By Aejaz Iqbal
Tazkiya, or purification, is a Quranic term. The Quran tells us that tazkiya is the means for human salvation (91:9-10). According to the Quran (20:76), only those people will be entered to the world of paradise who have purified themselves in this world. The literal meaning of tazkiya, ‘purification’, comprises the entire process of spiritual education. Broadly speaking, it refers to the cleansing of the human self from all that is unwholesome, undesirable and unwelcome. It also refers to the nurturing and strengthening of all the qualities within the human self that are essential for growth and development, for blossoming and flowering. Success and happiness in this world and the Hereafter depend on tazkiya, Purifying the nafs means is to cleanse it primarily from unbelief, ignorance, evil thoughts, false convictions and immorality. It also refers to the nurturing and strengthening of all the qualities within the human self that are essential for growth and development, for blossoming and flowering. The purification concentrates on lessening the lowly desires of the nafs, breaking its authority over the body and establishing the spirit’s authority instead.
The act of training and purifying the self is itself the most decisive factor in determining the nature of man’s ultimate end- whether it will be one of destruction or happiness. A believer should truly comprehend the absolute glory and power of Allah (glory unto Him), and regulate his actions accordingly. Just as iron ore passes through various tough stages and finally acquires the shape and form of a useful machine, a human being’s character passes through difficult stages and emerges as a purified soul.
What are these difficult stages?
These stages are when we are faced with unacceptable conditions. These unpleasant conditions are situations that we need to pass through in order to develop our character. When our ego gets a beating and yet we remain firmly established in justice, when we feel angry but control our anger, when we get some position of honour but still remain modest, when we fill the fire of revenge burn within us but douse out the flames inside, when we experience hatred towards someone but still retain concern for his/her wellbeing, when we acknowledge others even though we are not compelled to, are a few examples of situations that serve to purify us. These are opportunities for our tazkiya. They build within us a lofty character. Such opportunities cannot rise in normal conditions. They arise only in abnormal situations. According to the Quran (41:35),in this examination, only those people succeed who are patient.
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