It is necessary to eliminate Love of the Self

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“O you who believe!  Be careful of (your duty to) God and be with the true ones” (Al-Taubah: 119).

A main reason for the impurities within man is love of the self; i.e. to love oneself.  Because of this love of the self, man supports and defends his self, regardless of whether he is right or wrong.  Due to love of the self, man becomes distanced from what is right.  Love of the self causes man to become blind and deaf.  He does not see the truth, nor is he ready to hear what the truth is.  The man who possesses love of the self searches for faults in other people; yet, he cannot see his own shortcomings (defects).  Thus, on one hand he is overcome with pride, while on the other hand he becomes very quickly suspicious (doubtful) of the believers and Muslims.  Due to love of the self, even if he has said something wrong, he debates and argues with the people in order to uphold his self.  The one who possesses love of the self[1] desires hence his speech be accepted as correct.  Hence, he debates in the wrong way with wrong people, creating hatred in the hearts.  Furthermore, due to this love of the self, man is loyal to those people who are concerned with his own self, whether that connection is because of relation he supports them.  If this support and loyalty is because of the self, then it is wrong.  An example is supporting and favouring (taking side) your daughter or supporting people who speak a particular language even though they may be wrong or oppressors.  This kind of supports makes man an oppressor himself.

Love of the self is an extremely wicked and blameworthy (to blame) trait (characteristics).  Even if this support and loyalty is for the truth, it is wrong because the intention will not be to support the truth; rather, the purpose will be to support and be loyal to what concerns the self.  The tradition (Sunnah) of the Prophets and Saints (awliya) is to support whoever is in the right, even if the right may not be in favour of our relatives.  Regardless of whether the relation is due to language, faith, or religion, we have to see what the truth is, not what the relation is to ourselves.  If the truth is with those who have no relation to us, even then we should be likewise supportive.  The lover of the self[2] cannot create the light of justice within himself; on the contrary, the filthiness of oppression will forever remain; even though God curses the oppressors.  Thus, until this evil characteristic is eliminated, man cannot leave the punishment of the curse and enter the light of God’s mercy.

[1] Imam Ali (A) said: “Trusting the self provides the most dependable opportunities for devil’s entrance”   – Gharar al-Hukm

[2] The Holy Prophet (S) said:

“Your’s greatest enemy is your self, which is located between your two sides.”       -Bihar al-Anwar

It is necessary to eliminate Love of the Self

The important fundamental pillar for making deeds pure and attaining love of God is to uproot love of the self from one’s heart through Gnostic (mystical knowledge) and ethical deeds.  Some people, due to love of the self, promote and defend them, whether or not they are right or wrong.  If one is in the right, then there are two situations.  If he supports the truth, then it means that his self is bound (confined) to the truth.  Yet, if his self is not bound to the truth, then he will not support the truth; in fact, he will support his self.  Furthermore, supporting and befriending those people who are not connected to him, is also love of the self.  An example is supporting one’s children, parents, and other relatives.  Any level of love of the self is forbidden.  Love of the self distances man from justice, like nationalism is considered to be forbidden and to be unbelief.  This is the second stage that does not allow man’s actions to be pure.  An example is performing deeds in order to obtain Heaven, like praying, fasting, giving alms (zakat) with the intention that I will go to Heaven.  Heaven is lower and God is the Most High.  If anyone makes Heaven his purpose, then he made a lowly thing his purpose and this is not a correct belief. The man’s intention is paradise and he is praying for heaven because all eternal pleasures are in Paradise.

Praying for paradise is not a sin according to the Islamic law, but it reduces the level of faith and piety.

In order to make his actions pure, man needs to eradicate love of the self.  If he does not eliminate (removes) love of the self, then his worship will in fact be for his own self.   Until the love of God will be more powerful than love of self, then your actions will be pure.  When love of the self submerges in the love of God then man’s worship will not be for the greed of Heaven or from the fear of Hell.  Indeed, his purpose will be only to attain God’s love.  This belief will be according to saying of Great Scholar  Ali (as) in Dua-e-Kumayl,

“Though I shall patiently endure the burning heat of the fire, how will I endure the pain of being separated from you

Love of the self is forbidden; it makes man an unbeliever.  When love of the self exceeds compared to the love of God and the Prophet, it is forbidden.  For example, Satan possessed love of the self, evident (obvious) though Satan was an ordinary Jinn (jinni), when he performed plentiful of worship so God increased his rank. As his rank increased he worshipped more. In reality his worship was not for God but for himself. This became apparent when God commanded him to prostrate before Adam, he refused. If his prior worship was purely for the love of God then he would never have refused the command of God. He did many thousands of prostrations before God now he is refusing to do one prostration. Since he was thinking that by the previous prostrations I had advanced to a high rank, but now if I prostrate before Adam my rank would decrease, this will not be any advancement, rather it will be my demotion.  The reason for Satan’s not prostrating before Adam was love of the self; that I am made of fire and he is made of mud.  As a result of which, that accursed being opposed God.  If his worship was only for the pleasure of God then he would not have disobeyed God at all, and surely would have prostrated before Adam; thus, eliminating his self to attain God’s pleasure.

Besides Satan, many other people are hypocrites because of this love of the self.  It is narrated that during the time of the Apostle of God two men came to him to resolve some matter.  The Apostle of God decided in favour of one of them, that he was in the right, and that the other person was wrong.  Since the one who was wrong loved his self very much, he thought that the Apostle of God has disgraced me before such a large gathering.  Due to thinking that this was humiliation (disgrace), he opposed the Apostle of God and became a hypocrite.

It can be concluded from this tradition that whoever possesses love of the self will oppose the Apostle of God, Muhammad and the Progeny of Muhammad (peace be upon them)  Like Satan doubted God’s justice and became rejected, this person doubted the Holy Prophet’s justice and became a hypocrite worship will be rejected or he becomes a transgressor (fasiq).  God, the Most High, declares in the Holy Qur’an that one cannot in fact be a believer until he accepts all of the decisions made by the Apostle of God [Al-Ahzab:36].  To sum up, until one eradicates (wipes) love of the self, his actions will not be pure.  As long as love of the self remains, his faith is in serious danger.  Because of love of the self, he does not consider what is right as right and what is wrong as wrong.  If we do not eliminate this sickness of love of the self from our hearts, it is possible that when the Leader of the Time (Imam-e-Zaman appears, we ourselves would, God forbid, stand to oppose the Leader of the Time.  Therefore, it is crucial to root out this dangerous sickness from our hearts. The purpose of all worship, supplications, abstinence (self-denial), and invocations is to remove the love of life and increase the love of God.  When man submerges his self in God’s pleasure, love of the self will be eliminated.

How to eliminate Love of the Self?

One way is service of creation.  The scholars of ethics (Akhlaq) say that every night before going to sleep, man should definitely ponder if today I was of use to anyone, did I help anyone, did I guide anyone or because of me did anyone receive spiritual or celestial help or not?  If we live within the limits of Islamic law, and do not help someone, according to God’s order, we have then degraded our self from the level of humanity (mankind) and are not worthy of being called human.  The basic difference between man and animal is that an animal is only concerned about its being.  It does everything for its own self and nothing for others.  Animals only do things for those animals that are concerned with their beings, such as their offspring.  However, a human being is one who can be helpful to another.  The scholars of ethics say that if the whole day I did not feed a hungry person, then I should search for an animal to feed in order to save my humanity.  If one cannot find an animal, then even by the act of watering a tree one can announce that someone is benefiting through his existence.


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