Friday, November 19, 2010

Jihad Al-Nafs [Fighting The Ego]

Translated from the following parts of 
'Ihya' `Ulum al-Din' [The Revival of the Religious Sciences] by imam al ghazali
a)Definitions at the beginning of the book "Kitab sharh `aja'ib al-qalb"
 [Book of the Explanation of the Mysteries of the Heart]
b)Section entitled: "The Soldiers of the Heart" in the same book
c)Section entitled: "Shaytan's domination over the heart through whispering [al-waswas]" in the same book
d)Section entitled: "Proofs..." from the book "Kitab riadat al-nafs wa tahdhib al-akhlaq wa mu`alajat amrad al-qalb" [Book of the training of the ego and the disciplining of manners and the healing of the heart's diseases]

a) Meaning of nafs: It has two meanings. First, it means the powers of anger and sexual appetite in a human being... and this is the usage mostly found among the people of tasawwuf [sufis], who take "nafs" as the comprehensive word for all the evil attributes of a person. That is why they say: one must certainly do battle with the ego and break it (la budda min mujahadat al-nafs wa kasriha), as is referred to in the hadith: A`da `aduwwuka nafsuka al-lati bayna janibayk [Your worst enemy is your nafs which lies between your flanks. Al-`Iraqi says it is in Bayhaqi on the authority of Ibn `Abbas and its chain of transmission contains Muhammad ibn Abd al-Rahman ibn Ghazwan, one of the forgers].
The second meaning of nafs is the soul, the human being in reality, his self and his person. However, it is described differently according to its different states. If it assumes calmness under command and has removed from itself the disturbance caused by the onslaught of passion, it is called "the satisfied soul" (al-nafs al-mutma'inna)... In its first meaning the nafs does not envisage its return to God because it has kept itself far from Him: such a nafs is from the party of shaytan. However, when it does not achieve calmness, yet sets itself against the love of passions and objects to it, it is called "the self-accusing soul" (al-nafs al-lawwama), because it rebukes its owner for his neglect in the worship of his master... If it gives up all protest and surrenders itself in total obedience to the call of passions and shaytan, it is named "the soul that enjoins evil" (al-nafs al-ammara bi al-su')... which could be taken to refer to the ego in its first meaning.
b) God has armed soldiers which He has placed in the hearts and the souls and others of His worlds, and none knows their true nature and actual number except He... [He proceeds to explain that the limbs of the body, the five senses, will, instinct, and the emotive and intellective powers are among those soldiers.] Know that the two soldiers of anger and sexual passion can be guided by the heart completely... or on the other hand disobey and rebel against it completely, until they enslave it. Therein lies the death of the heart and the termination of its journey towards eternal happiness. The heart has other soldiers: knowledge (`ilm), wisdom (hikma) and reflection (tafakkur) whose help it seeks by right, for they are the Party of God against the other two who belong to the party of shaytan...
God says: "Have you seen the one who chooseth for his god his own lust?" (25:43) and "He followed his own lust. Therefor his likeness is as the likeness of a dog; if thou attackest him he panteth with his tongue out, and if thou leavest him he panteth with his tongue out" (7:176) and about the person who controlled the passion of his ego God says: "But as for him who feared to stand before his Lord and restrained his soul from lust, Lo! The garden will be his home" (79:40-41).
Know that the body is like a town and the intellect of the mature human being is like a king ruling that town. All the forces of the external and internal senses he can muster are like his soldiers and his aides. The ego that enjoins evil (nafs ammara), that is, lust and anger, is like an enemy that challenges him in his kingdom and strives to slaughter his people. The body thus becomes like a garrison-town or sea-outpost, and the soul like its custodian posted in it. If he fights against his enemies and defeats them and compels them to do what he likes, he will be praised when he returns to God's presence, as God said: "Those who strive in the way of Allah with their wealth and lives. Allah hath conferred on those who strive with their wealth and lives a rank above the sedentary" (4:95).
c) The thoughts that stir one's desire are of two kinds... praiseworthy, and that is called "inspiration" (ilham), and blameworthy, and that is called "whispering" (waswasa)... The heart is owned mutually by a shaytan and an angel... The angel stands for a creature which God has created for the overflowing of benefit, the bestowal of knowledge, the unveiling of truth, the promise of reward, and the ordering of the good... The shaytan stands for a creature whose business is to be against all this... Waswasa against ilham, shaytan against angel, success (tawfiq) against disappointment (khidhlan).
The Prophet (s) said: "There are two impulses in the soul, one from an angel which calls towards good and confirms truth; whoever finds this let him know it is from God and praise Him. Another impulse comes from the enemy which leads to doubt and denies truth and forbids good; whoever finds this, let him seek refuge in God from the accursed devil." Then he recited the verse: "The devil shows you fear of poverty and enjoins evil upon you" (2:268) [Tirmidhi: hasan; Nisa'i; `Iraqi did not weaken it].
Hasan al-Basri said: "Two thoughts roam over the soul, one from God, one from the enemy. God shows mercy on a servant who settles at the thought that comes from Him. He embraces the thought that comes from God, while he fights against the one from his enemy. To illustrate the heart's mutual attraction between these two powers the Prophet (s) said: "The heart of a believer lies between two fingers of the Merciful" [Muslim, Ahmad, Tirmidhi, Ibn Majah]... The fingers stand for upheaval and hesitation in the heart... If man follows the dictates of anger and appetite, the dominion of shaytan appears in him through idle passions [hawa] and his heart becomes the nesting-place and container of shaytan, who feeds on hawa. If he does battle with his passions and does not let them dominate his nafs, imitating in this the character of the angels, at that time his heart becomes the resting-place of angels and they alight upon it...
The Prophet (s) said: "There is none among you in whom there is not a devil" They said: "Even in you, O Messenger of God?!" He said: "Even in me, but God helped me to overcome him and he has submitted to me, so he doesn't order anything except good" [Muslim]... The mutual repelling of the soldiers of the angels and the devils is constant in the battle over the heart, until the heart is conquered by one of the two sides which sets up its nation and settles there... And most hearts have been seized by the soldiers of shaytan, who fill them with the whispers that call one to love this passing world and disregard the next.
d) The Prophet (s) said: al-mujahidu man jahada nafsahu fi ta`at Allah `azza wa jall [The fighter against unbelief is he who fights against his ego in obeying God; Tirmidhi, Ibn Majah, Ibn Hibban, Tabarani, Hakim, etc.]... Sufyan al-Thawri said: "I never dealt with anything stronger against me than my own ego; it was one time with me, and one time against me"... Yahya ibn Mu`adh al-Razi said: "Fight against your ego with the four swords of training: eat little, sleep little, speak little, and be patient when people harm you... Then the ego will walk the paths of obedience, like a fleeing horseman in the field of battle."

