Published in  
July 7, 2022

The Call of Allah's Best Friend: Learning From Prophet Ibrahim

Hajj is upon us. Millions of Muslims from around the world are answering the call of Prophet Ibrahim from ages ago in establishing a pillar of Islam. This article captures a small glimpse of the traits of Prophet Ibrahim’s عليه السلام state of heart and mind and how his relationship was with Allah. What made him rise above everyone and become the ‘Friend of Allah’. As we enter the Day of Arafah, we remind ourselves of this great servant of Allah and the command he was given by Allah, in order to feel that awe and greatness of this blessed day and use it to our full advantage.
الله أكبر الله أكبر الله أكبر لا إله إلا الله
الله أكبر الله أكبر ولله الحمد

Throughout the year, every night, when a third of the darkness is left to depart, Allah سبحانه وتعالى descends to the lowest heaven and says, “Who will call upon me, that I may answer him? Who will ask me, that I may give him? Who will seek my forgiveness, that I may forgive him? The one who slumbers on deep in the world of dreams misses this chance to come closer to Allah سبحان وتعالى.

Ramadan comes and Muslims around the world seek the obscure night of decree, when the angels descend. Fast forward to 9th Dhul Hijjah, Allah سبحان وتعالى gifts us clear knowledge of the Day where HE Descends and comes close to His worshippers standing on Mount Arafah, and then He boasts about the people to the Angels. It is narrated on the authority of Abu Hurairah who said: Allah سبحان وتعالى’s Messenger ﷺ said, “Indeed, Allah سبحان وتعالى boasts to the Angels about the people of Arafah. He says, ‘Look at My worshippers with disheveled hair and covered in dust.’ AllahuAkbar!

Seeking the golden chance to turn over a new leaf, aiming to get rid of that baggage of sins from the year gone past and the upcoming year, Muslims at Arafah and around the world praise Allah and seek forgiveness from Him in unity, regardless of borders, culture, or language.

The Prophet ﷺ said, “There is no day in which Allah frees more worshippers from the Fire than the Day of Arafah. [Muslim]

Abu Qatadah al-Ansari narrated, “The Messenger of Allah ﷺ was asked about fasting on the day of Arafat. He ﷺ replied, “Fasting on the day of Arafat is an expiation for the preceding year and the following year.” [Muslim].

Imam al-Nawawi said: “Its meaning is that fasting on the day of Arafah expiates the sins of the one who fasts it for that of two years, and the intent by that is of the minor sins, and this is similar to the expiation of the errors through the performance of wudhu. Thus, if there are no more minor sins, then it is hoped for a lessening from the major sins, and if there are not to be then through the raising of the ranks.” [Sharh Sahih Muslim]

As the Grand day of Arafah approaches, the earth resonates with absolute declaration of the oneness of Allah where people are freed from the fire in hoards. A day where Shaitan the outcast, fumes angrily as he sees the decent of Allah’s Mercy and immense forgiveness.

It makes one pause and go back to that day when a servant of Allah stood with his son, on a mountain beside the Ka’bah and called out to the world to begin this timeless tradition, taught to the chosen one by The One, the friend of Allah سبحان وتعالى who is mentioned with honour until the End of times.

 Who is this legend? Why was he the chosen one?

الله أكبر الله أكبر الله أكبر لا إله إلا الله
الله أكبر الله أكبر ولله الحمد

The Chosen One

Allah chose Prophet Ibrahim عليه السلام to build The House of worship with his son Ismail عليه السلام.

Allah says,

وَإِذْ يَرْفَعُ إِبْرَٰهِـۧمُ ٱلْقَوَاعِدَ مِنَ ٱلْبَيْتِ وَإِسْمَٰعِيلُ رَبَّنَا تَقَبَّلْ مِنَّآ ۖ إِنَّكَ أَنتَ ٱلسَّمِيعُ ٱلْعَلِيمُ ‎

And (mention) when Ibrahim was raising the foundations of the House and (with him) Ismail, (saying), "Our Lord, accept (this) from us. Indeed, You are the Hearing, the Knowing.

Allah also Praises Ibrahim عليه السلام in the Quran numerous times as Haneef:

قُلْ صَدَقَ ٱللَّهُ ۗ فَٱتَّبِعُوا۟ مِلَّةَ إِبْرَٰهِيمَ حَنِيفًا وَمَا كَانَ مِنَ ٱلْمُشْرِكِينَ

Say, "Allah has told the truth. So follow the religion of Ibrahim, inclining toward truth; and he was not of the polytheists.") [Surah Aal Imran, 95]

Why was Ibrahim عليه السلام praised as Haneef by Allah ?

It was his refusal to conform to society and his certainty in worshipping Allah alone. It was his complete trust and reliance on Allah and his absolute submission to Allah alone. It was the purity of his soul and his genuine concern for his people, calling them to the oneness of worship, loving what Allah loved and distancing himself from all that negated the oneness of Allah. 

What did he know and practise about لا إله إلا الله  to receive the honourable status of - “The Closest Friend of Allah”? 

