10 ways you can overcome your Nafs (commanding soul)

  1. Constant purification.
    Increase in your worship acts and strive for the obedience of Allah (swt) at all times. Follow His guidance through the teachings of the Quran and Hadith. You should prioritise with the compulsory acts such as five daily prayers, even as you try to pick up the supererogatory ones.
  2. Conscious awareness. Your nafs is conscious and as such you have control over decisions you make that will impact your daily life and the hereafter. Therefore be conscious of Allah (swt) at all times and make a choice to break free from the negative desires and inclinations.
  3. Avoid sins and prohibitions. And always follow an evil thought, speech or act with a good one. You can achieve this through learning and seeking beneficial knowledge. In that way, you can sieve the truth from falsehood; and permissible acts from prohibitions.
  4. Remember the test of temporal life. This temporary life is a test and a preparation for the ultimate abode – the everlasting world and hereafter. Which then is more worthy of striving for?
  5. Follow the Sunnah. In our beloved Prophet (saw), we have the perfect example. So follow him and you won’t go wrong.
  6. Think of positive & negative effect of every action. For example, with the 5 daily prayers the benefits from physical to psychological bring serenity and a tranquil effect even beyond the prayers. While delaying/missing prayers due to laziness and negligence may bring about guilt, feeling of burden, regret, need to make excuses etc in addition to amassing sins.
  7. Use your time wisely. Assess your time & accompanying deeds. And try to keep positively busy with rewarding acts. Do something for the Ummah without expecting a profit. Make it an investment for your hereafter.
  8. Keep good company. Mind your environment and those you choose to stay around. Choose those who can help guard your creed & deen.
  9. Purify your acts through your intention. Renew them as often as you can, centred on Allah’s pleasure and to earn paradise. Isn’t paradise and its wonders enough motivation to give up the instant gratifications for?
  10. Make Du’a. Make supplications for a sound & pure heart; one that is filled with Allah’s love but yearns for even more of Allah’s (swt) love.

{The heart can only become sound, achieve success, take pleasure, be satisfied, experience enjoyment, become pleased, attain serenity and calmness through the ibadaah (worship) of its Lord; having love of Him and turning to Him (in repentance). Even if it were to attain every type of pleasure from creation, it will not acquire serenity & tranquillity. This is because the heart possesses an intrinsic need for its Lord, since He is its deity, love and pursuit and with Allah the heart achieves joy, pleasure, delight, amenity, serenity and tranquillity.}1

[Ibn Taymiyyah’s essay of Servitude]

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