Striving against oneself

Fadalah ibn Ubaid reported: I heard the Messenger of Allaah صلى الله عليه وسلم saying:

The one who strives in the way of Allah the Exalted is he who strives against his soul.” {Saheeh At-Tirmidhi: 1621. Graded Saheeh by Sheikh Al-Albaani}

In explanation of this Hadeeth, Al-Mubarakpuri رحمه الله said:

“This means he conquers evil inclinations within himself and performs acts of obedience pleasing to Allah and he avoids acts of disobedience. This jihad is the foundation for all other types of jihad, for indeed, if he does not perform this struggle then he cannot struggle against external enemies.” {Sharh Sunan At-Tirmidhi: 1621}

Striving against the evil of oneself is no easy task. If we were to occupy ourselves with just conquering these evil inclinations and performing acts of obedience and distancing ourselves from acts of disobedience, indeed we would be firm enough to stand against any external enemies. As it stands we are so preoccupied with the dunya, satisfying our desires and focusing on the external that we neglect what is truly needed for our self and this in turn leads to the death of the heart as Ibn Al Qayyim رحمه الله states:

“The death of the heart is caused by the lack of reckoning oneself and following one’s desire.” {Al-Igaathah: Vol.1 Page: 157}

We know that if we do not rectify our selves that we will not gain the Aid of Allaah, yet in reality our actions do not reflect a true understanding of this fact.

“That is so because Allah will never change a grace which He has bestowed on a people until they change what is in their ownselves. And verily, Allah is All-Hearer, All-Knower.” {Surat Al-Anfaal 8:53}

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When we rectify the deficiencies within ourselves, the effect reaches those around us; when we stop looking externally to make sense of the condition of the Ummah and instead look inside ourselves we will gain the good required to rectify the Ummah.

“To think of one’s deficiencies is the key to all the good. It disciplines the soul so that it can live harmoniously.” {Ibn Al-Qayyim. Al-Jawabul Kafi: 182}

The root of all good is At-Tawheed and the root of all evil is Shirk. It is therefore imperative that the ‘Aqeedah be rectified in order that the deeds are correct. Performing actions in abundance while one believes that Allaah is in everything, like some Sufis, or that He is nowhere, like the Asha’ira, makes these actions null and void. Allaah has stated numerous times in the Qur’an that He is above His Throne which is above the skies.

“The Most Beneficent (Allah) Istawa (rose over) the (Mighty) Throne (in a manner that suits His Majesty).” {Surat Taha: 5}

It is only when tawheed is established that we can expect to reap its fruits. Once it is firm in our hearts, the limbs will perform actions in accordance. The Messenger صلى الله عليه وسلم said:

“Beware! There is a piece of flesh in the body if it becomes good (reformed) the whole body becomes good but if it gets spoilt the whole body gets spoilt and that is the heart.” {Saheeh Al-Bukhari: 52}

The Muslim, the true believer rectifies his heart first so that the actions of his limbs are accepted. In the well known hadeeth, A’ishah رضي الله عنها narrates:

“I said: ‘O Messenger of Allah, ‘And those who give that (their charity) which they give (and also do other good deeds) with their hearts full of fear.” [23:60] Is this the one who commits adultery, steals and drinks alcohol?’ He said: ‘No, O daughter of Abu Bakr’ – O daughter of Siddiq – rather it is a man who fasts and gives charity and prays, but he fears that those will not be accepted from him.’”

 This is the state of those who realise the gravity of their deeds and how important it is that they are accepted from him. The righteous one performs good while fearing that it will not be accepted, yet the corrupt one commits evil while hoping he will not be recompensed for it. This is why striving with heart and limb against the evil of one’s desire is such a great task and one that should not be taken to lightly. It is as Sheikh Al Mubarakpuri so beautifully states “…if he does not perform this struggle then he can not struggle against external enemies” (quote above)
الحمد لله رب العالمين
We ask Allaah for sincere deeds, done purely for His sake, that are accepted and for the strength and diligence required to constantly struggle against our own evils and the evils that the Shayateen present to us. May the peace and salutation be upon the Final Messenger, his companions and his family.

A Way Out

basmalah

Allaah, the Most High, said:

“…And whosoever fears Allaah and keeps his duty to Him, He will make a way for him to get out (from every difficulty).

And will provide for him from where he does not expect. And whoever relies upon Allaah – then He is sufficient for him. Indeed, Allaah will accomplish His purpose. Allaah has already set for everything a [decreed] extent.” [Surat at-Talaq: 2-3]

When we face difficulty or oppression, our refuge should always be Allaah. None but He who can change our situation, comfort our hearts and give us the patience and wisdom we need to deal with these difficulties as they come. Ibn al-Qayyim (رحمه الله) said:

“Resort to no one but your Lord, for resorting to others is a disgrace.”

How unfortunate it is then to see that the slave will disgrace himself by seeking comfort and ease from people instead of his Lord. He knows that they can not change his situation but still humiliates himself before them. Were he to fear Allaah and resort only to Him, his heart would have been put right and his status would have been raised.

