Bismi’Llāhi ir-Ramān ir-Raīm

In the Name of God, the Universally Merciful, the Singularly Compassionate


Radical self-honesty is essential to grow and progress on the spiritual path. Problems do not simply disappear if we act like they are not there. We must not shy away from the dark side of ourselves. Instead, we must face it directly to see, acknowledge, understand, and finally heal. We must be sincere and willing participants for the shadows in the soul to be dispelled by Divine Light ﷻ. Otherwise, what you ignore will linger, fester, and haunt you.

Consider carefully those things that you desire that are not good for you, perhaps even forbidden, and those things that are good for you that you might have dismissed from a place of disinterest or aversion. Once you have clarity about these two extremes, you are far less likely to be fooled by them and drawn into forgetfulness and difficulty. We are most vulnerable in our extremes. Allāh ﷻ says in the Holy Qur’ān: “… it might be that you hate a thing which is good for you, and it might be that you love a thing which is bad for you. Allāh ﷻ knows, and you know not” (Al-Baqarah, 2:216). You are in danger of being drawn into those things you love that are detrimental to your soul, and of turning away from those things that would be spiritually beneficial, if only you could embrace them when offered by the Most Generous ﷻ and Most Wise ﷻ. It is in directly facing your wayward desires and misconceptions that you can come to distinguish between the ugly and the beautiful, the false and the true, the immoral and the virtuous. To the extent that you are willing to be led astray, you will be. And the further you wander, the more bitter the medicine that is needed to bring you back.

Recall the account of Cain (Qābil) and Abel (Hābil), the sons of Adam ع and Eve ع, wherein the two brothers made sacrifices to the Almighty ﷻ, Who ﷻ accepted Abel’s sacrifice and rejected Cain’s. In a jealous rage, Cain murdered his brother Abel, and the Almighty ﷻ says about Cain: “His soul made murder agreeable [to him] and he killed his brother, and so he became one of the losers” (Al-Baqara, 5:30). Cain then realizes the magnitude of his crime: “Then God sent a raven, scratching the earth to show him how he might conceal his brother’s naked corpse. [Cain] said, ‘Woe is me! Am I not able to be like this raven and hide my brother’s naked body?’ And he was overcome with remorse” (5:31). This is the moment of truth —of self-awareness, honest recognition, and the beginning of soul-purification. Only then can we hope to return to the Ever-Forgiving ﷻ and Singularly Compassionate ﷻ and be received in the Divine Presence ﷻ. May we be ever ready to see ourselves, turn to our Lord ﷻ in humility, and seek His Forgiveness ﷻ for our sins, faults, and shortcomings. And Allāh ﷻ knows best.


© Ḥakīm Ilyās Kāshānī