|أحمد محمد لبن Ahmad.M.Lbn|
مؤسس ومدير المنتدى
عدد المساهمات : 27322
العمر : 67
|موضوع: Fortifying and Increasing One’s Faith الجمعة 21 يوليو 2017, 7:35 pm|| |
Fortifying and Increasing One’s Faith
This chapter is a discussion of the means of fortifying and increasing one’s faith. As has been alluded to earlier, a Muslim should never be complacent with respect to his faith. Faith increases and decreases. The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said, “By the One whom there is no other God, one of you does the actions of Paradise until there is just a hand’s span between him and Paradise and then the Book [preordainment] overtakes him and he does the actions of the people of Hell and he enters into it.”
A Muslim must be very clear about his goal in life. When he is clear about his goal in life, he must be able to identify the means and measures that will assist him to meet that goal. Similarly, he must be aware of the impediments and harmful aspects that harm him with respect to his goal. Finally, when he does slip, he needs to know the best way that will put him, Allah willing, right back on the proper track.
The Concept of Purification of the Soul
In another work, this author has defined the concept of purification of the soul as,
The process in which the healthy elements found in the soul are fostered, built upon and added to while any invading contaminants are removed or controlled such that the person worships Allah properly and fulfills his purpose in life, which can culminate in the ultimate expression of true ihsaan.
Purification of the soul is a “process.” In other words, it is not something static. It is, in fact, dynamic and it can be volatile. A person may be moving closer and closer to his absolute potential with respect to purification of his soul or he may move further away from it.
Again, the goal is to become as complete and truthful a servant of Allah as one can be. Allah explains that purpose in life in the verse, “I have only created jinn and men that they may worship Me” (51:56). The goal of life is to worship and please Allah?thus, to receive His pleasure in return.
The most exalted, noble, and honored a human can be is by worshipping Allah. In reality, there is nothing greater or nobler than that. This is something that should be clear on every Muslim’s mind. The more he moves to that goal, the happier he should become and the more honor he should feel by submitting himself to the only true God and Lord.
Al-Miqreezee notes that this proper form of worship entails four aspects:
(1) Determining what Allah and His Messenger (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) love and are pleased with;
(2) The embodying of and enacting upon those beloved aspects in one’s own heart;
(3) Enacting upon those aspects in one’s speech;
(4) Further enacting upon those aspects in one’s actions.
Each one of these aspects is necessary if a person desires to fulfill his goal of being a true worshipper and servant of Allah. The individual first recognizes that the manner that he is to worship Allah is not based on his own individual inclinations, logic or whims. Instead, it must be based on what comes from Allah Himself. Allah is the only one who can state how He is to be worshipped.
Hence, the first step is to determine what Allah wants from the individual and what is pleasing to Him. This is achieved by getting knowledge of the Quran and Sunnah. This knowledge must then be transformed into an acceptance and desire for those things in one’s heart. One must recognize those things as the true good things and one, hence, must have a feeling of love for those things in one’s heart. When this is accomplished, the proclamation of one’s acceptance and belief as well as the application of this acceptance via one’s deeds should automatically accompany it.
Ibn Taimiyyah has expounded further on the true meaning of ibaadah (“worship, service”). He wrote, As for ‘Ibaadah, its original meaning also denotes lowliness and submission. One says, “a pathway that is mu’abbad” i.e., it has become smoothed out because of being treaded upon.
However, the ‘Ibaadah that has been enjoined (upon us) encompasses the meaning of submission along with the meaning of love. It embodies the utmost degree of submission to Allah through the utmost degree of love of Him…
One who submits to a person whilst possessing hatred for him is not an ‘aabid (i.e., worshipper) of him and (in contrast) if he was to love someone and at the same time does not submit to him, he is likewise not an ‘aabid of him, as is the case of a man who loves his child and friend. Consequently, only one of the two (qualities) is not sufficient as far as the ‘ibaadah of Allah is concerned. Rather, it is necessary that Allah be the most beloved above all else to the ‘abd and that he holds Allah to be the greatest of all. Indeed, none other than Allah deserves total love and submission.
