May 25, 2001

Which Way to Choose: Divinity or Devilishness?

  • From a Friday Speech of Master Ali Rafea (September 17th, 1999)
  • Translated and Prepared for publishing by: Magda El Mufti
Master Ali Rafea teaches that man is created to have a role in deciding his spiritual Destiny. He can either be spiritually elevated so highly, or degenerate to the lowest of the low. What is his role in bringing one of the two opposite directions forth? How could he keep himself on the Path of Allah, if he chose that Path?
O Servants of God! Man on Earth, leads an existence that is apt to embody divinity or devilishness. He is potentialized for good and evil; light and darkness; truth and falsehood. Such has been Divine wisdom; to have created man with a duality.

Man houses within him the Secret of Allah. Well seated in the background of his duality, it manifests in man's capability of insight, of remembering (Allah) Dhikr1, and of taking action.
Inherent divinity in man, compels him to open up his heart to experience Divine Light, as well as to seek the performance of good deeds, with which he can take a step closer towards Allah, and elevates in Allah. Simultaneously, the devilish nature in man seeks to tempt him to take steps along the path of evil action, resulting in his despair and loss of already achieved steps along the path of Divine Truth, compelling man to stoop down to the lowest of the low grades.
Such is the status of man on our planet – a swaying between both conditions; good and evil, which is in reality nothing but the summation of all his experience and actions. If man willfully increases his exposure to Divine Light, evil presence diminishes within him. If, on the other hand, man is exposed further to darkness, divinity fades away within him. Day in day out, man shifts to and fro, from one condition to the other, until he settles down at one point or the other.
Our prophet guides us by stating:
I once had devil, but the divine assisted me in dealing with him and he submitted. Consequently he only orders me to perform acts of goodness (PH)2
The devil exists within man’s blood circulation (PH)3
You should narrow the devil's passage ways by hunger and thirst (fasting) (PH)4
All the offspring of Adam's children are touched by the devil except the son of Mary (PH)5
"Nor do I absolve my own self (of blame): the (human) soul is certainly prone to evil, unless my lord do bestow His Mercy
(HQ: 12: 53)
By the Soul, and the proportion and order given to it; And its enlightenment as to its wrong and its right; Truly he succeeds that purifies it, And he fails that corrupts it! (HQ: 91: 7-10)
The Holy Qura'nic verses and sayings of the Prophet have taught us that in us there exists a duality – Truth and falsehood; piety and sinfulness.
If man finds that he is being pulled towards darkness, then he should expect this to be caused by the lower self nafs, which repeatedly tempts man to undertake the evil path of immorality that lies in the duality within him.
This is not astonishing, in fact what man needs to do is to learn how to handle his lower self nafs, while stooping downwards. Such is the guidance in our Religion, to learn to struggle against one's lower self nafs, not only when it slips into some negative acts, in fact it is a whole system that would in the end assist man to step out that pitfall (of immortality).
Narrow down the passage ways of the devil by hunger and thirst
(join together) in the mutual teaching of Truth, and of Patience and Constancy.(HQ: 103: 3)
Then will he be of those who believe, and enjoin patience, (constancy, and self-restraint), and enjoin deeds of kindness and compassion. Such are the Companions of the Right Hand.7(HQ: 90: 17, 18)
Struggling against nafs needs serious work, and not mere words.
One's words are but an initial step to serious work, and if words are not transformed into serious work then they are futile.
Grievously odious is it in the sight of Allah that ye say that which ye do not.(HQ: 61: 3)
Man has to continue his attempts, and persist in his struggle, by exposing himself to Divine Light and Graces, by attending gatherings where remembering Allah is the common objective. Even in the event in which he finds that his lower self is being attracted and lured to stoop down towards darkness, he should not quit such blessed gatherings. In fact he should continue trying again and again (to step out of the blunder). He should not listen to his nafs (when it says): how on earth can you resort to the Divine, when you are persisting in such darkness, committing such sinful deeds? How do you dare meeting your brothers along the Divine path, while in reality you have stooped downwards and have taken the direction of self-destruction?
Man should understand that his lower self, by those negative words, expresses its own desires. It wants to distance him away from the source of Truth, the source of Light, and the source of Mercy. Therefore, man should not listen to it. In fact, the more it happens that he is, somehow, filled with darkness, the more he should accelerate his exposure to Divine Light, praying to God and asking for forgiveness, returning to the Divine.
