Islamic Youth Leadership Program: Tazkiyah – Purification of the Soul (Part 4 – Final)

Dedicated to revive the leadership quality among the younger Islamic generation of today, Islamic Online University held the YL360 Course for public for free through the website. Here are the excerpts from the course which I will present to you all in separate posts.

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Still related to nafs, please take some time and answer these questions for your nafs check:

  1. Able to wake up for tahajjud regularly?
  2. Control your tongue, hands, sins, and mind?
  3. Control your sexual desires?
  4. Control over food?
  5. Aware of blessings?

The answers may be the key on how to improve our control over our nafs and to reach the desired type of nafs among the categories mentioned in Part 3 – nafs al-mutmainnah.

Man vs Shaytan

“O mankind! Verily, the Promise of Allah is true. So let not this present life deceive you, and let not the chief deceiver (satan) deceive you about Allah.”
– QS Fatir: 5

Shaytan is extremely experienced in this because he has been working on this for thousands of years. One may ask at how does he do his job.

Shaytan will work on these following three categories to mislead the humankind:

  1. Giving good sounding names to things horrible and evil
    The earliest example was the eternity fruit that he made Adam and Eve ate. As for now, there are a lot of examples such as anything in the name of fashion – people dressing inappropriately and labeled as norm. Another example is the term of “boyfriend” and “girlfriend” that may sound innocent but not. Or something like Valentine’s Day, khamr, music, democracy, and other brands/labels propagated by the Western civilization in the name of fun and sophistication.
  2. Becoming our “personal assistant”
    Deceiving us from our true purpose. For example, the shaytan will whisper us to delay our salah when the time is due, telling us not to lower our gaze when seeing a beautiful woman, and many other temptations.
  3. Through our intentions
    For example is riya by means of diverting our initial intention to pray for Allah but instead showing other people that we look pious.An example from a hadith that during the day of Judgment, there would be three types of person – martyr, knowledgeable person, and generous person. These people are expected to go to Paradise but Allah will ask the first one concerning the blessings.

    The first one told Allah that he martyred for the sake of Him but Allah said that he’s lying because he wanted to let people see how courageous he was. Allah then drags him to the hellfire. So are the other two persons, they were also wanted people to see them for their good deeds and not for pleasing Allah. These kinds will be thrown to hellfire.

That’s why the shaytan manipulates us through this area and tries to corrupt us. Let us pray that Allah may guide us. And also we need to be careful of ‘autopiloting’ ourselves by doing good deeds but only because we’re doing it automatically and forgetting that we’re doing these for Allah. We need to be conscious with this because it might make us lose our khusyu during salah and ultimately losing our reward or even rendered useless.

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Excerpts from the narration of Nihal Javed of Islamic Online University

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Islamic Youth Leadership Program: Tazkiyah – Purification of the Soul (Part 3)

Dedicated to revive the leadership quality among the younger Islamic generation of today, Islamic Online University held the YL360 Course for public for free through the website. Here are the excerpts from the course which I will present to you all in separate posts.

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So what is the difference between the battles of Badr and Uhud?

In the battle of Badr, we had a decisive victory even when we were outnumbered. Because of our taqwa, Allah gave us a stunning victory.

“And already had Allah given you victory at [the battle of] Badr while you were few in number. Then fear Allah ; perhaps you will be grateful.”
– QS Ali Imran: 123

Victory was near but against what our Prophet wills, the archers came downhill during the Battle of Uhud. It was all simply because they’re afraid to lose the booties of war. They’re attracted by the dunya and forgot the real purpose. Because of this Allah humiliated us with a defeat and that was because we disobeyed our Rasul and Allah.

From here, we can understand why the purification of the soul is connected with the topic of leadership and victory of Ummah.

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FITRA (NATURE)

Fitra is a natural inclination that Allah SWT puts in our souls.

“And [mention] when your Lord took from the children of Adam – from their loins – their descendants and made them testify of themselves, [saying to them], “Am I not your Lord?” They said, “Yes, we have testified.” [This] – lest you should say on the day of Resurrection, “Indeed, we were of this unaware.”
– QS Al A’raf: 172

The surah tells us about the covenant that we made with Allah when we were once extracted from the loins of Adam. All souls testify that Allah is our God.

The natural belief of Allah is actually already inside us, regardless that now humankind has other forms of beliefs or religions. Along the way, we are tarnished the way we live our lives in the dunya and that affects our fitra so that it became rusty, the hearts becomes blackened, and many cannot differentiate right or wrong anymore – even the truth of tawheed and shirk.

Islam is the religion of fitra. Everybody believes that cleanliness is good and dirtiness is the opposite. Honesty is good and lying is bad. Being kind to parents is good and being harsh to them is evil. Similarly that knowing Allah is one and there’s no partner is fitra itself but our faith in the dunya is oftentimes challenged and tarnished.

Islam is the deen of fitra and guides man to the true faith in Allah. By doing this, we will complete the fulfillment of our potentials and realizes that the best reward is in the Paradise, not in this world.