Golden Principles of Raising Children

Imam Ghazali (May God Shower His Mercy Upon Him)'s Arabic Book on the Subject from His Three-Volumes Collection of Short Books

"Majmu'a Rasail Imam Ghazali"

Translated into English By Irfan Hasan


Adopting an effective method for training children is extremely important and necessary. It is because a child is Allah's trust in parents' hands and the child's heart is like a nice, clean, and simple mirror which, although, is devoid of any types of impressions or shapes, is capable of accepting the influence of all types of impressions and influences and it can be inclined towards any thing you like. Therefore, if good habits are inculcated in the child and if he/she is instructed in knowledge, then the child after gaining such excellent nourishment (upbringing), achieves the real success of this life and of the life hereafter.
In this [success], the parents and the teachers of the child become entitled to a share in the rewards [from Allah for good upbringing of the child]. And if bad habits are inculcated (nurtured) in a child and [if the child is] left unhindered (unattended/free) like animals, then he/she gets destroyed after becoming ill mannered. The burden of sin [of such
negligence] fells on his/her guardian and caretaker. Allah, the Exalted, has said [in the Holy Quran]:

"Ya Ayyuhal Lazeena Aamano Qu Anfusakum Wa Ahleekum Naarun."

"O you who believe! Save yourself and your family from the fire of Hell."

