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I Want to Fight My Soul, so What is the Way?

By NawwÐ"Ñžl Bin AbdullÐ"Ñžh

Adapted with slight modifications from a translation by AbÐ"» IyÐ"Ñžd Amjad RafÐ"®q

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All Praise is due to AllÐ"Ñžh the Rabb of all the Worlds and prayers and peace upon the best creation of AllÐ"Ñžh.

To proceed:

We hear many complaints from the people. Most of their complaints are related to their souls, which command them what is evil. They also complain about the evil of their actions. One of them says:

Indeed I have been put to trial with four, they did not afflict me

Except due to my misfortune and wretchedness

IblÐ"®s, the world, the soul and the desire

How will this end when they are my enemies, all of them

So we find some of them saying �I have tried many times, repeatedly, to turn my soul away from committing these specific acts of disobedience but my efforts have failed.’

Another one says: вЂ?I tried to get my soul to perform acts of obedience (to AllÐ"Ñžh), good and righteous deeds but I am not able to remain firm upon them, I leave them so quickly.’

And we hear a third one say: �I have repented from many evil actions and promised myself that I would not commit them again. However after the passing of time and being occupied much it did not take long before I returned to them. In fact I fell into others and increased in them.’

If we were to look at the condition of these people we would realise that among the reasons for their not being able to dominate and control their souls and not being able to remain firm upon what they have promised themselves is their lack of striving against their souls. In fact they have left the fetters and reins for the soul so that it leads them and plays with them however it wills. The soul is such that if it is not fought against and controlled it commands its possessor to commit evil and obscene deeds. These people, because they have not fought against their souls and controlled them in that which AllÐ"Ñžh loves and is pleased with, are not able to remain constant in their (good) actions. For this reason it is necessary for them to control their souls for AllÐ"Ñžh's pleasure and His obedience. Not that it should control them and as a result destroy them

It is vital that a person launches a war against his soul. One which is not haphazard or aimless but rather a firm and determined one in which he uses the weapons of faith (Ð"®mÐ"Ñžn), sincerity to AllÐ"Ñžh (ikhlÐ"Ñžs), patience (sabr) and supplication (duвЂ?Ð"Ñž). He uses them until he is able to overcome this mischievous enemy which is concealed between the two sides of his body [the soul, which commands the evil]. As a result he tames and pacifies it and makes it obedient, humble and submissive to the command of AllÐ"Ñžh.

For this reason we find that Ibn al-Qayyim (rh) says: вЂ?Since the jihÐ"Ñžd against the enemies of AllÐ"Ñžh outwardly (i.e. physically) is a branch of the jihÐ"Ñžd of the servant against his own soul for the sake of AllÐ"Ñžh...’

The jihÐ"Ñžd that is greater and mightier than the jihÐ"Ñžd against the disbelievers and pagans is the jihÐ"Ñžd of a person against his own soul for the sake of AllÐ"Ñžh, just as the Messenger of AllÐ"Ñžh said: “The MujÐ"Ñžhid is the one who struggles against his own soul in AllÐ"Ñžh’s obedience.” [TirmidhÐ"® who said it was Hasan SahÐ"®h and Al-AlbÐ"ÑžnÐ"® said: вЂ?Its isnÐ"Ñžd is good’]

And when a person is not able to struggle against his own soul and overcome it in that which AllÐ"Ñžh loves, he will not be able to fight against the external enemy, nor overcome it. How can he, when he is defeated and weak, both mentally and spiritually, and cannot even gain control of his own feeble soul?

Before entering into the discussion of how to fight against the soul it is necessary to mention a little section about the soul and its nature. Then we shall mention the cure for the soul and the way to purify it from its desires and lusts, if AllÐ"Ñžh wills.

The Reality of the Soul

The soul continuously calls its owner to transgression, preference of the world, the desires and love of the delights and pleasures. But AllÐ"Ñžh calls His servant to fear of Him, awe of Him and forbids the soul from its whim. He has prepared a mighty reward for the one who follows His command. The Exalted said:

And as for the one fears the standing in front of His Lord and restrains the soul from impure evil desires and lusts, verily, Paradise will be his abode. [SÐ"»rah NÐ"ÑžziвЂ?Ð"Ñžt 79:40-41]

The soul in its essence calls and commands the evil. AllÐ"Ñžh the Exalted said:

Verily the (human) self is inclined to evil, except when my Lord bestows His Mercy (upon whomsoever He wills). Verily, my Lord is Oft-Forgiving, Most-Merciful. [SÐ"»rah YÐ"»suf 12:53]

The soul was originally created ignorant and given to transgression. Knowledge, guidance and righteousness are things that befall it due to inspiration from its Lord and then by the struggle against it by its owner and his nurturing it and engaging it in jihÐ"Ñžd. AllÐ"Ñžh the Exalted says:

And those who strive in Our way We shall guide them to our paths and verily AllÐ"Ñžh is with the doers of good (muhsinÐ"»n). [SÐ"»rah AnkabÐ"»t 29:69]

AllÐ"Ñžh Azzawajall guaranteed the one whom He found trying and striving (against his soul) that He will be with him, will help him and will bring into reality his wish or desire (of domination over his soul). What then can a man desire after that?

And Ibn al-Qayyim (rh) said: “The travellers to AllÐ"Ñžh, in all their different paths and diversity of their ways are agreed that the soul is a barrier between the heart and AllÐ"Ñžh and that it (the heart) will not come close to Him, the Sublime, or arrive to Him except after killing his soul, abandoning it by opposing it and being victorious over it”

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