Quranic Pearls

What is Mujahidah?

(Part 2)

Mufti Muhammad Qasim Attari

Allah Almighty states:

وَ الَّذِیْنَ جَاهَدُوْا فِیْنَا لَنَهْدِیَنَّهُمْ سُبُلَنَاؕ-وَ اِنَّ اللّٰهَ لَمَعَ الْمُحْسِنِیْنَ۠(۶۹)

‘And those who struggled in Our way, We shall definitely show them Our paths; and Allah is certainly with the virtuous.’[1]

Exegesis: The second type of Mujahidah is to carry out inner forms of worship, purify the inner state and refine one’s character. The second type also has two further types: one pertaining to inner forms of worship and the other referring to self-purification (Tazkiyyah Nafs).

Inner forms of worship refers to love for Allah and His Messenger ّٰ صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم; having religious conviction; being sincere; drawing closer to your Lord and relying on Him; being content, patient and grateful; reflecting upon one’s state and repenting; contemplating the Divine; being enthusiastic about doing good; turning to Allah when sad; being modest; revering Allah and having hope in His mercy; fearing divine punishment; being God-conscious; turning to Allah Almighty in every matter; embracing His decree; and remaining pleased with Him in every state. These are all high forms of worship.

Purifying one’s inner state and character is known as ‘Tazkiyyah al-Nafs’ (self-purification). The significance of self-purification can be understood from the fact that it was one of the purposes for the advent of the Prophet ّٰ صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم. This has been mentioned in four places in the Holy Quran. One example is the verse:

It is He Who has sent in the unlettered people a [great] Messenger from amongst themselves who recites His verses to them and purifies them and gives them the knowledge of the Book and wisdom. And indeed, before this, they were definitely in open error.’[2]

For the Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّمto purify is in reference to him purifying people’s inner selves from sin and immoral desire and freeing the soul from malice. This is to make the heart capable of witnessing divine manifestations, resulting in divine secrets being captured therein. All the Ghawth, Qutb, Abdaal [various ranks of sainthood), saints, Sufis, jurists (Fuqaha) and scholars are purified through him.

Allah Almighty has stated the role of the Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّمin this regard:

خُذْ مِنْ اَمْوَالِهِمْ صَدَقَةً تُطَهِّرُهُمْ وَ تُزَكِّیْهِمْ بِهَا

‘O Beloved, take zakat from their wealth by which you may cleanse them and make them pure.’[3]

Allah Almighty mentions Sayyiduna Abu Bakr’s رَضِیَ اللہُ تَعَالٰی عَنْہُ inner state and conduct in relation to this self-purification:

وَ سَیُجَنَّبُهَا الْاَتْقَىۙ(۱۷) الَّذِیْ یُؤْتِیْ مَالَهٗ یَتَزَكّٰىۚ(۱۸)

‘And very soon he will be kept far away from it (Hell) the one who is most pious. Who gives his wealth in order to become pure.’[4]

The greatest obstacles on the path of self-purification are love for this world and wealth, as well as being engrossed in desires, which is why the Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم guided the companions in an excellent manner regarding this matter. He gave the following advice regarding the world: ‘[O son of Umar,] be in this world as though you are a traveller or wayfarer.’ Sayyiduna Abdullah Bin Umar عَنْهُمَا الـلّٰـهُرَضِیَhimself would say the following: ‘Do not wait for the morning in the evening, and do not wait for the evening in the morning. Value your health before your sickness, and value your life before your death.’[5]

Concerning worldly wealth and the desires of the lower self (nafs), the Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّمsaid: ‘Indeed, the world is sweet and lush. Allah Almighty has certainly made you a vicegerent upon it. Therefore, He will see what actions you will perform. So, be aware of the allure posed by the world and women. Verily, the first trial of Bani Israil was caused by women.’[6]

The excellence and importance of self-purification has been mentioned in the Holy Quran in the following manner:

قَدْ اَفْلَحَ مَنْ تَزَكّٰىۙ(۱۴) وَ ذَكَرَ اسْمَ رَبِّهٖ فَصَلّٰىؕ(۱۵)

‘Indeed, successful is the one who became pure and offered salah having mentioned the name of his Lord.’[7]

The Quran also states:

وَ نَفْسٍ وَّ مَا سَوّٰىهَاﭪ(۷) فَاَلْهَمَهَا فُجُوْرَهَا وَ تَقْوٰىهَاﭪ(۸) قَدْ اَفْلَحَ مَنْ زَكّٰىهَاﭪ(۹) وَ قَدْ خَابَ مَنْ دَسّٰىهَاؕ(۱۰)

