Respected Islamic scholar, Sheikh Dr. Siraajudeen Bilal Al-Asrau has revealed that seeking the knowledge of the Qur’an and Sunnah strengthens the connection with Allah through obedience and knowing the purpose of human existence, and working accordingly are some of the ways reformation of the soul can be achieved.
Sheikh Asrau made this disclosure on Saturday while speaking (in Yoruba) at the 17th annual Ramadan lecture of the University of Lagos Muslim Community, with the theme; “The Self-Reproaching Soul.”
Other ways suggested by the Iwo, Osun State-born scholar include the application of purification and morality, exercising patience at all times, maintenance of optimism and avoidance of pessimism, as well as reading about the biographies of the prophets and righteous ones.
The lecture was summarised into English by Dr. Mustapha Ibrahim, Resident Imam, University of Lagos Muslim Community.
The distinguished speaker defined An-Nafs as the part of the body of a human being that motivates, directs and is responsible for human behaviour, thoughts, whims, morals, emotions, and orientations, whether good or bad.
He went further to give the difference between an-Nafs and ar-Ruuh by stating that the former is the nature of every human being which directs him and is responsible for his actions while the latter (ar-Ruuh) is that part of the body that gives life to the body and with its termination, the function of every organ in the human body automatically comes to an end.
At the programme well attended by the members of the University of Lagos Muslim Community, Sheikh Asrau affirmed the call to the purification of the human soul as one of the objectives of the glorious Qur’an, quoting a number of the Qur’an passages that support his assertion.
One of them is Q.91:1-7 (as-Shams) where Allah says, “And by the soul and He who proportioned it. And inspired it (with discernment of) its wickedness and righteousness. He who purifies it has succeeded. And who instills it [with corruption] has failed”.
Dr. Asrau, a Ph.D. graduate of Madinah University, Saudi Arabia, brilliantly defined tazkiyah in a technical sense as a situation where the soul is purified from dirt and impurities and developed by inculcating into it good attributes.
He argues that although Imam al-Ghazali (an 11th century Sunni Islamic) believed that purification of the soul is an individual obligation (fard ‘ayn), the majority of scholars held the view that it is an obligation of sufficiency or collective obligation (fard kifaayah) on the Ummah in general.
Speaking on the importance of the purification of the soul, Sheikh Asrau gave four basic points. “1. That Allah swore in the glorious Qur’an eleven times on the prosperity of one who purifies his soul and on the loss of one who neglects doing so. 2. That the soul’s main objective is to mislead and call for transgression if not purified 3. That purification of the soul is the path to paradise. 4. That human beings naturally love perfection and perfection of actions cannot be achieved except with the purification of the soul.
He also explained to the audience the means of purification of the soul, which he describes as; “Striving to purify the soul from immoral manners, adorning it with virtues, regularly observing the obligatory duties as they are the best of acts of obedience that draw the servant closer to his Lord, and doing a lot of voluntary acts. 5. Reflecting on the verses Qur’an.
According to him, there are three categories of souls. There is the soul that commands evil, which is the worst, the self-reproaching soul which is fair/better, and the reassured soul which is the best.
On the conditions of a reassured soul, Sheikh Asrau mentioned some conditions that assist in attaining this type of soul, including; 1- Union of actions, 2- Simplicity, 3- Searching for new good things to do, 4- Being beneficial to the Ummah, 5- Exhibiting reliance on Allah (SWT), 6- Being connected to faith and its articles always and 7- Not interfering in the privacy of others.
Why we chose the theme on the ‘soul’
The chairman of the UNILAG Muslim community, Prof. Hakeem Olaniyan thanked Allah for the success of the 17th Ramadan lecture and specifically appreciated the commitment of the lecturer.
On the choice of the theme, the Chairman said, “The lecturer himself suggested some topics, we discussed them and we found this particular one very unique and that’s why we decided to go for it.
“As you could see, the lecture was so top-notch, fit for all time, beyond the period of Ramadan. Interestingly, our Imam (at UNILAG) also delivered a lecture on ‘the soul’ during his Friday Khutbah. He quoted one of the verses that were quoted today, where Allah says, ‘he has succeeded, he who cleanses his heart’.
“We can situate in all of these that the heart is the troubled part of our body. The heart, if not nurtured with Allah’s words, can make the society turn for the worst. Those who do evil have the opportunity to reflect before they do it; they also have the opportunity of reflecting after doing it. If they have clean hearts, they would not do it.
“We cannot clean the human heart enough. We must continue to preach jnto the human heart for it to abandon evil and do good. More of us that abandon evil and do good, the better the society.”
We’re becoming what we want to be – Prof. Bello
The Former VC of the University, Prof Rahman Bello, who chaired the annual event, commended the chairman and the officers of the UMC including the Chief Imam, Prof. Ismail Musa for their dedication and commitment to the activities of the community.
Prof. Bello, who bowed out as the 11th VC of the institution, said in his goodwill message, “I remember we started 17 years ago, alhamdulillah, Allah has assisted us to this point and we pray to Him to sustain it for us, and keep it going for years to come.
“Between last year and this year, Allah has blessed the community with more of its members becoming professors. In shaa Allah, by next Ramadan, we’ll be having more joining the professorial cadre. Alhamdulillah, we are becoming what we want to be. May Allah accept it as acts of worship. Ameen.”
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