Hadhrat Thanvi (may Allah have mercy on him) said;

“It is permissible that you get angry with someone who commits a sin, but never think of them as being inferior to you. And if you are ever tasked with correcting someone’s behaviour, never think you are better than them. It is possible that they are like the prince and you are just the prince’s tutor. If the king orders the tutor to discipline the prince, it does not mean that the tutor has become superior to the prince.” (Infas-e-Essa)

It means that if a person commits some sin, then you can feel angry at him, you can hate his sin because a sin is deplorable, but never look down upon them. This is an important balance to strike, that on the one hand you consider their sin a sin, but on the other hand do not consider them inferior to yourself. How to reconcile the two?

Hate the sin, not the sinner
The way to reconcile these two is that we should hate the sin, but not the person who is carrying it out, meaning we should not start hating him as a person. Similarly, hate kufr (disbelief) but not the disbeliever. We should consider a sinner as someone who has been afflicted with an illness. Do we ever hate someone who is sick? No, rather we dislike his illness, but everyone looks at the sick person with sympathy that he has been afflicted by such a severe illness. In exactly the same way, if someone is engaged in a sin, then dislike his actions but do not dislike his person, rather pity him.

Satan’s way of deceiving ‘religious’ people
Sometimes people turn towards religion, or are born in an environment which is generally religious. When they look at people who are not so religious, or who are engaged in sins, they start hating those people and start feeling that they are better than or superior to those people. That is when the Satan deceives, them telling them that they are better because they are pious, and others are inferior because they are sinners. Therefore, always remember that you should never look down upon a person. You can look down upon his sin, but have sympathy for him because of that sin, and always remind yourself that who knows when Allah Ta’ala may grant him the motivation to repent and he may become a better Muslim than us. (And even when another person may apparently be engaged in sins, who knows how many good deeds he performs which are not known to us, and how many sins we are engaged in for which we have no self-awareness.)

Between arrogance and undue humility
Hadhrat Thanvi (may Allah have mercy on him) said;

“Those who are traversing the path of Tazkiyah (purification of inner-self) get afflicted by two types of spiritual illnesses. The first is Kibr (grandiosity, arrogance), and the second is excessive Tawazu’ (humility). Kibr is that if a person starts reciting some Tasbeehat, they start believing that they have become a great saint, if they start praying Salah they start looking down upon those who do not pray Salah. The treatment of this Kibr is to remind oneself that Kibr is one of the greatest sins and many a pious people lost their way because they had developed Kibr. Satan, who at one time was famous for his worship of Allah Ta’ala, was condemned for all eternity purely because of his Kibr.

(Unduly) Excessive Tawazu’ is that a person starts denigrating himself to the extent that he starts rubbishing his prayers, for example, people start saying things like they pray Salah but there is no Khushu’ (humbleness of heart) in it, they do Dhikr (remembrance) but do not get any spiritual benefit out of it, so their acts of worship are useless (Ma’az Allah). The treatment of this unduly excessive Tawazu’ is to say to Allah Ta’ala that ‘O Allah! I am extremely grateful to you that you have given me the motivation to pray Salah and do Dhikr. Otherwise, it was not my station to worship You without You allowing me to do so.”

Satan’s tricks for deceiving Muslims
In this quote, Hadhrat Thanvi (may Allah have mercy on him) has mentioned two opposing types of spiritual illnesses. If a person develops motivation to turn towards Deen, Satan tries different tricks to misguide him. Initially he tries to keep a person so preoccupied with other affairs that it doesn’t even occur to him to turn towards Deen, for example keeping him engaged in worldly pleasures, or earning more and more material wealth. But somehow if a person does manage to turn towards religion, then the Satan tries to make him go down the wrong path so that all his acts of worship would be destroyed. In this quote, Hadhrat Thanvi RE has mentioned two of those tricks.

