How can a person become aware of his own shortcomings and weaknesses?

Reference: Mukhtasar Minhaaj al-Qaasideen – p156

There are four ways by which a person can realise his own shortcomings and weaknesses:

The first way: A person sits with a scholar who has insight and understanding of the nature of personal weaknesses and sin. The scholar makes the person aware of his weaknesses and the means to cure them. The existence of this way is rare in this day and age, so if a person finds such a scholar, he has indeed discovered an intelligent doctor and its not befitting to leave him.

The second way: A person should seek out an honest, religious and insightful friend and allow him to be a guardian over him so that he can inform him of any disliked mannerisms and actions. The commander of the Believers Umar Ibn al-Khattaab (may Allaah be pleased with him) would say,

May Allaah have mercy upon a person who gifts us our own weaknesses.

The pious predecessors used to love those who would inform them of their shortcomings. However today – in most cases – the most hated of people to us are those who inform us of our shortcomings.

The third way: A person benefits from the tongue of his enemies in knowing his weaknesses. This is because an eye which is displeased will only see the bad characteristics [of the person it looks at]. A person taking advantage of a quarrelsome opponent who mentions his weaknesses; [he] is more beneficial than a friend who flatters and hides his weaknesses from him.

The fourth way: By mixing and interacting with people and avoiding that which one considers to be blameworthy in them.

من أراد الوقوف على عيوب نفسه فله في ذلك أربع طُرُق:

المرجع: مختصر منهاج القاصدين ص156

الطريقة الأولى: أن يجلِسَ بين يدي شيخٍ بصيرٍ بٍعُيوبِ النفس يُعَرِّفُه عيوب نفسِه وطُرُقَ علاجها, وهذا قد عزَّ في هذا الزمان وجودُه, فمن وقع به فقد وقعَ بالطبيب الحاذق, فلا ينبغي أن يُفارِقَه.

الطريقة الثانية:  أن يطلُبَ صديقًا صدوقًا بصيرًا متدينا ويُنَصِّبَه رقيبًا على نفسِه لينبِّهه على المكروه من أخلاقِه وأفعاله. وقد كان أميرُ المؤمنين عمرُ بنُ الخطَّاب رضي الله عنه يقول: ((رحِم الله امرءًا أهدى إلينا عُيوبَنا)). وقد كان السلف يحبون من ينبههم على عيوبهم, ونحنُ الآن في الغالب أبغضُ الناسِ إلينا من يُعرِّفُنا عيوبَنا.

الطريقة الثالثة: أن يستفيدَ معرفةَ عيوبِ نفسِه من ألسنةِ أعدائه, فإنَّ عين السُّخط تبدي المساوئ, وانتفاعُ الإنسانِ بعدُوٍّ مُشاجِرٍ يذكُرُ عيوبَه أكثرُ من انتفاعِه بصديقٍ مُداهنٍ يُخفي عنه عيوبه.

الطريقة الرابعة: أن يُخالِط الناس, فكل ما يراه مذمومًا فيما بينهم يجتنبُه.

He is a graduate of the Islaamic University of Madeenah, having graduated from the Institute of Arabic Language, and later the Faculty of Sharee'ah in 2010. He currently resides in Nelson, Lancashire and is the Imam of Masijd Sunnah.

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