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Islam and Spiritualism (04 Sep 2017 NewAgeIslam.Com)


Reflections on Qur'anic Message – Part – 7: Polarity of Goodness and Evil in Human Conscience



By Muhammad Yunus, New Age Islam

September 04, 2017

(Co-author (Jointly with Ashfaque Ullah Syed), Essential Message of Islam, Amana Publications, USA, 2009

We pick up where we left in the preceding reflection and move forward.

We demonstrated that in the divine creative scheme, human conscience is imbued with a polarity of good and evil and unless one refrains from evil he cannot be a model of goodness.

In one its early Suras, al-Shams (the Sun), the Qur’an blends the majesty of nature and the mystery of the working of man’s inner-self (Nafs - traditionally, soul) to lead up to the theme of the polarity of man’s inner self. It declares:

“By the sun and its brilliance; and the moon as it follows the sun (literally, ‘it’); and the day as it reveals the sun (it)and the night as it veils the sun (it); and by the heaven and the One Who has built it; and by the earth and the One Who has spread it; and by the man’s inner self (ingrained instincts), and He Who has fashioned it; and Who has inspired it with the temptation of what is evil (Fujura)and a restraining impulse against evil (Taqwa) - He indeed succeeds who purifies it (his inner self); and he fails who corrupts it (91:1-10).

The lead verses represent an extended oath of the Qur’an to the truth of its pronouncement regarding the polarity of man’s inner self (Nafs) between Fujura– that tempts him succumb to his base desires, and Taqwa that is a watchdog against his base desires. The Qur’an also refers to them as Nafs al Ammara, (12:53) - the Nafs that draws man to evil, and Nafs al Lawwama, (75:2) – the Nafs that restrains him from evil.

The divine scheme leaves it on individual humans to be dictated by his Nafs. (Inner self) and says:

“O Believers! Ye have charge of your own Nafs (inner-self). He who errs cannot harm you if you are rightly guided…” (5:105)

Accordingly the Qur’an says that on the Reckoning Day, each person (Nafs) will account for his deeds as illustrated by its following verses:

 

“And heed the day when you shall be brought back to God.  Then each person (Nafs) be paid what it earned and none shall be wronged.” (2:281)

“And We shall set up the balances of Justice for the Resurrection Day, so that no person (Nafs) shall be wronged at all. And if there was (a deed) as little as the weight of a mustard-seed, We will bring it forth, and sufficient are We as accountant …”(21:47).

“Then on that Day no person (Nafs) will be wronged at all and you shall but be repaid the rewards of your past deeds.” (36:54)

The foregoing short review makes two points very clear:

1.       Every person is vested with a polarity of the instincts of his inner self (Nafs) and is independently accountable for his’/ her own deeds.

2.       Every human, regardless of religion, religiosity can groom himself to be models of goodness or archetypes of evil depending upon whether he succumbs to his lowly instincts or harness the ingrained Taqwa that activates his restraining self. This brings us to the broader notion of Taqwa in the Qur’an to be reviewed in the next Reflection.

To end this reflection on a poetic note, the following lines from Poet Laureate Muhammad Iqbal may be recalled:

Khudi Ko Kar Buland Itna Ki Har Taqdir Se Pahlay

Khuda Banday Se Khud Puchhe Bata Teri Raza Kiya Hai

[Cultivate your Nafs (khudi) to such a great height that before awarding any destiny

God may ask his Slave – Say, what will please you.

Reflections on Qur'anic Message - Part-6: Qur’an Singles Out Good Deeds as the Common Criterion of Divine Judgment for All Those Who Believe In God and Eventual Accountability to Him

URL of Part 6: http://www.newageislam.com/islam-and-spiritualism/muhammad-yunus,-new-age-islam/reflections-on-qur-anic-message---part-6--qur’an-singles-out-good-deeds-as-the-common-criterion-of-divine-judgment-for-all-those-who-believe-in-god-and-eventual-accountability-to-him/d/112383

Muhammad Yunus, a Chemical Engineering graduate from Indian Institute of Technology, and a retired corporate executive has been engaged in an in-depth study of the Qur’an since early 90’s, focusing on its core message. He has co-authored the referred exegetic work, which received the approval of al-Azhar al-Sharif, Cairo in 2002, and following restructuring and refinement was endorsed and authenticated by Dr. Khaled Abou El Fadl of UCLA, and published by Amana Publications, Maryland, USA, 2009.

