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ARE YOU DOWN ON YOURSELF?

by Laurence Galian

ARE YOU DOWN ON YOURSELF?

by Laurence Galian

 

Before all else: If you feel a nagging within yourself, of any kind, for any reason, just get rid of it. Under no condition should you let the negative feeling improve within you. As long as you have the chance to breathe in, it is worth it to say Al Hamdolelah.

~ Shah Nazar Seyed Ali Kianfar, Ph.D.

 

As we begin, the author wants to point out that this article is not an attack on Christianity, but addresses certain ways that Christianity has been taught to humanity, that the author feels are particularly harmful to our development into True Human Beings.

Many Sufis come from a Roman Catholic, or Christian background. The Roman Catholic Church (and as far as this author knows, the Christian Churches) teach Original Sin. This is the belief that we are fundamentally flawed and sinful. There is a preoccupation with sin in the Catholic Church, to the point where it is considered "spiritual" to constantly regard oneself as evil or sinful. This preoccupation with sin often travels with us when we decide to walk the dervish path.

The nafs are subtle and can attack in unexpected ways. Who would have thought that the nafs would say that we are sinful? There is something called "The Tyranny of the Nafs.” The nafs are tyrants. What worse tyrant can you imagine than a tyrant that is always telling you that you are bad and being punished for your past sins?

Many people have a love affair with suffering. Suffering is something obsessional and considered "good" by some in the Catholic Church. Pain itself is often not optional; however, suffering often contains an ego-involvement with pain. Stubbing your toe is painful; but to then tell yourself that you stubbed your toe because Allah is punishing you, that is suffering. Some people are in love with their suffering. These people believe that unless they are suffering, something is not right. They actually become anxious if they begin to feel peaceful.

We believe that the constant emphasis by the Catholic Church on the "suffering" of the Prophet Isa (a.s.) indoctrinates a young person, devoted to God, into believe that suffering is spiritual. Therefore to perpetuate their suffering they turn to believing themselves sinful, deficient, ugly, and unworthy of Allah's many blessings. Allah created you for a reason. He put you on earth to serve, not to narcissistically obsess with your past.

However, by far the worse attack of the nafs is when they tell us moderation is not enough. They are setting us up for failure. Sometimes the nafs are not satisfied unless they destroy the dervish. Why? Often the dervish gives up, and leaves the tariqat, feeling he or she cannot possibly achieve the high standards of godliness demanded of him or her. However, are these standards really demanded? No. Imam Ali (a.s.) and Shaykha Fariha al-Jerrahi constantly tell us that moderation is the best course. Study carefully the life and words of the Mercy to the Worlds, Muhammad Mustafa (s.a.w.s.) and you will see that he too always urged his companions to practice moderation.

Yet, we (through the influences of our nafs) think that we can do more than the Prophet asked of us. In fact, we think that we can do the work of Allah. We pass judgment on ourselves, on our behavior, on our past, and decide that we are no good. Astagfirullah! Who is Al-Hakam? He, Allah, is Al-Hakam, the Judge. You are not the Judge. Because of constant brainwashing from the nafs, the nafs constantly whisper in your ear, "You are no good. You are sinful." Does any part of you have the right to Judge you? Only, Allah Al-Hakam has the right to judge you!

In addition, as a dervish, you are required to believe in Allah's Mercy, that His Mercy exceeds His wrath. Maybe your mind does not want you to be merciful to yourself (but that is just programming from your religious past and the work of nafs). How can you disagree with Allah, and insist that His wrath exceeds His Mercy! Moreover, even worse, how can you take Allah's job on for yourself, and already condemn yourself before Allah has judged you?

Stating that you are sinful is to say that you know the mind of Allah. It is to say that you have some special knowledge of the resurrection and judgment. Insisting that you are sinful, is to deliberately ignore Ar-Rahman (The Beneficent), Ar-Rahim (The Merciful), Al-Ghaffar (The Forgiver), Al-Halim (The Forbearing One), Al-Ghafur (The All-Forgiving), Al-Wadud (The Loving), for Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.

Do you doubt that Al-Muqtadir (The Powerful) cannot save you from yourself? For He is Al-Qadir (The Able). He is At-Tawwab (The Acceptor of Repentance). Or do you say that He is not the Acceptor of Repentance? Astagfirullah! He is Al-'Afuw (The Pardoner). Or do you say that He is not the Pardoner?

Do you really think that your sins are beyond Allah's capacity to forgive? That would be to limit Allah. That would be to say that there is something Allah cannot do. Astagfirullah. Allah is Ar-Rashid (The Guide to the Right Path). He is the guide, who guides with wisdom, to the right path according to His eternal plan. Do not pretend to know better than Allah, what His eternal plan is.

Submit to the Most Merciful of the Merciful. Believing in what your nafs say to you about your imaginary sinfulness is to submit to your nafs, rather than to Allah Most Merciful. It's time to let go of your involvement in past mistakes, and to start knowing and living the fact that Allah has a beautiful plan for you.

For those who are beset with these terrible thoughts of sinfulness, it is time to stand in prayer! Beseech Allah Most Merciful to help you to know His Love for you, to know His Mercy, to know how much He cares for you. For you are His deputy on earth and you have work to be done. The nafs would have you lose yourself in constant self-absorption with your sinfulness, so that you do not serve Allah. For that is what pre-occupation with one's sins is: a running away from your real duty as a dervish of Allah. Allah has a beautiful plan for you. Find out what that is through trusting in Al-Hakim (The Generous One), Al-Mujib (The Responsive) - He who has limitless capacity and abundance - Al-Wasi (The All-Embracing).

Allow yourself to be Embraced by the All-Embracing. Allah Loves You!