Monday, September 22

Development of Soul results in Noble Characterstics

'Developing the soul' means cleansing it from stubborn mazmumah traits including miserliness, arrogance, troublemaking, greed, love of this world, resentment and so on so forth, replacing them instead with admirable mahmudah traits including generosity, humbleness, patience, kindness, love of the Hereafter and so on so forth.

Whoever wants to cleanse their heart and soul will gain the greatest reward in the Hereafter, which is Heaven. This was clearly stated by Allah in al-Quran:

Translated: "Truly victory will come to whoever cleanses (their heart/soul/nafs) and disappointment to whoever corrupts it." (As-Shams: 9-10)

Whoever has a soul that is clean from mazumah traits will be able to develop the world, whether from an economic, political, science and technology or administrative perspective, and such developments would be completely free from problems that usually occur in societies. The final result of their efforts would be that to the world would become a bridge to the Hereafter as Rasulullah SAW once said:

Translated: "The world is the plantation of the Hereafter."

This means that all efforts, activities, developments and civilisations that are raised in this world are like plantations whose products are to be enjoyed in the Hereafter. In Heaven awaits the pahala (rewards).

All developments and advancements that are carried out by people with clean souls are safe and are active in saving others. They would not have any undue side effects that would burden society in any way.

Once the soul has been processed and cleansed of all mazmumah traits, it becomes a home to noble characteristics. It is important to remember that developing the soul to such a stage is not an easy task. It is not enough for people to be provided with the right knowledge; the real effectiveness comes through personal education and daily practice. This is so that what has been learned will permeate into every part of the person's mind, soul, habits and behaviours until they have become part of the person themselves.

The act of obtaining knowledge is easy. We can go to classes, listen to mubaligh lecturers, read for ourselves, as well as listen to the radio and television, but in order to fully appreciate the knowledge and bring it into ourselves until it becomes part of our lives, that requires education, nurturing and continuous guidance. Knowledge on its own is inadequate, if there is no guidance to go along with it. The knowledge would be unfulfilled; just words on a page. It can be parroted back, used to beautify words and text, and even taught to others, but it would never reach the stage where it can become part of our culture and lifestyle.

When it comes to textual information, even non-Muslims can learn and use Islamic knowledge. In fact they can even go as far as to teach it others. In many current universities, especially in the West and America, a great deal of Islamic knowledge lecturers are non-Muslims, and many of their students are Muslims. These lecturers can present the knowledge, but cannot provide the right education and guidance.

In today's world, Islamic knowledge does not appear to be inadequate. There are many Islamic schools in the world ranging through all levels of education and increasing yearly. What is inadequate is the way that the knowledge is being taught; in some schools that do teach Islamic knowledge, the students are not being given the proper education and guidance. Some do not even practice congregational prayers.

Hence, while Islamic schools and the knowledge that they teach continue to expand, the actual practice and appreciation of knowledge remains stunted. The students of Islamic knowledge increase, but true Islamic characteristics are barely noticeable. The spreading of Islamic knowledge through dakwah and lectures are more widespread, but the application of that knowledge is even more limited. Nowadays, almost everyone talks about Islam whenever issues of social problems are brought up, but it's all talk and no action, as can be seen with the steady increase of social ills all over the world. This is because the educational system is still lacking. Although there are programs being implemented, they only focus on the physical aspect but not the spiritual one. These programs do not address the need to strengthen the tauhid of the heart and soul by empowering it with awareness of God along with feelings of humbleness, worthlessness, embarrassment and
lowliness before Him. When people are fully aware of God, they will avoid doing all bad things. Such a thing would be more effective than any rule or regulation. This is because a heart that is empowered with the fear of God above all others is the strongest armour against all vices.

It has been said:

Translated: "Fear Allah wherever you are, and follow up a bad deed with a good deed and it will wipe (the bad deed) out, and behave well towards people." (As related by Ahmad, Tarmizi and Baihaqi)

It is only when one fears God that their akhlak (behaviour/morals) will improve. This is what is meant by applying the knowledge of akidah or tauhid; tauhid belongs in the heart, not the head, and should never be limited to the tongue.

When it is said that the fear of Allah is more effective than any rule or regulation in avoiding the vices of the world, this does not mean that rules and regulations are not needed at all. They are needed, but they are not the primary means for dealing with social ills. Their role is to make the country's administration more organised and unified, as well as regulate and standardise between different ministries, branches, institutions, etc. Fear of Allah acts as the primary line of defense against all outside enemies. Other defenses are more temporary, for although they can help in the here and now, they cannot help in the long term.

That is how taqwa fortifies our spiritual armour against the attacks of the nafs (desires) and shai'tan (unseen beings) that are constantly trying to tempt us do to evil. But when taqwa is forgotten, the nafs and shai'tan run wild and free, dragging all willing souls into seen and unseen evil. It is during these times that rules and regulations become the approach that has to be taken in order to prevent crimes and misdoings.

So if anyone thinks that rules and regulations are the only way to prevent social ills, they would be wrong.

Laws, rules and regulations act as deterrents, but they do not guarantee the elimination of ill intent. It is more likely that there are many who are simply waiting for the right time to act, and have only not done so because they are afraid of being caught, along with all the worldly repercussions that would come along with being caught. As soon as the right opportunity comes along, and they are certain that they can avoid being caught, they would do what it is that they want. This is all the more possible in today's day and age, thanks to the advent of modern technology.

For example, if someone does not take bribes because they are afraid that the crime can be traced back to them, then the work that they do for others and the community would be safe and unaffected. But in Islam, their work would still be tainted because their actions are insincere. They would gain no pahala because they did not avoid the sin because they feared Allah, but because they feared other people. While on the surface they may appear good, they have actually sinned because they have committed shirik. The crime they would have committed was avoided only because of the existence of laws and their fear that they could be caught. But because their heart still does not fear Allah and the punishment of the Hereafter, they would still commit the crime against others if they get the chance.

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