“Those who strive in Our Path, We will most assuredly guide them towards Our Paths.”  Qur’aan

“Fudhaalah Kaamil narrates that Rasulullah (saws) said. ‘The mujaahid is he who makes jihaad (strives) in the obedience of Allah.”  Baihaqi

The Nature of Mujaahadah

The reality of Mujaahadah consists of the habitual practice of opposing the nafs (man’s lowly desire). In other words, to check and control the physical, monetary, egotistical and mundane desires, delights and preferences of the nafs in the pursuit of the Pleasure and Obedience of Allah Ta’ala.

Two types of benefits accrue to the nafs.

1. Huqooq. Huqooq (rights or obligations) are such benefits necessary for the endurance and existence of the physical body and life.

2. Huzooz. Huzooz (pleasures, delights, luxuries) are benefits in excess to the huqooq.

Mujaahadah and riyaazat (abstinence-forms of austere exercises designed to establish the control of the mind over matter) are directed towards the huzooz. In mujaahadah, reduction or total abstention from the huzooz, (pleasures) are advocated. (Pleasures here refer to lawful pleasures and not to such pleasures which are forbidden in the Shariat). In the employment of mujaahadah, the huqooq (rights and obligations) are not destroyed, for such destruction is contrary to the Sunnat. The Hadith Shareef states:

“Verily, your nafs has a haqq (right) over you…”

Destruction of the huqooq brings about physical weakness and the health deteriorates. When this happens, one finds it difficult to execute even the necessary duties and Ibaadaat.

The Need for Mujaahadah
A’maal-e-Saalihah (righteous deeds) are always accompanied by labour, toil and difficulty because such a’maal are in conflict with the desires of the nafs. There will always be some form of opposition sometimes great, sometimes slight by the nafs against a’maal. Striving against the nafs is therefore a life-long process.

Both the mubtadi and the muntahi are at times faced with lethargy because of conflict in the a’maal. (Mubradi is a beginner in the Path of Tasawwuf). Muntahi one who has attained his goal in Tasawwuf. Both are in need to ward off their lethargy by means of mujaahadah. However, the mubtadi stands in greater need of mujaahadah in the initial stages, he at times becomes over-confident. But, frequently natural traits and habits return and the consequence is an urge for sinning. The nafs of the muntahi therefore also becomes lethargic at times in obedience. He, therefore, stands in need of mujahadah at such a time.

There is, however, a great difference between the mujaahadah of the mubtadi and the muntahi. The mubtadi is like one who is seated on the back of a horse just trained. The rider of the newly trained horse has to be much more alert and exercise greater control over the horse as such a horse tends to be more mischievous and is apt to go out of control. The muntahi is like a rider seated on the back of a well trained horse. He exercises no great endeavour to maintain the horse under control. Nevertheless, he too has to be alert because even a trained horse sometimes reverts to mischievousness because of its natural animal traits. But, the slightest warning from the rider is sufficient to check the horse. If, however, the rider is totally negligent then even the trained horse will sometimes suddenly drop him from its back. Thus, mujaahadah for the control of the nafs is necessary for the muntahi also.

Moderation in Mujaahadah
The purpose of mujaahadah is not to depress and frustrate the nafs, but is to habituate the nafs to difficulty and to eliminate the habit of comfort and luxury. For this purpose that amount of mujaahadah is sufficient which brings some difficulty on the nafs. It is of no benefit to impose excessive strain on the nafs and frustrating it. Excessive strain will render the nafs useless. Understand this well. Effort and trial are not always and in all conditions meritorious. It is desirable if in moderation resulting in beneficial progress. Excess in mujaahadah is contemptible, hence observance of moderation is incumbent. Shaikh Sa’di (rahmatullah alayh) echoes this in the couplet:

Eat not so much that it spills from the mouth
Eat not so less that the body is overcome with weakness.

Allah Ta’ala says in the Qur’aan Shareef:

“(The servants of Allah are) those who when they spend, do nor waste nor are they miserly. But, between these (extremes of waste and miserliness) they are moderate.”

Moderation has therefore to be observed in mujaahadah. But, this moderation should not be prescribed by one’s own opinion and desire. The degree of moderation and the method of mujaahadah should be acquired from a Muhaqqiq (a Shaikh qualified in Tasawwuf and who has been authorised by some spiritual master to spiritually train others).

The Types of Mujaahadah

There are two kinds of mujaahadah.

1. Physical Mujaahadah. This is the imposition of practices upon the nafs in order to accustom it to difficulties, e.g. accustoming the nafs to Salaat by imposing upon it Nafl Salaat in abundance; reducing the greed of the nafs by means of abundance of Nafl Fasting.

2. Opposition. In this type of mujaahadah the nafs is opposed in its desires. When the nafs urges to commit sin then opposition is offered. The main type of mujaahadah is this second kind. This second kind of mujaahadah is Waajib (compulsory). The first type of mujaahadah is employed in order to acquire the second kind. When the nafs becomes accustomed to difficulties then it will develop the habit of controlling its desires.

Those who possess the ability to control their desires without resorting to physical mujaahadah (the first kind) are not in need of this type of mujaahadah. However, because such people are extremely few, the Sufiyah have stringently adopted physical mujaahadah as well. According to the Sufiyah physical mujaahadah consists of four fundamentals (arkaan) as follows:

1. Qillat-e-Ta’aam: To eat less.
2. Qillat-e-Kalaam: To speak less.
3. Qillat-e-Manaam: To sleep less.
4. Qillat-e-Ikhtilaat Ma’al Anaam: To associate less with people.

One who fully acquires these four qualities and becomes accustomed to observe them, will attain the ability to control his nafs. He will be in a strong position to check the evil desires of the nafs.

Mujaahadah against the nafs in its urges for sin is acquired when the nafs is opposed to a certain degree in even its lawful desires, e.g. refusal to fulfil immediately the desire of the nafs for some delicious food, its urge for such food being rebutted and only fulfilled after vehement desire so that the nafs does not become frustrated. When one becomes accustomed to oppose the nafs in things lawful then it will become relatively simple to oppose the sinful urges of the nafs. A person who grants his nafs absolute freedom in the mubaahaat (lawful things) at times will not be able to suppress the urge for sinning.

Riyaazat and Mujaahadah have two fundamentals (rukn):

1. Mujaahadah Jismaani or Mujaahadah Ijmaali (i.e. the physical mujaahadah explained earlier).

2. Mujaahadah Tafseeli or Mujaahadah Nafsaani (i.e. the mujaahadah of opposition explained earlier).

Mujaahadah Ijmaali has four fundamentals as stated above. In these acts (viz. reduction in food, speech, sleep and association) it is necessary to adopt moderation in accordance with the instruction of a Shaikh-e-Kaamil (a spiritual guide qualified in this field). Neither is there to be excessive indulgence in these acts because the result will be indolence and negligence, nor should there be excessive reduction, for the consequence will be physical weakness.

The second rukn (viz. Mujaahadah Tafseeli, is divided into two classes:
1. Akhlaaq-e-Hameedah: Beautiful and virtuous qualities.
2. Akhlaaq-e-Rareelah: Evil qualities.

These will be explained further ahead.