Thursday, February 25, 2010

A 'Fishy' Situation

So you've probably heard of the crack in Dubai Mall's aquarium, right? I'm pissed off at what's going on around the world...not to mention, feeling very bitter for some reason.

Here's a far-fetched theory..

Ya think that would impact Dubai's tourism?! I can just imagine BIG, BOLD headlines:


Then they'll give a whole account of how the fish miraculously saw/heard a report on Al Qaeda and/or Taliban 'insurgents', and decided to launch an attack on the increasing number of 'infidels'. They'll probably get some whacked out professor from some whacked out research center who will support their claim by saying fish are actually smarter than we thought. A couple of accounts from 'horrified witnesses', and 'traumatized victims' of the attack..'It was terrifying; I wouldn't have believed the study had the shark not lunged towards me! I was the only one amongst a group of females that was not dressed 'Islamically'!'

Why not? After all, they already have antidepressants for dogs and hotels especially for pets. Sometimes, you'd think the researchers were high when they did the study. Totally wasted. And yes, either I'm really very bored and need to get a life, or I'm fed up of the quality of today's retarded studies and news reports. Either way, I'm sure they'd accuse a shark of being the leader, while one of those huge tuna fish (they ARE tuna, right??) would be an ideal 'wingman'.

"Like OMG, flights to Dubai would be canceled and '25/2' would be a day in history - the day Dubai lost its charm!"

Whatever. Can you tell why I don't bother reading the newspaper anymore?

Friday, February 12, 2010

Types of An-Nafs

Salam 3lykm,

These are notes I took during the lecture a few weeks ago, and so, a clip isn't available yet. It IS available on my Mom's MP3 player, however..and probably on my Dad's phones, Unfortunately, I didn't take it down completely, as it ended with a few, really overwhelming stories that had almost everyone present tears. I remember some of them, will add them to the end.

Just as the womb is the place where the fetus is nourished, and a baby attains full physical development, with regards to the organs and functionality of the systems, our soul's place of nourishment is this world; whatever it lacks on Youm Al Qiyamah will not be attainable in the Hereafter. Just as if a baby's arm is not fully developed in the womb - it is not expected to 'grow' after birth - we will not be able to come back to this world again to attain a 'second chance' to living a life according to the Sharee'a, as we should have lived. In Surah Hadeed, Allah Subhanahu w Ta'ala says:

On the day when the hypocritical men and the hypocritical women will say unto those who believe: Look on us that we may borrow from your light! it will be said: Go back and seek for light! Then there will separate them a wall wherein is a gate, the inner side whereof containeth mercy, while the outer side thereof is toward the doom. (13)

As mentioned in the Holy Qur'an, there are three types of Nafs:

1. Nafs Al Ammaratun Bissou' - The Commander of Evil

2. Nafs Al Lawwaama - The One that Blames

3. Nafs Al Mutma'inna - The Content One

The Characteristics of someone with Nafs Al Ammaratun Bissou':

a) Man goes after his desires; just like an animal, or even worse.

There are three kinds of animals:

1. Don't hurt other animals even when starving – domestic, eg. Cow (herbivore) Even if a cow is starving, it will die of starvation, rather than preying on another animal.

Those that only attack when hungry - predators, eg. lions (carnivore) A lion usually only attacks when hungry. Once it has hunted and eaten, should a deer cross its path, it will not even look in its direction, as it is satiated, and will rest instead.

Animals that will attack at any time, venomous creatures, eg. scorpions.

This leads us to the second characteristic which is:

b) Hurts people just for the sake of it - has a sadistic nature: derives pleasure from hurting others.

c) Indulge freely in sins, and won’t have any guilt whatsoever : Looks at the righteous through "Eblees' glasses". In other words, to defend his animalistic nature of fulfilling his desires whenever and wherever he wants, he will point fingers at righteous people and find faults in them (eg. 'Oh, you religious people are all extremists'; 'you don't know how to treat your women, and slave-drive them'). Just as an animal fulfills carnal desires whenever and wherever it is, so does this kind of person.

d) Just like a predator; when hungry, it will even prey on its own child. Thus, this person is the same; doesn't care whether or not the means of earning a living is lawful or not. The main objective is to earn money so that he can use it to satisfy his endless desires.

e) When angry, is like an impatient, blind man:
Just as an impatient, blind man sees nothing but himself, is ungrateful for the other Blessings he's been bestowed with, when anger takes over this person, he becomes wild with rage, forgetting everything but himself.

f) Enjoyment like that of Fir'oun: Fir'oun was given everything, a whole kingdom at the age of 18. And then he claimed ‘Ana Rabbukumul A'la’; claimed to be a deity; similarly…this man is the same. Everything is about money; plays the game of life with money. Manipulates people with the show of money, and gets what he desires.

