إِنَّمَا يَتَقَبَّلُ اللَّهُ مِنَ الْمُتَّقِينَ
سُبْحَانَ رَبِّكَ رَبِّ الْعِزَّةِ عَمَّا يَصِفُونَ
وَسَلَامٌ عَلَى الْمُرْسَلِينَ
وَالْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ
Alhamdulillah, All of us recently completed the Fasting & the Month of Ramadan. However whenever a person completes a task, a person is worried about its acceptance. So, we should be worried about the acceptance of Ramadan; we should be worried about the qubooliyyah of our Ramadan.
Our early salaf saliheen used to spend six months preparing for Ramadan and after Ramadan, they used to spend six months worried that their Ramadan be accepted.
This is how a person should spend the month of Shawwal, thinking whether our Ramadan was accepted, whether we’ll be able to maintain whatever we gained in the month of Ramadan.
Now the amazing thing that we notice every single year is that immediately after the month of Ramadan, we start losing.
There are some things that Allah swt takes back, but then there are somethings we take back.
Allah swt took back Taraveeh prayers, Allah swt took back his protection from Shayateen – they are opened up once again; Allah swt re-opens the gates of Jahannum; Allah swt no longer sends those special Mercies, barakaat that come in the last 10 days, or the night of the laylatul qadr!
But, the problem is that we pull back. Many people say that within the first few days of Shawwal, I feel like I lost everything that I gained in the entire month of Ramadan! Allahu akbar
Its amazing! How can we accept such a thing?
If you look at any other endeavor – whenever we strive for something, we spend time on it, we will never accept if we lose it!
Sometimes we give our students this example that if you spent 4 years at LUMS or at Aga Khan and I tell you that you’d lose it in one month. They will say you’re crazy! They will never ever let such a thing happen. Sawal hi paida nahi hota!
But, somehow we spend the entire month of Ramadan and loose what we gained in matter of days. I’ve come to you quite late, it may be the 12th or 14th of Shawwal already! But even if I would’ve come to you on the 5th of Shawwal I could’ve said this; If I had come to you on the 3rd of Shawwal, I could’ve said this; some of us loose it right there on Eid day – the very first day of Shawwal!
The question is what happened? Did we not get anything out of the month of Ramadan? Is that really what happened? Interestingly Allah swt has mentioned over and over again this master attribute that is “Taqwa”
What was the whole purpose of the month of Ramadan?
So that we become a person of Taqwa
And this verse that I recited in the beginning
إِنَّمَا يَتَقَبَّلُ اللَّهُ مِنَ الْمُتَّقِينَ
That Allah swt only and only Accepts, Bestows His Qubooliyyat, His Grace and Acceptance on the people of Taqwa
So, in order to pass Ramadan, we have to have Taqwa and after Ramadan in order for our fasts to be Accepted, we need to have Taqwa. So, if we feel; if any of us feel, that already in Shawwal I lost it – it means that theres something else that’s keeping us from that master attribute of Taqwa.
And theres one thing, one major thing that keeps us from the attribute of Taqwa. Its not that we don’t have ‘ilm; or that we don’t have hidaya; its not that we don’t have talab or desire – Its that we have something called the ‘Nafs’.
The Nafs is an incredible thing; the nafs is just waiting to steal what we got in the month of Ramadan. More so, what’s amazing is that we see in fellow Muslims in the modern age whether its Ramadan, whether its ‘etikaaf, whether its Hajj – whenever they finish these activities, you would think that they would have reached a new height upon which they are soaring, instead the second they finish, they just drop! And then one gets scared of this English saying that the higher they are, the harder they fall – that’s what we get scared of!
And sometimes, young men and women, when they come and tell their stories, Allahu Akbar! They fell very hard! They say within days, some of them within hours – they go back to the crudest and lewdest of sin! Allahu akbar kabira. Just spent Ramadan, just spent an umrah, or just went on Hajj!
Why does this happen? Why are we such creatures of our Nafs? So really what we want to do today is understand what our Nafs is. And how that is keeping us from Taqwa and ‘not having Taqwa’ what that is costing us – that we also need to appreciate. And if we do that, maybe we’ll realize that Ramadan was not the end, Ramadan was the beginning.
Many of us feel that Ramdan was this month of working, and now we act as if we are on vacation. We treat Shawwal as if we are on vacation. It’s the completely opposite in the Deen of Islam. Ramadan was your vacation, now you are back to the battle.
