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Struggling to Purify Your Soul? You Need These Two Elements

As you proceed on your journey in along the path of self-purification and Tazkiyah, in quest of the ultimate goal of Paradise, you will encounter difficulties and hardships. These may often seem insurmountable. Overcoming them may be made easier by a good early grasp of the prerequisites of Tazkiyah. These include:

Genuine Effort

In order to succeed, you must have a deep desire to make a genuine effort to fulfill your obligations as a Muslim:

{But as for those who strive hard in Our cause – We shall most certainly guide them onto paths that lead unto Us: for, behold God is indeed with the doers of good.} (Al-`Ankabut 29: 69)

With desire, of course, come actions. But know that it is not solely the results of your endeavours that count; what matters most is that you made your best effort.

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This is a very important point to appreciate because without genuine effort nothing can happen. Those who think that du`aa’ (prayer) alone can work miracles are not living in a realistic world.

Prayers are part of the effort, but Prayers are not the whole answer. If you pray, ‘Allah! Guide me and make me good’, it is not going to bring you any benefit unless you are also determined to become good and make an effort towards becoming good.

Once you have done the latter two things, then, of course, Prayer will be a source of barakah or Divine grace that will further inspire and strengthen your efforts. The initial desire and the ensuing effort to do and become good, is part of the continuing process of self-development, a process that may begin at any point in life that you choose and continue till your last breath:

{O ye who believe! Fear Allah as He should be feared, and die not except in a state of Islam.} (Aal `Imran 3: 102)

There will never be a point when you will be able to say that you are now a perfect person or that you have achieved your full potential. If at any point you feel so, then be sure that is the starting point of your downfall.

On the other hand, you may find that the greater your desire to fulfill your obligations as a Muslim, the more you feel beset or plagued by frustration, despondency and despair in your heart and mind. All of us, whether young or old, have experienced these diseases, and often just give up. What we should try to remember at such times is that it is the intention and effort that matters, not the result. This effort must be a continuing process:

{Be not, then, faint of heart, and grieve not: for you are bound to be superior if you are believers.} (Aal `Imran 3: 139)

Sustaining Willpower 

To achieve the ultimate goal in life requires a sustained determination to do so, a willpower that is forever responsive and strong. In Qur’anic terminology this is called iradahIradah is basic to all our efforts. Without willing to do something you cannot do anything.

Iradah is very different from desire. You always hear people reflecting upon unfulfilled aspirations. One of the main reasons why aspirations and dreams remain unfulfilled is that they are no more than desires which faded to assume the status of iradah.

The Qur’an explains that one of the basic weaknesses in human nature which impedes self-development is the weakness of will. While narrating the story of Adam, Allah informs:

{And, indeed, long ago We made Our covenant with Adam; but he forgot and We found no firmness of purpose in him.} (Taha 20:115)

Iradah requires strength and consistency and is indeed the antithesis of doubt, hesitation or lethargy. Once iradah is firmly in place, then you must have no doubts and you must not hesitate.

Now, what purpose should iradah serve? The Qur’an makes it clear that this will power must be a firm resolve to seek the pleasure of Allah because this is the part of the bargain that you must deliver:

{And whoever desires [arada] the Life to Come, and strive for it as it ought to be striven for, and are [true] Believers withal-they are the ones whose striving finds favour [with God].} (Al-Israa’ 17: 19)


Taken, withsome modifications, from the author’s In the Early Hours.