Happy New Year! Purification of the Soul, Chapter 1


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Each New Year that comes and goes brings an opportunity for me to reflect, to recommit, and to refocus my priorities and goals. What better time, as work slows down a bit and school gives a break, for us to to find the moments to get ourselves back on track and renew our intentions for the sake of Allah? During this time, I always enjoy picking up one of the first books I ever read as a new convert, Purification of the Soul, a compilation of the works of Hanbali, Jawziyya, and Ghazali.

Our attempts throughout our lives to purify our soul, to find the peace and tranquility inside the depths of ourselves, to cleanse ourselves for no other reason than to put ourselves in a position to please Allah, completely determine our success in front of our Lord. In fact, Allah emphasizes the importance of this purification process in the Qur’an in a unique way not found in the Qur’an anywhere else.

“By the sun and his brightness, and the moon when she follows him, and the day when it reveals him, and the night when it enshrouds him, and the heavens and Him Who built them, and the earth and Him Who spread it out, and a soul and Him who perfected it and inspired it with awareness of what is wrong for it and what is right for it, he is indeed successful who purifies it, and he is indeed a failure who neglects it.” (Qur’an Ash Shams 1-10).

The first chapter of this book deals with sincerity, which is appropriate, considering that sincerity is a prerequisite for any of our actions to be acceptable or beneficial to us. Sincerity is not such a simple concept. It is rather deep and sometimes rather disturbing to think about due to its difficulty to attain. Sincerity – the complete freeing of ourselves from all impurities in our intentions. This is a daunting task, especially as we are creatures easily attached to worldly desires, easily attracted to the tangible, easily lured by others and by our own egos.

Because of our inherent struggle to free ourselves and grasp true sincerity, it has been said that a single moment of pure devotion during the course of one’s life may be enough to save one on the Day of Judgment. One single moment. How difficult must it be, then, to attain this true sincerity? It must be nearly impossible. But due to its difficulty to attain, we must be dedicated to this single purpose for the entire duration of our lives. Throughout our days, we should perpetually be thinking about purifying our souls for Allah and attempting to gain those few dramatic moments of true sincerity.

So as we put together our New Year’s resolutions for 2012, let us also resolve to go into ourselves and try to find moments of pure sincerity for the sake of Allah, in any and all of our actions. May Allah make us of those that are sincere, of those who enjoy the tranquility of a true connection with our Creator, and of those who attain His happiness when this world comes to an end.