Another very important point to keep in mind is that purification of the soul is not simply related to the ritual acts of worship or acts that one may consider “religious” or “spiritual.” As noted earlier, the goal of purification is to become as complete a servant of Allah as one can. The correct concept of servitude or ibaadah is very comprehensive. Ibaadah is, as ibn Taimiyyah stated in his well-known and widely accepted definition of the term,
A noun comprising every word or deed, internal or manifest, that Allah loves and approves. This includes prayer, Zakat, fasting, pilgrimage, speaking the truth, fulfilling trusts, doing good to parents and relatives, keeping promises, enjoining good, forbidding evil, Jihad against the disbelievers and hypocrites, good behavior towards neighbors, orphans, the poor, travelers, slaves and animals, prayer and supplication, remembering God and reading the Quran and so on; similarly it includes to love Allah and His Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), to fear Him and turn to Him in repentance, to be patient in adversity and thankful in prosperity, to resign oneself to Allah’s decrees, to put one’s trust in His help, to hope for His mercy, and to fear His punishment. All of these form part of ibaadah (worship and servitude) to God.
Hence, the purification of the soul permeates every part of a person. It touches upon his internal characteristics as well as his outward actions. As Islahi noted, “Tazkiah [purification] deals with all the apparent and hidden aspects of ourselves… Our thoughts, our apprehensions, our inclinations, our movements, our eating and drinking, our engagements, hobbies, and interests, the daily routines in our lives, in short, no department and nothing that touches our lives is outside the pale of tazkiah.”
Murad has noted a very important point that is actually one of the benefits of this proper understanding of purification of the soul, reflecting once again the importance of having one single comprehensive goal in one’s life. He noted,
Unless you approach tazkiah [purification] as an all-embracing process, you will find that your life is compartmentalised, certain parts impeding the development of others. This can only result in a life of disharmony and unhappiness. Approached as a comprehensive and all-embracing process, however, you will find that each part of your life will complement some other part. This should, God willing, make your struggle on the path to God and Janna [Paradise] easier and full of grace.
The Increase or Decrease of Faith
It is very clear from the Quran that a person’s faith increases and decreases. For example, Allah says, “And when His verses are recited to them, they [the verses] increase their faith” (8:2); “That the Believers may increase in faith” (74:31); “It is He who sent down tranquility into the hearts of the Believers, in order that faith be added to their faith” (48: 4); “Those to whom people said: ‘A great army is gathering against you, hence you should fear it, but such only increased their faith and they said: ‘For us Allah is sufficient’; He is the Perfect Disposer of affairs” (3:173).
There is no question that there are differences in the outward deeds of humankind. This is a reflection and an aspect of the increase and decrease in faith. One must not believe, though, that such is the only fluctuation of faith.
Actually, all of the aspects of faith are exposed to this possibility, including— or especially— the deeds of the heart. Even the level of “belief” in the heart or certainty can change in one person and certainly is different from one person to the next. Indeed, one’s love for Allah, fear of Allah, trust in Allah and other aspects of the heart are probably the most prone to change and fluctuation.
Perhaps every individual has experienced this fact described in the verses above. At times, a person is very aware of Allah and of his fear and love for Him. This strong feeling in the person’s heart brings tranquility and warmth to the person and it also keeps him from committing sins. Not only that, it drives him to sacrifice and work harder for the sake of Allah. He becomes very anxious to get up late at night for prayer, for example, or give freely for the sake of Allah. However, at other times, perhaps when the affairs of this world are engulfing him, his remembrance and attachment to Allah is not that great.
He does not feel that great feeling of faith in his heart. His behavior and actions are not of the same quality as they are at other times. When he encounters this stage, when he thinks about getting up at night for prayer or giving charity for the sake of Allah, his soul becomes too tired or not willing to sacrifice. This is nothing but the fluctuations of faith in the person’s heart.
