The harms of over-eating and its cure
Many sins are committed on account of over-filling the stomach. There are several factors which have to be taken into consideration:
(a) Do not become too accustomed to eating sumptuous meals.
(b) Safeguard yourself from harâm sustenance.
(c) Do not fill your stomach beyond its limit. Instead, set aside a bit of hunger which equals a few morsels.
There are many benefits in this:
(i) One of them is that the person’s heart remains pure whereby he recognizes the bounties of Allah. This results in his developing a love for Allah.
(ii) Tenderness and softness remains in his heart whereby he perceives pleasure in his du‘âs and dhikr.
(iii) His soul is not allowed to consider itself to be great.
(iv) When the soul is harmed even slightly, the person immediately remembers the punishment of Allah. In this way, the soul safeguards him from sinning.
(v) He is not inclined towards sinning.
(vi) He remains light-headed, he is able to sleep less, and does not feel lazy in offering tahajjud and other forms of ‘ibâdah.
(vii) He has mercy for those who are weak and starving. In fact, he develops kind-heartedness towards everyone.
The harms of speaking excessively and its cure
The soul takes great delight in speaking excessively, and in so doing, the person plunges himself into many sins. A person can only save himself from the following sins if he safeguards his tongue. These sins are: lying, back-biting, cursing, accusing someone, boasting and bragging about oneself, arguing and debating with someone unnecessarily, submitting to the rich and laughing in such a way that the person who is laughed at feels humiliated and disgraced.
The method of safeguarding the tongue is that one should not blurt out anything and everything that comes to one’s mind. Instead, one should ponder carefully and check whether what one wishes to say entails a reward or a sin, or does not constitute a reward nor a sin. If it is such that it entails a lot of sin or a little sin, then one should keep silent. If the soul prompts one to speak from within, one should explain to it that it is easy to break one’s desires for a little while now while the punishment of the hereafter is extremely severe. If it entails reward, utter it. If it does not entail any reward nor any sin, even then he should not utter it. However, if the soul insists, then utter a little of it and thereafter remain silent. A person should ponder in this manner in all his conversations. In a few days, the soul will develop a natural dislike for excessive speech. Another method of safeguarding the tongue is not to associate with others unnecessarily. When one is alone, the tongue will automatically remain silent.
The harms of anger and its cure
When a person is angry, his intellect does not function properly and he loses the perception to consider the consequences of this anger. It is for this reason that he utters anything and everything. At times, he even goes beyond the limit by using his hands (physical force). It is therefore necessary to control and curb this anger.
The method of controlling one’s anger is that the person should immediately remove the person upon whom his anger has descended from his sight. If he does not move away, the person who is angry should leave that place himself. He should then think and ponder that just as this person is at fault (or blameworthy), I am much more blameworthy in the sight of Allah. And just as I would like Allah to forgive me for my mistakes and sins, in the same way I should also forgive him for his mistakes. Thereafter the person should recite “A‘ûdhu billâh” several times, drink water or make wudû. In this way his anger will subside.
Once he comes back to his senses and still feels that the person deserves to be punished for his mistake or fault, he should first try and establish the method of punishment by ascertaining how a person is punished for such a mistake. Once he has established the method and is satisfied that it is according to the Sharî‘ah, he should mete it out. Example, if the punishment being meted out is for the benefit and welfare of the person at fault as in the case of punishing one’s children in order to mend their wrong ways, or if by meting out punishment, there is benefit for a third person as in the case of punishing the oppressor to help the oppressed.
If a person curbs his anger in this way, he will be able to bring it under his control within a few days. He will no longer be hot-tempered.
Malice and hatred is also born from anger. Once a person has complete control over his anger, malice and hatred will also disappear from his heart.
The harms of jealousy and its cure
When you see a person living comfortably, eating and drinking well, living with honour and respect, and upon seeing all this you begin to “burn” within you, begin to have hatred for him or become happy when he experiences any lapse – then this is known as hasad (jealousy or envy). This is a very evil characteristic and is also sinful. Such a person passes his entire life in bitterness. In other words, his worldly life and his Dînî life are both abhorrent and unpleasant. Great efforts therefore have to be made in order to come out from this great calamity.
The first cure for this is that the person should think to himself that “by my envying him, I am causing harm to myself and no harm whatsoever is befalling him. The harm that it is causing me and my loss is that all my good deeds are being wiped out.” This has been deduced from a Hadith in which it is mentioned that hasad devours good deeds just as fire devours dry wood. The reason for this is that this person is indirectly forwarding an objection to Allah by saying (indirectly): “so-and-so person does not deserve those bounties. Why did You give him these bounties?” If someone raises an objection to Allah in such a manner, how serious a sin it will be?