And when the father saves his child from the fires of this world, then as a first priority, it is incumbent (obligatory) upon him to save his child from the fire of the hereafter (Hellfire) and the only way of doing this is that he teaches the child manners and civilization and educate him/her in the best of morals and protect him/her from bad companions and friends and should not let the desire for physical beautification, fine dresses, ornamentation, physical ease, and comfort-seeking settle in his/her heart, otherwise, the child after growing up, will waste his/her precious life in desiring and seeking these lowly things and will get eternally destroyed by them. Instead, it's incumbent upon the father to keep a strict watch and care from a very early age [of his child].
For upbringing of the child and for nursing, [in the absence of the mother] a woman of good character and religiosity should be appointed, who eats lawful (Halal) food because the milk that comes from unlawful food, has no betterment or blessing in it, instead, if the child is brought up with milk that comes from unlawful (Haram) sources, then evil gets permeated into the very fiber (consciousness/psychology/inner being) of the child, and because of that, the temperament of the child gets inclined towards Satanic (evil) deeds. And when [the parent feels that] the child is able to discern between the good and the bad then a complete nurturing of the child should begin. This [phase of child's life] is indicated by the appearance of the initial signs of shyness (Haya/modesty), because when the child, realizing his/her respect and honor, starts to feel shy and because of shyness starts to leave doing certain things, then this is only the result of the light of intelligence emerging in
him/her. This [emergence of the light of intelligence] happens to such an extent that he/she starts to think of some things as good and of some things as bad, and starts to feel shameful about certain deeds and this very realization of shyness (Haya) is a huge favor on the child by Allah, the Exalted. And it's a clear sign that argues for (clearly shows) his/her moderation of the moral values and the purity of the heart. Instead, we should think of it in this way that this consciousness of the realization of good and bad [in the child], is a glad tiding from the nature (i.e. Allah) that this child upon attaining puberty, will possess perfect intelligence. That's why a child with shyness (Haya/modesty), should never be left free (liberated), but instead, making use of his/her shyness (Haya) and discernment [between good and bad], a full training should be given to him/her.
The first bad desire that dominates a child, is the greed to eat more; therefore, it's extremely necessary to teach him/her the etiquettes of eating.

For example, [the etiquettes are] to eat food only with the right hand, to recite "Bismillah" ("In the Name of Allah") in the beginning, to eat from the front [of the plate], to wait for others to begin before he/she does, to not start staring at the food [when others start first], to not even stare at others who are eating, to not eat in an unnecessary hurry, to chew the food properly, to not continuously [or hurriedly] put morsels of food in his/her mouth [but should do that gradually], to not soil his/her hand and clothes with the food [by dropping it]. Sometimes, the child should be fed only the bread so that he/she does not consider the curry [to go with bread] to be a necessity so as to not even be able to do without it. Likewise, one should narrate in front of the child, the undesirability of eating too much, for example, those who eat excessively should be compared to animals. The child should be told to not follow the kids who eat too much and the kids who eat less and are
well trained should be praised in front of the child. The child attention should be drawn towards sacrificing the food for the sake of others [who are less fortunate] by taking care of the needs of his/her companions. The habit should be developed in the child to not care too much about [fine] food and to be content with simple food.
Similarly, instead of colorful and silk clothes, the love and desire for simple and plain clothes should be developed in the heart of the child. It should be firmly impressed on his/her mind that to wear such clothes is not appropriate and pious people abhor such ways of dressing. Such things (admonitions) should be told to the child from time to time in a generalized way. And it's an obligation on the parents that when they see any child wearing silky or brightly colored dresses in front of them, then they should express their disapproval [of such ways of dressing] in front of the child and should instill their undesirability [for such dresses] in the heart of the child. The parents should protect their child from meeting with all those children who are accustomed to prosperity, seeking comforts (comfortable lifestyle), and dressing proudly. They (parents) should also protect the child from the company of all those people who tell him/her stories about such ways of indulgence [like
seeking comforts, dressing proudly, etc.]. Any child, who is left unattended [in such things] during his/her initial growth (upbringing), after growing up commonly becomes ill-mannered, liar, thief, tale-bearer, intransigent (stubborn), evil talker, sarcastic, cunning, deceiver, and foolish. The only source of protecting the child from all these evils is good education and training, after that, the child should be admitted into a religious school so that he/she studies Quran and Hadith (traditions of Prophet Muhammad [Peace and blessing of Allah be upon him]), acquires knowledge of the conditions, biography, and traditions of Allah's righteous slaves so that from the early childhood, the love of the saints (May Allah shower His Mercy upon all of them) get established in his/her heart.
Furthermore, protect the child from romantic poetry and romantic-minded poets and also make him/her stay away from those writers who think that such poetry is an indication of the life of the heart and subtlety of perception [or expression], because such things sow the seeds of corruption (Fasad) and evil in the minds of children.

Whenever the child displays a good quality or displays a praiseworthy action, then father should praise the child and give him/her such a gift that will make the child happy and should praise the child in front of others. If the child then does something opposite [to his/her praiseworthy quality or action], then it's appropriate to show unawareness of it and [the father] should not dishonor or humiliate the child nor should he highlight the fault. Instead, the father [or parent] should not even let the child know that he even thinks that the child has the courage to do such a thing in front of him, especially, in the case, when the child himself/herself tries to cover and hide the fault. It's because revealing the mistakes [of the child] at times, is the cause for the child to become more daring to such an extent that slowly and gradually the child does not even care about his/her faults being revealed. Even after taking such a wise precaution, if the child does the same [bad] thing
again, then it's suitable to rebuke him/her in private and the fault of the bad deed should be revealed to him/her and should be told, "Beware! Do not ever do this bad thing again. God forbid, if this is found by someone, then you will get humiliated in front of the people", [etc. etc. and other statements can be guessed from this].

