There is a subject matter that every believer who lives by the morals of the Qur’an should ponder on meticulously: Purifying the lower self in the month of Ramadan.
Allah informs about us of the lower self in a verse, ‘The self indeed commands to evil acts’ (Surah Yusuf, 53) and He guides us to the significance of purifying the lower self in the verses of Surat ash-Shams:
And the self and what proportioned it
And inspired it with depravity or piety,
He who purifies it has succeeded,
He who covers it up has failed. (Surat Ash-Shams, 7-10)
The blessed month of Ramadan is a very important period for Muslims to correct their lower selves, because during this time of fasting believers find it a great opportunity to think upon many details related with the morals of the Qur’an and attain a deeper understanding. While the self is disciplined with fasting, it is a valuable means for clearing other negative qualities of the lower self.
A person who is conscious of his being created for worshipping Allah and purifies his lower self always sides with the voice of his conscience when he has to make a choice between his lower self and his conscience since when a person encounters hardship or inconvenience, he hears two different voices from within. One of these is the voice of the conscience commanding the person to act with altruism, courage, good morality and always in line with Allah’s approval. If the person abides by this voice, his conduct will surely follow the good pleasure of Allah and be on the side of patience and surrender.
The second one is the voice of the lower self and that whispers rebellion, selfishness and fearfulness. Those who lend an ear to this voice are in a great loss because in that way satan that controls the lower self as a friend. Allah created good and bad, beneficial and harmful, beauty and ugly together in the life of this world to be a way of trial on the path to Heaven or Hell. This period of testing in this world is what discerns - in an indisputable way - the good and bad, and those that heed their conscience or follow their lower selves.
Believers abstain from the whisperings of satan and the desires of the lower self, and serve their Lord. They never stop abiding by the voice of the All-Merciful they hear from within. In this way, believers are content that what the lower self conveys to be pleasant are actually the transient pleasures of this world and have no reward in the Hereafter. For instance, he never misses the opportunity to act with honesty when the time comes, and responds with goodness to a person speaking with an evil tongue, knowing that these are all trials and he acts with beautiful conduct according to the Qur’an.
A great salvation awaits the ones who carry out good actions in this world and purify their lower selves by the will of God. In the Qur’an we are informed of this glorious finale of the believers:
… It is the people who are safe-guarded from the avarice of their own selves who are successful. (Surat al-Hashr, 9)
It is also very important to recognize this avarice of the lower self. The voice of the lower self keeps a person distant from the approval of Allah; that is why it is in continuous attempt to undertake this purpose and whispers malice to a person unceasingly. For example, the lower self brings up all kinds of excuses to show that the fasting made obligatory by Allah to be a difficult worship. Yet, a sincere believer fasts with eagerness despite all this strain and persistence by the lower self. He perseveres for the good pleasure of Allah, observes it with great joy and hopes for the reward from our Lord and takes great pleasure out of this.
Muslims purify their lower self from evil, and they hope for the approval and mercy from their Lord. A Muslim overcoming his lower self for attaining Heaven promised by Allah is steadfast in the face of all difficulties and is content and radiant in living by altruism and good conduct at all times. He is never under the influence of negativities.
Allah informs us in the Qur’an that Muslims are satisfied with living according to the morals of Islam and take deep pleasure from this; and they are intensely displeased of the contrary:
... However, Allah has given you love of faith and made it pleasing to your hearts, and has made disbelief, deviance and disobedience hateful to you. People such as these are rightly guided. It is a great favor from Allah and a blessing. Allah is All-Knowing, All-Wise. (Surat Al-Hujurat, 7-8)
As a result of this constant vigilance against the traps of the lower self and a never-ending commitment to gain Allah’s good pleasure, sincere believers can hope to be rewarded with Allah’s infinite love and Paradise. Allah explains in a verse this beautiful outcome awaiting His sincere servants:
We will strip away any rancor in their hearts. Rivers will flow under them and they will say, ‘Praise be to Allah who has guided us to this! We would not have been guided, had Allah not guided us. The Messengers of our Lord came with the Truth.’ It will be proclaimed to them: ‘This is your Garden which you have inherited for what you did.’ (Surah al-Araf, 43)
The holy month of Ramadan is a good opportunity to make the right decision; to choose the conscience over the lower self with fasting, shunning those wrong actions that Allah wouldn't approve of, and renewing one’s intention to make a fresh start as a truly sincere believer. InshaAllah, it will also be conducive to unity and love in the Islamic world as Muslims follow Allah’s orders to love and unite with each other.