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islam-and-spiritualism/muhammad-yunus,-new-age-islam/reflections-on-qur-anic-message-–-part-–-7--polarity-of-goodness-and-evil-in-human-conscience/d/112427

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TOTAL COMMENTS:-   14


  • I am responding to Yunus sb in the appropriate thread to what he said in another thread.

    Yunus sb says: This convinced me beyond an iota of doubt that you did not know the morphology of the compound word ‘fa alhamaha’ in the verse  88:10:

    The verse is not 88:10 but 91:8. The mistake that Yunus sb is pointing out is that I have not translated the verse literally or with the same grammatical construction as the original.  Neither is Yunus sb’s translation of the verse literal. I therefore responded with a literal translation:

    He enlightened it (the nafs) to its wrong (fujur) and its right (taqwa)?
    This nitpicking of Yunus sb doesn’t change anything. His mistaking ‘alhamaha’ to mean inspire in place of the correct ‘enlighten’ is what is in dispute.

    There are four closely related root words

    The triliteral root rā wāw ḥā (ر و ح) to inspire

    The triliteral root lām hā mīm  To enlighten

    The triliteral root wāw ḥā yā to reveal

    The triliteral root nūn zāy lām to descend, to bring down,

    The only time it unmistakably means inspire/inspired/inspiration is when it contains the root rā wāw ḥā (ر و ح) and not otherwise. Since 91:8 does not contain this root word, it is not Inspire but Enlighten. Mistranslations are not uncommon but do not always result in disastrous results. For example, whether we translate as:

    (10:87) We inspired Moses and his brother with this Message: "Provide dwellings for your people in Egypt, make your dwellings into places of worship, and establish regular prayers: and give glad tidings to those who believe!" Yusuf Ali

    20:38 "Behold! We sent to thy mother, by inspiration, the message: Yusuf Ali

    Or the more correct:

    (10:87) We revealed to Moses and his brother saying: "Provide dwellings for your people in Egypt, make your dwellings into places of worship, and establish regular prayers: and give glad tidings to those who believe!" (shakir, wahiduddin Khan, Darybadi etc)

    20:38 When We revealed to your mother what was revealed; (shakir, wahiduddin Khan, Darybadi etc)

    Makes little difference

    The scriptures, the Book, A Surah are sent down. It makes little difference if instead of sent down, the word is mistranslated as revealed or inspired but to translate as enlighten would obviously be incorrect. However, an Angel, Manna from the skies, The Table Spread to Jesus etc are sent down and the word cannot be mistranslated as revealed, inspired or enlightened.

    Fa alhamaha – this is the only occurrence in the Quran of a word with the root lām hā mīm  and means neither revealed, inspired, or sent down but enlightened. If incorrectly translated as “He inspired” instead of the correct “He enlightened” makes a world of difference.

    Allah shows us or enlightens us with what is right and what is wrong. He does not inspire evil. The Quran is called the furqan or the criteria to distinguish right from wrong. It doesn’t inspire evil. Yunus sb quoted 7 translations and I agreed with six of them but not with his translation or Arberry’s. Both make Allah one who inspires “evil” or one who inspires “lewdness” and I reject it. Yunus sb must be ashamed of accusing Allah of inspiring lewdness or evil but he is unrepentant! I may have been grammatically incorrect or not literal enough, but he is wrong in his basic understanding of the attributes of God and the different words used in the Quran and the rampant mistranslations but without making much of a difference. His and Arberry’s mistranslation in verse 91:8 make Allah do what Satan does and is a blunder of enormous proportions. Yunus sb, if he still thinks he is right, may invite the curse of Allah on himself if he is wrong. I stand up for what I say and am willing to do the same. 


    By Naseer Ahmed - 12/6/2017 12:21:47 AM



  • As for the translation, following exactly what you say, isn't the following more correct?
    He enlightened the nafs to its wrong (fujur) and its right (taqwa)?
    The objective of Ilham is guidance or enlightenment. The process is inspiration.
    Yusuf Ali: And its enlightenment as to its wrong and its right.


