Too Much Mental Exertion In One’s Deeds is Not Good

Too Much Mental Exertion In One’s Deeds is Not Good

By Hakeem-ul-Ummah Mujaddid-ul-Millah Hazrat Mawlana Ashraf Ali Thanwi (RA)

Submitted by Shaykh Tameem Ahmadi (DB)

A spiritual aspirant writes: 

Many a time, the heart feels totally empty. I make a lot of effort and exert myself (to change this empty feeling) but I do not feel like I have attained anything (spiritually) in the heart. I feel nothing.


Hazrat Thanwi (RA) answers:

Over-exerting yourself in this way is incorrect. Moderate exertion is sufficient. This is because the result of over-exertion is not good.


1.) You become more anxious and worried.


2.) Continual over-exertion, (which causes anxiety and worry) eventually leads to hopelessness and depression. This is because kayfiyyaat (internal spiritual conditions), are not within your control, and pursuing that which is uncontrollable eventually leads to complete breakdown.


This breakdown occurs if you do not happen to attain what you are pursuing, shaytaan slyly insinuates into your heart thoughts like: “…After all this effort you are still getting no where! So what’s the use of such exertion? It is all pointless. Just give up!”


As for this feeling of ‘spiritual emptiness’ or ‘feeling nothing’ in the heart, in spite of being involved in various spiritual exercises prescribed by your Shaykh, this state of spiritual depression is called: qabdh (spiritual restriction).


Know that the state of qabdh is loftier that the state of bast (spiritual elation) in which one feels internal joy, delight and cheerfulness in worship. This is because one becomes more acquainted with the true reality of the lowly self in the state of qabdh. And if the state of bast were to remain continuously, then one would start to become afflicted with many negative qualities such as pride, conceit, etc. Hence, the state of qabdh allows one to remain spiritually balanced and moderate.  This does not mean that bast is imbalanced or immoderate.


In relation to this, Allah Ta`ala mentions regarding our physical sustenance that if Allah were to expand and continue to increase the sustenance of the creation then the creation would most definitely cause corruption and rebel in the land as a result of this… (Surah Ash-Shura: 27)


This is the same with spiritual sustenance. If these spiritual states of ecstasy and enjoyments in worship were to remain continuous, then as a result, much internal harm would develop such as conceit, arrogance, haughtiness, etc.  From this we understand that there are many benefits in qabdh.


That heart which may seem to be empty of spirituality is not really so, rather it is actually filled with spirituality but this is such a thing that cannot apparently be perceived. At times, this lack of perception is better for the person.


An example of noticing/perceiving one’s own spirituality, which can lead to  pride and haughtiness, is as follows:


The musk-bag at times is filled with water, and at times it is blown up with air. When it is blown up with air, it is used as a floating device to cross the river. If you want to cross the river, it is necessary that the bag should be filed with air. But at that time (while you are trying to stay afloat to cross the river) if you pierce the musk-bag with a needle, you will drown. The job of the experienced and competent spiritual guide and mentor is to know when it is necessary to keep the bag filled with air and when to keep it filled with water.


In other words, when the bag is filled with air, it seems like there is nothing inside. But that nothingness of air is essential for a person to float across the river to their destination. Similarly, in order to reach one’s destination, a spiritual aspirant must not have their heart filled with any thoughts of superiority over others or realizing their own spiritual achievements. This is because these thoughts are detrimental for the spiritual aspirant in their initial stages.


Nevertheless, whether one is in a state of qabdh or bast one should always be grateful to one’s Murabbi. A spiritual aspirant should not consider them self “empty,” rather one should ever remain punctual in the performance of righteous deeds and constant remembrance of Allah, as their Murabbi has prescribed and keep the Murabbi informed of one’s condition. Inshallah, success will be certain for the one who remains punctual on their deeds because one will never be deprived on this path as long as one is steadfast.


(Basa’ir e Hakim-ul-Ummat; pg. 429)


Explore posts in the same categories: Misc

One Comment on “Too Much Mental Exertion In One’s Deeds is Not Good”

  1. Talib Says:

    Mashallah,very Hopefull post for salik

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: