I am always baffled at how the response to material concerning one’s nafs differs so drastically to the response to material concerning one’s deeds.
Tell people about their dirty nafs, and they will share it with others – often with comments about your kindness and concern. Tell them about the dirty acts of their deeds, and they will call you harsh and judgmental.
Tell people how to improve their nafs and they will share it with others – often accompanied by those nice comments. Tell them how to improve the acts of their deeds and they will ignore it.
Tell an individual that hidden-x is a defect of the nafs and it needs to be removed, and the will think it is cool and caring that you are concerned about their spiritual improvement and wellbeing.
Now tell that same person that visible-y is ḥarām, and they will accuse you of trying to judge them, and that it is unlawful to do so. They will tell you that you have no business being concerned about their acts, that you have no clue what is in their heart – only Allah can see their true intentions and judge them.
So why is it that people react so positively to being told about the defects of their nafs – defects that are hidden to others and sometimes even themselves – while so negative when being told about the visible defects of their deeds?
The visible actions of the limbs are not defects of the limbs, but rather reflections of the hidden qualities of the nafs. This negative attitude toward following or being informed about the Sacred Law is itself a defect of the nafs. And when Allah or His Messenger ﷺ has clarified that a type of act is unlawful, we do have an objective metric for judging the validity of its particular instances. Furthermore, we have a duty, under certain circumstances, to command what is good and forbid what is objectionable.
That is what I had in mind why I posted
Warn folks of defects in their nafs & you’re a kind+gentle guide. Tell them of the haram in their lives & you’re a bad+judgmental faqih.
But I figured that was a too short and cryptic, so I removed it and replaced it with this.