    By Naseer Ahmed - 9/20/2017 3:18:49 AM



  • As far as blocking of advancement of religious thought on this forum is concerned, it is Yunus Sb who has been blocking it.

    It took me two years to convince him based on language and grammar, that there isn’t even one verse in the Quran in which all the Mushrikin are  considered kafir but on the other hand, the Quran makes it clear that not all were ever considered Kafir.

    Now, if not all the Mushrikin were ever considered kafir although they were considered disbelievers, how can kafir mean disbeliever? I guess, Yunus Sb will block accepting this for another two years but it is not he who is blocking advancement of religious thought! And if we still insist on “kafir means disbeliever”, then are we not making the same mistake as the Islamophobes make when they say ‘terrorist means Muslim”? Is he not able to see the logical equivalence in the two false statements and agree that “Kafir means disbeliever” is as false as “terrorist means Muslim”?

     Is he not able to see the harm from:

    Terrorist means Muslim

    Since the terrorists are out to get us, let us get them before they get us

    Which is no different from what is providing ideological support to extermism:

    Kafir means disbeliever

    The Prophet fought battles against the disbelievers to end disbelief and therefore, we have a duty to keep fighting unless there is no more disbelief.

     Would it not be advancement of religious though to replace the above with:

    The true Islamic ideology that we must proclaim

          1. As per the Quran, Kafir can be among people of any faith and in no verse of the Quran does it consider all polytheists as kafir. Since a kafir can be among the believers (Muslims, people of the Book for their specific acts of kufr), it cannot mean both believer and disbeliever and since not every Mushrik who is considered a disbeliever is a kafir in the Quran, there is no way kafir means a disbeliever.  The ideology that says Kafir means non-Muslim/disbeliever is therefore false.

          2. The Prophet was fighting battles against the religious persecutors and their allies and helpers to end religious persecution and establish the Deen of Allah in which there is no oppression and justice for all.  Specifically, there is no permission to fight against the kufr of deliberate disbelief and therefore the Prophet’s battles were against only the persecutors and their helpers and allies and not against the disbelievers for their disbelief. The Quran affirms that the freedom of conscience in Islam is absolute and without any restraints. “Let there be no compulsion in religion” and “To the peaceful disbeliever be his way and to me mine” are fundamental principles. These principles were never compromised by the Prophet in his battles against the religious persecutors.

     Who has been blocking and continues to block advancement of religious thought?


    By Naseer Ahmed - 9/20/2017 2:34:52 AM



  • Yunus Sb,
    I find your arguments very strange. You gave seven translations of the verse in support of your interpretation and I said I agree with six of them but not with that of Arberry’s translation and yours. I have therefore agreed with six of the seven authorities that you quoted in your support but not with the seventh.
    Are you unable to see the difference? What six of them say is the same as what I say and what Arberry and you say are quite different.
    When what I say is the same as what six of them say and these have been not been picked up by me in my defence, but quoted by you in your support, how can you find fault with my translation? The six translations are your witnesses to the truth and if you criticise my translation, you criticise six of your own witnesses! Are you not aware of the rule that you cannot impeach your own witnesses?
    Yes, I do not recall you saying that the Book is Kitabum Mubeen but the Book says so. A Book cannot both be Kitabum Mubeen and ambiguous (even if only in parts). And I have shown that the Mutashabihaat verses are anything but ambiguous. The intent, meaning of these verses are very clear although they use a simile/metaphor. If you want to prove that the Book is ambiguous in parts, show your evidence. 
    The degree of your confusion, inconsistency and whimsicality is appalling. 1
    As far as my credentials are concerned, is it not enough that you adamantly maintained and argued with me for two years that all the Mushrikin of the Prophet’s times and his immediate audience were considered kafir in the Quran and conceded only recently that they are not all considered kafir? What I said went against the ijma of all the scholars (past and present) without a single exception and I came out trumps? What better credentials can there be? Why couldn’t you do the same analysis and come to the same conclusion? Not only that, but you argued most vigorously against all the evidence and against all reason.
    What knowledge of grammar do you talk about when you went wrong on your understanding of 98:1 and 98:6 and I had to show if Allah meant what you understood as the correct meaning, how the verse would have been worded in Arabic? Why couldn’t you do the same analysis and come to the same conclusion?
    Did you not argue that in 5:3, “This day have I perfected your religion for you, completed My favour upon you, and have chosen for you Islam as your religion”, akmaltu means completed and not perfected and I showed how the verse would have been worded in Arabic if it meant completed and not perfected and why therefore perfected is right? Why couldn’t you do the same analysis and come to the same conclusion?
    What credentials for an exegete do you talk about when you get the meanings of the simplest and most straight forward verses wrong? You disputed the clear definition of a Muttaqi mentioned in 2:2 and described in 2:3,4 who has the assurance of being on true guidance.
    The description of one who is on true guidance for sure begins in 2:2 making clear that the Muttaqinn are on true guidance and ends in 2:5 by announcing that the description of the Muttaqin in 2:3 and 2:4 who are on true guidance is completed. And yet, you have discounted the verses 2:3 and 2:4 as accurate description of the Muttaqi who has the assurance of being on true guidance in your previous article!
    (2:2) This is the Book; in it is guidance sure, without doubt, to the Muttaqin;
    (3) Who believe in the Unseen, are steadfast in prayer, and spend out of what We have provided for them;
    (4) And who believe in the Revelation sent to thee, and sent before thy time, and (in their hearts) have the assurance of the Hereafter.
    (5) They are on (true) guidance, from their Lord, and it is these who will prosper.
    Are you discounting the description because you are lacking in one or more of the descriptions? If so, are you on true guidance? You have a lot to reflect on Yunus Sb, and be thankful that I am showing you a mirror while you still have the time to redeem yourself. 
    By Naseer Ahmed - 9/20/2017 12:42:48 AM



