The Muslim and His Own Self

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3-The Muslim's Soul

While he is taking care of his physical and mental needs, the true Muslim does not forget that he is not comprised only of a body and mind, but he also has a passionate, yearning soul whose higher longings motivate him to lift himself up by devoting himself to worship, seeking the blessings of Allah and fearing His punishment.

The Muslim polishes his soul through worship

The Muslim is obliged to take care of his soul, so he starts to polish it and refine it through constant worship and awareness of Allah, night and day. He is alert to the devious tricks and deceptive whispers of the Shaytan and if, in some moment of human weakness, evil thoughts come to him from that source, he remembers Allah and finds his way back to the Straight Path:

( Those who fear Allah, when a thought of evil from Satan assaults them, bring Allah to remembrance, when lo They see aright.) (Qur'an 7:201)

Therefore, the Prophet (s) used to tell his Companions: "Renew your faith." He was asked, "O Messenger of Allah, how do we renew our faith?" He said, "By frequently repeating la ilaha illa-Allah."11

Note: 11. Reported by Ahmad with a jayyid isnad.

The Muslim seeks to strengthen his soul through various kinds of worship which he performs out of obedience to and fear of Allah, such as reading Qur'an carefully and with understanding, and remembering Allah with humility, and praying correctly and with presence of mind, and other kinds of worship and spiritual exercises, training himself to adhere to different acts of worship until they become second nature and he cannot do without them. Thus he develops and enhances his feelings until, in most cases, he becomes alert and aware, conscious that Allah is watching him in public and in private, so that he never mistreats the people he deals with and never deviates from the true path.

He keeps company with righteous people and joins religious gatherings

The Muslim seeks to attain this high status by keeping company with righteous people who will teach one another, and him, about Truth (­aqq) and patience and constancy (sabr), and by frequently attending religious gatherings where Allah's name is mentioned often, where there is discussion of the greatness of Islamic teaching regarding the tarbiyah (education, development) of the individual, the family and the community and where those present ponder the might of Allah, the Subduer, the Omnipotent, from which nothing in heaven or earth can detract, and meditate on the wonder of His creation of the universe and of man. In such gatherings, souls are purified, hearts are cleansed, and a person's whole being is filled with faith.

So 'Abdullah ibn Rawahah (r), whenever he met one of the Companions of the Prophet (s), used to say, "Come, let us believe in our Rabb for a while." When the Prophet (s) heard about it, he said, "May Allah have mercy on Ibn Rawahah, for he loves the gatherings that the angels feel proud to attend."12

Note: 12. Reported by Ahmad with a hasan isnad.

The rightly-guided khalifah 'Umar al-Faruq (r) used to make the effort to take a regular break from his many duties and the burden of his position as ruler. He would take the hand of one or two men and say, "Come on, let us go and increase our faith," then they would remember Allah.13

Note: 13. Hayat al-Sahabah, 3/329

Even 'Umar (r), who was so righteous and performed so many acts of worship, felt the need to purify his soul from time to time. He would remove himself for a while from the cares and worries of life, to refresh his soul and cleanse his heart. Likewise, Mu'adh ibn Jabal (r) would often say to his companions, when they were walking, "Let us sit down and believe for a while."14

Note: 14. Ibid.

The Muslim is responsible for strengthening his soul and purifying his heart. He must always push himself to attain a higher level, and guard against slipping down:

( By the Soul, and the proportion and order given to it; and its enlightenment as to its wrong and its right - truly he succeeds that purifies it, and he fails that corrupts it ) (Qur'an 91: 7-10)

So the Muslim is required to choose his friends carefully and to join only those gatherings that will increase his faith, taqwa and insight. He should avoid the bad company of the devils among mankind, and keep away from gatherings of sin and disobedience which will only corrupt his soul:

( And keep your soul content with those who call on their Rabb morning and evening, seeking His Face; and let not your eyes pass beyond them, seeking the pomp and glitter of this Life; nor obey any whose heart We have permitted to neglect the remembrance of Us, one who follows his own desires, whose case has gone beyond all bounds.) (Qur'an 18:28)

He frequently repeats du'a's and supplications described in hadiths Another way in which the Muslim may strengthen his soul and connect his heart to Allah is by repeating the supplications which it is reported that the Prophet (s) used to say on various occasions.

So there is a du'a , which he would say when he left his house, and others for entering the home, saying farewell to a traveller, welcoming a traveller home, wearing new clothes, lying down in bed, waking up from sleep, etc. There is hardly anything that the Prophet (s) did that he did not have a du'a , for, through which he asked Allah to guide him, protect him from error, to take care of him and to decree good for him, as is explained in the books of sahih hadiths narrated from the Prophet (s). See, for example, al-Adhkar by al-Nawawi and al-Mathurat by hasan al-Banna.15 He used to teach these du'a's and adhkar to his Companions, and encouraged them to repeat them at the appropriate times.

Note: 15. English-speaking Muslims who wish to learn du'a's may consult Selected Prayers by Jamal Badawi, which is based largely on hasan al-Banna's al-Mathurat, and includes transliterations and translations of many du'a's. [Translator]

The smart Muslim is keen to learn these du'a's and adhkar, following the example of the Prophet (s) and his distinguished Companions, and he keeps repeating them at the appropriate times, as much as he is able. In this way his heart will remain in contact with Allah, and his soul will be cleansed and purified. Through these spiritual exercises the Prophet (s) trained the souls of the first generation of the Sahabah, so that they became pure and unsullied. Islam wrought a great miracle in forming a refined, superior generation that was unique in the history of mankind, one which made such wondrous achievements in a few short years. The true Muslim, today more than ever, needs to train his soul to soar to that high level and to live up to the heavy responsibilities of his da'wah.

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