The following are excerpts from the notes taken during Ustaz Amin Yusoff’s pre-Ramadan class entitled “7 Steps to Illuminating Your Soul: Discipline Yourself”. The class revolved around the topic of how fasting helps to protect oneself from the 7 deadly sins.
We only become envious because of the things that we can see, but in reality, there are so many things that we don’t see about the people that we envy. Allah created each one of us with strengths and weaknesses, but when we envy other people, we only see their strengths without their weaknesses.
The only time when you can envy someone is for their amal. We can envy someone who is always the first to reach the masjid for Jumaah prayers. We can envy someone who is able to go for umrah every year. When we see people who are wealthy, what we should envy is not their wealth, but the One who gave them that wealth.
I make it a point to go to arab-speaking countries. Since graduating al Azhar, I’ve visited it 3 times. Every time I attend the Friday prayers there, I see the people who are sitting in the first row, wearing the huge turbans. I believe they are more knowledgeable than me, and I envy them for that. When I listen the khutbah, the content of the khutbah always inspires me. There was once, the khatib talked about the different kinds of light: the light of religion, the light of the heart, and so on. I don’t think I can talk about it. But I envy him for being able to talk about these things, and for having that knowledge. It makes me aspire to be like him. So you yourself should have people that you envy in this same way: envy them for their amal and their ibadah, so you have a target to aspire to, and they motivate you to push yourself to reach that stage and beyond.
The greatest way to fight against envy is contentment.
The Quran mentions pride when it comes to showing off. Pride and showing off prevents you from receiving the rewards for your good deeds. Someone used to recite the Quran every day for 11 years, but without getting the rewards for it, because he used to raise his voice when he heard footsteps outside his door. This is why one of the adab in Tarim is to recite only short surahs in jemaah prayer, although most of the people in Tarim are people who have memorized the Quran, even the taxi drivers and those who sell goods in the market.
Intelligence can only benefit when it is used in the service of mankind.
Pride always comes along with envy. You become proud because you perceive that there is something about you that other people should envy.
All of the 7 sins can be overcome if you do 3 things:
- Persist in finding a spiritual guide.
If you have a spiritual problem, you have to go to a spiritual master who can cure you.
- Become sincere in all your acts of worship.
This is how you will be guided to your spiritual master.
- Follow the commandments that have been given to you sincerely.
If you have a complex medical problem, you have to go and see a specialist. Even if it’s expensive, once you see a specialist, you will be given medicine to treat your problem. Sometimes it’s bitter, but it’s good for you. It’s the same thing when you try and find a spiritual master.