But it should be kept in mind that the child not be rebuked excessively, because it creates a habit in the child to listen to condemnation and scolding and increases in him/her the courage to commit wrongs. And slowly and gradually, the value of admonitions diminishes from the heart of the child.

Similarly, it's necessary for the father that when he talks to the child, he maintains his awe and fear [in the heart of the child] and should rarely rebuke him/her. And the mother should make him/her fear the father when the child is being stubborn and should strictly stop the child from doing bad things.

The child should be told not to sleep during the day because it creates laziness but he/she should not be stopped from sleeping at night. However, the child should still be stopped from sleeping on a soft bed so that the child's bodily organs will get strong and the body will not get disfigured, due to which the child will not be able to live without comforts. Instead, the habits of sleeping on hard beds, wearing non-fine (simple) clothes, eating simple food should be instilled in the child. The child should be stopped from doing things in a clandestine way because he/she knows that it's bad, that's why the child hides it. If it's ignored, then the child will develop the habit of doing bad things.

Similarly, the habit of walking during the day and exercising should be instilled in the child so that he/she does not become lethargic and lazy. However, utmost care must be taken to ensure that the child does not expose his/her head, knees, thighs, etc. Furthermore, the child should not walk too fast nor should keep his/her hands loose [which is a sign of laziness] but instead, the child should keep his/her hands close to the body and should be active.

The child should be prohibited from showing pride on anything from the possessions of his/her parents, his food items, clothes, even from something like his/her writing tablet and ink. Instead, the habit of dealing with all of his/her companions with humility, respect, honor, and having pure (clean/civilized) conversation, should be inculcated in him/her and should not be allowed to take anything from other children. If it's a child of wealthy parents then he/she should be explained that the honor and rank is in giving and not in taking, instead, taking [from others] has in it [the characteristics of] lowliness, humiliation, and insult. If it's a child of poor parents then he/she should be taught that to have greed and to take something from others is a cause of one's own insult and humiliation and it's the characteristic of a dog that it keeps wagging its tail waiting and being greedy for a morsel [of food]. Similarly, the child should be made to dislike gold and silver and should
be made to fear the love of these things worse than the love of snakes and scorpions. It's because the love and greed of gold and silver, causes far more damage to children and adults than the harms caused by poison [from snakes and scorpions].

The child should be taught to not spit publicly, to not pick his/her nose, to not yawn in front of anyone, to not turn his/her back to anyone, to not sit cross-legged, to not sit while putting his/her palm under the chin or while supporting the head with hands because all these are indications of lethargy and laziness, in other words, the child should even be taught the proper manners of sitting. The child should be restrained from talking too much and it should be clearly impressed on his/her mind that all these are shameful things and are not the works of well-mannered children. Furthermore, the child should be completely prohibited from swearing either truely or falsely so that he/she will not develop the habit of swearing from childhood. Similarly, the child should be stopped from starting a conversation first and should have this habit instilled in him/her that he/she should speak only to answer [questions] and that too should be proportionate to the question [asked]. When
someone is speaking to the child then he/she should listen very attentively and should get up to create more space for those who are older and then should sit with proper manners in front of them. The child should be stopped from useless (evil) talk, dirty talk, cursing, accusations, verbal abuse and should be prohibited from meeting people who do these things because the evil qualities of [one's] companions, necessarily influence the child [in a bad way]. And the real secret of [proper] training of children is embedded (hidden) in protecting the children from [the company of] bad companions.

It is also necessary that when the teacher punishes the child then the child should neither scream nor shout nor seek the support of intercession (interference) of someone, instead, [the child] should exercise patience and forbearance. In order to make the child understand this, he/she should be told that to exercise patience is the way (characteristic) of the brave ones and to scream, shout, and cry are the works of those who lack dignity.

After finishing his/her studies, the child should be permitted to play some good sport, with the help of which, he/she could get rid of the tiredness from the school and to get relaxation. But the child should not be allowed to play so much so that he/she gets tired due to the play [itself]. Because, to completely stop the child from playing and to just keep him/her under the pressure of studies, makes his/her heart dead, makes his/her intelligence nullified and useless, and makes his/her life miserable, due to that, the child starts to look for excuses to get rid of the studies.

