And by Nafs (Adam or a person or a soul), and Him Who perfected him in proportion. (Quran 91:7)
How often are you faced with desires from within and temptations all around?
Those desires that push you to seek fun in every possible way – permissible or otherwise. It drives you to compete with your peers just to pass time and maintain the status quo. In the same way you are driven to an inner battle against yourself. You are drawn in different directions.
To do or not to do;
To say or not to say;
Listen or not to listen;
Touch or not to touch;
To look or lower your gaze;
To give in to stress or bust the stress?
Your nafs whispers to you, telling you how much you need to blend with the culture, lifestyle or friendship. It tells you that you have many years ahead & should not stress about worship. And encourages you to live beyond all limits.
Such whispers pull you away from the truth and distract you from submission to the Will of the One true Lord and Creator.
Those distractions can make you feel troubled, anxious and far from contentment.
But, you posses every capability of engaging in good, controlling your desires, building your skills and freeing self from negative influences.
So direct your face (i.e., self ) toward
the religion, inclining to truth. (Adhere
to) the fitrah of Allah upon which He
has created (all) people. No change
should there be in the creation of Allah.
That is the correct religion, but most of
the people do not know. (Quran 30:30)
Connecting with your Nafs
The Nafs is an inherent part of you – an innate portion of your pure fitrah [natural inclination].
It has the potential to drive you towards the good and not-so-good direction in life. Yet your inner self or nafs, and its lowly desires constantly directs you towards evil. You have a duty to overcome its weakness and win over its plots. You can achieve this through cultivating a sound heart, one that submits and surrenders to Allah, the Almighty.
With a sound healthy heart, your nafs can guide to a better spiritual perception.
It can also serve as an emotional bank for steering good feelings and building a positive mind set.
In another of its important role, it provides a suitable station for your intention. The heart is the permanent residence for all intentions.
Deeds (i.e their correctness & rewards) depend upon intentions. (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)
So How Do you Win against your Nafs?
Your soul in its true nature will direct you towards honesty, helping others, kindness to parents, helping humanity and worshiping Allah alone; while any form of corruption from your desires can lead to cheating, arrogance, immorality, engaging in mindless chatter, watching lewd scenes and abandoning worship.
When the commanding soul [An-nafs al-ammaraah bi-suu’] overshadows your reproachful and tranquil soul [An-nafs al-mutma’innah], you fall low and become distant from Allah. While the tranquil soul has the potential to connect you strongly with Allah through worship and obedience and fulfilling your purpose of Creation.
Some things that may corrupt the pure nature of your soul include:
– Lack of authentic knowledge; Quran and its teachings.
– Environment; Peer pressure; cultural pressure; parental pressure etc.
– Weakness of faith.
– Desires; from materialism to nationalism.
10 Ways you can Overcome your Nafs (Commanding Soul)
1. Constant Purification
Increase in your worship acts and strive for obedience of Allah at all times. Follow His guidance through the teachings of the Quran and Hadith. You should prioritize with the compulsory acts such as five daily prayers, even as you try to pick up the supererogatory ones.
2. Conscious Awareness
Your nafs is conscious and as such you have control over decisions you make that will impact your daily life and the hereafter. Therefore be conscious of Allah at all times and make a choice to break free from the negative desires and inclinations.
3. Avoid Sins and Prohibitions
And always follow an evil thought, speech or act with a good one. You can achieve this through learning and seeking beneficial knowledge. In that way, you can sieve the truth from falsehood; and permissible acts from prohibitions.
4. Remember the Test of Temporal Life
This temporary life is a test and a preparation for the ultimate abode – the everlasting world and hereafter. Which then is more worthy of striving for?
5. Follow the Sunnah
In our beloved Prophet, we have the perfect example. So follow him and you won’t go wrong.
6. Think of Positive and Negative Effect of Every Action
For example, with the 5 daily prayers the benefits from physical to psychological bring serenity and a tranquil effect even beyond the prayers. While delaying/missing prayers due to laziness and negligence may bring about guilt, feeling of burden, regret, need to make excuses etc in addition to amassing sins.
7. Use your Time Wisely
Assess your time and accompanying deeds. And try to keep positively busy with rewarding acts. Do something for the Ummah without expecting a profit. Make it an investment for your hereafter.
8. Keep Good Company
Mind your environment and those you choose to stay around. Choose those who can help guard your creed and deen.
9. Purify your Acts through your Intention
Renew them as often as you can, centered on Allah’s pleasure and to earn paradise. Isn’t paradise and its wonders enough motivation to give up the instant gratifications for?
10. Make Dua
Make supplications for a sound and pure heart; one that is filled with Allah’s love but yearns for even more of Allah’s love.
The heart can only become sound, achieve success, take pleasure, be satisfied, experience enjoyment, become pleased, attain serenity and calmness through the ibadah (worship) of its Lord; having love of Him and turning to Him (in repentance). Even if it were to attain every type of pleasure from creation, it will not acquire serenity and tranquillity. This is because the heart possess an intrinsic need for its Lord, since He is its deity, love and pursuit and with Allah the heart achieves joy, pleasure, delight, amenity, serenity and tranquillity. (Ibn Taimiyyah’s essay of Servitude)
In what other ways do you strive to win over your Nafs? Please share below.