How are the Obstacles of Satan and the Carnal Self to be Overcome?

Allah, glorified be He, informs us that among all creation, He has created humankind as the most honourable and superior. This superiority conferred upon them is the Most High’s granting them certain capacities. That is, they are to solve the two problems of the carnal self (nafs) and Satan, banish them and in, so doing, become honoured, reach the mystery of the perfect pattern of creation and become a friend of Allah.

The heart will become subtler, more refined and profound, know Allah Almighty and be with Him. The Most High, Most Perfect of the Perfect, invites a perfected heart to Paradise, to the abode of peace. “But only he (will prosper) who comes before Allah with a sound heart.” The heart will attain the state of soundness. This is the nature of our being students in this world. That is, our heart becoming sound and good and evil being distinguished therein. The heart’s perpetually advancing in the direction of friendship with the Almighty. Utilising all the Divinely-bestowed material and spiritual bounties in way of becoming nearer to Allah Almighty. And of course sincerity and sacrifice. Being content with the Most High within changing conditions. And Allah Almighty’s being well-pleased also, and inviting them to Paradise. In order for it to become thus, the heart must of course pass certain stages. The human being is given the obstacle of the nafs and, as this is an examination, they must overcome it. How are they to overcome this? Allah Almighty sends Prophets. The first Prophet comes as the first educator and the first human being. A person is to elevate the desires of their carnal self. Elevate their love. Good and evil will become clear in such a heart. They will live in the consciousness of being under the Divine camera, or Divine observation. They will be with their Lord and meet with Him in every thing that they see. “O my Lord!” they will say. Such is the tenderness and refinement a heart will achieve. And it is with this heart that the Most High invites to Paradise.

He sends the Prophets as the greatest educators of humanity. There are narrations that 124,000 or so Prophets have been sent. We did not choose our own Prophet. We did not say, ‘let us be a community of this Prophet’; however, Allah Almighty, through His grace and favour, has made us the community of the greatest Prophet, without paying a price. This is a great blessing. Praise be to Allah, we are among an Islamic community. In our nation, in Anatolia. We could have been in other parts of the world. We could have been oblivious. A very great blessing. We have become an addressee of the Qur’an, the textbook for the universe. The greatest blessing. In other words, the Almighty’s blessings upon us are successive. They are elements that facilitate our becoming a friend to Allah Almighty. Our Prophet is the Most Beautiful Example, the exemplar, the mercy for all the worlds. The Qur’an is a Divine miracle. A Divine scripture in action in the universe. Everything, from the micro to the macro, the smallest being to the largest, is a sign of Allah. Allah’s majesty is a Divine manifestation. He makes His majesty known to a heart that feels Him. He communicates His message to them. A Divine showcase. An Islam enveloping every aspect of life is required to be a friend to the Most High. Belief is needed, a belief lived with love is needed, a belief without compromise is needed. Love for the worthy, enmity for the deserving and using everything bringing one near to Allah Almighty as a means. Especially love.

The Most High provides examples in the Qur’an of just how a belief experienced with this love is to be. The Most High makes known the Emigrants, the Makkans. They endured every kind of sacrifice. Perhaps the worst of oppression seen in Syria, Arakan and other places, was perpetrated in this Makkan period. It was committed for thirteen years. However, they endured everything so as to protect their hearts. So long as they did not make concessions from their hearts. Allah Almighty describes the Madinans, the Helpers. To every verse that was revealed they said, “We hear and we obey”. They wanted to practise immediately (what they had heard) and earn the pleasure of Allah. They wanted to be friends of Allah. Allah Almighty holds them up as a mirror, offering them as an example to us. Being like the Makkans and like the Madinans. Following them in devotion is enjoined with those doing so being described as those of perfect virtue. Chapter Taubah, verse 100. Concerning protecting one’s heart and belief, the Qur’an mentions the People of the Trench and those burned in the trenches. Again, it refers to those who, in way of protecting their belief, endure patiently the oppression of the Pharaoh, resign themselves to having their limbs amputated and who stand firm saying, “Our Lord! Pour out upon us persevering patience, and take our souls to You as Muslims (wholly submitted to You)!” in the face of persecution. All of this amounts to protecting the heart and protecting belief. That is to say, it is again Allah Almighty Who reveals the nature of this belief that emerges in the heart. Wealth and one’s own life is to be a means. That the believers have purchased Paradise with their wealth and selves is stated. How much devotion and self-sacrifice can we show in order to draw near to Allah?

What is demanded of us is a life of worship. A life of worship is meant to offer a distinct spiritual pleasure. It needs to be a vitamin. It needs to preserve us. The Almighty tells us that the ritual prayers serve as protection. “Prosperous indeed are the believers”. The first condition is that, “They are in their Prayer humble and fully submissive”. That is, intimacy with Allah Almighty during the prayer, experiencing servanthood and having a consciousness of whose presence we are in. The Most High declares, prostrate and draw near. He created the human body and its anatomy in a form enabling it to prostrate in the best way, so the servant can prostrate in abundance. To seek mercy from Him through this perpetual prostration, and display their nearness to Him in those prostrations.