Its not that Ramadan was the battle and you are back on vacation – Ramadan was your vacation and now you are back in the battle!
- Ramadan was your vacation from Shaytan and the Shayateen.
- Ramadan was your vacation from the whisperings of Jahannum
- Ramadan was our vacation from many things!
And, if you remember that the Arabic word Ramadan comes from the root words Ra Meem Daa’
Al-Ra-ma-da means to incinerate, so the purpose of Ramadan is to burn and incinerate our sins to emerge as a newly pure, lean, newer mo’min
Or the word Ramadan can come from “tarmeed’ which means to Sharpen. So, when you sharpen or purify something, it means that you plan to use it, not to put it on vacation. So, Ramadan was the vacation, now we are fighting the battle – now, we were supposed to have been fighting the battle; now we were supposed to have come out stronger to fight better.
But, most of us don’t have that. Even those of us who spent a good Ramadan…If we didn’t spend a good Ramadan, then there is no hope of spending a good Shawwal.
But the question is why is that many of us here may actually say, if they honestly reflect back, not in an arrogant way but honestly thinking that no, I actually think that I spent a good Ramadan. I actually fasted all the fasts, I even prayed all the taraveeh, many times in Ramadan I felt closer to Allah swt, many times in Ramadan I made dua to Allah swt for much longer than I ever made before – when I was making that dua, I was really sincere and from the bottom of my heart, from the depth of my being I was crying to Allah swt in those duas – even then I find myself slipping in Shawwal! And then, a person gets confused, why?!
And, sometimes when we don’t understand the reason why, then sometimes a person may get disillusioned. And this is the way Shaytan and the Nafs work – i.e. they make us slip: once. And when a person slips into a sin once, then they give up; they give up hope. They address themselves and say: kia kerna hai aap ne, poora Ramadan guzaar ke wuhi haalut hai…choro yaar aisi ibadat ko…kia Allah Allah kerna hai..aap poora aik mahina Allah Allah kerkey phir bhi wuhi bandey nikal ayey!
That’s what our inner conscience tells us. Once Shaytan and the Nafs get us to slip once, then we allow ourselves to slide deeper and deeper and deeper and we start giving up. We should never give up.
So, what is this Nafs? And, why is it so powerful? Allah swt said in the Qur’an-e-Karim, very powerful ayah:
إِنَّ النَّفْسَ لَأَمَّارَةٌ بِالسُّوءِ
Allahuakbar! If you could understand the Arabic, you would see the power of this wording, the power of this expression that Allah swt is Saying!
That Verily; Indeed; With Absolute certainty
Ammaar – comes from amar.
– A simple commander is Aamir
– Super supreme sovereign commander is Ammaar
Indeed verily the Nafs has absolute, complete sovereign command over us!
And what does it command us to do?
‘Soou’ in Arabic means every kind of evil, not just sin.
– Sin is zanb; an ism.
– It includes Fahsha and munkar; it includes vulgarity and the things that have been prohibited.
– It includes fisq and fujoor
– And, the ‘Alif-laam’ standing on the ‘soou’ means: evil itself; evil incarnate or the Alif laam can mean: every single kind of evil.
So, the complete English, which is a lot to explain the Arabic, is that:
Verily Indeed certainly the Nafs is supremely ever-commanding us to do evil itself and each and every type of evil!
Allahu akbar kabira
Everybody has this Nafs.
And the problem with us is that we have submitted to our Nafs.
Two Types of People: Abu-Nafs, Abdul-Nafs
The early Ullema and Mashaikh explain this very clearly
1. First is a person who they call Abu-Nafs
Ab in Arabic means Father, literally. But here they mean: Master of the Nafs i.e. they command the Nafs; the Nafs doesn’t command them. These type of people are now few and far. Very few people have this ability, this level of iman and taqwa that they dominate their Nafs, they rule their Nafs.
2. The Other type of Person is known as Abdu-Nafs
A servant and and slave to their Nafs; A servant and slave to their desire, their wish and their whim.
Where does this concept of Abdu-Nafs come from? Qur’an Azeem-us-Sha’an! Allah swt Says in the Qur’an:
أَرَأَيْتَ مَنِ اتَّخَذَ إِلَهَهُ هَوَاهُ
That are you not amazed; do you not gaze; are you not stupefied by that person who has made their hawa – which means the desires, whims and wishes of their Nafs – their ilaah
They have made the Nafs their god! Aren’t you amazed at such a person?!
