Sunday, June 24, 2012

Impediments to strengthening the Nafsiyya Part 1 “Desires”

Impediments to Strengthening the Islamic Disposition
– Part 1: The Lower Desires
  • One of the impediments to a person building h/her nafsiyya and strengthening it is the pull of one’s desires (ahwa).
  • Allah makes it a mandatory directive to restrain the lower desires if Paradise is the aim. Allah says: {But as for he who fears standing before his Lord and prevents his desires, the Paradise will definitely be his place…}.[1]
What are the dangers of failing to restrain one’s desires? They include:
  1. Harmful desires distracts one from prioritising the goals that Allah and His Messenger have set.
  2. Harmful desires lead one to seek and want things that are not ultimately beneficial (as defined by Islam) which opens the door to sin and wrongdoing.
  3. Harmful desires often take the form of strong sexual desires and if this is left unbridled then it can lead to other wrong actions.
  4. Harmful desires are capricious, unstable, erratic and unpredictable.
  5. Harmful desires are not the criterion for actions defined by Allah and His Messenger – the halal and haram is the correct criteria for actions.
What are some of the ways in which to battle harmful desires? They include:
  1. Dhikr of Allah (remembrance), i.e. His mercy and forgiving nature.
  2. Remembrance of death (dhikr al-mawt) and how it can end all pleasures
  3. Repentance (tawba).
  4. Deep reflection (tadabbur) on one’s condition and states.
  5. To fast regularly as it puts one in state of awareness of Allah.
  6. Muhasaba (self-accounting) which is a form of an internal corrective of one’s states.
  7. Understanding the punishment of Allah and a final judgment as a deterrent.
  • One of the dangers that we can see today as a result of prioritising one’s own desires is that truth becomes the casualty. Imam al-Qurtubi relates the wonderful and perceptive statement of `Abd Allah ibn Mas`ud (Allah be pleased with him):
 لقوله – عز وجل - : وأما من خاف مقام ربه ونهى النفس عن الهوى قال عبد الله بن مسعود أنتم في زمان يقود الحق الهوى وسيأتي  زمان يقود الهوى الحق فنعوذ بالله من ذلك الزمان .
“Regarding Allah’s statement (Mighty and Exalted is He): {But as for he who fears standing before his Lord and prevents his desires…} `Abd Allah ibn Mas`ud remarked: ‘you are living in a time where Truth controls the desires but there will come a time where the desires will control the Truth. We seek refuge in Allah from such a time’…”[2]
Effects of this include:
  1. Abandoning the Shari`ah for one’s own desires and delineated criteria of action.
  2. Adopting and adhering to known innovated matters (bid`a).
  3. Deliberately changing the Shari`ah rulings out of fear of the government pressure or misunderstandings of the text.
  4. Giving one’s mind precedence over the definite text.
With Allah is all success.

[1] Q. 79:40-41.
[2] See al-Qurtubi, al-Jami` li-Ahkam al-Qur’an, vol.19, p.179.

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