Part Eleven of Six Answers

Shaykh Muhammad Hisham Kabbani

Allah Almighty Mentions Tazkiyyat an-Nafs

Allah says:

“yatlu ‘alayhim ayaatika wa yu’allimahum al-kitaaba wal-hikmata wa yuzakihim.” 

(a Messenger) who shall rehearse Your signs to them and instruct them in the Book and wisdom and Sanctify them [tazkiyyat an-nafs].” (Baqara, 129)


kama arsalna feekum Rasulan minkum, yatulu ‘alaykum ayaatina wa yuzakikum…”

A similar (favour have you already received), in that we have sent among you an Messenger of your own, rehearsing to you Our signs, and sanctifying you [Science of Tasawwuf] (Baqara, 151)


“qad aflaha man tazzaka wa dhakar asma Rabbihi fa-salla” 

“those will prosper who Purify themselves and glorify the Name of their Lord and pray.” (al-‘Aala, 14)

Here, Allah Almighty is mentioning the characteristics of the mutassawifs, those who are Purifying Themselves. They are always remembering their Lord, by recalling His Names and Attributes and they are attentive to their prayers.

He, Almighty and Glorified says,

“wa man tazzaka fa-innama yatazaka li-nafsihi wa ila-Allah il-maseer.”

and whoever Purifies himself does so to his own soul’s benefit; and to Allah is the Journeying” (Faatir, 18)

We find here the deep essence of Tasawwuf, the Science of the Purifying the Self. We remind the reader here that this is only a technical term, which can be replaced by any other word. This is Islam. If someone is claiming to follow or practice Islam, then they must partake in this struggle to purify the self, as it is so clearly ordered in these verses. Indeed it is meaningless to claim that there could be any Islam [surrender to Allah] without this pursuit of self-purification. Whether one is successful or not in this pursuit, is not the question, but its necessity is incumbent on every Muslim, man or woman.

wa maa yudreeka la’alahu yazzaka aw yadh-dhakara fa-tanfa’ahu dhikra”

“but what could tell you that perchance he might grow in Purity? or that he might receive admonition and the teaching might profit him.” (Abasa, 3,4)

And He, Glorified and Exalted says,

“fa aaradna an yubdillahuma Rabbahuma khairan minhu zakaatan wa aqrabu ruhma”

and We desired that the Lord would give them in exchange (a son) better in Purity and closer in affection.” (Kahf, 81).

and Allah, subhanahu wa ta’ala says,

“li-ahhaba laki ghulaman zakiyya”

“…to give as a gift to you a Pure son” [here the word zakiyya is mentioned again, referring to Sayiddina ‘Isa (as)] (Maryam, 19)

and He, Glorified and Majestic, says:

khudh min amwaalihim sadaqatan tutaahirhum biha wa tuzakkihim biha wa salli ‘alayhim inna salaatuka sakanun lahum”

of their wealth take alms so you might Sanctify them and pray on them, verily your prayers are a source of security for them.” (Tawba, 99)

and He said,

wa law laa fadlullahi ‘alaykum wa rahmatuhu ma zakka minkum min ahadin abadan wa lakin-Allaha yuzzaki man yasha’u w’Allahu sami’un ‘aleem.”

if not for the Grace and Mercy of Allah on you, not one of you would ever have been Pure. But Allah Purifies whom He pleases. And Allah is One who Hears and Knows all things.” (Nur,21)

These are some of the verses in the Holy Qur’an that mention the need to purify the self. And purification of the self, Tazkiyyat an-Nafs, is one of the essentials of the Science of Tassawuf.