Purification of the Soul

Dr. Hassan Hathout

Between man and Allah is a relationship, for Allah says, "We have blown into him of our spirit," and between man and mud is a relationship: for he was created from mud and unto mud he will return. Some people strengthen their relationship with Allah, while others devote their lives to mud.Our bodies are exactly like those of animals, so it is not our biology that makes us human, but we are a spirit being housed in a biological container which is our body. The mud in us is like mud in a glass of water. If stirred up the water becomes turbid and one cannot see through it. Only when the mud sinks to the bottom is the water clean and transparent. That is why if a man is agitated by anger or hatred, envy or selfishness and succumbs to material or sensual pleasures, he becomes like a drunk and cannot see his way to the straight path.

A clean mirror reflects a clear image, but if dust accumulates on it layer upon layer, it becomes a blind mirror that cannot reveal or reflect. Hence we need to keep our mirrors clean and souls tranquil. And what better way to acheive this than with the rememberance of Allah and by keeping his company continuously and continually, and by asking Him as our beloved Prophet (saw) did to guard us and not leave us to ourselves for as long as the blink of an eye or even less. For when you are disconnected from Him you become like a wire that has lost it's electricity and cannot generate power or light.

Prophet Muhammad (saw) once asked a group: if anyone was on the bank of a flowing river and kept bathing in it, would any dirt remain on him? They answered, of course, not. And so he gave the clue that our soul could be similarly washed clear and clean.

But let our baseline be to uphold the Shariah that Allah revealed in His Quran and through the voice and model of the Prophet (saw). Allah tells us that the best way His servant gets closer to Him is to establish what Allah mandated as obligatory, and then the road is ever open, and the nawafel carry you closer and closer until Allah - as He states in the hadeeth qudsi (divine ideas paraphrased by the Prophet (saw), becomes his eyes, his ears, his ears and his feet, and indeed until he becomes a divine servant who can say to something Be and it is.

But beware, for shaitan (devil) may set a trap for you even where least expected: and that is along the straight path of Allah, as the Quran reports Iblis (devil) saying to Allah. Beware of thinking that your rank is rising and getting pleased with yourself. for this is the sliding rope to arrogance, and arrogance was verily the original sin as Iblis refused to bow to Adam, who was made of dust, whereas, Iblis was made of fire.

....So be humble, because any person to whom you may feel superior, might in fact be closer to Allah than you. And what human being thinks that he will not need the forgiveness of Allah one day? But asking to be forgiven you must prove to be a forgiver, and so among your fellow humans seek forgiveness when you are wrong, and grant forgiveness when you are wronged. Live-not with resentment, rancor, or bitterness, for when Allah dwells in a heart, He leaves no space but for love: a believing heart is a loving heart. Loving hearts are its friends and company; and yet sick and wicked hearts are its patients to heal and cure, and no doctor should hate or desert his patients. Iman (faith) does not begin with the rules and regulations or the do's and don'ts but the ultimate goal and essence of the message was made clear to the Messenger, as Allah addressed him: "We have sent you for none else but mercy to the worlds."

The primary Sunnah to follow is essentially love, mercy and compassion the ingredients of the Prophet's personality. One day the kaffirs (disbelievers) were particularly nasty and aggressive to him, and when Jibril offered to crumble the mountains over their heads, the loving and beloved Mohammed saw answered: "Leave me, Jibril. May it please you, Allah, to forgive my people, for indeed they do not know."

And for another set of wrong-doers Allah addresses his Prophet, "Except for a few of them, you will always catch some of them committing acts of treachery. You pardon them and overlook it: God loves those who act kindly." "Allah is the light of heavens and earth. In His company you are delivered from darkness into light. Only He will give you light. His light goes before us and to our right and in His face and generosity we ask Him to complete our light for us, and then He will make us signs of His mercy and rays of His light." At that point we should reach out to those who stumble in the dark and accept them as our duty. For as Allah gave you the shining lamp, He put on you the duty of rescuing those whose eyes cannot see. Convince them that what you are offering is medicine to heal and not poison to kill. Approach them with a smile on your face, for ours is the religion that made the smile a sadaqah (charity), and ask Allah to give you a loving nature and maintain on you the blessing of the smile.

Our beloved Prophet (saw) had a very loving nature; if only his followers would understand and emulate it. He would forgive his enemies, and upon his grand victory he would pardon them as free people. He would lend his hand to a maid in the streets of Madinah and follow her to wherever she wanted to take him. He would shorten the prayer because a child was crying for it's mother and prolong his sujood because his grandson had mounted him like a horse and he didn't wish to interrupt the pleasure of the boy. He would notice the agony of the sparrow and would order her chick be returned to her. He would teach that offering water to a thirsty dog could lead to heaven and imprisoning a cat to could lead to hell. He would tilt the vessel for the cat to drink. He would give all he had to a needy person. He would stand up in respect for the funeral of a Jew. He would give away his cloak for shrouding a deceased man whom he had known to harbour extremely ill feelings towards the Prophet (saw).

...Comes night and sleep closes the eyes, stills the body and silences the tongue. But the heart keeps beating and would not sleep or slumber for as long as there is life. Let your remembrance of Allah therefore be a function of your heart. Let it go with your heart beat and not just the flicker of your tongue or the swaying of your trunk. And be constant; and persevere. The road is long but you have to keep marching. The mountain is high, but you have to keep climbing.

There is water under the desert so you must dig deep. O Allah. You Allah, First and Last, Outer and Inner, Quddoos and Wadood. Write from You with You, to You and of You.

[excerpts from an article appearing in The Minaret, August/Sept 1996.]
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the Minaret.