Spiritual Activism Riad Saloojee

16 – Falling from Grace: Virtue to Vice

The inner image of the heart (qalb) is its character, or khuluq.  Evil character (khuluq) is due to the impact and stranglehold of the lower self (nafs) upon the heart and its lack of refinement and reformation.

As this stage, it would be useful to enumerate some of the cardinal vices of the lower self (nafs) in juxtaposition to the virtues that are inculcated when the lower self (nafs) is in a state of balance.

Ostentation or showing-off (riya) is the opposite of sincerity (ikhlas). Ostentation (riya) is to seek the pleasure of other than the Divine in worship.  It is termed the minor association, or shirk, with the Divine for this reason.

Lying (kadhib) is the opposite of truthfulness (sidq).

Treachery (khiyana) is the opposite of trustworthiness (amana).

Pride (kibr) is the opposite of humbleness (tawadu’).  Pride is when one deems oneself better than others and rejects the truth when exposed to him or her.

Delusion (ghurur) is when one thinks that he or she possesses a quality or attribute that they do not have.  It is the opposite to seeing one’s reality as it is.

Self-aggrandizement (‘ujb) is when one possesses a quality or attribute but deems that to his own talent and efforts.  It is opposite to attributing that quality to Allah.

Vulgarity and lack of modesty (badha’a) is the opposite of modesty (haya’).  Vulgarity is a lack of spiritual sensitivity to the Divine and to His creation.

Heedlessness (ghafla) is the opposite of being in a state of remembrance (dhikr) of the Divine.

Ignorance (jahl) is the opposite of knowledge (‘ilm).

Miserliness (bukl) is the opposite of magnanimity (karam).

Rancour and malice (ghill) is the opposite of having a heart freed from such emotions.

Covetousness (tama’) is the opposite of contentment (qana’a).

Love and attachment to the world (hubb al-dunya) is the opposite of abstinence and spiritual ascetism (zuhd).

Haste (‘Ajala) is the opposite of deliberation (ta’anni).

Anger (ghadab) is the opposite of forbearance (hilm).

Doubt (shakk) is the opposite of certainty (yaqin).

Injustice (dhulm) is the opposite of justice (‘adl/qist).

Laziness (kasl) is the opposite of resolution and striving (mujada).

These vices are only a sampling. There are others.  However, they give examples of spiritual ailments that stem from the lower self’s (nafs) primary inclinations of carnal desire (shahwa) and intellectual caprice (hawa). They further illustrate the subtlety of the many diseases of the lower self and the essential importance of purifying it.  And, lastly, for our specific purpose, they provide a bridge into how these ailments are projected upon our activism rendering our actions unjust, unwise, vainglorious, hasty, spiteful, false, treacherous, dubious – and the list goes on.

The activism of the activist must make him or her a key to virtue and a lock to vice.  But if I am ignorant of the vices within me and negligent in changing them, I will become a lock to virtue and key to vice – all the while preaching a gospel of productive and progressive change.


There is no inherent disconnect or contradiction between Islamic Spirituality and social or political activism.  In fact, Islamic spirituality is not only relevant but essential to all forms of activism.  This podcast with Shaykh Riad Saloojee will present a paradigm for a spiritually-inspired activism where activism achieves what it was always meant to be: a vehicle for nearness to the Divine through genuine individual and social ethical change.  

This series will comprise of seven discussions that will explore 1. The foundations of Islamic spirituality; 2. The spiritual ethos that is the basis of all activism; 3. The ailments of activism unhinged from spirituality; 4. The laws that govern activism; 5. The importance of “inner,” spiritual activism for beneficial “outer” activism; 6. Vignettes from Prophetic activism; and 7. An application of how spirituality must inform true environmental activism.


For more podcasts by SeekersGuidance, visit SeekersGuidance.org/podcasts .