The subject matter on which Allah (SWT) places the greatest weight is the purification of the soul (Surah Ash-Shams), according to Islamic scholars. However, the concept of the purification of the soul in Islam varies slightly from common understanding. According to Islam, the most important aspect of a pure soul is that it does good deeds only for the pleasure of Allah (SWT) and for the hereafter. If a soul does good deeds to receive the praise of people or for some worldly benefits, then the soul is not pure - no matter how kind, generous and brave the soul might seem to be.
Hence, it is very important to be aware of our intentions that precede and accompany actions. Islamic scholars remind us to constantly check our intentions at the beginning of tasks, during tasks and to make corrections to our intentions accordingly. We should connect all good deeds to the pleasure of Allah (SWT). For example, we can serve our guests generously only for the pleasure of Allah (SWT). However, if the food is served to win the hearts of our guests or for a worldly benefit like job promotion, then the good deed ceases to be a good deed and it is of no value in the sight of Allah (SWT). We may receive some temporary worldly benefit of our actions, but the deeds will have no weight on the scales of the Judgment Day.Similarly, we should refrain from all bad deeds only out of fear of Allah (SWT) and the tremendous suffering in the afterlife. For example, we try our very best to avoid alcoholic drinks, gambling and pornography only out of fear of Allah (SWT) and the suffering in the next life. However, if we avoid bad deeds only for health benefits and the fear that society will think ill of us, then our abstention is of no value in the sight of Allah (SWT) and our sacrifices will have no weight on the scales of the Judgment Day.
According to the Qur’an, we must endeavor and strive to develop a clean and pure soul which only seeks the pleasure of Allah (SWT) and fears Him alone. We must endeavor to cultivate gratitude, love, reverence and humility towards Allah (SWT). We must strive to remove jealousy, intolerance, pride and arrogance from our souls. It is a lifelong project. It is the project that should receive the greatest weight according to Allah (SWT) and the outcome of this project is true success in this world and the eternal next. On the other hand, corrupting one’s soul will result in tremendous suffering in this world and the eternal next.
The writer is a Lecturer at North South University