The Key to Paradise

It is narrated on the authority of Ubadah b. Samit that the messenger of Allah (ﷺ) observed: He who said: " There is no deity worthy of worship but Allah, He is One and there is no associate with Him, that Muhammad is his servant and His messenger, that Christ is servant and the son of His slave-girl and he (Christ) His word which He communicated to Mary and is His Spirit, that Paradise is a fact and Hell is a fact," Allah would make him (he who affirms these truths enter Paradise through any one of its eight doors which he would like. [Muslim]

The phrase لا إله إلا الله often translates to “There is no God but Allah” often forgoing its correct translated meaning which is “There is not deity worthy of worship except Allah”. A joint combo of denial and affirmation, they form the two pillars of the Shahadah.

To simply know the phrase verbally is not enough. When someone hears the phrase somewhere and repeats it, they won’t become a muslim. Imam al-Qurtubi said, "It is not sufficient merely to speak the Shahaadatayn, rather it is essential to believe it with certainty in one’s heart." [al-Mufhim ‘ala Sahih Muslim]

There are a 7 conditions as prerequisites to لا إله إلا الله to give us its proper understanding.

Note: While we read about these conditions, we will take parallels from Ibrahim عليه السلام’s life as examples in brief InshaAllah.

 Hafidh al-Hakami summarizes these conditions in his poem Sullam al-Wusool in two lines, he says:

العلم واليقين والقبـــــول ***** والانقيـاد فادر ما أقول
والصـدق وإلاخلاص والمحبة ***** وفقك الله لما أحبــــه

“Knowledge, certainty, submission and following. So listen to what I say.

Truthfulness, sincerity and love. May Allaah help you to do that which He loves.”

Key # 1 – Knowledge as opposed to ignorance

To know what the phrase لا إلله إلا الله means and implies. Just because a person repeats it mindlessly, doesn’t make them muslim. They must understand its implications properly. 

Allah says,

فَٱعْلَمْ أَنَّهُۥ لَآ إِلَٰهَ إِلَّا ٱللَّهُ وَٱسْتَغْفِرْ لِذَنۢبِكَ وَلِلْمُؤْمِنِينَ وَٱلْمُؤْمِنَٰتِ ۗ وَٱللَّهُ يَعْلَمُ مُتَقَلَّبَكُمْ وَمَثْوَىٰكُمْ ‎﴿١٩﴾‏

So know, (O Muhammad), that there is no deity (worthy of worship) except Allah and ask forgiveness for your sin and for the believing men and believing women. And Allah knows of your movement and your resting place. [Surah Muhammad, 19]

It is narrated on the authority of 'Uthman that the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said. He who died knowing (fully well) that there is no god (worthy of worship) but Allah entered Paradise. [Muslim]

Ibrahim عليه السلام questioned the worshipping of the idols, the Sun, the moon, and the stars and then declared that none had the right to be worshipped except the One who created them all.

Key # 2 – Certainty as opposed to doubt

Having firm belief that Allah is One and only He is worthy of worship. People such as agnostics say the words as a safety card, not really believing in it, but “in case” there is a God they would enter paradise since they proclaimed the shahadah. This thinking is not acceptable as they lack certainty, so their Shahadah does not count. 

Allah says,

إِنَّمَا ٱلْمُؤْمِنُونَ ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُوا۟ بِٱللَّهِ وَرَسُولِهِۦ ثُمَّ لَمْ يَرْتَابُوا۟ وَجَٰهَدُوا۟ بِأَمْوَٰلِهِمْ وَأَنفُسِهِمْ فِى سَبِيلِ ٱللَّهِ ۚ أُو۟لَٰٓئِكَ هُمُ ٱلصَّٰدِقُونَ ‎﴿١٥﴾‏

The believers are only the ones who have believed in Allah and His Messenger and then doubt not but strive with their properties and their lives in the cause of Allah. It is those who are the truthful. (Surah al-Hujurat, 15]

An-Nasr bin Sufyan narrated that he heard Abu Hurairah say: "We were with the Messenger of Allah ﷺ and Bilal stood up and gave the call. When he fell silent the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: 'Whoever says the same as this (what the Mu'adhdhin) with certainty, he will enter Paradise. [Nasa'i]

That moment when Ibrahim عليه السلام was mid air hurtling towards the blazing fire set up by his infuriated people,  Angel Jibreel عليه السلام came to him and asked if he wanted to be helped. To which he replied, “حسبنا الله ونعم الوكيل” - Allah suffices me, for He is the best disposer of affairs. His certainty in Allah was so great he didn’t accept the Mightiest of Angel’s aid.

Key # 3 - Acceptance as opposed to rejection

To accept it wholeheartedly, the arrogance, ego and stubbornness made the disbelieves reject the oneness of worship. 

