Revelation of Mystery (Kashf al Mahjub)

The True Nature of hawa ھویٰ (Passion)

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Chapter XIV (m)

The True Nature of hawa ھویٰ (Passion)


You must know that according to the opinion of some, hawa ﻯﻭﻫ (passion) is a quality of the attributes of the nafs (lower soul), and to the opinion of others, hawa (passion) is that natural volition whereby the lower soul is controlled and directed, just as the spirit is controlled by the intelligence. Every spirit which is devoid of the ability of intelligence is imperfect. Similarly nafs (lower soul) which is devoid of the ability of passion is also imperfect. Therefore the imperfection of the spirit is the loss of proximity and imperfection of the nafs (lower soul) is entire proximity.

Everyone is lured in contrary ways by intelligence and passion. One who accepts the call of intelligence, he is celebrated with Tawhid (Unification) and Faith and the one who is attracted by the call of passion, falls into error and infidelity. Therefore passion is a veil for the lovers of Allah and a place of abhorrence for the seekers of the Truth and man is commanded to resist it. He has been restrained to undertake it because whosoever followed the passion got destroyed and who opposed it, he survived. Allah says:

وَأَمَّا مَنْ خَافَ مَقَامَ رَبِّهِ وَنَهَى النَّفْسَ عَنِ الْهَوَى

“And for such as had entertained the fear of standing before their Lord’s (tribunal) and had restrained (their) souls from lower Desires,” (Q 79:40).

And the Prophet (peace be upon him) said:

اخوف ما اخاف علي امتي اتباع الهوي وطول الامل

“I fear of my Ummah the most is of they being led by their desires and keeping prolonged hopes.”

Ibn Abbas (may blessings of Allah be on him) while explaining the verse “أَفَرَأَيْتَ مَنِ اتَّخَذَ إِلَهَهُ هَوَاهُ then seest thou such a one as takes as his god his own vain desire?“ (Q 45:23) said:

“Here إِلَهَهُ هَوَاهُ is referred to “اِ له god” i.e.  woe to him who made desires his god and is in its devotion day and night.”       

The passion is of two kinds, i.e. desire of pleasure and lust, and desire of worldly honor and authority.

He who follows pleasure and lust, is found in taverns and mankind remains safe from his mischief, but he who desires honor and authority is a constant threat for mankind may he dwell in mosques, churches or in populated areas. He not only himself has lost the right path but also leads others into error. We seek Allah’s protection from being led by the desires. One who’s every act depends on passion and finds satisfaction in following it, is far from Allah although he be with you in a mosque. But one who is free of desires and refuses to be led by them is near to Allah although he be in church.

Ibrahim Khawwas related that he heard about a monk that he for the sake of Priesthood was in the monastery for the last seventy years. It was strange for me as monastic vow term was forty years and I was forced to think that under what compulsions and state the monk had exceeded the vow. I went to see him. When I reached there and approached him, he opened a window and said to me:

“O Ibrahim, I know why you have come. I have not stayed here for seventy years because of monastic vows, neither is I a monk but I have a dog foul with passion, and I am watching it and preventing it from doing harm to others.”

When I heard him saying that I exclaimed, O Lord, Thou are able to bestow righteousness on a man even though he be involved in sheer error. Then the monk addressed to me:

“O Ibrahim, for how long will you seek men? Go and seek yourself, and when you have found yourself keep watch over yourself, for passion clothes itself everyday in three hundred and sixty diverse garments of godhead and leads men astray.”

In short, the Satan cannot have access in man’s heart until he is not led by one’s desires. When the passion originates as desires the Satan immediately takes over, adorns them and cast the man’s heart with its natural affects. These are the temptations of Satan. That means, it takes its origins from man’s own passion and that who commences oppression or evil is the real oppressor. When Iblis (Satan) pledged with Allah to seduce all mankind, saying

فَبِعِزَّتِكَ لَأُغْوِيَنَّهُمْ أَجْمَعِينَ

by Thy Power, I will put them all in the wrong,” (Q 38:82),

Allah in reply referring to this sense said,

إِنَّ عِبَادِي لَيْسَ لَكَ عَلَيْهِمْ سُلْطَانٌ

for over My servants no authority shalt thou have,” (Q 15:42).

