The Mother of All Diseases

The Cure for the Sickness of Regarding Oneself as Great

This illness is very dangerous. It was this same sickness which caused Shaytaan to become rejected. Therefore, he uses this prescription, which he had tried on himself, on human beings with great ease, and finds it to be hundred percent beneficial in leading them as tray. This sickness causes a son to fight with his father; a student with his teacher; a mureed with his shaykh; and a slave with Allah Ta’ala. The first rejected one in the Divine Court, Shaytaan, was destroyed because of this sickness. For this reason, the saints, to save their friends and servants from this sickness, tell them to be extremely cautious. Due to this sickness, a person regards himself to be greater and more superior than others in knowledge, worship, piety, wealth, honor, intellect or any other matter, and he regards others as lowly and despicable. Such a person is despised by others in the world, even though they may praise him whilst in front of him, due to fear or greed. Such a person does not accept anyone’s advice and in fact fights with those who advise him. He does not accept the truth when someone tells him. The reality of pride has been referred to in the Hadith as, “not to accept the truth” and “to regard people as low”.

Whoever finds these two signs within himself should immediately seek a cure for this illness, or else there is a fear that all one’s good deeds may be reduced to dust. A Hadith states, “In whosoever’s heart is pride equal to a mustard seed, he will not even attain the fragrance of Paradise, never mind Paradise.” Rasulullah (Sallallahu ‘Alayhi Wa Sallam) said, “Whoever humbles and lowers himself for Allah Ta’ala, Allah Ta’ala will grant him honor and status amongst people, even though he regards himself as lowly. He who lives with pride, then Allah Ta’ala will disgrace him until he will be regarded as more despised than a dog and pig in the eyes of people, even though he regards himself as very great in his heart. Hazrat Thanwi (RA) has narrated this Hadith in his book “Khutubatul Ahkam.” If one does not despise anyone but only regards himself as good, he regards his excellences and good conditions to be his own perfection and not a gift of Allah Ta’ala, and he does not have fear of losing or changing of any bounty whether it be knowledge, piety, steadfastness, spiritual exercises, worship, beauty, wealth, honor and good character, then this is referred to as Ujub (vanity). In Shari’at, both are prohibited. One saying of Hazrat Thanwi (RA) from “Kamalaat-e-Ashrafiyyah” is mentioned here, “when a servant becomes lowly and despised in his own eyesight, then he is good in the sight of Allah Ta’ala, and when he regards himself to be good, then he is evil in the sight of Allah Ta’ala.”

The Cure of Pride and Vanity

The cure for pride is to think of Allah Ta’ala’s greatness and to think of one’s final result, i.e. “I do not know how my death will be.” It is possible that Allah Ta’ala dislikes some action of ours that he throws water on all our actions. Moreover, it is possible that the person we despised had done one such action in his whole life, which Allah Ta’ala liked, whereby all his sins will be forgiven. Our saints have mentioned one incident, which will greatly assist in the cure of this sickness. Girls of a certain locality beautified one girl (who was to be married). When she looked very beautiful with her jewelry and nice clothing, her friends complimented her, “Sister, you look gorgeous. When you will go to your husband, he will really appreciate you.” This girl began crying and said, “O my friends and sisters, I am not overjoyed with your compliments and praises. When my husband sees me, he likes me and compliments me, then I will be absolutely overjoyed.” On hearing this incident, some saints sobbed and fell down unconscious thinking that people praise us in the world, but we have no convincing knowledge of what decision Allah Ta’ala will pass over us on the Day of Judgment when He sees us. Thus, to regard oneself as good and a buzurg in this world is foolishness. We should take lesson from this girl’s intelligence. Hazrat (RA) used to say, “When our death occurs on Imaan, then definitely we can celebrate all the actions we had done in our life. To celebrate before that and to regard yourself as great due to people’s praise is foolishness!”

The cure for Ujub (vanity) is that one should regard every excellence and bounty to be a gift from Allah Ta’ala. Furthermore, one should continuously fear that it can be snatched away due to some evil action. One should always fear Allah Ta’ala’s independence and quality of being Self-sufficient.

The saints have stated,  “continue doing good deeds and at the same time continue to fear (whether they are accepted or not).”

