The Art of Disciplining the Evil Commanding Soul

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An individual bears the responsibility of faith and good deeds in this worldly life. But then, there is the evil-commanding soul, which will prevent him from fulfilling his obligations and stop him from all sorts of holy services. Therefore, the hardest struggle of the human throughout history has been with his greatest enemy, the evil-commanding soul, and the human has always tried to find remedies in order not to be defeated by his evil-commanding soul.

Our time is the darkest and the most terrifying of all times. Of course, the struggle with the evil-commanding soul has become even harder. Furthermore, the individual has scattered and divided his attention to many unnecessary and useless things.

Ustad Bediuzzaman was born in such a troublesome time and he has offered, with the will and permission of Allah, faithful and Qur’anic remedies for the material and spiritual diseases, which have accumulated become most apparent in our century. Bediuzzaman also suggested many cures and remedies, which have been experienced and found useful, regarding the struggle with the evil-commanding soul.

Before stating the methods and suggestions concerning the struggle with evil-commanding soul, let us review some basic features of it:

The evil-commanding soul only loves itself in the real sense and praises itself endlessly;

It never wishes to take any blame or faults and it defends itself endlessly;

It always considers the good thing as though it comes from itself and it feels proud;

It regards itself as a separate, independent thing and supposes that it is self-existed. So it claims divinity in a way and rebels to its Lord in a hostile way.

Evil-commanding soul prefers a little amount of pleasure in the present compared to the big amount of pleasure that will be given to him in the future. It avoids the fear of a ready slap more than one year of torment in the future.

Evil-commanding soul always listens to the Satan.

Let us now review what Bediuzzaman said regarding how we can train a evil-commanding soul which adores itself to such a degree that it almost thinks itself as the Lord. All that we will review is quoted from Risale-i Nur.

First of all, there is no such concept as killing the evil-commanding soul in the training method of Bediuzzaman. Instead, it is necessary to discipline and improve it. While explaining the reason for this, Bediuzzaman says that after killing the evil-commanding soul, worship will be too simple for it and so the wisdom explaining why the evil-commanding soul has been given to the human will be lost.

Bediuzzaman started to discipline his own evil-commanding soul at first, saying “He who does not discipline his evil-commanding soul cannot discipline others.” Then he disciplined his evil-commanding soul with the permission of Allah and he gave us all a beautiful lesson teaching that we should start by disciplining ourselves rather than others.


A method that Bediuzzaman frequently uses on the issue of disciplining the evil-commanding soul is to condemn and blame it as the verse indicates “Verily, the (human) self is inclined to evil, except when my Lord bestows His Mercy (upon whom He wills).(12:53).” We can see this method of condemning in many parts of the Risale-i Nur. For instance:

“O my foolish soul, charmed at glory, enamoured of fame, addicted to praise, and without equal in egotism! If it is a just claim that the source of the fig and its thousands of fruits is its tiny seed, and that all the grapes in their hundred bunches hanging from a dry branch of the vine are produced through the skill of the branch, and that those who benefit from them should praise and esteem the branch and the seed, then perhaps you have the right to be proud and conceited about the bounties with which you are loaded. But in fact you deserve to be constantly chided, because you are not like the seed and the branch: since you have the faculty of will, you reduce the value of those bounties through your pride. Through your conceit, you destroy them; through your ingratitude, you nullify them; through claiming them as your own, you lay hands on them unlawfully.” Or

“Oh my proud evil-commanding soul! Oh my lazy evil-commanding soul! Oh rebellious evil-commanding soul! Oh the most selfish evil-commanding soul! Oh evil-commanding soul, which indulges in heedlessness and sees this world sweet and forget about the afterlife! Oh my ignorant evil-commanding soul! Oh my unfortunate evil-commanding soul! Oh my greedy evil-commanding soul! Oh my impatient evil-commanding soul! Oh my foolish evil-commanding soul! Oh my evil-commanding soul, which is crazy for the world”. With expressions like these ones, Ustad Bediuzzaman always condemned his evil-commanding soul and never regarded his achievements as coming from his own self.


