'The Supplication Series' now has its own category. Readers can find previously covered supplications, as well as newer ones, in this convenient location.
A man came to the Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam and asked, “What is tazkiyatun-nafs(purification of the soul)?” The Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam replied, “That a person knows Allāh is with him wherever he is.” [Tabarani, Saheeh]
Success in the Qur'an is tied directly to the purification of the soul. Allāh subḥānahu wa ta'āla takes seven consecutive oaths, found nowhere else in the Qur'an. When Allāh ta'ala takes an oath, the object that is sworn by is great and the subject that the oath is taken for is great. Allāh subḥānahu wa ta'āla takes oath after oath, citing the most magnificent creations around us: the sun, the moon, the day, the night, the sky, the earth, and the soul, all to convey to mankind that success and failure is through tazkiyah:
وَقَدْ خَابَ مَن دَسَّاهَا
“Indeed he succeeds who purifies his ownself, And indeed he fails who corrupts his ownself.” (91:9-10)
A'ishah radi Allahu anha narrated this duaa from the Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallm in a hadeeth in Saheeh Muslim:
Allāhumma Āti Nafsī Taqwāhā wa Zakkihā Anta Khayru man Zakkāhā Anta Waliyyuhā wa Mawlāhā
O Allāh, grant my soul its piety and purify it, You are the Best to purify it, You are its Guardian and Master.
Word for Word Translation and Audio
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Selected Word Analysis
Taqwāhā: Taqwa literally means to take shield from something; to be on one's guard. The purpose of a shield is to protect. Therefore, taqwa is the consciousness that saves a person from the punishment of Allāh. Out of the fear of Allāh, one avoids sins and seeks to perform good deeds to save himself from Eternal Punishment.
Zakkihā: Tazkiyah comes from the word zakaah which has three linguistic meanings. The first linguistic meaning is to increase or to grow. The second is good praise, or thanaa' jameel. The third and final meaning for zakaah is to clean from dirt or filth, and then to beautify. An easy way of understanding it is to imagine cleaning a floor. The first step is to sweep up the dirt, the next to mop it clean. Each linguistic meaning gives a different aspect of religious understanding toward tazkiyah; it is to purify your soul from what has stained and dirtied it. This purification allows your soul to grow, thus winning the acceptance of Allāh ta'ala and the creation.
Waliyyuhā: Al-Waliyy is one of the authentic Names of Allāh ta'ala found in the Qur'an and Sunnah. A Wali is a special type of friend who expresses the will to help to you and support you. A wali is a friend whom you turn to for help, protection and support. The wali is the primary in the relationship, the dominant party. For example, if a father is the wali to his son, then the father is the primary in the relationship. Allāh ta'ala is the Close Protecting Friend and Guardian of the Believers.
Dr. Saleh as-Saleh rahimahullah explains this Name,
Allāh is Al Waliyy- the One Who completely presides over all of the universal affairs of creation and to Whom belongs the managing of everything. He is the One Who provides His creation with all that benefits them from faith, cause of living, and the endless joy that awaits the believers in the hereafter. The One Who guides, guards, supports, and protects the believers by bringing them from darkness (ignorance, disbelief, worshipping false deities, disobedience, heedlessness, astray paths, and so forth) into light- into complete acceptance, complete submission and turning to Allāh, gaining knowledge of Him, totality of faith, disassociation from all forms of worship to other than Him, obedience, and enlightening their hearts with the light of revelation and faith. He helps the righteous and pious, whose intentions are devoted to worshipping Him alone, associating no partners with Him. They are His friends. As for those who insist to reject Allāh, and His upright religion of Islam, He, Allāh the All Just, has left them to themselves. Consequently, they turn in all directions- seeking help, guidance, and protection from creatures like them- who do not benefit themselves, nor can they benefit others. They are deprived the eternal abode of happiness in Paradise, and hell has instead become their abode.
Mawlāhā: Al-Mawlā is also an authentic Name of Allāh azza wa jal, and a Mawlā is more than a Wali; a Mawlā is someone who can protect you and actually does so–they are protecting you, while a Wali is someone who is willing to protect you. Al-Mawlā is The Benefactor and Supporter who provides victory and protection to those who do what He has commanded and avoid what He has forbidden. He is the One to whom we should to turn to for aid.
Points of Benefit
- We will not enter Jannah unless we purify ourselves. If we do not purify ourselves with good deeds and obedience to Allāh azza wa jal, we will be purified in the hereafter. There are some among mankind that are so filthy that the hell-fire cannot purify them and they will remain therein forever. May Allāh protect us from such an end.
