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Purifying the Soul (3)

In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.

(Friday speech delivered by Imam Mohamed Baianonie at the Islamic Center of Raleigh, NC on November 17, 2000)

The Practical Means for Tazkyiah (Soul Purification):

The Righteous Deed:

Good knowledge and righteous deeds are strongly related; the knowledge that does not lead to good deed is not a good knowledge. Also, the deed that is not based on the correct divine knowledge is not a good deed and will not be accepted by Allah (S.W.T.).

The good deed includes all kinds of good deeds; it is not restricted to the acts of worship. It includes everything that pleases Allah (S.W.T.); sayings, actions (seen as well as hidden).

The most notable deeds that help purify the soul are the pillars of Islam: Salah, Zakah, Fasting, and Hajj (the mandatory and the recommended ones).

  • The prayer is the main pillar of Deen, the key to Paradise, and the first thing that person will be accountable for on the Day of Judgment. Salah is the second pillar of Islam after the two declarations of Islam. It is the only act of worship that was prescribed during the night when the prophet (S.A.W.) was ascended to the sky. Many verses as well as Ahadith show the importance of the prayer.
  • There are conditions that must be met for the prayer to be an effective means for the purification of the soul. The most important of these conditions:

    • The Salah must be complete, well performed on time without any compromise, performed exactly as the prophet (S.A.W.) performed it, and performed sincerely only for the sake of Allah (S.W.T.).
    • The Muslim must perform Salah with all solemnity, submissiveness and full submissive a fully aware heart. This is because Salah without full submissiveness is like a body without a soul. The Muslim can never be successful unless he prays with full submissiveness. Allah (S.W.T.) says what can be translated as, "Successful indeed are the believers. Those who offer their prayers with all solemnity and full submissiveness." {Al-Mu'minun, 1 &2}
    How do we accomplish all solemnity and full submissiveness in Salah?

    The following actions help the Muslim to become full submissive in his Salah:

    • The Muslim must recognize the importance of Salah. He must realize that it is a connection between him and Allah (S.W.T.). He must perform the Salah out of his conviction that it is an order from Allah (S.W.T.). He must know that Salah wipes out sins and lifts him to higher degrees and protects him from committing sins.
    • The Muslim must push away all thoughts from his mind when he is performing Salah. He must keep away all things that interfere with his concentration and focus on what he is doing in Salah. He must keep away all things that interfere with his humility during Salah like various sounds (pagers, cell phone), pictures….. He must focus his eyes on the place of his prostration and never turns left or right or look up.
    • The Muslim must contemplate the verses that he or the Imam is reciting. He must look into the meanings of these verses. He must contemplate death and its fright, grave, the people gathering on the Day of Judgment, and the various events of the Day of Judgment. The prophet (S.A.W.) reinforces this in his Hadith: "Pray like you are leaving this world."{Authentic Hadith reported by Imams Abn Majah and Ahmad.}

      The more submissive the Muslim has in his prayer, the more reward he will get. With full submissive, the Muslim feels content, his soul is reassured, and Salah will have its effective deterrent against evil. With that, Salah becomes one of the greatest means to purify the soul and lift it to higher degrees closer to Allah (S.W.T.).

  • Zakah is the third pillar of Islam. It is the growth, purification and blessing. It is one of the means that help purify the soul. Allah (S.W.T.) says what can be translated as, "Take Sadaqah (alms) from their wealth in order to purify them and sanctify them…"{At-Tawbah, 103}
  • Because of its importance, Zakah was associated with Salah, in the Qur’an, in 82 verses. Abu Bakr (R.A.) said: "I will fight every one who disassociates Zakah from Salah." He indeed fought those who did with the companions’ consensus.

    Zakah will not have its fruits unless three conditions are met:

    • The Muslim must keep away from hypocrisy, showing off, and reminding people of his generosity. Allah (S.W.T.) does not accept a good deed unless it is for his sake only. Allah (S.W.T.) cancels the reward of the charity when the charity-giver hurts people and boasts with his generosity. Allah (S.W.T.) says what can be translated as, "O you who believe! Do not render in vain your charity by reminder of your generosity or by injury…" {Al-Baqarah, 264}
    • The Muslim must spend from what he loves, not from what he hates. He must be content with what he spends. Allah (S.W.T.) expressed that in the following verse: Allah (S.W.T.) says what can be translated as, "By no means shall you attain Al-Birr (piety), unless you spend (in Allah's cause) of that which you love…" {Al-Emran, 92} This closeness to Allah (S.W.T.) will not be attained until you spend from what you love, and you spend it generously. This way, you free your soul from being a slave to your money and stinginess that impede purification of the soul.
    • The Muslim must spend from the good earnings, not from the bad ones. Imams Bukhari and Muslim reported that the prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.) said, "If a person gives in charity of the value of even a date out of his pure earning, and Allah accepts only that which is pure, Allah accepts it with His Right Hand and fosters it for him, as one of you fosters the colt, till it becomes like a mountain."

