Saturday, September 8, 2012


The First Stage- Know your Self (Nafs):
The first stage in spiritual struggle is for one to not be satisfied with his self and to believe in the description of his self that his creator and originator informed him of when He said: { Indeed, the Nafs (self or ego) commands to evil. } (Sura Yusuf: 53) He must also know that of the things that sever him and cut him off from Allah, the biggest of them is his own ego (nafs), and at the same time, it is the greatest thing that shall cause him to arrive unto Him. When the ego commands its owner to evil, it takes no delight except in acts of opposition and disobedience, yet after spiritual struggle is waged against it and it is purified, it becomes pleased and well pleasing and is not delighted in anything save acts of obedience, agreement, and intimacy with Allah (swt).
When the servant uncovers the defects of his self (nafs) and is truthful in his pursuit to remove them, he will have no time to busy himself with the faults of other people and waste his life enumerating their mistakes. Know that he who spends his time enumerating the mistakes of others and is heedless of his own faults is an idiotic ignoramus.
When the Muslim comes to realize this, he will hasten to wean his ego from its lower desires and deficient day-to-day habits, and he will oblige it to implement acts of obedience and deeds that draw close (to Allah).
Tazkiya is a step by step process:
Spiritual struggle is a step by step process that changes course according to the progress of the aspirant in his journey.
The Outward Tazkiya:
In the beginning of his affair, he is to remove all of the acts of disobedience that relate to his seven body parts (Outward Tazkiya). They are:
1.The tongue
2.The ears
3.The eyes
4.The hands
5.The feet
6.The stomach
7.The private parts
All of these seven body parts have acts of disobedience that may come from them. Among the sins of the tongue: back-biting, tale carrying, lying, vile speech. Among the sins of the ears: listening to: back-biting, tale carrying, vile musical lyrics, and instruments. Among the sins of the eyes: looking at unrelated women and the private areas of men. Among the sins of the hands: harming the Muslims, killing them, taking their wealth with falsehood, and shaking the hands of unrelated women. Among the sins of the feet: walking to sites of sin and lewdness. Among the sins of the stomach: consuming forbidden wealth, consuming the flesh of pig, drinking alcohol, etc. Among the sins of the private parts: fornication, homosexuality, etc.
Then he should adorn his seven body parts with acts of obedience appropriate to each of them.
Among the good acts of the tongue: reciting the Holy Qur'an, remembrance of Allah (swt), commanding the good, and forbidding the evil, etc. Among the good acts of the firs: listening to the Holy Qur'an and Prophetic Hadîth, as well as good advice and religious exhortations. Among the good acts of the eyes: looking at the faces of the scholars and righteous, looking at the noble Ka'ba, and looking at the signs of Allah in the creation with the intention of contemplation. Among the good acts of the hands: shaking the hands of the believers and giving out charity. Among the good acts of the feet: walking to the Mosques and gatherings of Sacred knowledge, visiting the sick and going to make peace between people. Among the good acts of the stomach: consuming legally permissible food with the intention of gaining strength to carry out acts of obedience for Allah (swt). Among the good acts of the private parts: consummating marriage with the intention of preserving one's chastity and having many offspring.
These seven body parts are the windows into the heart that shall either be smeared and sullied with the darkness and grime of disobedience, thereby making the heart sick, or they shall be made clear to allow the light and illumination of acts of worship enter it.
The Inward Tazkiya:
After waging spiritual struggle against his seven body parts, the aspirant should then focus on the inward traits, replacing his lowly character traits such as: pride, ostentation, and anger, with complete character traits such as: humility, sincerity, and forbearance.
The Goal of Tazkiya:
The loftiest aspiration and hope for the spiritual wayfarers is to elevate their souls. If they succeed in that, they shall reach their goal. By spiritual struggle and spiritual rigor, the human soul is elevated from being ammâra (commanding its owner to evil) to being lawwâma (self-reproaching) to being Mut'mainna (inspired, pleased and well pleased with, and so on). Spiritual struggle is a necessity for the spiritual wayfarer in all stages of his journey unto Allah (swt). Such spiritual struggle ends only if he reaches the state of infallibility - which is for no one save the Prophets and Messengers - may Allah's peace and blessings be upon them all.
The need for a guide, trainer and teacher:
Since the path of spiritual struggle is a rugged one with numerous side paths and it is very difficult for the spiritual wayfarer to enter it alone, it is of practical significance for him to accompany a completed spiritual guide or teacher who knows the defects of the soul and knows the path of spiritual struggle and treatment. By keeping the company of a spiritual guide, the spiritual aspirant gains practical experience in the ways of purifying his soul, just as he obtains the sacred spiritual effulgence of the Shaykh who pushes him to perfect his own self and personality; raising him above the defects and evil traits. The Messenger of Allah MHMD was the spiritual guide, trainer and teacher of the highest rank and the greatest purifier who trained his noble Companions and purified their souls through his statements and spiritual state - as Allah described him: { It is He who sent a Messenger unto the unlettered ones, reciting unto them His verses, purifying them, and teaching them the Book and the wisdom, whereas before they were in manifest error.} Sura (62) al-Jumu'a. Here we see that purifying is one thing, and teaching the Book and the wisdom is another thing. For this reason, Allah the Exalted said: {... purifying them and teaching them the Book and the wisdom. } There is a huge difference between the knowledge of purification, and the state of purification, just as there is a difference between the knowledge of good health and actual good health. A skilled physician may be very knowledgeable of health while he himself is in bad health, suffering from many illnesses. Similarly, there is a vast difference between the knowledge of Zuhd (avoiding love of Dunya) and the state of Zuhd - like the Muslim who possesses vast knowledge of all the Qur'anic verses, Hadîth, and proofs in support of Zuhd, even though he is not in a state of asceticism and is covetous and craving for the fleeting life of this world.
When the spiritual aspirant keeps close company with his guide and surrenders unto him just as the patient surrenders himself to the physician, he shall find uprightness and benefit. When Satan injects the heart of the aspirant with the delusional idea that he is independent, and he becomes conceited and feels that he does not need to associate with his Shaykh, he will fail utterly and be debarred from the path, whereas he thinks that he is still on his journey, and he will be cut off whereas he thinks that he is arriving.
Taken from: Purifying And Striving Against The Ego (nafs) by Shaykh `Abd al-Qadir `Isa

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