All prophets were sent to remind humankind about this essential knowledge from the earliest of time and taught the Islamic law as a comprehensive guidance of living. It is something that is not only applied at the masjid but also as our way of life.

It is in our fitra that we believe that Allah is one. We know about the good and bad things. We testified about this before we were born. So what the factors that caused our fitra to change? What are the reason that people start worshipping other than Allah or associating Him with partners and failed to differentiate good and evil?

Every baby is born with the tauhid to Allah but it was the parents who choose their religions for them. Other big influences came from school, society and culture, and materialistic influences.

For instance, there are cultures where women are the ones who should pay the dowry before marriage, or the belief to “cross your fingers” before doing something important. What is worse is that the latter may be categorized as shirk.

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NAFS

Nafs is something that is related to the soul and it could be the synonym of soul as well. There are three types of soul and there is one that we should aspire into:

Nafs al ammarah bil soo (commanding souls)

And I do not acquit myself. Indeed, the soul is a persistent enjoiner of evil, except those upon which my Lord has mercy. Indeed, my Lord is Forgiving and Merciful.”
– QS Yusuf: 53

The soul is a persistent adviser of evil or the enjoiner of evil. So what is this nafs al ammarah bil soo?  This is the soul which is controlled by its whims and desires, where people would commit sins easily, becoming disobedient, and leads eventually to lose remorse upon committing sin after sin.

Those with this soul will lose their ability to perceive truth, their hearts hardened, and will not  be able to differentiate between good and evil anymore. At that stage, everything will be the opposite – the good becomes evil and the evil becomes good.

For example it’s like the celebration of LGBT. It was a severe sin as said by Allah but in many parts of the world, they celebrate it. Or another example is the way people dress nowadays and it becomes a norm, or at how riba is now being tolerated everywhere in the world whereas Allah said that the proponents of riba are like engaging a war with Allah and His messengers. Sadly so many Muslims are trapped with this and those who engage in this became the companion of shaytan. Nauzubillah.

That’s why we need to go back and think whenever we did something wrong. At the beginning we might feel bad, but the more we do it, the regrets will fade. So, if we’re feeling bad at doing something wrong, that is good because there’s still some heart left in us.

“No! Rather, the stain has covered their hearts of that which they were earning.”
– QS Al Mutaffifin: 14

Nafs al-lawwama (reproachful soul)

“And I swear by the reproaching soul [to the certainty of resurrection].”
– QS Al Qiyamah: 2

This type of soul is constantly between good and evil. It does recognize evil deeds and feels regret after committing it. They repent after sinning and blame themselves for doing sins and for not doing more good. However, the soul still wavers between good and evil.

It is actually a good start to be at this state because the soul is still alive. Because after all, every son of Adam is a sinner. Every human being is a sinner but the best of them are those who repent. Most of us are in this stage, but we have to strive for a stage that is even better than this.

Nafs al-mutmainnah (tranquil soul)

“[To the righteous it will be said], “O reassured soul,
Return to your Lord, well-pleased and pleasing [to Him],
And enter among My [righteous] servants
And enter My Paradise.”
– QS Al Fajr: 27-30

Allah SWT will say to the righteous followers to enter the Paradise, dedicated for them solely. How pleasing would that be if we are among those who possess nafs al-mutmainnah.

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To be continued

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Excerpts from the narration of Nihal Javed of Islamic Online University

Islamic Youth Leadership Program: Tazkiyah – Purification of the Soul (Part 2)

Dedicated to revive the leadership quality among the younger Islamic generation of today, Islamic Online University held the YL360 Course for public for free through the website. Here are the excerpts from the course which I will present to you all in separate posts.

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One time, somebody asked Ali r.a during his Caliphate period about the reason why was that during Umar r.a the ummah was in a glorious state but it’s quite the opposite during his time. Ali r.a responded by saying that during Umar, he ruled over the best and closest sahabah like himself for example, but during his time now, Ali rules over the likes of people who asked that question to him.

Good leadership depends on the quality of the followers. It’s important to obey the regulations of Islam because if not, we cannot truly change the condition amongst us. We cannot be true leaders unless we follow the teachings of Islam fully.

Purpose of life

“And I did not create the jinn and mankind except to worship Me.”
– QS Adh-Dhariyat: 56

Ibaadah could be anything. It could be our prayers, zakat, giving alms, performing good deeds, and many things. But it’s also up to our intentions, especially if it is for Allah then it will be considered ibaadah. The purpose of life is to be the slave of Allah and to obey Him. If we follow His teachings, Quran, the sunnah of the Prophet, and the way of the Salaf; then we are fulfilling our purpose in life.

Compared to the afterlife and the whole universe, our dunya is nothing and very small. In one hadith, the dunya was even compared with the size of a mosquito. Whereas the other dimensions such as alam barzakh and the akhirat, which we know only so little, are way bigger than the dunya.

We have a long journey ahead and that’s why we need to live like a traveler here in the dunya. Because it is only temporary! We need to know and prepare for the journey ahead after dunya. We have to keep this in mind and not letting ourselves preoccupied with the distractions of dunya.

