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Saturday, June 14, 2003  

An Exposition of the Way in which a Man may Discover the Faults in his Soul Know that when God (Exalted is He!) wishes His bondsman well, He grants him insight into the faults which lie in his soul. The faults of a man of perfect insight are never hidden from him, and whosoever knows his faults is in a position to treat them. Most people, however, are ignorant of the faults of their souls, and might see the mote in their brother's eye but not the beam which lies in their own. There are four ways by which the man who would know the faults of his soul may do so. Firstly, he should sit before a Shaykh who has insight into these faults and hidden weaknesses and put him in authority over his soul, and follow the instructions he gives in connection with his struggle therewith, as is the place of the aspirant with his Shaykh; this latter will ascertain these faults, and explain to him the method by which they should be treated. However, such a man is hardly to be found in this age. Secondly, he may seek out a true, perceptive and religious friend, and appoint him to be the overseer of his soul, so that he notes his circumstances and deeds, and brings to his attention the inner and external faults, acts and traits which he finds dislikeable in him. This was the practice of the wise men and the great leaders of Faith: 'Umar (may God be pleased with him) used to say, 'May God grant His mercy to a man who shows me my faults'. And he used to ask Salman about his faults when they met, saying, 'What things have you heard about me that you find dislikeable?' Salman pleaded to be excused answering this, but when he insisted, replied, 'I have heard that you once ate two kinds of food at one meal, and that you have two sets of clothing, one to wear at night and the other for the day'. 'Have you heard anything else?' he enquired, and he said that he had not. 'These two things,' he said, 'I now renounce'. He used also to question Hudhayfa, saying, 'You were the confidant of God's Emissary (may God bless him and grant him peace) in the matter of the Hypocrites. Can you see any of the signs of hypocrisy in me?' In this way used he to accuse himself, despite his great worth and exalted position, for the greater a man's intelligence and position the less impressed will he be with himself and more often will he engage in self-accusation. This too, however, is rarely to be found. Few indeed are the friends who do not resort to flattery, but tell one about one's faults instead, and who harbour no envy. Among your friends you must needs have one is jealous, or who has an ulterior motive, who deems something a fault when it is not, or a flatterer who conceals some of your defects from you. It was for this reason that Daud al-Ta'i renounced all human company, and said, when asked why, 'What can I do with people who hide my faults from me?' It was ever the desire of religious people to discover their faults through being told of them by other; however, things have come to such a pass with us that the most hateful of all people are those who counsel us and draw our attention to our defects. This is almost expressive of a weakness in our faith, for bad traits of character are vipers and stinging scorpions, and were someone to tell us that under our clothes there lurked a scorpion we would account this a great favour, and be delighted, and would occupy ourselves with removing and killing the scorpion in question. Yet the injury and pain it could cause to the body would last no more than a day, while the ugly traits of character cause an injury in the very core of one's heart, which, it may be feared, will endure even after death and for evermore, or for thousands of years. Nevertheless, we are not delighted when someone calls these things to our notice, nor do we busy ourselves with removing them; instead we repay the one who thus counsels us in kind, and say, 'What about you? You also do this, that and the other,' so that resentment towards him distracts us from gaining any profit by his advice. This is a kind of hardness in the heart produced by many sins, which in turn are the consequence of weak faith. Therefore we ask God (Exalted is He!) that through His grace and generosity He should inspire us with right guidance, show us the faults of our souls, occupy us with treating them, and guide us to thank those who reveal such weaknesses to us. The third way is to learn of the faults of one's soul by listening to the statements of one's enemies, for a hostile eye brings out defects: it may happen that a man gains more from an enemy and a foe who reminds him of his faults than from a dissimulating friend who praises and speaks highly of him, and hides from him his faults. Although human nature is inclined to disbelieve an enemy and to interpret his statements as the fruit of envy, still, the man of insight, whose faults must necessarily be noised abroad in the statements of his foes, will not fail to derive some benefit. The fourth way is to mingle with people, and to attribute to oneself every blameworthy thing which one sees in them. For 'the believers are mirrors one to another', and recognise their own faults in the faults of others, knowing that temperaments are similar in the following of desire, and that every attribute in a man must be shared by his associate to some degree; thus one will come to scrutinise one's own soul and cleanse it of everything one finds blameworthy in others. This constitutes the highest degree of self-discipline. Were all people only to renounce the things they dislike in others they would not need anyone to discipline them. Jesus (upon whom be peace) was once asked, 'Who taught you?' 'I was taught by no-one,' he replied. 'I perceived the ignorance of the ignorant man, and avoided it'. All of the above are devices which may be resorted to by those who have no gnostic Shaykh, who is intelligent, insightful into the faults of the soul, and compassionate, who gives one counsel in the affairs of religion, and who, having completed the refinement of his own soul, occupies himself with counselling and refining the souls of other bondsmen of God. Whosoever finds such a man has found his physician, and should stay with him, for it is he who will deliver him from his sickness and from the destruction which lies before him. -Hujjatul Islam, Imam Abu Hamid al-Ghazali, The Revival of the Religious Sciences (Ihya' 'Ulum ad-Din) Translated by Shaykh 'Abdul Hakim Murad (may Allah reward him for his effort and initiative)

posted by SuFiSTiC | 6/14/2003 09:05:00 AM |
As for him who fears to stand before his Lord and restrains the ego its desires, the Garden is shelter.
(The Snatchers:40)
Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said, "The Fire is surrounded by all kinds of desires and passions, while Paradise is surrounded by all kinds of disliked, undesirable things."
Whoever does good at night is rewarded during the day and whoever does good during the day is rewarded at night. Whoever is sincere in abandoning a desire is saved from catering to it. God is too noble to punish a heart that has abandoned a desire for His sake.
(Abu Sulayman ad-Darani)
Beware of your ego, and trust not its mischief;
The ego is worse than seventy devils.
(Arabic Poem)
Abu Bakar Balkhi
Md Mubaraq
Md Firdaus

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I seek God's forgiveness, and do not claim that my intention in producing this Blog is confined to good religious purposes; how may I do so when I am aware of the hidden desires, egotistic passions, and worldly wishes that I harbour? I do not claim innocence for myself; the ego is indeed an inciter to evil, save when my Lord shows mercy; my Lord is indeed Forgiving, Merciful. O God! I seek Your protection against my committing idolatry [shirk] knowingly, and Your forgiveness for that of which I am not aware! I ask God to make me and all other believers benefit from this Blog and to render my production of it purely for the sake of His Noble Countenance.

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