ISLAAH OF THE NAFS

Question
Currently I have many Islaahi issues.
Greed and coveting desire: The desire for bestial pleasure and zina of the eyes exists to a very large degree within me and it is a very difficult struggle to fight against these desires. Also, I find it very difficult to do good deeds, even the fardh ones such as Salaat.
Anger: I think because of my arrogance/ego I get angry when someone says something bad about me or even if they correctly criticise me. I can also be impatient because of my ego which leads me to get angry.
Falsehood: Sometimes I make jokes and include falsehoods in them to make others laugh more. Sometimes I lie to avoid getting in bigger trouble.
Ostentation/show: I get happy when I am praised for something. I clearly I lack Ikhlaas. Also I get happy on the inside when people see me praying in the Masjid. I have a desire that people think I am pious.
Vanity: I like to let others know the accomplishments I have made and think I am very great because of them. I wish that others hear of my accomplishments and respect me. I forget that it is only because of Allah that I have been able to achieve anything.
Pride: I find it very difficult to consider myself worse than people when I see them committing sins publicly even though I know this is the wrong attitude. I definitely suffer from pride and think I am more intelligent than others etc. I sometimes do not let others speak and instead speak over them because I think I am better than them. My pride also leads to anger as I think that nobody should be able to criticise me.
Love for Fame: I wish that others honour and respect me and listen to me and I wish to be the leader in situations. Sometimes I commit sins just so that I can ‘fit in’ with others (for example backbiting). I care about others’ opinions of me and want attention from others.
Love of the world: I have strong desires to ‘have fun’ in life which is basically by hankering after the world and wasting time enjoying myself with friends instead of focusing on the real purpose of life. I wish to purchase the newest gadgets and I also joke and laugh too much. I also engage in futile talk and waste precious time.
Hypocrisy: I act in such a way that others think I am pious when in reality I am one of the worst of sinners.
These are just the Islaahi issues which I can think of presently. There are definitely more which have not come to mind or I am not aware of. I humbly request advice and guidance. Please suggest a daily routine for me.
ANSWER AND
NASEEHAT
The spiritual maladies listed by you are to be found in most people. To initiate the process of Islaah (moral reformation) for curing these maladies, you have to engage in Muraaqabah-e-Maut and Qabr. While it is imperative to apply pressure and struggle (make mujaahadah) against nafsaani desires, it is essential to cultivate fear for Allah Ta’ala. Such fear will simplify the process of Mujaahadah against the nafs. Fear will open up the blinded spiritual eyes. Then one will be better able to understand and see the realities of the evils of the nafs and the snares of Iblees.
Every night spend a few minutes in seclusion and meditate on the unbearable pangs of Maut and the torments of the Qabar. By doing so nightly on a regular basis, Insha-Allah, fear will develop in you.
All the ills listed by you are generally the effects of a kind of ‘atheism’ which lurks in the heart without one realizing it. A Muslim claims verbally that Allah Ta’ala is Omnipresent – that He sees and watches us every moment. The Muslim believes that there are two Recording Angels alongside him 24 hours of the day. Despite these verbal professions, when the urge develops to sin, he selects to become spiritually blind of the Presence of Allah Ta’ala and the Recording Angels. This is the evidence for the ‘atheism’ in his heart. This spiritual corrosion can be cured by Muraaqaba-e-Maut and Qabr which generates Fear.
Rasulullah (Sallallahu alayhi wasallam) said that Remembrance of Death (Maut) polishes the heart by eliminating the spiritual corrosion which darkens the heart and blinds its vision.
Regarding a daily routine, start off with permanent Thikrullaah. In all states, whether walking, sitting, reclining or working, keep the tongue engaged in the Thikr of Laailaha il lallaah. Keep strict guard of the tongue and eyes. Most spiritual pollution which contaminates and ruins the Baatin (spiritual heart) enters via these two avenues. Whenever the urge for sin develops, immediately engage the tongue in Thikrullaah and focus on the Presence of Allah Ta’ala Who is watching you, and understand that the two Angels at your side are ready to record your misdeeds.
Spend a few minutes in seclusion and recite Laailaha il lallaah 500 times. Be punctual with Ishraaq and Chasht Namaaz. Strive to always be with Wudhu. Make Tahajjud incumbent on yourself. If you are presently so weak as not to be able to wake up after midnight, then before sleeping perform four Rak’ats with the niyyat of Tahajjud. Drastically reduce your association with people. Meet them only when necessary.
Stay away from all jalsahs and functions. Today all jalsahs/functions are merrymaking ploys and plots of shaitaan. These bid’ah haraam functions are plastered with some deeni hues and presented as Deeni programmes when in reality they are bestial at the behest of the nafs. Israaf, Riya and Takabbur are their hallmarks. May Allah Ta’ala guide and protect you.
The above-explained prescription is a bare outline or skeleton. The struggle against the nafs is a life-long process. It is essential to constantly read the life stories, episodes and advices of the Auliya. From their anecdotes you will gain a better understanding of what is expected of a person in the Path leading to Allah Ta’ala.

