PURIFICATION OF THE SOUL PART 1
Updated: Dec 24, 2020
By: Raya Shokatfard
It is easy for one to talk about righteous deeds and actions and all required steps to achieve them. Yet in today’s society and busy life and lack of time to focus, one may need more details and specific directions and activities to guide him through this great journey.
This series on the topic of purification of the soul will provide you with steps and give you directions to accommodate you in your great journey.
People of all religions and schools of thought are quite attracted to this subject, and seek various ways to achieve this goal. Amongst them are Hindus, Buddhists, Christians, Muslims, and other faiths.
But how do we know which way is really correct and which one has long term positive effects on our soul?
Certainly each faith thinks their way is correct. This includes Muslims.
In this article, we address the reasons why Muslims think that their way is the correct way.
Before we take a single step to express human thoughts and opinion on this, let us first acknowledge that no human can devise a better plan for this subject than the One who created him or her.
Allah, who is the Creator of all mankind and the universe and all that is in it, is the One who put such aspiration in the soul of human species. He also allowed Satan, who is the enemy of humans to deceive them, yet not without giving humanity the right tools to defend itself against the temptations and evil whispers of the demonic forces around it.
For that, God sent prophets to all mankind from the beginning of Creation up to the advent of the final prophet, whose name was Muhammad (peace be upon him).
Muslims believe that Prophet Muhammad was not the only a prophet who brought the right path to people.
All prophets declared the truth and proclaimed one message — a reminder that there was only one God to be worshipped. Each prophet brought a set of guidance and along with it rituals, specific to the people of his time and place.
The difference between these prophets and Prophet Muhammad is that the message of Islam is a message for all humanity, and not just for the Arab tribes from among whom Muhammad was chosen as a prophet.
If one were to sincerely investigate all Holy Books, one would come away with an astonishment as to the extent these books have been changed, modified, and readjusted to various times.
The Quran is the only scripture totally preserved in its original form over 1400 years, and remains the only one anyone can assert to be the word of God, completely unchanged from the time of revelation.
Being the final messenger, Prophet Muhammad was sent to all mankind, and was given complete instructions for all facets of life, including the methods by which to achieve spiritual purity and ways of closeness to Allah.
Muslims feel quite fortunate to have two great sources for many matters of guidance in their lives: the Quran and the traditions of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).
There is no doubt about the authenticity of the Quran. Likewise, the Sunnah or traditions of Prophet Muhammad, is subject to strict rules, by which the most authentic narrations have been extracted, and questionable ones rejected or marked for their incompleteness or weakness of narrators.
Thus, we now have a basis by which to judge which actions would be the ones to guide us to spiritual purification and everlasting sanctity, both inwardly and outwardly.
Our first step is to get acquainted with the path that is the correct one for our spiritual purification.
Sometimes, one does many actions which he assumes to be correct, but in actuality, does not gain the person anything but possible harm.
Prophet Muhammad said,
“Perhaps a fasting person obtains nothing from his fasting but hunger and one who stands during the night in prayer nothing but tiredness.” (Ibn Majah)
So, there are conditions by which actions are accepted. Allah says in the Quran what means,
[It is He who created life and death to see which of you is best in action] (Al-Mulk 67:2)
He, Glory be to Him, also made known to us what constitute wrong actions and warned us
against committing them.
[And We shall turn to whatever actions they did and make them into scattered dust] (Al-Furqan 25:23)
Of course for actions to be acceptable, they must be coupled with other elements like intentions, sincerity, good state of the heart, and so on.
Now let us take further steps toward better understanding.
How is An Action Acceptable?
First: the action must be for the sake of pleasing Allah and not anyone else.
Second: the action must be according to the Quran and the traditions of Prophet Muhammad.
From various sources we understand that acceptable actions must be sincere and correct. A sincere action which is not correct is not acceptable, neither is a correct action without sincerity.
Sincerity means seeking nothing but the desire to please Allah, and a correct action is the one that is according to the Quran and the Sunnah of Prophet Muahammad.
Some of the early generations of Muslims used to say “There is no action, even if it is insignificant, except that it will have two questions put to it: Why did you do it, and how did you do it?”
So the first action is about the reason and its motive. If the motive was for worldly gain, such as seeking praise and higher status in life, and fulfilling worldly desires only, it is not an acceptable action by Allah.
But if is to fulfill the right of Allah and seek His pleasure, as well as seeking a means of nearness to Him, then it is a good action and will be accepted, God willing.
As for following the tradition of Prophet Muhammad, we must ask ourselves: would this action fall within the legislated actions that Prophet Muhammad instructed us to do, or our own innovation?
If it is according to the guidance of the Prophet, then it is good and acceptable action, otherwise, it would not be accepted.
Prophet Muhammad said,
“Whoever introduces into this affair of ours something that does not belong to it will have it rejected.” (Muslim)
“Whoever does an action which we have not commanded will have it rejected.” (Muslim)
When one of the above two conditions is not fulfilled, the action is neither righteous nor acceptable. Allah says what means:
[And whoever places his hope in the meeting with His Lord let him work righteous deeds and in the worship of His Lord, associate none as a partner.] (Al-Kahf 18:110)
Allah informs us clearly in the Quran that each person’s destination in this world and the hereafter is according to their belief in the oneness of God as well as righteous or evil deeds that they have done.
He has allowed humans to choose what they wished and likewise warned them of the consequences of their wrong decisions and actions.
To be continued
Published on: Wednesday, 27 January 2010