Q1. Can you response to the view that “ the hardest struggle in life is the struggle against own selfishness.” Give reasons for your answer showing that you have considered different points of view.
Amongst the most difficult of all the good deeds is said to be the fight against one’s self. This might be a surprise for the reader but the fact is very much true and thus that is maybe why Allah mentioned it to be the greater Jihad while the “holy War” jihad was termed the lesser Jihad despite it’s agony, brutality and life threat.
We don’t need a lot of speculation to test whether this is true and small examples from our practical life give us clear views of it all. As we know that life is full of temptations and things which attract the mortal soul. And as time passes these temptations increase. And also as we know the human soul is not perfect and it is liable to fall to such temptations . a simple example of this is how the first man, and the father of humanity Adam fell to the persuasion of the devil and disobeyed his lord and as a result we humans are now living in this world.
Also the Satan utilizes this fact about this human weakness and his main role in this worldly life is to misguide humanity from the right path until the end of time. Thus it becomes a difficulty for humans to do everything the right way in our present time without being influenced by the modern time evils that are more spread than ever before. Human soul is know to be (amara bil sooe) and now there is a more varied and fast pace of live with lots of bounties ( cars, houses, education, entertainment facilities, food) etc. which have not been present at earlier times. Therefore humans nowadays spend their money and their effort in following these lifely pleasures and begin to forget death and meeting their lord. It might be sort of a challenge to stand up against this and due to it that (Wahn or love of life has been manifested in the hearts of many people.)
Therefore people might argue that it is not their fault that they have been brought into this world whereas at earlier times the prophet’s companions did not face such temptations that might alter their faith. To some extent that may be true but yet allah has said that despite all this the human soul is free to do what it wants to do with no bounds to it. God has intentionally bestowed these gifts upon us to test our loyalty and belief in him. Nations before us have been given such benefits but they became proud and arrogant and thus allah has punished them so we should not let our soul be pulled away by these temptations.
Based on this We can confidently say that the struggle against one self is very difficult in our time. Because it is a struggle that we take at every moment of our life. Trying to refrain from the temptations that every person is indulged in is very difficult. Being alone in your opinion and being criticized badly by the people for your decisions is also a bitter experience. Prodigious and wasteful spending and wrong deeds (like mixing between genders, shameful dressing, drinking, lieing etc.) became symbols of a modernized world and when you try to fight them or refrain from them you are accused as backward and retarded. If you are treated bitterly by people for doing the right things then it is your duty to be patient and continue the struggle even if the majority try to break you as God says that most of the people are sinful.
People do argue that “holy war” should be the greater Jihad because of the dangers it contains, the pain and sorrow that comes with it. This is in fact true but this jihad is only a temporary state and constitutes only physical pain and agony that are not long lasting. but the other Jihad is done as long as the person is breathing and is a perpetual struggle which contains more bitterness, trouble, emotional sorrow and refraining from what you want. Thus this creates the difficulty of the greater Jihad in comparison to the lesser Jihad in which it is a temporary and only occurs during war time and ends with it’s end.
when a person prefers for example to live simply and give of his money to charity instead of buying the fancy things he desires, and devote his time to prayers and doing good instead of enjoying his life , it is all a sort of self-struggle. These are all sorts of difficulties that are perpetual in the life of the Muslim and never stop as long as he is living. Jihad al Nafs which occurs throughout the life of the person, is a struggle to be the rightful model of a Muslim, without falling to the whispers of satan and your soul’s desire.