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Self Refinement

By Sh Abdul-Muhsin Al-Qaasim (Imam of Haram)

Allah has perfected the religion for us, completed His favour upon us and has chosen for us Islam as our religion. Islam is a religion that has its basics and principles deeply rooted and strongly fortified. It enjoins all noble traits and forbids all corrupt deeds. It teaches that man’s elevation lies in religiosity and good conduct. Self-refinement enlivens hearts and leads to commendable characters. Characters have limits that, if overstepped, become hostilities and if they fall short of it they become shame and defect.

Call yourself to account for days you have spent in this life and know that whatever has passed can never be regained. Though the human self, that is naturally inclined to evil, finds excuses for whatever has passed and nurses hopes for whatever is left, the best among the wise people is the one who reproaches himself most. Whoever understands this life well strives to attain the best thereof. This life is a season in which the vigilant search only for the most precious material.

Brothers in Islam! Real enjoyment of this world is only achieved by being steadfast and firm in matter of one’s religion. The happy person is the one who succeeds in making good use of his health in this world. The increase in one’s rank in Paradise depends on one’s virtuous deeds. The best thing one can occupy oneself with is the knowledge of Sharee’ah and whatever besides that is of secondary importance. When there is no knowledge, there will be misguidance. It is better to give priority to more important matters; for toiling in search of knowledge that caters for one’s well being in this world and the Hereafter is better than toiling for the mere enjoyment of this life. The fruit of this life are only knowledge and good deeds.

Fellow Muslims! Whoever wants perpetual safety should always be conscious of Allah. Whoever does what negates his God-consciousness will see its repercussions sooner or later. It is delusion to do evil and see good things and then assume that you have been forgiven. The sinner may sometimes see himself in good health and abundant wealth and wrongly assume that he would not be punished. He is unaware that his ignorance of what he is to be punished with is itself a punishment, for, to commit acts of obedience one after the other is enough a punishment. Sins do have evil effects and nothing is more useful than supplicating to Allah and abstaining from sins for a disregarded spark may burn a whole town.

Whoever ponders over the misfortune that befell Prophet Yoosuf’s brothers when they pleaded with him thus: “And be charitable to us,” (Yousuf: 88), will understand the repercussion of evil deeds. Whoever runs after his lusts yet desires the reform of his soul is seeking for an impossible thing. Keep away, therefore, from the causes of temptations for none who has come close to them is saved.

Whoever fights his desires will reap the fruits of this world and should things become difficult for him, his patience and pleasure with the decree of Allah serve as succour for him. The human soul is greedy if it is allowed to be so. Therefore control your soul with Allah’s injunctions. It is also a sign of misery to make this worldly enjoyment an end in itself; it is merely a temporary pain reliever.

Being in the company of righteous brothers, even for a little while – is a good opportunity for it helps to carry out acts of obedience to Allah and to adopt good characters, do not therefore keep but the company of wise and trustworthy people. Give yourself a time for supplicating to your Lord and a time for calling yourself to account and put your eyes and tongue under control, for looking at forbidden things spoils happiness and makes life difficult. The pleasures of this world are just ways to destruction. Whoever surrenders himself to the dictates of his inclinations and whims will perish.

Brothers in faith! Do not be deluded with youthfulness for most of those who die are youths and few are old people, that is why few people grow up. Whoever reforms himself in secret his virtue will be widespread. Also reflect upon sincerity you will find that nothing benefits more than it. Do not destroy your honour with sins for you shall be loved in accordance with your keeping away from whims and desires. Do not leave a virtue unattained if you can; for nothing prevents from aiming high except base mind. Whatever is missed is a result of laziness and whatever is achieved is a result of hard works and determination. Do not be arrogant. Imaam Ahmad said, “Do not take any knowledge from a self-glorifying person.”

Further, do not depend upon means, for if you depend on means, it will avail you of nothing. Allah says, “And on the day of Hunain (Battle) when you rejoiced at your great number but it availed you naught.” (At-Taw bah: 25).

Allah has decreed for every matter its time and provided ways with which humans can achieve their goals. Matters of this world and its adornments can be attained by those who do not run after them and be denied those who strive for them. One has to make use of the causes and means but should not depend on it. Prophet Sulayman once said, “I will sleep with one hundred women tonight and each one of them shall give birth to a boy.” And he did not say, “In Sha Allah” (If Allah wills) as a result, only one of them became pregnant and gave birth to an incomplete boy. Fortunate is the one who knows the Creator of the means and causes and depends on Him. Therefore, direct your fears and hope to Allah Alone. Whenever you desire for something, Supplicate to Allah, for He is the Most Generous. Much supplication is a good support.

If a believer supplicates but does not get any answer and repeats the prayer over and over and yet still does not see any sign of an answer it is a test from Allah. He needs to be patient because what delays the acceptance of his supplication is a disease that needs medication, for Allah’s generosity is boundless. It may be that there is a benefit for him in the delay and harm in quick answering of his supplication. This is no doubt a blessing in the guise of a test. Also, lack of acceptance of your prayer may be caused by a sin, like earning from an impure source or being unmindful when making the supplication or because of a sin that you have not sincerely repented from. So, whenever you have a hardship, remember that you have not thanked Allah for a favour or that you have committed a sin. Beware lest your blessings be taken away or lest you be afflicted with calamities and always have the intention to do well.

Whoever knows that death will be his end carries out deeds whose reward will remain after him and strives to attain offspring that will remember Allah after him. Allah says, “Whosoever does righteous good deeds, it is for (the benefit of) his own self; and whosoever does evil, it is against his own self. And your Lord is not at all unjust to (His) slaves.” (Fussilat: 46).

Fellow Muslims! Perfection is rare and the perfect people are very few. Real peace of mind lies in preventing the soul from following lustful desires and whims, and then it will be ready for good deeds and attaining virtues. The wise person should always remember death; in such a way that his heart is involved and his lusts and greed are suppressed. For, much remembrance of death protects from evil and secures against anxiety.

Other peoples’ deaths should remind you of your own death. Nothing is more difficult than to be patient over the decree of Allah but nothing is better than to be pleased with that. Do not grieve for whatever you miss of this world and regard whatever you achieved of this world and are then deprived of as what you have not achieved at all. Also regard what you requested for but are denied as something you have never asked for. Whoever ponders over this life and reflects on its waves will not fear the fall of any calamity nor rejoice over any temporary bliss. The most unheedful are those who have passed the age of sixty and approaching seventy for in between them is the battleground of death. The Prophet said, “The life of a believer should not increase him except in good.” (Muslim).

This life is ever changing. For whatever you achieve come to you in your weakness and whatever befalls you, you have no power to prevent or remove it and there is no money better than intelligence and religion.


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