How to control anger, resentment, greed, envy, inflated ego and other bad desires and impulsive behaviour that fall into the category of “nafs”. In Islam prayers and devotion (ibadat) has two components;
1. Salat (namaz) fasting, zakat, haj (those who have health and means to perform it), doing good deeds, truth, honesty, fairness and justice in all dealings, remembrance of Allah (zikr) etc. 2. The second component is “tasawwuf.” It requires one to overcome 7 major and other related characteristics “nafs.” . Muslims are required to comply with the requirements of both components described above. The neglect of one negates the other.
Nafs is the self, soul in its unrefined state. It is the lowest dimension of one’s inward existence. The Nafs has 7 main characteristics and each has several other related characteristics and all of them must be overcome. The main 7 are:
1.Greed (hirs), 2.envy (hasad), 3.lust(shahwah), 4.backbiting and slander,(gheebat), 5.malice(keena) and includes hate, resentment and anger. 6. uncharitable or ungenerous(bokhl)*. 7. inflated sense of self (takabbur).
The struggle to overcome them continues as long as one lives.
The suggested steps to control and overcome them and to acquire virtues like compassion, forgiveness, patience, truth, justice etc., are described below. However before starting one needs to contemplate on all the 7 and related characteristics and decide the one you will start to work on first. Once you have started be persistent and do not hop to the next until you have gained some control on the previous one. Remember that it is a lifetime struggle and hence called the major or the real jihad.
Step 1: Reflection: At the end of each day, devote time to evaluate your deeds and compliance of your obligatory duties*. Continue to perform all prayers and try to do more good deeds each day. Develop a consciousness of what is right from the religious perspective and develop awareness of sin and sawab. Use your willpower to shun temptations. Continue to do Zikr in your free moments whenever it is possible. You do not need tasbeeh to remember God. You can do it while waiting for a bus or while riding the subway etc. It does not need to be a specific number that you have to count. It can be as many times as time permits. Tasbeeh is good when you have time and space to do it.
Self conditioning: After getting some self control by observing actions described in step 1 make a commitment to refrain from a habit, for example, backbiting, and continue exercising your will power for several days until you have achieved some control over this habit. During this process add a virtue such as forgiveness. Then proceed to other habits like inflated ego or greed and add a virtue like compassion and work on it for as many days as necessary. At the end of each day thank Allah for the progress and pray that you succeed in your struggle to purge all sinful desires and acquire virtues such as forgiveness,compassion, justice, truth, humility, contentment, zikr etc. It reaches to ones inner dimension and brings inner peace
It is a lifelong process and is a test of your patience and willpower. During the process keep up the zakr, acts of good deeds and ibadat (prayers and devotion). Please note that one does not need to join a Sufi group to do Tasawwuf. Khaliq
(Here is a part of a poem on Tasawwuf translated by professor Alan Goodlas of Georgia University. http://islam.uga.edu/Sufism.html.
What is Tasawwuf? Good character and awareness of God.
That’s all Tasawwuf is. And nothing more.
What is Tasawwuf? Love and affection.
It is the cure for hatred and vengeance. And nothing more.
What is Tasawwuf? The heart attaining tranquility–
which is the root of religion. And nothing mor
It is the way to the most exalted paradise. And nothing more.
An Anonymous Persian Poem –