Say thou (O Muhammad) "This is my way, I do invite unto Allah on an insight clear as the seeing with one’s eyes, I and the one who followeth me. Glory be to Allah! and I am not of the polytheists!" Al-Qur’an 12/108

The Doctrine of Self-Negation as a Cure for All Evils

By: Hazrath Syed Ali Bartar Esq.

The word self-denial is a composed word with self and denial i.e., negation of the self. The dictionary meanings of the self are one’s own person or personal interests. Negation means denial or absence of such self centered passions or interests. Hence self-denial means a person’s denial of his own self. To be more elaborate it means a man’s feeling himself very humble, not assuming airs, not becoming proud, and not giving any importance to his person.

It is a known fact that all troubles brew when men feel their importance, become proud, feel themselves better and higher up when compared to other people.

There is imbalance in our society. Some are rich while others are poor. The poor have an ambition to become rich. Even the rich are not without greed. They want to become richer. Thus there is no contentment. At every stage there is competition and a desire to better oneself. This is only one example. In every section of life such state of affairs is present, in respect and honor, in fame and popularity, in attaining position in politics and government, in trade and commerce- in all walks of life. These ambitious desires, greed and competition lead to different evils of society. These may be theft, robbery, killings, deceiving others, jealousy, evils pertaining to women and so many others. The love of self leads also to bad character and bad behavior. The self therefore, is the root for all evils in the society.

Is there any cure for the reform of the self and to be away from the evils some of which may have been mentioned above? Yes, there is, but it is just like a very bitter medicine administering to a very mischievous boy. This cure is to follow religion truthfully and sincerely. All religions ask their followers to be truthful, to refrain from theft, not to kill others, not to be jealous, not to deceive others and to be good in character and behavior. But “the world is too much with us late and soon” and even though we follow same religion or the other, we forget what our religion teaches us at the time when we see some glittering gain in a deal, which may be right or wrong.

As mentioned earlier, the theory of self-negation is practiced in every religion to reform the society from the evils of self interests which lead to selfishness of men. In Vedas, in Jan math and in Buddhism, negation of selfishness is preached in different ways. In Buddhism the suppression of desires and making desires as less as possible is taught. However, in Jainism and others the last step proposed is tyaga, i.e. going to the forest, sitting on mountains and ending life. In Christianity not going for marriage is proposed. Islam considers all this as renunciation (Rohbaniat) and does not agree to it, because the natural urges of man cannot be so completely suppressed. Islam feels that a man must not get away from the society or suppress his natural desires in the above mentioned manner. In Islam, the sublimation of natural urges is allowed in surely a way that it does not hurt the other members of the society. A man must live in society but he must follow his rules and regulations commanded to him by Almighty Allah. These rules and regulations inculcate in him good character and behavior towards other people and thus his presence in society is needed and appreciated by others. A man’s going for a marriage is his natural urge and so should not be suppressed. However, there are certain rules to be followed in marriage and married life and they must be adhered to.

The Quran is the sacred book of the Muslims. It contains the commands of Allah for all the Muslims. It shows how to live in peace and what to do in war. The life of our Prophet (S.A.S) is a model for all Muslims to follow.

Self-negation in Islam means submitting the self to the orders (ahkam) of Allah and his Prophet (S.A.S) .The Prophet (S.A.S) himself followed and preached the orders of Allah and did not say anything from his own self. As Quran says: “The Prophet (S.A.S) does not say of his own desire. It is wahi (revelation).” (Surah-Al Najain V-3, 4)(Tr. by Pickthall)

The wahi may be either through the angel or it may be direct.

Total submission of the self to the orders of Allah and His Prophet (S.A.S) was seen at its best in the times of Prophet (S.A.S) and at the times when Hazrath Mahdi (A.H.S), khalifatullah, lived. Several examples can be quoted to show how people followed Allah’s commands and how they obeyed Hazrath Muhammad Mustafa (S.A.S) and Hazrath Mahdi (AHS).

