Islah translates as betterment, repair, rectification, reformation, improvement, renovation, optimization and restoration.
Islah e nafs is the main topic of Tasawwuf.
It is a synonym of tazkia e nafs. That is, purification of nafs. That is, one of the four basic Prophetic tasks as stated in Al-Jum’a : 2, “He is the One who raised amidst the unlettered people a messenger from among themselves who recites to them His verses, and purifies them, and teaches them the Book and the wisdom, while they were earlier in open error.”
It means improvement and purification of the moral characteristics of an individual. It includes development of good morals (fadhail), like repentance (tawbah), patience (sabr), gratitude (shukr), hopefulness (raja), fear of Allah (khauf), asceticism (zuhd), Oneness of Allah (tawheed), love Allah and Prophet (muhabba), yearning (shauq), (uns), acceptance (raza), sincerity (ikhlas), felicity (sidq), contemplation (muraqaba), humility (raw ashy), accountability (muhasabah), (fikr) and riddance of bad moral characteristics (razail) like lust (shahwut), afflictions of speech (afaat e lisan), anger (ghasb), hatred (keyna), envy (hasad), love of the worldly (hubb e dunya), stinginess (bukhul),greed (hirs), love of status (hubb e jah), showing off (riya), arrogance (takabbur), narcissism (ujub), looking at the prohibited (bud-nazri), illicit love affairs (dunyawi eshq).
It must be clear that these moral characteristics are the driving force for an individual’s action. If they have not been purified and rectified following of the Shariah rules is not effectively possible. Moreover, even if one forces himself to act, the external forms of worship done remains deficient.
These unrefined morals lead one to get involved in the prohibited actions and omit the good actions.
Praying salah hastily is an example from our daily activities. It shows the lack of muhabba, shauq, uns, ikhlas, sidq, muraqaba, fikr and presence of hubb e dunya.
Seeing what is prohibited is due to presence of shahwut and lack of khauf, muraqaba, muhabba.
Discord, quarrelling and sarcasm, even within spouses is due to arrogance, envy, affliction of speech and lack of muhabba and self sacrifice.
In this same manner the reason of all sinful activities can be traced to the non purified morals.
The method of achieving islah is via
1. Knowledge of these morals,
2. Consultation with a mentor to correctly diagnose their lack or presence in one’s self,
3. Following the treatment prescribed and
4. Re-consultation to confirm effective cure or failure of therapy.
These steps are repeated until a stable state is achieved. In this the seeker is constantly cognizant of his deficiencies and effectively strives to improve on them.
Wa ma tawfeeqi illa billah
Shaykh Aḥmed al-Zarrūq (Allah have mercy on him) (d.899/1493) said,
There are many pretenders on this path because of its strangeness, and there is a lack of understanding because of its subtleties. There is a great deal of rejection of its followers because of its purity.
People giving advice have cautioned against pursuing the path due to the numerous errors therein.
Religious leaders compiled works to refute its followers because of what heretics have done to it and because of erroneous things attributed to people on the path.
Even ibn ‘Arabī al-Ḥātimī (God have mercy on him!) said, “Beware of this path, for most of those who deviate from it are of it. It is but a path of doom and a path of this world. He who actualized his knowledge, action, and spiritual state will gain the glory of eternity. He who abandons realization in the Path will be doomed and will come to an end.”
We ask God for well-being through His grace and generosity!
“The Principles of Sufism (Qawā‘id al-Taṣawwuf): An Annotated Translation with Introduction.” p. 203
Shaikh Abu Abdur Rahman al-Sulami (Allah have mercy on him) pointed out an error of those on this path ,
‘It was a common practice for Sufis to travel great distances to meet various shaykhs to learn from them. This too became a source of error for some Sufis.
The correct intention for traveling to meet the shayks is to learn propriety, take knowledge from them, obey their commands and preserve their honour.
The mistake that was made occurred when a group of Sufis wanted to meet the shayks for the sole purpose of bragging to others that they had met such-and-such who said such-and-such, making their travels and visiting with shaykhs a source of pride, arrogance and ostentation instead of source of humility and knowledge.
Worse still is the traveler that seeks the acceptance of the shaykh or wants the shaykh to honor him. Such a persons journey amounts to “a travel from knowledge to ignorance and he will never benefit from (this travel) ever.”
Kitab al-Aghalit, The book of errors: A critical edition & study by Jawad Qureshi, page 27
Instructing a mujaz who had settled in a new city with active Muslim community sayyidi wa sanadi Mufti Mohammad Taqi Usmani (Allah preserve and protect him) said,
‘It will be most appropriate to start the (weekly) session (majlis). However, select a day and time that does not conflict with any of the other ongoing activities.
May Allah make it beneficial and bestow veracity (sidq) and sincerity (ikhlas). (Amin!)
(In doing so) keep intention of your own benefit foremost.’
Sultan Aurangzeb Alamgir firmly asked Shaikh Mohammadi that you are a murid of Shaikh Muhib-Allah Allahabi (Allah have mercy on them) so provide an explanation of his treatise (al Taswiya) being in accordance to the Shariah. And if you are not able do so then you should repent from being his disciple and burn this treatise.
Shaikh Mohammadi (Allah have mercy on him) replied,
I do not need to repent from being his murid.
The (spiritual) station from where the respected Shaikh wrote this is beyond my reach. When I will achieve that station I will comply with your request and write an explanation.
And if you have decided to burn it anyway then the fire in the royal kitchen exceeds that in my humble house.
Sultan did not further pursue this issue.’
Maasir al Umara, v3, p606-7, Aqwal e Salaf, v5, p200
Our master Ali ibn al-Husayn (Allah be pleased with him) said,
‘If you are aware of any of your actions, that is a proof that it has not been accepted (by Allah). For that which is accepted is elevated and hidden from you; your not noticing it is the sign of its acceptance.’
