A person knows what his soul wants and desires. It is therefore, essential
for him not to give it everything that it covets and desires. It is also vital
for him to confine and straiten his soul so that he does not go to excesses in
giving it what it seeks.
We know that Umar (ra), when his wife desired a sweet (dish), forbade her
from it because he knew than if she asks for a sweet (dish) today, she will ask
for something else tomorrow which is greater. So he closed the door upon her at
the very beginning. The condition of most people however, is that a person will
be generous to his soul and shower upon his soul whatever it asks of him and
even what it does not even ask of him. So his soul becomes tired and fed up due
to his extravagance and excess. What is our condition then, when compared to
that of our Pious Predecessors? We direct our complaint to Allaah!!
The Third Way: Making the Soul Patient in Allaah's Obedience
The soul runs away often from some acts of worship because they are amongst
the things it does not desire. This continues due to certain causes prevent a
person from desiring these acts of worship. Amongst them are laziness in
performing acts of worship (such as prayer) and the love of sleep. As a result,
the opportunity to perfom much worship passes him by. It can also occur due to
miserliness. A person will not give the obligatory charity or other things which
are required of him so that they become endeared to the soul and the soul begins
to aspire for them after it had been fleeing from them.
It is vital that there is a spiritual war, which can be intense and hard, but
with a strong will, turning to Allaah, making continuous du'a (supplication) to
Allaah and requesting His help in this act of obedience to Him, this matter will
be made easy for him. And Allaah will lighten his burden for him until these
acts (of worship) are beloved to the soul.
All of this cannot occur except after fighting and struggling against the
soul. A person will find himself in many trials and intense battles along with
his capability of avoiding such actions. This means that a person, even though
he is in need and capable of fasting, will not fast due to following his whims
and even though he is capable he will not pray and as a result please his
desires and his soul which commands the evil.
However, we find that another person fasts voluntarily, although he is not in
need of fasting voluntarily (to curb his desires) and neither does his soul
aspire towards fasting. Yet he still declares war upon his soul and fights
against it (with fasting and prayer) so that he makes it do what he desires and
not let it make him do what it commands and desires.
Therefore, patience when accompanied with performing those actions (such as
prayer and fasting) upon which the soul perseveres is considered the greatest
and most perfect form of patience as Ibn Taymiyyah (rh) has explained. And Ibn
al-Qayyim (rh) said: "Verily, having patience in obedience (to Allaah)
occurs by performing an act of obedience, then guarding it and being persistent
in (performing) it."
This is the thing which very few amongst us are able to do, that we show
patience in continually observing obedience to Allaah and persisting in such
obedience. This is because the soul gets bored with it and does not have the
desire to perform it another time. At this stage showing patience and realising
the great excellence this action has in the sight of Allaah is required. The
actions most loved by Allaah are the ones which are performed continuously, even
if they are small actions. The Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam)
used to love, when he performed an action, that he remained constant upon
The saying of the the Prophet (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam) to Abdullaah bin
Umar: "Do not be like so and so who would prayer during the whole of the
night and then abandoned it", was nothing but a means of encouraging him to
be constant in his good actions. It is also necessary that along with being
continuous in ones actions, a person also beautifies them and excels in them and
this occurs with having Ikhlaas (sincerity) and dings them in accordance with
the command of Allaah and His Messenger (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam).
The Fourth Way: Fighting Against the Soul and Making it Patient in
Refraining from Allaah's Disobedience
This means that a person holds his soul to account in order to make himself
distant from falling into disobedience while also bearing in mind that the
reasons and motives of falling into the sin are numerous. Among such reasons are
the strength of ones youthfulness and manhood, since the youth are known to love
the pleasures and joys of this world.