Deceiving through Kibr
Satan’s first trick is that he puts thoughts of arrogance and grandiosity in the mind of the person who have has recently turned towards religion and says to him things like, “You have become so pious. You pray Salah so regularly and with such Khushu’ and Khudhu’. You have become so punctual with Jama’ah. There are so many people who are negligent, who do not pray the Salah, who are engaged in so many sins. You are better than all of them.” If a person is not aware of his own reality, as a result of such thoughts he starts believing himself to be superior to other people and starts looking down upon those people who do not pray Salah. If a person is shallow by nature, his turning towards religion and starting praying regularly can put him in great danger of developing Takabbur.

The treatment for grandiose thoughts
The way of protecting oneself from such thoughts of Takabbur is keep reminding oneself that there were great worshippers before us who lost their way purely because of Takabbur. The example of Satan is a case in point. The Satan used to worship Allah Ta’ala so much that he had been nicknamed ‘the peacock of angels.’ However, he started feeling proud that he worshipped Allah Ta’ala so much and developed Takabbur. When Allah Ta’ala commanded him to prostrate in front of Hadhrat Adam (peace be upon him), he declined and tried to make a rational argument in front of Allah Ta’ala that, “You have created him from clay, and created me from fire. Therefore, I am superior to him. Why should I prostrate in front of him?” As a result of this Takabbur he was condemned for all eternity. May Allah Ta’ala protect us all from a similar fate. Aameen

A story about Shaykh Abdul Quadir Jillani RE
Shaykh Abdul Quadir Jillani (may Allah have mercy on him) was a great saint. It has been narrated that once he was praying Tahajjud Salah when a Noor (divine-looking light) shone and the whole environment became bright with it. Then a voice came through that Noor;

“O Abdul Quadir! You have fulfilled the rights of Our worship due towards you. Whatever acts of worship you have performed as yet, are now sufficient. From today, you are not obligated to pray Salah, to fast, the obligations of all the acts of worship have been removed from you.”

It seemed as if Allah Ta’ala is saying through that Noor (divine light) that your acts of worship have been accepted to such a degree that you are under no obligation to perform any more Ibadah. When Shaykh Abdul Quadir Jillani RE saw and heard this, he immediately replied;

“Get away from me Satan. Even the Holy Prophet ﷺ was not freed from the obligation to continue to perform Ibadah, and you are telling me that I have been freed from this obligation? Are you trying to deceive me?”

This was such a great deception. If the Shaykh had developed any proudness in his heart about his Ibadah, he could have slipped. But he was a great saint. He immediately understood that this message could not be from Allah Ta’ala, because if the Holy Prophet ﷺ had not been excused from performing any more Ibadah, how could any of his followers be excused from it.

Satan’s second attack
A short while after the Shaykh gave the above reply, another Noor brightened up and a voice came through it;

“O Abdul Quadir. Your knowledge saved you today. Otherwise I have misguided many a pious people using this ruse.”

Shaykh Abdul Quadir Jillani RE replied,

“Get away from me you condemned being. My knowledge did not save me from your deception. It is Allah Ta’ala who saved me.”

The seriousness of the second attack
After narrating this story, Shaykh Abdul Wahab Shairani (may Allah have mercy on him) says that Satan’s second attack was much more dangerous than the first one. It is because any Muslim who has the basic knowledge of Deen can understand that when the Holy Prophet ﷺ was not exempted from performing Ibadah all his life, then there is no possibility of any other Muslim being exempted from them. However, the second attack was much more serious because many a pious people have been deceived in that manner. There were many people who performed lots of Ibadah, gained lots of religious knowledge, but at some point, they became proud of their Ibadah, their knowledge, and that is when their downfall started.

The person who thinks everyone else is misguided
That is why Hadhrat Thanvi RE said that to protect oneself from Takabbur a person should keep reminding himself of the great scholars, the great worshippers, the great saints who once they developed Takabbur completely lost their way. Therefore, get this arrogance out of your mind. If you are providing some service to Allah’s Deen, it does not mean that you start belittling Allah Ta’ala’s subjects, that you start thinking of everyone else as belonging to Hellfire.

