Prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him) said that he feared two things would be the downfall of his ummah or followers- greed and desire. Both of these originate from the mouth (palate) and the private parts. When a person makes his or her desires overtake the framework of Islam, the desires start controlling thought and action. A person loses the ability to see desire as a human weakness, but instead starts following them blindly.
Desires can be of many kinds- the desire for wealth, possessions, authority, beauty, strength, virility, or the desire for children or women. Greed for more, combined with uncontrolled desires, is a recipe for a disaster. Allah reminds us of the danger of letting greed and desire rule us, instead of submitting to His will:
Have you seen the one who takes as his god his own desire? Then would you be responsible for him?….They are not except like livestock. (The Quran, Chapter 25, Verses 43-44).
The first part of the above verse makes a very serious statement. Replacing God with anything is an unforgivable act of shirk or associating partners with Allah. It is the sole right of our Creator to be worshiped and to be obeyed. By making our desires a “god”, which we follow and obey, and live for its attainment, we commit the gravest sin of shirk, casting ourselves eternally into hell-fire. Temptations, greed and desires are satan’s vile methods of leading people astray:
Beautified for those who disbelieve is the life of this world, and they ridicule those who believe. But those who fear Allah are above them on the Day of Resurrection… (The Quran, Chapter 2 Verse 212).
People who follow their desires wantonly without the moderation of faith, and the belief that they are answerable to Allah for their actions, have been likened to animals who have no control over their base instincts, and no higher purpose to fulfill in life.
Many people believe that their youth and adulthood is to be used primarily for indulgence and for the fulfillment of their greed and desire. Once these are completely satisfied, their old age can be conveniently used for the remembrance of Allah and to secure a place in jannah. However, we must realize that no one knows how long he or she will live. As Muslims, we are to submit our own will, needs and desires to the commands of Allah, and live each day as if it were our last. And Allah reminds us of our duty to be submissive to Him, “O you who have believed, fear Allah as He should be feared and do not die except as Muslims [in submission to Him]” (The Quran, Chapter 3, Verse 102).
The clear path to protecting ourselves from Satan, and ultimately from hell-fire, is simple. Allah gives us the example of a person “who sells himself, seeking means to the approval of Allah” and commands us to “enter into Islam completely [and perfectly] and do not follow the footsteps of Satan…” (The Quran, Chapter 2 Verses 207-208).