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Thursday, September 23, 2004

Rocks get rounded by Water,Metal Corrodes

By Shaykh Ziad Sikander Hashmi

Rocks get rounded by water. Metal corrodes. Concrete buildings can be toppled by winds. Ice can cut through metal (Titanic come to mind?).

No matter how strong we think we are, we are bound to be affected by our environment.

For some, it may be evident. For others, it may not. But the fact remains that just as carbon monoxide kills without any smell or warning, a bad environment kills our spirituality, sometimes ever-so slowly.

Sometimes, you can just see it. You can see the magical evil spell of the environment around you penetrate through your senses. You can truly feel it making its way through your system and changing things along the way. The heart can sometimes feel it; the ever so slight changes, the relaxing of the guard, and the "oh well, so what" attitude sinking into the mind.

It happens consciously for some, semi-consciously for many others, and subconsciously for almost everyone.

But what to do? How to stop it? How to stop the trend?

On the train today, I wrapped up the reading of an absolutely brilliant booklet entitled "Tasawwuf in Brief" by Sheikh Imran, Mufti Muhammad ibn Adam's elder brother.

In discussing the battle against one's self (i.e. the Nafs that commands evil), often referred to as the "greater Jihad", he writes:

"Three things are used to assist in taming this self (Nafs):

1. Preventing it from lust by denying it nutrition, similar to the way in which a wild horse will become submissive if its food is reduced. In the same way, the self (Nafs) will also become submissive if one does not feed it.

2. The worship of Allah Subhanahu Wata`ala will also help to subdue the self (Nafs) and will make it weak.

3. Last, but not least, is asking the help of Allah Subhanahu Wata`ala, for indeed nothing can happen without His will."

The first one calls for cutting away at the roots of the weeds. Set the limits and try not to cross. If something happens once, try to make sure it doesn't happen again.

If we are punctual in our obligations, then the second means an increase in recitation of Quran, nafils, zikr, etc. Even the smallest of zikr rituals don't hurt. Whatever is manageable. The more istighfaar, the better.

And of course, asking Allah for His help and mercy, because surely we aren't capable of lifting a single pin without Allah's mercy and permission.

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