Greater Jihad | Inward Jihad against Innerself

Greater Jihad

Inward Jihad against Innerself

The word Jihad جہاد comes from Arabic word ‘Juhd’ جہد which means to struggle or to strive to achieve something. In Islamic terms, Jihad is to sacrifice everything one has in the path of Allah. In today’s age, Jihad has been linked with fighting or battle and it is given a lot of negative publicity. Jihad is in fact a continuous struggle whose aim is to create a just society, protect human rights and to end injustice. However, in today’s negative media campaign that is run throughout the world, the extremism and extremist activities are wrongly linked with Islam and hence Jihad is termed as a very undesirable act. When people think of Jihad, they think of bloodshed and killing which is totally wrong.

Jihad is a very noble cause. Muslims don’t go into Jihad to capture new land or to collect bounties. Instead Jihad is a peaceful, constructive, moral and spiritual struggle for the welfare and prosperity of humanity. From individual to collective level and from national to international level, jihad is to dedicate and sacrifice one’s wealth and even life to help foster a mutual love and welfare society.

In Islam, Jihad means to fight the enemies of Islam for the sake of Allah. As with everything, there is an outward as well as an inward enemy. Similarly, there are obvious and veiled enemies of Allah. The obvious enemies are the deniers of Allah and His Prophet (pbuh). They are the infidels and polytheists who create trouble on earth. To fight them, physical weapons are needed so that Muslims can defeat them and establish the order of Allah on earth. As Allah says in Quran:

إِنِ الْحُكْمُ إِلاَّ لِلّهِ

Meaning: The command rests only with Allah. (al-An‘ām : 57)

Satan uses innerself to astray man from righteous path

Allah’s inward enemy is Satan who uses innerself and the world to distract the man from the righteous path. When Allah rejected Satan and disgraced him from Divine Court, Satan promised to Allah that he will wayward His men from His path. Allah said that he will never be able to wayward His true believers. Quran says about this:

قَالَ رَبِّ بِمَآ أَغْوَيْتَنِي لَأُزَيِّنَنَّ لَهُمْ فِي الْأَرْضِ وَلَأُغْوِيَنَّهُمْ أَجْمَعِينَ

Meaning: Iblis said: ‘O Lord, because You have led me astray, I will (also) best adorn and embellish for them (the sins, revolts and violations) in the earth and will certainly lead all of them astray by all means. (al-Hijr : 39)

In reply to this Allah said:

إِنَّ عِبَادِي لَيْسَ لَكَ عَلَيْهِمْ سُلْطَانٌ إِلاَّ مَنِ اتَّبَعَكَ مِنَ الْغَاوِينَ

Meaning: Surely, you will in no way be able to influence My servants (who have attained this freedom from you) except the misguided lot who have adopted your way. (al-Hijr: 42)

Satan doesn’t let go any opportunity to distract a man from the righteous path. He uses his best tools i.e. the innerself and the world to trap the man in various attractions and illusions. Therefore, in order to safeguard oneself from these tricks of Satan, it is important to know about them. Fighting this unseen enemy is much harder and difficult than fighting an enemy you can see. That is why this inward Jihad carries much more reward than the outward Jihad.

Types of Jihad

Imam ibn al-Haaj al-Maliki writes about the types of Jihad. He says Jihad is of two types:

  • The Smaller Jihad (Outward Jihad)
  • The greater Jihad (Inward Jihad)

The smaller Jihad or the outward Jihad is what Muslims fight with the enemies of Islam to defend their land and protect their rights. This type of Jihad is also known as Jihad bil Saif i.e. the Jihad that is fought with sword.

