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Wednesday, June 02, 2004  

On Opposing the Ego (Mukhalafat al-nafs) and Remembering One’s Faults (Dhikr uyubiha) God Most High has said, “As for him who fears to stand before his Lord and restrains the ego [animal soul] its desires, the garden is shelter” (79:40) Ali bin Ahmad bin Abdan informed us through Jabir that the Messenger of God said, “The worst of what I fear for my community is the pursuit of passion and ambition for the future, for the passions leads away from the truth, while ambition makes one forget the next world.” So know that opposing the ego (nafs ammarah, the animal soul, the passions throughout the chapter) is the beginning of worship. The shaykhs, asked about submission to God—Islam—have said that it means to slaughter the ego with the swords of opposition to it. You should know that when the disasters of the ego rise in a person, the glories of intimacy with God set. Dhu-l-Nun al-Misri said, “The key to worship is reflection. The sign of attaining the mark is to oppose the ego and its desires. To oppose the ego is to abandon what it craves.” Ibn Ata said, “The ego is disposed to bad conduct while the servant is commanded to observe the rule of behavior, so the ego falls by its nature into the arena of things to be actively resisted, and the servant with effort can turn it back from the evil of its wishes. He who gives it free rein is partner to its corruption.” I heard Abu Abd al-Rahmah al-Sulami say Junayd said, “The ego [animal soul] summons to dangers, assists enemies, pursues whims, and is to be suspected of every sort of wickedness.” Abu Hafs said, “Whoever does not suspect his ego at every moment, oppose it in all circumstances, and drag it toward what it hates for all his days, has been fooled. Whoever looks at it expecting any good from it has caused his ruins.” How can an intelligent person be satisfied with himself while the noble, son of the noble, son of the noble, son of the noble—Joseph the son of Jacob, the son of Isaac, the son of Abraham the Friend of God—says, “I do not absolve myself, for the ego [animal soul] commands to wrongdoing” (12:53)! I heard Muhammad bin al-Husayn say that Junayd said, “One night I could not sleep. I got up to make my private devotions but was unable to find the sweetness and delight I usually find in conversations with my Lord. I was troubled and amazed. I wanted to sleep but was not able. I sat but could not endure the sitting. So I opened the door and went outside. There in the street lay a man wrapped in a cloak. When he felt my presence he raised his head and said, ‘O Abu-l-Qasim, finally!’ ‘Sir,’ I said, ‘no appointment was made.’ ‘Rather I asked the Mover of the Hearts to move your heart towards me,’ he replied. ‘He has done that,’ I told him. ‘What is your need?’ ‘When does the disease of the ego [animal soul] become its cure?’ he asked. ‘When the ego [animal soul] opposes its desire, its disease becomes its cure,’ I answered. Directing himself to his ego, he said, ‘Listen! I have given you this answer seven times and you refused to hear it except from Junayd. So now you have heard it!’ He turned away from me. I did not know him, and I have never come across him again.” Abu Bakr al-Tamastani said, “The greatest blessing is to escape from the ego, because the ego is the greatest veil between you and God Almighty and Glorious.” Sahl ibn Abd Allah said, “There is no way to worship God equal to opposing the ego and its caprice.” I heard Muhammad bin al-Husayn say that Ibn Ata was asked what thing most quickly brings on God’s wrath. He said, “Looking upon the ego and its states, the worst of which is the expectation of compensation for its acts.” And I heard him say that Ibrahim al-Khawwas said, “I was on the mountain of al-Lukam [in Damascus] when I saw some pomegranates and wanted them. I came up, took one, and broke it open, but finding it sour I went away and left them. Then I saw a man lying on the ground. He was covered with hornets. ‘Peace be upon you,’ I greeted him. ‘And upon you be peace, Ibrahim!’ he replied. ‘How do you know me?’ I asked. ‘Nothing is hidden from one who knows God Most High,’ said he. ‘I see that your state is with God Most High,’ I said. ‘If only you would ask Him to shelter and protect you from the torment of those hornets!’ ‘And I see that your state is with God Most High.’ He returned. ‘If only you would ask him to protect you from the desire for pomegranates! For a man but finds the pain of the sting of hornets in this world, while he finds the pain of the sting of pomegranates in the next!’ So I left him and went away.” It is told that Ibrahim bin Shayban said, “I did not sleep under my own roof or in any place that had a lock upon it for forty years. Many times I desired to eat a meal of lentils, but it did not come about. Then one time in Damascus, an earthen vessel full of lentils was presented to me. I ate out of it and was leaving when I saw glasses to which were clinging what seemed to be drops of liquid. I had thought the vessel clean, but somebody said to me, ‘What are you looking at? Those are wine dregs, and that jug is a wine jug!’ ‘I must carry out a duty.’ I said to myself. So I went into the wineseller’s shop and kept pouring out that jug. He supposed I was emptying it by order of the Sultan. When he knew that it was not so, he dragged me to the judge Ibn Tulun who ordered that I be flogged with 200 lashes and thrown me into prison. There I stayed for awhile, until my teacher, Abu Abd Allah al-Maghribi, came to that city. He interceded for me. When his eyes fell upon me, he asked me ‘What have you done?’ ‘A meal of lentils and two hundred lashes,’ I said. ‘You have been protected by shields against the true punishment,’ he told me.” I heard Abu Abd al-Rahman al-Sulami say that Sari al-Saqati said, “My ego has been pleading with me for thirty or forty years to dip a carrot into date syrup, and I have not fed it!” And I heard him say that he heard my grandfather say, “The bane of the servant is his satisfaction with himself as he is.” I also heard him say that Husayn bin Ali al-Qirmisini said, “I am ibn Yusuf, the Amir of Balkh, who sent a gift to Hatim al-Asamm, who received it from him.” Asked why he did so, he said, “In accepting it I found humiliation for me and honor for him, while in returning it was honor for me and humiliation for him, so I chose his honor over mine and my humiliation over his.” Someone told a Sufi, “I want to go on the pilgrimage free of material support.” He answered, “First free your heart from distraction, your ego from frivolity, and your tongue form nonsense—then travel however you wish!” Abu Sulayman al-Darani said, “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.” God, glory to Him, revealed to David, “O David, beware! Warn your companions about devouring the objects of desire. When people’s hearts are tied to the desires of this world, their intelligence is veiled from Me.” A man was seen seated in mid-air. Someone asked him, “Why were you granted this?” “I gave up idle desire (hawa),” he said, “and the air (hawa; a play on words because hawa means both) became subject to me.” It is said that if a thousand desires were presented to a believer he would drive them away through fear of God, while if a single desire were presented to a libertine, it would drive fear of God away from him. It is said, “Do not give your bridle into the hand of caprice, for it will lead you into darkness.” Yusuf bin Asbat said, “Nothing will extinguish desires from the heart except an unsettling fear or a troubled yearning.” Al-Khawwas said, “Whoever gives up a desire and does not find the recompense for it in his heart is lying about having given it up.” Jafar bin Nisar said, “Junayd gave me a dirham and said, ‘Go and buy me Waziri figs.’ I bought them, and when he broke fast he took one and put it in his mouth. Then he spit it out, wept, and said, ‘Take them away!’ I asked him about this. He said, ‘A voice spoke in my heart saying, “Aren’t you ashamed? A desire you gave up for My sake—now you are returning to it!”’” They recite: The last letter of disgrace has been stolen from desire. The victim of every desire is a victim of disgrace. Know that the ego possesses contemptible characteristics, and one of them is envy. -Imam Abu-l-Qasim al-Qushayri, Principles of Sufism (Risalah Qushayriyyah)

posted by Abubak'r | 6/02/2004 01:34:00 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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