And those who, having done something to be ashamed of, or wronged their own souls, earnestly bring Allah to mind, and ask for forgiveness for their sins; and who can forgive sins except Allah? (HQ: 3: 135)
"O my Servants who have transgressed against their souls! despair not of the Mercy of Allah: (HQ: 39: 53)
Allah forgiveth not that partners should be set up with Him; but He forgiveth anything else, to whom He pleaseth; (HQ: 4: 48)
Perform an act of kindness following a bad one, and the former will be got erased (PH)8
those things that are good remove those that are evil: (HQ: 11: 114)
All these Divine words are but an encouragement for those who have committed evil deeds- so that man may not linger on the evil path for long, saying I am embarrassed to seek Allah following my evil deed.
In fact, he should seek Allah, take a step on to His path, and ask for His forgiveness. He should persist on gathering with those who remember Allah, ask for being attached to Him, increase his prayers, and his asking for forgiveness Istighfar. He should persist in struggling against his lower self by all possible means. And whenever he returns to his path of Darkness, he should rekindle his wish to repent, wish more that God may empower him to assist him to be purified of his evil action, knowing that any transformation will not be possible except by being further exposed to God's Graces:
Verily never will Allah change the condition of a people until they change it themselves (with their own souls). (HQ: 13: 11)
Now for them to be able to transform themselves from their present condition (of ill doing), they need to expose themselves to the Divine Graces, and not to further distance themselves from the Path of Allah.
Their mere approach to the Divine path, is in itself a transformation away from what their lower self has been hoping for – to remain at a distance and to severe their connection (and bond) (with Divine Light).
And so, Allah shall transform them and purify them.
Allah is the protector of those who have faith: from the depths of darkness He will lead them forth into light. (HQ: 2: 257)
It is implicit that they have kept their faith- even while in darkness- by directing themselves to Allah, praying and asking for His help, exposing themselves to His Grace. Such people, even if they were lingering in Darkness, the Divine would remove them out of the darkness.
This is how we learn to struggle against the lower self nafs and this is how we learn to increase our exposure to Divine Graces, in order that we may get ourselves purified, and in order that we become more saturated with goodness and well doing.
We call upon the Divine to fulfil our wishes, enabling us to become worthy of His Mercy and worthy of His Gifts.
Oh Servants of God! Our hope in Allah is great, and our expectations are greater. Man has to continue the struggle, he should keep trying right up to the last moment of his existence on Earth. He should never yield to despair of the Spirit of Allah, the soothing Mercy of Allah, and the Gifts of Allah. Nor should he lose hope that Allah will transform him from darkness into Light.
This should always be man’s disposition; to pray to Allah at all times, and to struggle continually. If at a certain point he loses focus, he should (simply) return to the path. If he commits a sin, he should instantly repent. And if he commits an evil act he should follow it by performing a good deed. He should not linger or prolong his time in sin, evil action, or severing his bond (with Allah). He should rather return to the path of the Divine, asking for forgiveness.
As such he-for a period of time-would naturally go back and then come forth, until he settles down in the Divine's Mercy, receiving Divine gifts and offerings, and Divine Light. Man then would be strictly and constantly attached to the Divinity, Light, and Truth within himself.
Those are the teachings of our faith, those are the teaching of our Road, and those are the teachings of our life- so that we may be true Servants of Allah.
  1. The word Dhikr in Arabic has got several connotations. It is used to mean "the ability to remember the Divine within", and sometimes it means "worshipping God by reciting His name repeatedly" as a means of attaching the divinity within with the Divine around. As such man is nurtured spiritually.
  2. The Prophet’s saying is mentioned in Ahamad’s Musnad. It is also mentioned in Bukhari and Moslem by similar wording. It points to the fact that the dark side of man is susceptible to be used by the Divinie in leading him towards goodness. That is possible to take place within the comprehensive Law of Life, where every attribute is made use of in leading man to the righteous Path. So, when man surrenders to the Divine, the devilish part in him is not against man’s goodness.
  3. Ahmad’s Musnad
  4. The Prophetic Hadith is mentioned in Al-Ghazali’s famous book Ihia’ Ulum Al Din (Reviving Theology). The Prophet said to Aisha: Narrow the devil’s passage ways by hunger.
  5. Ahmad’s Musnad.
  6. Ahmad’s Musnad.
  7. The Companions of Right Hand" is a common used metaphor in the Holy Qur'an pointing to those who had followed the Path of Allah and consequently attained a high spiritual rank in the Hereafter.
  8. Mentioned by Tirmidhi