An-Nafs wa Maqam Matiha al-Amarra:
The Nafs that Orders to Evil
The First Station
“I claim not they my soul was innocent, indeed the soul incites to evil,
except in as much as my Lord has mercy.” (12:53)
The nafs that orders to evil: its walking, its world, its place, its state, its attributes, its ugly qualities, and how to be free from it and rise to the second station where it acquires the quality of al-lawamma, the state of the nafs that is self-reproaching.
The walking of the nafs al-amarra is toward Allah; its world is that world of the seeing; its place is in the chest; its state is inclination ( wa-raiiduha ); and its source of inspiration is the shari'a .
Know that the seven nafs are one, and it is named differently according to its attributes which are the inciting to evil ( al-amarra ), the reproachful ( al-lawamma ), the inspired ( al-mulhama ), the arrested ( al-mutma'inna ), the pleased ( ar-radiyya ), the pleasing ( al-mardiyya ), and the perfect or complete ( an-nafs al-kamala ).
Know that the nafs is the heart about which Allah says, “This is a reminder for whoever has a heart.” (50:37) What is indicated by the word “heart” is not a piece of flesh, but is a subtlety established by the Lord which may lean toward the physical body and which may become established in following its appetites. By this I mean the animal spirit which loses its preferred qualities and takes on lowly qualities. It becomes like the animals, and the shaitan becomes one of its soldiers. Some of its qualities are ignorance, greed, arrogance, anger, appetite, hatred, forgetfulness, envy, hurting others with the hand and the tongue, and other ugly qualities. All this is an evil nafs . The Prophet Yusuf, speaking about this, said, “Surely the nafs commands to evil.” (12:53)
The Messenger of Allah, may the blessings and peace of Allah be upon him, said, “Your greatest enemy is your self that is between your two sides.” This is because the nafs inhabits the darkness of the physical world. It does not distinguish between right and wrong (truth, al-haqq ) and the force (battle); it does not distinguish between good and evil. The accursed shaitan cannot influence humanity except through its venue. So, O seeker, be wary of it. Do not trust it. Do not help it. Do not support it; on the contrary, stop it. Cut down on your food, on your drink, and on your sleep that you may weaken the animal nafs that grow on satisfying its appetites. If you weaken it, then you are closer to release from it.
Let your dhikr in this station be la ilaha illa'llah while extending the laa and emphasize the iil in ilaha and emphasize illa'llah . (NO God BUT Allah) LAA IILaha ILL Allah, LAA IILaha ILL Allah, LAA IILaha ILL Allah . And do not be lazy in emphasizing the ILL of illa ; LAA IILaha ILL Allah, but if you do not, then the ii turns into a ya sound, and this is not the word of at-tawhid and there is no benefit in its repetition. Most of the people who do dhikr are not aware of this point. Do this dhikr standing, sitting, and on your side at all times out loud. The effect of this dhikr is only felt after much loud repetition in the nighttime and in the daytime.
Allah says in Hadith Qudsi , “ La ilaha illa'llah is My fortress; whoever enters My fortress is safe from My punishment. And the Messenger of Allah said, “ La ilaha illa'llah is the best of adh-dhikr and the best of good action. Those most likely to receive my intercession are the ones who say it purely from their hearts.” There is no slave who says it before he dies except that he enters the garden ( al-janna ), even if he commits adultery and even if he steals. Allah says in Hadith Qudsi , “ I am in the good opinion of My slave. I am with him if he remembers Me. If he remembers me in a place, I remember him in a better place.”
The Messenger of Allah, may peace and blessing be upon him, said, “When people sit in remembrance of Allah, they are surrounded by angels and they are covered with mercy and they receive al-sakina , which is the peace inspired by Allah, and Allah mentions them in His assembly.”
And the Messenger of Allah, may Allah's blessings and peace be upon him, said, “If you pass by the gardens of heaven, then graze there.” And if was asked, “And what are the gardens of heaven?” He answered, “ The gatherings of adh-dhikr .”
So, O you who seek freedom from your enemies, enter the fortress of your Lord, which is to repeat la ilaha illa'llah . Release your noble self from the prison of the body so that you may arrive at the higher stations. Know that the seeker continues with this adh-dhikr until it brings him to His presence. The seeker continues this adh-dhikr without much pleasure in its meaning until the dark veils are lifted from his heart, and he is able to witness with inner sight that all movement and stillness, all giving and withholding, and benefit and harm are from Allah. This becomes a tasting which is witnessing from the state, not just from belief.
This witnessing through tasting is only known to those who taste. Its outward signs are that you no longer hate any creature, and you do not cause harm to a believer, an unbeliever, an animal, or to your enemy. When you say la ilaha , release from your heart anything that you worship other than Allah, and when you say illa'llah , say it with strength and in a state of presence and awe. Close your eyes and listen to what you say. Be in a state of purity and beware of what you eat. All ugly qualities arise from a full stomach, even in the stomach that is full of halal food; so how much worse if it is full of haram food.
