Jihad al-Nafs

February 16, 2006

The master of traditions (ahadith), Abu Ja’far Muhammad b. Ya’qub b. Ishaq al-Kulaini al-Razi, may Allah shed infinite Mercy upon him, related in al-Kafi from Imam Ja’far ibn Muhammad al-Sadiq (Allah’s peace be upon him), from his immaculate forefathers, that the Holy Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) dispatched his soldiers to battle to fight the enemy, and upon their triumphant return, said:

“Greetings on those who have successfully carried out the “Minor Struggle” (jihad al-asghar), but have yet to engage themselves in the “Greater Struggle” (jihad al-akbar). He was asked, “O Messenger of Allah, what is the “Greater Struggle?” To which he replied, “Struggle with the self (jihad al-nafs).

Imam Ja’far al-Sadiq (peace be upon him) said to a man:

“Indeed you have been made the doctor to yourself, the ailment has been made manifest to you; you know the marvel of health and have been shown the cure, and yet look at how you treat your soul!”

The Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) said, “The truly powerful person is the one who has conquered himself.”

Imam Ja’far al-Sadiq (peace be upon him) said,” He who does not have a preaching heart, a reproaching self and a guiding friend will be easily overcome by his enemy.”

Imam Ja’far al-Sadiq (peace be upon him) narrated on the authority of the Imams before him, that the Holy Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him and his family peace), in his advice to Imam ‘Ali (peace be upon him) said, “O Ali, the best thing about self-struggle (jihad al-nafs) is when a person wakes up with no desire to wrong anyone.”

The above narrations have been authenticated and related by al-Shaykh Muhammad ibn al-Hasan al-Hurr al-‘Amili (d. 1104 A.H.), [may Allah make his grave fragrant] from his great canonical Hadith collection, Wasa’il al-Shi’ah, in the volume entitled Jihad al-Nafs, graciously translated by Nazmina A. Virjee (ISBN 1-904063-14-4).


  1. Mash Allah, Ahlul Bayt left us so many beautiful treasures!

  2. Mash Allah, Ahlul Bayt and our Imams (a.s.) left us so many beautiful treasures!

  3. I see the truth in what you say. We also have a saying like it in my religion – you must die to ‘self’.

  4. We have a saying even more similar to yours which reads, “Die before you die.” Also, Imam Ali said, “The people are asleep. When they die, they will awaken.”

    So, the mystics of our religion have tried to awaken before dying. And “awakening” in this case means to shed one’s existence and become “one” with the Reality; like the way the moth is attracted to the flame and eventually casts itself into the light.

    I think you’ll find that the mystical aspects of all religions are intertwined. In fact, they emanate from the same source.

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