In a Hadith, the Holy Prophet ﷺ said that the person who says that everyone else has lost the right path, is the one who has lost the right path himself. The person who does not see his own flaws, but is busy is finding the flaws of everyone else, is busy denigrating them, he is most misguided.

Treatment for Takabbur, turn towards Allah
So, whenever you start feeling proud of your Ibadah, your knowledge, your piety, your Sadaqah, immediately turn towards Allah Ta’ala and say, “O Allah Ta’ala it was only because of the motivation You granted me that I was able to perform these good deeds. I thank you for it. It was not within my ability to do this.” The true protection from Satan’s tricks is only through turning towards Allah. Along with these, also reflect on your own weaknesses and flaws. Insha’Allah the combination of these two attributes, turning towards Allah and being mindful of one’s own weaknesses and sins, will protect a person from developing Takabbur.

Unduly excessive Tawazu’ (humility)
Hadhrat Thanvi RE said that sometimes people go to the other extreme and develop excessive Tawazu’. Tawazu’ is a great attribute but it has also got its boundaries. If it goes beyond those boundaries, then it also becomes harmful. This undue Tawazu’ sometimes makes a person develop hopelessness. For example, sometimes you may have heard people say things like, “My Salah is pointless. It is just like going through the motions. There is no Khushu’ or Khudhu’ in it.” This is also excessive Tawazu’. We should not say things like that, rather we should first thank Allah Ta’ala that He granted us the ability and the motivation to present ourselves in His court. There are so many people who are deprived of this great blessing. Then, why do you make such trivializing comments about your Salah? Why do you show ungratefulness towards it? It is correct that our Salah has many flaws in it. But those flaws are yours, and the Taufeeq (motivation) is His. So, first express your gratitude towards Allah for granting you the motivation to pray Salah. And then do Istighfar (seeking forgiveness) for your mistakes in it.

Say to Allah Ta’ala, “O Allah, You had granted me the motivation to pray Salah, but I was unable to pray it as it was due towards me. Please forgive me for it.” First express your gratefulness to Allah Ta’ala for giving you the motivation to pray Salah. And then seek His forgiveness for not praying it properly. Do not say that your Salah is pointless. It is not right to say such things.

Keep seeking Allah Ta’ala’s forgiveness
And when you keep seeking Allah Ta’ala’s forgiveness for the mistakes you make in your Salah, then the One who has granted you the motivation to pray it, will also help you seek perfection in it Insha’Allah (God willing). Is there any human being who can claim that he has performed Allah Ta’ala’s worship to the standard it was due towards him? We do not even count, even the Holy Prophet ﷺ who stood for so long in Tahajjud Salah that his feet swelled up, is saying that “I was unable to discharge the right of Your Ibadah as was due towards me.” When he is saying this, then our Ibadah will be imperfect in every way.

ما عبدناک حق عبادتک
ما عرفناک حق معرفتک

It means that I was unable to worship Allah Ta’ala to the level His worship was due towards me, I was unable to gain knowledge and understanding of Allah Ta’ala to the level His knowledge and understanding was due towards me. When the Holy Prophet ﷺ is saying this, then how can we worship Him to the standard His worship was due towards us? Our every act of worship will always be imperfect relative to Allah Ta’ala’s greatness. But when He has permitted us to come to His Court five times a day, to prostrate in front of Him, then why should we think that He will not accept that prostration? Why should we denigrate our Ibadah and say that they are useless? If we first thank Him for granting us the motivation to perform those acts of worship, and then beg Him to forgive us for the mistakes that we have made in performing those acts of worship, then Insha’Allah He will forgive us and accept those Ibadah.