In Makkah the Muslims were subjected to great troubles by the infidels of Quraish but they patiently suffered all this and did not get out of Islam. Their aim was to please Allah and His Prophet (S.A.S), so they could go through all those hardships easily. At Madina they fought against the enemies at the risk of losing their lives. They brought all their might to make the preparation of wars adequate. At the time of battle of Tabook Hazrath Osman (R.Z) supplied most of the war material, horses and camels. Others also brought what was possible for them. Hazrath Omar (R.Z) brought half the total belongings he had. Hazrath Abu Bakr (R.Z) brought all he had keeping nothing for him and his family. This was a very fine example of negation of the self and obeying the commands of Allah and His Prophet (S.A.S).

The great migration (Hijrah) of Hazrath Mahdi (A.H.S) which consisted of going to various places and cities of India and finally proceeding to Khurasan along with his pious self-less followers is also a great example of self-negation. These Muhajireen did not care for their food and comfort during the Hijrah and followed Hazrath Mahdi (A.H.S) through the most dangerous routes where there were robbers and wild beast. This was a great self negation act for them. Their life was just to follow Allah’s commands totally without the least care for comforts and gains of the self. On one such occasion Hazrath Bandigimian Yousuf (R.Z), a companion of Hazrath Mahdi (A.H.S) had to eat the leaves of trees, due to which he suffered much with the pain of swollen limbs. He had only a sheet of cloth over his body which was torn at many places. During this journey, one day he was sitting on a path and scratching his wound. Hazrath Mahdi (A.H.S) came there and Mian Yousuf asked him:

“Imamuna( O our Imam), it is said that one time is promised on the Qaum (Community) of Mahdi (A.H.S), which would be of great hardships. When is the time to come?” Hazrath Mahdi (A.H.S) replied, “This is the same time, but you are not feeling its effects due to your high spiritual strength.” This high spiritual strength, we can say, was gained by self-negation. During the same journey Hazrath Mahdi (A.H.S) stood on a small hill, one day, and saw how his followers are coming bearing all sorts of hardships and troubles. He felt very merciful towards them and addressed Allah, the almighty in this way:

“O Allah! these men are following me not because I have taken away from them something they loved. What I could do is that I showed them the way towards Thy love and Gnosis (Ma’arifat).”

Almighty Allah heard His Caliph and informed him like this:

“I am pleased with all of them. You may inform them that I shall bless all of them with My Mercy (Maghfirat)”. This was the fruit of self-negation of these pious hands of the companions of Mahdi (A.H.S). The above mentioned examples are only a few to show how self-negation is practiced in Islam. In fact Hazrath Mahdi (A.H.S) has said:

Don’t use your initiative (Ikhtiar) in your deeds. Follow Quran (the commands of Allah) totally and become fortunate. The Persian sentence for this: “ be ikhtiar shau, bakhtiar baash.”

It means “be off with your desires and you will be the most fortunate.”

Let us understand the word “self” in some more details. “Self” consists of two things.

The Person of a man (khudi) and what the man has (mata-e-duniya).

The Quran defines “mata-e-duniya” in these words:

“Beautified for mankind is love of the joys (that come) from the women and offspring and stored up heaps of gold and silver, and horses branded (with their mark) and cattle and land that is the comfort of the life of the world. Allah! With Him is a more excellent abode.

(Para 3, Verse 14) (Translated by M.M Pickthall)

According to the above mentioned translated verse of Quran it is clear that Allah has supplied to man some worldly comforts which he may use in his needs. But it is also mentioned that these worldly comforts are in no way comparable to the comforts of the next World. (Akhirat), which are said to be excellent. The worldly comforts are to be used in the right way when they are at your disposal and they have to be used with the remembrance of Allah at all the times. If something is used without the remembrance of Allah even though it may be “Halal” becomes “Haram”. A man is not expected to get involved in worldly comforts - not even in his wife and children –in such a way that he forgets Allah. At some places in Quran the offspring (Aulad) and all worldly things (maal) are said to be “Fitna” (a trial) to see how man keeps his relations with them. In fact at many places in the Quran, Allah, the Almighty, has asked the man to be more desirous of the hereafter (Akhirat) than the worldly comforts and has warned that if he wants this world, it will be given to him, but he will be denied the comforts of the next world (Akhirat). Without making our discussion lengthy we give here some verses of the Quran to prove our point:

