Jihad Al Nafs. No, this is not the kind of Jihad almost everyone in the media and beyond is scared to the bone about — or the one that is often misinterpreted to be acts of violence on the battlefield.
The fight that a Muslim takes part in is against the self, or a Jihad Al Nafs. The biggest struggle is to stay resolute and firm within. Your nafs is the inner ego within yourself whose impulses and urges tend to lead you astray from Islam.
As we begin the year 2016, we leave behind a set of troubled feelings that are bound to get stronger in the upcoming years. We have come to a place where the signs of the Day of Judgement are getting nearer and the boundary between what is Halal and what is Haram is getting ever so faded.
Your nafs is the real you.
This nafs whispers to you, telling you that you’re still young and that religion can wait. As you continue to be consumed by these distractions, you find yourself feeling troubled, anxious and irritated. You’re continuing to be pulled away from what you feel is right.
So as we move into a new year and perhaps even a newer you, here are 5 tips that you can keep close at hand to improve upon your spiritual self:
1. Keep constant with your prayers.
Even if you feel like all hope is lost and your nafs will forever be consumed by pride, lust, greed and envy — continue with your prayers.
Surely, Allah (SWT) knows your losses and pains, so when you have such confidence and faith in He who created you, He will bring you out of your distress.
2. Purify your soul with the Quran.
When was the last time we all read the Quran in our ever-so-busy lives? If you may not have time to read the translation of the Quran, try to read it for pleasure.
Feel the words even if you may not understand them. They have a therapeutic effect that only Allah (SWT) knows.
3. Improve your environment.
Hang out with friends that bring the best in you — those who maintain a positive spirit. Good company will nurture a greater goodness in you going as far as strengthening your deen day by day.
Talk to those you trust about your problems. Perhaps they may share the same troubles or may make you see through your choices and decisions if they happen to be motivated by impure intentions. They’ll have foresight into a situation that you may look back to and regret.
4. Purify your intentions.
Try to think about why you do the things you do. Do you ever feel unsure about your decisions? Do you feel like the action you are about to do is something you would share with others or hide from others?
All of these questions should be running through your mind before you take a step. You’ll be able to see through your nafs easier than before.
5. Get involved in the community around you.
Join young Muslim groups and try to get involved in organizing events for your Muslim community. Take part in soup kitchens for the hungry and food/blanket drives for those who are in need.
Concerning yourself on the betterment of those around you and filling your time for the service of others will make you more thankful for what Allah (SWT) has given you.
In the words of Yasmin Mogahed:
“Allah (SWT) knows we have a nafs. Allah knows we have a heart. Allah knows that these things drive us. But Allah tells us that He is closer to us than even these. So when we reach for other than Him, we are not only reaching for what is weaker, we are also reaching past what is closer, for what is further and more distant. Subhan’Allah (Glory be to God).”
The actions you have done in the past do not define you. You may feel as though you may have harbored negative feelings toward a person or have given into your impulses before — but that does not mean that Allah (SWT) will not forgive those sins if you may a keen effort to change yourself.
Feeding your soul with the right actions will result in a better temperament, insha’Allah.