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Prophet Muhammad Qur'an Spiritual Purification

Lessons from the Opening Chapter

Lecture by Suhaib Webb | Transcribed by Fuseina Mohamad

Surat Al-Fatiha Series: Part IPart IIPart IIIPart IVPart V | Part VIPart VIIPart VIII | Part IXPart X | Part XI | Part XII | Part XIII | Part XIV | Part XV | Part XVI | Part XVII | Part XVIII | Part XIX | Part XX | Part XXI | Part XXII | Part XXIII | Part XXIV | Part XXV

quran-rehal-and-chandlerThe Prophet Mohammad ﷺ said in a famous hadith: “None of you will complete your faith until you love me more than your fathers, your sons,”—and in another narration—“and all of humanity together.” One time Omar radi allahu `anhu (may Allah be pleased with him) came to the Prophet ﷺ and said, “Ya Rasulullah (O Messenger of Allah) I swear by Allah that after myself I love you the most.” The Prophet ﷺ replied, “You’re still not a believer O Omar. You will not be a believer until you love me more than you love yourself.” So Prophet ﷺ left and Omar was thinking. Then he ran back to the Prophet ﷺ and said, “Ya Rasul Allah (O Messenger of Allah) I swear by Allah that I love you more than I love myself.” Then the Prophet ﷺ said, “Now you are a believer, Omar.”

When we say the name of Mohammad we should say sallah Allahu `alayhi wa sallam (may the blessings and peace of Allah be upon him). Even if you’re listening or you’re in jum`ah (congregational Friday prayer), this is not considered al-laghw (unnecessary talk) because Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala (exalted is He) said, “Indeed, Allah confers blessing upon the Prophet, and His angels [ask Him to do so]. O you who have believed, ask [Allah to confer] blessing upon him and ask [Allah to grant him] peace” (Qur’an, 33:56). Allah ordered us to make salawat (prayers; i.e. to say, “May Allah’s blessings and peace be upon the Messenger”) upon His beloved Prophet ﷺ. Also there is a very beautiful, authentic hadith in which the Prophet ﷺ said that whoever makes salawat on him, then Allah (swt) will do three things:

  1. Allah (swt) will forgive ten of your sins. Imagine how many things you saw on campus today that you shouldn’t have seen. So if you just count how many sins the eyes committed, you’re going to start making salawat.
  2. The Prophet ﷺ said is that Allah will give you ten hasanat (good deeds). So you get ten canceled and you get ten added. Kind of like a tax refund, take and give.
  3. Allah will raise you ten darajat (levels).

So when we say the name of Mohammad ﷺ we should say salla Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallaam. We don’t have to say it out loud. Then we get these thirty blessings from Allah (swt).

Today we’re talking about the explanation of Surat al-Fatiha and its effect on the purification of the soul. Allah and the Prophet ﷺ have taught us about tazkiyatul nafs (purification of the soul). Surat al-Fatiha has a lot of benefits. Ibn Qayim al-Jawziya took some points from Al Harawi, who was a great scholar of tassawuf (spirituality). Al Harawi wrote a book in which he elaborated on Surat al-Fatiha, and Ibn Qayim al-Jawziya took this book and added to it, taking a lot of statements from the Sheikh to write his book Madarij As-Salikeen (The Steps of Those Going to Allah). This book in its original form is three volumes in Arabic, around 700 pages wholly dedicated to spirituality. A recent summary of it into two volumes was done by Sheikh Rashid. In this book chapter after chapter talks about the diseases of the heart and how to cure them. There are also chapters on the good qualities of the heart. All of it coming from “It is You we worship and You we ask for help” (Qur’an, 1:5).

Alhamdullilah (all praise is due to Allah) we’re going to take all of Fatiha because we don’t have the time to go through the three volumes of Ibn Qayim al-Jawziya.

Maybe nowadays no other topic has been more attacked and misunderstood than the concept of tazkiyah (purification). We cannot translate tazkiyah as spirituality. As I told you last time, spirituality is Shirley MacLaine chillin’ on a mountain in Hollywood with her crystals getting in touch with Martians. This is spirituality. We do not have an abstract concept of spirituality in Islam.  We have something which is completely tangible, and it is called at-tazkiyah.

Tazkiyah means two things in Arabic: to grow and to purify. In the ninth chapter of the Qur’an Allah (swt) says, “Take, [O, Muhammad], from their wealth a charity by which you purify them and cause them increase, and invoke [Allah ‘s blessings] upon them. Indeed, your invocations are reassurance for them. And Allah is Hearing and Knowing” (Qur’an 9:103). Allah (swt) tells the Prophet ﷺ to take from their property a zakah tutahiruhum (charity which will purify them) and tuzakiyhim. Tuzakiyhim here means to make them grow by taking the sadaqah (charity).

In other places in the Qur’an Allah says, “He has succeeded who purifies it (i.e. their soul)” (Qur’an 91:9). Here zakaha (which comes from the same root word as tazkiyah) means to be pure.

So there are two meanings for tazkiyah: to purify and to grow. That’s why nobody should be scared to give zakah because they are going to purify themselves and their money is going to grow.

As the Prophet ﷺ said, “The property doesn’t decrease from giving charity.”

Is tazkiyatul nafs actually founded in the Shari`ah (Islamic law)? Some people said no, the only thing we should do is be active. Is tazkiyatul nafs, working to have a pure heart and soul, something which is founded in our Shari`ah?

About the author

Suhaib Webb

Suhaib Webb is a contemporary American-Muslim educator, activist, and lecturer. His work bridges classical and contemporary Islamic thought, addressing issues of cultural, social and political relevance to Muslims in the West. After converting to Islam in 1992, Webb left his career in the music industry to pursue his passion in education. He earned a Bachelor’s in Education from the University of Central Oklahoma and received intensive private training in the Islamic Sciences under a renowned Muslim Scholar of Senegalese descent. Webb was hired as the Imam at the Islamic Society of Greater Oklahoma City, where he gave khutbas (sermons), taught religious classes, and provided counselling to families and young people; he also served as an Imam and resident scholar in communities across the U.S.

From 2004-2010, Suhaib Webb studied at the world’s preeminent Islamic institution of learning, Al-Azhar University, in the College of Shari`ah. During this time, after several years of studying the Arabic Language and the Islamic legal tradition, he also served as the head of the English Translation Department at Dar al-Ifta al-Misriyyah.

Outside of his studies at Al-Azhar, Suhaib Webb completed the memorization of the Quran in the city of Makkah, Saudi Arabia. He has been granted numerous traditional teaching licenses (ijazat), adhering to centuries-old Islamic scholarly practice of ensuring the highest standards of scholarship.

Webb was named one of the 500 Most Influential Muslims in the World by the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Center in 2010 and his website, www.SuhaibWebb.com, was voted the best “Blog of the Year” by the 2009 Brass Crescent awards.

Suhaib Webb has lectured extensively around the world including in the Middle East, East Asia, Europe, North Africa and North America. Upon returning from his studies in Egypt, Webb lived in the Bay Area, California, where he worked with the Muslim American Society from Fall 2010 to Winter 2011. He currently serves as the Imam of the Islamic Society of Boston’s Cultural Center (ISBCC).

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