Struggle of disciplining the lower-self

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Assalamu Alaykum wa Rahmatullah.

During these days of pandemic and two blessed months and finally Ramadan al-Sharif, we have had the opportunity to think about our life and its purpose more seriously hopefully. If we know the reason for our being here in this world, we have such a great advantage Alhamdulillah. Most people are not aware of it unfortunately. As people who are aware of our purpose we still have a duty that is not so easy. It is to struggle against our nafs (lower-self) in order to attain the good pleasure of our Lord, Allah jalla jalaluhu.

Our Prophet (asw) points at our fight against our nafs as “greater jihad.” It is such a great fight that it never stops until the end of our life. And the result of this fight is very crucial for our eternal life in the hereafter. And disciplining our lower-self will help us a lot in this fight.

The lower self never wants to acknowledge our Lord, but wants to be ‘the Lord of itself’ like a pharaoh. We know that disciplining our lower-self makes it realize and accept that we are only servants of one Creator.

There are things to do to be successful in the struggle of disciplining the nafs.

Getting to know Allah (ma‘rifatullah) is the most important means in this struggle. Thanks to this knowledge we learn about our Creator and our self. Our spirituality gets stronger, and we have the love of Allah that is the biggest support in our struggle. In this way we attain the greatest power against our lower-self.

Strengthening our faith is maybe the most important way to train our nafs. When we believe in Allah, resurrection after death, paradise and hell with certainty by means of strong proofs, we have the biggest tower of strength to rely on in our struggle. The Companions (ra) are the best example of this. Strong faith transformed all kinds of cruelty and immorality of the period of ignorance into the best character traits and morality. Strengthening our faith can make the same impact on us.

Fasting, especially the fasting of Ramadan, is another of the most effective means in this disciplining the nafs. The hunger clearly destroys the egotism of the lower-self. It makes the lower-self confess that we are powerless servants of a Compassionate Lord.

Another important thing is our circle of friends. It has a very important role in disciplining our nafs. If the people around us are not practicing Muslims, it is quite difficult for us to be really successful in our struggle. Our Prophet (asw) points that a person is affected by his friends’ way of life. If we distance ourselves from bad circle of friends, we will surely be away from their bad influence.

Let’s not forget the role of worship. With the lack of worshipful servanthood, the lower-self gains strength. It is worship that gives spiritual effusions to the heart and spirit. These effusions strengthen us spiritually and become a means of overcoming our lower-self.

Last but not least, the meditation on death (rābiṭatu’l-mawt) is another means of disciplining our lower-self. Meditation on death arouses our distaste for worldly pleasures. As our Prophet (asw) tells, death is enough as a preacher. Remembering our death prevents us from following our whims.

May Allah make us among those who really correct their lower-self!

I wish you have a good time reading and enjoying our 35th issue.

Fi amanillah!