< Thoughts & Readings

Wednesday, September 01, 2004  

Concerning Some of the Spiritual Dangers Posed by the Lower Self [afat an-nafs] Among the spiritual dangers posed by the lower self [afat an-nafs], one is its dependence on acquiring praise, a good reputation, and the approval of fellow creatures. To that end, it is even prepared to endure the burdens imposed by acts of worshipful service ['ibadat]. In order to do so, it must resort to ostentation [riya'] and hypocrisy [nifaq]. The symptom of this is apparent in its return to laziness and indifference, as soon as the performance is over, along with the risk of criticism from other people. You will not become clearly aware of the spiritual dangers posed by your lower self [nafs], its polytheistic association [shirk], its pretension and its falsehood, unless you undergo a process of intense examination and assessment, designed to probe the roots of its pretentious behavior. This is because it will speak in the manner of the fearful, as long as you are not compelled to experience fear, but if you need it [to respond correctly] in situations where fear is appropriate, you will find it feeling comfortably secure. It will speak in the manner of the righteous [abrar], as long as you are not being tested for true devotion [taqwa], but if you need it then, and call upon it to satisfy the preconditions of true devotion [taqwa], you will find it polytheistic [mushrika], hypocritically ostentatious [mura'iya], and vainly conceited [mu'jaba]. It will seem to fit the description of those who truly understand ['arifin], as long as you do not need to explain what something really means, but if you ask it to supply that information, you will find it telling lies. It will pretend to be one of those who are genuinely certain [muqinin] of their claim, as long as you are not tested for sincerity [ikhlas]. It will insist that it is one of those who are modestly unassuming [mutawadi'in], as long as it is not presented with opposition to its passionate desire, in an anger-provoking situation. It will likewise lay claim to generosity, magnaimity, altruism, liberality, affluence, chivalry [futuwwa], and other such praiseworthy characteristics—the characteristics of the saints [awliya'], the spiritual deputies [abdal], and the spiritually eminent [a'yan]—from motives of desire, frivolity and foolishness. If you demand proof of all that, and put it to test, you will find that it resembles nothing more than the mirage [sarab] of an oasis, which the thirsty traveler supposes to be water, until he reaches it and finds that it is really nothing at all. If there had been any truthfulness [sidq] and sincerity [ikhlas] present, if its word had indeed been correct, and its tongue had spoken the truth, it would not have put on a fancy display, designed to impress mere creatures, who have no power to cause it either harm or benefit. Its actions would have been appropriate, under the test conditions, and its words would have matched its deeds. Abu Hafs (may Allah bestow His mercy upon him) once said: "The lower self [nafs] is total darkness, but for the lamp of its innermost being [sirr]—meaning sincere devotion [ikhlas]—and the light of its lamp is enabling guidance [tawfiq]. So, if someone is not accompanied, in his innermost being, by enabling guidance from his Lord, his lower self is total darkness." It was Abu 'Uthman (may Allah bestow His mercy upon him) who said: "No one can see his own fault, as long as he approves of anything connected with his lower self [nafs]. To be able to see his own fault, a person must view his lower self with deep suspicion, in all his states and circumstances." Abu Hafs (may Allah bestow His mercy upon him) also said: "The swiftest of all people to perish is he who does not acknowledge his own fault, for sinful acts of disobedience are the postal service of unbelief [barid al-kufr]," Abu Sulaiman (may Allah bestow His mercy upon him) once said: "Whenever I have been pleased with myself for doing something, I have been taken to task for it." It was as-Sari [as-Saqati] (may Allah bestow His mercy upon him) who said: "Beware of the protégés of the rich, the Qur'an-reciters [qurra'] who frequent the marketplaces, and the scholarly experts ['ulama'] who serve the worldly rulers." Dhu'n-Nun al-Misri (may Allah bestow His mercy upon him) once said: "Corruption has entered people's moral fiber by way of six things: 1. Weakness of the intention [niyya] to work for the sake of the hereafter. 2. Their physical bodies have been taken hostage by their carnal appetites. 3. Far-reaching expectation [tul al-amal], despite the nearness of the appointed term [qurb al-ajal]; 4. They have sought the approval of their fellow creatures, instead of the good pleasure of the Creator. 5. They have followed their desires, and discarded the exemplary practice of their Prophet [Sunna Nabiyyi-him] (Allah bless him and give him peace), dumping it behind their backs. 6. They have pointed to a few mistakes committed by their righteous forebears [salaf], as evidence to justify their own misconduct, while burying many of the noble exploits and virtues of their predecessors." - Shaikh 'Abd al-Qadir al-Jilani, Sufficient Provision for the Seekers of the Path of Truth (Al-Ghunya li-Talibi Tariq al-Haqq)

posted by Abubak'r | 9/01/2004 01:40:00 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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