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20 October 2018 CE | 09 Safar 1440 AH
Explanation below

Hadith Explanation


The Three States of Self


The Messenger of Allah (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) said: “The intelligent person is the one who brings his self to account and acts in preparation for what lies beyond his death; and the foolish person is the one who abandons himself to his desires and cravings and expects Allah to fulfill his futile wishes.” [Tirmidhi; Kitab Sifat al-Qiyyamah]

The self/nafs is a single entity, although its state may change: from the self that urges evil (an-nafs al-ammara), to the reproachful self (an-nafs al-lawwama), to the self at peace (an-nafs al-mutma’inna), which is the final aim of perfection. In the Quran, Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) has described these three states of the self.

Qatadah described the self at peace (an-nafs al-mutma’inna) as “the soul of the believer, made calm by what Allah has promised.” When the self can rest at peace in the Presence of Allah, and is made tranquil when His Name is invoked, and always relates all matters to Him, and often turns to Him, and is impatient to meet Him, and experiences the intimacy of His nearness, then this is a soul at peace. It is the soul to whom it is said at the time of death: “O soul at peace, return to your Lord, well pleased and well-pleasing. Enter with My servants, enter into My Garden.” [Quran: Surah al-Fajr, Ayaat 27-30] The self at peace has an angel to help it, who assists and guides it.

The reproachful self (an-nafs al-lawwama) is the one that blames itself because of its shortcomings in obeying Allah. This is the self that endures criticism from others in its quest to please Him, so that no one can find fault with it as regards his worship of Him. This one has escaped being blamed by Allah.

The self that urges evil (an-nafs al-ammara) is inside each person and must be curbed because by its very nature it directs its owner towards every wrong action. “And I do not say that my self is free from blame: surely the self urges evil.” [Quran: Surah Yusuf, Ayat 53] This is the self that brings punishment on itself. It has Shaytaan as its ally who leads it on with hope after hope and presents falsehood to it in a form that it will accept and admire.

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