dua made by Prophet Musa (Moses).

Making Dua for his brother to be made as Prophet. And thus support him to the followings

As he was travelling back to Egypt, under the veil of the night, Prophet Musa was called upon and was commanded to perform prayer whilst being spoken to directly by Allah, the one true God Almighty.On this, he made the above request that his brother is able to support him to ensure the self actualization is preserved. The self fulfilment according to the Quran, is in fact to be able to perform the obligations to worship Allah with sincerity.

Bear in mind that Prophet Musa was travelling secretly, in the darkness, a refugee is what we would call him in this modern day. Or a fugitive depends on which side of history you are looking at. In both cases he would not have easy access to food and definitely no sense of security and safety. And who was he trying to evade? It was the mightiest oppressive goverment at the time, the Pharoah. And he was the no.1 target. Imagine that. Inspite this, he did not ask for safe passage to Egypt at this stage. He asked for companionship and brother support.

Provisions of Fruits

According to Maslow’s theory, this is the most basic of Human needs, as it forms the base of the pyramid. To have food, water, safety and security. However, as testement in the above, this is the least of priority of needs, where once we prioritise, the prior needs, this sustenance will be given in ways we do not have to worry. Worry it may not, but we are still required to do our part in searching and working for it.


Dua supplication

Once the pyramid is tipped, it makes a lot of sense as Humans generally search for ones own innate authentic value and purpose. Lets ponder and reflect on this Quranic verse

And I (Allah the Almighty) did not create the jinn and mankind except to worship Me.

Quran 56:51

Idris Mahzan 2021 copyrights.

Author: Idris Mahzan

Grew up in the UK. Studied in Japan. Malaysian at heart.

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