Physical illnesses and illnesses of the Nafs
Extract of Majlis by Hazrat Maulana Maseehullah رحمه الله
Take an illustration: medicines, mostly, are traditionally bitter. They also emit
an unpleasant odour However, in order to cure an illness and attain good
health, it is necessary to take that bitter medicine. In a similar manner, if
something is prescribed, something that is burdensome and heavy, in order to
cure the illnesses of the nafs, why should this remedy not be taken, as one
would take bitter medicine to cure a physical illness?
There is an important difference between the two illnesses. If a person dies
with a physical illness, there will be no consequences for him after death.
However, the illnesses of the nafs are such that, if a person were to die while
still afflicted with these illnesses, it is not the end of the problem, but he will
experience the consequences after death. A person may suffer from a
physical illness while in this world, but this physical suffering will come to an
end at the time of death. On the other hand, a person may not feel the effects
of illnesses of the nafs in this world – he may suffer no pains from them – but
he will experience the effects after death if he were to die with them. So, which
illnesses are more serious amd more to be concerned about? Definitely, the
illnesses of the nafs are more serious and not physical illnesses.
Yet, we see how much thought and effort is put into curing physical illnesses,
but there is no concern about the illnesses of the nafs. A person will take bitter
medicines, tolerating their malodour, to cure his physical illness, but he is
unconcerned about curing the illnesses of his nafs, even though the
medication here is not as bitter. The reason is that the person’s temperament
is one of freedom, and that is why he considers this medication to be bitter.
As I was saying, the primary culprit is the nafs and not Shaitan. People blame
Shaitan for nothing. That is why that buzurg, who was sitting on the steps of
the Jamiah Masjid in Delhi, was saying, “You are not my Lord and I am not
your bondsman, so why should I obey your command?” People who heard
him were shocked and made various comments. “What kind of a buzurg is
he? Just listen to what he is saying!” However, when his statement was
queried and the explanation was given and the situation explained, the people
came to realise that there was no doubt about his being a buzurg. In fact, he
was a great buzurg, opposing his nafs in its desire to eat halva.
Is this qissah not worth remembering? Our Sheikh, Hadhrat Thanwi (RA),
related it to us.
So, memorise the poetry quoted above and keep it in mind, and keep the
statement of this buzurg in front of you and, insha-Allah Ta’ala, if not all at
once, but slowly and steadily, with the tawfiq of Allah Ta’ala, a time will come
when you will be able to save yourselves from contravening the commands of
There are some with courage who, while sitting here and before getting up,
will have resolved to act accordingly and will be saved. For such, one majlis is
sufficient, with the tawfiq of Allah Ta’ala. The reason is that, while sitting here,
they make an intention with sincerity. Assistance will come from there. How
will this assistance come? In the following manner:
Reaching Allah Ta’ala – a qissah
We heard this from Hadhratwala. After all, we are from there! We had handed
ourselves into his hand, the hand of the Sheikh, and sold ourselves into the
hand of Allah Ta’ala. But the world is a place where means have to be
So, what did Hadhratwala relate to us? He used to explain by means of
stories, incidents and examples and illustrations so that very complex and
heavy material used to just flow into our hearts.
He said, “Salikin are involved in attaining wasil-bil-Haqq – a special bond with
Allah Ta’ala. There is nothing special or difficult about this process. Carry on
with the effort, carry on. You will reach there. How will you reach there? In the
following manner.” Hadhratwala (RA) then related the following qissah:
One buzurg was travelling somewhere. While travelling along he happened to
pass by the bottom of the palace of the king. The king was sitting on top of the
parapet in his palace. His eyes fell on the buzurg. The king called down to the
buzurg, “Miansahib! Come here!”
The buzurg said, “You are high up there and I am right down here at the
bottom – how can I come up?” The king ordered a kamand to be lowered to
him for him to be pulled up. A kamand was like a modern-day lift – a sort of
rope with a harness or small platform that was used to lift people on to the
parapet from below the wall of the palace or castle. The buzurg sat on it and
was pulled up to where the king was. After salams and shaking of hands, the
king had him seated. The king then started conversing with him. During the
conversation, the king asked, “Mian, how did you reach Allah Ta’ala?” The
buzurg replied, “In the same manner that I reached you!”
This is how Hadhratwala explained to us. What an amazing and deep concept
was explained to us using a simple illustration.
