Wednesday 21st of April 2021
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Inner Strength or the Self-Accusing Soul (Nafs-e-Lawwama)

Through means of inner strength, man can control the evil self (Nafs-e-Ammara).  Allah describes this power in the Koran,

“Nay!  I swear by the day of resurrection.

 Nay!  I swear by the self-accusing soul”

(Al-Qiyamah: 1-2).

Here Allah swears by the self-accusing soul (Nafs-e-Lawwama), informing man of an inner strength.  The self-accusing soul exists within every human being.  Man can control himself from sins as a result of the self-accusing soul.  However, he cannot benefit from any power until he recognizes it.  Moreover, this inner strength is useless for man unless, along with recognition, he also protects and develops this power. 

What is the Self-Accusing Soul?

        It is present in the nature of all human beings, so that after bad deeds and after oppression, they regret it.  This regret is due to the blame and rebuke of the self-accusing soul.  For example, the pilot who dropped the atom bomb on Hiroshima could not sleep for several nights.  The voice of a power was coming from within him that you are the one who has murdered thousands of human beings.  America treated him with great honour and respect, bestowing immense (great) wealth upon him.  Nevertheless, he was restless for several nights until he finally went crazy.  This restlessness is due to the blame and rebuke of the self-accusing soul.  Many other similar incidents prove that the self-accusing soul is a superior blessing of Allah which desires to keep us on the Right Path, on condition that we safeguard this blessing.  In ordinary circumstances, the self-accusing soul can stop man; however, in stormy condition, it cannot be effective.  For instance, the scientist who made the atom bomb did not agree that the instructions (on how to make the atom bomb) should be released to the world, but he was tempted by such an evil greed for wealth and fame.  The desires for wealth and fame overcame him like a storm, muting (silencing) the voice of the self-accusing soul.  Thus, heartfelt faith is the only thing by which man can control himself from sin, even in the stormy condition.  Yet, how will we create heartfelt faith?  The Koran declares,

“And serve your Lord until there comes to you that which is certain” (Al-Hijr: 99).

“Whoever does good whether male or female and he is a believer” (An-Nahl: 97).

        If man desires that his heart be the Throne of Allah, then he should establish a strong connection by means of worship of Allah.  In order to achieve faith, acquiring three things is essential:

        1.  Acting upon the evident (zahiri)

        Islamic    laws

        2.  Saving oneself from sins

        3.  Performing recommended deeds

        Ayatollah Muhammad Tabatabai writes in Tafseer-e- al-Mizan that Hazrat Yusuf had twenty-two agents (amil) by which he could have sinned.  Burhan means the Lord of heartfelt faith.  The Koran says,

“And certainly she made for him, and he would have made for her, were it not that he had seen the manifest evidence of his Lord; thus (it was) that We might turn away from him evil and indecency, surely he was one of Our sincere servants”  (Yusuf:24).

Perfecting the intellect is a means by which the evil self can be controlled. 


What is Intellect (aql)?

        The thinking is the fruit of wisdom. A pondering person is a wise person.  Imam Sadiq (peace be upon him) says that the difference between an intelligent and a foolish person is that an intelligent person first thinks, then speaks.  Similarly, in the field of action he first thinks, then acts.  However, the foolish person does the opposite (first he acts, and then he thinks).  Hazrat Ali (peace be upon him) states, that a perfect man is he who performs an action after always considering toward what his intellect commends him.  It has repeatedly been stated in the Holy Koran,

“Most surely there are signs in this for a people who understand.” (Ar-Ra’d:4).

Similarly, there are many verses for “the people who reflect.” Thus, there are signs in this (Koran) for a people who reflect.

        Imam Sadiq (peace be upon him) was asked about the intellect.  He said, “The intellect is that by which man can become Allah’s servant and through which he can attain the Heavens.” 

        Those who go to Hell are the greatest fools and the most stupid persons, no matter how intelligent they were in the world.  Being wealthy, a politician, or deceiving people by tricking or misleading them is not intelligence; these people are only fooling themselves.  Apparently they are rich, famous, and powerful, but in reality, this is the lowest and most disgraceful station of Hell.  The Holy Koran states about those in Hell,

“And they shall say:  Had we but listened or pondered, we should not have been among the inmates of the burning fire” (Al-Mulk: 10).

        (Rejection of anything or place without reason is worship of the self).  The Koran also states this, that rejecting any being without reason or proof means making yourself opposing Allah. 


Following (taqlid) Knowledge

or Following Ignoranc 

“Those who listen to the word, then follow the best of it; those are they whom Allah has guided, and those it is who are the men of understanding”  (Az-Zumar:18).


        The station of those who do not listen is Hell.  Because of jealousy man may refuse to hear the truth; this characteristic is vile and satanic.  Whatever action is followed without thinking and without consulting the intellect is an action of the unbelievers.