‘And by the soul and by Him Who made it proper. And instilled in it (the human soul, the understanding of) its sins and its piety. Indeed, successful is the one who made it (his soul) pure. And unsuccessful is the one who covered it in sins.’[8]

It is this self-purification and cleansing of the heart that is greatly emphasised in the domain of spirituality, because through the reformation of the heart, one’s outer self is also reformed. The Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّمsaid: ‘Beware! There is a piece flesh in the body; if it is sound, the entire body remains sound, and if it is corrupt, the entire body becomes corrupt. Take heed; it is the heart.’[9]

One is required to engage in this category of Mujahidah to draw closer to the Almighty. Although the challenges it poses are greater than the first category, those with tenacity become adept at doing so. It is the trickery of the lower self (nafs) in sheer amount that presents the difficulty one faces on this path. People do not usually realise the traps of the lower self which they are caught in. Only through certain occurrences does one realise the deficiencies within us. An example of this is the level of displeasure and complaints expressed by someone who, prior to facing a difficult situation, perceived himself as patient. Likewise, the disease of the heart, whereby one longs to be praised, only surfaces if someone does not receive the respect and praise one had hoped to receive.

Offering his valuable insight on this matter, Imam Abu al-Qasim al-Qushayri رَحْمَةُ الـلّٰـهِ عَـلَيْهwrites: ‘There was a Shaykh who offered Salah in the first row of the masjid for many years. One day, due to some reason, he was unable to make it to the masjid in time, and so he offered the Salah in the last row. Thereafter, he disappeared for a long time. After a lengthy period, he was seen again and was asked where he had been. He replied: ‘I was making up for the prayers that I had offered in the first row of the Masjid for all those years. I thought those prayers were performed sincerely for Allah Almighty. However, due to arriving late one day, the people saw me offering Salah in the last row, which caused me to feel embarrassed. And so, I came to realise that I had been attending the masjid early all those years just to show people. Hence, I repeated them prayers.’

Similarly, another similar account is mentioned regarding Sayyiduna Abu Muhammad al-Murta’ishرَحْمَةُ الـلّٰـهِ عَـلَيْه. He states: ‘I performed Hajj many times. However, I realised that my lower self (nafs) had a part in all of them. This is because one day, my mother told me to bring a pitcher of water. This felt burdensome to my lower self. Therefore, I came to know that for my lower self to easily accept what I pursued during the multiple times I performed Hajj was due to its influence and self-interest. Had my lower self been done away with, it would not have been difficult for it to fulfil something deemed right in Islam: obeying my mother.’[10]

The necessity and significance of self-purification are very clear. The way to attain it is by seeking religious knowledge, studying the lives of the pious predecessors and paying attention to the way of the Sufis. In addition to this is remaining in the company and under the guidance of a sheikh whose actions encourage you to prepare for the Hereafter, whose words are a means of rectifying yourself and he advises you on the deception of the lower self.

The Quran states:

وَ اِنَّ اللّٰهَ لَمَعَ الْمُحْسِنِیْنَ۠(۶۹)

‘Allah is with the virtuous.’[11]

The Almighty aids the virtuous in this world, and He will forgive them and reward them in the Hereafter.[12]

[1] [Kanz-ul-Iman (translation of Quran)] (Part 21, Surah al-Ankaboot, verse 69)

[2] [Kanz-ul-Iman (translation of Qur’an)] (Part 28, Surahal-Jumu’ah, verse 2)

[3] [Kanz-ul-Iman (translation of Qur’an)] (Part 11, Surahal-Taubah, verse 103)

[4] [Kanz-ul-Iman (translation of Quran)] (Part 30, Surahal-Layl, verses 17-18)

[5] al-Bukhari, vol. 4, p. 223, Hadith 6,416

[6] Muslim, p. 1124, Hadith 6,948

[7] [Kanz-ul-Iman (translation of Qur’an)] (Part 30, Surahal-Ala, verses 14-15)

[8] [Kanz-ul-Iman (translation of Qur’an)] (Part 30, Surahal-Shams, verses 7-10)

[9] al-Bukhari, vol. 1, p. 33, Hadith 52

[10] al-Risalah al-Qushayriyyah, p. 309)

[11] [Kanz-ul-Iman (translation of Qur’an)] (Part 21, Surahal-Ankaboot, verse 69)

[12] Madarik, Surah al-Ankaboot, commentary of verse, 69, p. 900




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