The beat-down of the nafs- why it’s best done in Ramadhan

28 Sep

Bismillah was-salaatu was-salaam ala Rasoollillah.

Before I begin, I must say that I am not a scholar, or someone of knowledge. This note comes from my own contemplation, and I wish to share it with you so that you too may benefit from it, in shaa Allah. This advise is to myself first and foremost, and then for anyone who wishes to take from it.


Al-Bukhaari and Muslim narrated from Abu Hurayrah (may Allaah be pleased with him) that the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “When Ramadaan comes, the gates of Paradise are opened, the gates of Hell are closed, and the devils are chained up.”

Although the opinions pertaining to the meaning of the above hadith differ, most would agree that it boils down to one thing: shaytaan will not be tempting you during Ramadhan as he does the rest of the year, whether it is because he is locked up, or because you are fasting. This therefore leaves us with lingering questions: If shaytaan is away from me, why am I still tempted to do or think things that I shouldn’t be? Why am I still committing sin?

Ramadhan, as well as giving you the opportunity to establish/re-establish a connection with your Lord, it also allows you to get to know your nafs.

(Nafs / nufoos (plural) = the lower self / soul / desires)

Without the whisperings of shaytaan, the inclinations of your lower self become very apparent.

This makes many people feel bad, or even weaker. To think that our evil desires or bad habits are an ingrained part of us and are not all due to the whisperings of shaytaan is a scary thought. But the realisation of what your desires are, and the separation of your nafs from the whispers of shaytaan is somewhat a blessing.

During Ramadhan, shaytaan cannot play on what you are already inclined towards. We become stronger as we only have to deal with ourselves, whereas we normally have to deal with shaytaan whispering to our hearts, encouraging us to fulfil the desires of our nafs. It is therefore easier, in this Holy month, to combat your nafs head on. Your struggles become clearer, thus easier to battle with, as it’s just you against your nafs, no shaytaan as the third wheel.

Look closely at the sins that you are still committing or the desires you still have and recognise that this is the nature of your own nafs- what it leans towards to gain satisfaction. Then think about the root of these problems. It may be the love of self, it may be doing things for praise from other than Allah. Whatever it is, you will be able to see what it is within you that shaytaan feeds off. Fight it now, so that when the shayateen are unchained, you will be able to deal with it.

Aside from the fact that fasting is a way to be conscious of the hungry in the world, and a way to get closer to Allah, it is also a miraculous way to tell your nafs ‘no’. So fasting should make it easier to start making some of those changes you long for. One way the nafs keeps a hold on us during fasting is by encouraging us to eat all evening trying to ‘make up’ for what we have missed during the day, or trying to fill
ourselves up so that we won’t be hungry the next day. It keeps the focus on the ‘food,’ moving us away from what is healthy or a comfortable amount to eat. For example, we will eat many different dishes for suhoor, leaving our bodies feeling heavy, when we could eat one meal that will keep us satisfied for a portion of the day atleast, such as high energy foods with slow releasing sugars (porridge, oat cakes ect.)

Ramadhan is not only a time for reflection, but a time for change. A time to start becoming the person you want to be for the rest of your life. It is about perfecting your character, manners and worship so that when Ramadhan is over, you have a new outlook on your surroundings and a new hold over your nafs.

The beat-down of the nafs is never an easy thing, but it has to be easier when shaytaan isn’t playing with us, right? Use this time wisely. Get sparring.

Round 1, ding ding…

May Allah accept all of your good deeds this Ramadhan, and place in your heart noor that will shine until next Ramadhan, Ameen thumma ameen.

~ Zara

Click here to read more about Zara


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