Ibn Kathir (رحمه الله) said about the ayah above:

“…whoever has Taqwa of Allaah in what He has commanded and avoids what He has forbidden, then Allah will make a way out for him from every difficulty and will provide for him from resources he never anticipated or thought about.”

Ibn Abi Hatim recorded that `Abdullah bin Mas`ud said:

The greatest Ayah in the Qur’aan that contains relief is: “And whosoever fears Allaah and keeps his duty to Him, He will make a way for him to get out (from every difficulty).”

`Abdullah bin Mas`ud and Masruq commented on the Ayah, saying:

“It pertains to when one knows that if Allah wills He gives, and if He wills He deprives, “from where he never could imagine.” from resources he did not anticipate”

And Qatadah said about the way out referred to in this ayah:

“Meaning, from every doubt and the horrors experienced at the time of death, “And He will provide him from where he never could imagine” from where he never thought of or anticipated.”

Allaah said:

“And whoever relies upon Allah – then He is sufficient for him.”

Imam Ahmad recorded that Ibn `Abbas said that he rode the Prophet’s camel while sitting behind the Prophet , and the Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه وسلم) said to him:

“O boy! I will teach you words.Be mindful of Allaah and He will protect you, be mindful of Allaah and He will be on your side. If you ask, ask Allaah, and if you seek help, seek it from Allaah. Know that if the Ummah (the nation) gather their strength to bring you benefit, they will never bring you benefit, except that which Allaah has decreed for you. Know that if they gather their strength to harm you, they will never harm you, except with that which Allaah has decreed against you. The pens have been raised and the pages are dry.” [Also narrated by At-Tirmidhi who said it is Hasan]

How excellent is the advice of the Messenger (صلى الله عليه وسلم)! Were we to fully understand and act according to this, never would we despair, or feel alone. We would be patient; hoping and anticipating from Allaah the reward for doing so and realising that what is to be decreed has been decreed, and Allaah, the Most High is the Best disposer of Affairs. “The pens have been raised and the pages are dry” so why would be be hasty when we know that Allaah said:

“So be patient. Surely, the (good) end is for the Muttaqun (the righteous)” [Surat Hud: 49]

May Allaah grant us true tawakkul (reliance) upon Him and may His words be a source of our ease and comfort. May His Salaah and Salaam be upon the Final Messenger, his family, his companions, and all those that follow them in righteousness till the Day of Resurrection.

The sick heart

This is a heart with life in it, as well as illness. The former sustains it at one moment, the latter at another, and it follows whichever one of the two manages to dominate it. It has love for Allaah, faith in Him, sincerity towards Him, and reliance upon Him, and these are what give it life. It also has a craving for lust and pleasure, and prefers them and strives to experience them.

It is full of self-admiration, which can lead to its own destruction. It listens to two callers: one calling it to Allaah and His Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) and the akhirah (the hereafter); and the other calling it to the fleeting pleasures of this world. It responds to whichever one of the two happens to have most influence over it at the time.
The first heart is alive, submitted to Allaah, humble, sensitive and aware; the second is brittle and dead; the third wavers between either its safety or its ruin.

The dead heart

{See here for what is a ‘healthy heart’}

This is the opposite of the healthy heart. It does not know its Lord and does not worship Him as He commands, in the way which He wishes, and with which He is pleased. It clings instead to its lusts and desires, even if these are likely to incur Allaah’s displeasure and wrath. It worships things other that Allaah, and its loves and its hatreds, and its giving and its withholding, arise from its whims, which are of paramount importance to it and preferred above the pleasure of Allaah. Its whims are its imaam. Its lust is its guide. Its ignorance is its leader. Its crude impulses are its impetus. It is immersed in its concern with worldly objectives. It is drunk with its own fancies and its love for hasty, fleeting pleasures.

It is called to Allaah and the akhirah (the hereafter) from a distance but it does not respond to advice, and instead it follows any scheming, cunning Shaytaan (devil). Life angers and pleases it, and passion makes it deaf and blind [1] to anything except what is evil.

To associate and keep company with the owner of such a heart is to tempt illness: living with him is like taking poison, and befriending him means utter destruction.

[1] There is a hadith mentioned in the text of this book which is on the authority of Abu’d-Darda’ that the Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said, “Your love for something that makes you blind and deaf.”. However it is graded weak by Sheikh Al-Albani (رحمه الله تعالى)

The healthy heart

This is an extract from the book “Purification of the Souls”:

On the Day of Resurrection, only those who come to Allaah with a healthy heart will be saved. Allaah says:

