Training and Nurturing the Nafs like a Child


  وَأَمَّا مَنْ خَافَ مَقَامَ رَبِّهِۦ وَنَهَى ٱلنَّفْسَ عَنِ ٱلْهَوَىٰ ~ فَإِنَّ ٱلْجَنَّةَ هِىَ ٱلْمَأْوَىٰ

But as for he who feared the standing before his Lord and prevented the soul from evil desires, ~ Then indeed, Paradise will be [his] abode ~ Surah An- Naazi’aat 79: 40-41

A Simple Analogy of the Gradual Tarbiyah (Nurturing) of the Nafs, like that of a Growing Child

The “Nafs” is like a child.

When the child is a little baby, we give it extra care and protection. We have a special baby seat that we attach to the backseat of the car. The father, whilst driving his car, has carefully  fastened the toddler with the seatbelt, to its special baby seat. The father keeps on looking back and forth to see if the baby is fine and ok … Similarly, we have to keep a ‘safety belt’ on our Nafs and continuously keep on checking on it (like a child). The nafs is now restricted. It is also continuously monitored.

This baby then grows and soon outgrows the baby seat and doesn’t fit in it anymore. The little child now sits in the backseat of the car, but every now and then wants to jump over, or wishes to stick its head out of the window … until the father warns it to sit back quietly. Then, at times the father may straps up the child with the seatbelt of the back seats, when it begins to get out of control. The child now remains fastened to the backseat … Similarly the Nafs has to be fastened all the time, lest it goes out of control.

When the child misbehaves then you reprimand it. Similarly, the Nafs too needs some rebuking and reprimanding, from time to time.

And then, the child grows a bit older, but still gets out of hand at times, so you enable the ‘child lock’ on the car door and windows … so that the child does not jump around or open the door or window on its own. All this,  for its safety … Similarly, one has to be constantly on guard that one’s Nafs does not ‘jump out’ of place. And one has to try to overpower all its tricks. The nafs has to be in complete control.

Like the child, the Nafs too, is being nurtured all the time …

The growing child now wants to sit in the front seat, next to the father. The father allows it but commands the child to fasten its seatbelt. Similarly, the Nafs, like the child, gets continuous and constant training.

Every child is very precious to its parent … Will any parent throw his child out of the car if it misbehaves? No! Never! … We love our child and take care of it… We nurture this growing child to the best of our ability… Our gaze is always on the child … precious … We continously monitor the child.

After a while the child gets its driving licence and wants to sit in the drivers seat…..and drive the car. The father agrees but still reminds the grown up child to again put its seatbelt on before driving … and to drive carefully. … The seatbelt remains fastened… Similarly, the Nafs, over a period of time is being nurtured and gains spiritual strength and nourishment through making Zikr, Tilaawat of Quraan, Salaah, Taubah and Istighfaar, Ibaadat etc. It is protected from any Haraam nourishment … We don’t let it see Haraam … We don’t let it eat Haraam … We don’t let it drink Haraam …We are very cautious … We restrain it from all evil temptations.

The Nafs is like our child .. and requires its gradual nurturing …



Some Duas for combating the Evil Temptations of the Nafs:

اَللّٰهُمَّ اَلْهِمْنِىْ رُشْدِىْ وَاَعِذْنِىْ مِنْ شَرِّ نَفْسِىْ

Allahumma alhimni rushdi wa-a’idhni min sharri nafsi
Oh Allah, inspire me with guidance and protect me from the evil of myself

اللهم ات نفسي تقواها وزكها انت خير من زكاها انت وليها ومولاها

Allahumma Aati Nafsi Taqwaahaa Wa-Zakkihaa, Anta Khayru Man Zakkaahaa, Anta Waliyyuhaa Wa-Mawlaahaa
“O Allah grant my soul its piety and purify it, You are the best to purify it, You are its Guardian and Master” ~ Sahih Muslim 



Muhaasabah of the Nafs ~ Assessing or taking an Account of One’s Soul

Nurturing the Nafs

The Struggle Against the Nafs! ~ Moulana Naeem Motala Saheb DB