“Surely we found our fathers on a course, and surely we are followers of their footsteps” (Az-Zukhruf: 23).

        Without thinking, following anything, e.g. imitating the West, adhering (sticks, cling) to customs, blind following, imitating fashion, is against the intellect.  Therefore, there are two types of Following (taqlid):

1.                           Following knowledge and the scholar.

2.                           Following ignorance and the ignorant person.

If an ignorant person follows a knowledgeable person, then this is truly according to the intellect.  For example, to build a house, follow an engineer who is knowledgeable in this skill.  If you become ill, then follow a doctor in the matter of which medicine to take.  Similarly, in the matter of religion, following (taqlid) of a jurisprudent who fulfils all the conditions is totally according to the intellect.  Moreover, following all of those customs that are performed during weddings and other occasions is the following of ignorance.  The one who acts upon this following is following the tradition of the unbelievers instead of following the tradition (Sunnah) of the Prophets.   


The Fruit of the Intellect is

Reflection (fikr)

        The fruit of the intellect is reflection and its food is knowledge.  Its occupation is achieving the superior station of the pleasure of Allah.  Man will achieve the elevated station of pleasure of Allah according to how intelligent he is.  In many places the Holy Koran has described the importance of the intellect and the intelligent person.  Nevertheless, if there was not any other verse about the significance of the intellect, this verse is enough to describe the importance of knowledge, 

“Thus do We make the communications distinct for a people who understand” (Ar-Rum:28).    

        The one who understands the real meaning of the Holy Koran truly possesses intelligence.  In Usool-e-Kafi, thirty traditions have been narrated about the excellence of intelligence.  Allah swears by His Honour and Grace, “I have not created anything better than the intellect.”

        Imam Musa bin Ja’far (peace be upon him) states, “Allah has established two proofs for man; one is the outward proof, which is the Prophets, and the other is the hidden proof, which is the intellect.”

        Imam Ja’far Sadiq (peace be upon him) states that woe to the nation who does not try not to perfect the intellect.  Knowledge is a means to perfect the intellect.  The intellect receives happiness and enjoyment from scholarly gatherings, but gatherings of disobedience to Allah, performing forbidden acts, worshipping the self, national- ism, worshipping idols, and sectarianism (being of one sect) injures the intellect.  When man’s intellect is perfected (completed), and then this intelligence arouses (stirs up) the nature of the perfect man.  Because the nature of all human beings is upon Islam, when the nature is awakened, man becomes a believer and a pious person.  He begins to understand what is temporary and what is eternal; he sacrifices temporary things for everlasting things.  In ordinary circumstances man can control satanic desires through means of the intellect.  However, when the evil self assumes a stormy state then even the intellect will be subdued (bought under control) and conquered (overcame).  Therefore, faith is necessary to always control Satanic desires.


The Two Types of Faith

        One type of faith is related to the intellect.  For example, with reason and proof you established your point and the listener adopted faith.  However, this intellectual faith is not powerful enough to control the self when it is flooded by storms.  The second type is heartfelt faith or certain faith, meaning that faith which enters the heart.  For example, man believes in the Day of Judgement; nevertheless, he commits sins.  Man’s intellect says that you have to die, but still he does not prepare for his grave.  This is due to having intellectual and knowledgeable faith, but not heartfelt faith or the faith of certainty and truth.  Man can attain heartfelt faith only when he reaches the state of certainty (undoubted facts).  The state of certainty is only created by action.  Besides obligatory deeds, one should give great importance to recommended acts. Further- more, besides just refraining from forbidden deeds, one should also refrain from discouraged actions. 

        “A believer is strong like a mountain.”  Sexual lust, desire for wealth, desire for fame, lust for power, or any other desire no matter however strong a stormy state it adopts cannot move a believer and cannot ruin his faith.           

The First Agent (amil) to Control the

Self:  Enjoining Good (Amr bil Ma’ruf)

        An effective agent for controlling the self is enjoining good (amr bil ma’ruf).  It is in the Koran,

“Why should not then a company from every party from among them go forth that they may apply themselves to obtain understanding in religion, and that they may warn their people when they come back to them that they may be cautious?” (Al-Tawba: 122).

The Koran has established the enjoining of good as the foundation of the relationship between believers,

“And (as for) the believing men and the believing women, they are guardians of each other; they enjoin good and forbid evil” (Al-Tawba: 71).

Believers are friends of each other and the foundation of this friendship is the enjoining of good.  Man should try to make as many friends like this as possible those who enjoin (command) him to do good and those who criticize him.  Hence, Imam Ja’far Sadiq (peace be upon him) says, “The best gift of a believer for a believer is to make him aware of his defect or fault.”  Unfortunately, in today’s society enjoining good is almost non-existent.  If someone criticizes us and mentions our faults, then we should be grateful to him.  The effects of a life full of hypocrisy and flattery (insincere) will exist in the society in which commanding of good is not practiced.  Wherever it may be that man lives, he should find some individuals who can rectify (correct) him.