This lesson is taught in the Hadith when Hazrat Aisha (Radhiallaho Anha) asked Rasulullah (Sallallahu ‘Alayhi Wa Sallam) the meaning of the verse: “their hearts are fearing.” Are they the ones who drink and steal?” Rasulullah (Sallallahu ‘Alayhi Wa Sallam) said, “No, O daughter of Siddeeq, they are the ones who fast, perform Salaah and give charity. Despite all of this, they fear Allah Ta’ala that perhaps these actions are not accepted. These are the ones who hasten to good actions.” (Mishkaat)

This Hadith teaches us that our heads should not become bloated on doing some good deed. One should fear also and make dua that our deeds be accepted. One should have fear that perhaps it is not accepted as well as the hope of acceptance. One should not have so much fear of it not being accepted that he altogether abandons doing good deeds. For this reason, Allah Ta’ala mentions at the end of this verse, “These are the ones who hasten to do good actions.” The general people only seek forgiveness from sins. The special servants of Allah Ta’ala seek forgiveness after doing good actions also. They say, “How can we ever fulfill the rights of Allah Ta’ala’s Greatness and Exaltedness?” Therefore, Rasulullah (Sallallahu ‘Alayhi Wa Sallam) used to seek forgiveness thrice after every Fardh Salaah. The wisdom underlying this according to saints is that the right of Allah Ta’ala’s greatness cannot be fulfilled by anyone. For this reason, the ‘Arifeen (those who have recognized Allah Ta’ala) seek forgiveness even after performing good actions.

Note: One person asked Rasulullah (Sallallahu ‘Alayhi Wa Sallam), “A person likes that his clothing and shoes be nice. Is this all pride?” Rasulullah (Sallallahu ‘Alayhi Wa Sallam) said, “Allah Ta’ala is beautiful and He loves beauty. Pride is not to accept the truth and to despise people.” From this Hadith, we learn that one should not have evil thoughts of those saints who wear beautiful clothing that he is proud. Being a buzurg does not mean living at the foot of a mountain, making a hut, eating dry bread and wearing torn clothing. If such a person has the world in his heart then he is a worldly person. If there is no world in his heart, then together with kingdom, Allah’s servant can also be a Wali.

“If together with wealth, honor, farming and business, one’s heart is connected to Allah Ta’ala at all times, then this person is an Allahwala and a person in solitude.”

This poem has been mentioned in Mazahir-e-Haqq, the commentary of Mishkaat Sharif. If a person sits at the foot of a hill or in the jungle and he waits for some prey to come, bringing for him some gifts or sweetmeats, then this person is a fraud and a worldly person. In short, Faqiri and being Allah Ta’ala’s friend together with having good food, beautiful clothing and a spacious house can be attained by the companionship of some buzurg only on the condition that one follows the Sunnah and is steadfast on complete piety!

An Objection Concerning Ujub and its answer

At this juncture, one objection is that if Allah Ta’ala grants someone an excellence, but he does not regard it as an excellence, is this not ingratitude? The answer is that one should regard it to be a quality of perfection, but should not regard it to be his own excellence; he should regard it to be a divine gift and be grateful. Instead of having pride, he should always fear that this special bounty is not taken away from him due to his evil actions.

Destruction of the Salikeen

Shaytaan destroys the salikeen very quickly by placing objections against one’s shaykh in the heart.

The Cure of Pride

From the teachings of Hazrat Hakeem-ul-Ummah Thanwi (RA)

1. Ponder that I have not created the excellence found within myself but rather it is a gift of Allah Ta’ala.

2. This gift was neither due to my being worthy of it nor due to my capabilities. It has been granted solely by His grace and kindness.

3. The preservation of this bounty is also not within my control. When Allah Ta’ala wants, He can snatch it away. 4. Even though the one whom I regard as low does not possess

this excellence at the present, Allah Ta’ala has the power to snatch away this excellence from me and grant it to him. Or alternatively, without snatching it from me, Allah Ta’ala can grant him a higher level of that excellence and can grant him such a lofty status that I will become dependent on him.

5. Even, if in the future, he does not attain it, it is quite possible that at the present moment he has within himself such an excellence which is concealed from me and everyone else. Allah Ta’ala is aware of his attributes, by which he is more beloved and accepted in Allah Ta’ala’s sight than me.

