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Sufi Teachings:

Ibn 'Arabi On
Proximity And Distance

Why Do Muslims Fast?

Knowledge of Reality and
Ignorance of Reality -
What is Knowledge
of Reality?

Knowledge of Reality and
Ignorance of Reality -
Seeing Versus
Not Seeing

Knowledge of Reality and
Ignorance of Reality -
Journeying In
The Spiritual Path

Book of Theophanies

The Month of Ramadhan

Sufi Psychology:
The Isolation and
Transformation
of the Nafs

To Be Or Not To Be

Imposter Or
Mistaken Identity?

Moulana Rumi -
The Mirror of Divine Love

The Transformative Power
of the Fear of God

Test of the Hardship

The Theatre
of Life

Peace and the
Inner Jihad

Sufism and the
Paradox of Self

Surrender

Faith and Action

What is Tasawwuf
(Sufism)?

Listening for God:
Prayer and the Heart

 



Bismillaah ir Rahmaan ir Rahiim
In the name of Allah, The Merciful, The Compassionate



PEACE AND THE INNER JIHAD

By Fatima Fleur Nassery Bonnin


The Meaning of Peace

As we experience and witness the turmoil, unrest, war and devastation in the world, the absence of peace and the need for peaceful living becomes abundantly clear. But in order to have peace in the world, we need to have peace in our communities, and in order to have peace in our communities, we need to have peaceful people in those communities. Societies reflect the state of the people within that society. Peace cannot exist in a society unless the individuals within that society change and experience peace within themselves.

Our current political environment is derived from the idea of peace as a product of war; that is, there appears to be a justification for war as a means of achieving peace. This mentality not only necessitates the questioning of its logic, but also the questioning of its effectiveness. The world news, as being broadcasted through our television sets and newspapers, testifies to the fact that this widely accepted doctrine does not work, and in fact, will never work. On a fundamental level, it is a mistake to conceive of peace as the absence of war. This type of peace is merely the result of negotiations and peace treaties between factions and/or nations, in an effort to ward off war and unrest. This shallow perception of peace serves only as a mental exercise, derived from assemblies of man enforcing and implementing positions of power. The end result is marked by win-lose situations and delivers only temporary solutions to looming dissatisfactions and potential uprisings. The point has been lost.


Peace is a Spiritual State

For a person to be at peace, he needs to go beyond his pre-occupations with the ego-driven self and move towards the virtues. He needs to transform his ego-personality which is the hub of all his conflicts and negative attributes and shed his associated jealousy, selfishness, greed, anger, lust etc by transcending to a higher level, where the demanding ego is no longer the dominating force. This is the meaning of the internal jihad, and this process is by no means an easy one, but indeed a necessary one.

It is reported that during the early formation of Islam, when the army of Islam returned from a huge battle with the enemy, the Prophet of Islam, peace and blessing be upon him, said:
You have returned from a smaller jihad (battle), and now it is incumbent upon you to perform your greater jihad.”
When the astonished people asked what could be a greater jihad than the one they had returned from, the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said:
The battle with ones nafs (ego-personality).”

This Hadith (saying of the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him) emphasises two fundamentally important issues. The first, points to the difficult task of our internal jihad and in doing so, prepares us for it. The second, establishes the necessity of the battle we must wage against our nafs (our ego-personality). The Prophet (pbuh) is letting us know that victory in the outer jihad is not enough for mankind to live in peace and harmony. It only provides the necessary space to do our most important work which is the jihad against our nafs.

The words of the prophets, (particularly those words that have been recorded and whose authenticity is undisputed), afford us and future generations the keys to unlocking the doors to our inner and outer truth and reality. We need to contemplate them, understand them, be guided by them and most importantly put them into practice.


The Human Predicament

Human beings are in a difficult predicament in this journey of life. The soul comes into this life given a cloak of personality, shrouding his God-consciousness. Therefore he sees himself only as his ego-personality and is blindly ruled by it. He has only a short period of life on earth to fight and overcome this domination so that he may know his Creator in spite of all the ego-attachments and distractions. It is a challenging task, but this task is what we have been created for. However we are not left entirely on our own and are not without help. God sends us prophets, scriptures, saints and guides, not to mention events that shape our lives and provide us with lessons to be learned.