        The words of tradition are, “A believer is a mirror for a believer.” Abandoning the enjoining of good, results in much loss in this world and the Hereafter.  The greatest worldly loss and punishment is the character’s going from evil to worse, the increase of the hardness of the heart, and becoming deprived of spiritual pleasures.  According to tradition, the nation of Hazrat Shuayb comprised (composed) of 100,000 people.  Among them 60,000 were good and 40,000 were evil.  The good people did not order them to do good things and neither did they prevent them from doing evil.    Thus, because of not enjoining good, Allah inflicted (applied) punishment upon the whole nation.  The first stage of enjoining good is to criticize with the tongue.  If the person is not affected by oral criticism (fault finding), then cut off relations with him.

        Some individuals rejected the Prophet’s enjoining of good in the Battle of Tabuk.  Hence, they did not participate in the battle, even though the Apostle of Allah repeatedly orally advised them.  When oral advice failed to be effective, the Apostle of Allah ordered that all the Muslims even the wives and children should even cut relations with them (those individuals who did not go to war).  The result was that those individuals became heedful (careful) and went in the wilderness to repent (regret) and lament (mourn).  Allah accepted their repentance and this verse was revealed,

“And to the three who were left behind, until the earth became strait to them notwithstanding its spaciousness and their souls were also straitened to them; and they knew it for certain that there was no refuge from Allah but in Him; then He turned to them (mercifully) that they might turn (to Him); surely Allah is the Oft-returning (to mercy), the Merciful” (Al-Tawba: 118).


The Second Agent to Control the

Self:  Enforcing the Law of Allah

"O you who believe! be not like those who spoke evil things of Musa, but Allah cleared him of what they said, and he was worthy of regard with Allah."(Al-Ahzab: 70)    


“O you who believe! Be careful of (your duty to) Allah” ( Al-Hashr: 18).

        How can man control the self which leads man toward disobedience of Allah?  In order to control sin, there is the law.  If the Divine Law is enforced in a place, then, because of it, man becomes safe from many sins.  This is the best act in for foreign or public reasons.  That is why all the Prophets endeavoured (tried) to manifest (easily understood) Allah’s law on earth. Due to Divine Law, society is saved from thousands of sins.  The fear of the law, however, can save man from sin to a limit.  If man thinks that he will not be arrested by the law if he commits a sin, then man sins.  Moreover, if the self becomes over-flooded, then man does not even heed the law of the world.  Thus, it is clear that heartfelt faith is the only thing that can save man from sin in every place and condition.  Action, intellect, law, and the self-accusing soul can only save man from sin up to a limit.  Only heartfelt faith can completely protect man from sin in every condition and every state.  That is why Imam Sajad (peace be upon him) instructs us in his supplication,

“O Allah I ask You for manifest faith of the heart.”

He did not say grant me intellectual faith.  Now, what is faith of the heart?  Heartfelt faith is a divine light that Allah reveals to the heart of His faithful servants.  This faith is not attained by just knowledge; even if man becomes a great scholar, he will not (automatically) achieve heartfelt faith.  Knowledge increases intellect- ual faith, not heartfelt (genuine) faith.  Good deeds increase heartfelt faith.  The way to attain heartfelt faith is that however much more man’s relation with Allah, the Most High, will be, that much more will be his heartfelt faith.  Man creates a connection with Allah by means of worship.  The Midnight Prayer, service of creation, love of Allah and love of




 Ahlul Bait (People of the House)[1]. The love Ahlul Bait is a great source of controlling oneself, purifying oneself and attaining genuine faith.   

[1]The Prophet (PBUH&HF) said:
"Do not be ahead of them for you will perish, do not turn
away from them for you will perish, and do not try to teach them since they know more than you do!"

1.     al-Durr al-Manthoor, by al-Suyuti,

2.     al-Sawa'iq al-Muhriqah, by Ibn Hajar al-Haythami,

3.     al-Tabarani, 

4.     Usdul Ghabah, by Ibn al-Athir,

5.     Yanabi' al-Mawaddah, by al-Qundoozi al-Hanafi,

6.     Kanz al-Ummal, by al-Muttaqi al-Hindi

7.     Majma' al-Zawa'id, by al-Haythami,

8.     Aqabat al-Anwar,

9.     A'alam al-Wara,

10.                        Tadhkirat al-Khawas al-Ummah,

11.                        Sibt Ibn al-Jawzi al-Hanafi

12.                        al-Sirah al-Halabiyyah, by Noor al-Din al-Halabi,



source : seeker of solace/ syed jan ali kazmi
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