6. If the possibility of any excellence does not come to mind then think that it is possible that he is more accepted in the sight of Allah Ta’ala than me and in the knowledge of Allah Ta’ala my acceptance is far less or completely non-existent.

On the Day of Judgment, how many people who used to walk here will be on conveyances and how many people who were on conveyances here will have to walk. Then, what right do I have to regard him as low when I am not aware of my own result?

7. Whoever’s contempt comes into your mind, then do good to him and treat him with kindness. Make alot of dua for him. Consequently, love for him will be created, and the natural characteristic of love is that whoever one loves, he does not regard him with contempt. For this purpose, ask that person how he is and speak to him. In this manner, a relationship will take place from both sides and the essence of contempt will vanish.

The Difference between Riya, Ujub and Takabbur

Riya (show and ostentation) is always found in acts of worship and religious matters. Ujub (vanity) and Takabbur (pride) is found in religious and worldly matters. In pride, a person regards another to be low, whilst in Ujub, one regards himself to be good, even though he holds no contempt for anyone. With Takabbur, Ujub is binding, but with Ujub, Takabbur is not binding. Note: However, if there is any person for whom it is Wajib to have hatred according to the Shari’at, then do not mingle with him and show love. However, do not despise him, due to fear for you own end. It is possible that in the future before death; he will repent and go into Paradise. Hazrat Rumi (RA) has said,

“Do not look even at any disbeliever with contempt because it is possible that before dying, he can become Muslim.”
However, one should have hatred for his disbelief in one’s heart and a lack of contempt for him in the heart can be combined. As an example, if a handsome prince has placed ink on his face, thus blackening it, one will have hatred for the blackness on his face, yet will not regard the prince with contempt because it is possible that he will wash his face with soap, and again become pure and clean. Subhanallah! Hazrat Hakeem-ul-Ummah Thanwi (RA) solved such intricate problems with examples. In short, he has said, “Hate the sin, not the sinner.” Just as every person is frightened of sickness, but regards mercy and compassion to the patient as necessary.

The Difference between Takabbur and Shyness

Shyness is a natural disinclination, which comes to the Nafs when doing any action contrary to habit or when any condition overcomes one. Due to extreme precaution, the Salik at times thinks it to be pride whereas in reality it is not pride. The yard stick to test it is that when one feels ashamed of doing a lowly action, if any person greatly honors or respects him, then does one still feel hesitation or not? If he does, then this is shyness, and if not then it is pride. Be careful of the interpretations of your Nafs that he does not include pride in you shyness. For detailed cure, ask your shaykh.

Pride in the form of Humility

Hazrat Thanwi (RA) said, “At times, pride comes in the form of humility.” This means that at times humility is shown so that people regard one as great. The sign of this is that after being humble, if people do not honor and respect him, he feels bad. A true Allahwala does not regard himself to be worthy of respect.

– Reformation of Character, pages 34-41

Explore posts in the same categories: Razaail, Spiritual Diseases and Their Remedies

4 Comments on “The Mother of All Diseases”

  1. Tunde King Kazeem Says:

    This is a beautiful analysis of d major diseases of the heart & the remedies.May Allah bless Sheikh Thanwi 4 sharing his wisdom wt all mureeds of all TARIQAH.Pls how can i get a copy of d book “REFORMATION OF CHARACTER”?

  2. abdul hameed Says:

    Assalamualaikum warahmatullah.
    Shaikh nabeel sahib (db)

    I wanted to know if there is an English version of Tarbiyat al-salik? If not, do you recommend any books on islaah by Hazrath Thanvi (RA) in English. I have read shariat and tareeqat by Hazrat Maseehul ummat. Jazakallah.

    • Nabeel Khan Says:

      Bismihi Ta’ala,
      Dear Brother Abdul Hameed,
      Wa ‘Alaykum Assalaam Wa Rahmatullahi Wa Barakatuh,

      I am not aware that Tarbiyat-us-Salik has been translated into English. I would suggest reading Islahi Nisab which has been published in English. It contains various books written by Hazrat Thanwi (RA).

      May Allah enable us to please Him and earn His love.

      nabeel khan

  3. Ibrahim Says:

    Jazakumullahu khaira. This is very beneficial.

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