Allah says,

ٱحْشُرُوا۟ ٱلَّذِينَ ظَلَمُوا۟ وَأَزْوَٰجَهُمْ وَمَا كَانُوا۟ يَعْبُدُونَ  مِن دُونِ ٱللَّهِ فَٱهْدُوهُمْ إِلَىٰ صِرَٰطِ ٱلْجَحِيمِ ‏ وَقِفُوهُمْ ۖ إِنَّهُم مَّسْـُٔولُونَ‏ مَا لَكُمْ لَا تَنَاصَرُونَ ‏ بَلْ هُمُ ٱلْيَوْمَ مُسْتَسْلِمُونَ ‎‏ وَأَقْبَلَ بَعْضُهُمْ عَلَىٰ بَعْضٍ يَتَسَآءَلُونَ ‎قَالُوٓا۟ إِنَّكُمْ كُنتُمْ تَأْتُونَنَا عَنِ ٱلْيَمِينِ ‎‏ قَالُوا۟ بَل لَّمْ تَكُونُوا۟ مُؤْمِنِينَ ‎ وَمَا كَانَ لَنَا عَلَيْكُم مِّن سُلْطَٰنِۭ ۖ بَلْ كُنتُمْ قَوْمًا طَٰغِينَ ‎‏ فَحَقَّ عَلَيْنَا قَوْلُ رَبِّنَآ ۖ إِنَّا لَذَآئِقُونَ  فَأَغْوَيْنَٰكُمْ إِنَّا كُنَّا غَٰوِينَ فَإِنَّهُمْ يَوْمَئِذٍ فِى ٱلْعَذَابِ مُشْتَرِكُونَ ‎﴿٣٣﴾‏ إِنَّا كَذَٰلِكَ نَفْعَلُ بِٱلْمُجْرِمِينَ  إِنَّهُمْ كَانُوٓا۟ إِذَا قِيلَ لَهُمْ لَآ إِلَٰهَ إِلَّا ٱللَّهُ يَسْتَكْبِرُونَ ‎وَيَقُولُونَ أَئِنَّا لَتَارِكُوٓا۟ ءَالِهَتِنَا لِشَاعِرٍ مَّجْنُونِۭ

It will be said to the angels): ‘Assemble those who did wrong, together with their companions (from the devils) and what they used to worship instead of Allaah, and lead them on to the way of flaming Fire (Hell); But stop them, verily, they are to be questioned. What is the matter with you? Why do you not help one another (as you used to do in the world)?’ Nay, but that Day they shall surrender. And they will turn to one another and question one another. They will say: ‘It was you who used to come to us from the right side (i.e., from the right side of one of us and beautify for us every evil, enjoin on us polytheism, and stop us from the truth, i.e. Islamic Monotheism and from every good deed).’

They will reply: ‘Nay, you yourselves were not believers. And we had no authority over you. Nay! But you were Taaghoon (transgressing) people (polytheists, and disbelievers). So now the Word of our Lord has been justified against us, that we shall certainly (have to) taste (the torment). So we led you astray because we were ourselves astray.’ Then verily, that Day, they will (all) share in the torment. Certainly, that is how We deal with Al‑Mujrimoon (polytheists, sinners, disbelievers, criminals, the disobedient to Allaah).

 Truly, when it was said to them: Laa ilaaha ill-Allaah (none has the right “to be worshipped but Allaah),” they puffed themselves up with pride (i.e. denied it). And (they) said: ‘Are we going to abandon our aalihah (gods) for the sake of a mad poet?’[ Surah al-Saffaat 22-36]

'Abdullah bin 'Umar reported: Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said, "I have been commanded (by Allah) to fight people until they testify that there is no true god except Allah, and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah, and perform Salat and pay Zakat. If they do so, they will have protection of their blood and property from me except when justified by Islam, and then their account is left to Allah". [Bukhari and Muslim].

Ibrahim عليه السلام prayed for his father to be forgiven, but when it became clear to Abraham that his father was an enemy to Allah, he disassociated himself from him. 

Key # 4- Obedience (Submission) as opposed to disobedience

Complying with the Shari’ah of Allah even if it is not the norm or tradition. A person is not a true believer until his desires are in line with Allah’s command.

Allah says,

وَأَنِيبُوٓا۟ إِلَىٰ رَبِّكُمْ وَأَسْلِمُوا۟ لَهُۥ مِن قَبْلِ أَن يَأْتِيَكُمُ ٱلْعَذَابُ ثُمَّ لَا تُنصَرُونَ ‎

And return [in repentance] to your Lord and submit to Him before the punishment comes upon you; then you will not be helped. [Surah Az-Zumar, 54]

وَمَن يُسْلِمْ وَجْهَهُۥٓ إِلَى ٱللَّهِ وَهُوَ مُحْسِنٌ فَقَدِ ٱسْتَمْسَكَ بِٱلْعُرْوَةِ ٱلْوُثْقَىٰ ۗ وَإِلَى ٱللَّهِ عَٰقِبَةُ ٱلْأُمُورِ ‎﴿٢٢﴾

And whoever submits his face to Allah while he is a doer of good - then he has grasped the most trustworthy handhold. And to Allah will be the outcome of [all] matters. [Surah Luqman, 22]

When Allah blessed Ibrahim and Hajar with their son Ismail عليهم السلام. Upon Allah’s command, Ibrahim عليه السلام left them in a barren dessert, fully submitting to Allah and trusting Him to take care of his family. He made this dua: 

رَّبَّنَآ إِنِّىٓ أَسْكَنتُ مِن ذُرِّيَّتِى بِوَادٍ غَيْرِ ذِى زَرْعٍ عِندَ بَيْتِكَ ٱلْمُحَرَّمِ رَبَّنَا لِيُقِيمُوا۟ ٱلصَّلَوٰةَ فَٱجْعَلْ أَفْـِٔدَةً مِّنَ ٱلنَّاسِ تَهْوِىٓ إِلَيْهِمْ وَٱرْزُقْهُم مِّنَ ٱلثَّمَرَٰتِ لَعَلَّهُمْ يَشْكُرُونَ ‎

Our Lord, I have settled some of my descendants in an uncultivated valley near Your sacred House, our Lord, that they may establish prayer. So make hearts among the people incline toward them and provide for them from the fruits that they might be grateful. [Surah Ibrahim, 37]

Ibrahim عليه السلام also submitted to Allah’s will to fulfil the his dream to sacrifice Ismail عليه السلام resulting in the tradition of sacrificial tradition we see during Hajj till date. 

