The self actualisation of Abraham

What is it that we as human beings need to survive; and in what order?


Do we, as the famous sociologist Abraham Maslow puts it, first need food and clothing above all else? Or is it a strong faith that ensures our survival?


Maslow’s pyramid of self actualization:

Picture from:

Prophet Abraham (may God be pleased with him) speaks of a different kind of self fulfilment than Maslow; showing us that as humans we need a relationship with God, first and foremost, even before food and drink.


In a prayer related in the Quran, Allah tells the last Prophet, Muhammad (peace be upon him) what Abraham asked his Lord to provide for his wife and child upon leaving them stranded in the desert.


“Oh Our Lord! I have made some of my offspring to dwell in a valley without cultivation, By Thy Sacred House; In order, Oh our Lord, that they may establish regular prayer; So fill the hearts of some among men with love towards them, And feed them with Fruits: So that they may give thanks.” (Koran: Chapter 14; Verse 37)


In the prayer, the order of needs is illustrated as being:


  1. Spiritual needs: “establish regular prayer”
  2. Social needs: “fill the hearts of some among men with love towards them”
  3. Physiological needs: “feed them with fruits”  

This illustrates that, in the mind of Prophet Abraham, mankind’s relationship with God – man’s spiritual needs – are the base and most important of human needs. This must be established through “talking” to God, via prayer. Only after this do other needs come into play.


While many may be in favour of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, Prophet Abraham captured the true reality of man. We all need God in order to survive, as He is our Sustainer and without Him, we will not survive. Food or not; there will always be something to bring us down if we have no real faith, whether in this life or the next.



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