Break Your Soul as You Break Your Fast

“Allāh is Subtle with His Slaves…” [1]

One of the deeper intents and aims of fasting is for us to learn the art of self-restraint. When Allāh (subḥānahu wa taʿālā) revealed the verse of fasting [2], He concluded that it has been prescribed so that we may gain piety. Now, piety comes in many different forms, but a lot of these forms share a common characteristic and that is they all entail the practice of self-restraint.

In a powerful statement made by Dhūl-Nūn al-Miṣrī, he said: “Do not argue with your Lord on behalf of your soul; rather argue with your soul on behalf of your Lord.” In our current time and era, the message we often hear and learn to adopt in our lives is a message in complete contrast to this.

We are often encouraged to be bold and confident, to always seek and go after what our Nafs(self) desires (Hedonism) and sadly, numerous are the justifications we grant ourselves when doing this. Often this leads to frightening levels of deeply-rooted arrogance, lack of humility and a complete inability to go against ourselves. This easily grants authority and power to our Nafs and naturally, it weakens our resolve, will and inner strength. When this happens, it is our Nafs that then takes the lead and governs us at every point of life. Allāh (subḥānahu wa taʿālā) has said,

“Have you seen he who has taken as his god his [own] desire, and Allāh has sent him astray due to knowledge and has set a seal upon his hearing and his heart and put over his vision a veil? So who will guide him after Allāh? Then will you not be reminded?” [3]

We may read this verse and immediately think of others, but turning the tables a little, how often have we allowed our unrestrained Nafs to make decisions for us which we then followed? How often have we submitted to it and allowed it to take the position of a god over us? Indeed, something to think about.

Ramaḍān is all about reversing this dangerous momentum. It is a time when we voluntary restrain ourselves from basic needs such as food and drink, and we restrain ourselves from our desires and anything which may lead to sin or even idle deeds of no benefit. When you starve the soul of its fuel, it begins to weaken. It then descends from the high authoritative ground it once basked in and it begins to return once again as a slave, under your authority. This will then allow you to steer it towards piety, and so at every stage of your life when you come across testing moments where you battle with your soul, this power you now have over it will allow you to always make the right decisions; decisions that are purely for Allāh (subḥānahu wa taʿālā) and the goodness of our soul and not based merely on desire and the call of the Nafs.

As we train in this month, it’s highly crucial that we learn the art of self-restraint. It is not just food, drink and intimate relations that we abstain from; rather these are just primers to help us go forth because ahead of us are numerous other things which we are to abstain from in order to reach our goal: the breaking and humbling of the Nafs and the subsequent gain of piety. It’s a training ground for us to restrain ourselves from anger, arguments, and fighting. From selfishness, greed and bad desire. From lying, dishonesty, gossiping and sins of the tongue. From impatience, rudeness, harshness and bad opinion of others. In a nutshell, it’s a time to restrain ourselves from all that is bad news for our Hereafter, and the intelligent person will realise that this is not just for Ramaḍān, but it is what Allāh (subḥānahu wa taʿālā) generally wants from his believing slaves.