The other type of Jihad is the greater Jihad and that the inward Jihad which one fights against Satan and innerself. Allah says in Quran:

وَالَّذِينَ جَاهَدُوا فِينَا لَنَهْدِيَنَّهُمْ سُبُلَنَا وَإِنَّ اللَّهَ لَمَعَ الْمُحْسِنِينَ

Meaning: And those who strive hard (and struggle against the lower self vehemently) for Our cause, We certainly guide them to Our ways, and verily Allah blesses the men of spiritual excellence with His companionship. (al-‘Ankabūt : 69)

The Holy Prophet (pbuh) termed the process of cleansing the innerself as the greater Jihad. And when it is cleansed of the esoteric diseases and evil attributes then the inward of such seekers becomes capable of Divine vision and closeness.

Hadith and sayings of Scholars about Jihad

  • Fazaala ibn Obeid (ra) is reported as saying, “I heard the Holy Prophet saying: The greater Jihad is that which a person fights against the innerself.” (Imam Ahmed, Tirmazi)
  • Ali ibn Abi Talib said, “In later times, the first thing people will deny would be the Jihad against the innerself.” (Ibn Rajab Hanbali, Jamia al-Uloom wal Hikm)
  • Jabir ibn Abdullah narrates a tradition that a group of Ghazis (people who participated in Jihad) came to see Prophet Mohammad. The beloved Prophet (pbuh) said: I congratulate you on turning to the greater Jihad from smaller Jihad. They enquired, what is greater Jihad? Upon this Prophet Mohammad (pbuh) said: Greater Jihad is fighting against the desires and lusts of the innerself.” (Imam Bayhaqi)
  • Abu Dharr al-Ghifari narrates that he once asked the Holy Prophet which Jihad is superior. The Holy Prophet said: “A man’s fight against his innerself and its desires for gaining the consent of Allah is the greatest Jihad.”
  • On another occasion, Abu Dharr al-Ghifari narrates that the Holy Prophet said: “The best Jihad is that a person fights against his/her innerself.” (Imam Suyuti)
  • Imam Hasan of Basra says that to fight against the desires and lusts of the innerself is the greatest Jihad.
  • Sufyan al-Thawri says: “Indeed, you real enemy is the innerself that resides within you. You should fight your innerself (do Jihad) more than you would against your outward enemies.”
  • Some scholars narrate, “Best Jihad is the struggle to cleanse one’s innerself of the various esoteric diseases. It is must that one stays away from what Allah has declared Haram.” (Jihad al-Akbar, Dr Mohammad Tahir ul Qadri)

What is Innerself?

Now the question arises, what is innerself? What is its reality? Why is Jihad against it is so important? Why the Jihad against it has been termed as the greater Jihad?

When Allah created the body of Adam and Satan saw it. Out of jealousy, Satan spit on it which landed on Adam’s naval. This created the innerself. It is the innerself that Satan uses to misguide mankind and mislead them away from the righteous path. It is like a thief hidden inside human being and prevents the man from attaining closeness of Allah by engaging him in the worldly attractions and worries. The innerself is the biggest veil between the man and his Lord. Innerself is home to all evil and rebellious thoughts. It is the base of infidelity as it has no relation with the piety of Islam. It is evil and is never satiates. One can only gain Divine vision once the innerself is killed with the sword of Ism e Allah Zaat and the spiritual attention of a perfect spiritual guide.

Saying of Sufi Saints

Ghaus al-Azam Shaikh Abdul Qadir Jilani says:

  • The innerself is the biggest veil between the Lord and His creation. When this is removed, then there remains no veil. (Fath al-Rabbani, Chapter 49)
  • The innerself is the enemy of Allah. Everything else obeys Allah. In reality, the innerself is also Allah’s creation but it is ever engaged in lusts. When you start going against the desires of the innerself and follow the commands of Allah, you will gain the closeness of Allah. (Futooh al-Ghaib, article 10)
  • Bayazid Bastami says: “The innerself only satiates with evil as this is its nature.”
  • Junaid of Baghdad says: “Fulfilling the desires of the innerself is the basis of infidelity.”
  • Khawaja Moin Uddin says: Following the lusts and desires of the innerself is in fact idolatry. The path of attaining closeness of Allah only begins once, the seeker stops following the innerself.”

