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Devastation of Self-satisfaction and its Cure


Definition of Self-Satisfaction!

At times a person is able to perform a good deed but is unable to defend himself from satanic attack, considering the deed his personal achievement. He does not realize that he has performed the (deed) simply because Allah (azawajal) has enabled him to do so. It is necessary for everyone to learn the definition of self-satisfaction, an attack of Satan, and try to refrain from its detriment.
The definition of self-satisfaction is as follows: To associate one’s possession or ability (such as knowledge or deed or wealth) with one’s personal achievement, feeling no fear of it being lost. That is, the self-satisfied person forgets to associate the favour with the real Bestower (i.e. Allah).

(In other words, he considers the favour such as health, beauty, wealth, intellegence, good voice, high status, etc, to be his personal achievements and forgets that all these things are actually given by Allah (Ihya-ul-Ulum, vol 3, pp, 454)

Important explanation of self-satisfaction

Sayyiduna Imam Abu Hamid Muhammad Bin Muhammad Bin Muhammad Ghazali (rehmatullah aleh) (the famous Sufi,Theologian, scholar, Saint Imam Ghazali) has stated, “There are two catagories of people who consider their knowledge, good deeds and wealth to be their personal achievements: Under the first category is the person who fears that his favour may be changed or lost. Such a person is not a self-satisfied one. Under the second catagory is the person who does not fear the loss of his favour but is happy and satisfied with the fact that it is ALLAH who has granted him the favour, and he has not achieved it merely through his personal efforts. Such a person is not also a self-satisfied one.

In addition to the foregoing two categories, there is another cateogry that leads to self-satisfaction. This category icludes the person who does not fear the loss of his favour or any reduction in it but rather he is delighted to have attained it, considering it a great honour for him. The reason why this self-satisfied person gets delighted is that he considers the favour to be his personal achievement, not a divine bestowment”. (Ihya-ul-ulum, vol 3, P, 454)

Self Satisfaction with religious services:

At times, a person apparently performs good deeds, but fails to gain any benefit from them. Unable to resist the attack of Satan, such a person brags about his deeds saying such sentences as ‘I perform many good deeds; I do a lot of religious work; I have done this and that, etc, ‘ This person forgets that Allah has enabled him to perform these deeds. Such braggarts should feel fear as Allah (azawajal) has said in verse 104 of Surah Al -Kahf, Part 16:


Commenting on the foregoing verse, a renowned exegetist of Hadis and Quran , Mufti Ahmad Yar Khan Naimi (dba) has stated: ‘This shows that the person who performs good deeds bearing hardships but is not benefitted by his deeds is more unfortunate than even a sinner. He remains under the impression that the is a righteous person. We take refuge of Allah from this state”. (Nur-ul-Irfan. Page 485)

Blowing one’s own trumpet
Bragging about one’s deeds and blowing one’s own trumpet is a bad habit, Allah (swt) has said in 32nd verse of Surah An-Najm in Part 27

Commenting on the forgiving verse, a renowned exegetist of Hadis and Quran Mufti Ahmad Yar Khan Naeemi(rta) has stated: “This verse was revealed about the people who were proud of their good deeds and would brag about their Salahs, fasts and other acts of worship. The mere fact that Allah (swt) knows everything is sufficient. Why should a person boast about his piety and cleanliness! The pleasent thing is when the servant says ‘ I am a sinner’ but Allah (Swt) says ‘he is pious’. Sayyiduna Imam Abu Hamid Al Ghazali (rta) has stated, ‘Sayiduna ibn Jurayj (rd) has said,’After perfroming a good deed, one should not say, ‘I have perfromed (this) deed.’ (ihya-ul-ulum Vol 3, P 452)

5 Sayings of Saints condemning self-satisfaction
1. Sayyidatuna “Aishah Siddiqah” (rda) was once asked, ‘When does a person become sinner?’ She replied, ‘A person becomes sinner when he considers himself to be righeous.’
(Ihya-ul-Ulum Vol 3 P 452)

2. A Famous Tabi’i (Successor of the Companions) Saint, Sayiduna Zayd Bin Aslam (rta) has stated, ‘Do not say that you are a righteous person because it is self-satisfaction.’ (Ihya-ul-Ulum, Vol 3, P 452)

3. Sayiduna Mutarrif (rta) has said, ‘For me to sleep the whole night and then to regret, in the morning, have missed the worship of the night is better than to perform worship the whole night and then indulge in self-satisfaction in the morning, i.e, to consider myself to be a pious person.’ (same ref)

4. Sayiduna BishrBin Mansur (rta) was a great worshipper. He was so pious that if a person saw him, the person whould be inspired to remember Allah (Swt) and the afterlife. One day, Sayiduna Bishar Bin Mansur (rta) offered Salah. A person was standing behind him and observing him. After Sayyiduna Bishar performed Salam, finishing the Salah, he noticed the person. (Overcome with divine fear, he humbly said trying to refrain from self-satisfaction) ‘You should not be amazed to see me offer Salah because Satan had also worshipped Allah (swt) with the angels for a long period of time. But how he was doomed is evident and obvious to everyone.’ (same ref; page 453)

5. Hujjat-ul-Islam, Imam Ghazali (rta) stated, ‘The ability to perform good deeds is one of the favors and bestowments of Allah (swt) but it is self-satisfaction that leads an unwise person to praising himself and boasting about his piety. When he brags about his own opinions, deeds and wisdom, he remains deprived of gaining benefits, consulting others and asking them for help. Thus he becomes a self-opinionated and a self-confident person. (That is, he considers himself to be a wise person and avoids consulting others.)’ (Page 822)

Iman Ghazali (Rta) has further stated, “The worshipers, the scholars, the beautiful ones and the wealthy have all no right to brag about their worships, knowledge, beauty and wealth respectively because all these things are the bounties of Allah (swt) (page 836)

In other words, intelligence, medical expertise, pleasant voice, oratorical skills, etc, have all been given by Allah (swt). Nothing should be credited to one’s own personal achievement. Whatever a person has and how much he has in actually a bestowment by Allah (swt).

Cure for Self-Satisfaction:
Imam Ghazali (rta) teaches, stated, ‘(Despite being extremely pious, ascetic, truthful and sincere) the blessed companions (ra-a) when overcome by divine fear would express the wish that if only they had been dust, splinters and birds (so that they would’nt have the fear of bad end ie to die as a Kafir) and punishment in the grave and in the afterlife). If this was the fear of the blessed companions (rd-a), then how can a wise person brag about or be proud of his deeds, and how can he be fearless as regards his Nafs! It is, therefore, a cure for self-satisfaction to keep the humility and divine fear of the blessed companions in mind. This eradicates the root causes of self-satisfaction. When the person (who keeps the divine fear of the blessed companions in his mind) is overwhelmed by this feeling (i.e, the way the blessed Companions  would have fear of Allah (swt)), then the fear of the loss of his favour makes him refrain from bragging (and self-importance).

Moreover, when he observes that the unbelievers and the transgressors were deprived of faith and obedience respectively without them making any mistake, he fears for himself realizing the fact that Allah (swt) is Samad (i.e. Carefree) who can deprive anyone of anything even if the deprived person had not committed any offence, and can bestow anything to anyone even without any means. All this depends upon the will of Allah (swt).

The Almighty who is Samad can even take back the favour He has given to a person. Allah (swt) forbid, many Muslims becmae Murtad (i.e. those who have corrupt beliefs) and many pious and obedient people became transgressors, ending up with a bad end. These thoughts put an end to self-satisfaction.’ (P. 458).