Search yourself – for the signs of Allah and why we need to maintain our soul’s purity
وَفِي الْأَرْضِ آيَاتٌ لِلْمُوقِنِينَ
وَفِي أَنْفُسِكُمْ ۚ أَفَلَا تُبْصِرُونَ
In the earth, there are signs for those who (seek truth to) believe, (51:20)
And in your own selves! So, do you not perceive? (51:21)
This is a very inspiring ayah. Allah Almighty is telling us that He created signs far and wide which lead us to Him – our Creator, Originator, Provider, Sustainer and Protector.
All it takes to find Him is to search with sincerity and look for His signs.
These are everywhere, and we can find them on the earth and in the sky, but the signs which are closest to us, are the ones on earth.
Allah Almighty poses the question ‘Do you not perceive?’ He is provoking us to think and demanding, ‘Why don’t you think? Reflect? And Search? The truth is right before you.’
Remarkably, Allah Almighty is directing us inwards. Saying, you do not need even to look far. Allah Almighty has confirmed here that the signs that lead to Him are inside us. You may feel you do not have the knowledge or qualifications to undertake research, but the fact is that you are already equipped to find the truth within yourself – fi anfusikum.
One of the signs within us is inspiration (ilhaam)
وَنَفْسٍ وَمَا سَوَّاهَا
فَأَلْهَمَهَا فُجُورَهَا وَتَقْوَاهَا
قَدْ أَفْلَحَ مَنْ زَكَّاهَا
وَقَدْ خَابَ مَنْ دَسَّاهَا
And by the human, and by Him Who perfected him,
Then inspired him to follow either its evil or piety,
Whoever purified himself succeeded,
And whoever was immoral failed himself. (91:7-10)
In Surat Ash Shams, Allah Almighty swears an oath by the human being itself, wa nafsin wa ma sawwaha which He created and He confirms that He inspired us with the ability to distinguish between what is right and is wrong, when He says ‘inspired him to follow either its evil or piety’.
The word nafs has many meanings, depending on context, sometimes the soul, sometimes the lower desires and sometimes the human itself.
Ibn ‘Ashour the Tunisian scholar (d.1973), in his beautiful and huge tafseer, al–Tahrir wa Tanwir, mentioned that the definition of inspiration (al ilham) is being able to discern between good and bad.
When we are struck by ideas, which are accurate, which we were not taught by anyone, these have come from Allah Almighty. Our source of knowledge is Allah Almighty Himself.
Allah Almighty inspired us to distinguish between what is right or wrong, good or bad. Otherwise we would not be able to tell, just as a colour blind person cannot differentiate between colours. This is what we call the fitrah.
Allah Almighty created fitrah (innate moral compass) in every single one of us, believers and non-believers with this programming downloaded in us to recognise good and evil. He guided us to the path of goodness and warned us about the path of evil. Whether we follow it is our own choice.
In order for this compass not to go awry, Allah Almighty has taught us that the one who purifies himself is the one who achieves success. Therefore, if you want success in dunya and akhirah, purify yourself.
The Arabic word for purify and growth is Zaka, from which we also have the word zakat, as zakat is the purification of our wealth. Purification leads to growth in our own selves and our wealth when we purify it, hence, the word zakat also means to grow.
Success comes from purity
In order to be successful in this life and the next, we have to purify our inner selves – our heart, character, behaviour and habits. Without this systematic and regular purification, corruption creeps into our system and we are liable to go astray.
A lack of purity means our soul deteriorates
We need to purify our heart, our soul and our character.
This is why in the dua Ibrahim (peace be on him) made for the Arab and people of Makka where his Son Ismail lived, he for a Messenger to show them Allah’s signs and ‘purify them’ through Allah’s words and teachings:
Our Lord, do Thou send among them a Messenger, one of them, who shall recite to them Thy verses, and teach them the Book and the Wisdom, and purify them; Thou art the All-mighty, the All-wise.’ (2:129)
We need purity in everything – inward and outward. Outward purity is important, but inward purity is most important. Dirty clothes are not of consequence, if your heart is pure. However, even if your clothes are smart and clean, if your heart is dirty it does not mean that much. People will avoid you, they will not want to be near you because a dirty heart will lead to discord in relationships, and coldness, argumentativeness, harshness and even spitefulness in the way you treat people.
Beautiful dua for purity of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be on him)
Zaid bin Arqam (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated the dua of the Messenger of Allah (peace be on him):
Allahumma inni a’udhu bika minal-‘ajzi wal-kasali, wal-bukhli wal-harami, wa ‘adhabil-qabri.
Allahumma ati nafsi taqwaha, wa zakkiha Anta khairu man zakkaha, Anta waliyyuha wa maulaha.
Allahumma inni a’udhu bika min ‘ilmin la yanfau’, wa min qalbin la yakhsha’u, wa min nafsin la tashba’u, wa min da’watin la yustajabu laha’
O Allah! I seek refuge in You from the inability (to do good), indolence, cowardice, miserliness, decrepitude and torment of the grave.
O Allah! Grant me the sense of piety and purify my heart as You are the Best to purify it. You are its Guardian and its Protecting Friend.
O Allah! I seek refuge in You from the knowledge which is not beneficial, and from a heart which does not fear (You), and from desire which is not satisfied, and from prayer which is not answered]. (Muslim)
وعن زيد بن أرقم رضي الله عنه قال: كان رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم، يقول: “اللهم إني أعوذ بك من العجز والكسل، والبخل والهرم، وعذاب القبر، اللهم آت نفسي تقواها، وزكها أنت خير من زكاها، أنت وليها ومولاها، اللهم إني أعوذ بك من علم لا ينفع ومن قلب لا يخشع، ومن نفس لا تشبع، ومن دعوة لا يستجاب لها”. ((رواه مسلم)).
Once Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her) could not find the Prophet (peace be on him) in their bed as it was very dark, so she felt around until her hand touched his ankles. She realised he was in his Sujud, supplicating to Allah, in his night prayers. He repeating the dua in his sujud:
Allahumma ati nafsi taqwaha, wa zakkiha Anta khairu man zakkaha, Anta waliyyuha wa maulaha
Let’s memorise this dua repeat it and work towards purifying ourselves through continuous istighfar, supplication and by controlling our tongues, eyes, ears and facilities so they are in line with the guidance of the Prophet (peace be on him) and by this inshallah we will be among the successful people in dunya and akhirah and among those who purify themselves, as they are the ones whom Allah loves.
Verily, Allah loves those who keep repenting and those who keep purifying themselves. (2:222)
Shaykh Haytham Tamim – Thought for the Week 12th March 2021
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