I would like to know how I could get rid of my ego completely as I understand that Mahdi (as) is coming very soon and I want to be fully prepared. Please pray for my family and me to be with him and may Allah forgive me and bless you all.
Wa `alaykum salam,
Insha-Allah Mawlana is praying for you.
Taming the ego requires spiritual discipline: fasting, night vigil, and seclusion which requires humbleness and patience. Mawlana Shaykh Nazim has given strong advice that:
“Only fasting may close the doors of evil….”
Please view this video: Spiritual Alchemy from Bitter to Sweet
Control Your Ego
Along with the ego we have also been granted Akl-wal-Iradath — the control over it. Akl gives you the mind and willpower to control the ego. Allah is not going to give us ego (nafs) unless it can be controlled with Akl-wal-Iradath — the Mind and Will.
It is possible to control the ego through your mind and will, but for most people it is a pleasure to follow the desires of their ego. That is to enjoy and to lose his will and his mind until he falls down and splits his head into two parts. Only when sanity returns does he realize that he is wrong. Therefore, no one can follow his ego and end up being happy. That is impossible.
If you are following your ego, either today or tomorrow something will happen as a punishment. If not tomorrow, then the day after tomorrow. A person following his ego must face punishment sometimes or later. Otherwise it is impossible. Allah Almighty would not leave that person until he tastes the bitterness of punishment and until he repents and mends his way. As long as he is following his ego (nafs), he is always in danger.
It is difficult to deal with our ego as it is a very rebellious one, and it is so difficult to reach an agreement with it. You cannot make an agreement with your ego because you cannot trust it. Having said “Yes” to something, it will change and say “No” after a moment; it would say, “I did not say ‘Yes.’ If I have said ‘Yes,’ now I am saying ‘No’ whether you like or not; it does not matter. I do not care whether I said ‘Yes’ or ‘No,’ I (nafs) must do as I like.”
Therefore, there can be no agreement with the nafs because the nafs is against its Creator and against all Prophets, against all Awliya (saints), against all good people, against you, and against all mankind. Its friendship is with shaitan only. It can never be friendly with anyone but shaitan. Look at your nafs anytime, and you see that it is always very loving (muhabbah) — very loving and very friendly with shaitan.
Whenever you think of ways to control your nafs, you should find it prompting something low for you and for others. Yes, you cannot find your ego to be friendly for something good, or friendly to you, friendly to Allah Almighty, or friendly to the Prophets, because it is an enemy.
So don’t trust your ego, as the Prophet (Allah’s blessings and peace be upon him) was praying:
“Allahumma la takilni ila nafsi tharfatha-ain.”
“O my Lord, don’t leave me in the hands of my ego even for the blink of the eye.”
The Bite of a Cobra
Even within that short time, it may harm you and bite you like a snake. Can you trust a cobra? If you trust the cobra, put it inside your shirt and go to sleep. If the cobra is once dangerous, our ego is seventy times more dangerous.
We do not feel pain when bitten by the ego — just like drunken people involved in an accident. They do not feel the pain at first, but when they get out of their drunkenness, they feel the pain. We are too involved in drinking the wine of this life, of dunya. Therefore, we do not feel the bite of our ego until we are put in the grave. At that time, so many cobras would come, at least seventy; it is then one would know what a dangerous cobra his ego had been. The Angels would tell him that it is not coming from outside but from his inside. These cobras were the cobras of the ego that were being fed throughout his life. In dunya he was feeding them, and so they grew to be big ones. They are not small ones. For as long as he lived, he fed them, and now they are coming out; he can see that through his heart. It comes and bites him. It bites him from outside as well as from inside. This is the terrible ego. Therefore, every Prophet asked for protection from the ego.
To Refuse the Desires of the Ego
So do not trust or leave your ego to do as it likes. At least sometimes, you must be able to refuse the desires of your nafs. Firstly, it is difficult to take away desire from your nafs. But as the Prophet (Allah’s blessings and peace be upon him) and Allah Almighty had ordered to fight the nafs, you must try to do something against the desires of nafs. Perhaps you may try to please it many times a day, but at least sometimes, try not to give your nafs what it is asking for. You know of so many things that may be useless or harmful, but your being accustomed to it prevents you from giving it up. If you know that it is harmful, don’t repeat it. Do it once and for a second time, but when your ego demands it again, you must say “No.” Say to it once, “I am not listening to you today.” Then make it more than once, or say, “I am not listening to you more than twice.” You may be able to say this and refuse your ego, and you must try it at least once in every twenty-four hours.
You may say that “I have refused my ego’s desires just once,” and even once means you have a light, however small, and that you have some spiritual powers to enable you to use your will even once. If you are not successful at least once, you must know that you are not dead. If you refuse even once, it means that there is a faith that gives you spiritual life, and that you are alive and that you may keep it up and improve from once to twice, to thrice, and so on.
That is the way of controlling the ego, beginning once every day. At least one desire refused for eating, for drinking, for looking, for speaking, for sleeping, for giving, and for taking. There are so many things your ego may say “No,” and you must say “Yes.” If your ego says “Yes,” you must say “No,” even once. That is the method by which you could achieve and reach for perfect control of yourself. If there is no will for a person and if he is not using his will, don’t be impressed by his dress and clothes, though he is from mankind. No, it is finished.
If a person is unable to use his will power to control his nafs, then his level is still at the animal stage because animals have no will. You have been distinguished with a will. Therefore, even once, use your will against your ego, and you will be able to reach perfect control.
[Excerpts from book one, Sufi Spiritual Practices for Polishing of the Heart
by Mawlana Shaykh Nazim]
Lastly, insha-Allah, you will find more advice below:
I remember when my brother Shaykh Adnan and I were young, Grandshaykh told us to do our awrad between `Asr and Maghrib, Maghrib and `Isha’ and early morning until ishraq, from half-an-hour or one-hour before Fajr untilishraq, and he said “make a seclusion.” He told us to cover ourselves with a bed sheet. When you cover yourself you know you are in limitation; this is your dunya grave. You cannot come out before you finish your awrad. We cover as if secluding, disconnecting ourselves from normal life, within that square or rectangle. You cannot move right or left while you are doing your awrad. So the connection to your shaykh when you are doing your awrad, he will take you to the presence of Prophet (s), and from the presence of Prophet he takes you to the presence of Allah (swt).
You sit inside the blanket. If it is hot, use a sheet, because shaytan tells you, “You are hot, take it off.” In any worship he comes to tell you a way to stop it. I used to do it in a loud voice – you can do it in a loud voice or khafi, silently, but when you do it loud you are able to stop the gossips from coming in, because you are meditating on what you are reciting.
By covering yourself it is as if you are secluding yourself completely from the outside world. You feel that pleasure there, day after day. That key is one of the keys we need on our journey.
[excerpts from Who Are the Guides, and a suhbat dated 17th November, 2007
by Shaykh Muhammad Hisham Kabbani]