Tasawwuf &Tazkiyah: Purifying the Rooh

Alhamdulillah, whilst it is heartening to observe the thirst and hunger for Deen amongst many people, it simultaneously is vitally important to understand  with clarity and precision the nature of the road towards Allah. The destination is Allah’s Pleasure; the highway –  the Shariah; the vehicle –the Sunnah, the fuel – Aa’male Saalehah (good deeds), the companions – pious persons, the speed  – sacrifices, the obstacle – Nafs, the highway robber – Shaytaan. An excellent manner in negotiating this perilous journey, is to adopt the path of Tasawwuf. With the Fadl of Allah, we hereby commence a series of articles concerning this subject which has been compiled from “Shariah and Tasawwuf”  and the teachings of Moulana Maseehullah Khan Saheb Rahmatullahi Alayh

Understanding what is Tazkiyah

Tazkiyah means to cleanse and purify oneself (nafs) from all forms of evil.

Purifying the nafs means is to cleanse it primarily from unbelief, ignorance, evil thoughts, false convictions and immorality. In other words, the purification of the self is an act of cleansing aimed at eliminating all kinds of theoretical and practical impurities

Question 1:  What is Tasawwuf?

Answer: Tasawwuf is the Rooh (Soul) of our Deen. Through Tasawwuf we are able to systematically purify our hearts of all evil qualities. At the same time, Tasawwuf teaches us how to prepare ourselves to negotiate the challenges of this worldly life whilst reforming and preparing ourselves for the Aakhirah.

Question 2: Who requires Tasawwuf?

Answer: Rather, who does not require Tasawwuf? Businessmen, housewives, Ulama, judges, employees, each and every one requires to purify their souls from the rot of insincerity, the crave for fame, the madness to accumulate at any cost, the poison of jealousy, the flames of unjust anger, the poison of pride.

Question 3: Is Tasawwuf to be found in the Holy Qur’aan?

Answer: Yes, the subject of Tasawwuf is referred to in many places in the Holy Qur’aan. Allah Ta’aala says: “ Truly, the one who has purified himself is successful.” And “ On that Day (of Qiyaamat) neither wealth nor sons will benefit (anyone), but that person who comes to Allah WITH A REFORMED HEART.”

Tasawwuf teaches us how to “ reform” our hearts. Tasawwuf does not only teach us the reality of issues such as Sabr, Shukr – it also teaches us how to experience these states within the confines and the limits of the Shariah. Take the example of making Shukr unto Allah Ta’aala for the Blessings He has bestowed upon us: Instead of merely saying, Shukr business is good, we will now progress towards true Shukr; and that is to make certain that we also Please Allah Ta’aala.

“ Be grateful unto Allah” or make “Shukr” unto Allah. The reality of “ Shukr” can only be understood through Tasawwuf.

Question 4: Is Tasawwuf to be found in the Hadith?

Answer: Yes, many Ahaadith of Rasullullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam refers to Tasawwuf. Rasullullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam said:

“ There is a portion in the body. When it is reformed then the entire body is reformed. When it is corrupt, then the entire body is corrupt. Listen! It is the heart!”

Question 5: Is it possible to spiritually progress without the Shariah?

Answer: No, it is impossible to spiritually progress without strict adherence to the Shariah. The Shariah is the vehicle of Tasawwuf. Almost all religions demand some type of self-purification.

There is no short cut towards the purification of the Rooh. Absolute adherence to the Shariah is a pre-requisite for self-purification.

Question 6: What does the word Mureed mean?

Answer: Mureed means one who intends to do something. In Tasawwuf it means one who intends or desires to have a continuous closeness unto Allah Ta’aala through the medium of the Shariah under the tutelage and guidance of a Sheikh..

Question 7: Why should one have a Sheikh?

Answer: Everything in life consists of conflicting views. In the medical world, we find that there are many cases where doctors have different opinions. Likewise in the legal profession, lawyers haggle about the interpretation of a single law. Similarly, the Ulama also have different opinions in certain Deeni matters. The benefits of having a Sheikh-e-Kaamil are innumerable.

By having a Sheikh we become focused. Deen is obtained from one person in whom we have utmost trust in his ability to lead you towards Allah Ta’aala. By adopting a Sheikh, a person avoids controversies and is more at ease and peace. Sadly, many people spend an entire lifetime mired in unnecessary controversies. Instead of finding solutions, they drift further and further into darkness. In this pathetic state they depart from the Dunyaa with heavy hearts at not having realized the objective of Wusool-Ilallah. (reaching Allah).

