How to Fight Against Your Desire (Nafs)

Quran describes the word desire (Nafs) in two ways. Firstly, desire (Nafs) indicates our own self. That is to say, Allah says, “And remember your Lord within Yourself” (7:205). Secondly, the word desire (Nafs) refers to a part of ourselves that possesses our desires and temptations. To clarify, our Nafs is a part of our physical being and not our Soul. That is to say, our Nafs is the part of ourselves that has worldly desires such as anger, lust, pride, hunger, craving, etc. It is not part of our physical being. That is to say, we cannot physically see our Nafs, but it is very much present inside of us. It has a direct link with this world and our affiliation with it.

In this article, we shall discuss the three different types of Desires; known as and mentioned as Nafs in the Quran and ways to fight against them.

Nafs-ul-Ammarah (Desire that Rules us)

              (12:53)     وَمَا أُبَرِّئُ نَفْسِي إِنَّ النَّفْسَ لَأَمَّارَةٌ بِالسُّوءِ إِلَّا مَا رَحِمَ رَبِّي إِنَّ رَبِّي غَفُورٌ رَّحِيمٌ

One of the types of desires of the self (Nafs) mentioned in the Quran is Nafs-ul-Ammarah. This refers to the type of Nafs that rules over us. In other words, Nafs-ul Ammara commands us. Moreover, it tells us to blindly follow our desire. Therefore, when we have a desire, our Nafs not only helps us in recognizing them but also strongly motivates us in following them. Certainly, Nafs-ul-Ammara is able to dominate humans. In short, we blindly, but willingly follow the way Nafs-ul-Ammara leads us. It has the will and power to command us. As a result, people who blindly follow Nafs-ul-Ammara sin endlessly.

In other words, they do not want to understand and realize the right and wrong. They just want their desire to be fulfilled and do whatever it takes. Subsequently, they damage their souls and heart in the process. In other words, they heartlessly and deliberately follow the path of Shaitan.

Moreover, we quite often hear or read the saying that we must follow our heart and soul. There is no harm in doing so if we truly understand what our heart and soul desires. We accidentally relate our worldly desire to our heart and soul. As a result, we are more than pleased to satisfy our worldly desire, because unknowingly we believe that they are the cause of our happiness. But in reality, our heart and soul belong to Allah alone. Real happiness is with recognizing and understanding what our soul demands from us. In other words, our soul and heart have been designed to understand its connection with Allah. As a result, the soul only finds happiness in following Allah’s commands.

Therefore, we first need to understand this reality. Then, it is advisable and appropriate to follow one’s heart and soul. However, ignorance arises when we think our heart needs worldly desires to satisfy and please it. Therefore do not blindly follow the path of your heart if it gets pleased due to some worldly desire. First, understand what our real happiness and desire is and should be. Consequently, follow the heart. In other words, do not fall into Shaitan’s pit and deduce the wrong meaning and perceive emotions that in reality damage our souls.

Nafs-ul-Iawwamah (Desire that leads to Guilt)

(75:2)    وَلَا أُقْسِمُ بِالنَّفْسِ اللَّوَّامَةِ

Lawwam means to blame oneself. In other words, it means after committing the sin, feelings of guilt reproach the person. Consequently, the desire makes the person realize and feel bad about what they committed. As a result, the person wants to leave the sin due to immense guilt. Nafs-ul-Iawwamah makes the person feel terrible due to their sin. The person feels that they should not have committed the sin. In short, they realize how sin has affected their soul and damaged the sanctity and purity of their heart. Nafs-ul-Iawwamah makes them realize and feel this damage caused due to the desire. Therefore the person starts hating themselves and does not find peace within them. They are in turmoil and a continuous state of battle.