Sultan ul Arifeen Sultan Bahoo says about innerself:

  • What is innerself, the world and Satan? The innerself is like king, Satan is its vizier and the world is the mother of the two which feeds them.” (Ain al-Faqr)
  • There is nothing worse and more cunning than the innerself in both the worlds. One who gains recognition of Allah, kills his or her innerself and annihilates in Allah. One who befriends with innerself eventually drowns in darkness and never achieves the purpose of life. The example of such person is like a horse which is at the prime of its life. However, it is ever engrossed in fulfilling its lusts and sensual desires. In the eyes of people such person is a man but in the court of Allah such person is a beast like donkey, dog or even pig. Outwardly he is human but inwardly he behaves like beasts. It is best to stay away from such beast. Everything other than Allah is lust. (Mehak al-Faqr Kalan)

Sultan ul Ashiqeen Sultan Mohammad Najib ur Rehman’s view about innerself

  • Following the desires of the innerself is idolatry.
  • Innerself is a veil between man and his Lord. Once this veil is lifted there remains no veil between them.
  • The man gains respect and dignity in the court of Allah when he disgraces his innerself. (Sultan ul Ashiqeen)

Following the desires of innerself means going against the commands of Allah. On the other hand going against the desires of the innerself is the source of all devotions and leads to closeness of Allah. Following the desires of the innerself leads to hellfire. It is must for a seeker of Allah to always stay away from the desires of the innerself. This will strengthen the soul and allow his intellect to also support the soul on this path. The innerself is used to the attractions of the worldly life, it gains strength through these.

When a man starts following the innerself, it creates even more desires in his inward and this process goes on. So it is very important to contain the desires of innerself. It is these never ending desires that once man starts following leads to all sorts of issues. When people cannot fulfil these desires through fair means, they resort to every avenue to fulfil them regardless of whether that source is fair or unfair. All these desires are in fact veils between the man and his Lord. It a form or idolatry which is Haram in Islam.

Weapon of Satan

As discussed above, Satan also uses the innerself to mislead humans. However, the good news is that it is possible to cleanse the innerself of the various esoteric diseases. Once it is cleansed of these diseases, it enables the man to have Divine vision and closeness, and that’s the real success in this life. Allah says in Quran:

قَدْ أَفْلَحَ مَن زَكَّاهَا

Meaning: Indeed, the one who purifies his (ill-commanding) self (from all vain and vicious desires and cultivates in it virtue and piousness) succeeds. (ash-Shams: 9)

Four States of the Innerself

The four states are as below:

  1. Inciting innerself (an-nafs al-ammarah)
  2. Repenting innerself (an-nafs al-lawwamah)
  3. Inspiring innerself (an-nafs al-mulhimah)
  4. Innerself at peace (an-nafs al-mutmainnah)

It is not possible for a person to purify his own innerself. Just like we need to see a doctor when we fall ill. Similarly, we need a spiritual doctor who knows how to treat the diseases of the innerself. That spiritual doctor is a perfect and accomplished spiritual guide who through his company and the invocation of Ism e Allah Zaat cleanses the innerself of a seeker of all the evils and filth and fills the inward with light of Allah. When the seeker invokes Ism e Allah Zaat under the guidance and in company of a perfect spiritual guide, his innerself gradually cleanses and it gets rid of the various esoteric diseases. Through this period, the innerself progresses from the inciting innerself to eventually reaching the station of innerself at peace. But this is only possible in company of a perfect spiritual guide.

