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Purifying Souls and Refining Behaviour

 

By Sheikh Saleh ibn Muhammad al-Talib – 15 Rabiul Thani 1438

His Eminence Sheikh Saleh ibn Muhammad al-Talib –May Allah protect him– delivered this Friday Khutbah entitled “Purifying Souls and Refining Behaviour” in which he talked about the necessity to purify and clean one’s soul. The Sheikh argued that this is not simply a matter of emotional slogans or ethical luxury. He emphasised the need for Muslims, both the common and the elite, to protect their religion against premeditated campaigns aimed at distorting their identity, principles, and values.

Praise be to Allah! He decreed that virtue be the attire and decoration of the pious, impelled (His creatures) in His Wise and Truthful Revelation (to prophets and messengers) to preserve morality, promised the virtuous bountiful reward for relinquishing proscribed pleasures, and created the mankind with a predisposition to observe diffidence in such a way that the righteous tend to spontaneously aspire to moral purity in society and abhor inclinations towards all manifestations of depravity, which represents a sincere adherence to the protection of virtue within the community. I do praise Allah, the Almighty, my Lord, thank Him, exalt Him, and pray for His forgiveness.

I bear witness that there is no deity except Allah alone with no partner, Who is Unique in His Being, Creation, Commands, and Proscriptions. I also bear witness that Muhammad is the Servant and Messenger of Allah, as well as guarantor of His Revelation. May Allah send His Salat (Graces, Honours, and Mercy), Peace, and Blessing upon him, his Family –who are acquitted by Allah of any unfounded allegation− his Companions, and the tabi’in (the contemporaries of the Companions of the Prophet ‒May Allah’s Salat and Peace be upon him‒ after his death)!

Now then!

The need to observe taqwa (fear) of disobeying Allah, the Almighty, is the commandment meant here. It is indeed the provision stored for those with pure souls:

O you who believe! Keep your duty to Allâh and fear Him, and speak (always) the truth. He will direct you to do righteous good deeds and will forgive you your sins. And whosoever obeys Allâh and His Messenger (Sallallahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) he has indeed achieved a great achievement (i.e. he will be saved from the Hell-fire and made to enter Paradise). [Al-Ahzab: 70-71]

He who fears Allah will be under His all-encompassing protection, and he who fears people will find in them no refuge from Allah.

O Muslims!

Values are principles in life and manifestations in human behaviour. They are part and parcel of the creed of any society. Likewise, virtue, morality, and principles are absolute values in our true religion. They derive their origin from our magnanimous Sharia. They are at the same time creed and worship whose ritual performance is mandatory. Accordingly, grounding these precepts and principles as well as preserving them is a religious duty for both educationalists and social reformers.

In fact, religion abounds with texts pertaining to behaviour, ethics, as well as values in general and virtue in particular. Allah has considered such variables as reasons for success, and has decreed that people who adhere thereto should end up in the highest rank of Paradise: al-Firdaws.

Talking about purifying souls, polishing temperament, and promoting aspects of chastity and codes of propriety is not a matter of coined emotional mottos or a fit of moral luxury. They are rather at the origin of social cohesion and constitute the very foundation of society’s survival. Besides, they represent one of the outstanding objectives of our true Sharia. In fact, Allah has associated peace and righteousness with belief in His Oneness ‒May He be exalted‒ in a single verse of Surat al-Furqan.[ It is the Surat no 25 in the Holy Qur’an, and the verse meant is perhaps no 2. ]

Morality in Islam is neither the product of human intellect nor a conventional system designed by the human mind. It rather has a divine provenance and is meant to be a form of worship. It is intended for the sake of Allah and His contentment. It instils vehement feelings into the heart of the Muslim whose faith drives him to it. Morality is constant, integral, and unaffected by whimsical desires. It epitomises the notions of role model and exemplary behaviour, as in this verse:

Indeed in the Messenger of Allâh (Muhammad Sallallahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) you have a good example to follow for him … [Al-Ahzab: 21]

It equally contains emulation and the quest for guidance, as in the following verse:

They are those whom Allâh had guided. So follow their guidance… [Al-An’aam: 90]

Among Almighty Allah’s favours upon this Mohammedan Ummah is its holding fast to the religion of its Lord, strongly adhered to its precepts throughout the centuries, notwithstanding time’s hostile incidents, inherited and bequeathed its values and principles from ancestor to descendant generations, and brought up its successive generations according to the values characterising the Ummah of Islam. However, as dictated by Allah’s laws governing the entire universe, people are occasionally prone to weaknesses and flaws. It is common knowledge nowadays that changes occur swiftly and the effects thereof have become so apparent that they could be detected even through a cursory examination.

