Moulana Yunus Patel (rahimahullah) mentioned:
Once I had the opportunity to join in an outing with some students of a hifz class. They were having a picnic at a park. We all require rest, exercise and some entertainment but of the halaal kind.
One of the games that those youngsters played was tug-of-war. After their game, I mentioned to them that in tug-of-war, there are two parties pulling a rope. Winning is based on the side that pulls stronger. I mentioned that we should take a lesson from this:
In life, there is always a ‘tug-of-war’. There is the pull of temptation and sins and there is the pull of Deen and sharee‘ah; there is the pull of the nafs (carnal self) and shaitaan, and there is the pull of the rooh (soul).
From our side, we have to suppress and overcome the pull of shaitaan towards haraam. We have to resist the pull of the nafs when it demands and commands to anything haraam. When the nafs makes a demand, we will look at the command of Allah Ta‘ala. The Muslim does not give into the evil demands of his nafs. He looks at the command of His Rabb, Allah Ta‘ala, and he willingly and happily accepts, submits and acts in accordance with what pleases his beloved Allah Ta‘ala. He sacrifices the evil desires of his nafs for the pleasure of Allah Ta‘ala.
To be able to come out as the victorious party, as the champions in this ‘tug-of-war’, we will have to strengthen our imaan, istiqaamat (steadfastness) and yaqeen (conviction) in Allah Ta‘ala. In this way, we will be the dominant and strong side.
If we do not give any attention to building our spiritual stamina, strength and prowess, then we will easily be defeated by the other side. Nafs and shaitaan will not have to pull very hard because spiritually, we will be weak.
To maintain the upper-hand at all times, we draw our strength and great, great spiritual strength will be drawn from establishing salaah, five times a day. For us men, this must be performed in the musjid, in jamaat (congregation). Together with this, we need to maintain our identity as Muslims and work towards fulfilling the commands of Allah Ta‘ala especially, staying away from all those actions that are displeasing to Him.
We should also be selective of the company we keep and seek out friends who are concerned about their Deen and are also trying to be obedient to Allah Ta‘ala. If not, then a bad ‘friend’ is no friend. He belongs to the opposite party, with nafs and shaitaan – and will pull strongly to draw us into sin. Then we will be defeated. If the friend is a good friend, he will assist us and will be on our side, in overcoming the opposition.
In the game of tug-of-war, there are occasions and times when there is a balance or the other side is stronger. The weak side will get the upper-hand when there is a slight lapse. In our day to day lives, this is what we term as ‘accidental’ sins: There is a lapse. We lose our grip, and shaitaan and nafs gain the upper-hand. To regain control, there is a need for plenty of remorse and sincere taubah (repentance). In this way, we redeem our position of being the strong side.
Of course, we should allow the nafs some halaal pleasure and entertainment. Having a picnic and playing for a little while is important to keep us refreshed, re-energised and happy. However, we should always be on guard that nafs and shaitaan do not get any leeway and pull us away from Allah Ta‘ala and Deen.
May Allah Ta‘ala grant us the taufeeq of becoming tough and strong against our enemies, nafs and shaitaan.
(Seeking the Shade of the ‘Arsh pg. 7)