“Whosoever desireth the life of the world and its pomp, we shall repay them their deed here in, and these in they will not be wronged. Those are they for whom is naught in the hereafter save the fire. (All) that they contrive here is vain and (all) that they want to do is fruitless (Surah Hud Verse-15, 16)(Tr. by Pickthall)

Lo! Those expect not the meeting with us but desire the life of the world and feel secure there in, and those who are neglected of our remembrance, their home will be the fire, because of what they used to earn.” Surah Younus Verse-8, 9)(Tr. by Pickthall)

Thus we see how the love of this world has been condemned in the verses of Quran. Our Prophet (S.A.S) has also said that the root cause of all evil is the love of this World. Hence in complete accordance with the Holy Quran and Hadith of the Prophet (S.A.S), the teachings of Hazrath Mahdi (A.H.S) are for Tark-e-Duniya (self-denial i.e. non involvement in the world). To attain the comforts of the next world or, in the other words, to reach Allah, a believer (Momin) has to spare and give away the most loved thing in this world. Allah says in Quran:

“Ye will not reach unto piety (“Bir”) until ye spend of that which ye love”.

(Surah Al-Imran Verse-92) (Translated by M.M Pickthall)

Hazrath Mahdi (A.H.S) said here “bir” means Allah. Hence to reach to Allah you have to give the most loved things of yours. While Hazrath Mahdi (A.H.S) was explaining this, Mian Malik Burhanuddin (R.Z) came forward and requested Hazrath Mahdi (A.H.S) to accept his fastest horse and his most glittering sword. Hazrath Mahdi (A.H.S) asked why he was giving these two things. Mian Burhanuddin said he loved them most because they save him from his enemies. Then Hazrath Mahdi (A.H.S) explained to him that more than these two things he loved his life and Allah wants man to spare and keep reserve their lives for Him to reach Him. The last event mentioned reminds us to consider the other aspect of the “self”-i.e. the very

person of a man, which is called “khudi” or “ana”. The desire for having honor and respect, having good and tasty food, becoming famous and well- known among other men, the desire for accumulating money and material for one’s own self, having power and authority for himself are some of the attributes of the self. They all can be described as self-centered interests or passions. (as long as a person is involved in such interests, he can not come out of his ‘self’ and cannot be called a human being in a true sense. On the other hand, if a man does some service to others without having the least idea of benefiting himself in any way , such a service is called ‘self-less’ service. The aspect of the ‘self’ is very dangerous for a good society, because if every person for his selfish ends there will be lot of quarrels among men, which leads to blood shed. Hence to negate this aspect of the self, to practice self-denial is much necessary for removing evils in a society. This self in the rulers of the state leads to wars and endless troubles of mankind. Democracy has been sometimes defined as a system of greatest good of the greatest number. This definition itself reveals that there are at least some people whose good is marred. But a self-less society and a selfless government will lead to the greatest good of all. Hence it is better than the democracy itself. However, it must be admitted that formation of such a society and such a state is not an easy task. In every society ‘justice’ forms a very important section. Always a very right kind of judgment is needed which is purely unbiased and free from any kind of favouritism.This kind of justice can be practiced only by those who are completely free from self-centeredness where as the person who is slightly attached to the self cannot do so. He will see the things according to his own, interests and so his judgment becomes partial and unjust. On the other hand a person who is completely free from the self can see the truth and can judge the things accordingly and justly. Our Prophet’s (S.A.S) justice was so unbiased and self-less that even Jews used to bring their cases to him (S.A.S) for judgment. Once a Jew and a Muslim quarreled and came to Prophet (S.A.S). In this case the Jew was right and the Muslim was wrong and so the judgment was given justly in favor of the Jew. Once a woman from a noble family of quraish was caught stealing. The people then suggested our Prophet (S.A.S) to give her a mild punishment instead of severing her hands as she belonged to a noble family. Prophet (S.A.S) told and explained that if Fatima (his (S.A.S) own daughter) would have committed this crime, she would also have been given the same punishment. Such is the administration of justice that Islam practiced and preached to us.