O Muslims!

Change and changing are typical of human nature and one of the aspects of life in general. It is a neutral concept which describes the process of change per se. Thus, it can neither be praised nor criticised except with reference to its object and purpose. For instance, changing wrong to right, corruption to righteousness, evil to good, weakness to strength, and failure to success is required and commendable. However, fitnah and affliction take place when right is turned into wrong, good deeds into misdeeds, and virtue into vice.

Allah, the Almighty, talked in His Book (Qur’an) about the case of a nation before us so that we can learn a lesson therof. Allah –May He be glorified− said:

Ask the Children of Israel how many clear Ayât (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.) We gave them. And whoever changes Allâh’s Favour after it had come to him, [e.g. renounces the Religion of Allâh (Islâm) and accepts Kufr (disbelief),] then surely, Allâh is Severe in punishment. [Al-Baqarah: 211]

Allah, the Almighty, has showed the phases of such a change of divine favours and explained its manifestations in the morality and behaviour of the nation in question. Allah wants Muslims to avoid falling into the pitfalls where other nations had previously fallen, because human communities do not normally incur disastrous destinies haphazardly. But this has to do with Allah’s invariable laws governing the universe, to which both earlier and subsequent generations are subjected.

O servants of Allah!

The life of devout believers −which is based on servitude to Almighty Allah, on purity, chastity, and virtue− is surrounded with imminent perils. It is exposed to various forms of influence from everywhere, and it is the target of tidal waves of trials and afflictions. Such risks become all the more serious when the mass media –with all the array of its undisciplined channels and social media− along with the hegemonic advocates of evil and corruption indulge in permissiveness.

Allâh wishes to accept your repentance, but those who follow their lusts, wish that you (believers) should deviate tremendously away from the Right Path. [Al-Nissaa’: 27]

The tremendous deviation mentioned above by Allah, the Almighty, manifests itself in the wave of planned debauchery imposed on the Ummah by institutions, political parties, and hideous social phenomena which reinforce moral corruption and publicise it using all the means available. Being fully aware that the idea of inviting people to follow the path of Allah will never prosper in a society which denigrates values and sinks into the quagmire of impermissible pleasures, their ultimate purpose is to stigmatise the notion of religiosity in people’s lives. As a rule, any Ummah that is uprooted and severed from its beliefs and moral standards will, as an inevitable corollary, end up in a state of religious chaos and total disintegration. Consequently, the Ummah in question will totally disappear except its name, and its existence will be reduced to weak traces.

For this reason, the idea of drowning society into moral corruption with its diverse forms has always been a calculated purpose of all the powers which are inimical to the expansion of Islam. This endeavour manifests itself in the guise of different labels. They describe Muslim societies as extremists and terrorists, place them in calamitous conditions on the pretext of fighting terrorism, inject in Muslim minds coercive heresy in the name of modernisation and overture, while their real objective is to detach society from its Islamic identity, to cause it to assume another identity, and to uproot the faith Muslims have inherited from their ancestors. This phenomenon requires a close scrutiny on the part of Muslims, both the common people and the elite, in the purpose of defending their beliefs and noble values. In fact, our future totally depends on our loyalty to our religion.

O Servants of Allah!

In the last few years, a number of patriotic Muslim writers, who witnessed both the colonisation and decolonisation eras in their homelands, have been increasingly publishing testimonial evidence about how the coloniser was keen to gradually destroy moral values. One of them has in fact reported radical transformations extended over two or three decades. This means that destabilising the system of moral values and propagating debauchery represent a form of destruction, bearing in mind that destructive action entails rapid repercussions and direct dire consequences. What is more, those who have readily compromised their beliefs and values for the sake of being accepted by others have achieved nothing. They have neither preserved their ethical values nor built any civilisation.
O Muslims!

The building of society’s Muslim personality and its protection against destructive schemes and sabotages calls for the necessity to engage in serious work in inviting people to Allah, the Almighty. It also calls for the necessity to exhort them to adopt and promote moral values, reminding them of Allah, the Final Day (Doomsday), judgement, and punishment. It further requires connecting people to the Qur’an, its lessons, admonitions, wisdom, and rulings.