Denial of Our Spiritual Aspect

When God is taken out of the equation of ‘man and God’, man is then left on his own, and therefore becomes conscious of his self instead of being conscious of God. This marks the breeding ground for ego development. Life then becomes the pursuit and fulfillment of ego desires, and truth and reality become subservient to ego domination. This is in opposition to spiritual unfoldment. The spiritual aspect is where one can be in peace and harmony. The ego aspect is where one is in conflict and disharmony. Therefore an ego-dominated society is obviously filled with conflicts and disharmony. In order to function in such a state, it would be necessary to be forgetful and in denial of our spiritual aspect. This is what we see today in our secular society.

In order to live in a state of denial about one’s spirituality and consciousness of God, the secular life must create material distractions and engagements. This means that any secular society requires upheaval and unrest in order for its dysfunction to function. There are constant issues to be resolved, needs to be met, greeds to be fulfilled and the illusive state of inner peace remains out of reach. Most modern societies not only support and promote this mentality, which has become a way of life, but these societies also teach people to become skilled and creative participants. People’s talents, intellects and abilities are used in order to sustain this theatrical version of reality. The better one is at it, the more successful and respected one becomes in the eyes of such a society.

At a certain point, one cannot even distinguish truth and reality in and amongst the lies and justifications being presented as truth. This is what we are facing in the world today. From the perspective of modernity, it is engaging, challenging and exciting. From the perspective of the Truth and God-consciousness, peace and harmony, it is disastrous. And it keeps getting worse, because the trend of making the unreal appear real, forever gathers momentum.

“While those who are determined in denying the truth harboured a stubborn disdain of ignorance in their hearts – Allah bestowed from on high His inner peace upon His apostle and the believers and bound them to the spirit of God-consciousness, for they were most worthy of this (divine gift) and deserved it well.” - Qur’an 48:26


Man and the Truth

Man’s relationship to the truth, especially in our modern society, is worthy of reflection. Al Haqq, one of the Names (attributes) of Allah (swt) means the Truth, the Reality. While Al Haqq, the Truth with capital “T” means the ultimate truth, the only truth and the only reality, man’s version of the truth is different and so is his perceived reality within that truth. Truth has become personalised or individualised, which allows it to continually change according to the perspective and benefit of the individual. Therefore it can easily be twisted, politicised and nationalised. The universality of the truth is thus lost and substituted by the individual’s personal or communal truth. This creates a situation in which no two people or two communities can experience the same version of truth because neither is the reflection of the Truth. For instance these days the Palestinian’s truth is different from the Israeli’s truth and America’s truth is different from that of the Middle East.

In addition, being conscious of the Truth (which is the result of being God-conscious), mandates certain ways of life and certain moral conducts such as following God’s laws (Shariah), which protect all humanity equally since God is the God of all humanity. Allah (swt) says in the Qur’an:

And say: ‘Truth has arrived, and falsehood perished: For falsehood is bound to perish.
We sent down in the Qur’an that which is a healing and mercy to those who believe: To the unjust it causes nothing but loss after loss.” - Qur’an 17:81-82

The Purpose of Life – to Know and Love God

In Sufism, the purpose of life is described in a Hadith Qudsi (when God speaks to the prophets) regarding the question of creation. Allah (swt) says:

I was a hidden treasure and I loved that I be known, so I created the creation so that I can be known.

The purpose of our life, the goal of coming into this world is to know God (Irfan), in spite of all the smoke screens, veils and distractions - the most powerful of which lies in the veil of one’s self.

It is always very difficult to fight one’s ego-self. In fact according to Sufi teaching if it is not difficult, one is not doing the real work. What makes the struggle against the ego possible is the desire to know and love God, since He has placed this desire in the heart of mankind, whether man knows it or not. When this desire is moved from the state of potentiality to expression in life, one is considered in Sufism, a traveller (salek), on the journey to God-consciousness.