“The Day when there will not benefit [anyone] wealth or children
 But only one who comes to Allah with a sound heart.” [Surat Ash-Shu’ara: 88-89]
In defining the healthy heart, the following has been said:
“It is a heart cleansed from any passion that challenges what Allaah commands, or disputes what He forbids. It is free from any impulses which contradict His good. As a result, it is safeguarded against the worship of anything other than Him, and seeks the judgement of no other except that of His Messenger (صلى الله عليه و سلم). Its service are exclusively reserved for Allaah, willingly and lovingly, with total reliance, relating all matters to Him, in fear, hope and sincere dedication. When it loves, its love is in the way of Allaah. If it detests, it detests in the light of what He detests. When it gives, it gives for Allaah. If it withholds, it withholds for Allaah. Nevertheless, all this will not suffice for its salvation until it is free from following, or taking as its guide, anyone  other than His Messenger (صلى الله عليه و سلم).”
A servant with a healthy heart must dedicate it to its journey’s end and not base his actions and speech on those of any other person except Allaah’s Messenger (صلى الله عليه و سلم). He must not give precedence to any other faith or words or deeds over those of Allaah and His Messenger (صلى الله عليه و سلم). Allaah says:
“O you who believe! Do not put (yourselves) forward before Allaah and His Messenger (صلى الله عليه و سلم), and fear Allaah. Verily! Allaah is All-Hearing, All-Knowing.” [Surat Al-Hujurat: 1]

Performing deeds for show (Riya’)

Allaah said:

“Verily, the hypocrites seek to deceive Allah, but it is He Who deceives them. And when they stand up for As-Salat (the prayer), they stand with laziness and to be seen of men, and they do not remember Allah but little.” [Surat An-Nisaa’: 142]

It is from the characteristics of the hypocrites to do deeds for show and not  for attaining the pleasure of Allaah. Riya’ is a grave sin, that one should guard himself from, by seeking the assistance of Allaah and continuing to renew his niyah (intention) so that it is completely sincere for the sake of Allaah.

The Messenger (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said:

“He who acts to show off, Allaah will disgrace him on the Day of Resurrection, and he who does good deeds so that people (may hold him in high esteem), Allaah will expose his hidden evil intentions before the people on the Day of Resurrection.” [Bukhari and Muslim]

Therefore Riya’ does nothing but harm the servant who performs deeds with it. Instead of impressing the people he will be exposed as a liar. He will not find the deeds that he performed in favour of him on the Day of Resurrection, and instead these “dead deeds” will be a source of grief for him.

A poet said:

“The garment of Riya’ (doing deeds for show) is transparent, revealing what is underneath it, so that, if you attire yourself with it, you are in reality naked.” [Quoted by Sheikh Muhammad Al Uthaymeen]

We seek refuge with Allaah from performing deeds with Riya’, and may the Salaah and Salaam of Allaah be upon the Final Messenger.

Test your heart

Allaah (سبحانه و تعالى) said:

And know that, among you there is the Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه و سلم). If he were to obey you (i.e. follow your opinions and desires) in much of the matter, you would surely be in trouble, but Allah has endeared the Faith to you and has beautified it in your hearts, and has made disbelief, wickedness and disobedience (to Allah and His Messenger صلى الله عليه و سلم) hateful to you. These! They are the rightly guided ones.  [Surat Al-Hujurat: 7]

We need to test our hearts with this glorious ayah in the Book of Allaah. Does Islaam take a secure place in our hearts, such that it throws out anything that is not compatible with it? Is disbelief and disobedience hated to us, such that when we see such evil we act against it? The Messenger (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said:

“Whoever among you sees an evil, let him change it with his hand; if he cannot, then with his tongue; if he cannot, then with his heart- and that is the weakest of Faith.” [Sahih- Sunan an-Nasaa’ii]

Do we fit this description? Do we command the good and forbid the evil?

Or has Shaytaan tricked us? Is our time is wasted, watching shows of disbelievers committing obscene things, which we justify to be ‘okay’ because it’s fiction. Are we entranced by the lives of these so called “stars”?

Our hearts are fickle. The Messenger (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said:

“Be prompt in doing good deeds (before you are overtaken) by turbulence which would be like a part of the dark night. A man would be a believer in the morning and turn to disbelief in the evening, or he would be a believer in the evening and turn disbeliever in the morning, and would sell his Faith for worldly goods.” [Sahih Muslim]

Our souls incline to what it is surrounded with. If the slave surrounds himself with beneficial knowledge, righteous companions and seeing and hearing the khayr (good), his soul will incline toward it and he will not be satisfied with anything except that which is good. Conversely, if the slave surrounds himself with vain amusements, idol talk, and falsehood, his soul will incline toward that and feel more comfortable with evil and unsettled with the good.

We should fear our own selves and never feel safe from the allure of the worldly life. We should never feel safe that because we have Islaam today, that we will have it tomorrow. The Messenger (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said:

“‘Verily, the hearts of all the sons of Adam are between two fingers of the fingers of the Compassionate Lord (Ar-Rahman) as one heart. He turns them to any (direction) He likes.’

Then Allaah’s Messenger (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said: ‘O Allah, the Turner of the hearts, turn our hearts to Your obedience.'” [Sahih Muslim]

May Allaah rectify our conditions and make our hearts incline toward His obedience. May His Salaah and Salaam be upon the Messenger of Allaah, his wives, his companions and all those that follow them in righteousness.