Imam Dr Zijad’s Corner: TAZKIYAH (PURIFICATION) THROUGH SALAT (PRAYER)

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TAZKIYAH (PURIFICATION) THROUGH SALAT (PRAYER)

Almighty Allah informs mankind: “Indeed he/she succeeds who purifies his/her own-self, and indeed he/she fails who corrupts his/her own-self.”                                                 {Ash Shams 9, 10}

It is believers’ aim in this life to attain Tazkiyah (purification). First, Tazkiyah means purification of the body and mind; that is complete moral purity, honesty, integrity and righteousness. Second, nourishes growth, development of the personality, prosperity, and success.

Thus the word Tazkiyah has two meanings: one is cleansing and purifying, and the other, growth and development. Both of the meanings are completely coherent and inseparable from each other, for anything which is free from evil and corruption will grow and develop according to its natural capabilities. Messengers of Allah brought the Message from the Creator to purify (Tazkiyah) human souls in both senses. Messengers cleansed the hearts, deeds and morals of people from evil. By strengthening these faculties, through proper growth and development, the people would be able to defeat the forces of evil and corruption. In practicality, Tazkiyah of souls requires more hard work, effort and steadfastness. The Qur’an mentions this as the object and the end of teachings of Islam.

As it can be seen, the process of Tazkiyah is theoretical (‘Ilmi) and practical (‘Amali), external and internal, and materialistic and spiritual. At the same time, it is individual as well as collective. However, it has certain basic requisites which must be taken into consideration. First, a close watch must be kept on the minds, actions and morals of the people in order to protect them from the germs which cause and spread spiritual and moral diseases in society. At the same time, the virtues which improve person’s internally and externally must be encouraged in order to civilize his/her ways, customs and natural tendencies. Its second requisite is that people should be educated in such a way that every virtue and good thing becomes rooted in them, and every evil and bad thing be shunned by their very nature. Its third requisite is that through education, an atmosphere must be created, which will serve as a background for self-purification of individuals. Purification (Tazkiyah) understood, thus means, the purification of beliefs, ideas, habits, customs, culture, politics, etc. In short, Tazkiyah is the purification of every aspect of life – individual and collective.

The institution of Salat is a major instrument of purification of one’s soul, of all evil, from within, and without. Regular Salat eliminates evil ideas, evil designs and evil influences from one’s mind by the constant remembrance of God. Salat also crushes and weakens the external evil influences of the environmnet by developing qualities of patience and endurance in the individual.

The Qur’an informs us how God sent His Messengers to various people to bring them together to worship God and obey Him, to teach His Book and Wisdom and purify them of all evil: “Similarly (to complete My Blessings on you) We have sent among you a Messenger (Muhammad sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) of your own, reciting to you Our verses of the Qur’an, purifying your lives, who instructs you in the Book and Wisdom and teaches you those things you did not know… O you who believe! Seek help in patience and prayer. Truly! Allah is with the patient.”  {Al Baqarah 151, 153}

Purification here includes all its meanings mentioned, above. The Messenger of God was expected to bring individuals towards moral purity, honesty, integrity and righteousness. The Messenger assisted them to develop their personalities to full measure and to the utmost growth and attain real success and prosperity in both worlds. Thus the purification, mentioned in these verses goes far beyond the physical needs of a human being. The Messenger of God educated them in purification, the individuals, as well as society, through the process of wisdom (Hikmah) and prayer (Salat). The institution of Salat, as it can be seen, plays a leading part in this process of purification. This is why the Qur’an advises people to seek help with patience and Salat, in the achievement of perfect purification, full growth of the self, and continuing success in life.

Gradually Salat creates Taqwa in the hearts of individuals, who, slowly but surely, begin to humble themselves in the presence of Almighty God with Khushu’. And, through this state of submission and humility in Salat, they are likely to attain purification (Tazkiyah) of self and finally reach the ultimate goal of peace and tranquility (Itmi’nan) in communion with their Lord. The Prophets Ibrahim and Isma’il ‘alaihimas salam, while raising the foundation of the Ka’bah, prayed to Almighty God to raise a Messenger among his people who would purify them: “Rabbana – Our Lord! Send among them a Messenger of their own, who will recite unto them Your verses and instruct them in the Book and Wisdom and purify them. You are All-Mighty, the All-Wise.”                                            {Al Baqarah 129}

And indeed, God answered their invocation by sending Muhammad (S) who recited unto them God’s verses, instructed them in the Book and the Wisdom and who purified them, as He says in the Qur’an: “Indeed God granted a great favor on the believers when He sent among them a Messenger (Muhammad sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam), from among themselves, reciting unto them His verses, and purifying them, and instructing them in the Book and the Wisdom, while before that they had been in manifest error.”            {Ali ‘Imran 164}

Obviously, a great and an important function of every Messenger of God was to purify his people from all kinds of evil and to help them grow and live righteously. The people who purify themselves in accordance with teachings of the Messengers attain the real success in both worlds, as the Qur’an mentions: “Indeed whosoever purifies himself/herself, shall achieve success, and remembers the Name of his/her Lord and prays.”             {Al A’la 14, 15}

It is all for the benefits of human beings themselves. We are ones who are in need of Salat and purification of our souls. And whosoever practices Salat to purify his/her soul and to acquire the goodness and the Noor of God, does it for his/her own good. Almighty God informs us as follows: “(O Muhammad, sallallahi ‘laihi wa sallam) You can warn only those who are aware of their Lord unseen, and establish Salat. And whosoever purifies himself/herself (through Salat) does it for the benefit of his/her own-self. And to Allah is the final Return of everything.”      {Fatir 18}

Indeed Salat is the best and the most objective means of purifying one’s self of lower motives in life. In Salat, one is in direct contact with the Creator. This feeling is the state of mind, that one is standing in the Presence of the Almighty, helps purify one’s mind and heart from all impurities and mean motives of the self.

But this state of mind can only be achieved by those who have already acquired Taqwa in their hearts. So that when they stand in Salat, they stand with extreme reverence, humility and submission (Khushu’). In other words, purification (Tazkiyah) comes only after one has acquired Taqwa in his/her heart. And people who do not have Taqwa in their hearts, either do not practice Salat at all, or if they do, they do not observe all its essential conditions and, consequently, fail to achieve much from it.

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