Reformation of the Self

Islaah un Nafs (Reformation of the Self) 9mb/MP3

By Maulana AS Desai

Thursday, 25 Muharram 1438 - 27 October 2016

Islaahun-Nafs (Moral Reformation)

Hadhrat Maulana Ashraf 'Ali Thanwi (rahmatullaahi 'alayhi) said:
“Islaah of the nafs meaning to reform yourself i.e. moral reformation  is waajib (compulsory)  for every person.”

Islaah (moral reformation) is incumbent at all times just as Salaat, Saum, Hajj and Zakat are waajib. Just as the Qur’aan and the Hadith make compulsory Salaat, Saum, Zakaat, etc, exactly in the same way do the Qur’aan and Ahaadith make compulsory the self reformation. That is, rectifying and reforming the moral condition by subduing the evil qualities and adorning the nafs with Akhlaaq Hameedah i.e. Beautiful Qualities of Moral Excellence. The Qur’aan is replete with commands for islaah of nafs. Just as the Qur’aan orders Salaat, so also it orders us to guard the eyes, the tongue, abstain from anger, gheebat, etc.

The Qur’aan Majeed is full of moral taa'leem. But it is peculiar that Muslims follow only one section of Qur’aanic ta’leem. Everyone today understands that Salaat is fardh. So we perform the Salaat. But we do not understand islaah of nafs is also fardh just as Salaat is fardh. To abstain from Salaat and Saum is a major sin akin to kufr. So in the same way it’s a major sin to not to abstain from moral reformation.  The Hukm (ruling) is the same in Qur’aan and Ahaadith. In fact Nabi (Sallallahu 'Alayhi Wasallam) spent 13 years of the initial stage of Nubuwwat in Makkah Mukarramah only making the islaah or reforming the Sahaabah (radhiyallaahu ‘anhum).

The attitude depends on child upbringing. While our child upbringing is such as to inculcate the importance of Salaah and Saum in us, there is no emphasis in our childhood days on moral reformation. For that reason Ilaah of the nafs is regarded as optional. Child training is enduring. What has been imparted during childhood, remains embedded in the heart.  Consider Eid Salaat. Everyone will be present, no one will be absent. Because it is regarded as more fardh than the daily fardh Salaat. Numerous people will abstain from fardh  Jamaat Salaat. But they will ensure that they are present for Eid Salaat. In the same way you will find on big nights. People will congregate in Musaajid although this was never the practice of the Nabi (Sallallahu 'Alayhi Wasallam), Sahaabah, Taabi'een, Tab-e- Taabi’een.  It’s not a Masnoon practise to gather specifically on a big night for a bayaan or a talk in Musjid. But you will find people who are not daily and regularly in Musjid ensuring their presence on the big nights. But this is not a taa'leem of the Shari'ah. However, they are present. Why? Because in childhood it was ingrained in them.


Hadhrat Thanvi (Rahmatullah alayh) said: “The Maqsad (Objective) of Ilm is ‘Amal.”
Islaah should begin right from the time the student is studying at Madrasah. His moral reformation must begin in the Madrasah. But it’s unfortunate, this dimension has been completely cut off and divorced from the curriculum. They only teach the kitaabs without stressing practical implementation of what appears in the kitaabs.  The objective of teaching this kitaab is to make 'amal.  Ilm without 'amal, it is huge calamity.

You will find that even the learned people, the scholars the Ulama have also not undergone islaah of nafs. Thus we find then misusing and abusing the Ilm they have acquired. The masaail and kitaabs are taught nowadays in the Madaaris in a very queer manner. For example, if something is classified as Mustahab, the students gain the impression from the manner of the tuition that it is not important implement it in practical life. Practically and generally in the Madaaris there is no emphasis on the Mustahabbaat and even on the Sunan. Take the example of a Madrasah where, after the Maghrib two raka'ts Sunnat Muakkadah, the students will rush to the class for lessons. There is no time for the Nafl Salaat. The idea is created that the lessons are more important than the 2 raka'ata Nafl Salaat which follows the 2 raka’ts Sunnat Muakkadah. These 2 raka’ts Nafl Salaat) are also Sunnat, Sunnat Ghair Muakkadah. But Sunnat Ghair Muakkadah does not mean you have license to discard it. In the 2-3 minutes to perform that 2 raka’ats Nafl Salaat how much can a student study?  Yet the same students will have hours to waste in sports. In fact, in some Madaaris there are sports fields. They have time for sports; they have time to get together to while away time in futility and nonsensical discussions, but they have no time for the 2 raka’ts  Masnoon Nafl Salaat!.

When the Athaan is being announced, the lessons will continue. Lessons will continue as the ustaaz is engaged in Ilm, so it’s considered valid and proper to abandon the Sunnat Muakkadah ibaadat of silently listening and responding to the Muath-thin. The consequence of this lackadaisical attitude towards this Masnoon Ibaadat is that even after they become Molvis and Muftis, they perpetuate the same careless attitude. There is no respect and no importance accorded now to the Athaan. Before it was in Madrasah, but now the Molvi Sahib will continue his worldly conversation whilst the Athaan is being called. That is because its importance is not ingrained during the student days.

So in every aspect it is important for all, students as well as all others, to practically implement whatever act is they acquire from their studies. This is the Maqsad of Ilm. If the Ilm is not practically implemented, it will become a huge calamity in this dunyaa and in the Aakhirat.