That is what we have become! We have become Abdu-Nafs. That’s why the Nafs laughs at us. Aap kero jo kuch kerna chahtey ho; fast for thirty days…koi baat nahi, stand in taraveeh..hassra hai hum per…usko pata hai bil aakhir aapne meri marzi poori kerni hai…
Allahu akbar! Such creatures of the Nafs – so weak, so weak!
Nafs-ul-Ammarah also refers to that person who does sin without any remorse; without any guilt; without any regret – openly, publicly, and unabashedly. Maybe you don’t understand; maybe you think: no no that’s not me. So, let me give you an example:
‘That person who misses Fajr salah – doesn’t feel bad when they wake up. They justify it for themselves – bus ji mey chaar waqt namaz parhta hun kabhi kabhi Fajr bhi parh leita hun. Openly they say it, without any remorse, any regret – khul ker kehtey hain!
Let me give you another level of Remorseless Self: that At night, when they go to sleep, they don’t have any intention to wake up – niyyat hi nayi hai uthney ki…they have no intention whatsoever in their heart to wake up! They set the alarm for 9:am – that’s what it means, that’s Nafs-ul-Ammarah – that is the Nafs’s desire of laziness, its desire to sleep – that has commanded us to such a level that we do not even desire or intend to wake up. That person has Nafs-ul-Ammarah!
When you lose the desire and intention to stay away from sin; not the ability – we may still not have the ability to stay away from sin – but, if you have and always maintain the desire and intention…you always intend to stay away from sin, then you don’t have Nas-ul-Ammarah. But, if you lose that talab; you lose that want and desire – recognize that you have Nafs-ul-Ammarah; Remorseless Self – the Self that commands us to do sin.
Allahu akbar, Just by this simple example most of us are in trouble, right…Now, Ramadan came to take us out of that Nafs-ul-Ammarah. That is in essence how Ramadan came. That is how Ramadan tried to achieve
that Allah Ta’ala has Umeed; Allah Ta’ala is hopeful! Bari baat hai…Umeed kerney waley hain: Allah swt and Umeed kis baat ki hai: Taqwa…Umeed kerney wali bhi bari Azeem Zaat aur jis sift ki wuh Umeed ker rahey hain wuh umeed ki janey wali sift bhi bari azeem…magar problem: jis kay barey mey umeed ki ja rahi hai na, wuh azeem bahi..woh naqis zaeef insaan:
وَخُلِقَ الْإِنْسَانُ ضَعِيفًا
That’s us. Allah swt brought His Mercy to the table. We brought our Nafs to the Table. The way Ramadan tried to take us out of Nafs-ul-Ammarah is the way you come out of it by being firm and regular on the Faraidh and Wajibaat.
– So, normally you will find that a person first does the Fardh,
– Second: Due to the barakah of that fasting they observe the Fardh Salah – so they are making themselves firm on the Faraidh and Wajibaat.
What that does is that that takes them out of Nafs-ul-Ammarah. So, the next stage of the Nafs is called in Qur’an: Nafs-ul-lawwama
Nafs-ul-Lawwama is that Nafs – jo aadha musalmaan ban gya, means that: Sometimes a person sins and sometimes they don’t sin. However when they sin, they don’t feel remorseless. Its not like they don’t feel it; they feel it – they feel the sting of sin; they feel the pain of sin; they feel the guilt of sin; they become sensitized. Alhamdulillah, for many of us, that happened initially in Ramadan. And lets see, for any reason, if any of us lapsed inside Ramadan, we feel bad. So, that same person who doesn’t feel bad (doing that sin), he feels bad; he says oho I shouldn’t have committed a sin! Ramadan ka mahina hai mey nay Fajr nahi parhi – they feel that sting! Not because their god is NOT Ramadan! Allah swt is Allah. Our god is Allah swt. Our god is not the month of Ramadan. But because they were so regular in their faraidh and wajibaat in Ramadan – they feel the sting of their sin; they feel the guilt of their sin; they feel guilty when they do sin. That person is called Nafs-ul-lawwama.
the person who has Nafs-ul-Ammarah is happy while the person who has Nafs-ul-lawwama is sad!
