[1] Why do we need to be more cautious of the soul than an avowed enemy

In The Name of Allah, The Most Merciful, The Bestower of Mercy.

Imaam Abu Bakr Muhammad Ibn Al-Husayn Al-Aajurree [may Allah have mercy upon him] said:

All praise and thanks be to Allah by way of Whose Grace all righteous deeds are accomplished. All praise and thanks be to Allah in all circumstances and may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon the Prophet Muhammad, his family, and all his companions, and we seek Allah’s Aid and Assistance. To proceed:

May Allah grant us and you all the path towards right conduct in speech and deeds, protect us from the evils of our souls and the evil consequences of our evil deeds, and truly He is All-Hearer, Ever Near (to all things by His knowledge). Know that Allah has mentioned the soul in various sections of His Book, with notification of many matters concerning it, and that all of this implies that one should be mindful of the soul. Our Generous Protector (Allah) informed us that the soul has a tendency to gravitate toward the (evil) it desires while knowing it is forbidden. Our Generous Protector made it known and taught us that whoever prohibits the soul from pursuing the (evil) it desires, the abode of such a person will be paradise. Allah stated:

فَإِذَا جَآءَتِ ٱلطَّآمَّةُ ٱلۡكُبۡرَىٰ
يَوۡمَ يَتَذَكَّرُ ٱلۡإِنسَـٰنُ مَا سَعَىٰ
وَبُرِّزَتِ ٱلۡجَحِيمُ لِمَن يَرَىٰ
فَأَمَّا مَن طَغَىٰ
وَءَاثَرَ ٱلۡحَيَوٰةَ ٱلدُّنۡيَا
فَإِنَّ ٱلۡجَحِيمَ هِىَ ٱلۡمَأۡوَىٰ
وَأَمَّا مَنۡ خَافَ مَقَامَ رَبِّهِۦ وَنَهَى ٱلنَّفۡسَ عَنِ ٱلۡهَوَىٰ
فَإِنَّ ٱلۡجَنَّةَ هِىَ ٱلۡمَأۡوَىٰ

But when there comes the greatest catastrophe (i.e. the Day of Recompense, etc.), the Day when man shall remember what he strove for, and Hell-fire shall be made apparent in full view for (every) one who sees, then, for him who Tagha (transgressed all bounds, in disbelief, oppression and evil deeds of disobedience to Allah). And preferred the life of this world (by following his evil desires and lusts), verily, his abode will be Hell-fire; but as for him who feared standing before his Lord, and restrained himself from impure evil desires, and lusts, then verily, Paradise will be his abode. [Surah An-Naazi’aat. Ayaat 34-41]

It is obligatory for the one who hears this from Allah to be more careful or cautious about his Nafs than an enemy who wishes to murder him, take his wealth, or violate his honour. If someone asks, “Why do you obligate this precaution on me regarding the Nafs until you put it in a circumstance more dangerous than an enemy whose enmity is unquestionably very manifest?” Then it should be said to him, “The enemy who wants to harm you, take your wealth, or violate your honour, if they succeed in doing so, Allah will forgive some of your sins and elevate you. (footnote a) However, this will not be the case with the Nafs because if the Nafs dominates you through what you desire—that which you have been forbidden—then you will face ruin in this world and the next, humiliation and terrible punishment in this world and evil in the Sight of Allah”. (footnote b)

As a result, the sensible person – may Allah have mercy on him (or her)- imposes or obligates caution on the Nafs and strives against it in a more severe manner than striving against an enemy who wants to take their wealth and life – strives against the Nafs both in times of anger and happiness. This is how our prophet disciplined us in many ahadeeth, saying: “The Mujaahid is the one who strives against his Nafs in devotion to Allah – The Mighty and Majestic”.

If one asks, “By what means should I strive against my soul until I overcome it?” It is said to them, “Strive against it until it fulfils the duties imposed by Allah and stays away from what Allaah has forbidden.” If a person says, “Describe for me the traits that the soul tends to incline towards, which are not good, so that I can be cautious of them, hate them, and strive against them if I know that there is something of these traits in my soul”. Then it is said to them, “The (evil) of the soul is deserving of being hated for the sake of Allah, and whoever hates (the evil) of his soul for the sake of Allah, it is hoped that he will be saved from being hated by Allah, just as Imaam Fudayl Ibn Iyaadh said, ‘Whoever hates (the evils) of his soul for the Sake of Allah is saved from being hated by Allah'”. (1)

Footnote a: The Prophet [peace and blessings of Allah be upon him] said, “Indeed, the bankrupt one of my Ummah will come on the Day of Resurrection with prayer, fasting and Zakah (in his account), but he comes along having abused this one, slandered that one, unlawfully took the wealth of this one and shed the blood of that one, and beaten that one. So this one will be given from his good deeds, and that one will be given from his good deeds. And if his good deeds finishes before the judgment is made on him, some of their sins(i.e. the ones he wronged) will be taken and cast onto him, then he will be thrown into the Fire.” [Reported by Muslim. Number: 2581]

Footnote b: Imam Abdul Azeez Bin Baaz [may Allah have mercy upon him] said: The sinners [i.e. those who die whilst committing sins lesser than shirk] are under the will of Allah- if Allah wishes, He will either punish them or forgive them straight away or He enters them into hell for some time and paradise thereafter, just as Allah said:

[إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ لَا يَغۡفِرُ أَن يُشۡرَكَ بِهِۦ وَيَغۡفِرُ مَا دُونَ ذَٲلِكَ لِمَن يَشَآءُ‌ۚ – Verily, Allah forgives not that partners should be set up with him in worship, but He forgives except that (anything else) to whom He pleases]. [Surah An-Nisaa’ Aayah 48] https://binbaz.org.sa/fatwas/28307/%D8%B4%D8%B1%D8%AD-%D8%AD%D8%AF%D9%8A%D8%AB-%D9%84%D8%A7-%D9%8A%D8%AF%D8%AE%D9%84-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AC%D9%86%D8%A9-%D9%86%D9%85%D8%A7%D9%85


[Ref 1: An Excerpt From Adabun Nufoos. Page 1-3. Slightly paraphrased]


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