The State of Nafs

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Maruf Abul Adil

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Vol 3-Issue 2 The state  of NafsWhen I think about meeting my Rabb (Lord) on the Day of Judgement and being asked about my actions, it occurs to me that my biggest sins, transgressions, and flat out rebellions are tied to my Nafs (whims, desires, emotions, lusts) and my ignorance.

Nafs is a powerful force influencing our actions and behaviour. For example, there are men willing to take great risks in pursuit of a woman’s sexuality-to the point, where they would be ready to jeopardize their time, money, family, children, and even their wives.

Lust for material things in life is also well known. Often times they are not necessities but indulgencies that we desire. These lusts and desires have to be seriously re-assessed with the understanding that we will be asked about them by Allah (swt) on the day, when no excuses will be accepted. We will not even be allowed to speak.

Allah (swt) says: “Then on that Day you shall be asked about the delights (you indulged in, in this world).” (At-Takathur 102:8)

“And verily, he is violent in the love of wealth.” (Al-Adiyat 100:8)

“This Day, We shall seal up their mouths, and their hands will speak to Us, and their legs will bear witness to what they used to earn.” (Ya-Sin 36:65)

According to social scientists, lusts or tastes fall into the social category. They are conditioned by the particular society that one lives in. For example, people brought up in the West have strong sentiments for freedom and individuality. Although cultures are becoming more and more global, we can still say that the value of freedom and individuality is higher in the West than in the East. The point here is that we come to like what we like based on long years of socialization or conditioning.

All of this leads me to consider the causes for my shortcomings on Yawmal Qiyamma (Day of Judgement). It is not the lack of understanding that certain actions are Haram, but it is our failure to control our lusts/desires for such actions.

Looking at our children, we see the effects of our Nafs. We desire better for our children than for ourselves. We want them to be Hafiz of the Quran, Amir of Jihad, have the Iman of Umar (rta), and show extraordinary patience in times of difficulty, as Islam demands. However, the question that we must face is – what are the effects of being conditioned by systems that are not based on Islam?

Whether we realize it or not, any system (political, social, economic, etc.) that is not based on Islam is Kufr. The entire world lives under Kufr systems – democracy, capitalism, pseudo-socialism, pseudo-Islam, etc. The ideology of Kufr is spread through textbooks, television, magazines, constitutions, advertisements, radio, schools, etc. These values and lusts are further re-enforced through other social agents, such as family members, friends, associates, and teachers.

Let us think back to when we first began to like what we like. If we think carefully and hard enough, it is the result of a particular idea given to us by someone or something (for example, radio or TV). This idea became a concept, in which we now believe and act upon.

You might be saying: “Yes, brother, this is why we need to work on ourselves.” This is certainly true, and we must make Tawbah (sincere repentance and intention not to make sins again). Yet, is it the whole truth? Working to re-socialize (defined as an intense, active process) one’s self is part of our Shahadah (testimony of faith). Our Shahadah indicates that we would not make our Nafs our God – only Allah (swt) alone is our Rabb. We must also understand that Islam has a system based on this Aqeedah (creed). When we said our Shahadah, we agreed to accept His laws and systems.

Allah (swt) says: “And so judge (you o Muhammad (sa)) among them by what Allah (swt) has revealed and follow not their vain desires, but beware of them least they turn you (O Muhammad (sa)) far away from some of that which Allah (swt) has sent down to you. And if they turn away, then know that Allah (swt)’s Will is to punish them for some sins of theirs. And truly, most of men are Fasiqun (rebellious and disobedient to Allah (swt)).” (Al-Ma’idah 5:49)

Cleary, the Arabic Ahkum baynahum bi Ma Anzala lllahu (So Ahkum (Rule or Judge) baynahum (between them) bi Ma Anzala llahu (with or by what (ma) Allah (swt) has revealed) is talking about the Quran. Our Shahadah indicated that we would live our lives according to this oath to Allah (swt). Anyone, who appreciates what socialization or conditioning builds in an individual, should yearn to be under such a system that will culture us with Islam instead of Kufr or Shirk. We should wish for our children to grow learning to lust for Jannah. Don’t we desire for our children not to have frustrations about what society tells them and what Allah (swt) has said?

Living in an Muslim society is a mercy to the Muslim, who wants to attain the mercy of his Rabb. Allah (swt) says: “O you who believe! Ward off yourselves and your families against a Fire (Hell) whose fuel is men and stones, over which are (appointed) angels stern (and) severe, who disobey not, (from executing) the Commands they receive from Allah (swt), but do that which they are commanded.” (At-Tahrim 66:6)

Would any Muslim deny that it is not a mercy to live under systems of Islam, which from the beginning condition the baby Muslim that he is not free but a slave of Allah (swt)? Who would deny this? Would we deny that it is harder to look at a woman, if she is covered by Islamic dress? Would we deny that it is easy to engage in sin under Kufr as compared to Islam?

The Islamic guidelines are a mercy from Allah (swt) for guiding us away from the Haram and towards the Halal. Remember what social scientists have said – values, whims, lusts, and desires are all social. They are created by the creeds or ideologies that the people live under. This being the case, it is clear that if we want to have good Islamic values, we must be conditioned by Islam in its entirety from the beginning.

I believe we must broaden our understanding of what it means to work on our Nafs. Our understanding should be based on the ideology and systems that feed us our thinking in the first place. Secondly, we must consider our family’s fate under systems other than Islam.

Let us work on our Nafs by bringing back the system of Allah (swt), which will be a mercy for us on the Day of Judgement. May Allah (swt) guide us in this work, forgive us our sins, and help us to desire nothing but what He desires for us, which is submission to His complete way of life.

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