Islam acknowledges the fact that every human has physical needs such as eating, drinking, sleeping and so on. This is why Islam gives the law of Sharia that helps Muslims fulfill their physical needs whilst staying in a social setup in the right way. However, Islam also focuses on the soul of a person with the same emphasis if not more than the emphasis on the physical needs.
In Islam, a Muslim is supposed to take care of his or her soul in the same way as they do of their body. Like we do not want our body to get hurt and throughout life try to keep it healthy and strong, in the same way a Muslim must also try to keep the soul healthy, strong and void from any kind of ills. The lines below discuss the different methods that a Muslim can adopt in purifying the soul.
A Muslim might ask the question that why is it important to keep the soul healthy and purified? Human body has physical needs, therefore, they ought to be met in order to live healthy, however, what governs the need of a pure soul. The answer to it can be found in the following ayahs of Quran:
“He has succeeded who purifies the soul, and he has failed who corrupts the soul.” (91:9-10)
From these ayahs the purpose of human life in relation to the soul is clear. Throughout life, a Muslim is to protect the soul by purifying it. Those who manage to purify their soul are the ones who are successful in the eyes of Allah Almighty, whereas those who fail in doing so and corrupt their soul are the ones who have failed their purpose of living. Therefore, purifying the soul is not an option, rather it is imperative to human existence.
Methods Of Purifying The Soul:
There is a variety of methods that a Muslim can adopt in order to purify the soul. Although every action that leads to goodness and is on the path of righteousness is a means of purifying the soul, however, there are some specific ways as well that enable greater purification of the soul. A few of the major and most effective ones are discussed below.
REFRAIN FROM SINS:
A Muslim needs to refrain from all sorts of sins in order to purify the soul. When a Muslim commits some sin, the heart receives a black dot against it and this happens with every sin that a Muslim commits. Thus, committing sins without repenting over them or without doing any good deeds to wipe the dots makes the heart black, which in other words represents the soul becoming corrupt and dark. Therefore, the most obvious way of purifying the soul is to refrain from all sorts of sins, whether they are explicit in the form of wrong doings or implicit in the form of malice that a person carries for someone else. As Allah says in Quran:
“Leave and abandon all sins whether they are outward or inward…..” (6:120)
Therefore, a Muslim should refrain from all sorts and kinds of sins as much as possible in order to make sure that the heart remains pure and the process of purification progresses.
STAY AWAY FROM GREY AREA:
Prophet Muhammad (SallAllahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) said in a hadith:
“Halal is quite clear Haram is also quite clear. And between the two there may be a grey area where people may not know is this Halal or is this Haram. Whoever stays away from that which is doubtful has protected himself and his religion and whoever falls into that which is doubtful has fallen into Haram.”[Muslim]
The implication of this hadith is the fact that whenever a Muslim is in a situation where he or she is unable to differentiate between Haram and Halal, the righteous and the wrong or between lawful and unlawful, a Muslim is to refrain from exploring such a thing and opting from it. Humans have this tendency of inclining towards that tempts and lures towards evil, therefore, when a Muslim is unclear about whether something is evil or good, then the chances are that he or she will opt for the bad side of that respective thing. Therefore, a Muslim is to refrain from every doubtful thing, the legitimacy of which is not clear to him or her.
REMOVING HATRED FROM THE HEART:
Another factor that eats the soul of a person from the inside and makes it corrupt is the fostering the hatred of people in the heart. When a Muslim breeds malice and hatred towards others in his heart, the result is the soul inclining towards negative things in life and this fostering of negativity leads the heart further towards the path of evil.
Man is a social animal and in order to have a pure soul, it is imperative that the social relations of a Muslim are at their best. If one has the hatred of other in his heart, he or she will harm them, which is definitely not something that pleases Allah Almighty and the reflection of it can be seen in the form of a dark soul. Therefore, it is imperative that a Muslim cleans his or heart of all the hatred and malice of other people first, and then work on making the soul pure.
DHIKR OF ALLAH:
Another great way of purifying the soul is performing Dhikr of Allah. The term Dhikr refers to the remembrance of Allah and a Muslim can remember Allah in every possible way. A Muslim can remember Allah by showing gratitude to Him for all that He has provided to a person, he or she can also remember Allah by seeking forgiveness for the sins they have committed, Allah can also be remembered by seeking His assistance and most commonly the remembrance of Allah can be done by as simply as praising Him. No matter in whichever way a Muslim remembers Allah, it all leads to the purification of the soul. Ergo, a Muslim must remember Allah as much as possible and in as much ways as possible.
The reason why Quran recitation is the prescribed means of purification of soul is the fact that in Quran there is praise of Allah Almighty, there is seeking forgiveness from Him, there is gratitude for His blessings and everything that a Muslim can associate with remembrance of Allah can be found in Quran. Therefore, the easiest way to purify the soul is to indulge in recitation of Quran. The memorization of Quran can be an effective ploy, which a Muslim can adopt to ensure maximum and continuous Dhikr of Allah for consistent purification of soul.
In a nutshell, at a general level the purification of the soul takes place when a Muslim refrains from sins and hatred or malice of any kind for anyone. Once the soul is void of these ills, the purification can then be increased by indulging in the Dhikr of Allah, whether it is by prayers, Quran recitation or simple verbal glorification of Allah.