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Winning Against Your Nafs


Winning Against Your Nafs


{And by Nafs (Adam or a person or a soul),
and Him Who perfected him in proportion}

[Q91 V7]

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;

To listen or not to listen;

To 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 & 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.”

[Q (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” [Bukhari & 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 worshipping Allah (swt) 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 (swt) 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 & 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 (swt) at all times. Follow His guidance through the teachings of the Quran and Hadith. You should prioritise 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 (swt) 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 (saw), we have the perfect example. So follow him and you won’t go wrong.

6. Think of positive & 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 & 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 & deen.

9. Purify your acts through your intention. Renew them as often as you can, centred 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 Du’a. Make supplications for a sound & pure heart; one that is filled with Allah’s love but yearns for even more of Allah’s (swt) love.

{The heart can only become sound, achieve success, take pleasure, be satisfied, experience enjoyment, become pleased, attain serenity and calmness through the ibadaah (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 & 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.
photo credit: steve9567 via photopin cc


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  1. Said Hasan June 2, 2014

    JazakAllah khayr for the highly appreciated feedback.

  2. Said Hasan May 27, 2014

    JazakAllah khayr.
    I am ever in need to purify my soul.
    Since January I am living with my mentally ill cousin who needs constant care and guard.
    He gave me such a hard time that I forgot or became lazy to keep upto my promises, discontinued the MOOCs courses I’ve subscribed to inorder to gain the tech and soft skills to start my first Start-up in late 2014, became less healthy, less social and lazy in worship.
    I don’t want to blame him and end up losing the rewards.
    It is me to blame because I used to have the problem of procrastination.
    I dreamt of making a hijra to a peaceful beautiful Muslim city that is a good enviroment for learning, working, living and practicing Islam better but I have realized now that Allah want to train me on how to deal with difficult personalities and develop patience before He make my dream come true.
    Remember positive enviroment excels better than talent.
    I will do my best to purify my soul in sha Allah and please pray for me that Allah help me overcome procrastination, deal with distractions and go to my dream city.
    I truly enjoy reading your articles.
    My Allah guides us to follow the reading with action. Ameen.
    Please pray for my aunt’s son that He make him healthy.
    My aunt and I are doing our part: he is receiving therapy sessions, medications and ruqya treatment both from a leading psychiatrist and ruqya specialist.
    May Allah bless you.

    1. Amina Edota June 2, 2014

      Br. Said, May Allah ease your cousin’s condition. And ease all of your affairs as well.

      Remember He doesn’t place a burden that is too much for us to bear; and after hardship comes relief. Stay patient and seek relief through prayers & much supplications.

      You are correct in that you cannot put any blame on your cousin, instead learn to look for the positive side of every situation. You can think of it as a training opportunity, as you mentioned already. Just as the companions (ra) were being trained while in Makkah before migration to Madina. It was in Madina that Islamic legislations were revealed in longer verses compared to the shorter, crisp, motivational types they received in Makkah.

      Keep reading and posting your comments.

  3. Bashir Abubakar May 20, 2014

    Masha Allah good reminder

    1. Amina Edota June 2, 2014

      Baarakallahu feek!

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