The stumbling of those aspiring, page 136
Tragic accidents are trials.
They gauge our attitude and behavior evident as a reaction to these incidents.
Patience (sabr) here is not complaining at the decree of Allah.
Feeling sorrow, crying and being emotionally upset is not against this sabr.
*(I (may) nurture My enemy and kill My friend!
None can dare to question My decree)
Shaikh Abu ‘Abd al-Rehman al-Sulami (Allah ahve mercy on him) said,
Faqr: utter need, is one of the traits of servanthood (abdiyet).
In servitude there is neither arrogance nor pride, but rather humble submission and compliance.
Faqr is a fabric, the wrap of which is contentment with Allah (qana’a) and and the weft of which is humble submission (al-tawadhu).
The stumbling of those aspiring, page 129
Sayyidi wa sanadi Mufti Mohammad Taqi Usmani (Allah preserve, protect him, facilitate and accept his Hajj with afiyet! Amin) said,
‘For sacred knowledge a pure heart is needed more than a genius mind.
The purity of heart is achieved by remembrance of Allah and having a strong relationship with Him.’
In Ramadan sayyidi wa sanadi Mufti Mohammad Taqi Usmani (Allah preserve & protect him) follows the Sunna of giving financial gifts to the deserving individuals. It is like a blowing breeze. Masha-Allah. Computerized lists of recipients are made. There are separate categories for the zakat, sadaqat and hadiya. Many individuals visit or send letters requesting aid. Inqueries are made actively to acertain zakat recipients.
This Ramadan a letter from a student was presented. He requested for a laptop. However, he made it clear that he could not be a recipient of Zakat.
Sayyidi wa sanadi replied,
‘Please, let me know if it is permissible for you to make such a request.’
Ramadan 1436, darul uloom Karachi office
- Not having the knowledge about the basic fiqh (rulings) of Hajj.
This leads to confusion and major blunders. Some of them if not corrected via consultation with a qualified scholar may lead to Hajj being void.
2. Not asking qualified scholars (mufti) if a mistake is suspected.
Mobile contact of a pious and reliable mufti who is well aware of the rulings of Hajj is essential.
3. Fear of dum (penalty).
Due to the financial burden individuals are afraid to ask a mufti if a mistake is suspected.
It must be clear that dum is there to rectify the mistake and make Hajj acceptable. Compared to the cost of repeating the Hajj next year its cost is minimal.
4. A very commonly observed gaffe is that individuals label themselves as travelers (musafir) and then leave all the Sunna and nafil worships (‘ibadah). In fact, in this once a lifetime journey, one should try to reap maximum benefit of the stay in the boundaries of Haram al sharif, where one good action is rewarded hundred thousand times.
This does not mean that if they are technically musafir they are exempted from qasr of fardh salah.
Sheikh Dr Hafeezullah Sukkharwi (Allah have mercy on him) recommended that one performs extra recitations (in addition to his routine wird) and salah tu Tasbih everyday in the five days of Hajj.
5. Wasting time in useless activities.
Some are busy shopping for the gifts for their loved ones back home.
Yuppies are busy posting selfies of each and every movement on twitter or Facebook.
Others are searching for their next door neighbor from back home or close relative.
The religious minded are arguing the issues of following a madhab or not.
Those associated with Tasawwuf & islah are rushing to visit the lectures and halqa e dhikr of each and every sheikh and scholar present.
Verbally we claim presence before Allah,
However, in reality we are absent.
چپکے چپکے یونہی ان سے باتیں کرو
کہہ دو دکهڑے سبهی، ان سے باتیں کرو
کوئی ہمدم نہیں کچھ مگر غم نہیں
دوست تو ہیں وہی ان سے باتیں کرو
شور و ہنگامے میں مانگ لو خامشی
خامشی میں کبھی ان سے باتیں کرو
کیا ہیں کرتوت تیرے انهیں ہیں خبر
بے خبر! بے خطر ان سے باتیں کرو
ہاں سنا ڈالو دل کی حکایت انهیں
بے زباں چشم تر ان سے باتیں کرو
کار دنیا میں مشغولیت گو رہے
دل ہی دل میں مگر ان سے باتیں کرو
سب توجہ کا مرکز رہے انکی ذات
خود کو بھی بهول کر ان سے باتیں کرو
سوچتے سوچتے بیت جائیگی عمر
سوچتے سوچتے ان سے باتیں کرو
ہر گھڑی اک تعلق سا قائم رہے
چلتے پھرتے ہوئے ان سے باتیں کرو
وہ تمھارے ہی ہیں اجنبی تو نہیں
راز سے ناز سے ان سے باتیں کرو
یوں تو ہے جلوہ یار پیش نظر
جب بھی موقع ملے ان سے باتیں کرو
محفلوں میں خیال انکا ہر دم رہے
خلوتوں میں ذرا ان سے ان سے باتیں کرو
تم بھکاری بنو ان سے مانگا کرو
بنکے منگتے سدا ان سے باتیں کرو
رات کی خامشی جب ہو چھائی ہوئی
سر بہ خم زیر لب ان سے باتیں کرو
دم بدم ہر گهڑی، ہر جگہ ہر کہیں
صبح دم، وقت شب ان سے باتیں کرو
فیض مرشد سے اشعار کہہ تو گئے
بات تو تب هے جب ان سے باتیں کرو
انکی باتیں کرو محفلوں میں فرید…
اور تنہائی میں ان سے باتیں کرو
ہو نہ پائے فرشتوں کو جس کی خبر
دل کی پہنائی میں ان سے باتیں کرو
مکرم و محترم جناب فرید صدیقی صاحب