Finally, just as we practise self-restraint, it’s equally important that we give our soul something else to fill the void with. As the famous Arabic saying goes, “Your soul, if you do not busy it with the Khayr (good), it shall busy you with evil.” So just as you remove, make sure you are also adding and bringing a better replacement into your life by way of virtuous actions.

Let’s strive in whatever concerns the affairs of our souls so that we can develop these souls of ours and return them to our Creator in a state which pleases Him…

“O reassured soul Return to your Lord, well-pleased and pleasing [to Him]. And enter among My [righteous] servants. And enter My Paradise.” [4]

Tips:

  • Ask Allāh (subḥānahu wa taʿālā) for piety. Ask Him to help you over your Nafs and make you a better slave to Him.
  • Watch out for those testing moments in life where you have to make a choice, then always choose the way of piety and choose that which is better and will bring you relief and joy on the Day when souls are gathered.
  • Utilise your fasting days and seize every opportunity weaken the soul from evil and instead strengthen it upon the good.
  • Replace the evil with good. As we break away from idle chatter, gossip and backbiting, let’s instead engage the tongue in Qur’ānic recitation, Dhikr (remembrance) and good words. Likewise, as we remove bad habits from our life, let’s replace them with habits of virtue so that we are not simply starving our souls but rather we starve them from the unhealthy and feed them with the nutritious.

Sources: www.islam21c.com

This article has been cross-posted from SOLACE UK.

Notes:

[1] Al-Qur’ān 42:19[2] Al-Qur’ān 2:183[3] Al-Qur’ān 45:23[4] Al-Qur’ān 89:27-30

ISLAAH OF THE NAFS

ISLAAH OF THE NAFS
“The Mashaaikh would first attend to islaah (moral reformation) of mureeds before prescribing wazaa-if (specific forms of thikr) and nawaafil (Nafl acts of ibaadat). Only after having achieved moral reformation would they commence teaching in the higher spheres of Sulook. The emphasis was first on reforming and correcting the external actions and eliminating evil attributes. However, nowadays many Shaikhs pay no heed to this requirement. In consequence, although the mureedeen become adept in auraad and wazaa-if, the evil and bestial attributes remain grounded in them. They therefore do not care to differentiate between halaal and haraam nor are they concerned with truth and falsehood.”
These observations of Hadhrat Hakimul Ummat Maulana Thanvi (rahmatullah alayh) have gained considerable prominence in the present age. Even Shaikhs linked to the Akaabir Mashaaikh have drifted from the Path of Sulook. Islaah of the Nafs is no longer a vital requirement in their agenda of Tasawwuf. They have confined Tasawwuf to a handful of wazeefas such as Khatm-e-Khwaajgaan, halqah thikr, 40 Duroods, Khatm-e-Yaaseen, etc. Swinging the head to and fro in the special forms of Thikr is a great accomplishment in their understanding of Sulook. In the process of this misconception of Tasawwuf the maladies of ujub, takabbur and hasad have become salient features of the new crop of khalifas and their mureeds.
WORSENING OF MALADIES
Maulana Thanvi (rahmatullah alayh) said:  “Sometimes when a man suffers from spiritual maladies (ujub, takabbur, riya, etc.), then abundance of athkaar (plural of thikr) and auraad (plural of wird), worsens the diseases.
The need therefore is for mujaahadah (striving) against the nafs so that one does not become entrapped in ujub (vanity) and takabbur (pride) after having rendered a virtuous deed. lslaah of spiritual diseases has priority over athkaar and auraad.
The early Sufiyya paid particular heed to moral reformation. But today people are indifferent and do not bother about this vital need. Inspite of people staying in the company of Shaikhs and participating in their shaghl and wird, they do not achieve islaah of the nafs. The spiritual diseases which in reality are kabeerah (major) sins remain embedded and uncured in them. The mureed (in this mire) on seeing some dreams, considers himself to be a buzroog. But it should be remembered that the habit of sinning cannever coexist with wilaayat (sainthood).”