I was once asked by a friend, “Why didn’t Allah create us compelled to obey Him like those creatures you call angels for instance? Why did He create us having lusts and free wills? It’s as if He wants us to make sins!”
I answered, “This was His method in creating the most perfect creatures ever. He granted us the freedom of choice, thereafter, He gave us the chance to perform, and display our characters and real-selves through our choices and actions. Proving whether we deserve to be part of heaven or not is totally up to us. Angels are not tested because they were created compelled to obey the creator, they are His obedient servants. This is why scholars agree that those who follow their intellect and overcome their lusts, although they were created having free wills, they are better than angels. Hence, by means of perfection, those who were given the freedom of choice, and choose to do what’s right, are the most perfect creatures.”
Many scholars speak about Jihad, but they never explain to their listeners that Jihad in the Islamic teachings is not only combative. Combat or fighting is one branch in a huge tree. There is also financial jihad, health jihad, verbal jihad, perseverance jihad, acquiring knowledge and seeking after the truth jihad, etc… The trunk of the tree is “Spiritual Jihad.” Please understand that a faithful believer is in continuous struggle against his or her whims, lusts, and satanic temptations. A believer continuously questions his actions and deeds, whenever he sins or makes a misdeed, his conscience puts him in a state of remorse and keeps on pushing him towards repentance, and he always feels watched and evaluated, exactly like a student taking an exam. The belief that one day he shall return to his Creator, and shall be questioned for his deeds, always pushes him towards the path of the righteous, repentance, and makes him incline towards acting properly and perfecting his/her deeds. This state could only be reached through spiritual Jihad. Those who do not live practicing this kind of Jihad should know that their faith is bogus and needs persistent rectification.
It was recorded that companion ‘Ali Ibn Abi-Taleb once said when returning from the battle field: “We have returned from the minor Jihad to the major Jihad.” By major Jihad, ‘Ali was referring to spiritual Jihad.
Likewise, any form of Jihad is preceded by a spiritual struggle first. For instance, before calculating alms, one may feel some inclination towards neglecting some of his or her assets. Before helping others, some may hesitate if the task needed a lot of effort or involved some danger. Before giving blood, one may hesitate or freak out. Before uttering the truth that may stir up the enmity of others, one may hesitate. When facing troubles, one may fail to show perseverance. When raised on something or taught something since childhood, one finds it extremely hard to change his or her convictions and accept something different. All of the previous examples coincide with the types of jihad spelled out earlier, and they all need Spiritual Jihad.
Allah says in the Qur’an: “By the human-spirit and how (Allah) formed it, then inspired it to understand what is wrong and what is right. Him who purifies it will indeed be successful, and him who demoralizes it is sure to fail.” [The Qur’an (91:7-10)]
Actually, fighting against one’s lusts, or what I have referred to as “Spiritual Jihad,” is the Sun around which Planet Islam revolves.
Written By: Ehab Shawky.
In response to: Lust