The ego’s enemy is the Shaykh
Followers of the distinguished Naqshbandi tariqah will know too well that one of the central tenets of the tariqah is to be constantly mindful of the ego. Since the time of Prophet Muhammad (saw) the Golden Chain Naqshbandi Grand Shaykhs have instructed their students about the constant vigilance against an untamed ego. A hidden reality is that the ego’s enemy is the Shaykh.
So much has been said about the ego, yet what is the ego and how do we recognise it? To be able to control or tame something doesn’t it need to be understood first?
Recently I visited Shaykh Muhammad Adil ar-Rabbani in Lefke, Cyprus. During this trip I had the privilege to meet with Shaykh Mehmet Nazim, a deputy and student of Shakyh Muhammad.
During the session I asked the following questions which have whirled around in my mind for some time;
- How do I know when my ego is speaking?
- How do I increase my love for my Shaykh i.e. Shaykh Muhammad?
- How do I know if I love my murshid or is it my ego saying I love him?
- Adaab – how do I practice it?
- What does humbleness mean?
- How do I become more patient – I’m not very good at being patient?
I recorded the session (below is an audio recording) as I wanted to ensure that I could replay the answers to help digest and meditate on the responses.
I’m so glad that I made a recording, as the responses were mind blowing.
Writing a transcript of the discourse could not do justice to the learning that takes place. Listening in on the session will allow the listener to be present in the room almost as a ‘fly on the wall’. I asked the questions and Shaykh Mehmet Nazim gave simple, yet powerful answers that helped me to understand more about the ego and its motivations.
What did I learn?
- The ego’s enemy is the Shaykh (Murshid). The ego is akin to dajjal and the Murshid Mahdi. It is the Murshid’s role to expose the dajjalic ego
- I’m surprised at how present the ego is in my salaah. The ego is a self-declared God and will never accept anything else. As my mind wonders thinking about work, things that need to be done the reality is that my ego is working hard to ensure that I am inadvertently keeping it in my thoughts and not solely Allah Almighty.
- Three’s a crowd. There should only be Allah Almighty and myself in my salaah. I now see that there has been an unintended gate-crasher; my ego!
- Alarm bells should ring when you hear myself saying ‘I’. I now realise that when I hear myself saying ‘I don’t like’, ‘I don’t want’ it’s actually my ego giving me its opinion
- Feeling heaviness is a good, not bad sign. When I want to do a good act and I feel heaviness, I know that my ego is does not like the action
- The fight against the ego ends at the grave. The ego will never stop being what it is i.e. a self-proclaimed God. As Maulana Shaykh Muhammad says, ‘the only time when you can relent from guarding against your ego is when you die’.
The reason for sharing this experience is to help others;
- To gain a better understanding of what the ego actually is
- From a better understanding you can then begin to control your ego
- From the above you can take practical steps that will improve your life, increase your spirituality and most importantly increase your love for your Murshid with sincerity.
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