How can the soul journey to a place of peace? Heba explains…
Deep within each of us lies a very crucial and natural element: Our Nafs. This element, often translated as our “self” or “ego,” plays a significant role in our survival on this planet. As essential as it is, handling it the right way can be quite the task. There are moments when it leans towards gossip, loses control in anger, or wants to keep all the blessings bestowed by Allah for itself. Other times it feels guilty and yearns for Allah’s forgiveness.
Islam discusses the concept of the human self, including its nature and various characteristics. In many chapters, the Holy Qur’an references the self, outlining its traits and how it affects an individual’s psychological well-being and society as a whole.
What is the Self/Soul?
In simple terms, the self represents the entirety of a person, encompassing both their moral and material aspects. It includes everything that shows the complete reality of an individual. The Holy Qur’an mentions three types of human souls
The Soul that Incites to Evil
This is the aspect of our inner self that leads us towards wrongful actions. It whispers suggestions to indulge in laziness, anger, jealousy, or seeking attention. Calming these desires may require the efforts of a lifetime. However, with perseverance and the assistance of our Almighty Creator, we can strive to overcome these inclinations and purify our souls. It’s a challenging but rewarding path towards self-discipline and spiritual growth.
The Self-Blaming Soul
This soul triggers remorse and self-criticism when one engages in sinful actions, entertains harmful thoughts, or maintains ill intentions. In simpler terms, it’s like having a “self-reproaching” mechanism, causing discomfort in our hearts, commonly known as a “guilty conscience.” This feeling, placed by The Almighty in our hearts, serves as a powerful tool to steer us away from repeating those mistakes and encourages a path of righteousness. This soul is mentioned in Surah Al-Qiyamah (75: 1-2), where Allah the Almighty says: “I swear by the Day of Judgment! And I swear by the self-reproaching soul!”
Allah Himself has sworn by the occurrence of the Day of Judgment. This firstly signifies the certainty and inevitability of this Day. The entire cosmic system testifies to the fact that this system is neither aimless nor perpetual. Its nature itself indicates that it had a beginning, and it cannot remain forever. The human intellect, though previously struggled to find strong evidence for the concept of an afterlife, is now becoming more aware due to the current knowledge and signs which are increasingly aligning with the concept of a world beyond.
Secondly, the oath of the Day of Judgment is a specific proof that one day this cosmic system will undergo a significant transformation after which humans will be resurrected, given an account of their deeds, and they will witness the consequences of their actions. There is no human being in this world who does not possess an inner sense and a built-in structure which has an inherent awareness of good and evil. Regardless of how corrupted a person may be, their conscience reproaches them whether they commit wrongdoing or refrain from doing good.
This explicit evidence indicates that humans are not mere animals; rather, they are moral beings with an innate sense of distinguishing between good and evil. They hold themselves accountable for their deeds, and whether their actions align with the standards they have set for good or evil, they feel the impact of their choices. This underscores the undeniable reality that “the blaming-self” is a testimony to life after death, a witnessing that is ingrained in human nature. As human nature inherently demands the distinction between good and evil, it necessitates accountability for one’s actions and the deserving consequences of wrongdoing. Because of this demand of human nature, life cannot be complete in any other way besides death. A person of reason cannot deny that after death, if a person ceases to exist, they will be deprived of the rewards for their virtuous deeds, and they will inevitably escape the just consequences of their wrongdoings.
Therefore, until and unless a person has persuaded themself to the illogical belief that a rational being emerged into an irrational system of the universe, and a human with ethical sentiments was sent into a world fundamentally devoid of ethical significance, until then, he/she cannot deny the existence of life after death.
Similarly, the philosophy of reincarnation or transmigration is also not an answer to the demands of human nature. Because if a person is born again in this world to receive the consequences of their actions in the previous life, they will continue to engage in similar actions, and these will once again be subject to rewards or punishments. In this infinite chain, instead of settling their accounts, their accountability will only increase.
Therefore, this demand of human nature is fulfilled only in the sense that a person has only one life in this world, and then the entire human species comes to an end. After that, a second life occurs in which a proper account of human actions is conducted, and they receive complete retribution and recompense for their deeds, instead of their accountability increasing.
The Soul at Peace
This is ultimately where we want to be. Towards the end of Surah al-Fajr, Allah tells us about the Day of Judgement and the events that will take place on that Day (89:21-30). All those souls that found their peace in the remembrance of Allah in the life of this world will be acknowledged. These souls were content with what Allah had ordained for them. They trained and disciplined themselves to only desire what made their Creator happy, a divine gift from Allah’s boundless mercy. On the Day of Judgement, these souls now find peace and tranquillity in His Decree. Allah will say to these righteous souls, “Oh reassured soul, Return to your Lord, well pleased and pleasing [to Him]; go in among My [righteous] servants; and into My Garden.” These souls are told to enter into the ranks of Allah’s noble and obedient servants and enter into the garden of Paradise that He has personally prepared for them.
SubhanAllah, may Allah make us from among these beautiful souls who find peace and tranquillity in His remembrance. The Prophet ﷺ taught us a beautiful dua in which we ask Allah to help us remember Him often,
“Oh Allah help me to remember You, to be grateful to You, and to worship You in the best manner.” (Sunan Abu Dawud)
Pondering upon the verse, “Oh, the reassured soul” can be a powerful remedy in various situations. When negative emotions arise, turning to this verse provides a source of solace. Similarly, during moments of attraction to the fleeting pleasures of this world or when faced with the whispers of Shaytan regarding performing prayers, reciting this verse acts as a grounding force. Whether experiencing the fulfilment or non-fulfilment of prayers, feeling overwhelmed or lost, the calming effect of these words helps in navigating the challenges of this worldly journey.
Imagine standing at the threshold of an Eternal Garden, as wide as the heavens and the earth with beautiful mansions amidst gardens with flowing streams, springs, dense shrubbery, deepening shade, and bunches of fruit hanging low within reach, and a divine voice calling out to you, “Oh, the reassured soul”. In that moment, all the trials of life dissolve into this call. There’s no more questioning of sincerity, no more enduring mental or physical suffering. The worries about self-esteem, acceptance, and validation vanish. The struggle to resist evil and embrace goodness becomes obsolete because all that exists now is pure goodness. The whispers of the inciting soul cease to exist, and the diseases of the heart find complete healing.
Oh Allah, I take refuge and protection with You from weakness and laziness, from cowardice and miserliness, and from senility and the torment of the grave. Oh Allah, give our souls a sense of taqwa(piety) and awareness of You. Purify our souls for You are the best One to purify it. You are its Protector and Guardian.’ Oh Allah, I take refuge with You from knowledge which does not benefit, from a heart that is not in awe of You, from a soul that is not content, and from a dua that is not answered.