The soul comes to this world for the purpose of moving through the various tests and obstacles set in his way, and insha’llah, (with the will of God), he will fend off temptations and not stray too far from the path, remaining focused on the true purpose of his journey, and his eventual return to a state of unity with God. Allah (swt) points this out repeatedly throughout the Qur’an, for example:
To Him is our return.” - Qur’an 2:156
"Unto Him you will return.
" - Qur’an 2:245

To fulfil the purpose of life we need to turn to the spiritual teachings of our religions and harness the inner meanings of the teachings of our prophets. While the outer dimension of religion is concerned with salvation from the fire of hell, or with securing a place in paradise, the inner dimension of religion is concerned with knowing God and loving God, because being God-conscious (taqwa) and being present with God (hozour), is the highest level of perfection of the soul. It is in utilising the inner dimensions of our religions, that we face the possibility of transforming our ego domination and achieving peace and tranquillity, both internally and therefore externally. It is for this reason that the Prophet Mohammad, peace and blessings be upon him, conveyed a message relevant for any time and any place. The inner jihad is the most fundamental challenge for man, and it is a challenge that must be endured by man.

And to those who are on the path of fulfilling the ego desire instead of the inner jihad, Allah (swt) says in the Qur’an:

And who could be more astray than he who follows his own desires without any guidance from Allah? Verily, Allah does not grace with His guidance people who are given to their wrong-doing.” - Qur’an 28:50

And to those who endure the inner jihad and squirm free of the grip of their nafs, Allah (swt) says:

O’ you the nafs that has attained inner peace – return unto thy Sustainer, well-pleased and pleasing Him.”- Qur’an 89:27-28


The Return to God-consciousness

The human being is designed for the return to the state of God-consciousness. To reach such a station and proximity to God, one needs to be steadfast and not be side tracked by distractions in his pursuit.

Jesus, peace and blessings be upon him, says in the Gospel of Thomas in verse 8:

Humankind is like a wise fisherman who cast his net into the sea and drew it up from the sea full of little fish. Among them the wise fisherman discovered a fine large fish. He threw all the little fish back into the sea and with no difficulty chose the large fish. Whoever has ears to hear should hear.

Jesus, peace and blessings be upon him, also says in John 3:3:

Unless a man is born a second time, he cannot behold the kingdom of God.

Mullah Sadra, the revered Persian Sufi master of the 17th century, explains the above saying as:

The first birth is from the womb of a woman, the second birth is from the womb of the ego-senses.

To be born again requires the transformation of the ego-personality and according to the Islamic and Sufi teaching, breaking free from the commanding self (al-nafs al-ammara), which is the general state of human beings, passing through the state of the accusing self (al-nafs al-lawwama) and then reaching the state of the self at peace (al nafs al-mutmainna).

This is the true state of being and it is only possible by discarding layers of one’s ego identity and one’s preoccupation with the ego senses. When one starts confronting any aspect of one’s personality-fixation and begins to dig beneath the surface, one will eventually find God-consciousness.

Allah (swt) says in the Qur’an:

We shall show them Our signs, in the universe and within themselves so they know that this is The Reality (Al Haqq).” - Qur’an 41:53


The Way to Peace

The absence of God-consciousness prevents one from following God’s laws, and therefore prevents His protection of the earth and its inhabitants. God has made it clear to us through the teachings of His prophets, that there will be no inner peace as long as one forgets God and follows one’s own ego.

Be not like those who forgot Allah and He made them to forget their own souls! Such are those who are wrong doers (having wasted their spiritual potential).
Not equal are the companions of the fire and the companions of the garden. It is the companions of the garden who will achieve peace and felicity.” - Qur’an 59:19-20

We can now reformulate our equation to propose that an absence of God-consciousness results in war, and that peace, rather than being the absence of war, is the state of God-consciousness.

To Top

_________________________________


Sufi Teachings:

Ibn 'Arabi On Proximity And Distance

Why Do Muslims Fast?

Knowledge of Reality and Ignorance of Reality - What is Knowledge of Reality?

Knowledge of Reality and Ignorance of Reality - Seeing Versus Not Seeing

Knowledge of Reality and Ignorance of Reality - Journeying In The Spiritual Path

Book of Theophanies

The Month of Ramadhan

Sufi Psychology: The Isolation and Transformation of the Nafs

To Be Or Not To Be

Imposter Or Mistaken Identity?

Moulana Rumi - The Mirror of Divine Love

The Transformative Power of the Fear of God

Test of the Hardship

The Theatre of Life

Peace and the Inner Jihad

Sufism and the Paradox of Self

Surrender

Faith and Action

What is Tasawwuf (Sufism)?

Listening for God: Prayer and the Heart

To Top

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For further information contact the
Australian Centre for Sufism and Irfanic Studies (ACSIS)
Phone: (02) 9955 SUFI (7834)
or email: acs@australiansuficentre.org


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