There may be times when a person is at a very high level of faith and remembrance of Allah. When he mixes with worldly events, his family and friends, he may not be at that same level. This type of occurrence even happened to Abu Bakr. A hadith in Sahih Muslim states that Abu Bakr asked Handhalah, another Companion, how he was doing. He answered that he was committing hypocrisy. He explained that by saying that when they are with the Prophet (peace be upon him) and reminded of Heaven and Hell, they are as if they are seeing Heaven and Hell.
Then when they retreat to their families, they forget much of what they felt earlier. Abu Bakr stated that he also experienced the same. This is something natural. The person should learn to appreciate those times when he was at his highest level of faith and seek to maintain them for as long as possible.
Even the level of affirmation and knowledge in the heart varies from person to person and time to time in one person. Ibn Taimiyyah states that the affirmation in the heart of the person who simply knows the general aspects of the teaching of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) will not be the same as that of the person who knows the details of the Prophet’s life and teachings. Similarly, the one who knows more about Allah’s names and attributes, the life of the Hereafter and so forth will be at a different level of affirmation and knowledge than the one who is ignorant of such matters. Ibn Taimiya also argues that the faith of a person who knows the proofs for his beliefs and recognizes the falsehood of other beliefs will be stronger and greater than the one who is unaware of these aspects.
Ibn Taimiya concludes that there is nothing more variable in the heart of man than faith. He says that people should be able to recognize this fact when they consider one of the components of faith, which is love. People recognize their own different levels of love. Love sometimes simply implies a desire to be with or close to one’s beloved. However, it can reach the level where one cannot live without being in the presence of one’s beloved. Similarly, faith, of which love for Allah is one component, can be extremely variable.
This question of faith increasing or decreasing is not simply a theoretical question over which the scholars of the past differed. If a person feels that he has faith and that it is a fixed attribute, he will not strive to increase his faith and he will not fear or notice a decrease in it. This approach in itself can be very dangerous to his faith as the person may not recognize the signs that his faith is decreasing.
Thus, every believer must keep in mind the fact that faith increases and decreases. Hence, the believer should always be on the lookout for any sign that his faith is decreasing. Indeed, he should take positive steps to increase his faith. One can find an example in the Companions of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). One Companion took another by the hand and said, “Come let us [increase our] faith for a period of time.” This was in reference to reading the Quran, remembering Allah and so forth, actions which will help one revive and increase one’s faith.
The Development and Growth of One’s Faith
When one first makes the declaration of faith, he has started on the road to being a true Muslim and a true believer. The first step is to cleanse oneself of the clear, major, encompassing form of associating partners with God. This is the first and absolutely necessary step, such that no other act or step will be of benefit or use without it. However, this does not mean that it is a once and for all step or a constant with no room for growth and improvement.
Murad perceptively noted,
You now have a mission: to become a mumin [true believer] and mujahid [one who strives for the sake of Allah]. As you embark upon this mission you may come to feel that your knowledge of Islam is somewhat limited or perhaps that you are unable to attain those heights of submission and purification that you desire or others expect of you. This is only natural. You must not, however, allow these feelings of personal shortcomings to undermine your efforts to practise Islam. Remember that Islam is a state of becoming not a state of being. Each day you must strive to improve and better yourself—and you will improve [Allah willing]…
Once you have committed yourself to Allah, all that you have must be spent in His way. This is the ideal. Ideals, however, are always difficult to achieve—and this you must understand and accept. Ideals are always to be pursued; if they are easily and always achievable, they can hardly remain as ideals. Keeping to your side of the bargain [mentioned in al-Taubah: 111 ] then is an ideal that you must always seek to maintain. It is this seeking and this striving to spend all that we have in the way of Allah that is known as Jihad and alternatively, in this instance, as tazkiah [purification].
