Prophet Mohammed (P.B.U.H.) had said that we should turn from the Lesser Jihad towards the Greater One. Jihad in general means ‘struggle’. In a specific sense, it signifies holy war. When the Prophet returned from the battlefield, he told his followers that he “had already finished the Lesser Jihad but the Greater Jihad is still there.”
Jalaluddin Rumi in his invaluable masterwork Mathnavi gives us a profound interpretation of this narration. He says that the very nature of this Greater Jihad is very complicated. Greater Jihad, in Rumi’s view, implies the continuous struggle with the elements that contaminate the ‘Self’. He indicates that the “Lesser Jihad” is a temporary struggle with external elements whereas the “Greater Jihad” is a permanent struggle with internal elements.
He further says: “0 Elders! We have crushed the enemies outside (poverty, disease, illiteracy and so on) but the hurdle of deadly enemies inside (lust, anger, greed, ego, envy, doubt) remains unscathed!
“These enemies cannot be crushed by our intellect and consciousness. They are like a lion whose subjugation cannot be planned by a rabbit (intellect). This enemy is like a deadly python whose thirst cannot be quenched even by entire rivers of water.”
Human beings are like a bow, and these internal elements are like crooked arrows. They cannot be shot from the bow. For achieving an easy passage to God, we should try to take help from a “perfect man”, a “spiritual master”, a “guru” and a “Prophet”, who could show us the way. Otherwise we will be helpless and powerless.
Rumi says further:
“If we do so, even if we are (as insignificant as) a needle, but with direct access to Almighty, we will be able to blow the Qaaf (symbolizing a huge, invincible mountain) into smithereens. And that is why to gain sight of our own ‘Self’ is so important. The call for self-consciousness in order to know the Lord is the epitome of all religious teachings.” In the world there is only one force, one type of freedom and one form of justice and that is the power of ruling over oneself. Whoever has domination over his self has domination over the world.
“There is only one sort of goodness in the world, and that is loving others as one loves himself; in other words, we should regard other people as we regard ourselves. What remains is illusion and nullity.”
It is obvious that the self-consciousness that we are discussing is not that which appears on one’s ID card (name, father’s and mother’s names, birth place and place of residence). It is not a biological self-consciousness (that man ranks one degree higher than bears, monkeys, and other beasts). To shed light on this obscure area, Sheikh Mahmud Shabistari (1267-1320), in his mystical poem Gulshan-i-Raz (the mystic rose garden), explains the nature of “Self” as follows:
Who am I? Make me well aware of “self”
What does it mean, within yourself, “travel”?
Then you inquired about, what is it “self’?
Make me aware of “Self”. Who is this “Self’?
Acquiring knowledge of this Self, which is God, is the Greater Jihad, and holy month of Ramadan is a platform for Greater Jihad.
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