- Jannah is the reward for purification. Allāh ta'ala says, “Everlasting Gardens, under which rivers flow, wherein they will abide forever: such is the reward of those who purify themselves.” (20:76) The dwellers of Jannah are told, “Tibtum“, “you have done good” (39:74), meaning you've become Tayyib, clean and pure.
- The scholars state that purification of the soul is by obedience to Allāh ta'ala and good deeds by way of useful knowledge. Ibnul Jawzi rahimahullah defined it as, “cleaning it [the soul] from sinfulness and rectifying it by obedience.
- Tazkiyah is one of the aims of the Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam. Allāh ta'ala says, “He it is Who sent among the unlettered ones a Messenger from among themselves, reciting to them His Verses, purifying them (yuzakeehim), and teaching them the Book and the Wisdom. And verily, they had been before in manifest error.” (62:2)
- Ibrahim alayhi salaam and Isma'eel alayhi salaam made duaa to Allāh to send to their progeny a Messenger that will purify his followers. “Our Lord! Send amongst them a Messenger of their own, who shall recite unto them Your Verses and instruct them in the Book and the Wisdom, and purify them. Verily! You are the All-Mighty, the All-Wise.” (2:129)
- In each of the ayaat that mention this description of the Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam (reciting the verses, purifying them, teaching the Book and the Wisdom), the act of purifying comes before teaching, except in the duaa of Ibrahim and Isma'eel. We learn from this that good manners and purification of the soul come before seeking knowledge.
- Tazkiyah was an aim of all of the Prophets. Allāh azza wa jal commanded Musa alayhi salaam, “And say to him [Fir'awn], 'Would you [be willing to] purify yourself.” (79:18)
- Tazkiyah is an aim of da'wah. Allāh ta'ala informs the Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam in surah Abasa regarding the leaders of the Quraysh, “And not upon you [is any blame] if he will not be purified.” (80:7)
- Tazkiyah is the cause of success. Allāh subḥānahu wa ta'āla ties success and failure to purification of the soul in Surah ash-Shams. “Indeed he succeeds who purifies his own self, And indeed he fails who corrupts his ownself.” (91:9-10) The word for success here is falaah which gives the meaning of striving and enduring with hardship to reach success. Falaah is not by luck, rather it is by putting in the effort and struggling. We learn from this that purification of the soul is a struggle and needs continuous effort from the believer to reach success.
- The one who does not purify his soul has ruined it. Allāh ta'ala uses the word dassaahaa, “he corrupted it” to describe the one who does not purify his soul in surah ash-Shams. This word has two linguistic meanings. The first one is to bury something in the dirt or mud. The ultimate end of burying something that is alive is destruction, so dassaahaa means the one who hides it, the one who destroys it, the one who corrupts and dirties it. Also, we can derive from this meaning that the person who does this to his soul does not seek to purify it because when something is not cleaned, it will become dirty on its own. The second linguistic meaning is to corrupt, spoil and ruin something so dassaahaa means the one who ruined it, spoiled it, by committing acts of disobedience.
- Tazkiyah is only through the Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam. Allāh ta'ala said that he is the one who purifies his followers (62:2). We will never reach purification without the guidance of the Prophet alayhi salaatu wa salaam and following his sunnah.
- Tazkiyah is like hidaayah (guidance). It is a blessing that is from Allāh alone. He guides and purifies whomsoever He wills. Allāh ta'ala says, “And if not for the favor of Allāh upon you and His mercy, not one of you would have been pure, ever, but Allāh purifies whom He wills, and Allāh is Hearing and Knowing.” (24:21)
- If tazkiyah comes from Allāh ta'ala then we must pray to Allāh, asking Him to grant us tazkiyah–by memorizing the duaa that the Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam taught us, we are following a sunnah of the Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam as well as seeking a means to tazkiyah by asking Allāh to purify us.
- No one can claim purification of their own souls. Allāh subḥānahu wa ta'āla addresses mankind, “Have you not seen those who claim themselves to be pure? Rather, Allāh purifies whom He wills.” (4:49)
- Allāh prohibits us from claiming ourselves to be purified. He says, “So ascribe not purity to yourselves. He knows best him who fears Allāh and keeps his duty to Him.” (53:32) In this āyah, we see the connection of tazkiyah and taqwa like the duaa. We learn from this that if one had taqwa of Allāh, they would not claim themselves to be pure, and that tazkiyah leads to taqwa of the soul.
We ask Allāh ta'ala to purify us in this life, to grant us taqwa and to make us among His obedient slaves. Āmīn.