In Islam self-negation means something more than the creation of a selfless society and this is the most important aspect of self negation. There is a word “shirk”, which in English is termed as polytheism. There are two kinds of ‘shirk’-the bigger shirk (shirk-e-jali) and the smaller shirk (shirk-e-khafi). Worshipping idols with or without Allah is a bigger shirk. The smaller shirk is hidden in the hearts of the people that is called the “self”, “khudi” or “ana”. All Praise is to Almighty Allah, but a man desires that he should be praised.

All things happen as per the will of Allah, but men think that it was they who brought anything to a successful conclusion. Allah gives food to all the men, animals, beasts, reptiles, insects etc, but men feel that they are earning because of their power to earn. All such thoughts lead in a way to show that their firm belief in Allah is dwindling. What is actually done by Allah is attributed to themselves. This is shirk-e-khafi (hidden polytheism) or the smaller shirk. All thoughts of self power, self-authority, self – honor, self – administration, self – superiority over others turn a man into a selfish-beast and he cannot be called a superior human Being (asharaful maqhlooq), that Allah wants him to be.

In the Quran, it has been pointed out that men are created only to worship Allah (Az-zariyat). Allah must be worshipped with great humility. True believers (Momineen) who worship Allah with all sincerity, submitting themselves totally to the will of Allah, have been promised heaven and something more in heaven (Surah-Younus). This some thing more according to Prophet (S.A.S) is the vision of Allah, the ultimate goal of a true Momin. In the last Ayat of ‘Surah kahaf’ Allah has promised this:

“And whoever hopeth for the meeting with his Lord, let him do righteous work, and make none sharer of the worship due unto his Lord. (Surah.Kahaf Verse-111) (Tr. By Pickthall)

In this verse "Righteous work” means tark-e-duniya (Self-denial, non involvement in the worldly pleasures and comforts) as explained by Hazrath Mahdi (A.H.S) . The words “and make none sharer of the worship unto Allah” mean to be without both kinds of Shirk, explicit or implicit (Jali or Khafi), in his living. The meaning of the verse will be that a man who removes both kinds of shirks from his life completely and performs “Tark-e-Duniya” may hope to have the meeting with Allah. Hazrath Mahdi (A.H.S) has said that this verse is without any restriction i.e. (mutlaq) that the meeting with Allah will be only in heaven or only in this world. So a man can have the vision of Allah in this world also. This is the greatest gift of Allah to a man who negates his self. The main purpose of the advent of Hazrath Mahdi (A.H.S) is to teach and propagate the Ahkam-e-Vilayat and to lead men have or at least hope to have the vision of Allah in this World. Without this hope to meet Allah, a person cannot be a Momin in the true sense. Hence self-negation leads a man to attain this greatest height.

This short essay will perhaps not be considered complete if I don’t write an incident that shows the complete self-negation to reach the height mentioned above. Here that greatest height was attained by Hazrath Muhammad Mustafa (S.A.S). The incident is like this: Once our Prophet (S.A.S) was sitting alone in the remembrance of Allah. Ummul Momineen Bibi Ayesha (R.Z) by chance came to that place. Our Prophet (S.A.S) asked,” Who is that?” “Ayesha”, was the answer. Then our Prophet (S.A.S) asked,” Who is Ayesha?”Bibi Ayesha replied,” daughter of Abu Bakr (R.Z)”. Then Prophet (S.A.S) asked,”Who is Abu Bakr?” Now Bibi Ayesha understood that the Prophet (S.A.S) was completely forgetful of this world (not in this world) and slowly went away from that place.

I very much hope if Bibi Ayesha had replied to the last as “Companion of Muhammad (S.A.S), our Prophet (S.A.S) would have asked “Who is Muhammad?”. That was the greatest height of self-negation at which Almighty Allah favors man with His meeting and vision - the greatest award of creation.

Let me conclude that Self-Negation is not just a cure for social evils; it is infact the panacea for all worldly evils.

 

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