    This way, Zakah will be a practical and a fruitful way to purify the soul. Zakah is a practical test for the believer to obey Allah (S.W.T.) who orders him to spend. It is also a means to purify the soul from stinginess. This way, Zakah will pave the way to success. Allah (S.W.T.) says what can be translated as, "And whosoever is saved from his own covetousness, such are they who will be the successful." {Al-Hashr, 9} Zakah is also a practical way with which the believer shows his gratitude and his thanks to Allah (S.W.T.).

  • Fasting is the fourth pillar of Islam. Allah (S.W.T.) prescribed it upon other nations in the history of humanity. Allah (S.W.T.) made the month of fasting so special that he revealed in it the Qur’an.
  • The greatest benefit attained in the month of Ramadan is Taqwa. Allah (S.W.T.) says what can be translated as, "O you who believe! Fasting is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, that you may attain taqwa." {Al-Baqarah, 183}

    This month is a great training school for the soul. In it, the soul quits its whims, desires, and needs, and learn patience. The Muslim also abstains from everything that causes breakfast from dawn to sunset. For fasting to achieve its role in purifying the soul, two conditions must be met:

    • Fasting must be done for the sake of Allah (S.W.T.). It must be done out of belief in Allah (S.W.T.) and hoping his rewards. It must not be done as a habit. This way, the real meaning of fasting is realized. Imams Bukhari, Muslim and others reported that the prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.) said, "Whoever observes the fasting during the month of Ramadan, believing in Allah and seeking His rewards, will have his/her past sins forgiven."
    • Abiding by the orders of the prophet (S.A.W.) during the month of Ramdan helps us understand the meaning of this act of worship. For example, the prophet (S.A.W.) ordered us to have some food just before dawn prayer, he also ordered us to break our fast quickly after sunset and that our breakfast should be done only with few date fruits or some water. He also ordered us to supplicate to Allah (S.W.T.) when breaking our fast.

    The Muslim must keep away from sins as he must keep away from allowed acts during fasting like eating, drinking. Imam Bukhari reported that the prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.) said, "Whoever does not abandon falsehood in word and action then Allah has no need that he should leave his food and drink."

    When these conditions are met, fasting becomes a great mean to purify the soul. It is a practical training to submit the soul to Allah (S.W.T.), it is also a practical training on patience, control and self-restrain from whims, desires and rage. It is also training for the soul to quit doing evil and to hurry to obey Allah (S.W.T.). It is also training the soul to appreciate the blessings of Allah (S.W.T.). This is attained when someone stops having these blessings for a short period of time to realize how great these blessings are. If those blessings are to continue without any interruption, their appreciation will be lost.

  • Hajj is the fifth pillar of Islam. It is distinguished from the other acts of worship in that it is a spiritual, physical and financial act of worship. It must be performed once in a lifetime for the capable. It must be performed in a specific place and a specific time. He who performs it will witness many worldly benefits as well as the benefits in the Hereafter. The greatest benefit is the attainment of the pleasure of Allah (S.W.T.) and His forgiveness. For Hajj to play its role in purifying the soul, some conditions must be met:
    • Sincerity in performing Hajj for the sake of Allah (S.W.T.) alone.
    • The Muslim must keep away from foul language, dispute and disobedience of Allah (S.W.T.) and everything that harm others.
    Imams Bukhari, Muslim and others reported that the prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.) said, "Whoever performs Hajj (pilgrimage) and dos not have sexual relations (with his wife), nor commits sin, no disputes unjustly, then he returns from Hajj as pure and free from sins as on the day on which his mother gave birth to him."

    This way, Hajj becomes a practical way to purify the soul. It is a practical training for the soul when the Muslim suffers hardships in his travel. It is a training because the Muslim teaches himself to obey Allah (S.W.T.) through his application for the rituals of Hajj and his pillars. Also, the Muslim’s deeds are done out of his absolute obedience to Allah (S.W.T.), through his absolute submission to Allah (S.W.T.) because many acts of Hajj can not be understood by the mind, like circling the Ka’bah, kissing the black rock… Hajj is a great lesson that teaches patience through the hardships of travel, leaving home, and staying away from family and children. For this reason, Omar (R.A.) said: "Pack and go to Hajj. It is one of two ways to do Jihad."

    Hajj is also a treatment for the sickness of the soul like stinginess, egoism, hatred, and arrogance. This is done when the Muslim spends his money to travel, to lodge and to slaughter. This is also done when the Muslims are in one uniform clothing, one harmonious call, calling one Elaah. They are gathered under the brotherhood of Islam. There is no difference between an Arab and a non-Arab. Nor is there a difference between a white and a black. This is also done when Muslims get together on the mountain of Arafah where Satan is so humiliated. The prophet (S.A.W.) said: "There is no day that Satan feels so small, and so humiliated like he feels on the day of Arafah. This is because he sees how great the forgiveness of Allah (S.W.T.) to his people."

    After this presentation for the pillars of Islam, it is clear to us how important these pillars in purifying the soul and training it. So, we must perform them and understand their meanings and benefit from their good fruits.

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