A Brief Insight into Taswwuf / Tazkiyah

A Brief Insight into Taswwuf / Tazkiyah


  • Sufism, also known as tasawwuf or tazkiyyah, is a practise that involves building a close relationship with Allah through worship & remembrance, zikr.


  • At the heart of Sufism is sincerity of intention. It focuses on the purification of the soul & of keeping away from anything that distracts a person from the obedience, remembrance & love of Allah.


  • The main objective of those who tread the path of Sufism (known as tariqah) is to develop taqwa & to reach the level of ihsan, as outlined in the hadith of Jibrail (a well-known hadith where the angel Jibrail came & asked the messenger (s.a.w) several questions. One of the questions asked by the angel Jibrail was: “what is ihsan?” The messenger replied that “ihsan is to worship Allah as though you’re seeing him. If you’re unable to reach that level of awareness, then know that Allah indeed sees you”.)


  • Purification of the soul involves keeping away from illnesses of the heart/nafs such as lying, backbiting, slandering, jealousy, envy, greed, hatred, pride, anger etc. Sufism teaches that these illnesses (which are in reality major sins) prevent a person from getting closer to Allah. These sins are prohibited & accepted as sins by all Muslims & hence Sufis would argue that they aren’t introducing anything new.


  • Sufis admit that although the terms Sufism & tasawwuf (they prefer to use the word tazkiyyah) weren’t used in the time of prophet Muhammad (s.a.w), none the less, when you observe the lives of the companions & early generation of muslims, the principles of tazkiyyah were present & practiced, e.g. living a simple life & keeping away from major sins, abandoning the excessive love of the worldly wealth & luxury etc.


  • A person who begins the journey of purification of the soul is known as a mureed & will give allegiance to a shaykh who will guide him/her throughout this period with the intention of getting the person to a level where they have a strong & loving relationship with Allah & have managed to curb their desires of the dunya & ego of the nafs.


  • Advocates of Sufism point out that there are lot misconceptions about true tasawwuf & that the criterion for judging such groups is the quran & Sunnah. They accept that some groups & leaders have indeed deviated & led people into ignorance in the name of Sufism, but to condemn this branch of Islam entirely, based on the behaviour of some, is unjustified.


  • Famous Sufis & mystics of the past are: Imam al-Ghazali, Jalal ud-din rumi, Hasan al-basri, Abdul Qadir Jiylani, Ra’bia al-adawiyyah, Sayyidah Nafisah


Article By:  by Zaid Hasware – 

Student of Hadeeth and Shafi Fiqh


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