Key #5 - Honesty as opposed to lying

To believe and follow through no matter the trials they face. The opposite are the munafiqoon (hypocrites), they are the ones who lie and don’t believe, 

Allah says,

وَمِنَ ٱلنَّاسِ مَن يَقُولُ ءَامَنَّا بِٱللَّهِ وَبِٱلْيَوْمِ ٱلْـَٔاخِرِ وَمَا هُم بِمُؤْمِنِينَ ‎‏ يُخَٰدِعُونَ ٱللَّهَ وَٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُوا۟ وَمَا يَخْدَعُونَ إِلَّآ أَنفُسَهُمْ وَمَا يَشْعُرُونَ ‎‏ فِى قُلُوبِهِم مَّرَضٌ فَزَادَهُمُ ٱللَّهُ مَرَضًا ۖ وَلَهُمْ عَذَابٌ أَلِيمُۢ بِمَا كَانُوا۟ يَكْذِبُونَ

And of the people are some who say, "We believe in Allah and the Last Day," but they are not believers.They [think to] deceive Allah and those who believe, but they deceive not except themselves and perceive [it] not.In their hearts is disease, so Allah has increased their disease; and for them is a painful punishment because they [habitually] used to lie. [Surah al-Baqarah, 8-10]

Narrated `Utban bin Malik Al-Ansari: who was one of the men of the tribe of Bani Salim: Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) came to me and said, "If anybody comes on the Day of Resurrection who has said: La ilaha illa Allah, sincerely, with the intention to win Allah's Pleasure, Allah will make the Hell-Fire forbidden for him." [Bukhari]

Allah says regarding Ibrahim عليه السلام,

وَٱذْكُرْ فِى ٱلْكِتَٰبِ إِبْرَٰهِيمَ ۚ إِنَّهُۥ كَانَ صِدِّيقًا نَّبِيًّا ‎‏

And mention in the Book [the story of] Abraham. Indeed, he was a man of truth and a prophet. [Surah Maryam:41]

Ibrahim عليه السلام stood up against the polytheists for the truth, patient, courageous and brave despite the trials it put him through. A true believer in face of opposition and lies. 

Key #6 - Sincerity as opposed to shirk

Scholars explained that sincerity is from the two conditions for actions to be accepted. The other condition being doing deeds according to the Shari’ah.  It is from the greatest actions of the heart.

Allah says,

 وَمَآ أُمِرُوٓا۟ إِلَّا لِيَعْبُدُوا۟ ٱللَّهَ مُخْلِصِينَ لَهُ ٱلدِّينَ حُنَفَآءَ وَيُقِيمُوا۟ ٱلصَّلَوٰةَ وَيُؤْتُوا۟ ٱلزَّكَوٰةَ ۚ وَذَٰلِكَ دِينُ ٱلْقَيِّمَةِ ‎

And they were not commanded except to worship Allah, (being) sincere to Him in religion, inclining to truth, and to establish prayer and to give zakah. And that is the correct religion. [Surah al-Bayyinah]

Narrated Abu Hurairah: I said: "O Allah's Messenger (ﷺ)! Who will be the happiest person, who will gain your intercession on the Day of Resurrection?" Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) said: O Abu Huraira! "I have thought that none will ask me about it before you as I know your longing for the (learning of) Hadiths. The happiest person who will have my intercession on the Day of Resurrection will be the one who said sincerely from the bottom of his heart "None has the right to be worshipped but Allah." [Bukhari]

Sufyan Al-Thawri: I have not dealt with anything more severe than my intention, indeed it turns against me.

Allah says regarding Ibrahim عليه السلام,

وَمَنْ أَحْسَنُ دِينًا مِّمَّنْ أَسْلَمَ وَجْهَهُۥ لِلَّهِ وَهُوَ مُحْسِنٌ وَٱتَّبَعَ مِلَّةَ إِبْرَٰهِيمَ حَنِيفًا ۗ وَٱتَّخَذَ ٱللَّهُ إِبْرَٰهِيمَ خَلِيلًا ‎‏

And who is better in religion than one who submits himself to Allah while being a doer of good and follows the religion of Ibrahim, inclining toward truth? And Allah took Abraham as an intimate friend.

Despite given the honourable title as “The Close Friend of Allah” Ibrahim عليه السلام  made this dua.

وَإِذْ قَالَ إِبْرَٰهِيمُ رَبِّ ٱجْعَلْ هَٰذَا ٱلْبَلَدَ ءَامِنًا وَٱجْنُبْنِى وَبَنِىَّ أَن نَّعْبُدَ ٱلْأَصْنَامَ ‎

And (mention, O Muhammad), when Ibrahim said, "My Lord, make this city [Makkah] secure and keep me and my sons away from worshipping idols. [Surah Ibrahim, 35]

If the Close Friend of Allah asks Allah to keep him and his children away from Idol-worship, what should our mindset be with regards to our religion and children? 

