My Nafs Is a Spoiled Toddler

I took my nephew to the shops with me today and he stood at the toys aisle asking me for everything he wanted. He asked for a cricket bat, but it looked damaged and I couldn’t find another one. Then he asked for a goal post, which he already has at home. His next request were the toy guns, which he has had plenty of, and has broken plenty, too.

Finally, he asked for the adult’s bike helmet “for when he rides his bike”. I explained that he doesn’t need it for his tricycle, and this one was for adults anyway. Of course he didn’t listen. I put it on his head, but he still didn’t accept it was too big, so I just walked away. I had attempted to walk away 3 or 4 different times before this, too, but each time he began crying and I had to go back to stop the commotion.

Nevertheless, I refused to give in to him because, well, I was being a cheapskate … but only because I knew the things he wanted were either unnecessary or inappropriate. Also, I thought I’d get him one of the things as an Eid gift, so no point getting him something now. I just kept explaining to him why I wouldn’t buy the specific thing and tried walking away. I said I’d buy him chocolate instead, and eventually he himself said “OK, let’s go.”

I was just thinking about how our nafs is like a toddler. It keeps nudging us to give into our desires no matter how unnecessary, inappropriate, excessive and plain wrong they may be.

However, we need to take control of the situation no matter however much we think we should give in. And it won’t be easy. Trying to stop a toddler from crying or getting them to listen to anything is ridiculously hard. I mean they won’t listen to your reasoning, they won’t understand what’s good or bad for them, they don’t really care about what you say unless it’s what they want. Also you might be the kind of person who’s heart easily melts seeing a kid cry, and you’d be inclined to spoil them.

But you have to act wisely and be persistent. You may at first feel like giving in but maybe you don’t deserve the treat yet or maybe it’s just wrong so accept the challenge of fighting your nafs. Like the chocolate I offered my nephew, offer your nafs a halal alternative and keep starving it of what it wants until it gives in and accepts what you want. You might have an internal dance in which you mentally go towards the desire and then taking a step back and so on. But keep strong and keep going back. If you still give in, then take comfort in knowing that the guilt that you felt, when going back and forth, shows your heart is still alive and you have faith.

I had gone to the shops to get a birthday card. It wasn’t for my nephew, but he saw one with a kid and a football on it and wanted it. So, now there’s an unwritten birthday card decorating the TV stand.

You will give in to your nafs. And it’s likely to be to things more silly than putting up a birthday card for someone whose birthday was months ago. To give into our nafs is to be human. It is the trying and the repenting that will make us better people.

Truth be told, I give into my nephew more often than not, and I give in to my nafs way too often. May Allah protect us from ourselves. Ameen.

By: @Yellow_Lellow (MW Contributor)

6 thoughts on “My Nafs Is a Spoiled Toddler”

  1. I thought about when my nephews want chips or sweets but they’re not allowed to (either because it’s meal time or because it has milk in it and they’re allergic). It’s extremely difficult as an aunt to say no when your nephew wants to eat something… but the scorn I’ll receive from their parents is worse lol so that’s what helps me to say no. Similarly, I think it’s good to surround yourself with people who will give you reminders and help you say no to your nafs.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. وَالَّذِينَ جَاهَدُوا فِينَا لَنَهْدِيَنَّهُمْ سُبُلَنَا ۚ وَإِنَّ اللَّهَ لَمَعَ الْمُحْسِنِينَ [العنكبوت : 69]
    (29:69) As for those who strive in Our cause, We shall surely guide them to Our Ways. *107 Indeed Allah is with those who do good.

    Liked by 3 people

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