Purification of the Soul

'Ubudiyyah is a comprehensive term that asserts the meaning of the ayah:

"You Alone do we worship and You Alone do we seek for Help." [Al-Qur'an 1:5]

It comprises the slavery of the heart, tongue and limbs to Allah ta'ala. The slavery of the heart includes both the qawl (saying of the heart) and 'amal (actions of the heart). The qawl of the heart is the belief (i'tiqad) in what Allah has informed about His Self, His Names and Attributes, His Action, His Angels, and that which He revealed in His Buk and sent upon the tongue of His Messenger Muhammad sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam.

The 'amal of the heart include love for Allah, reliance upon Him, turning to Him in repentance, fearing Him, having hope in Him, devoting the Deen sincerely to Him, having patience in what He orders and forbids, having patience with His decrees and being pleased with them, having allegiance for His pleasure, having humility for Him and humbling oneself in front of Him, and becoming tranquil with Him.

The qawl (saying) of the tongue is to convey what Allah has revealed (in the Qur'an and authentic sunnah) regarding Himself, His Names and Attributes, His Actions, His Commands, His Prohibitions, and all that is related to this din, to call to it, defend it, to expose the false innovations which oppose it, and to establish its remembrance and to convey what it orders. The 'amal (actions) of the limbs include the salat (prayers), jihad, attending the Jumu'ah prayers and the rest of the Jama'at (congregational prayers), assisting those who are unable, and acting with gudness and kindness to creation, and other such acts.

This comprehensive meaning of the 'Ubudiyyah pertains to its specific type. The people who fall under this type of 'Ubudiyyah are the believers who obey, love, and sincerely follow the din of Allah ta'ala.

The second type of 'Ubudiyyah is the general one in which all creatures in the heavens and in the earth are subdued to Allah's sovereign Authority and Power; everything is subservient to His Will, and Authority; nothing occurs or ceases to occur except by His leave; His is the Kingdom and He disposes the affairs as He pleases. This type of 'Ubudiyyah is known as the 'Ubudiyyah of Qahr (Subduing) and Mulk (Sovereignty, Kingship, Possession, Mastership, etc.).

So, the part of the ayah signifying "You Alone do we worship" asserts the adherence to the four principles of 'Ubudiyyah:

  1. The sayings of the heart;
  2. The actions of the heart;
  3. The sayings of the tongue; and
  4. The actions of the limbs.

The other part, "You Alone do we seek for Help," stresses the fact that the believer must ask Allah alone to help him establish the 'Ubudiyyah and succeed in executing all what it requires..

 From Madarij as-Salikin 1/100-101, 105, slightly adapted by Dr Saleh as-Saleh - from a footnote in The Dispraise of Al-Hawa (Desire) by Ibn al-Qayyim al-Jawziyyah, 1998, Daar al-Bukhari.

Be Mindful O Mankind!

O my soul, it is not for a few days patience, As if her extent were a few dreams. Oh my soul, pass quickly on through this world, And leave it, for indeed life lies ahead of it.
Ash-Shafi'i (d. 204H), may Allah have mercy upon him