Source : islamweb.net
A person in this worldly life lives in a state of ongoing struggle against visible and unseen enemies, and though some enemies are unseen, they may be more destructive than the visible ones. Therefore, one should always be alert and cautious. A person’s own self is the most hostile enemy that urges him to attain every possible desire and obtain every pleasure, even if it violates the commands of Allaah and His Messenger, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam.
When the slave of Allaah indulges in his desires and surrenders to it, this would lead to his destruction. However, if he strives against his desires and makes his faith and piety take control over and hold back his desires, he would gain victory in one of the greatest battlefields of Jihaad. In this respect, the Messenger of Allaah, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, said: “Should I inform you of the [true] believer? It is he whom people trust over their wealth and lives, and the [true] Muslim is he who avoids harming Muslims with his tongue and hands, and the Mujaahid [holy warrior] is he who strives against his self and his desires in order to obey Allaah, and the Muhaajir [emigrant] is the one who abandons all what Allaah has forbidden.” [As-Silsilah As-Saheehah by Al-Albaani: 549]
Therefore, striving against one’s self is one of the best types of Jihaad. Ibn Battaal, may Allaah have mercy upon him, said, Striving against one’s self is the most perfect type of Jihaad, as Allaah The Almighty Says (what means): “But as for he who feared the position of his Lord and prevented the soul from [unlawful] inclination.” [Quran 79:40] This is achieved by preventing one’s self from committing acts of disobedience, avoiding doubtful matters and abandoning excessive enjoyment of lawful desires in order to enjoy them more in the Hereafter, as they would be abundant for him there.
Degrees of Striving Against One’s Self
Some of the prominent scholars have said that there are four degrees of striving against one’s self:
• Exercising self-resistance in order to learn the matters pertaining to religion.
• Exercising self- resistance in order to act according to what he has learnt.
• Exercising self- resistance in order to teach the ignorant what he has learned.
• Calling others to testify that none is worthy of worship but Allaah and fighting those who challenge His religion and deny His favors and bounties.
Ways of Self-Control and Self Purification
A Muslim needs assistance in order to protect himself against his desires and exercise self-control.
1- Perseverance: This is the most powerful weapon a Muslim can use to exercise self-control. A person who is determined to overcome his whims, desires and evil companions, will be able to control himself and gain his self-esteem, and thereby overcome and gain victory over them. On the other hand, a person who becomes vexed and impatient with exercising self-control will become defeated, captured and a slave to his evil-companion and desire. Ziyaad ibn Abi Ziyaad, a freed salve of Ibn ‘Ayyaash, may Allaah have mercy upon them both, would challenge himself in the mosque and say, “What do you want? Where do you want to go? Is there a place better than this mosque you want to go to? Look at what is in it. Do you want to look at the house of so and so instead?” He would also say to himself, “You have no food other than this bread and oil, and no other clothes than these two garments, and no other wife but this old woman. Would you prefer to die?” Then he would say: “No, I shall have patience over this lifestyle.”
Also, when Maalik ibn Dinaar, may Allaah have mercy upon him, would wander in the market and when he saw something that he desired, he would say to himself, “Be patient. By Allaah, I only prevent you due to your honorable position in my sight.” These are examples of some righteous people who exercised self-control by having patience and perseverance.
2- Adopting a self-critical attitude: This is one of the means that would help a person in disciplining and controlling it. When a person realizes the true nature of himself, he would not incline or surrender to it; rather, he would criticize it. How could a person have good expectations of a bitter enemy who awaits the opportunity to suddenly attack him? Allaah The Almighty Says (what means):And I do not acquit myself. Indeed, the soul is a persistent enjoiner of evil, except those upon which my Lord has mercy. [Quran 12:53]
When Abu Bakr appointed ‘Umar, may Allaah be pleased with them, as his successor, he advised him, saying, “The first thing that I warn you against is yourself.”
3- Supplicating to Allaah The Almighty, resorting to Him and seeking help through prayers, zakat and fasting: These are also from the greatest causes that assist self-control. It was narrated on the authority of Rabee‘ah Al-Aslami, may Allaah be pleased with him, that he said, “I would spend the night with the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. I would bring him water for his ablution and other things he needed. He once said to me: ‘Ask of me.’ I said, ‘I ask for your company in Paradise.’ He said: ‘Is this the only thing you ask for?’ I said, ‘It is only this.’ He said: ‘Help me in this by yourself, by making prostration abundantly.’”
Exercising self-control is one of the greatest ways that bring about goodness. When Allaah helps His slave succeed in such a matter, he will gain victory and such a benefit that he would never experience any loss afterwards. However, if he fails and is defeated, his loss would be great.
It was narrated in a Hadeeth that the Messenger, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, said:
Satan puts obstacles in every way the son of ’Aadam takes to obey Allaah: he put obstacles in his way to embracing Islam and said, ‘Will you embrace Islam and abandon your religion, the religion of your father and grandfather?’ Yet, he disobeyed him and embraced Islam. Then, he put obstacles in his way to performing Hijrah and said, ‘Will you emigrate and abandon your land and sky. The emigrant is like a horse that is leashed?’ Yet, he disobeyed him and emigrated. Then, he put obstacles in his way to performing Jihaad and said, ‘Will you perform Jihaad and sacrifice your life and wealth, then you will be killed, your wife will get married to another man and your wealth will be divided [amongst your heirs].’ Still, he disobeyed him and performed Jihaad.”
The Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, added: “Allaah made it a right over Himself to make anyone who does so to enter Paradise. If he drowns or is cast off his mount [while performing Jihaad], Allaah would admit him to Paradise.”
Allah (swt) says in the Qur’an:
And they were not commanded except to worship God, dedicating their faith to Him as men of pure faith, and to maintain the prayer, and pay the zakat. That is the upright religion. (98:5)
Zakat is derived from the same root as tazkiyah (purification) i.e. za-ka-wa which means growth and purity. This is why God says to the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.):
Take charity from their possessions to cleanse them and purify them thereby, and bless them. Indeed your blessing is a comfort to them, and God is all-hearing, all-knowing. (9:103)
The beloved Prophet Muhammad said “There is in the body a clump of flesh – if it becomes good, the whole body becomes good and if it becomes bad, the whole body becomes bad. And indeed it is the heart.”
From this we can deduce that having a pure heart is another way to purification, this can be obtained through having good intentions though out your life in regards to worship, and that all our worship and other actions are solely to please Allaah.
Narrated ‘Umar bin Al-Khattab: Allah’s Apostle said, “The reward of deeds depends upon the intention and every person will get the reward according to what he has intended. So whoever emigrated for Allah and His Apostle, then his emigration was for Allah and His Apostle. And whoever emigrated for worldly benefits or for a woman to marry, his emigration was for what he emigrated for.” [Bukhari]
It is a basic fact that we must have self-control. There can be no spirituality without self-discipline. We cannot develop ourselves by simply doing what we wish and satisfying and gratifying our soul. Of course, Islam tells us that self-control is just a beginning. What we need to do is to transform our soul from one which has an interest in lower desires into a soul which instead has a yearning for good things. By training and purifying our souls, our soul itself becomes a helper and an assistant to us. A major task of the Prophets and in particular the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.) was to help people to purify themselves. The reason for such a great emphasis on self-purification is the fact that God is the Most Pure and the Most Perfect and it is only by purification of the soul that we can achieve our ambition of getting close to Him. One major way of purification is to get rid of attachment to the materialistic life by giving out one’s own money for the sake of God.
Source : http://www.islamweb.net/womane/nindex.php?page=readart&id=158751