Another important issue to remember is that whosoever has acquired mastery in any field; he has done so by virtue of having a competent Ustaad or teacher. No carpenter has achieved expertise by merely studying a book, nor has any doctor, lawyer, architect or engineer etc. achieved perfection in his profession. without the guidance and tutelage of experts in their respective fields.

Similarly the Auliyaa have attained a deep insight into affairs of the Rooh and Imaan. We accordingly are in need of their companionship if we wish to perfect our Imaan. Thus, Allah Ta’aala instructs us: “O Believers, fear Allah and adopt the company of the Truthful ones.”

Question 8: What is Tareeqat?

Answer: Tareeqat means ways or methods. The Sheikh utilizes certain methods, which are permitted in the Shariah, to assist the Mureed in curing him of spiritual ailments and in assisting him on to greater heights of spiritualism and Imaan just as a doctor administers medication.

Question 9: What is Ma’rifat?

Answer:  Ma’rifat occurs when the heart becomes purified and becomes a recipient of  thoughts, feelings, ideas and perceives a certain degree of the Wisdom behind Allah Ta’aala’s Divine Acts. The person who experiences this with regularity is termed to be an Aarif.

Question 10: How should you go about choosing a Sheikh-e-Kaamil?

Answer: When Allah Ta’aala grants one the Taufeeq to turn unto Him earnestly, then a person will automatically feel a great need for some form of individual guidance. Normally, one would find some Saintly person in one’s locality, city or country. The closer one resides to the Sheikh or his Khalifas (representatives), the more the benefit he will derive. If there are numerous Mashaa-ikh in the area, then sit in the company of them all for an equal amount of time. Thereafter, consider whose companionship has affected your heart the most. Initiate correspondence with this Sheikh without taking Bayt. After a few letters, you should have a clear idea whether his Tariqaa appeals to you. Remember, to take physical Bayt is not the purpose, the Maqsad or the prime reason for initiating your correspondences is to make your Islaah. This is possible without taking Bayt.

Question 11: What are the signs of a Sheikh-e-Kaamil? (A qualified Sheikh)

Answer: A Sheikh-e-Kaamil or a Wali (Friend) of Allah Ta’aala must have the following qualities:

  1. He must possess the necessary knowledge of Deen, which he obtained by studying or by sitting in the companionship of the Ulemaa-e-Haqq. A Sheikh who does not possess the basic Knowledge of Deen will lead others astray.
  2. He must be a Khalifaa of a reliable Sheikh who is attached to an authentic Silsilaa.
  3. The Silsilaa should be based on the Ahle-us-Sunnah Wal Jama’ah.
  4. He should be pious and Muttaqii (Fearing Allah Ta’aala). A sheikh who does not, for instance exercise Taqwa and abandons the sacred Hijaab system, will be unable to lead the Mureed towards Taqwa.
  5. He must have spent an adequate amount of time in the companionship of his Sheikh. The Righteous Ulemaa of the times hold him in high esteem. There is a difference between prominent Ulama and righteous Ulama. Righteous Ulama are those whose private and public lives conform with the Shariah.
  6. His companionship increases a love for the Aakhirah and an abhorrence for the Dunyaa.
  7. The majority of his Mureedeen conform with the Shariah.
  8. He is free from worldly desires and is empty of greed for name and fame.
  9. He himself engages in Zikr and is forever alert to his own Islaah and shortcomings.
  10. He does not leave his Mureeds free. He checks on them and reprimands them on their shortcomings. He considers his Mureeds to be an Amaanat.
  11. His Ta’leem is not confined to Zikr alone, but includes bayaans and Majaalises which evolve around the inculcation of virtues qualities and the shunning of evil traits.
  12. He prefers anonymity, and if any Mureed leaves him, he is unperturbed. In fact rejoices at being free of responsibilities.
  13. He has experienced and traveled the various stages of spiritual stations and through correspondences and the companionship of his Sheikh he is a Saheb-e-Haal. He is an Abul-Haal (father of situations) instead of an Ibnul-Haal (a child of circumstances).
  14. He must be a Saheb-e-Ijaazah. (permitted to initiate Mureeds) and be constant on the path of his Sheikh. If one finds such a Sheikh, then one indeed is fortunate in having a key to Allah’s doorway!