028 The one who cleans his nafs reaches happiness
The first step of Tasawwuf training is "cleaning of the nafs (ego)".
Although I wrote it in my first article; I would like to remind it again. The existence of human is composed of five dimensions. The first one is the material dimension and the human is completely like an inanimate thing with this dimension that is subject to the physical and chemical laws of material. The second one is the physiological dimension where the living events start including bio-analysis (producing energy) and biosynthesis (using the obtained energy), the human is like a plant in this dimension. The third one is the psychological dimension including psychological activities as attention, perception, recognizing, and consciousness and reacting the effects, the human is like an animal in this dimension.
The fourth one is the reason dimension of the human. The "reason" is the most important gift after existence and health granted the humans by Allah (swt) and it is the first parameter that changes human the most. As reason is a mechanism of reasoning and decision, it is a very important mental activity discriminating human from the other animals and other humans. Every person has his own private life and directs it as he wants because of reason. Every person has thoughts, targets, decisions and wishes (opinions and wills), plans and programs different from others because of the "reason". A person shows a set of behaviors different from the others related to this activity in the reason dimension. The existence of the human formed by these behaviors, which are transformed into habits in time, are called "ego" (internal view) or "personality" (external view) of the person. This ego is called "nafs" in Arabic. In other words, our "personality" is a spiritual creation that is built by the implementations of the decisions of our reason.
I told that the reason is a mechanism of thoughts and decisions before. This mechanism is responsible from reasoning and consideration and it uses various criterions to decide. Inherently, this "criterion" is dignifying this person, meeting the material, physiological, and psychological needs, supporting and protecting him. In other words, the reason is structured to protect the personal benefits naturally and it decides according to the desires and wishes emerging from the person's own material, physiologic and psychological nature. However, it may be considered as something good for this person, indeed it may be a disaster, when it exceeds necessity limits for the person living in the society, which threatens his life and the life of the society he lives in. Please, remember how the selfish people around you damage both themselves and the society while they were trying to protect their benefits.
The anfus (plural of nafs), which are at the fourth dimension without passing through religious training by knowing Allah, using their personal benefit criterions within all reasoning and decisions, with thoughts that limited with their existence, thinking their own material, physiologic and psychological wishes and desires, whose hearts are filled with this desire, harming both themselves and the society while they think they have benefits, are called "nafs-i-ammara" (The evil-commanding nafs, the inciting nafs). This type of ego orders the evil things to its owner.
It is ordered for the people with this nafs in Qur'an that:
"But many do mislead (men) by their low desires without knowledge." [Anaam, 119]
"Seest thou such a one as taketh for his god his own passion (or impulse)? Couldst thou be a disposer of affairs for him?" [Furqan, 43]
"Or thinkest thou that most of them listen or understand? They are only like cattle;- nay, they are farther astray from the way." [Furqan, 44]
Indeed the most important enemy of a person is his "ego" that doesn't know his Creator and doesn't accept Allah's orders that lead him to prosperity and goodness, but tries to decide in line with the person's wills and wishes. All the difficulties experienced by the human are because of being dependent to this evil-commanding nafs (nafs-i-ammara). It is ordered in the verses from the Qur'an that:
"The (human) soul is certainly incites to evil" [Yusuf, 53]
"But Allah wronged them not: nay, they wronged their own souls." [Nahl, 33]
"Whatever misfortune happens to you is because of the things your hands have wrought" [Shura, 30]
In the hadith, it is ordered that
"Miserliness, obeying the nafs and admiring oneself leads one to disaster." [Tabarani]
Of course, every person has some vital needs that must be met in order to live. Every person has the right to have wishes and desires to meet them. It is not related to evil-commanding nafs. The limit of the nafs-i-ammara is the requests that lead one to unlawful activities beyond the vital needs. A person is in need of eating fruit and vegetable to meet the daily vitamin needs. However, if one feels a strong desire for food, it is because of the nafs. If one fulfills these desires, he may be obese and be exposed to various illnesses and difficulties accordingly. Whenever you have a problem, please look back on your past. You will see astonishingly that these problems are emerged because you are dependent on the wills and desires of your nafs most of the time.
How can a person avoid evil-commanding nafs, his most important enemy, which leads him to disasters? The secret of our salvation and eternal happiness underlines in the answer of this question.
"Truly he succeeds that purifies it" [Shams, 9]
"And he fails that corrupts it!" [Shams, 10]
The evil-commanding nafs is such a terrible enemy that nobody can be saved from it easily without the help and mercy of Allah.
"Then seest thou such a one as takes as his god his own vain desire? Allah has, knowing (him as such), left him astray, and sealed his hearing and his heart (and understanding), and put a cover on his sight. Who, then, will guide him after Allah (has withdrawn Guidance)? Will ye not then receive admonition? [Jathiya, 23]
"And were it not for the grace and mercy of Allah on you, not one of you would ever have been pure: but Allah doth purify whom He pleases: and Allah is One Who hears and knows (all things)." [Nur, 21]
One shall never trust his own knowledge, experiences, and wills in the struggle with his nafs that leads him to evil continuously. One must ask for help from Allah (swt) all the time. When the help of Allah (swt) arrives, everything becomes easier at once.
Be entrusted to Allah.
Dr. Ismail Ulukus