Therefore, in reality, Satan is nothing else but man’s own nafs (lower soul) and its passions. Prophet (peace be upon him) said:

مامن احد الا وقد غلبه شيطانه الا عمرفانه غلب شيطانه

“There is no one whom his Satan (his passion) has not subdued except Umar, for he has subdued his Satan (his passion).”

Passion is mingled as an ingredient in the clay of Adam and it is a source of tranquility for him. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said,

الهوي و الشهواة معجونة بطينته ادم

“passions and lust is mingled in the clay of Adam.”

The renunciation of passion makes a man independent and its adoption makes him captive. Therefore, Zulaikha a rich lady, by subduing before her passions became captive, whereas Yusaf (may blessings of Allah be on him) who was a captive by renouncing the passions attained liberty.

Junaid was asked: “ما الوصل!  What is union (with Allah)?”

He replied: “ترك ارتكاب الهوي to renounce passion,”

The one who wants that he is honored by the proximity of the Truth, should oppose the sensual desires because no devotion is more superior than opposing the self sensual desires which is harder to digging a mountain with nails.

Dhu al-Nun related that he saw a man flying through the air, and on asking that how had he attained that degree, he answered, “I treaded over my passion and started flying in the air.”

Muhammad b. Fadl al-Balkhi said: 

“I wonder at one who goes with his passion into Allah’s house and visits Him. Why does not he step on his passion that he may find His proximity and have His vision?”

The most manifest quality of the nafs is lust. It is the name of that thing which is dispersed in all parts of the human body, and is served by all the senses. Man is entrusted to guard and is answerable for all their acts.  The lust of:

-          the eye is sight,

-          of ear is listening,

-          of nose is smell,

-          of tongue is speech,

-          of palate is taste,

-          of body is touch, and

-          of the mind is thought.

Therefore, it is incumbent on the seeker of the Truth to be a ruler and guardian of his ownself and spend his time in guarding them, so that causes of passions which develop in the senses get eliminated at their own, and to pray Allah that He inculcates in him such quality which guards his inward nature from incursion of passions and evil thoughts. One who is entrapped in the whirlpool of lust is veiled from all spiritual realities and if he tries to repel it by his own exertions, his task would be long and painful. One must safeguard against lust, so that he might attain proximity of the Truth.

It is related about Abu Ali Siyah that once when he was at a bath place and busy in shaving hair from his lower private parts, in accordance with Sunnah, he passed through a thought that he might amputate his penis which was the source of all lusts and afflictions. A voice in his heart whispered:

“O Abu Ali, you interfere in Our kingdom? No limb has superiority over other. If you do this, I swear by My Glory that I will put hundredfold lust and passion in your every hair.”

Although man has no power over his basic structural constitution but he can get an attribute changed by Divine aid and by resigning himself to Allah’s will and by his own efforts and strength. When man surrenders to His command, he is taken care of by Allah, and he gets nearer to the chastity of the Truth by protection of Allah and annihilation of the evil, than by self-mortification because it is easy to drive away flies with broom than with a stick. Hence, Divine protection is the remedy of all the evils of the nafs and cure of all the diseases. The man has no partnership in any of His attributes except those in which He Himself permitted and similarly interference in His kingdom is also not permissible. Unless Divine protection is predestined to a man, he cannot save himself from anything as his efforts are only rewarded by the blessing of Allah. Unless aid of Allah is not with him, his efforts are of no use. The object of all acts of efforts is, either to avert the predestination of Allah or to acquire something in spite of predestination; and both these objects are not permissible.

Once, Shibli fell sick. The physician advised him to observe abstinence. In reply Shibli said, “From what shall I abstain? From that which Allah bestows upon me, or from that which He does not bestow? It is impossible to abstain from the former, and the latter is not in my hands, as “لان المشاهد د يجاهد man of contemplation does not go through the rigger of mortification.”

I will discuss this question carefully at another occasion.


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Zahid Javed Rana, Abid Javed Rana, Lahore, Pakistan

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