It's extremely important that the child should be taught the obedience to the parents, teachers, and everyone who is older in age than him/her whether this person is a relative or not. And he/she should be told to look at them with the eyes of respect and should abandon play in front of them. When the child reaches puberty, then he/she should not be allowed to have laziness in cleanliness (personal hygiene) and purity and should not be ignored for missing prayers. In certain days of [the holy month of] Ramadan, the child [before acquiring puberty] should be made to fast in some days and should be kept away from silk, and wearing gold and silver. As needed (as it's suitable according to the need), the child should be explained the limits (boundaries) and laws of the Islamic Shari'ah (Divine laws) and should be made to fear theft, unlawful earnings and food, breach of trust, dishonesty, shamelessness, and all evil things that are born in the temperament (personality) of the child
during adolescence. When a child's upbringing from the [early] childhood will be like this, then by the time the child reaches puberty, he/she will be able to clearly understand the secrets and the wisdom behind these matters.

During this stage (childhood/adolescence), he/she should be explained that whatever permissible (Halal) food is there, is also like medicines and the only purpose of them is that the human beings, after eating them, could be obedient to Allah, the Exalted.

It should also be clearly impressed upon the mind [of the child] that the world itself is not the purpose [of our lives], and [the world] is unreal, without permanence, and has an ending. Death puts an end to these [material] blessings and the world is only a place we are passing by. It is not a place of satisfaction and [is not] a place to settle. But the world of the hereafter is the real station of peace and tranquility and a place of stillness and satisfaction and the death, at all times, is in ambush, to end the life of the world.

In reality, intelligent is the one who provides the capital of reliance (provision needed for one's journey to the hereafter) and good deeds from this mortal world for the eternal life of the hereafter, so that he/she attains a high rank of acceptance before Allah, the Exalted, and the limitless blessings of the Paradise. If the child's initial upbringing would have been good, then during adolescence, this discussion will prove to be pleasing to the self (Nafs), effective, get inscribed on the heart like an [indelible] inscription on the stone, auguring well for the child.

On contrary to that, if the child's mental development had been along the wrong lines, then the qualities of evil, shamelessness, desire for eating too much, greed for fine dresses, ostentation and ornamentation, gaudiness, arrogance and pride, would have been born in him/her, and his/her heart will refuse to accept this fact (i.e. the impermanence of the worldly life and the need to work for the life hereafter) like the dry wall refuses to accept dry soil (i.e. such teachings will not stick to the heart of the child). In summary, these are the initial matters that need to be taken care of to the utmost.

Since the composition of the child's heart is such that it can accept the influences of both the good and the bad, the righteous and the evil, it's the responsibility of the father and the mother to incline the [heart of the] child either to good or to evil (Imam Ghazali is not giving us a choice in this matter, but instead, urging us to incline the child towards good otherwise the child will automatically get inclined towards evil due to the parents' negligence). Prophet Muhammad (May peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) says:

"Kullu Mauludiy Yauladu 'Alal Fitrati Wa Innama Aabawahu Yuhawwidanihi Aow Yunassiranihi Aow Yumajjisanihi."

"Every child is born on the [true] nature [of God] but his/her parents make him/her either a Christian, Jew, or Magian."

Writing dramatic narration for SPM English Paper 1, section B:

When we plan to write a narrative essay for the coming SPM examination , English Paper 1, section B: Continuous Writing, we have to bear in mind of making our essay exciting and impressive. The first thing  to do is study the question carefuly, understand the scope of the question, then draw a rough plot from the beginning , rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution. 

Then we should decide the theme, moral values, characters and scenes of events. The theme of the story is the central message and the moral values are the lessons that we learn from the story. In order to make our story alive, name the settings/places of our story, then descibe the scene of the place. 

Besides that, name the characters and reveal their characteristics by writing about their actions, reactions, thoughts, speechs and what other characters say about them. We also have to elaborate the sequence of events and incidents, what happen, how did it happen, why did it happen, who was involved and when did it happen? 

Please don’t forget to descibe the scene, characters, events and incidents using our 5 senses, what we see, hear, touch, smell and taste and add appropriate adjectives and adverbs. We can also use phrases, idioms, sayings or expressions to make our narration lively and impressive too. 

The marking scheme for countinuous writing will be based on impression, as its holistc marking, which scoring involves the assignning of a single score to a piece of writing based on a “whole” reading of the essay.  The examiner will fit the candidate’s response to the most appropriate band, by refering to upper and lower bands and the marks depend on the number of criteria that are found in the script that matches the band. 

Please make sure the language used is accurate, use  varied sentence structures (simple, compound, complex, compound/complex sentences), and the use of vocabulary is correct, prescise and wide. Write well-planned  paragraphs, unified and appropriately linked, and make sure the tone and mood suites the story creating interest, being arousing and sustained throughout the story.

P/S: There are two links below as examples of websites where we can find idioms and meaningful phrases.