A second method Bediuzzaman uses in order to discipline the evil-commanding soul is the method of persuasion. We can see this original method in many parts of Risale-i Nur. For example, Ustad says: “At one time when I was struggling with my evil-commanding soul, imagining the bounties which it saw in itself to be its own property, my soul became conceited, proud and boastful. I said to it: “This property is not yours; it is in trust.” So then the soul gave up its conceit and pride but became lazy, it said: “Why should I bother about someone who is not mine? Let him perish, what is it to me?” Suddenly I saw that a fly had alighted on my hand and had started to thoroughly clean its eyes, face, and wings, which were its trust from God. The fly was washing itself just like a soldier cleans his rifle and uniform thoroughly, which belong to the state. I said to my soul: “You look at that!” It looked and learned a good lesson. As for the fly, it became my conceited and lazy soul’s teacher and instructor.” Another example:

“Since the sphere of the lawful is sufficient for all the pleasures, delights and joys of the spirit, heart and soul, do not approach the sphere of the illicit. For one pleasure within that sphere sometimes leads to a thousand pains. It will also cause the loss of the All-Merciful One’s favours, which are true and lasting pleasures.”

Another example: Addressing his own evil-commanding soul, Bediuzzaman said: “O my soul! Foremost God’s Beloved, and all your friends, are beyond the grave. The one or two who remain will also depart for there. So do not be frightened of death, be anxious at the grave, and avert your head. Look manfully at the grave, and listen to what it seeks. Laugh in death’s face like a man, and see what it wants. Beware, do not be heedless and resemble the second man.

O my soul! Do not say, “The times have changed, this age is different, everyone is plunged into this world and worships this life. Everyone is drunk with the struggle for livelihood.” For death does not change. Separation is not transformed into permanence and does not become different. Man’s impotence and poverty do not change, they increase. Man’s journey is not cut, it becomes faster.

Also, do not say, “I am like everyone else.” For everyone befriends you only as far as the grave, and the consolation of being together with everyone else in disaster has no meaning beyond the grave.” There are many other similar examples with which Ustad managed to persuade his evil-commanding soul and he has shown us with his actions how to discipline the evil-commanding soul.


Ustad Bediuzzaman says in some of his statements:

“Yes since faith places a permanent spiritual prohibitor in the heart and mind, they say “it is forbidden” as bad inclinations come out of senses and evil-commanding soul, and dismisses them. Yes, the actions of humans are produced by the inclinations of the heart and evil-commanding soul. Those inclinations come from the fields of expertises and the needs of the spirit. Spirit moves with the light of belief. It does something if it is good otherwise tries to pull itself back. Any more, blind feelings can’t direct it to wrong ways or surpass it.” “If feelings become prevalent in humans, he doesn’t listen to the judgments of his mind, his inclinations and delusions prevail, and prefers a very little and a present unimportant pleasure to a great reward. And he abstains from a slight pain more than he abstains from a big torture in the future. Because delusions, inclinations and feelings don’t see the future and deny it. When the evil-commanding soul also help, the heart and the mind, which are the places of faith, will remain silent.”

The heart, mind and spirit of the Nur students do not condescend to these low, harmful and inferior things. But everybody has a evil-commanding soul, in other words an evil- commanding soul.. Sometimes the feelings of the evil-commanding soul hide in the veins. It dominates the person to a certain degree in spite of the heart and mind. I am not necessarily accusing your hearts, spirits and minds. Because I trust you due to the effect Risale-i Nur gives you.

“Progress is not as the people of misguidance imagine, to plunge into the life of this world in all its minute details and in order to taste every sort of pleasure, even the lowest, make subject to the evil-commanding soul all the subtle faculties and the heart and intellect, and make them assist it; to do this is not progress, it is deterioration.”

In his statements, some of which are stated above, Ustad Bediuzzaman says that two things are always in struggle and jihad with each other. One of these elements is the heart, the other one is the evil-commanding soul. The heart is helped by the mind and spirit, and evil-commanding soul is supported by the inclination, desires and the feelings. The struggle between the heart and evil-commanding soul is another way of expression of the world examination for hereafter. That is, either heart or evil-commanding soul will prevail in humans. Prevailing of human’s evil-commanding soul -may Allah protect us from that-means that human fails in the exam and his life in the hereafter will be ruined.

So what should be done to end the sultanate of evil-commanding soul on our body and let people succeed in the exam for hereafter? At this point we can clearly understand from the advices of Ustad, which is given above, we should reach to a degree of faith that can’t be separated from us and support the heart and soul with that powerful faith. As Ustad mentions: “When some bad feelings, thoughts havr come up to our mind and desirous soul, faith says “it is forbidden” and prevents them from approaching sins.” So what is the result of this?
We will answer again in the same way of Ustad. “Insha’Allah some more blind feelings will not direct him to the wrong way.