g) like Qaroon when it comes to miserliness: Story: I was in charge for building a Masjid; a young man came up to me, and said he cannot give any money in for contribution, as he could not afford it. I told him it's okay, and he asked me not to disclose his condition to anyone else. Anyway, I did what I had to do, and contributed to the funds on his behalf. Later on, Subhanallah I happened to come across the same young man again, and another one told me that he was at a concert where each ticket $1200…and he bought tickets for all members of his family. When it comes to spending for the sake of Allah, he cannot do so, because he is only after fulfilling his desires...if he spends on Allah's Path, what would he left for enjoyment? <- Mentality of the person..

h) When it comes to trials; complains all the time: for the smallest tests of life, only words of ungratefulness will ever be heard from his mouth. He will not cease complaining until he is freed from this trial, and shows clear dissatisfaction for that which has been decreed by Allah. This leads us to the next characteristic which is:

i) Is ungrateful for the Blessings that Allah has Bestowed him with: he shows ingratitude, and always thinks he has been left short of them, for instance, money. I once came across a person who could haveEASILY supported 40 families if he wanted to, and when I asked him, 'How is everything with you?' He replied, 'I'm surviving.' Allahu Akbar! Surviving?! How ungrateful Man is even after receiving the Blessings of Allah..!

At the time of sins, like a match: all this person needs is the opportunity to sin; all a match needs is a strike to light up. Similar is the condition of this person; devilish, selfish, and lustful thoughts fill his mind all the time. He is ever-ready to sin; and opportunist when it comes to sinning.

The next question that comes to mind is, 'why?' After all, how can a man be like this? How can someone have such undesirable characteristics? Man consists of 4 'parts':

1. Fire: This contributes to Man's tendency of being inflicted by the ailment of Takabbur (pride) and 'Ujb; when a fire is lit, it only ascends higher as it catches more strength. Similarly, this man only thinks highly of himself, [to the point where he can also say 'Ana Khayrun minh' and eventually, 'Ana Rabbukumul A'laa'.]

2. Clay: This contributes to Man's tendency of being inflicted with miserliness. Clay depicts lowliness; it is something petty, and pettiness is associated with miserliness.

3. Water: This contributes to Man's ailment of 'Hirs', or the tendency to never be satiated; always wanting more. Water never stays in its place when poured somewhere; it will either get absorbed, or spread out as much as possible. Similar is man; a person with this nature will always freely indulge in the sin of Zina (fornication). Even after marriage, he will not be able to control his lustful desires, and will not lower his gaze. The more he can get, the lesser it seems, and the more he wants.

4. Air: As you fill a balloon, it inflates. Similarly, this is what contributes to man's tendency of doing Shirk (associating partners with Allah)

It is thus the work of Masha'ikh to guide their students, teaching them how to cure themselves and rid their hearts of such ailments, with the one and only cure: Thikrullah. They assist them to convert their Nafs from one that is Ammaratun Bissou', one that has such vile characteristics, into Al Lawwaama, and finally, if Allah Wills, into Al Mutma'inna.

[Once a Shaykh starts working with one of his students, the constant Thikr or remembrance of Allah succeeds in removing the rust that has formed on the heart, allowing some of the Noor of Allah to penetrate through; thus the Nafs turns into Al Lawwaama, or 'The Blamer'.]

Nafs Al Lawwaama:

Generally, this is the kind of Nafs that most people possess; we sin, and then repent, crying for forgiveness later on, when we regret the sins we have committed in Ghaflah. This guilty conscience is usually indicative of the type of Nafs one possesses, and so, is crucial to possess. The act of repentance is so great, that it can be the one that Allah loves about his disobedient slave, Forgiving him for all his sins!

There was once a drunkard in a village who passed away, for whom all the villagers had sworn they would never attend Salat Al Janazah. Upon washing the body and shrouding it, his wife sat in wait for someone to come and lead the prayers. Soon, a revered pious man who had taken refuge in the mountains came down, and asked her why she was sitting alone with a body, instead of burying it and going back to her home. She replied, 'This is my husband, for whom all the villagers have sworn they will never attend Funeral prayers, let alone lead it. I did what I could, but now I'm just waiting for someone to lead the prayer, so that he can be buried.' Gathering all the villagers, the pious man lead them in the drunkard's Salat Al Janazah, after which he went and asked the man's wife, 'Was there anything he did that could have earned him Allah's Forgiveness?'

