Thursday 29th May 2009
Zikr lesson for the week
Mutual goodwill between the nafs and ruh ___________________________________________________________________________________
Man can conceptualize things that exist in the material universe; however, we cannot form a mental picture of the things that exist ‘outside’ the material universe. For example when Allah (swt) describes paradise He says that in it contains things that “our eyes haven’t seen”. So, it is difficult to form a concept of those things which we have no knowledge of. When Prophet Muhammad (saw) went on the Mi’raj he described the leaves of the Lot Tree as being as big as the ears of an elephant. How can we explain this? We can only conceptualize and describe those things that Allah (swt) has given us sure knowledge of.
The human personality comprises of two things, one that grew from the material universe and the other came from outside the material universe. Our bodies grew from the material universe and our ruh came from the “command from Allah (swt)”. The ruh is not a material creation and proof of this can be found in Surah Isra;
وَيَسْأَلُونَكَ عَنِ الرُّوحِ قُلِ الرُّوحُ مِنْ أَمْرِ رَبِّي وَمَا أُوتِيتُمْ مِنَ الْعِلْمِ إِلاَّ قَلِيلاً
“They ask thee concerning the ruh . Say: "The Spirit (ruh) (cometh) by command of my Lord: of knowledge it is only a little that is communicated to you, (O men!)”
(Chapter 17, verse 85)
We cannot explain or describe the ruh through reason and logic because it is not confined to boundaries such as space and time. We can’t ‘experiment’ on it. Even though the ruh is part of our personality there are so many things to it that we cannot understand.
While the ruh possesses immense spiritual powers it still maintains a connection with, and can benefit from the material universe. For example before the ruh came into the material universe where was it? Prophet Muhammad (saw) is reported to have said “I was a Prophet while Adam was still between water and clay”. When was Prophet (saw) given the title of rahmatul lil alameen? When he came into the material universe and functioned. Only then his real personality emerged. The ruh needs the material universe to develop, grow and prepare for the next life.
Islam is so different from the other religions. For example the Christians view the world as evil so they must separate from it in order to win the favours of Jesus (as). So, some of them live a life of celibacy and retreat to monasteries. Their philosophy is to subdue the physical self in order to grow the spiritual self. In Islam we need the material universe, which was created by Allah (swt), in order for us to gain physical benefit. The wise person will culture both aspects of the human personality in order to benefit in the next life.
The ruh has tremendous possibilities and it can be the access for us to understand some of the things that we cannot conceive. For example Allah (swt) says in Surah Ghafir;
رَفِيعُ الدَّرَجَاتِ ذُو الْعَرْشِ يُلْقِي الرُّوحَ مِنْ أَمْرِهِ عَلَى مَنْ يَشَاءُ مِنْ عِبَادِهِ لِيُنْذِرَ يَوْمَ التَّلاَقِ
“Raised high above ranks (or degrees), (He is) the Lord of the Throne (of Authority): by His Command doth He send the Spirit (of inspiration) to any of His servants He pleases, that it may warn (men) of the Day of Mutual Meeting,”
(Chapter 40, verse 15)
In this case the ‘spirit of inspiration’ refers to Angel Jibreel.
There is no doubt that the universe is beautiful and Allah (swt) has mentioned to us that He has created the universe as a trial from man. He says is Suah Kahf
إِنَّا جَعَلْنَا مَا عَلَى الأَرْضِ زِينَةً لَهَا لِنَبْلُوَهُمْ أَيُّهُمْ أَحْسَنُ عَمَلاً
“That which is on earth We have made but as a glittering show for the earth, in order that We may test them - as to which of them are best in conduct”
(Chapter 18, verse 7)
If you are taken up with material beauty and ignore the spiritual dimension what will become of you in the next life. Our goal in life is to create ‘mutual goodwill’ between the nafs and ruh. They need to work together in order for the human personality to grow. For example through your nafs you will be able to get up to perform the fajir salaat and through this effort the ruh will benefit. Strengthen your ruh through your nafs and on That Day both the ruh and nafs will become one. When Prophet Muhammad (saw) will give the believers a drink from Kawthar all the barriers between the ruh and nafs wil be removed. No longer will the nafs contradict the ruh. That drink will purify you.
Remember we will be tested by Allah (swt) and we should use these trials as a means of aligning the nafs with the ruh. Purify yourself so that your ruh and nafs can work together, hand in hand, and through this you will be able to build a strong personality, and on the Promised Day, you will achieve Hayatan Tayyiba – a life that is good and pure.