Disciplining the Soul

The believer must discipline his soul to resist anything that negates faith. This includes all the various manifestations of disbelief, hypocrisy, sin and transgression. Just as it is necessary to follow all routes that lead to strengthening faith, it is also necessary to remove or repress all barriers that obstruct this goal. This is achieved by feeling remorse for any sins committed and seeking forgiveness for them, preventing the limbs from sinning, combating doubts with knowledge and base desires with the desire for faith. The core desire that a person has is for good, and that is what he loves and strives for. But this can only truly come about by abandoning the desire of the soul towards evil and by fighting the propensity of the lower self towards sin.

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When the servant prevents himself from falling prey to the trial of doubts and base desires, his faith becomes complete and his certainty strong. He then becomes the true depiction of the garden of faith, “like a garden on a hillside, when heavy rain falls on it, it doubles in produce; and if heavy rain does not fall, there is dew. Allāh sees what you do.” (Q2:265)

However, if the opposite occurs, if the lower self inciting evil conquers him and he falls prey to doubts or base desires, he becomes the living depiction of the following parable, “Would any of you like to have a garden of dates and grapes, with rivers flowing underneath and containing all kinds of fruits, then to be stricken with old age and have children who are weak, and then for a fierce whirlwind containing fire to come and strike it such that it goes up in flames? In this way Allāh makes His signs clear to you so that hopefully you will reflect.” (Q2:266)

Therefore, in summary, the efforts of the believing servant, the servant to whom Allāh has granted His divine accord, are expended in two things,

  1. Perfecting the foundations and branches of faith in terms of knowledge, action and condition.
  2. Repressing any trial or tribulation – internal or external – that would negate or diminish this.

Moreover, the servant must cure any violation of the second point or any omission of the first point through sincere repentance, and correct himself before it is too late.

Allāh says, “As for those who have taqwā, when they are troubled by visitors from Satan, they remember and immediately see clearly.” (Q7:201) meaning they immediately see their deficiency or sin that the visitors from Satan caused them to fall into. When they see this, they quickly rectify the situation and return to their condition of complete faith and their enemy retreats in a state of humiliation.

The brothers of Satan, “lead them further into error and they do not stop at that!” (Q7:201) The devils never falter in trying to misguide mankind, they will always work towards sealing their fate. Those who follow them and obey them will do so at their own loss, and they will deserve eternal anguish and loss.

O Allāh make faith beloved to us and adorn it for us in our hearts; make disbelief, sin and transgression abhorrent to us and make us amongst the rightly guided by virtue of Your grace and favour. You are the All-Knowing, All-Wise.

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