O you who believe, the fasts have been enjoined upon you as they were enjoined upon the past generations, so that you may attain taqwa.
~ The Qur'an 2:183
The end goal of Ramadan, the sacred month of fasting, is to attain taqwa. Taqwa is a word with deeper meanings and the range of meanings associated with this multidimensional word are: God consciousness, being mindful of God, piety, reverence and awe of God and also guarding against evil of the ego self (nafs) and the world of appearance (dunya). On the very basic level, the journey of illumination must begin with guarding against the lower tendencies inherent within the human-self or the nafs (ego self). All our spirituality and talking and thinking about God kind of lose meaning if we loose the battle with our nafs and become worshiper of selfish inclinations and follow whatever our ego-self may command us.
Spiritually supercharged times like Ramadan offers us an opportunity to work upon the shadows of our self. Thus preparation of Ramadan has a lot to do with recognizing such shadows and giving them the spiritual treatment they deserves, and inshaAllah by the help of Allah we may come out a better person as we swim through Ramadan.
Sidi Dara Shayda, author and researcher of Untiring with Loving shares some recommended preparation based on Sheikh AbdulRahman Sulami's works The Defects of the Nafs.
Sidi Dara writes in the Yahoo Groups: The Sufi Notes:
Every year before Ramadan I like to read this self-therapy book by Sheikh AbdulRahman Sullami:
Then take out ailments and healing that could help a better Ramadan and better year afterwards INSHALLAH.
|Rising from the animal self to the Hu-Man self involves intention and work and keep walking|
The following comments are by Sidi Dara followed by link for detail reading of the defects of the nafs that are worthy of being mindful as we prepare ourselves for Ramadan as well during the holy moments of this sacred month.
MAJOR DEFECTS OF THE NAFS - that need proper care and spiritual treatment
Being deceived by the people's praise
Yearning for recognition and respect of the people. This ailment is the surest way away from Allah's adoration and nearness. Thanx to global corruption of social media and evermore successful American media, people are conditioned to seek fame and approval of those surrounding them at all levels of life; our lives are stuck in a never-ending Oprah show. There is nothing we do that is a private act of our own person in presence of Allah. It is all performed for the eyes of the people, near and far. http://www.untiredwithloving.org/defects_of_nafs.html#51
Seeking leadership through knowledge and with arrogance
Seeking leadership and superiority over the people by acquisition of knowledge. We see this both in religious and secular endeavours. Such false-scholars are the worst evil. http://www.untiredwithloving.org/defects_of_nafs.html#17
Focus on appearances
Wearing beard or hijab, saying few Arabic words, or keeping Dhikr in awkward public places, or pushing one's religion unto coworkers and neighbours, all are result of an ailment of heart that brings doom and destruction for the person and his loved ones, in this life and the life after. http://www.untiredwithloving.org/defects_of_nafs.html#13
Belittling Muslims and arrogance over them
Belittling Muslims: Sunnis calling Shiites disbelievers, Shiites calling Sunnis similar derogatory terms, calling Sufis heretic, and arrogant Sufis name-calling the other sects and groups of people. http://www.untiredwithloving.org/defects_of_nafs.html#43
Love to socialize with the rich
I do not know of any religious figures in our age who are not obsessed by the company of the rich and powerful, accepting large salaries and benefits from the wealthy and yearn after their approvals. http://www.untiredwithloving.org/defects_of_nafs.html#69
Laziness is the wide open gate for moving away from Allah. Laziness in producing praisworthy deeds in presence of Allah, useful cultivation of this earth to better the life of the people, ceaseless creative and intellectual endeavour(s) to the last breath to elevate one's status in presence of Allah.
I investigate what causes anger within me. And more than often I find others as the source and originators of my anguish.
Upon further examination I remind my Nafs (Self) that what others did to me (or did not do) commenced by the permission of Allah and they did nothing out of what Allah had destined for my life on this planet.
I then revisit the causes of my anger, but this time I eliminate OTHERS as cause!
I discover that my WANT and YEARNING for other than Allah causes all my anger and distress and sorrow.
If I could admit this real cause in Presence of Allah, then I find hope for Allah to wash away the anguish:
12:21 The man in Egypt who bought him (JOSEPH), said to his wife: "Make his stay (among us) honourable: may be he will bring us much good, or we shall adopt him as a son." Thus did We establish Joseph in the land, that We might teach him the interpretation of stories (and events).
>>>>> And Allah has full power and control over His affairs; but most among mankind know it not.
The end of this verse is a reminder for my ignorant Nafs (Self) who pushes towards anguish, that Allah at all times for all people in all universes is in charge of all that which is happening. Any putative violation of the latter is my deep seated personal ignorance and cause of my anger.
Jacob nor Joseph enjoyed what was done to them, and I am sure they suffered from distress but seemingly no anger within them, for they knew all was by the Will of Allah.
Being deceived by the people's praise
Yearning for praise and approval of people is sure bet to astray from the Path. Praise and adoration is mandatory for Allah, not mandatory for people. Nowhere it is written nor promised that you should be liked by folks. I see many lost and off the Path since have intense desire to be praised by people.
Unfortunately Internet today provides a powerful unlimited media for infecting everyone with such ailments of the heart.
Minute by minute people have access to a global network which they can pose themselves to attract attention and receive praise while no amount of such attention sates. http://www.untiredwithloving.org/defects_of_nafs.html#51
The best is to seek Allah's aid against these ailments of hearts, infecting each and everyone of our nafs(s) without a single exception.
~ Credit: Dara Shayda, Published in The Sufi Notes Yahoo Group
* Sufi Quranic Commentary or Tafsir on Fasting
* A Sufi Masters Advice on Fasting
* Purpose of Fasting