Inciting Innerself

The first state is inciting innerself. It always incites the person towards evil and wrong deeds. Allah says in Quran about such innerself:

وَمَا أُبَرِّىءُ نَفْسِي إِنَّ النَّفْسَ لَأَمَّارَةٌ بِالسُّوءِ إِلاَّ مَا رَحِمَ رَبِّي إِنَّ رَبِّي غَفُورٌ رَّحِيمٌ

Meaning: Certainly, the self-commands much evil except the one on whom my Lord bestows mercy. Surely, my Lord is All-Forgiving, Ever-Merciful.’(Yūsuf : 53)

This type of innerself is of infidels, polytheists, adulterers and lovers of the world. If it is not treated (purified), it continues to degrade and eventually becomes a beast or even worse than that i.e. Satan.

Repenting Innerself

However, if the same innerself is purified, it progresses from inciting to repenting innerself. When the person commits a sin, the innerself reproaches him which makes him feel guilty and hence he stays away from committing more sins. Such an innerself always remembers death and the day of Judgement. Allah swears for such an innerself along with His beloved Prophet (pbuh):

لَا أُقْسِمُ بِيَوْمِ الْقِيَامَةِ۔ وَلَا أُقْسِمُ بِالنَّفْسِ اللَّوَّامَةِ

Meaning: I swear by the Day of Resurrection. And I swear by the blaming self, reproaching (itself for evil deeds). (al-Qiyāmah: 1, 2)

Inspiring Innerself

When the repenting innerself is further cleansed, it elevates to Inspiring innerself. Such innerself warns the person even before he commits a sin. About this, Allah says in Quran:

وَأَمَّا مَنْ خَافَ مَقَامَ رَبِّهِ وَنَهَى النَّفْسَ عَنِ الْهَوَى۔ فَإِنَّ الْجَنَّةَ هِيَ الْمَأْوَى

Meaning: But as for him who feared standing in the presence of his Lord and forbade (his ill-commanding) self its appetites and lusts, Paradise will surely be (his) abode. (an-Nāzi‘āt: 40, 41)

Innerself at Peace

When Inspiring innerself progresses esoterically, it becomes Innerself at peace. This is the station where the innerself finds refuge from its eternal enemy i.e. Satan. It gets rid of all the esoteric diseases and achieves the purpose of its existence. Such innerself is that of Saints, perfect Fakirs and Prophets. This is the highest level of the innerself. It is only possible to achieve this through the benevolence of a perfect spiritual guide. One cannot reach this level through outward devotions, no matter how hard one tries. People who reach this level become friends of Allah and His beloved. Allah is pleased with them and they are pleased with Him. As it is in Quran:

ارْجِعِي إِلَى رَبِّكِ رَاضِيَةً مَّرْضِيَّةً۔ فَادْخُلِي فِي عِبَادِي۔ وَادْخُلِي جَنَّتِي

Meaning: Return to your Lord in such a state that you are both the aspirant to, and the aspired of, His pleasure (i.e., you seek His pleasure and He seeks yours). So join My (perfect) servants. And enter My Paradise (of nearness and sight). (al-Fajr : 28, 29, 30)

Sultan Bahoo says:

  • The innerself at peace knows the secrets of Allah and it leads to Divine vision.

In one of his Punjabi Abayat, Sultan Bahoo says:

ایہو نفس اساڈا بیلی، جو نال اساڈے سِدھا ھو

زاہد عالم آن نواےَ، جتھے ٹکڑا ویکھے تھدا ھو

جو کویَ اِس دی کرے سواری، اس نام اللہ دا لدا ھو

راہ فقر دا مشکل باھو، گھر ما نہ سیرا رِدھا ھو

Explanation: Sultan Bahoo here says that his innerself which is at the level of innerself at peace has become his friend. It follows the righteous path. Whereas the same innerself, when it is not purified (i.e. inciting innerself), has mislead countless scholars and pious people by making them greedy of worldly wealth. They don’t shy to sell their religious knowledge to collect worldly wealth.

Whosoever adopted the company of a perfect spiritual guide and obtained Ism e Allah Zaat from him. And then through it invocation and contemplation, his innerself progressed from inciting to innerself at peace. The path of Faqr is very difficult and full of hardships and trials. It is not like that someone’s mum has cooked delicious sweet dish that one can eat easily. (Abyat e Bahoo Kamil)

How can one Purify or cleanse the innerself?