Nafs-ul-Mutmainnah (A Happy Soul) 


     (89:27-28)   يَا أَيَّتُهَا النَّفْسُ الْمُطْمَئِنَّةُارْجِعِي إِلَىٰ رَبِّكِ رَاضِيَةً مَّرْضِيَّةً

Two meanings can be derived from Nafs-ul-Mutmainnah. The first meaning that can be deduced from this is that people possessing Nafs-ul-Mutmainnah are content and happy. That is to say, they are content with life because they feel hardships are a source of blessing from Allah. They are not happy because worldly desires make them happy; in fact, their happiness is only due to Allah and with Allah. Such a person acts based on their happiness, the difference only lies that their source of happiness is the real and everlasting source. Attaining this level of patience and love for Allah demands a person’s deep understanding of life and tests. Further, they know how to pass each test without complaining and whining. Once this level is achieved, the person is able to find contentment in life. Their heart and soul find peace in what Allah has ordered.

Another meaning that can be deduced from Nafs-ul-Mutmainnah is that the person has reached a continuous state of peace and serenity. Nafs-ul-Mutmainnah makes the person content. In other words, the person is free from evil thought and desire. The person no more feels the need for any worldly and temporary desire because they understand the meaning of true happiness and contentment. Its desire is only for Allah and wants to follow His teachings.

Fighting Against your Desire

 Now the question arises on how to fight against our desire. Desire is a natural element of humans. We all have desires. The issue lies when there is no check to our desires. Therefore in order to keep a check on our desires, we are in a continuous state of battle with our Nafs. In other words, we are continuously competing with two powers that attract us. That is to say, the Divine power that attracts us and the Satanic power that tempts us. When we are inclined more towards the Divine power, we become victorious and blessed. However, when the person is tempted towards Shaitan more, they limitlessly commit sins.

What is Jihad al-Nafs

Jihad al Nafs is a person’s struggle with the self. In other words, it means fighting against one’s evil desires and temptations. That is to say, the person should act wisely and understand right and wrong. Jihad al Nafs further means disregarding Satanic temptations and its negative influence on the soul.

This is known as the greatest test of faith and the biggest struggle for man. That is to say, the person is in a state of battle with the self. Moreover, the enemies and forces that the person has to struggle with is residing within themselves and cannot be easily detected. The one who is able to succeed in attaining this level has a special and elevated status. In the same vein, the one who fails in achieving or even trying to achieve it falls under the category of Satan’s companions.

Steps to Fight against our Desire (Nafs)

  • Evaluate inner Desires

We can fight against our desire by analyzing and evaluating our inner desire. Further, we need to realize about our Creator and if our ways are according to His teachings. Allah has sent us His book that clearly explains how to attain the peace of Soul and to ward off one’s self from evil thoughts and desires. The purpose of this universe is not for man to follow their mundane, insignificant and temporary desires. These desires are short-lived and mere temptations.

  • Prepare yourself for Death

Secondly, we should keep reminding our self that death can approach us at any moment. Therefore know the ranks that the person will attain after death. Hence, act accordingly and do not be tempted with such desires that keep us away from that elevated status. We have little time to repent. Therefore we must repent each day. It is never too late. No matter how much sins we committed, we can still repent and turn towards the path of Allah.

  • Will power and strength of character

We need to be firm and strong when it comes to falling under Shaitan’s temptations. In other words, it is the main factor that helps us get rid of evil thoughts. When we shall constantly remind ourselves about our desires, we shall be able to gradually reach the level where we shall be able to fight against our desire and succeed in achieving that state.


There is no doubt that this worldly life is quite fascinating. That is to say, it fascinates us. As a result, we fall into its deceptions. But the wisdom and our real test lie in the fact how well we manage our Nafs and do not let our worldly desires overpower us.

And [by] the soul and He who proportioned it

And inspired it [with discernment of] its wickedness and its righteousness,

He has succeeded who purifies it (91:7-9)


How can QuraOnline help us in Fighting Against our Desires

Quran is the essence of purifying our hearts and soul. In other words, Quran makes us strong internally and hence gives us the power to fight against the self and our desires. Therefore make it a regular practice to recite and understand Quran. As a result, you will feel strong-willed and more powerful to fight against vane temptations.

Qura Online, an online Quran learning institution gives online Quran classes universally. It provides an equal chance of learning Quran to all. Qura online not only has male Quran tutors. It also facilitates its female learners with female online tutors. You can also test the expertise of Qura Online tutors by registering to free Online Quran Classes trail. It will give you a better understanding of what Qura Online is able to offer you.