The other aspects are also thus. Fasting is the same also. We just observed the sacred month of Ramadan. A season of austerity. Using to a minimum the lawful and protecting ourselves from the doubtful and prohibited. The alms-tax, spending in the way of Allah, etc. All of these. Wealth belongs to Him. Allah Almighty tests with the wealth He gives. How much for myself and how much for others. Fa’ilin (???) are referred to. How are we to use the blessings mentioned in many other verses? How are we to draw near to Allah? It is declared: “You will never be able to attain godliness and virtue until you spend of what you love.”

Hajj, ‘Umra and the like also. Allah Almighty made Prophet Abraham’s state one of the essentials for us. How he became a friend of Allah. He became a friend through his wealth and became blessing. He became a friend through his life and was resigned to burning. He was content to enter the fire with a smiling countenance and was tested with his carnal self. He was tested with his son – a part of himself. His friendship and love for Allah Almighty far surpassed that felt for offspring. The Most High declares in a Qur’anic verse, ‘Peace be upon Abraham’. That this was a clear trial is revealed. It is stated that this was a difficult trial. ‘Peace be upon you, We have conferred upon you great honour,’ it states. We constantly send salutations to him also after the Tahiyyat in the prayer. He struggled against an idolatrous peoples. He became an intimate friend of Allah, Khalil Allah. But on the Last Day, he states, “And do not disgrace me on the day when all people will be raised up to life.” To what extent have I realised friendship in view of all the blessings You have conferred upon me? Despite all this self-sacrifice he says, “My Lord, do not disgrace me on the day when all people will be raised up to life.” Therefore, as heedlessness is dispelled and friendship increases, a person realises their weakness, remembers their poverty and their seeking sanctuary in Him also increases.

In sum, what must issue forth from us is worship performed within the harmony of body and heart and which is to cultivate the life of our heart. All the conduct of a Muslim must attract admiration. They must have compassion. What was the compassion of the Prophet like and what is ours like? A mirror to us. There must be sincerity, self-sacrifice, kindness, generosity, refinement, grace, courtesy, sensibility, a delicate conscience and practise. In short, by means of such a state, the Most High invites us to Paradise. We are all students until the last breath. Being a student finishes with the final breath. Allah Almighty demands servanthood until the last breath. A worldly thing is acquired, a certain rank or diploma, and you use it throughout your entire life. However, it is not the same for servanthood. This is until the last breath. The Prophet declares that a handspan remains for Paradise but they turn to Hellfire. A handspan remains for Hellfire and they turn to Paradise. The Qur’an provides examples of these. The example of Qarun is given in the chapter entitled Qasas. Only one handspan remained to Paradise. Allah presents the example of Bal’am bin Baura in Al-A’raf. One handsbreadth was left to Paradise. How they turned to carnality in a moment and were ruined. There was also Sa’laba, who used to pray behind the Prophet. His end also was not a propitious one. There are those with a handspan left for the Fire, the magicians of the Pharaoh I mentioned earlier. See how they turned to Paradise.

Thus, a servant needs to constantly seek refuge in Allah within a sense of helplessness. And needs to travel about the world as though they were walking in a minefield. They must forever protect themselves from the intrigues of Satan and the evil of the carnal soul. That is why Allah Almighty declares, “And who has inspired it with the conscience of what is wrong and bad for it, and what is right and good for it.” The heart will pull away from everything separating it from Allah and draw near to piety.

The verse recited, in the Qur’anic chapter Mu’minun, “Prosperous indeed are the believers.” My Master declares that whosoever experiences the profundity of these 10 verses, they will enter Paradise. In these 10 verses are contained, in sum, every aspect of our lives. The Most High gives the example of prayer first and foremost. “They are in their Prayer humble and fully submissive.” That is, Allah Almighty wills for them to be only in His presence while their standing before Him. He does not want our heart to be in the presence of others while in prayer. He does not want it to be in the presence of the carnal self. In the same way that our body is in His presence, He wants our heart to be in His presence also. “Prosperous indeed are the believers.” The first condition is that they perform their prayer in devoted reverence. Not just in the prayer, but the same goes for fasting, spending in His cause. Hypocrisy must be shunned so that that spent in His way is not destroyed. The Hajj is to be realised with the heart becoming tender. No immorality, no wrongdoing, no quarrel or dissension. The Almighty wills a heart that is sensitive and tender. No plucking even a single piece of grass and no hunting. There is the stoning of Satan. That stoning of Satan is saying “I seek refuge in Allah from Satan,” in every facet of our lives. If we do not stone him, he stones us.

In short, what is demanded of us is worship that is performed in devoted reverence and sensibility of heart. That is, a life along the axis of servanthood is demanded from us.