Key #7 - Love as opposed to hate

This means love for what the shahadah implies and indicates, and love for the people who act upon it and to adhere to its conditions and hate whoever or whatever goes against it. 

Allah says,

( وَمِنَ ٱلنَّاسِ مَن يَتَّخِذُ مِن دُونِ ٱللَّهِ أَندَادًا يُحِبُّونَهُمْ كَحُبِّ ٱللَّهِ ۖ وَٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُوٓا۟ أَشَدُّ حُبًّا لِّلَّهِ ۗ….)

"And (yet), among the people are those who take other than Allah as equals (to Him). They love them as they (should) love Allah. But those who believe are stronger in love for Allah….." [Surah al-Baqarah, 165]

Allah tells us that those who believe love Allaah more, because they do not associate anything with Him in that love, as is done by those among the mushrikeen who claim to love Him but who also take others as rivals to Him whom they love as they love Him.  

Narrated Anas: The Prophet (ﷺ) said "None of you will have faith till he loves me more than his father, his children and all mankind." [Bukhari]

Prohet Ibrahim عليه السلام loved those who love Allah and separated himself from those who didn’t. He called his father to Islam with utmost respect and love, until it became certain to him that his father wouldn’t change his ways. So, he finally distanced himself from him, he left his hometown and travelled to a new land away from polytheists.

Action Point

Pause here and reflect on your possessions, your apps, your books, your social media, the company you keep, your wishes etc. Which of them contain aspects of shirk? List them out and work on removing them for the sake of Allah. It proves to be a good litmus test to check our hearts for loving something that Allah dislikes or is a form of associating partners with Allah.

Prophet Ibrahim عليه السلام could not have achieved these conditions were it not for having a pure innate heart, free from misconceptions and desires and having the characteristics mentioned in the conditions above. If the conditions of the shahadah are unmet then a person would not have declared the shahadah properly.

Imam Ibn Rajab said, “If a person’s Tawheed (affirmation of the Oneness of Allah) and his sincerity towards Allah are perfect, and he fulfils all its conditions in his heart, on his lips (verbally) and in his physical actions, or in his heart and on his lips at the time of death, then forgiveness for all his previous sins becomes certain, and it will protect him from entering Hell altogether. 

When a person truly believes in Tawheed in his heart, and he excludes from that everything other than Allah in terms of love, veneration, glorification, awe, fear, hope and trust, in that case his sins will all be erased, even if they are like the foam of the sea, and they may be turned into good deeds. For this Tawheed is the greatest elixir; if an atom of it were to be placed on mountains of sins, it would turn them into good deeds.” [Jami‘ al-‘Ulum wa’l-Hikam]

Purification of the Soul

Allah says in the Quran,

إِنَّ إِبْرَاهِيمَ لَحَلِيمٌ أَوَّاهٌ مُّنِيبٌ  

Indeed, Ibrahim was forbearing, grieving and (frequently) returning (to Allah). [Surah Hud, 75]

A brief summary from Tafsir Ibn Jarir, al-Qurtubi and Tafsir as-Sa’di is that Prophet Ibrahim عليه السلامwas slow to anger, he was big hearted, he submitted himself to Allah alone, supplicated to Allah with complete humility, he turned to Allah in obedience with knowledge and love, and he returned all his affairs to Allah. 

Thus purifying our hearts is of utmost importance. Any knowledge a person has is nullified if they nurse arrogance and pride in their hearts. The Prophet ﷺ said, “One will not enter Paradise, if one has an atom’s weight of arrogance in his heart.” [Muslim]

Sheikh Ahmed as-Sayyid says, “When achieving external skill sets is given more importance by reformers (Daees) than correcting their own essential internal beliefs it becomes very dangerous. As when the reformer is encouraged to go ahead based on the external skills alone without having worked on their internal state, it leads to counterproductive results as we see today.”

Regarding the status of purification in Islam, Sheikh Ahmed as-Sayyid said, “Revelation varies in terms of importance such as Surah al-Fatiha is the greatest Surah, Ayat al-Kursi is the greatest ayah Laylatul Qadr is the greatest night, The Yawm al-Arafah is the greatest Day etc. 

Indeed, the jurist is the one who comprehends and understands the significance/importance of the revelation first, then he understands their order in revelation, after that deals with them in the light of the priorities of Shariah.”

He mentions that Ibn Faris, a scholar among the best Arabic linguistics of his time, (in terms of analyzing root words in the Arabic language) wrote in his book معجم مقياس اللغة  explaining the term purification. He gave the word two explanations:

1. النماء: Growth/progress

 2. الطهارة: Cleansing/removing

As we get closer to Allah we must work on cleaning our hearts to truly reach a higher level in our faith. Similarly, as we cleanse our hearts, we must work on increasing in good actions. For example: A gardener needs to remove weeds from his garden to ensure the healthy growth of his plants. Allowing both might result in stunted growth or even the death of his plants.

Sheikh Ahmed as-Sayyid addressed the significance of purification from four aspects.

The first aspect: The significance of purification in the Noble Qur’an.

The second aspect: The significance of purification in the life of the Prophet (ﷺ).

The third aspect: The significance of purification in terms of its positive effects.

The fourth aspect: The significance of purification in terms of the bad effects of leaving it.

