Concept of Heva: Ardour and overweening ambition according to tasawwuf

Heva means empty, full of air, futile and worthless. It is a concept used by sufis to indicate someone’s nafs, in other words, soul’s inclination towards and dependency on personal desires and lust. If heva overcomes reason in any human being, the person will be under the command of his nafs, thus leading his soul mostly to unwanted stages and realms, unwanted according to the sufi way.

In Islamic tasawwuf, being under the control of nafs and fueling the fire of heva will divert  the person from the “right way” and such diversion will end up in Hell.

There is nothing wrong to answer the “natural” calls of nafs. Everybody has certain needs and desires and tasawwuf by no means is to turn one’s self away from every worldly affairs. However, the nafs is like a never-satisfying monster, like a gradually growing balloon of ego, the more the person listens to “every” stimulation of heva, the more he will be under the control of his nafs. It is natural to have passion for certain things in life. However, the dangerous phase of “under the guidance of heva” enters in when such passions transform into stable ardours and overweening ambitions.

A sufi can struggle to achieve a certain “thing” in life but he knows where to stop, yielding himself to the “destiny” of Allah(j.j) after a certain stage. If he insists in struggling to achieve that “thing”, that would mean his nafs is controlling him and his nafs is fueled with too much heva.

In such a case, it is suggested that the sufi should seek refugee in Allah(j.j) from his heva and ardours and overweening ambitions.

All of the sins that mankind commit on earth result from excessive heva every nafs has. When we can control our ambitions, we can strike a balance of reason and satisfaction here and after.

Holy Quran mentions the word heva in many suras and these can be of many different interpretations depending on the context of the sura. In general, heva is something that the person should be aware of, if he is listening too much of his soul’s desires and controlling heva is an important indication whether one soul is slave of his ambitions of not.

There are myriad number of “mankeebes” in tasawwuf, all are cautionary tales for the learning sufi to clean his nafs from heva. Mankeebe is like “oral form of story” mostly containing religious theme and contents.

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