Infamies of the Soul and Their Treatment

The following was extracted from my translation of ʿAbd al-Raḥmān al-Sulamī’s ʿUyūb al-nafs wa adwiyātuhā (Infamies of the Soul and Their Treatment). The entries are listed in the following format:


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Expecting salvation despite violations
Travel the path of guidance, eat wholesome food, and seek complete protection from God
Comfort by the form of repentance
Adhere to grieving & crying so the nafs does not apply itself to feeling comforted
Fearing harm where none lies
Return to sound faith: “If God afflicts you with a misfortune none can remove it but He…” Q10:107
Unselfconsciously slacking off in duties
Continually seek refuge in God & make remembrance of Him; recite & seek its meanings; venerate the sanctity of Muslims
Not feeling delight in ones duties
Demand that the nafs be sincere, adhere to the sunnas in actions, and rectify the initial stages of affairs
Expecting good while irritating others
Know that God—even if He had forgiven all his sins—has seen him commit mistakes and violations
Expecting success without any work
Stay up late at night in worship; induce hunger & thirst; do things contrary to the nafs’ nature & deny it its lusts
Truth and worship are contrary to its nature
Extract the nafs from this world and return it to its Lord
Preferring vile notions
Resist evil notions from the very beginning lest they become ingrained
Preoccupation with the infamies of others
See the infamy of the nafs, know it, and be aware of its machinations
Heedlessness and negligence
Have a lonely heart containing pure sound belief in monotheism (tawḥīd)
See the grace of God Most High that is upon one at all times and circumstance
Preoccupation with adorning the outward
Be occupied with protecting one’s innermost secret
Seeking compensation for its actions
See shortcomings deeds and a lack of sincerity
Lacking delight in obedience
Eat the lawful, continuously make remembrance of God, serve the righteous, beseech God to rectify one’s heart
Induce hunger
Seeking leadership
Adhere to modesty and brokenheartedness, have compassion toward people and sincerely advise them
Speaking often
Realize that what one says is recorded against him and that he is held responsible for it
Extravagant praise and censure
Discipline the nafs on candor & truthfulness until it does not transgress in praise when pleased nor censure when angry
Discontentment with God’s guidance
Know that one knows the outward appearance of things while God knows the outward appearance & the inner reality
Wishing for the impossible
Know that one does not discern the consequence of his wishes
Being absorbed with worldly affairs
Be occupied with maintaining remembrance of God at all times
Showing off obedience
Know that he has no benefit or harm for others; struggle in demanding sincerity from his nafs in performing its deeds
Know that through avarice one forgets the sweetness of worship and is enslaved to others after God had set him free
Avarice for obtaining
Know that this world is not a permanent abode and that the abode of the after life is permanent
Approving only its own work
Impeach the nafs since it is predisposed to evil; assume the best concerning people because final outcomes are unknown
Pity towards the nafs
Turn away from the nafs; be occupied with it only a little
Seeking revenge
Feel enmity towards the nafs and despise it; feel anger at committing prohibitions
Concern that one is honored
Ascertain that people honor one only to the extent that God has put in their hearts & the inward is where God watches
Concern for sustenance
Know that God, the One who created him, has guaranteed sufficient sustenance (Q30:40)
Oft sinning
Seek forgiveness & repent w/every breath; fasting; pray at night; sit w/the righteous; & attend assemblies of dhikr
Grabbing attention while neglecting the self
Act according to what one preaches; preach via deeds—not words
Joy, happiness, and demanding comfort
Wake up to what lies ahead; know one’s shortcomings in what He ordered and his pursuit of what is forbidden
Following caprice
Read Q79:40, Q12:35
Inclining towards fellowship
Know that companions depart and that fellowship has separations
Vigor in obeying and approving of it
Know that the nafs‘s deeds are never free from defects
Following lusts
Deny the nafs its desires, induce it to perform what it dislikes, and contravene it in its demands
Feeling secure from Satan
Rectify slave-hood according to its conditions, and beseech God to bestow this
Righteousness without sincerity
Abandon visible humility except to the degree of inward humiliation in one’s heart and innermost being
Blindness of God’s respite
Know that respite is not from disregard: God will ask him of it & will recompense him for it unless He grants him mercy
Spreading infamies of others
Make himself an exemplar; love for people what one loves for himself
Lack of vigilance
Demand an increase in the quality—& then the quantity—of actions and statements; follow the Forebears
Denigration and arrogance
Return to modesty; believe in the sanctity of Muslims
Laziness and disregard for the law
Know that he is ordered directly by God Most High
Donning the garb of the righteous
Abandon external adornment until having rectified the interior
Squandering time
Know that time is dearest, so occupy it with remembrance of God, obey Him, & demand sincerity from the nafs
Induce the nafs to be content with the decree of God
Induce the nafs to tell the truth, and forsake being occupied with people’s contentment and hatred
Stinginess and miserliness
Know that this world is paltry and that it will cease to exist
Its disposition for fancies
Deem death near; be wary of God in all circumstances
Being deluded by false praise
Don’t be deceived by praise that disagrees with what God Most High knows about him and what one knows about himself
Know that avarice will not bring about an increase in the sustenance God has destined for him
Know that the envier is an enemy of the blessing of God
Persisting in a sin while fancying mercy
Know that God has made His forgiveness obligatory for those who do not persist in a sin
Unwillingly performing acts of obedience
Induce hunger & thirst, travel, and induce the nafs to do what it dislikes
Avarice and being tightfisted
Know that death is certain & near; save and withhold only to the extent that one is certain to live
Accompanying the rebellious
Return to accompanying those who conform to God and those advancing towards God
Know that God is not heedless, and that one is accountable for notions and aspirations
Idleness by feigning reliance on God
Adhere to pursuing one’s means of livelihood
Departing knowledge for feigned achievements
Adhere to knowledge
Pride in what it gives
Know that one merely delivers to others sustenance God had appointed for them
Showing need while having enough
Feign sufficiency even though one has too little
Deeming itself superior
Know one’s nafs, assume the best concerning his intimates
Toiling for its happiness
Know that God hates the exultant [overly joyful]. He Most High says, “Exult not; God loves not the exultant,” Q28:76.
Ignorance of its Creator’s blessing
Perceive the blessings of God during all circumstances
Grasping at dispensations
Avoid obscurities and know that they lead to doing the unlawful
Disregarding lapses
Make amends by seeking pardon and quickly repenting so that the nafs does not get accustomed to mistakes
Being deceived by miracles
Know that most miracles are deceptions and lures. (See Q7:182.)
Sitting with the rich
Sit with the poor, know that nothing the rich possess will reach one except the portion God has decreed for him

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