The buzurg explained further, “In the same manner that I have reached you. I
was just travelling along in the direction of Allah Ta’ala and, just as your gaze
fell on me, Allah Ta’ala’s gaze fell on me. Now, I was unable to reach Him
even though I wanted to reach Him. So, how to reach him? His bounteous
gaze fell on me and He said, ‘Come to Me.’ How could I reach Him? He then
pulled me up to Him, just like you had me pulled up to you. My task was to
make an effort, to walk along. This I did, making the effort to walk along. This
was my duty. To reach the destination was not my duty. When He saw that
this individual was walking towards Him and making an effort, and that,
without support from Him and taking his hand, he will not manage, He took my
hand and pulled me towards Him, just as you pulled me up to be with you.”
Hadhratwala said, “O bondsmen of Allah, just see: it is a very easy matter. All
you have to do is walk along. Leave aside the thought of whether you have
reached or not reached your destination. But do as follows. Do what?
“To find or not to find, You are the Mukhtar;
You should keep on running.”
That is, it is in His ikhtiyar (power and choice) for you to find or not to find. It is
not your duty. Your task is to keep on going, keep on running. Keep yourself
occupied with this concern, with taqwa. That is all. That is your task. As for
finding, this will happen, as is His promise. But you remove this from your
gaze. Stop being in anticipation of it. Divert your gaze from this and do not be
in anticipation of it. Rather, busy yourself in the zikr of Allah Ta’ala, with taqwa.
The fruits you will attain. Why? Because it is His promise.
وَمَنْ أَرَادَ الْآخِرَةَ وَسَعَىٰ لَهَا سَعْيَهَا وَهُوَ مُؤْمِنٌ فَأُولٰئِكَ آَانَ سَعْيُهُم مَّشْكُورًا
And whoso desireth the hereafter and striveth for it with the effort necessary,
being a believer; for such, their effort findeth favour (with their Lord). 17. A.19
The mu’min has been pulled up. So, leave aside the issue of how or when.
You carry on. You have muhabbat, so you should carry on. The fruits you will
Allah Ta’ala Himself is saying, “Walk towards Me. I will seat you on My lap.
This may be beyond your imagination, but you walk towards Me, with taqwa
and zikr, then you will see that I will seat you in My lap.” In the terminology of
the Sufiyah: “Stumbling and falling, in joy and sadness, keep on coming, and
just like your mother does not allow you to fall and she takes you into her lap, I
will also seat you in My lap.” This is what Allah Ta’ala has stated through the
lips of Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam), “That bondsman who walks
with sincerity of intention, one hand’s breadth in My direction, observing the
full Shari’at and following My orders, I will approach him two hands’ breadth.
That bondsman that comes towards Me one cubit’s length, I will approach him
in leaps and bounds. And that bondsman that comes towards Me in leaps and
bounds, I will also run towards him. And that bondsman that runs towards Me,
I will take him into My lap.”
You will have seen how a mother will try to encourage her toddler to try and
walk. By getting the child to walk on his own, the child will develop strength in
his legs and develop the ability to stand on his own. She realises that if she
were to carry him in her lap all the time, he will become handicapped and will
not be able to walk at all. Similarly, Allah Ta’ala also wants one to walk on
one’s own and not always take support from others. When the child walks the
mother will watch him closely and the moment she sees his legs starting to
buckle, she will quickly rush to take the child into her lap so that the child does
Similarly with Allah Ta’ala, that He watches closely as the bondsman walks
towards Him. The moment He sees him faltering He will lift him up so that he
does not fall. Your duty is to keep on walking, with sincerity of intention, with
taqwa and zikr. Wusul – wasil-bil-Haqq – to be connected to Allah Ta’ala – is His duty.
This is the reason the lesson of La-ilaha-illallah Muhammadur-Rasulullah
(Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) is given. This is the summary of the whole Din.
The whole of the Din is the commentary of this Kalimah. Both categories,
manhi-anha and ma’mur-biha, should be acted on in such a manner that
manhi-anha is attained first because it contains in it taqwa, and act on
ma’mur-biha together with it. Even if what is mustahab is left out, there is no
real harm done but, if taqwa is left out, there is grave damage. If medication is
not taken, there is no great harm, but if there is bid-parhezi, then – may Allah
save us – it should not be that it leads to demise of the patient.
Yet, what is our condition? We – those who do have some concern – take great
care of performing what is mustahab, and we are punctual with our zikr of Lailaha-
illallah, but we have no concern for taqwa.
Source- For Friends Vol 29