(2:45-46) How to Tame the Nafs
How to Escape the Clutches of the Nafs
Seek help through patience and prayer. It is indeed exacting, but not for those who are humble in their hearts, (45) Who bear in mind that they are to meet their Lord, and that to Him they are to return. (2:45-46)
What prevents us from caving into our baser cravings?
The relentless pull of our nafs is tough to keep in check. Just as the irrepressible urge of a smoker to pick up a cigarette makes him feel trapped, repeating a behaviour that he knows is harming him and shortening his life with every puff, we can feel defeated by any number of cravings. These are the urges of our nafs. Our weapon against our nafs is imaan. The stronger our imaan, the more empowered we become to fight our whims. The weaker our imaan, the harder it is for us to quit bad habits.
Allah Almighty advises us to seek help through patience and prayer. Freeing ourselves from our urges is not easy but if we can humble our hearts, we can conquer the challenges that face us. The remedy for all spiritual disease is through the prayers and zakat. They have a healing power when we engage with them sincerely. And as we may not turn to them out of own choice when we have so many distractions and demands on our time, they are an obligation. The benefit is ours. The closer we are to Allah the stronger we are. We have two fundamental links in life: with Allah (through salah) and with the community (through zakat). This is the core requirement of our belief.
Having the self control to do salah regularly at the appropriate time feels heavy, unless we have a level of humility and obedience, (khushu). We aren’t an island, so we can’t just live with Allah Almighty, we have to live with the people and so zakat is as important as salah.
Self control is not limited to avoiding something, but also entails doing the right thing, saying the right thing and thinking the right thing.
Self control becomes easier when we know that we will return to Allah Almighty. Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her narrated from the Prophet (peace be on him), that whoever loves to meet Allah, Allah loves to meet him. In our culture death is terrifying, however death which leads to meeting your beloved is a different proposition altogether.
When given the choice, the Prophet (peace be on him) chose death over life, as he yearned to meet Allah Almighty. Death isn’t the end, it is the gateway to Allah Almighty and remembering that He is waiting for us would prevent us from disappointing him.
Imaan is when we are certain of the day that we will meet Allah and when every day is a preparation for that meeting.