بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمَنِ الرَّ حِيْمِ
One of the greatness of the mission of Prophet Muhammad (pboh) is that he was able to help and teach us how to trim off all the unwanted habits and desires of the human personality. This process is referred to as Tazkiyah nafs or purification of the baser self.
Prophet (pboh) was commanded to rehearse the Signs of Allah, to teach the people everything about the working of the Allah; to sanctify them and to teach them the wisdom of the Book, etc. His mission therefore is to develop the entire all round personality of a believer and to make him a true representative of Allah on earth.
Now the nafs has some peculiar habits and qualities. Because the nafs is the energy produced from working of the human’s physical self, it is inclined to all things material. At its baser self; the nafs does not care about moral etiquette etc. Instead it just wants pleasure, comfort and all the materially attractive things.
But the nafs is one of the ideal dimensions of the personality that Allah has given to man to represent Him on earth; because it is through the nafs we can display the Divine Attributes of Allah in our finite way; such as generosity, kindness, compassion etc. The ruh, which is the other dimension of the human personality, cannot be contaminated. The ruh is connected to the nafs, thus the nafs can impact upon the ruh and the ruh can also affect the nafs. Both entities are energies. One is energy that came from the command of God and the other is energy that comes from the working of the physical body.
Now if the energy that is generated from the physical body is pure energy it will coordinate positively with the ruh and through this you can achieve real peace inside of you. If however, the nafs emits negative energy; it will be a direct contradiction with the ruh and you will not have peace. And we see this ever so often; some people have all the wealth and status in the world and still they suffer from a lack of peace.
All of us would like peace and the only way of achieving it is to prune or trim out the unwanted desires and habits from our personalities. This however is an individual matter and no one can do it for you. This is the real jihad. Why do I call it a jihad? Jihad which usually connotates to fighting against some evil; thus we are fighting the negative energy that is being generated inside of us. Possibly this is why Prophet Muhammad (pboh) is reported to have said “I have returned from the small Jihad (Jihad Asghar) to the big Jihad (Jihad Akbar)”. The Sahabas enquired “what is the big Jihad?” Prophet (pboh) said “the Jihad al nafs (inner desires).”
To take it a step further; when Allah cursed Satan for his disobedience, Satan vowed that he would openly attack the progeny of Adam. So before we came into this world we had an open enemy. And the base ingredient of losing the battle against Satan is to follow his handiwork and Allah specifies the handiwork of the devil as being intoxicants and games of chance.
And today society is in a downward spiral because of the prevalence of drugs, alcohol, and greed. So we see the tangible manifestation of the workings of Satan
For those who do not succumb to the devil’s handiwork he uses a different strategy. He works on your intentions and desires. Look at how he got Adam and Eve to disobey Allah in the Garden of Eden. Can you imagine how long he would have worked and played on the mind of Eve to get her and thereafter Adam to abandon their obedience and obey their baser desire? The same goes for us. Every day is a new battle.
We need to humble ourselves and understand that Satan is our open enemy. Let us sincerely try our best to purify our intentions and desires so that our nafs will only be producing positive energy. The choice is ours.
Material possessions and acquisitions are nice as it can enable us to have a comfortable stay in this world however one day we will all inevitably leave everything behind. Create that right balance that allows you time to work for this world and also the hereafter. What we’re leaving behind must always be secondary; what we are sending in front of us is really important. Am I sending beautiful, positive things that my Lord will be pleased with or am I sending things that will drag me in the abyss?
Whenever we recap topics like this is always nice to reflect on the As'hab us-Suffah or the founding sufis as they referred to. They lived in the Prophet’s (pboh) mosque and were only engaged in worldly matters out of necessity. And later when the Prophet (pboh) left this world they were the ones that really spread Islam all over the continents. And if we looked at some of them, they had all the power and status one could want before they went to live with the Prophet (pboh) in his mosque. Why did they pay so little heed to this world and gave up everything they would have worked for? It goes to show that not everything can be deduced through scientific reason and logic and material assets.
We beg Allah to forgive us all, to bless us and to guide us so that there will only be positivity emanating from our personality, insha Allah.
Transcript of discourse delivered by
Maulana Dr. Waffie Mohammed