Ustad Bediuzzaman says “one of the sickness of this age is preferring glass to diamond even people know it is diamond.” Unfortunately many people at this time choose the worldly life and the pleasures of it with a great desire. But at the same time those people have known about Allah and have faith in hereafter. How can we prevent these people, who knows Allah and have the faith of hereafter and the sorrows of hereafter, from their invalid path? Because when we talk about Allah, they will say “We know Allah” When we talk about the sorrow of the hell they will say “We already believe in hereafter.” Ustad has a prescription for those people who got stuck on this cycle: we should show them bad sides and the hell like sorrows in the sins that has effects here rather than showing them the sorrows of hereafter. This way, feelings may surrender to the mind and heart which has been fed by the faith and those people may find the right path and give up those sins and flawed way. Let’s hear that important topic from Ustad Bediuzzaman:

The only way to take those heedless people from their flawed way is to show the exact hell like pain in their actions. Because their feelings and self which prefers a little pleasure at present time rather than a pleasure in the future time, are superior to their mind and heart. Because people will still be continuing their sins even they know the existence of Allah and aware of the existence of hell. This is mainly the result of absolute blasphemy and denial which is caused by science and addictive debauchery. This way you may reach only one in ten or twenty. Others will still continue doing what they do and they say “Allah is Merciful and Forgiving and hell is not that close” their soul and heart are beaten by their feelings.
So that many of the treaties in Risale-i Nur has been showing those sorrowful sides of the sins in the worldly life and they convince the feelings of most stubborn people, if they sincerely wish. As a result of this guidance those people will have hatred in their hearts for the sins.


Are those principles, which we try to summarize from the Risale-i Nur, applicable to train Evil-commanding soul? To what extent can we reach success if we apply those and others which we could not mention due to the lack of time?

Let’s hear the answer again from Ustad Bediuzzaman;

“My evil- commanding soul and Satan has surrendered to those facts. Those which have such an effect on my soul should also be convincing you.”
“My mind and imagination, even my evil- commanding soul and my desirous wills have surrender together with Satan.”

Those who see the Risale-i Nur’s style and explanations cannot remain indifferent to it. It not only makes the mind and heart submit like other works, it also conquers the soul and emotions. Even my soul agrees to sacrifice for a truth that concerns the whole Islamic world not only the life of this world but if necessary that of the next, and to sacrifice through the Risale-i Nur my own happiness for that of the people of belief.

My evil- commanding soul could not endure this Risale’s power of style and explanations and was compelled to persuasion. My Satan also yelled as ”Is there any place to escape from this situation?“ Your evil- commanding soul and Satan are not more rebellious and desperate than mine.

Risale-i Nur tries to persuade first of all its writer. Then it persuades others. Undoubtedly, a lesson which persuades its own writer’ evil- commanding soul completely and isolates misgiving is so powerful and sincere that can defeat the collective personality of the people of misguidance.

“I broke away as victorious from fighting against evil- commanding soul and Satan.”

We have cited above a statement from Hadhrat Bediuzzaman’s Risale-i Nur commentary. This is clearly explained by powerful truth and enormous evidence against the evil- commanding soul and Satan. As he says: Since our evil- commanding soul and Satan cannot be more furious than him, Insha’Allah we may be able to defeat our evil-commanding soul and Satan.

This century is so horrible that keeping faith as difficult as holding a handful of coal by bare hands.; A man leaves his home as a believer in the morning , he may turn back to his home as a non-believer in the evening, disbelief and depravity spread throughout the world by attacking, under this circumstances Risale-i Nur preserved hundred thousand people’s faith . (According to Afyon prosecutor: Risale-i Nur preserved five hundred thousand people’s faith in 1948) like the ship of prophet Nuh (pbuh) and protects the world from the horrible ,spiritual fire and storm .Also, these people mobilized for war against that spiritual darkness by selling their souls and goods to Allah and sacrificed their life for this mission. They spent their life in prisons, which started to become a sort of school and madrassa over time. Even prisons were named as “School of Joseph (peace be upon him) ” among Risale-i Nur students.

Thousands of people who were found guilty of many kinds of physical and spiritual crimes, met Risale-i Nur in prison ,as named “School of Joseph”. They rehabilitated by Risale-i Nur and after that they become a person who even could not injure any ant or bedbug.

It is impossible to do this type of heroism without rehabilitating evil-commanding souls and silencing Satans. That means Risale-i Nur has succeeded in training the evil-commanding soul, like the other issues it explains, with the permission of Allah.

I would like to finish with a quotation from Ustad Bediuzzaman” The soul is baser than everything, and the duty higher…”