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The Purpose of Self-Sacrifice in Islam

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The image at the top states (Allah is the LIght of the Heavens and the Earth).  That light can only be recognized when the heart has been cleansed which, in turn, can only be accomplished through the prescribed cleansing of Islam’s teachings.

Everything in Islam has Usuul(method) and Maqsid(objective).  The Maqsid is not always clear.  For example, we don’t know WHY Allah ta’ala forbade eating pork.  What we know is that it’s among the major sins, that eating it will defile the body and cause spiritual damage.  It is one of those things where we must say “sami’na wa ata’ana”(we hear and we obey).

In surat Aal-Imraan, Allah ta’ala tells us:

لَن تَنَالُوا الْبِرَّ حَتَّىٰ تُنفِقُوا مِمَّا تُحِبُّونَ

“You will not attain uprightness until you give from what you find dear.”

In surat al-Baqara, He says:

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا كُتِبَ عَلَيْكُمُ الصِّيَامُ كَمَا كُتِبَ عَلَى الَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَّقُونَ

“Oh, you who believe.  The Fast has been prescribed for you as it was for those before you, that you become God-fearing”

In Surat al-Ankaboot, He says:

وَالَّذِينَ جَاهَدُوا فِينَا لَنَهْدِيَنَّهُمْ سُبُلَنَا ۚ وَإِنَّ اللَّهَ لَمَعَ الْمُحْسِنِينَ

“And those who strive (with sacrifice) in Our Path, We shall guide them to Our Ways.”

The human being lives torn between lower self and higher virtues and purposes.  Being the Servant of Allah and the Slave of the Self are not equal.  To adopt the higher qualities of the Human Being, as Allah ta’ala intends for us, one can’t be hindered or diverted by the whims of the self.

Those Orders of Allah ta’ala which direct us towards self-sacrifice are a form of medicine, a treatment, or tool, the use of which gives one mastery over the self.  This mastery is necessary to accomplish those Divine Orders and Sunnahs that would otherwise be difficult or impossible.

If one looks, we find in ourselves, and in others, the tendency to distort the Deen.  Important things become small, small things become Enormities, Sunnah is rejected for discomfort or fear of social embarrassment, etc.  This is when we attempt to take Allah’s Obedience at our CONVENIENCE, rather than taking it NOW as we have been commanded.  The self has not been conditioned toward the Obedience of Allah ta’ala.  This is how we find among the old-world Muslims people who have made their own groups, invented their own Deen, or adopted lifestyles that are other than Islam.

Allah warns us:

  كَمَا أَنزَلْنَا عَلَى الْمُقْتَسِمِينَ  الَّذِينَ جَعَلُوا الْقُرْآنَ عِضِينَ

“(Of just such wrath) as We sent down on those who divided (Scripture into arbitrary parts),- (So also on such) as have made Qur’an into shreds (as they please).”


 مِنَ الَّذِينَ فَرَّقُوا دِينَهُمْ وَكَانُوا شِيَعًا ۖ كُلُّ حِزْبٍ بِمَا لَدَيْهِمْ فَرِحُونَ

Those who split up their Religion, and become (mere) Sects,- each party rejoicing in that which is with itself!  (Surat ar-Rum, 32) – for clarification, “each group happy with that part of Deen which they emphasize, with that part that makes them separate.”

In al-Bukhari, we have the Hadith:

“Narrated An-Nu’man bin Bashir: I heard Allah’s Apostle saying, ‘Both legal and illegal things are evident, but in between them there are doubtful (suspicious) things and most of the people have no knowledge about them. So whoever saves himself from these suspicious things saves his religion and his honor. And whoever indulges in these suspicious things is like a shepherd who grazes (his animals) near the Hima (private pasture)of someone else and at any moment he is liable to get in it. (O people!) Beware! Every king has a Hima and the Hima of Allah on the earth is His forbidden things. Beware! there is a piece of flesh in the body if it becomes good (reformed) the whole body becomes good, but if it gets spoiled, the whole body gets spoiled, and that is the heart.  (Book #2, Hadith #49)”

Some ways of proper Juhud ( striving, effort)

Fasting (Note:  there is the Hadith that mentions that Allah has written a set reward for every good deed except fasting.  Fasting is a sacrifice of the self for Allah’s Pleasure, so Allah ta’ala will reward according to the quality of the Fast, and according to His Generosity )

Salah with Jama’a (in group) – rewarded 70 times more than Salah alone.

Making daw’a (the very wellspring of the Iman of Anbiyaa)

When reading Qur’an or making ta’leem, to sit properly, on the floor, with wudhu, avoiding distractions, making tawajuh (turning the inner attention toward Allah)

Setting a fixed time morning and afternoon for the Remembrance of Allah and sticking with it.

Going out in the Path of Allah ta’ala for longer and longer times.  This one is really key, as such juhud always proves very beneficial.  The first benefit comes from removing oneself from the company of non-Muslims, sinful people (even if family), and the environment of Ghafla (negligence, forgetfulness).  This is the example of AsHaab il-Kahf (the young companions of the Cave in the 18th Sura).

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