She replied, 'From what I can remember about his life, no..I don't think so. He was a fasiq and a fajir...he used to drink so much that he would always remain drunk, and would abuse me whenever he came back home, if he did. The pious man encouraged her onwards, 'there MUST be SOMETHING that Allah loved about him, to Forgive him for all his sins!' After giving much thought, she spoke again, 'He used to spend all night drunk, but when he would start getting a little sober, he would cry bitterly and say: Ya Allah! Which part of Jahannam will you throw me in for all that I've done in my life?!'

The man explained, 'It is that act of repentance that was so dear to Allah, that he forgave him for all his sins. I was praying in seclusion, when I was told (through Ilham): Go lead the Funeral Prayers for MY Slave, for whom the villagers have taken an oath not to pray for. It is when I descended from the mountains that I found you sitting here.'

Allahu Akbar! A person whose own village people refused to pray for upon his death due to his Fisq...Allah Forgave on the basis that he would cry bitterly and ask a mere question?! Subhanallah; look at how Forgiving and Merciful Allah is!

There are two types of Wasawes that trouble us, and lead us to committing sin:

1. Those that come from Shaytaan
2. Those that come from our Nafs

The question that arises next is, 'how can one tell the difference between the two?' Masha'ikh have come up with a 'litmus test'; they say when the thought of sinning comes into one's mind, he or she should forcefully try to put an end to it, or remove it from his or her mind. Should the same thought reoccur again and again, then this is from the Nafs. How? However, if the thought changes into something else, but it is still a sin, then this is from Shaytaan.

The explanation is as follows: The Nafs is stubborn; more like a child when it wants to get something. It will continue persistently to no end until the person gives in, and sins; thus, the same thought will keep coming into the mind again and again. On the other hand, it is Shaytaan's purpose in this life to drag as many men as possible into hell with him in the Hereafter. However, Shaytaan knows Man is aware of his enmity towards him, so he will try to bring him down gradually. In other words, Shaytaan will either cause Man to lessen the degree of his good deeds (i.e. go from a bigger good deed to a smaller one to none at all), thereby decreasing his level of piety (Taqwa), or he will cause Man to increase the degree of his bad deeds (i.e. go from minor sins to major ones).

There was once a pious scholar who used to get up in time for Tahajjud everyday. One night, he slept through, and woke up in time for Fajr instead. He got very upset at his loss, and started crying remorsefully, seeking forgiveness from Allah, thinking it was due to the weight of his sins that he incurred this loss. He was awoken by a man for Tahajjud the following day, 'Get up and pray Tahajjud.' Astonished at the situation, the pious man looked at him and asked, 'who are you, and what do you get out of this?' It was Eblees in the form of a human, and just ponder over the reply he gave! "You missed one night of Tahajjud, but were given the reward of praying a thousand nights in return for your remorse and regret over missing it. I thought if I woke you up, then your getting one night's worth of reward was much better than getting a thousand or more, in case you missed it again.'

Shaytaan will always work on weakening the foundation of a Muslim, decreasing his or her Iman. He will bring doubts related to 'Aqaa'id in a person's mind, leading to confusion. There is a Hadeeth about a time when a Muslim will be Muslim by day, but Kafir by night and vice versa. This is one of the underlying meanings of the Hadeeth; Shaytaan will attack the Iman of a Muslim, by instilling doubts in his mind regarding his beliefs.

A person gets two types of thoughts in his mind: good and bad. Once again, 'Ulamaa' have come up with a 'litmus test' to differentiate between the two, as sometimes, one cannot figure out whether a thought is good or bad. It should first be seen whether or not the thought is in accordance with the Sharee'a. If it is, then it is obviously a good one, and if not, then bad. However, some thoughts cannot be 'filtered' like this; thus, Ma'shaikh of Tasawwuf say that one should evaluate the thought: is it a burden on one's Nafs or not? If it is, then it is a good thought, but if it is not, then it is a bad one and one should try to dispel it immediately.

The thought that comes from Allah is Ilham, and it is usually Auliya of Allah who have hearts pure enough to receive it. Their Nafs is of the third kind - Al Mutma'inna - and thus, such thoughts bring contentment to the person. On the other hand, the one that comes from Shaytaan is known as Waswasa; these instill confusion in the person's mind (and as mentioned earlier, doubts).

Nafs Al Mutma'inna

The analogy of a person following the Sharee'a is a fish immersed in water; this person cannot even think about sinning. Going against the Sharee'a is something he or she really hates very much, and it causes extreme regret to commit sins. For instance, a woman possessing this kind of Nafs cannot even think about leaving her house without being fully covered.