 “Beautified for people is the love of that which they desire – of women and sons, heaped-up sums of gold and silver, fine branded horses, and cattle and tilled land. That is the enjoyment of worldly life, but Allah has with Him the best return.”
– QS Ali Imran: 14

These are the distractions that will put our jihad efforts in check and may prevent us from obeying Allah and His teachings fully. It’s because we are busy hoarding them, enjoying them, and preoccupied rather than solving the real test that Allah has given us for this life.

That’s why we need to keep the dunya in our hands but not our hearts. Use it as the tool to obey Allah but not as an obsession for material things. To be aware of these would be critical to our success with the afterlife, the permanent one unlike the one that we are currently living in.

Anas r.a narrates that Rasulullah pbuh said,
“On the Day of Judgement, that dweller of Jahannam (hellfire) who had lived the most luxurious life in this world will be brought and he will be put in Jahannam for a second and taken out. He will then be asked, ‘0 son of Adam, did you ever experience any good? Did you ever experience any comfort?’ He will say, ‘No, I swear by Allah, my Lord.

‘Then, that dweller of Jannat who lived the most difficult life in this world will be brought and he will put in Jannat for a second and out. He will be asked, ‘0 son of Adam, did you ever experience any difficulty? Did you ever experience any hardship?’ He will say, ‘No, I swear by Allah ~, my Lord. I never experienced any hardship and I never experienced any difficulty.’
– Sahih Muslim

Despite the difficulties that we face in this world, be steadfast and remember Allah and the Rasulullah pbuh promise in this.

Want to change the world?

“For each one are successive [angels] before and behind him who protect him by the decree of Allah . Indeed, Allah will not change the condition of a people until they change what is in themselves. And when Allah intends for a people ill, there is no repelling it. And there is not for them besides Him any patron.”
– QS Ar Ra’d: 11

Somebody asked about what is the connection between purifying one soul and the life itself. The answer came from this verse.

Our condition now is because of us. Allah will take away the blessings from us if we are not obeying Him. He will not change our condition if we do not change. Certainly this is related with the matter of leadership and the state of the followers as well.

One of the finest sahabah, the general Saad bin Abi Waqqas r.a once won a decisive battle against the Persian even though the Muslims were outnumbered back then. One of the secrets behind his victory was an advice from Caliph Umar r.a:

“I order you and the soldiers who are with you to be aware of Allah under all circumstances as taqwa of Allah is a better weapon against your enemy and a stronger strategy in battle.

And I order you and those with you to be very much on the defensive against any sins, more than your enemies are, for the sins of an army are more feared than their enemies.

Verily, Allah helps the Muslims due to the sins of their enemies; if it were not for that we would not be able to overcome them for our numbers are not like theirs and our power is not like theirs.

If we are equal in sins to them, they will be able to overtake us due to their (military) power. If we were not aided by our virtue, we would not be able to overcome them due solely to our power.

And ask Allah to help yourselves in the same way that you ask for help against your enemies.”

That is why today the Muslims are in such sorry state. It is exactly as Rasul pbuh used to say, “The Muslims will be like the foams of the sea”. The enemies are carving out our lands and “eating” us like at a buffet table. So all these divisions and infighting among ourselves give away this condition like today.

The prime example was the mistake done by only a few archers on the top of the hill during the Battle of Uhud and because of that, we suffered defeat. That is why the mistake of a few will compromise the whole ummah.

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To be continued

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Excerpts from the narration of Nihal Javed of Islamic Online University

Islamic Youth Leadership Program: Tazkiyah – Purification of the Soul (Part 1)

Dedicated to revive the leadership quality among the younger Islamic generation of today, Islamic Online University held the YL360 Course for public for free through the website. Here are the excerpts from the course which I will present to you all in separate posts.

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The root was from the word “zakat”, or the effort to increase the blessings from Allah. It is the purification process to increase our imaan and closer to Allah. That is the purpose of tazkiyah.

We were then asked to contemplate about death. To feel the moment of imminent death, the time when the angel is lurking to take our souls and that there’s no delaying at all. There will be a moment when we will see our body, lying, soulless, and that our family will wail and ask, “Wake up! Tell us that you are okay. Come on! Say something!” But it will be too late and that our next journey would be the afterlife.

Will you meet the handsome man that will ward off the angels from torturing you? The man is the Quran that you read back then. But still, the angels would pose the three questions to you. Will you be able to answer that all? Only through good deeds and Allah’s blessings that you will be allowed to answer them.

What’s next is about living many, many years ahead – hundreds or thousands, tortured by in the afterlife or living peacefully until the Judgment Day comes? That is entirely up to us.

It’s all about the when our conscience will kick in. Do we want to start it right away or later, later, later? But what if death comes to us and will we be able to face it in our current or future situation?

Abu Huraira reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Remember often the destroyer of pleasures,” by which he meant death.
Sunan ibn Majah 4258, Sahih (authentic) according to Al-Albani

It’s beneficial so that we can contemplate again about life and everything because we cannot escape it eventually. The distractions in life are what disrupt and sever our ties with Allah and the true purpose of life itself.

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To be continued

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Excerpts from the narration of Nihal Javed of Islamic Online University