When a person first embraces Islam—or when a born Muslim first makes a commitment to Islam—his heart may be free of the greater associating of partners with Allah and disbelief, but that does not mean that he understands all of the concepts of pure monotheism or that in his heart there is not some minor remnants of shirk and disbelief. Allah says about the Bedouins, “The Bedouins say, ‘We have believed.’ Say [to them], ‘You have not yet [truly believed] but instead you should say, “We have submitted” for faith has yet to [completely] penetrate your hearts. But if you obey Allah and His Messenger, He will not deprive you [of the rewards for] your deeds. Verily, Allah is Forgiving, Merciful” (49: 14).
Indeed, some shortcomings with respect to the complete concept of pure monotheism even occurred among new Muslims at the time of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), although they were fluent in Arabic, thus having an understanding of the basic meanings of the Quran, and they also lived during the time of the revelation itself. Note the following report:
Abu Waaqid al-Laithi narrated that when the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) was going out to the Hunain [before its battle] they passed by a tree of the polytheists known as dhaat anwaat on which they would hang their weapons. They [some Companions] said, “O Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), make for us a dhaat anwaat like they have a dhaat anwaat.” The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said, “Exalted be Allah. This is like when the people of Moses said, ‘Make for us an idol like they have an idol.’ By the One in whose Hand is my soul, you shall certainly follow the practices of the people who came before you.”
However, as one grows in faith, new horizons become clear to him—they may actually be related to things that he already admitted to knowing but he had never really experienced or tasted them in the past. These new understandings related to his faith purify him even further and allow him to grow spiritually in matters that have been difficult for people to describe.
The quote below from ibn al-Qayyim highlights some aspects of faith that may not necessarily be in the person’s heart when he first becomes Muslim or when he is practicing Islam. However, as he grows in the faith, these aspects become stronger and stronger and they begin to develop in him more and more of their desired effects. For example, a new Muslim may see the rain come down from the sky and then recall the forecast on the news the previous night, simply thinking that all of the factors were there for the rain to come and hence it rained. On the other hand, the believer whose knowledge and realization of Allah is at a different level, realizes that Allah has brought about that rain not haphazardly. Perhaps, it was an act of mercy from Allah or the first moments of some punishment from Allah.
Ibn al-Qayyim wrote,
When the servant knows that Allah alone is in charge of harming and benefiting, giving and withholding, creating and providing, giving life and bringing about death, it produces the acts of worship of completely putting one’s trust and reliance in Him in one’s heart, and what such reliance necessitates of trust and outward deeds. The servant’s knowledge about Allah’s hearing, seeing and knowledge—not even the smallest of physical particles in the heavens and earth is unseen to Him—and that He knows the secret and hidden and the deception of the eyes as well as what is hidden in the breasts produces in the person a keen guarding over his tongue, physical limbs and thoughts in the heart to keep them away from everything that is displeasing to Allah. Furthermore, it makes him involve those bodily parts in acts that are beloved and pleasing to Allah.
This in turn produces an inward shyness. It also produces a shyness that makes the person avoid the forbidden and evil acts. [The servant’s] knowledge of Allah’s self-sufficiency, generosity, graciousness, kindness and mercy makes the person become very hopeful in Allah. Furthermore, it produces in him similar acts of external and inward forms of worship in accord with his level of understanding and knowledge.
Similarly, his recognition of Allah’s grandeur, greatness and magnificence produces in him humility, submission and love. It also produces in him internal emotions and feelings of worship as well as the external acts that these require. Similar, his knowledge of Allah’s perfection, beauty and exalted attributes manifests itself in a special kind of love found in the different levels of worship.
The Path to Increasing One’s Faith and Purifying One’s Soul
The path espoused by the Quran and Sunnah for purifying one’s soul is amazingly very clear and actually easy to follow for all those whose intentions are pure. Indeed, it is a path that is open for every human to follow. It basically is comprised of three components: (1) purification of one’s beliefs; (2) drawing closer to Allah by performing the obligatory deeds and (3) drawing even closer to Allah by the voluntary deeds.