  • Naseer Sahab,
    I say once again -  because of writing too many and too lengthy commentaries you are mixing up things. You said to me in your last comment:

    "you find ambiguity in Kitabum Mubeen"

    I simply never said that "there is ambiguity in kitabum kubin" . You have twisted my words. This is written in my exegetic work:

    Furthermore, the Qur’an spells out its role and credentials, loud and clear, luring the seekers of knowledge and challenging his intellect to probing it. Thus, it claims to be:

    ·         A book of wisdom7 that is made clear and distinct,8 with all kinds of illustrations,9 and explanations.10

    Surely, you are not lying, but since what you said is simply not what i ever said, you are surely overworked and attributing views to me that I never made.

    Kindly take it easy. You and I are not  rivaling to win the heart of a damsel that you have to say: "your interpretations lead to contradictions galore. You err with the simplest and most straight forward verses"
     
    These statements ring hollow and have no substances in them. You seem to have some serious problem - otherwise you could not make the above statements.

    God knows best whether you even know the grammatical construction of the Qur'anic words like fa alhamara that you simply copy from any English translation. God's curse be on me if I am trying to suspect you maliciously, but may God rid you of the misplaced arrogance that is virtually blocking any advancement of religious thoughts on this forum.

    Can you please do a few lines on your exegetic background. Or you meet the adage, an empty drum makes a lot of noise.
     I admire your efforts but i pity your misplaced self-confidence.

    By muhammd yunus - 9/19/2017 7:56:48 AM



  • Naseer Sahab,

    You are once again acting like an authority by saying that you approve the following translation.

    Shakir: Then He inspired it to understand what is right and wrong for it;

    Muhammad Sarwar: and inspired it with knowledge of evil and piety,

    Mohsin Khan: Then He showed him what is wrong for him and what is right for him;

     But you dismiss the following translations:

    Arberry: and inspired it to lewdness and godfearing

    Muhammad Yunus: and Who has inspired it with the temptation of what is evil (Fujura)and a restraining impulse against evil (Taqwa

     My question: What legitimacy you have to approve some of the translations and dismiss others including that of Prof. Arthur Arberry who was Sir Thomas Adams's Professor of Arabic at Cambridge University and a Fellow of Pembroke College, Cambridge, from 1947 until his death in 1969.and is regarded as one of the most distinguished translators of the Qur’an.:

    What is clearly implicit in both my and Arberry’s  and all other translations is the temptation to to do evil or to keep away from it are both ingrained in human nafs. This is stated in these words in the very opening paragraph of the short article in these words: “human conscience is imbued with a polarity of good and evil and unless one refrains from evil he cannot be a model of goodness.” So where is the confusion.  And it is imbued by whom – none other than God. The same idea is expressed in different ways by different scholars. You were not happy with the word ‘inspiration.” I have showed you that some of the scholars use this word. Besides, Muhammad Assad puts the literal translation of the the verse under debate in point 6 of his commentary under the Surah Ash-Shams :

    “and consider that which inspired it with its immoral doings (fujuraha) and its God consciousness. “ This, read in sequence to its preceding verses clearly implies that it is God the inspired the nafs with the polarity of the temptation to evil and restraint from evil.