As to the principle of virtue, texts from the Qur’an and the Sunnah do contain a comprehensive, unequivocal meaning. Allah’s intended object −Exalted and Most High be He− is reservation, safeguarding, and sadd al-Thara’ie (prevention of means to sins)[ Sadd al-Thara’ie (سدّ الذرائع) means closing the doors to the possibility of committing illegal things. Sometimes, a permissible act may be forbidden by law, because it leads or may most probably lead, to illegal actions. ].

Thus, any cultural or social change must necessarily emerge from inside the Muslim society, and must observe commitment to the constant precepts of religion and the foundations of identity. Moreover, any human society is capable of making progress provided it is equipped with the necessary abilities to establish a civilisation, a civil life, and man’s prosperity. However, while engaged in such progress, Muslim society −which is by definition inspired by divine enlightenment− remains in harmony with the requirements of divine revelation whereas the societies of unbelievers totally ignore the commands of Allah and hardly take pride in them.

This is the difference between both types of society when it comes to how each of them perceives its relationship with itself and its own members. Materialistic societies fall short of perceiving the ultimate aim to populate the earth. Social transformations would lead them to disintegration and moral chaos. Numerous problems and serious crises subsequently emerge, leading to the collapse of society as a whole.

The cohesion of Muslim society depends –Allah willing− on taking the initiative to undertake reforms in the light of divine revelation, and also on holding fast to its Muslim identity in terms of values and principles. Conversely, resisting evil is a necessity whose purpose is not to champion one’s opinion; it is rather –I swear by Allah− prompted by the fear to incur deserved divine retribution and the determination to avoid the degenerative condition of corruption and vice.

Zaynab bint Jahsh, the Mother of Believers –May Allah be pleased with her– reported that the Prophet –May Allah’s Salat and Peace be upon him– came to visit her one day, alarmed as he was, and said: “La ilaha illa-llah (There is no deity but Allah). Woe to the Arabs because of an evil which has drawn near! Today an opening of this size has been made in the barrier restraining Ya’jooj and Ma’jooj[ They are known in English as Gog and Magog, a nation of a highly destructive force (See the Holy Qur’an, Surat Al-Kahf, verse number 94).],” and he made a circle with his thumb and index finger. She said: “O Messenger of Allah! Will we perish while still there will be righteous people among us?” He replied: “Yes, when evil increases.” [Narrated by Bukhari]

O Servants of Allah!

Enjoining good and forbidding evil constitute the safety valve for this Ummah as the latter will remain safe and sound so long as they pursue condemnation of vice. The Messenger of Allah –May Allah’s Salat and Peace be upon him– said: “If acts of disobedience are committed among any people and they do not seek to change them while they can, Allah will soon punish them all.” [Narrated by Ahmad, Abu Dawood and al-Tirmidhi]

Therefore, it is deemed inevitable for the Ummah to take the necessary measures in order to contain this massive outpouring of unfavourable developments, ensure their discharge of communal obligation towards helping pre-empt the potential divine retribution and detestation against the Ummah, and alert people to what is being plotted against them, using good words, wisdom and good exhortation. Allah ‒the Great and Almighty‒ said:

If only there had been among the generations before you persons having wisdom, prohibiting (others) from Al-Fasâd (disbelief, polytheism, and all kinds of crimes and sins) in the earth. [Houd: 116]

In the verse above, Allah, the Almighty, uses the expression … persons having wisdom … underpinning the ingrained truth that matters tend to reach their peak at the outset, then they would dwindle down afterwards; hence, those who manage to endure that phase of weakness are those who are left (from the early group of Muslims).

I seek refuge with Allah from the accursed Satan … in the Name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful:

Then We have put you (O Muhammad صلى الله عليه و سلم) on a (plain) way of (Our) commandment [like the one which We commanded Our Messengers before you (i.e. legal ways and laws of the Islâmic Monotheism)]. So follow you that (Islâmic Monotheism and its laws), and follow not the desires of those who know not. (Tafsir At-Tabarî). Verily, they can avail you nothing against Allâh (if He wants to punish you). Verily, the Zâlimûn (polytheists, wrong-doers) are Auliyâ’(protectors, helpers) of one another, but Allâh is the Walî (Helper, Protector) of the Muttaqûn (the pious. See V.2:2). This (Qur’an) is a clear insight and evidence for mankind, and a guidance and a mercy for people who have Faith with certainty. [Al-Jathiyah: 18-20]

May Allah bless the Qur’an and the Sunnah for you and me and may He grant you and me the benefit of the signs and wisdom they contain. Having said this, I ask Almighty Allah to forgive you and me!

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