Unending war against lower self

Our struggle against our nafs al-ammara (evil commanding lower self) is an everlasting fight that will only end when we die. Lower self (i.e. nafs al-ammara) always commands the evil. It is never satisfied with sins. The desires for the sin come one after another. Lower self knows no limits and wants to do anything it wishes. It does not want to be within the boundaries of halal (legitimate).

If a sin is committed repeatedly for a long time, it may turn into be a bad habit. And giving up a bad habit would be really difficult. So what should we do to in this fight against evil-commanding lower self? Here are some suggestions (for all of us):

Refresh your iman (faith)! Faith gets weaker or stronger from time to time. When our faith is weak we commit sins easily. Especially if our faith is iman al-taqlid (imitative faith), it is very difficult to resist the sins. Today, at a time when the rejections and suspicions against belief are very common, we must strengthen our faith by upgrading our faith to verified belief from imitative belief. Then we can have the strength to abstain sins, insha Allah.

Choose your friends wisely! As our beloved Prophet (asw) said, man is upon the religion of his friend. If we commit sins while with our friends, we should stop keeping company with them. (Before this, we should of course explain that the things we/they are doing all together are wrong. They might also want to give up those sins, which would be nurun ala nur, or light upon light.)

Show your lower self the pain which every sin causes! Every good deed includes a seed of paradise (which immediately makes us happy), and every sin hides a seed of hell (which makes us grievous just after committing sin). If we can make our lower self feel the pain within the sins, abstaining sins would be easier.

Do not spend time alone too much! Loneliness leads a person to various sins. Most of us do not easily commit sin when we are with others (unless we have wrong friends). We might easily commit sin when we are alone, the time we are most heedless and vulnerable to the desires of our nafs and attacks of Satan. Although we know that Allah (swt) is always with us, it is difficult not to be deceived by nafs and Satan if we do not have a strong iman and will.

Be careful what you eat and how much you eat! Realizing the negative effect of consumption of too much meat scholars have abstained eating a lot of meat. Actually they have not eaten too much because it feeds evil-commanding lower self, thus increasing the desire for sin. Sleeping too much also strengthens the lower self. Scholars have also slept less, for this reason.

Fast one or two days in a week! Hunger is the best way to discipline lower self. As it is reported, Allah (swt) asks lower self: Who am I, and who are you? It replies: I am myself and You are Yourself. So He (swt) punishes it and cast it into Hell, then asks again: Who am I and who are you? It again replies: I am myself and You are Yourself. However Allah (swt) punishes lower self, it does not give up its egoism. Finally He (swt) punishes it with hunger. Then He asks again: Who am I, and who are you? And lower self replies: You are my Compassionate Lord, and I am Your powerless slave. So, fasting makes our lower self realize its desires are misleading.

And last but not least, think of death! As our Prophet (pbuh) told us we must abundantly remember the destroyer of pleasures (i.e. death). Thinking of death makes us realize that this world is transient, and so we are saved from the tricks of our nafs. This helps us abstaining sins.

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