There is a story of a certain woman whose village was taxed by the king as a punishment for something they had done, yet they were so poor, they could not afford to pay the taxes. So, when the tax collector came from the king, she took all the jewelery she owned and put it in a handkerchief. She tied it up into a bundle, and gave it to the man. When he returned to the king and related the story, he felt ashamed at himself. Here was a woman who had so much mercy for her people that she was ready to give up all her jewelery for their sake, whilst he, being their ruler, had no compassion for them? He ordered for the jewelery to be taken back to her, and waived off the taxes.

Upon receiving her jewelery, the woman asked the man, 'tell me...did the king make this decision before or after he saw my jewelery?' The man replied, 'After he saw it.' She said, 'Then, take it away for it is of no use to me now. How can I wear something a strange man has set his gaze upon?' Allahu Akbar! Look at the Taqwa of this woman; Subhanallah, she condemned her own jewelery just because a non-mahram had seen you can just imagine how strictly women in the past adhered to the laws of Hijab!

This is the state of 'Wilayat As Sughra', and continuous effort might even lead to 'Wilayat Al Kubra'. Wilayat As Sughra is attained when thoughts of sinning come to mind (Wasawes), yet the person still does not sin. Allah Bestows this person with the endurance and patience needed to abstain from sinning. However, if this person is not distracted with Wasawes at ALL, then this is 'Wilayat Al Kubra', and is the state of all Anbiyaa'. This person is protected from Shaytaan and his traps - it is about these people that Allah says in the Holy Quran in Surat Al Israa':

Lo! My (faithful) bondmen - over them thou hast no power, and thy Lord sufficeth as (their) guardian. (65)

They do not have to abstain from sins; rather sins stay away from them. The example is of Yusuf Alayhis Salam, about whom Allah says in Surah Yusuf:

Thus it was, that We might ward off from him evil and lewdness. Lo! he was of Our chosen slaves. (24)

In fact, there is no end to Wilayah – و قل ربي زدني علما Man can also exceed the status of Angels, and is thus called 'Ashraf Al Mukhlooqat' - The Best of All Creation. For instance, Abu Bakr As Siddeeq Radhiyallahu Anh was sent greetings (Salam) from ALLAH, not once or twice, but a NUMBER of times!

Ways to Increase Iman

1. Adherence to Sharee'a

2. Adherence to Sunnah

3. Keeping in touch with your Shaykh, and updating him on your 'state' in life

Following these 3 important points will increase Iman. Besides those:

- Think about your Lord: Think about His Attributes, His Creation. Ponder over it: the natural beauty, the different types of animals, how everything has a perfect system which has not failed to function from the time it started. Think about the favors Allah Has granted Man; that is what Man's nature is like. He expects to receive something in return for something he gives or does. [Allah gives and Forgives; Man gets and forgets.]

- Think about Rasulullah: His attributes, his lifestyle, his personality..

- Think about the people that have passed in history: especially those that were dealt Allah’s Wrath. Think about what they did, and the punishment they received in return. This will cause Man to fear what could happen to him should he do the same, thus abstaining from sinning.

- Think about death, and what will follow death: What will happen in the grave…etc. This will bring an end to all desires. Think about your situation; حاسبوا قبل أن تحاسبواassess yourself BEFORE you are ASSESSED. This is what Masha’ikh teach their students to do: evaluate themselves. Thus, with the help and guidance of Allah, they help their students convert their Nafs gradually - from Ammaratun Bissou to Al Lawwaama, then Al Lawwaama to Al Mutma'inna. Keeping in touch with your Shaykh is crucial.

Junaid Al-Baghdadi Rahimahullah had a bird which he set free after a conversation with it. It should not come as a surprise; after all, it is solely up to Allah to decide who to give the understanding of animals' speech, let alone birds. This bird said to him, 'If you set me free, I promise to share with you some advice of great value.' In those days, the value of advice was so high, that he set the bird free. It then said, 'As soon as I was surrounded by the darkness of Ghaflah, you captured me and kept me caged until today. Oh Junaid! If you have spent so long in Ghaflah until now, how then will be the state of YOUR captivity?'

As a person’s rank and closeness increases, so will the weight of his A3maal, and so will the Reward. Attaining Nafs Al Mutma’inna is only in our own best interest – not anyone else's! It’s not to put any burden on us, but it’s to purify us…to make sure we’re worthy of entering Jannah.

سُبۡحَـٰنَ رَبِّكَ رَبِّ ٱلۡعِزَّةِ عَمَّا يَصِفُونَ  وَسَلَـٰمٌ عَلَى ٱلۡمُرۡسَلِينَ  وَٱلۡحَمۡدُ لِلَّهِ رَبِّ ٱلۡعَـٰلَمِينَ

(Shaykh Zulfiqar Ahmad Naqshbandi)