The right path is about self-purification
It is tempting for people to say that liberalism or consumerism or hedonism or scientism are the modern idols. However, in every matter, one should always look for the root cause of things.
The Prophet is said to have remarked, “May he be miserable, the worshipper of the dinar and dirham, and the worshipper of velvet and silk…” (Al-Bukhari)
So, people who make earning money and wallowing in luxury the purpose of their life can be said to worship money and luxury. At the core of it, idolatry is about setting up rivals to God that will swerve one’s heart from complete devotion to God. Whenever one favours something over God’s pleasure, that thing becomes one’s idol. There are, thus, so many idols. However, the root cause of all forms of idolatry is the self: “I”.
Following the urgings of the lower self or ego, in the pursuit of what one imagines is one’s self interest, is at the root of this for instance, favouring one’s own comfort, that prevented one from investigation and research to discover the truth; one’s pride, that prevented one from listening to good advice; one’s greed, that urged one on to accumulate more; one’s lust or one’s desire for acceptance and recognition. And so on.
Imam Ibn al-Qayyim (r.a.) said, a servant does not become “rabbani” (wholly devoted to the Lord) until he fulfills the following stages of struggle against their self.
The struggle to learn the truth
The struggle to act upon it and comply with it
The struggle to invite to it
The struggle to endure the hardship and harm on this path for the sake of God.
Let us remember that the right spiritual path is not about trying to crush the ego, but, rather, about uplifting it, and the struggle against the self is the ultimate struggle for it. He has succeeded who purifies it. (91:9)