The Sufis have described many ways of purifying the innerself. However, the best of all is that of the Holy Prophet (pbuh). The Quran explains the Mohammadan way of purgation of innerself as:

هُوَ الَّذِي بَعَثَ فِي الْأُمِّيِّينَ رَسُولًا مِّنْهُمْ يَتْلُواْ عَلَيْهِمْ آيَاتِهِ وَيُزَكِّيهِمْ وَيُعَلِّمُهُمُ الْكِتَابَ وَالْحِكْمَةَ

Meaning: He is the One Who sent a (Glorious) Messenger (blessings and peace be upon him) amongst the illiterate people from amongst themselves who recites to them His Revelations and cleanses and purifies them (outwardly and inwardly) and teaches them the Book and wisdom. (al-Jumu‘ah: 2)

It is clear from the aforementioned verse that the Holy Prophet used to teach Quran to the sacred Companions. And then he used to cleanse their inwards (innerselves) through his spiritual attention. Thus, through the sacred company of the Holy Prophet, the inwards of the Companions became purified which then lead to arousal of genuine desire to gain gnosis of Allah.

The sacred Companions had their inwards cleansed in the company of the Holy Prophet about which he said, “My Companions are like the stars, whoever you follow completely will lead to righteous path.”

This treasure of Divine gnosis was transferred from the companions to the people who came after them so on to later generations. The Prophet-hood of Prophet Mohammad is until the Doomsday. Therefore he appointed perfect Fakirs his vicegerent and bestowed them with the knowledge of purifying the inwards. Just like someone cannot treat himself. So how would it be possible for someone to purify their inward by mere outward study of some religious books and not adopting company of a spiritual guide? A perfect spiritual guide trains the seekers of Allah just as the Holy Prophet trained the Companions.

Who is Sultan ul Ashiqeen?

Sultan ul Ashiqeen Sultan Mohammad Najib ur Rehman is the present Shaikh of the Sarwari Qadri order and spiritual vicegerent of the Holy Prophet. He is the Universal Divine Man of this era and a perfect spiritual guide. Sultan ul Ashiqeen purifies the inwards of seekers of Allah just like the Holy Prophet cleansed the inwards of the sacred Companions. He has turned numerous seekers of the world into seekers of Allah and guided them to their destiny. He grants Ism e Allah Zaat to every new disciple on the very first day for contemplation and invocation. If you would like to find out more or want to get in touch with Sultan ul Ashiqeen to begin your spiritual journey, please visit the following link:

Sultan Bahoo about Ism e Allah Zaat

When Ism e Allah Zaat is engraved on one’s inward and its theophany engulfs the inward then the innerself dies and the soul enlivens. (Ain al-Faqr)

Sultan ul Faqr VI Sultan Mohammad Asghar Ali says:

The only way to kill the inciting innerself is invocation and contemplation of Ism e Allah Zaat and spiritual attention of perfect Fakir. (Sultan ul Faqr VI Sultan Mohammad Asghar Ali Life and Teachings)

May Allah give us the strength to benefit from Sultan ul Ashiqeen’s Divine company.


This article is English translation of Urdu article جہادِ اکبر Miss Noreen Abdul Ghafoor Sarwari Qadri penned the original article. Zuhaa Fatima Sarwari Qadri translated it in English. Tap below to read the original Urdu article:

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28 thoughts on “Greater Jihad | Inward Jihad against Innerself”

  1. Greater article on greater Jihad. Must read 👍
    #sultanbahoo #sultanulashiqeen #sultanularifeen #tehreekdawatefaqr #spirituality #tdfblog #blog #sufism #islam #faqr #jihad #innerself #satan

  2. Masha Allah. Very informative.
    Indeed, one cannot cleanse their inward themselves. One needs company of a perfect spiritual guide to succeed on this path.

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