Polish the mirror of your heart and remove the rust that stops you from perceiving the realities of things and from understanding the finer points. Know that your mirror in this station is very rusted with the rust of arrogance, envy, hatred, appetite, greed, resentment, and other qualities that you know in yourself. It is very important in this station to clean yourself form these impurities that stop the heart from piercing the unseen. Do this by strong dhikr , and by reducing your food and sleep, so that you tighten the roads the shaitan travels in you.
Know that this station in which the nafs is called the inciting ( amarra ) is a prison and is the lowest of the low. So it is most important to be freed from it. The raising of the voice is important to awaken the nafs from its habitual forgetfulness. So do adh-dhikr strongly, stand with the shari'a , take your nafs into account every hour, put fear into your nafs with the thought of death and the punishment of the grave and the other difficulties it will have to cross.
Know that in this station you go through the two states of fear and hope. When you are done with this station, your fear turns into constriction ( qadb ) and your hope turns into expansion ( bast ). Then your state of constriction turns into a state of awe and the state of expansion turns into a feeling of being home, a feeling of familiarity. If you reach to a degree of perfection, then constriction is experienced as al-jalal and expansion is experienced as al-jamal . In this first station you always need to remember the reason for fear because this is more useful to you than holding on to hope. But if fear becomes extensive or extreme and you become desperate, then you need to remember the reasons for hope, such as the mercy of Allah, His forgiveness, and His nobility.
You need to be in constant state of humility and surrender. Plead to Allah and ask Him to release you from this station through His gentleness and generosity, and increase you from his station through His gentleness and generosity and increase you dua , your prayers to Allah. Do not ever tire of pleading to Allah. Do not ever say to yourself that Allah does not accept your prayer because this will cut you off from the Haqq .
The Prophet, may Allah's blessings and peace be upon him, said, “Supplication ( dua ) is worship.” And Allah, Glory be to Him, says, “Call upon Me, I will respond to you. Those who are too arrogant to plead with Me will enter the Hell-fire.” (40:60-1) And the Messenger of Allah, may Allah's blessings and peace be upon him, said, “Supplication is the matter of worship.”(1) And he said, “Nothing stops the decree except supplication, and supplication protects you from harm.” Whoever wants Allah to answer his call in hard times, “Let him plead to Allah in easy times.”
Know that no one turns to Allah in supplication without receiving what he asks for sooner or later. See the generosity of your Lord-how He makes your supplication affect His order.(2) See how generous Allah is, that He gets upset if He is not asked.(3) So how can you turn your back to the One who has opened many doors of generosity to you?(4) And how can you turn to His enemies, the shaitan , the dunya , and the appetites?
Know that you have been made with a predisposition to the best and that you are made for al-khalifa and to hold the highest authority. Remember that your father (Adam) was the Qibla for the angels; remember that He taught him the names; remember that he was the vice-regent of Allah on His earth.
So my beloved, awake from your forgetfulness that has destroyed you, put you in a lowly position, and demeaned you, and turn toward what you absolutely need, and draw near through good action before you are taken to His presence in chains.
He said to you, “My slave, if you draw near to Me by the span of a hand's length, I draw near to you by the length of an arm; and if you draw near to Me by an arm's length; and if you draw near to Me by an arm's length, then I draw near to you by the span of two arms length; and if you come near to Me walking, I come to you running.”
So abandon hesitation, and leave what preoccupies you and distracts you from your Lord. Help yourself by being satisfied with what you have, whether it be much or little, and leave alone the vanishing pleasures. Be preoccupied with what helps you. And do not delay your repentance and drawing near to Allah because you do not know how much time you have left in this dunya .
The Messenger of Allah said, “Leave the dunya to its people. If anyone takes from the dunya any more than he needs, he is hurting himself without realizing it.”
My beloved, when you are in this station that is narrow and vile, pray for freedom from the constrictions of the nafs to enter into the expanse of the soul ( al-ruh ). Pray that you should let go of all the ugly qualities I have mentioned, and take on the beautiful qualities that please your Lord. Substitute pride for humility, hatred for love, ostentation for sincerity, and fame for obscurity until there is no one left who still either commends or condemns you. And know that if you are busy with releasing yourself from every ugly quality and changing it to every beautiful quality, then you will see what is amazing, and you will reveal the hidden secrets, and you will understand the following saying:
Your cure is in you,
But you do not see;
Your sickness is from you,
But you do not feel;
You allege at you are a small star,
While you contain the whole
1. The marrow of a thing is its essence.
2. “Prayer revokes the decrees of destiny, benevolence increases provision”
3. The Prophet, alayhee as-salam, said, “When the door of prayer is open for you, the doors of response are opened also.”
4. Prayer makes the decrees of destiny easier to bear.