References of Ethics
Qur'an • Nahj al-balagha • Misbah al-shari'a wa miftah al-haqiqa • Makarim al-Akhlaq • Al-Mahajja al-bayda' fi tahdhib al-ahya' • Tanbih al-khawatir wa nuzhat al-nawazir • Jami' al-sa'adat • Mi'raj al-sa'ada • Al-Muraqabat
Tazkīya or Tahdhīb al-Nafs (Arabic: تهذیب النفس) means correction and purification of the soul from impurities, keeping it away from defects and promoting it. There is so much emphasis in the Qur'an on purification and it is considered as the goal of sending the prophets (a) and the means of achieving God-wariness and happiness. In the views of scholars of mysticism and ethics too, one of the ways to reach God is through purification of the soul.
Obeying the orders of God, the prophets (a) and Imams (a), keeping away from sins, examen of the self, carrying out divine duties, emptying the self from evil attributes and filling it with attributes of virtue are considered among the means of achieving purification of the soul. Also, some obstacles of the purification of the soul are mentioned as following: arrogance, polytheism, drinking alcoholic drinks, disbelief in God, carnal desires, sins and weakness of determination.
Tazkiya or Tahdhib al-Nafs is among the terms in ethics which means keeping away from defects and correction and purification of the soul from impurities and replacing them with good attributes in order to reach happiness. Some considered it as promotion of the soul, its purification and acknowledging this purity. Also, exegetes interpreted "tazkiya" as improvement of God-wariness in human being. According to Fayd Kashani, "tazkiya" can be considered as excessive purification (purity from sins). However, some Shi'a exegetes including Allama Tabataba'i considered "tathir" purification of the soul from impurities and "tazkiya" promotion of the soul.
In Islamic culture, Tazkiya is among significant concepts which is emphasized in the glorious Qur'an and hadiths of the Infallible Ones (a). In the Qur'an, the word "tazkiya" is not mentioned but many words with the same root as tazkiya are mentioned there. Some believe that this root with this meaning is mentioned twenty five times in the Qur'an. According to Abu l-Futuh al-Razi, the goal of the prophets (a) was purification of the souls, its promotion, keeping people away from sins and polytheism and its consequences. Also in the Qur'an, "tazkiya" is mentioned as the only way of salvation and eternity in the paradise.
In many hadiths, "tazkiya" is mentioned together with the purity of the soul having praised attributes, at the same level with contemplation and as a means for standing in the right path and obeying God. Some scholars of mysticism including al-Ghazzali considered reaching perfect happiness and making the spiritual journey depending on tazkiya. They considered it a prerequisite for knowing the self and knowing the self as a prerequisite of knowing God. They believe, "as long as the human self is not purified, the knowledge of God is not acquired."
Means of Tazkiya
In hadiths, obeying the orders of God and taking the path of truth have been mentioned as the way of achieving tazkiya. Other means have also been mentioned for tazkiya, some of which are mentioned below: Based on the Qur'an 24:21,  one of the greatest means of the purification of the soul is the will and assistance of God. That is why one of the attributes of God is "the Purifier".
Sabziwari believed that divine prophets (a), Infallible Imams (a) and friends of God are also among the means of the purification of the servants' souls. In his view, the prophets (a) and Imams of Shi'a (a), due to having connection with God, divine gifts and pure nature, have better competence in guiding others in achieving purification of the soul. By explaining divine verses, rulings and moral virtues, prophets (a) and Imams (a) draw people away from undesirable things and guide them toward purification of the soul.
According to the scholars of ethics, servants themselves have a significant role in purification of their souls too. To achieve purification, scholars of ethics have mentioned some steps such as God-wariness, repentance, not returning to sins (musharita, "conditioning"), examen of the soul, observing divine duties, admonishing the self in case of returning to sins (mu'atiba, mu'aqiba), emptying the soul from evil attributes (takhliya), filling it with the attributes of virtue (tahliya) and carrying out religious orders (tajliya). Also, a group of Shi'a scholars have so much advised about performing prayer, giving the property in the way of God in order to achieve the purification of soul.
Obstacles of Tazkiya
In the view of some exegetes, arrogance, stinginess, killing people, drinking alcoholic drinks, polytheism and disbelief in God are the obstacles of the purification of soul. Also, some have mentioned Satan, carnal desires, attachment to the world, distancing oneself from God, sins and weakness in determination as the obstacles of the purification of soul.
Tazkiya in Religions
In other divine religions such as Judaism, Christianity, Zoroastrianism and Sabaean too, the issue of purification is emphasized and advised about. According to a group of scholars, non-Abrahamic religions which mostly are eastern religions, including Buddhism, Hinduism, Sikhism, Jainism have also considered a great importance for the purity of the heart and the promotion of the soul. It is to note that in Sikhism, ascesis is forbidden. In some schools of thought such as Confucianism, Taoism and Shintoism too there is a great emphasis on the purification, while it has been emphasized and advised by other names. It is emphasized in Confucianism through moral issues and in Taoism through ascesis and keeping away from the world.
- For example: "one who purifies it is felicitous" Qur'an 91:9, to recite to them His signs, to purify them Qur'an 62:2
- Were it not for Allah’s grace and His mercy upon you, not one of you would ever become pure. But Allah purifies whomever He wishes, and Allah is all-hearing, all-knowing.
- The material for this article is mainly taken from تزکیه in Farsi WikiShia.