It is obvious that such a person will always live with malice and sorrow in his heart. As for the person who has been envied, he has suffered no loss whatsoever. By your envying him, the bounty which he possesses will not disappear. Instead, the person whom you have envied will benefit in the sense that all your good deeds will go to him.
Once you have thought over all these factors in your mind, praise this person (whom you are jealous of) and say good things about him to others. You should also add by saying: “All thanks are due to Allah in that he has all these bounties. May Allah give him all these bounties two-fold.” If you happen to meet this person, meet him with respect and humble yourself. In the beginning, your soul will be greatly burdened in doing this. However, hasad will gradually disappear from your heart.
The harms of love for wealth and its cure
The love for wealth is such an evil characteristic that once it enters the heart, the love and remembrance of Allah disappears. This is because such a person is in constant perplexity as to how can I accumulate more wealth, what type of jewellery and clothing must I purchase, what type of goods must I have, how many utensils must I possess, how much household effects must I have, what type of house must I build, what orchard must I possess and what property must I purchase…and so on. If one thinks in this manner day and night, when will one have the time to remember Allah?
One of the harms of this is that once the love for all this enters the heart, such a person does not wish to die and present himself to Allah. He thinks that once he dies, all these comforts and luxuries will also go. At times, the person does not even wish to leave this world while he is about to die. Once he learns that it is Allah who has caused him to leave this world, he develops enmity towards Allah and thereby leaves this world in a state of kufr.
Another harm of this is that once the person becomes infatuated with this world and the accumulation of wealth, he does not differentiate between halâl and harâm. He does not consider the rights of others nor does he worry about lies, deception, fraud, etc. His only goal is that he has to accumulate irrespective of how or from where. It is for this reason that it is mentioned in the Hadith that love for this world is the root of all evil. If this is such a great evil, every Muslim should endeavour to save himself from this calamity and remove the love for this world from his heart.
One of the cures for this is that the person should remember death abundantly and he should constantly think that he will have to leave all this wealth one day. What is the benefit, then, in attaching so much of importance to it? In fact, the more importance you attach to it, the more remorse you will experience when leaving it.
Another cure is that one should not establish too many associates and contacts. That is, he should not engage in too many dealings with too many people. He should not acquire goods, household effects, houses, properties more than what is necessary. He should not expand his business beyond the limits. He should limit these things to necessity and comfort. In short, he should restrict himself to the basic necessities.
The third cure is that he should not involve himself in unnecessary expenses. This is because when a person has unnecessary expenses, his greed for additional income increases; and this greed is the cause of all other evils.
The fourth cure is that he should develop the habit of eating simple food, and wearing coarse clothing.
The fifth cure is that he should sit more in the company of poor persons and sit very little in the company of the rich. This is because by sitting in the company of the rich, one develops a desire and lust for everything.
The sixth cure is that he should read and study the lives of those pious servants who abandoned this world.
The seventh cure is that he should give away or sell that item for which he has great attachment.
By adopting these means, Inshâ Allah the love of this world will disappear from the heart and all those far-fetched ambitions with regard to accumulating wealth, purchasing goods, leaving behind a house for the children, etc. will be automatically repulsed.
The harms of miserliness and its cure
Many fard and wâjib obligations and duties such as zakât, qurbâni, helping a needy person, assisting one’s poor relatives, etc. are not fulfilled on account of miserliness and stinginess. When these are not fulfilled, one is actually committing a sin. This is the harm that is caused to one’s Dîn. A stingy person is regarded as despicable and useless in the eyes of everyone. This is the worldly harm. Is there anything worse than this?
One of the cures of this is that love for this world and love for wealth should be removed from the heart. Once this love has been removed, there is no way that miserliness can remain.
Another cure is that the person should impose on his nafs and give away that item which is beyond his needs. Although this will be difficult on the nafs, one should endeavour in this regard and try and bear this difficulty.
As long as traces of stinginess have not been uprooted from the heart, continue adopting the above measures.
The harms of desiring fame and honour and its cure
When a person desires fame and honour for himself, he envies and resents the fame and popularity of another person. The harms of this (envy and jealousy) have been mentioned previously. Upon hearing about someone’s disgrace and degradation, the person becomes happy. It is a very evil characteristic to wish evil for someone. A further harm of this is that the person tries to acquire fame through prohibited means, e.g. a person spends a lot of money and goes into unnecessary expenses in weddings merely for fame. At times he acquires this wealth through bribery and at times by taking interest loans. All these sins were committed merely for name and fame.
The worldly harm of this is that such a person has many enemies and many who are jealous of him. Such persons continuously try to disgrace him, defame him, cause him harm and try to put him into difficulties.
One of the cures for this is that he should think to himself that all those who will think great of me or praise me will not live forever nor will I live forever. After a few days, no one will even bother to ask about me. If this is the case, it is a sign of great immaturity to feel happy about this baseless thing.