Hadhrat Dr Abdul Hai’s (RE) about valuing one’s Ibadah
Once a person said in front of Dr Abdul Hai (may Allah have mercy on him), “Hadhrat. My Salah and my Sajdah (prostration) are meaningless. When I prostrate in Salah, I get all sorts of bad and dirty thoughts. This Salah is not worth presenting before Allah Ta’ala.” Hadhrat asked, “So this Sajdah of yours is a very unclean one?” He said “Yes.” Hadhrat said, “This is such a dirty and unclean Sajdah that you cannot do it in front of Allah Ta’ala. So, from today start doing this Sajdah in front of me.” He asked in shock, “Hadhrat, what are you saying? You want me to prostrate in front of you?” Hadhrat said, “but you said this is a very dirty Sajdah and you can’t do it in front of Allah Ta’ala. So, start doing it to me.” He said, “Hadrat, that is not possible. I cannot do Sajdah to anyone else besides Allah Ta’ala.” Hadhrat said, “If you can’t do this Sajdah in front of anyone else, it means it is purely for Allah Ta’ala. You can’t prostrate in front of anyone else. He has granted you this Taufeeq (motivation). However, because of our inherent human weakness it is not as pure as it should be. Do Istighfar (seeking forgiveness) for any mistakes committed while performing this Sajdah but keep doing it exclusively for Allah Ta’ala. This is not a small blessing. So, stop saying these denigrating things about your Sajdah and express your gratefulness to Allah Ta’ala for granting you the motivation to perform it.”

How Satan makes people give up Salah
This is how Satan tricks people into giving up their Ibadah (acts of worship). First, he puts thoughts of excessive Tawazu’ (humility) in their hearts making them believe that because they do not suffer from Takabbur (arrogance), that is why they are looking down upon their Ibadah. They start believing that what they are doing is part of obligatory Tawazu’. However, when these thoughts take root, then they start feeling hopeless that they can never perform Ibadah up to the required standard, their Salah will never be accepted, and if it is never going to be accepted then what is the point of praying it. That is how Satan makes people becoming neglectful of praying Salah.

Do Shukr for your Ibadah
Always remember! Whenever Allah Ta’ala gives you the motivation to perform a good deed, express your gratefulness to Allah Ta’ala for it, and along with doing Shukr say, “O Allah Ta’ala, I was able to perform this good deed only because of the motivation you gave me. However, please forgive me any mistakes I may have committed in performing this good deed because of my own human weaknesses, out of Your mercy.”

The Holy Companions used to say, “O Allah, if You had not granted us Taufeeq (motivation) we wouldn’t have received guidance, we would neither have been inclined to give Sadaqah, nor to pray Salah. Whatever good deeds we perform is because of the Taufeeq You have given us, therefore, we thank You for this Taufeeq, and seek forgiveness for our mistakes.” If you remember to keep doing these two things, Shukr and Istighfar, you will be protected from both Takabbur and undue Tawazu’, both of which are Satan’s weapons.

Words that break Satan’s back
I heard the following saying of Hadhrat Abu Bakr Siddiq (may Allah be pleased with him) from my Shaykh that if a person says the following words after performing a good deed,

“Alhamdulillah (all praise be to Allah), Astaghfirullah (I seek forgiveness from Allah),”

the Satan says that this person has broken my back. It is because by saying Alhamdulillah the person expresses his gratefulness to Allah Ta’ala for granting him the motivation to perform that good deed thus protecting himself from Takabbur, and by saying Astaghfirullah he does not focus too much on his mistakes under the influence of undue Tawazu’.

So, make a habit of saying Alhamdulillah and Astaghfirullah after praying every Salah and performing every good deed. And when you say these words keep the intention that O Allah, I am saying Alhamdulillah to You for granting me the motivation to perform this good deed, and I am saying Astaghfirullah to seek forgiveness for all the mistakes I made in performing this good deed. Our Hadhrat used to say that there is no need to express agonise too much. Just recite these two kalimah after performing every Ibadah and Insha’Allah you will remain safe from the evil of Satan. May Allah Ta’ala make us all adopt this practice through His mercy. Aameen

وآخر دعوا ان الحمد ﷲ رب العالمين