Man and his Lower-soul
(pages 196-210)
The object of mortification is to correct the vices of lower-soul, not
to attain real proximity; mortification is the most referred to man
while contemplation is the most referred to God. Sahl has quoted
“And those who strive in Our (cause), We will certainly
guide them to our Paths: For verily Allah is with those who do
Translated by Reynold
A. Nicholson
Sahl b. Abdallah of Tustar and his followers had emphasized
upon endeavour, self-mortification and ascetic training.

Dhu’l-Nun the Egyptian says:
“Vision of the lower soul and its
promptings is the worst of veils”
, because obedience to it is the
disobedience to Allah.  Abu Yazid Bastami says,
“the lower soul
is an attribute which never rests safe lest in falsehood, i.e. it
never seeks the ‘Truth’.
Abu Sulyman Darrani says, “The lower
soul is treacherous and hindering (in pleasing Allah), and
resistance to it is the best of actions.”
In the opinion of mystics the most perfect composition of Man includes three
elements, viz. spirit, soul and body; and that each of these has an attribute which
subsists therein, the attribute of spirit being intelligence, of soul, passion, and of
body sensation. Man is type of the whole universe. The universe in the name of the
two worlds and in man there is a vestige of both, for he is composed of phlegm,
blood, bile, and melancholy, which four humours correspond to the four elements of
this world, viz. water, earth, air, and fire. While his soul (jan) his lower soul (Nafs)
and his body correspond to paradise, Hell and the place of resurrection. (p.199)

Paradise is the effect of God’s satisfaction, and Hell is the result of His anger. The
spirit of the true believer reflects the peace of knowledge, and his lower-soul the
error which veils him from God. Spirit leads to paradise, whereas Nafs leads to hell.
A type of both exists in this world also. It is imperative not to relax resistance to
Nafs, thus reinforcing the intelligence and the spirit which are home of divine
mystery. (p. 199)
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self-mortification is resistance to the
lower soul (nafs),
and until a man knows his lower-soul his
austerities are of no use to him.”
What is Man?
Excerpts from
Allah the Almighty has ascribed the name “Man” to the sum of substances which He
has compound expound in us, excluding those things which are not to be found in
some human beings. (p.198)
“And We have created Man of the choicest
clay,” (Qur'an: 23: 12-14)
Ali Hujwary has informed us in Kasaf al Mahjub, “an explanation of the qualities of

Hazrat Muhammad (SAW) has said,

“Thy worst enemy is your lower soul, which is between
thy two sides.”
Lower soul is the worst enemy
discipline, but that its essence and substance do not perish. If it is rightly known and
under control, the seeker need not care though it continues to exist in him. The purpose
of self mortification of the lower soul is to destroy its attributes, not to annihilate its
reality. (pages: 206-207)

Shaykh Abu al Qasim al Gurgani has said: The lower-soul told me: “I am the destruction
of the heedless, for I urge them to evil and salvation of those who Love God, for if I
were not with them in my corruption they would be puffed up with pride in their purity.”
See more on self mortification and
Hazrat Muhammad (SAW) has said:

“He who knows himself already knows his Lord”,

i.e. if he knows himself as perishable he knows his God is
everlasting, or if he knows himself as humble he knows God
as Almighty, or if he knows himself as servant he knows God
as the Lord. Therefore one who does not know himself is
debarred from knowledge of all things. (p.197)
Lust – Shahwat
Lust is a thing that is dispersed in different parts of human body, and is served by the
senses. Man is to guard all his organs from it, and he shall be questioned concerning the
acts of each. The lust of the eye is sight; that of ear is hearing; that of nose is smell; that of
body is touch and that of mind is thought.  It requires years, even one’s whole life for
getting rid of these incitements; it can be quite difficult, long and painful as well. Therefore
the right way is resignation. Allah does not like interference in His Kingdom: Abu Ali Siyah
has related that one day while taking bath he had strong desire to amputate his male
member, but was strongly prohibited by God.)
Only true resignation protects
him from evil of passion.
Man has no power over what is vicious in his constitution; he can
get an attribute changed by Divine aid and by resigning himself to
God’s Will and by divesting himself of his own power and strength.
Through God’s protection he comes near to annihilating that evil
than he does through self-mortification.