    So I see you just want to prove me wrong and prove yourself superior.

    Let me now get straight from your mouth: Would you swear by the Qur’an – of which you pose an authority and are bent on proving me wrong every now and then that you understand the grammatical construction of Qur’anic Arabic  Surah Shams that is under discussion. If not, for heaven sake do not pose as an authority as you will be punching far beyond your weight.  

    Final request: kindly share your exegetic background as recently requested for us to know each other better – otherwise it is going to be a very unbalanced,  unproductive and irreconcilable debate – from time to time as at this moment.


    By muhammd yunus - 9/19/2017 5:42:39 AM



  • The opening line of your first commentary below reads:

    “It is the fal ahamaha nafs or the guided/inspired Nafs  that makes the moral judgment or distinction between  what is fujuraha (wicked) and what is wataqwaha (right).”

    Kindly note ‘fal ahamaha’ (as you spell) is NOT a category of nafs. It is a compound word  a noun+verb+ noun that means : “He inspired it.” Or “Who inspired it” The transliteration should be fa-alhamaha.

    Similarly the compound words ‘fujuraha’ and ‘taqwaha each combines a Noun form (fujur, taqwa) with a pronoun for (ha, which means ‘its’)

    So the expression fa alhamaha fujuraha wa taqwaha grammatically translates to: He inspired it with fujur and its taqwa.

    Frankly speaking you do not understand the grammatical construction of the Qur’an’s compound words (at least in this instance) and hide your ignorance by posing like an authority. I am so sure of what I write that I can say this in the divine court.


    By muhammd yunus - 9/19/2017 3:39:10 AM



  • Yunus Sb,

     My detailed comment was to show that there is no polarity of Goodness and Evil given by God in human nature. God does not create evil.

    Man is bestowed with appetites, the satisfaction of which is essential for his survival as an individual, and for survival of the species. These appetites are amoral.

    It is when the rights of others are transgressed in excessive indulgence of the appetites that we do evil. This is curbed through training our nafs with the criteria of right and wrong etc as discussed in detail. It is Satan who threatens us with poverty and makes us either niggardly, hoarders or exploiters whereas Allah promises his bounties and forgiveness and asks us to spend in charity and care for others (2:268). God never inspires us to evil.


    By Naseer Ahmed - 9/19/2017 3:16:55 AM



  • Yunus Sb,

     I agree with the following translations:

    Sahih International: And inspired it [with discernment of] its wickedness and its righteousness,

    Pickthall: And inspired it (with conscience of)what is wrong for it and (what is) right for it.

    Yusuf Ali: And its enlightenment as to its wrong and its right;-

    Shakir: Then He inspired it to understand what is right and wrong for it;

    Muhammad Sarwar: and inspired it with knowledge of evil and piety,

    Mohsin Khan: Then He showed him what is wrong for him and what is right for him;

    Naseer Ahmed: It is the fal ahamaha nafs or the guided/inspired Nafs  that makes the moral judgment or distinction between  what is fujuraha (wicked) and what is wataqwaha (right)

     And I reject the following as giving an attribute of Satan to Allah:

     Arberryand inspired it to lewdness and godfearing

    Muhammad Yunus: and Who has inspired it with the temptation of what is evil (Fujura)and a restraining impulse against evil (Taqwa

     Arberry and Yunus make Allah a creator of evil who inspires man with the temptation of what is evil. This is blasphemy. What the verse says clearly and correctly translated by six of the translators is that Allah inspires man with the knowledge to make the distinction between what is evil and what is good. Allah does not inspire man to either lewdness or with the temptations of what is evil.

     Why is Yunus sb unable to see the difference between the two sets of translations?

     Also consider,

     (4:79) Whatever good, (O man!) happens to thee, is from Allah; but whatever evil happens to thee, is from thy (own) nafsik. and We have sent thee as a messenger to (instruct) mankind. And enough is Allah for a witness.

    (3:117) What they spend in the life of this (material) world May be likened to a wind which brings a nipping frost: It strikes and destroys the harvest of men who have wronged themselves (anfusahum): it is not Allah that hath wronged them, but they wrong themselves.

     There is nothing except good from Allah. Yunus Sb’s “interpretation” of 91:8 also contradicts other verses of the Quran.

     I am afraid Yunus sb, that your understanding of the nature of God and the Quran is fundamentally flawed because of which you find ambiguity in Kitabum Mubeen and your interpretations lead to contradictions galore. You err with the simplest and most straight forward verses.


    By Naseer Ahmed - 9/18/2017 11:44:35 PM



  • Naseersaab's supreme self-confidence in his assertions is exactly the kind of arrogance we do not need in our conversations. The simple truth is that man himself is responsible to choose between what is right and what is wrong. The rest is superfluous allegory.


    By Ghulam Mohiyuddin - 9/18/2017 11:34:24 AM



  • Naseer Sb, I agree with all that you have written in your detailed commentary on the polarity of nafs, which is summarily noted in the concluding part of the article in these words: “Every human, regardless of religion, religiosity can groom himself to be models of goodness or archetypes of evil depending upon whether he succumbs to his lowly instincts or harness the ingrained Taqwa that activates his restraining self. This brings us to the broader notion of Taqwa in the Qur’an to be reviewed in the next Reflection.” The piece above is a short reader friendly Reflection on the captioned theme for the present day readers who are used to very short written communications and have little appeal for long or technical articles. I had made this point clear in the first Reflection in these words: "It is customary in classical Islamic scholarship to write lengthy articles on different aspects of Qur’anic message, and so we have encyclopedic tafseers. Even the articles on different aspects of Islamic message appearing on this website tend to be very long bearing in mind the increasingly popular two lines twitter mode of communication of ideas in this era. More importantly, the Qur’an was revealed in relatively small passages to enable its audience to grasp the essence of its message, and it had taken more than 2 decades for completion. Accordingly, it may be more appropriate and reader-friendly to frame short articles in the form of reflections quoting one or a few Qur’anic passages and leaving the reader to reflect over them in the spirit of the following Qur’anic pronouncements: "We have sent down the Book to you (O Muhammad,) with blessings so that the prudent may reflect over its verses and be mindful of it” (38:29). “Will they not reflect over the Qur'a? - or are there hearts sealed” (47:24)?
    By muhammd yunus - 9/18/2017 7:01:47 AM



  • Naseer Sb,

    You have questioned my use of the word ‘inspiring’ in this rendition of the verse 91:8:

    “and Who has inspired it with the temptation of what is evil (Fujura)and a restraining impulse against evil (Taqwa).”

    Here is a list of six standard rendition by different scholars/ sources:

    Sahih International: And inspired it [with discernment of] its wickedness and its righteousness,

    Pickthall: And inspired it (with conscience of) what is wrong for it and (what is) right for it.

    Yusuf Ali: And its enlightenment as to its wrong and its right;-

    Shakir: Then He inspired it to understand what is right and wrong for it;

    Muhammad Sarwar: and inspired it with knowledge of evil and piety,

    Mohsin Khan: Then He showed him what is wrong for him and what is right for him;

    Arberry: and inspired it to lewdness and godfearing

    As to the question of ‘who’ inspired it, two of the translators say He with a capital H implying God.

    Therefore kindly rest assured that I can stand by my interpretation in the divine court – but any way thanks for suggestion to me to correct my understanding.”

    More importantly thank you for reading the article and posting your comments.


