This is its nature and that is its trait, except for the soul that Allaah grants tawfeeq and which He makes firm and assists. None has been saved from the evil of his soul except by the tawfeeq of Allaah, as Allaah says relating from the wife of al-‘Azeez:
“And I free not myself (from the blame). Verily, the soul does indeed incline greatly to evil, except when my Lord bestows His Mercy (upon whom He wills).Verily, my Lord is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” [Soorah Yoosuf (12):53]
“…And had it not been for the Grace of Allaah and His Mercy on you, not one of you would ever have been pure…” [Soorah an-Noon (24):21]
Allaah also says to the most honorable and beloved creation to Him:
“And had We not made you stand firm, you would nearly have inclined to them a little.” [Soorah al-Israa (17):74]
Furthermore, the Prophet used to teach them (i.e., the people) the ‘Speech of Need’ (Khutbah al-Haajah): “All praise is for Allaah; we praise Him, seek His aid and forgiveness. We seek refuge with Allaah from the evil of our souls and from the wickedness of our actions. Whosoever Allaah guides, then none can misguide him and whosoever Allaah misguides, then none can guide him.” [This speech has been related by Aboo Daawood, 2/237, an-Nasaa’iee, 3/105 and others. Refer to al-Albaanee’s treatise, Khutbah al-Haajah’ for he gathered all the narrations and wordings of this speech]
Thus, evil is concealed within the soul and it necessitates actions of evil. If Allaah lets the servant have his own way with his soul, he will perish at the evil of his soul and the evil actions that it sanctions. If Allaah on the other hand, grants the servant tawfeeq and assists him, he will deliver him from all of this.
Allaah has made in contrast to this soul, a soul that is content *. If the soul that constantly commands evil urges the servant with something, the content soul prohibits him from it. The person at times obeys this soul, and at other times obeys the other; he himself is one of the two that is prevalent over him.
Ibn al-Qayyim, may Allaah have mercy upon him, states: “Allaah has assembled two souls: a soul that greatly orders (evil) and a soul that is content, and they are hostile towards one another. Whenever one diminishes, the other strengthens. Whenever one takes pleasure in something the other suffers pain as a result of it. Nothing is more difficult for the soul that constantly encourages evil than performing deeds for Allaah and preferring His pleasure to its own desire and there is nothing more beneficial to it than Allaah. Likewise, there is nothing more difficult upon the content soul than performing deeds for other than Allaah and that which the incentives of desire bring about, and there is nothing more harmful to it than desire… and the war is continuous, it cannot come to an end until it completes its appointed time from this world.” [Al-Jawaab al-Kaafee of Ibn al-Qayyim, pg. 184-185]
Hence, there is nothing more harmful to a person’s eemaan and religion than his soul that constantly commands evil, whose standing and description is such. It is a primary reason and effective and active constituent that weakens eemaan, unsettles it and impairs it.
As such, it becomes imperative for the one who seeks to safeguard his eemaan from diminution and weakness to tend to the matter of calling his soul to account, admonishing it and to increase in censuring it, so that he can deliver himself from its adverse and devastating consequences and ends.
Calling one’s self to account is of two types: a type (that occurs) before the action and a type (that occurs) after the action.
As for the first type, it is to take a stance when one first has an intention and desire, and not to embark upon the action until it becomes clear to him that performing that action outweighs leaving it.
As for the second type, which is to take account of one’s soul after the action, this is of three sorts:
The first is to call it to account over any obedience in which it has fallen short with regard to the right of Allaah, whereby it has not performed it in the manner required.
The second is to call his soul to account over every action, which had he not undertaken would actually have better than having embarked upon it.
The third is that he calls his soul to account for every permissible and habitual action; why did he embark upon it? Was his intention behind the action for Allaah and the home of the Hereafter; so that he be profitable? Or did he desire the world and its immediate and instant (pleasures)? If so he would lose out on that profit and that achievement will pass him by.
The greatest harm upon the servant is negligence, to forgo calling oneself to take account, to let oneself go, to take things lightly and accommodate them. This will eventually lead him to destruction and this is the state of the people of delusion: one of them shuts their eyes to consequences, lets matters take their course and depends upon attaining pardon (from Allaah). Thus, he neglects calling himself to account and pondering over the outcomes. When he does behave in this manner, committing sins become an effortless matter for him, he feels at ease with it and it becomes difficult for him to break away from his habitual sinning.
The sum and substance of this is for the person to first call himself to account over the obligatory duties. If he finds deficiency in this regard, he amends this either by repayment or rectification. He then calls himself to account over prohibited matters. If he knows that he has perpetrated something prohibited, he amends this through repentance, seeking forgiveness and enacting good deeds that wipe such bad deeds away. He then calls himself to account over heedlessness. If it is the case that he has been careless of that which he was created for, he amends this through remembrance and turning to Allaah. He then calls himself to account over what he has spoken, or where his feet have taken him, or what his hands have struck out at or what his ears have listened out to: What did you intend from this? Who did you do it for?
He must know that for every movement and utterance he makes, two registers have to be set up: a register titled ‘Who did you do it for?’ and (the second register titled) ‘In what manner did you do it?’
The first (register) is a question on sincerity and the second is a question on conformity (to the Sharee’ah).
If the servant is responsible and accountable for everything: his hearing, his sight and his heart, it is therefore very becoming of him to call himself to account before the account is examined (ultimately, by Allaah). The obligation of calling oneself to account is established by His saying:
“O you who believe! Fear Allaah and keep your duty to Him. And let every person look to what he has sent forward for tomorrow …” [Soorah al-Hashr (59): 18]
The purport is that the rectification of the heart is achieved through calling one’s self to account and its corruption is through negligence of one’s soul and not restraining it. [Refer to Ighaathah al-Lahfaan of Ibn al-Qayyim, 1/97-100] Allaah is the One Who is sought for help and there is no power or might except by Allaah.
Ibn al-Qayyim, may Allaah have mercy upon him, said: “The soul invites to destructive matters, assists enemies, yearns every vulgarity and follows every evil. It, by its nature, adopts a course of violation.
The blessing that is unequalled, is to come away from the soul and to be free of its yoke, for it is the greatest partition between the servant and Allaah. The most knowledgeable people of the soul have the greatest contempt and abhorrence to it” [Ighaathah al-Lahfaan, 1/103]
We ask Allaah that he give us refuge from the evils of our souls and from the wickedness of our actions. Indeed, He is the most Munificent, the Generous.