The First Aspect

The Quran is filled with ayahs that stress the importance of purification. Before we dive into its examples, a point to note here is that in the Quran we often see Allah سبحانه وتعالى take an oath by various of His creation. It is important to understand that this is limited to Allah alone, as He takes an oath by whatever He wishes. One of the reasons for taking an oath of a creation is to elevate their status and to show the importance of the reply following the oaths.

Allah says in Surah Ash-Shams,

وَٱلشَّمْسِ وَضُحَىٰهَا ‎- By the sun and its brightness

وَٱلْقَمَرِ إِذَا تَلَىٰهَا ‎- ‏ And [by] the moon when it follows it

وَٱلنَّهَارِ إِذَا جَلَّىٰهَا ‎- And [by] the day when it displays it

‏ وَٱلَّيْلِ إِذَا يَغْشَىٰهَا ‎‎-‏ And [by] the night when it covers it

وَٱلسَّمَآءِ وَمَا بَنَىٰهَا ‎-  And [by] the sky and He who constructed it

وَٱلْأَرْضِ وَمَا طَحَىٰهَا ‎- And [by] the earth and He who spread it

وَنَفْسٍ وَمَا سَوَّىٰهَا ‎-  And [by] the soul and He who proportioned it

فَأَلْهَمَهَا فُجُورَهَا وَتَقْوَىٰهَا ‎‎-  And inspired it [with discernment of] its wickedness and its righteousness,

Then Allah replies to the oaths by saying:

قَدْ أَفْلَحَ مَن زَكَّىٰهَا ‎‎- He has succeeded who purifies it

‏ وَقَدْ خَابَ مَن دَسَّىٰهَا ‎- And he has failed who instills it (with) corruption

Eleven Oaths! To tell us that one who purified their soul has succeeded and the one who corrupts their heart has failed. 

Allah also mentions other ayat that also show the significance of purification for a human being such as:

جَنَّٰتُ عَدْنٍ تَجْرِى مِن تَحْتِهَا ٱلْأَنْهَٰرُ خَٰلِدِينَ فِيهَا ۚ وَذَٰلِكَ جَزَآءُ مَن تَزَكَّىٰ ‎

Gardens of perpetual residence beneath which rivers flow, wherein they abide eternally. And that is the reward of one who purifies himself. [Surah Ta-Ha]

وَأَمَّا مَنْ خَافَ مَقَامَ رَبِّهِۦ وَنَهَى ٱلنَّفْسَ عَنِ ٱلْهَوَىٰ ‎‏ فَإِنَّ ٱلْجَنَّةَ هِىَ ٱلْمَأْوَىٰ عات

But as for he who feared the position of his Lord and prevented the soul from [unlawful] inclination.Then indeed, Paradise will be [his] refuge. [Surah an-Naziat, 40-41]

Simply put, if we want Jannah i.e. Success, we must purify our souls and stay away from unlawful desires to protect ourselves only then will we achieve it.

The Second Aspect

1. Allah’s mention of the role of the Prophets عليهم السلام.

Allah says,

لَقَدْ مَنَّ اللَّهُ عَلَى الْمُؤْمِنِينَ إِذْ بَعَثَ فِيهِمْ رَسُولًا مِّنْ أَنفُسِهِمْ يَتْلُو عَلَيْهِمْ آيَاتِهِ وَيُزَكِّيهِمْ وَيُعَلِّمُهُمُ الْكِتَابَ وَالْحِكْمَةَ وَإِن كَانُوا مِن قَبْلُ لَفِي ضَلَالٍ مُّبِينٍ

Certainly, did Allah confer (great) favour upon the believers when He sent among them a Messenger from themselves, reciting to them His verses and purifying them and teaching them the Book and wisdom, although they had been before in manifest error. [Surah Aal Imran, 164]

هُوَ ٱلَّذِى بَعَثَ فِى ٱلْأُمِّيِّـۧنَ رَسُولًا مِّنْهُمْ يَتْلُوا۟ عَلَيْهِمْ ءَايَٰتِهِۦ وَيُزَكِّيهِمْ وَيُعَلِّمُهُمُ ٱلْكِتَٰبَ وَٱلْحِكْمَةَ وَإِن كَانُوا۟ مِن قَبْلُ لَفِى ضَلَٰلٍ مُّبِينٍ ‎

It is He who has sent among the unlettered a Messenger from themselves reciting to them His verses and purifying them and teaching them the Book and wisdom - although they were before in clear error – [Surah al-Jumu’ah, 2] 

2. The Significance of Purification in the Life of the Prophet (ﷺ)

Amr b. Auf, who was an ally of Banu `Amir b. Luwayy (and he was one amongst them) who participated in Badr along with Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) reported that, Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) sent Abu Ubaidah b. Al-Jarrah to Bahrain for collecting Jizya and Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) had made a truce with the people of Bahrain and had appointed `Ala' b. Hadrami and Abu `Ubaida (for this purpose). They came with wealth from Bahrain and the Ansar heard about the arrival of Abu `Ubaida and they had observed the dawn prayer along with Allah's Messenger (ﷺ).

When Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) had finished the prayer, they (the Ansar) came before him and Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) smiled as he saw them and then said: I think you have heard about the arrival of Abu `Ubaida with goods from Bahrain. They said: Allah's Messenger, yes, it is so. Thereupon he said: Be happy and be hopeful of that which gives you delight. By Allah, it is not the poverty about which I fear in regard to you but I am afraid in your case that (the worldly) riches way be given to you as were given to those who had gone before you and you begin to vie with one another for them as they vied for them, and these may destroy you as these destroyed them. [Muslim]

3. Purification on a Practical Tarbiyah level:

حَدَّثَنَا عَلِيُّ بْنُ مُحَمَّدٍ، حَدَّثَنَا وَكِيعٌ، حَدَّثَنَا حَمَّادُ بْنُ نَجِيحٍ، - وَكَانَ ثِقَةً - عَنْ أَبِي عِمْرَانَ الْجَوْنِيِّ، عَنْ جُنْدُبِ بْنِ عَبْدِ اللَّهِ، قَالَ كُنَّا مَعَ النَّبِيِّ (ﷺ) وَنَحْنُ فِتْيَانٌ حَزَاوِرَةٌ فَتَعَلَّمْنَا الإِيمَانَ قَبْلَ أَنْ نَتَعَلَّمَ الْقُرْآنَ ثُمَّ تَعَلَّمْنَا الْقُرْآنَ فَازْدَدْنَا بِهِ إِيمَانًا ‏"‏ ‏.‏

It was narrated that Jundub bin 'Abdullah said: "We were with the Prophet (ﷺ), and we were strong youths, so we learned faith before we learned Qur'an. Then we learned Qur'an and our faith increased thereby." [Ibn Majah]

He (ﷺ) used to open hearts to the Qur’an, refine them, and fill them with fear and Khushu’, working on the internal state of the heart before the external body.

4. The Makkan Stage in the Life of the Prophet (ﷺ) can be summed up in two:

Firstly: Purifying and educating the Sahabah on the aspects such as strength of certainty, patience, and steadfastness on the truth, patience during trials and difficulty etc.

Secondly: Addressing the polytheists and calling them to Islam.

Sheikh Ahmed as-Sayyid says, “Our prophet (ﷺ) spent majority of his (ﷺ) life in Makkah teaching the Quran and purifying the Sahabah before Hijrah.Then due to Allah’s aid and then the efforts taken in the makkan period, it resulted in events equivalent to a century’s worth of achievements in Madinah. 

Purification isn’t a negligible matter in Islam, but it is an integral and essential part that frames an individual’s Faith.”

The Third Aspect

It has psychological, social, and correctional effects, below are some examples mentioned in brief:

1. Patience over calamities: It is difficult for a person to fulfill Allah’s command with patience in the face of calamities if his heart is not purified. A person is able to have higher levels of patience and forgiveness when they have worked on purifying themselves.

2. When purification prevails in a person and becomes the means of a person’s response to events in and around him, it becomes one of the greatest means by which a person lives his life; seeking Allah’s pleasure, submitting to Him in ease and difficulty.

3. It keeps a Muslim away from psychological delusions resulting from diseases of the heart( envy, desires, love for possession, obsession, greed, power, fame, status, etc) that make a person forget he is a slave of Allah. Purification makes him humble and thankful when he is successful and helps a person be patient in the face of calamities and trials.

4. Stability on the straight path cannot be achieved except through purification. Otherwise, a person will be hesitant and distracted and divert in favour of desires and whims.

The Fourth Aspect

While there are many factors that result in the weakness of our society, the lack of purity of our souls plays an essential role in the ummah’s weakness, some of them are:

1. Envy between Muslims (and reformers) which may lead to kufr.

Allah says in the translated meaning of the Quran,

أَمْ يَحْسُدُونَ ٱلنَّاسَ عَلَىٰ مَآ ءَاتَىٰهُمُ ٱللَّهُ مِن فَضْلِهِۦ ۖ فَقَدْ ءَاتَيْنَآ ءَالَ إِبْرَٰهِيمَ ٱلْكِتَٰبَ وَٱلْحِكْمَةَ وَءَاتَيْنَٰهُم مُّلْكًا عَظِيمًا ‎

Or do they envy people for what Allah has given them of His bounty? But we had already given the family of Abraham the Scripture and wisdom and conferred upon them a great kingdom. [Surah Nisaa, 54]

2. Conflict and discrimination: Allah says,

وَأَطِيعُوا۟ ٱللَّهَ وَرَسُولَهُۥ وَلَا تَنَٰزَعُوا۟ فَتَفْشَلُوا۟ وَتَذْهَبَ رِيحُكُمْ ۖ وَٱصْبِرُوٓا۟ ۚ إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ مَعَ ٱلصَّٰبِرِينَ ‎

And obey Allah and His Messenger, and do not dispute and [thus] lose courage and [then] your strength would depart; and be patient. Indeed, Allah is with the patient. [Surah al-Anfal, 46]

3. Deviating from direction: From working for Islam, muslims start cutting corners left and right due to deficiencies and influencing factors.