- Why is the person who has Nafs-ul-Ammarah, happy? Because he doesn’t feel any guilt; doesn’t feel any shame. He’s actually happy; bazaahir he’s happy. He has what we call happiness – he doesn’t have something else which I’ll explain to you later. But he has what you would look at and say that he is completely happy à Happy- go-lucky! This is what we call in American English – he is happy go lucky; he’s carefree happy – because it doesn’t make a difference to him. Openly sinning; unabashedly sinning
- The person who has Nafs-ul-Lawwama is sad, why? Because they feel guilty inside! Because if you are a ‘feeling’ mo’min: whenever you cheat on this ‘abd-Rabb relationship, you feel bad– just like a person whenever they cheat with their wife, they can’t live with that guilt – even if nobody ever knows; nobody ever finds out – there’s a guilt that eats away and gnaws at their insides. Just like the 2nd type of person who has Nafs-ul-lawwama feels sad because of that guilt. Now, what happens is that, because for many of us, our iman is weak, we can’t handle that sadness; we can’t take that guilt. So, now then the Nafs has a new fitna to deal with – which is what we call: Modernist, Reformist Islam.
Reformist Islam now comes in – they say that don’t feel the guilt, I’ll offer you another version of Islam which is Enlightened Islam, Moderate Islam, Liberal Islam, Modern Islam – And I’m not labeling their words, these are their own terms that they use!
And what is that? That is basically trying to tell us that its okay…you find it difficult; you’re being guilty and sad – we don’t want you to feel sad, we want you to be happy! So, to make you happy, we will take those things that you find difficult in the Deen away – we will make the Deen easy for you so that what you think is sin is not sin anymore!
You find it difficult to do Hijab? Do not feel bad about it! You can’t follow the Sunnah? Stop feeling bad about it! You couldn’t pray Sunnah rakahs, no need to feel bad about that! You can’t go to the Masjid to pray Jummah, no need to feel bad about that etc etc.
They knock off piece by piece by piece of the Deen because they are reforming – they themselves say: we’re reformists! What does it mean? That we will reformulate the Deen in a formula that is acceptable for you! There is a very big problem there. And the problem is, sometimes I explain this to people as what we call, ‘Diet Islam’ like ‘Diet Pepsi’
Diet Pepsi is drunk by people who are sick and delusional! I’ll explain:
Originally they are people who could drink Pepsi but for health reasons – maybe they have to go on a low-carb diet; maybe they have diabetes i.e. they are sick, basically – they have an inability to digest the full Pepsi and therefore the Marketers made Diet Pepsi for them because they were sick.
è Therefore just like that a person who is spiritually sick, who cannot live a life of Taqwa – the reformist Muslim is there to convince them that I’ll give you diet Islam, agar aap ko Islam hazam nayi hora, you take Diet Islam.
Okay, why did I say they’re delusional? Because, there is a very famous joke in America that who are the people who drink Diet Pepsi? They are the people who go to Mc. Donalds and they order a Big Mac, Super-Size fries and a Diet Pepsi. Now, if you can eat the Big Mac and you can eat the super- size fries, dropping down from Pepsi to diet Pepsi is not going to save you! Whatever droppings you got from Pepsi gets finished from just two of those fries let alone the Big Mac and the cheese and the rest of it…but, what their delusion is that they think that just because they are drinking Diet Pepsi they can go ahead and have the Big Mac and the Fries.
è Just like that the person who has the Diet version of Islam thinks that now I have the moderate Islam, I can get away with sin. You can’t get away with sin. There are some things in Islam, they cannot change. May be two of the most timeless things in Islam that can never ever change are:
The definition of Taqwa; and the definition of sin
That will never ever change; that has got nothing to do with time, with place, with geography – that will never ever ever change! What was taqwa at the time of Syeddina RasoolAllahi sallallahu alai wassalam is taqwa in 2009 Pakistan! And what was a sin the time of RasoolAllah sallallahu alai wassalam will remain a sin in 2009 Pakistan!
These two things can never ever be changed.
But, the biggest problem with diet Islam…
…to be continued, inshaAllah.
[Following is a transcription (not word-word) of a talk by Shaykh Kamaluddin Ahmed db on, “Retaining our spirituality after Ramadan. The original talk’s mp3 audio version is available on Shaykh’s official website’]