Another cure is that this person should do something which will cause him great disgrace and defamation. However, this thing should be such that it is not contrary to the Sharî‘ah. For example, the person should sell the stale, left-over bread to the poor people at a cheap price. This will be a source of great disgrace.
The harms of pride and haughtiness and its cure
The meaning of pride and haughtiness is that a person considers himself greater than others as regards knowledge, ‘ibâdah, religiousness, status, lineage, wealth and possessions, honour, respect, intelligence or in anything else. To consider yourself to be greater than others and to regard them inferior to you is a major sin. It is mentioned in a Hadith that the person who has pride equal to a mustard seed will not enter jannah. As for this world, people hate such a person and become his enemies even though they may be courteous towards him outwardly. Another harm of this is that such a person does not follow or accept the advice of anyone. He is not prepared to accept the truth. Instead, he takes it badly and decides to cause harm to the person who has given him the advice.
The cure for this is that he should ponder over his origins – that he has been created from clay and an impure sperm. All the bounties that he has been blessed with have been given to him by Allah. If He wishes, He can take back all of them. On what basis, then, should he feel proud? He should also ponder over and remember the greatness of Allah. When he does this, he will no longer consider himself to be great. In addition to this, he should meet the person whom he had looked down upon with deference and in a humble manner. In this way, pride will come out of his heart. If the person does not have the capacity to do this, he should at least make it his duty that whenever he meets anyone of a lower class or standard, he should be first in greeting him. In so doing, Inshâ Allah his nafs will develop humility.
The harms of boastfulness and its cure
If a person considers oneself to be great and distinguished or wears beautiful clothing and jewellery and begins to boast and brag, then this characteristic is considered to be extremely evil even if one does not consider others to be deficient. It is mentioned in a Hadith that this characteristic destroys one’s Dîn. Furthermore, this person does not make any effort to reform himself because if he regards himself to be distinguished, he will not look at his own faults.
The cure for this is that one should constantly look at one’s own faults and ponder over them. The person should think to himself that the qualities and characteristics that are within me have all been granted to me by Allah and there is no excellence in me. After pondering over all this, he should express his gratitude to Allah and make du‘â to Him that these bounties are not taken away from him.
The harms of doing good deeds merely for name and fame and its cure
This boasting and bragging is of several types. At times a person may clearly speak about how much Quran he read or that he remained awake at night (busy in ‘ibâdah). At times, he will subtly include this in a conversation, e.g. a few people were speaking about the Bedouin Arabs. So this person entered into the conversation and said: “Whatever you are saying is wrong. I experienced so-and-so thing with these persons.” Although the conversation delved on something else, by this person mentioning these things, everyone came to know that he performed hajj as well. At times, this boasting is executed practically, e.g. with the intention of “showing off”, the person sits down with a tasbîh in front of everyone. At times this “showing off” takes the form of caution and carefulness, e.g. a woman has the habit of reciting the Quran all the time. However, on a certain occasion, because a few women were sitting near her, she began reading the Quran carefully and in the proper manner (paying full attention to the rules of tajwîd). At times this boasting takes the form of one’s posture and expression, e.g. a person sits down closing her eyes and lowering her head whereby the person looking at her will think that she is a very pious person, she always engages in the dhikr of Allah, she remained awake last night and therefore she is feeling sleepy now. There are many other ways of “showing off” one’s good deeds. Whichever form this may take, they are all detestable. All good deeds which have been executed merely for show will be transformed from rewards into punishment in jahannam.
The cure for this is the same as that which was mentioned above because boasting and “showing off” is done for the reason that one wishes to acquire name, fame and earn the praises of people.
An important note on the different cures
The cures that we have mentioned for the different evils cannot be acquired by carrying them out a few times. For example, if a person is able to control his anger 2-3 times, it does not mean that this evil has been uprooted. If one does not experience anger on one or two occasions, he should not be deluded by the fact that his nafs has now been reformed. Instead, the person should practice these cures for a long period of time. If he becomes neglectful in this regard, he should express his remorse and sorrow, and be on his guard in the future. Inshâ Allah, after a very long time all these evils will be uprooted.
An easy cure for all the evils that are within the nafs and for all the sins that are committed by the different parts of the body is that when any evil or sin is committed, some sort of punishment should be meted out to the nafs. There are two types of punishments which could be easily meted out by everyone. One is that the person should specify a certain amount of money (according to his financial position). When he commits any sin, he must distribute that amount of money (which will be his fine) to the poor. If he repeats that sin, he will have to pay the fine again. Another punishment is that he should skip one or two meals. If the person makes an all out endeavour in meting out these punishments, Inshâ Allah, all evils and sins will disappear. We will now mention the good acts and deeds which reform the heart.