Importance of Ilm Al-Suluk for purifying the soul

Islam Contributor

Ilm As-Suluk is a method of applying knowledge through which theoretical life develops. It is the lifeblood of sincerity. The word ‘salaka’ in Arabic means “walking or going”.  In Islamic terminology, it is called ‘purification of the soul’. Remember, the knowledge of ‘As-Suluk’ is very important to strengthen the faith in Allah.

First and last Science of Islam

Ilm as-Suluk is the step towards dependence, reflection and application. Known as the first and last science of Islam. This is the beginning and the end of wonder.

Before becoming a messenger, Allah encouraged the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) to spend his solitary time. It is encouraged for preparing his heart and making it suitable for receiving the words of the Qur’an. Towards the end of his life, in a Ramadan, he not only recited the Qur’an to Gabriel (A) more than before, but he doubled his Itikaf from ten days to twenty days.

This is why it is the first science of Islam. Without which the heart of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) would never have been ready for revelation. So why is it the last science? Because to this day every Muslim who tries to understand Islam and want to know his Lord, must first spend some time to purify his heart. His heart is ready to accept the true meaning of the Qur’an. And we can get this spiritual consciousness through ‘Itikaf’ outside or inside of Ramadan.

Difference between Fiqh and Ilm As-Suluk

Allah says,

And those who strive for Us – We will surely guide them to Our ways. And indeed, Allah is with those, who do good deeds.(Quran-29:69)

There are many pious people among Muslims but there are few who have attained spirituality. Because spirituality is a great blessing from Allah. Fiqh (jurisprudence) will make you righteous but ‘Ilm As-Suluk’ will give you spirituality. This difference is due to the fact that you cannot learn ‘Ilm As-Suluk’ from reading books. That is why Imam Gazzali’s books are so complex. He has brought before us through his books those things which we cannot usually express in language.

Importance of Ilm As-Suluk

However, in 1934 a psychologist named Kurt Goldstein did a groundbreaking work. He authored a book named‘The Organism’. In this book he described a state of mind and called it ‘self-actualization’. Mr. Goldstein’s statement was later interpreted by Abraham Maslow. He explained that, these unique individuals (according to him, 1% of the world’s population) who have achieved ‘self-actualization’, have certain characteristics. These include: realizing reality, being attracted to spirituality, loving nature, awakening concern for world humanity, trying to find effective ways to solve various problems, not finding fault with others, and avoiding conflict etc.

Aren’t these the characteristics of prophets and righteous people? Compare these qualities with the qualities of the Messenger of Allah. Compare the qualities of Abu Bakr, Umar, Uthman, Ali, Hasan Basri, Salahuddin Ayyubi (may God be pleased with them) and others with them. Even, we can compare the qualities of a recluse sheikh who is still spreading the light of spirituality in the society today. They all have this same quality.

Islam has never been proved wrong

Sometimes science comes and creates doubts in our minds, trying to damage our faith. However due to the weakness of faith we need more rich documentary evidence later. But in fact science is devoted to all the provisions of Islam, it is just that we have to understand. Because science can be proved wrong but Islam has never been proved wrong, nor will it be. So many scholars try to explain that we should strengthen our faith in Allah without running after science.

Therefore, as Muslims, we should not only focus on the acquisition of knowledge of Fiqh, but also on the knowledge of As-Suluk. It is the knowledge by which the sense of humanity is awakened in people, faith in Allah is strengthened. Whether you call it self-actualization or Ilm As-Suluk or Tazkiyah (purification of the soul), the real one is the one that can make this world better.