The call to prayer sounds out as the believer sits on their prayer mat, repeating after the melodious and tear-jerking words. He looks towards the ground and recalls the sins he committed in the day. His heart is filled with a sudden fear as he begins to make Istighfaar and seek forgiveness. The words ‘Allahu Akbar’ – God is Great – cause his skin to tremble as he contemplates over the greatness of the One he sinned against. O God Almighty, purify my heart of all the evil I have done and guide me to do good, are the hearts plea and call…
Tazkiyyah in Arabic alludes to the ‘purification of the soul’ or its growth and development in reaching a state of excellence. The root word of Tazkiyyah comes from Zakaah, which means ‘to cleanse, or to purify.’ The subject of Tazkiyyah is one of great importance as Muslims should always be constantly cleansing their hearts and souls through means of Istighfaar – seeking forgiveness, reflection and worship. The Tazkiyyah of ones innerself involves the correction of the innerself and the eradication of false assumptions.
God Almighty tells us in the Qur’an:
“And [by] the soul and He who proportioned it. And inspired it [with discernment of] its wickedness and its righteousness, He has succeeded who purifies it, And he has failed who instills it [with corruption].” (91:7-10)
This verse clearly tells us that those who purify their heart and soul will be the ones who are successful. It is noteworthy to know that as human beings, our hearts are constantly changing, and thus it is important for us to constantly re-check our intentions and renew them, so that our actions remain pure for the sake of God Almighty alone.
Tazkiyyah is a very broad subject that requires much discussion, however in a nutshell, Tazkiyyah signifies nourishing ones soul through doing good deeds and refraining from evil and sin. It is an act of cleansing the heart from all ill feelings towards the Creator and creation, and working towards being a better person each minute of every day. Tazkiyyah means constantly evaluating our lives and filling the gaps where it is needed.
A person who performs Tazkiyyah pushes himself or herself in performing all obligations, fighting temptations and desires and practicing self-restraint and Taqwa (awareness of God Almighty) at all times. They work hard to improve themselves, aim high and supersede obligatory acts by performing sunnah and optional acts too to reach a state of excellence. The main weapon in this daily battle is patience and perseverance. A believer understands that Paradise is expensive and must be earned through striving and struggling against evil desires and in doing good, which will cause our hearts to also be upon good, so that one can attain the pleasure of God Almighty.
Hence, the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) would always supplicate to God Almighty, saying: “O turner of the hearts, keep my heart firm upon your religion.”
So dear brothers and sisters, this Ramadan, aim to purify your hearts and souls through remembrance and worship of God Almighty, through seeking forgiveness and repentance, and by going above and beyond in your acts of worship and charitable acts. So that you will not only be purifying your hearts, but also clearing them of the evil and sins you have earned. Take time out during this blessed month to reflect over your actions over the past year and find out what changes you need to make within yourself in order to become a better, more sincere Muslim.
We ask God Almighty to grant us a true understanding and purify our hearts from all the evil we have earned.