Explanations Of Tamanni, Raja And Hawa

It is reported that once Rasulullah 'sall-Allahu 'alaihi wa sallam' said, "I am very much afraid that my Ummat [1] (Muslims) will catch two vices. They are: following the desires of the nafs [2] and forgetting about death and running after the world." Following the desires of the nafs prevents one from obeying the commandments of Islam. To forget death causes one to follow the desires of one's nafs.

In another hadith [3], Rasulullah 'sall-Allahu 'alaihi wa sal-lam' said, "The existence of wisdom in a person manifests itself by his control over his 'nafs' and by his preparation of the things that will be beneficial after death. The sign of idiocy is one's following the desires of one's nafs and then expecting forgiveness and mercy from Allahu ta'ala." According to this hadith, following the desires of one's nafs and then expecting forgiveness and admittance to Paradise without repentance is symptomatic of idiocy. Expecting something without taking the actions which would produce that expected result is called wishful thinking (tamanni). On the other hand, expecting something after taking the actions that would produce the result is called hope or expectation (raja). Wishful thinking leads one into laziness. Expectation on the other hand is the cause of work and production. Desires of the nafs are called fancy (hawa). The nafs always loves and wishes harmful things; this evil tendency is inherent in its nature. The following stanza reflects this truth very clearly:

Always be on guard against your nafs.
Never trust your nafs.
It is an enemy to you,
Worse than seventy devils!

[1] umma(t): followers of Muhammad ('alaihi 's-salam); the community, body of believers, of a prophet.
[2] nafs: a force in man which wants him to harm himself religiously; an-nafs al-ammara. A negative force within man prompting him to do evil. (Nafs-i ammara). Nafs is ammara by creation, that is, it always wishes evil and harmful deeds to be done. It is reluctant to obey the Shari'at. The nafs of a man who obeys the Shari'at and makes progress in the way of tasawwuf becomes mutmainna. It wishes to obey the Shari'at.
[3] hadith (sharif): i) a saying of the Prophet ('alaihi 's-salam).; al-Hadith ash-sharif: all the hadiths as a whole; ii) 'ilm al-hadith; iii) Books of the hadith ash-sharif. iv) Al-hadith al-qudsi, as-sahih, al-hasan: kinds of hadiths (for which, see Endless Bliss, II).