    By muhammd yunus - 9/18/2017 6:25:52 AM



  • It is the fal ahamaha nafs or the guided/inspired Nafs  that makes the moral judgment or distinction between  what is fujuraha (wicked) and what is wataqwaha (right).
    Fujuraha and watqwaha are not impulses but what is right and what is wrong in any situation. Allah does not inspire the Nafs with the temptation of evil (nauzobillah) Allah guides the nafs to make the distinction between right and wrong. Yunus Sb, please correct your understanding
    By Naseer Ahmed - 9/18/2017 3:39:23 AM



  • The model is simple and straight forward. We have beliefs about what is right and what is wrong. We do not come pre-loaded with these beliefs but acquire them from our environment just as we learnt our mother tongue while interacting as we grew. The original source of the criteria are the scriptures or divine revelations which is why the Quran is called the furqan or what gives the criteria of right and wrong and mentions that previous prophets were also given the furqan notably Moses. The Quran nowhere mentions that a child is born with the criteria of right and wrong.
    God has also provided us with cognition and the cognitive processes called the nafs and with emotions that help us make choices. The feeling self, craves for pleasure and abhors pain and will always generate emotions that attract one to what gives us pleasure and to avoid what gives pain. Giving in to self-indulgence when the same is not immoral, is what makes us love life and live long. This plays an important role in our happiness and longevity. It is pleasurable and not immoral to have sex with wife, eat tasty food etc.
    However, when what gives pleasure or avoids pain, conflicts with what we believe to be the right thing to do, cognitive dissonance or the reproaching nafs (Nafs al-Lawwama) kicks in.
    How we resolve the dissonance between the pleasure seeking nafs and Nafs al-Lawwama or the reproaching nafs make us a moral or an immoral person.
    Point to be noted is that that the pleasure seeking nafs is amoral. It is not immoral. It is very much our friend and serves us very well except when  the reproaching self disagrees with it.
    What is meant by purifying our nafs? It is by strengthening our Nafs al-Lawwama so that in a conflict with the pleasure seeking nafs, it prevails always. How does one do that?
    a)   Belief in the Unseen God and Assurance of the Hereafter create the necessary conditions for heeding the Self reproaching self
    b)    By training it ourselves with the right criteria of right and wrong by reading the scriptures. Without such training, it is unusable and with the wrong training it is misused
    c)    By developing God consciousness through regular prayer which helps us do the right thing irrespective of the promptings of the pleasure seeking self
    d)    Strengthening it through deeds that make it stronger and weaken the pleasure seeking self, such as giving regular charity, fasting etc and making it prevail always never giving in to the pleasure seeking self when there is a conflict.
    A Muttaqi is a person who does all the above to train and strengthen his nafs and acts according to what is right every time. Over a period, as our nafs gets purified, doing all that is good begins to give us pleasure and even the thought of doing any wrong becomes painful. There is no longer any inner conflict and we reach a state of Nafs al-Mutma`inna or a self that is satisfied with itself and with God and its circumstances.
    (89:27) To the persons whose nafs or consciousness is at peace and satisfied (Nafs al-Mutma`inna) will be said
    (28) "Come back thou to thy Lord,- well pleased (thyself), and well-pleasing unto Him!
    (29) "Enter thou, then, among My devotees!
    (30) "Yea, enter thou My Heaven!
    Whose nafs will be completely at peace and rest and satisfied? Those who dealt with their cognitive dissonance honestly and acted in accordance with what they truly believed to be right. Those who were satisfied with their lives in every way and did not yield to greed, envy, hate, anger and carnal desires and who remained grateful to God for all that they received.
    Such souls at rest and in peace with themselves and with God will enter Heaven. Such state is not possible as Yusuf (pbuh) says without the Grace and Mercy of Allah.  Without belief in God, people will tend to suppress their cognitive dissonance with rationalization, succumb to their lower desires, will be greedy for more of everything, envious of those who are better off, hate others for what they are, feel insecure and defend their faults/mistakes. The nafs that are not completely satisfied are those who die wanting to live longer, dissatisfied with what they could achieve or feeling unfulfilled in some respect. The nafs that will be in peace will be those who know that they did their best with the best of intentions and remaining true to their own selves and beliefs and to the best of their knowledge, using every opportunity to do what was best under the circumstances.
    Each one of us knows to what extent we have attained the status of Nafs al-Mutma`inna. Such a nafs is fearless, optimistic, free of hatred and certainly not paranoid. Paranoia is a sign of a nafs that is ill at ease with self and his environment.
    The opposite of purifying our nafs is to succumb every time to our pleasure seeking self and suppress our reproaching self. Such a person will avoid all that creates dissonance such as belief in a God, the scriptures etc. His nafs, then instead of getting purified becomes an enjoinder of evil or Nafs al-Ammara Bissu.
    By Naseer Ahmed - 9/18/2017 2:42:58 AM



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