Narrated 'Aishah: "I asked the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) about Allah's saying(a translated meaning written here): (( So, as for those in whose hearts there is a deviation, they follow that which is not entirely clear thereof, seeking Al-Fitnah and seeking its Ta'wil))  (3: 7). He said: 'When you see them, be aware of them.'" Yazid (one of the narrators in the chain) said: "When you see them, be aware of them' - she said it two or three times." [Tirmidhi

 4. Having indifference or interruption or stopping, or more severely: A decrease (in good actions) after an increase.

Abu Hurairah narrated that the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: “Take on only as much as you can do of good deeds, for the best of deeds is that which is done consistently, even if it is little.” [Ibn Majah]

This is especially in relation to the muslims who suffer from inactivity, indifference, become passive contributors to the ummah or leave opportunities to do good entirely. What’s dangerous is to slow down and pause or even stop after racing to do good. Our Ummah fell due to our transgression against ourselves and being overcome by desires and filled with disease in our hearts. الله مستعان


In this article we merely scratched (more like looked from a distance) the surface of these subjects in comparison to the depth of understanding and application our Prophets had. عليهم السلام.   

Allah says, 

قَدْ كَانَتْ لَكُمْ أُسْوَةٌ حَسَنَةٌ فِىٓ إِبْرَٰهِيمَ وَٱلَّذِينَ مَعَهُۥٓ إِذْ قَالُوا۟ لِقَوْمِهِمْ إِنَّا بُرَءَٰٓؤُا۟ مِنكُمْ وَمِمَّا تَعْبُدُونَ مِن دُونِ ٱللَّهِ كَفَرْنَا بِكُمْ وَبَدَا بَيْنَنَا وَبَيْنَكُمُ ٱلْعَدَٰوَةُ وَٱلْبَغْضَآءُ أَبَدًا حَتَّىٰ تُؤْمِنُوا۟ بِٱللَّهِ وَحْدَهُۥٓ إِلَّا قَوْلَ إِبْرَٰهِيمَ لِأَبِيهِ لَأَسْتَغْفِرَنَّ لَكَ وَمَآ أَمْلِكُ لَكَ مِنَ ٱللَّهِ مِن شَىْءٍ ۖ رَّبَّنَا عَلَيْكَ تَوَكَّلْنَا وَإِلَيْكَ أَنَبْنَا وَإِلَيْكَ ٱلْمَصِيرُ ‏

There has already been for you an excellent pattern in Abraham and those with him, when they said to their people, "Indeed, we are disassociated from you and from whatever you worship other than Allah. We have denied you, and there has appeared between us and you animosity and hatred forever until you believe in Allah alone" except for the saying of Abraham to his father, "I will surely ask forgiveness for you, but I have not [power to do] for you anything against Allah. Our Lord, upon You we have relied, and to You we have returned, and to You is the destination. [Surah al-Mumtahanah, 4]

Thus we saw a small glimpse of the traits Ibrahim عليه السلام ‘s state of heart and mind and how his relationship was with Allah.

As we approach the Day of Arafah, we remind ourselves of this great servant of Allah and the command he was given by Allah, in order to feel that awe and greatness of this blessed day and use it to our full advantage, 

 وَأَذِّن فِى ٱلنَّاسِ بِٱلْحَجِّ يَأْتُوكَ رِجَالًا وَعَلَىٰ كُلِّ ضَامِرٍ يَأْتِينَ مِن كُلِّ فَجٍّ عَمِيقٍ ‎

“And proclaim to the people the Hajj [pilgrimage]; they will come to you on foot and on every lean camel; they will come from every distant pass.” [Surah al-Hajj]

Imam Ibn Katheer said, commenting on this verse: “Meaning, call out to mankind, inviting them to come on pilgrimage to the House which We instructed you to build. It is narrated that he said: O Lord, how can I convey to the people when my voice will not reach them? He said: Call, and it is Ours to convey it. So he stood at his Maqaam, or it was said on the stone, or on al-Safa, or on Abu Qubays (a mountain near the Ka’bah), and he said: O mankind! Your Lord has built a House, so come on pilgrimage to it. It was said that the mountains lowered themselves so that his voice could reach all corners of the earth, and those who were still in (their mothers’) wombs and (fathers’) loins heard, and everything that heard him of rocks, cities and trees responded, and those who Allah decreed would perform Hajj until the Day of Resurrection responded: Labbayk Allahumma Labbayk.” This is what is indicated by the reports narrated from Ibn ‘Abbaas, Mujaahid, ‘Ikrimah, Sa’eed, Ibn Jubayr and others among the salaf. And Allah knows best. This was narrated by Ibn Jareer and Ibn Abi Haatim at length.

اللّه أكبر اللّه أكبر اللّه أكبر لا إله إلّا اللّه اللّه أكبر اللّه أكبر  وَللّهِ الحمد

The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said: "The most excellent dua is the dua on the Day of Arafah, and the best of what I and the prophets before me have said is,

لا إلهَ إلَّا اللهُ وَحْدَه، لا شَريكَ له، له المُلْكُ وله الحَمْدُ، وهو على كُلِّ شَيءٍ قَديرٌ

There is no deity (worthy of worship) but Allah alone, without any partners, unto Him belong the dominion and all praise and He has power over all things.” [Tirmidhi]

As our tongues repeat this phrase, allow the heart a chance to reflect on the greatness of this phrase, allow the tongue to taste the sweetness and the limbs to submit to them.

All good is from Allah alone and any mistakes made in this article are from myself and shaitan.

This article is a result of a combination of lectures:
- Sheikh Tim Humble’s Condtitions of the Shadah (English)
- Sheikh Ahmed As Sayyid’s series: Purification of the Soul for the Reformers (Arabic) 
- Sheikh Ahmed AsSayyid’s series:إبراهيم الذي وفّى (Arabic)

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