Testosterone: Chemical Fountainhead of the Nafs

The always entertaining This American Life had a great radio show last Friday. I only caught the first segment, unfortunately, but it was fantastic. They interviewed a man whose body did not produce testosterone for 4 months. The result? Total Loss of Desire. Not just sex. All of it. For everything. More amazing: everything he saw, he perceived as beautiful. Beautiful in its essence, removed from his like or dislike, simply beautiful in its createdness. In retrospect, he says it shattered his perception of himself. If there is physical body and ethereal self-ness, how can a physical chemical destroy his ethereal self? Of course, there is not two, but three: physical body, Soul, and Nafs, the willfull ego.
I don’t want to venture in over my head, but it struck me that he had experienced a shortcut, a flawed, imperfect shortcut, to the goal of spiritual struggle, jihad al-akbar, which is the defeat of the nafs. His nafs chemically suppressed, he could witness the infinite wisdom and beauty of God’s creation, but could not act on his knowledge. But the one who has suppressed his nafs through the struggle of the Soul can see with that vision but maintain engagement, riding his subordinated nafs like a chariot to the destination: knowledge of God!

From Imam Nawawi’s 40 Hadith Qudsi:My servant draws not near to Me with anything more loved by Me than the religious duties I have enjoined upon him, and My servant continues to draw near to Me with supererogatory works so that I shall love him. When I love him I am his hearing with which he hears, his seeing with which he sees, his hand with which he strikes and his foot with which he walks.
Ya Lateef!


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