Tazkiyah in Islam

Maulana Wahiduddin Khan | Teachings of Islam

Once a noted scientist said that only a prepared mind can make a scientific discovery. The same can be said of Islamic meditation. Here also a prepared soul alone can benefit from it. First of all Tazkiyah, purification of the soul, has to be done through Islamic meditation. Tazkiyah aims at clearing one’s heart of all kinds of negative sentiments, otherwise Islamic meditation will not work. There is a very interesting story, which illustrates this point.

A milkman came to Gautam Buddha and asked him to give him Gyan, i.e. the realization of truth. Gautam Buddha asked:

“Would you like the milk to be put in an unclean container?”

The milkman said:

“No. First of all we must clean the container and only then can we put the milk in it.”

Gautam Buddha then said:

“The same is true of realization. Realization can be put only in a clean container. First of all, you have to cleanse your heart and mind of all kinds of moral pollution. Only after this cleaning process will you be able to receive the truth.”

The preparation during the pre-meditation period is very important. Anyone who desires to benefit from meditation will have to complete this pre-meditation course based on simple living and high thinking.

Jesus Christ once said:

“Man cannot live by bread alone.” (Matthew, 4:4)

It means that physical food cannot provide complete fulfilment to man. It requires something more. This something more is spirituality. If food is needed for the nourishment of the body, spirituality is needed for the nourishment of the soul. Both are required for the complete development of the human personality.

The human body is nourished by material food as is known to all of us. But the question arises as to how our soul receives its nourishment. The position of the soul can be likened to ore, and spirituality can be likened to steel. Then how is this ore of the soul to be developed into steel of spirituality? High thinking alone provides the answer to this question. This means thinking by rising above the mundane.

Meditation in Islam aims at bringing man closer to God. When man worships God, when he remembers Him, when his heart is turned towards Him with full concentration, when he makes a request or a plea, he establishes a rapport with his Maker. In the words of the Hadith, at that particular moment he comes to whisper with his Lord. He has the tangible feeling that he is pouring his heart out to God and that God in turn is answering his call.

When this communion is established between God and man, man can feel himself becoming imbued with a special kind of peace. His eyes are moist with tears. He starts receiving inspiration from God.

According to a Hadith the Prophet Muhammad said the highest form of worship is to pray as if you were seeing God. (Sahih al-Bukhari, Hadith No. 50) We learn from this Hadith the true sign of a superior form of worship. The true sign is for man to sense the presence of God during worship, and feel that he has come close to God. That is when he can experience the refreshing, cooling effect of God’s love and blessings for man. It is this feeling of closeness to God which is the highest form of spiritual experience.

This Sajdah is the highest form of meditation. Sajdah is a form of unification of soul and body. According to this Quranic verse, Sajdah is the meeting point between God and man.

Sajdah is the sign of submission or surrender, for it is only in a state of submission or surrender that we can meet God Almighty. Sajdah is the final position of submission for acquiring a place very close to God.