In the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful, the Most Kind.
I remember, a year ago, I was reading this book at a park in Kensington. It was a time where I felt like I needed to focus on the right path, remember my purpose and reflect on my spirituality. Without a shadow of a doubt, Murad has given inspirational advice on how to become closer to Allah.
Chapter 1: The Process of Self Development
The start of this process is to understand that Allah is at the central place in your life. The Arabic term closest to ‘self-development’ is ‘Tazkiya’ which means purification – cleansing oneself. In order to achieve success in this dunya and in the ‘akhirah, you must depend on purifying your character.
“Successful Indeed is the one who purifies his whole self.”
We must attain the pleasure of Allah in order to enter Paradise. Murad explains the ultimate goal for us is Jannah. Surely, this dunya is nothing but temporary and Jannah is eternal, everlasting.
For one to attain Jannah, you must choose a new life to begin a new journey. The selection of the ultimate goal of Paradise must be made consciously and may involve an absolute break from the past. Improving your habits and actions is a long process, the desire will provide the momentum for attaining your goal.
To take the first step, you must ask yourself, what does Allah require from me in order to succeed? Allah wants you to be a Mu’min and a Mujahid. A Mu’min is someone who is true and firm in his faith. A Mujahid is someone who strives his utmost with all the means at his disposal to gain Allah’s pleasure. If you are a Mu’min or a Mujahid, Allah will help you to rise higher levels in this world and the hereafter.
When embarking on this journey, you may feel like your knowledge of Islam is limited. But, this is normal. We all need knowledge, like every breath we take. Don’t allow these shortcomings affect your feelings. Each day you must strive to improve, better yourself and you will improve.
This moves you to the level of purifying yourself (tazkiya). Step by step, you see a change in yourself. Murad explains that you shouldn’t expect to change all at once. When the Prophet (saw) was aware of people that converted to Islam recently, he (saw) wouldn’t ask them to start all their obligations immediately. Rather, as much as they could bear at a time. Keep in mind of the principle of gradualism otherwise you may try to attain the impossible and when you do not achieve it, you may become frustrated. Once you commit yourself to Allah, all that you have must be spent in His way.
Conditions of Tazkiya
1. Personal Responsibility
You only see the results of your personal development through your own effort and your own realisation. No one else can perform Tazkiya for you. this is your own responsibility.
“And no bearer of burdens shall be made to bear another’s burden; and if one weighed down by his load calls upon [another] to help him carry it, nothing thereof may be carried [by that other], even if is be one’s near of kin.”
Tazkiya is about your behaviour, conduct and how you live your life. You must translate your knowledge into practice. Acquire knowledge through the study of Qur’an and Sunnah. To help, seek the company of those who are striving to please Allah. They will help you towards righteousness.
2. Genuine Effort
You must have a deep desire to fulfil your obligations as a Muslim. With desire comes actions without genuine effort, nothing can happen. Prayer is part of the effort. You may say, ‘Ya Allah, guide me and make me good’. It will bring you benefit if you are determined to become good.
There will never be a point when you will be able to say that you have reached your full potential or that you are now a perfect person. If at any point you say so, that is your downfall.
3. Sustaining Will-Power
Irada – you need to have the will to do something with all your efforts. Without will, you cannot do anything. The Qur’an explains the weakness of human nature and the weakness of will.
“And, Indeed, long ago We made Our covenant with Adam; but he forgot, and We found no firmness of purpose in him.”
Irada requires strengths and consistency. There should be no doubts, no hesitation.
4. Reliance on Allah
Self-confidence comes from depending on Allah. This helps you to srive and struggle in His way.
“So he who gives [in charity] and fears Allah and [in all sincerity] testifies to the best – We will indeed make smooth for him the path to Bliss.”
If you consistently hold yourself back believing that you are weak and incapable, you are bound to fail. Confidence, hope and determination are all important ingredients for your success.
5. Best use of Time
Time is limited. Strive to make the most out of it. You will need to make time for self development. Structure your time, and remember the deeds most loved by Allah are those done regularly, even if they are a few. Whilst you strive to make the most out of your time, try to aim for excellence in everything you do.
6. Tazkiya, All-embracing Process
Tazkiya must encompass your entire life. Everything must be in conformity with Allah’s will. One thing you should keep in mind is that there should be a balance between your obligations such as, your obligations to Allah, towards others and yourself. The Prophet (saw) was against any kind of extremism:
The Prophet (saw) said: “Have I heard right that you fast everyday and stand in prayer all night?”
Abdullah ibn Amr (ra): “Yes, Ya Rasoolullah”
The Prophet (saw): “Do not do that. Fast, as well as eat and drink. Stand in prayer, as well as sleep. For your body has a right upon you, your eyes have a right upon you, your wife has a right upon you, and your guest has a right upon you.”
If you were to approach tazkiya as an all-embracing process, you will realise that each part of your life compliments another part. The struggle to the straight path may come easier and be full of blessings. Remember that you have the example of the Prophet (saw) to follow:
“Indeed, you have the Messenger of Allah as an excellent exemplar, whoever places his hopes in God and the Final Day, and who remembers Allah much.”
This is just a fragment of seven sections to help you understand how to develop yourself and to focus on your ultimate goal. This new journey will purify your heart and the will of Allah will become easier for you to follow. Soon, all your efforts will be directed towards the pleasure of Allah and Jannah.
I hope this has benefited you all, InshaAllah.