greater purification

The greater purification

Greater purification refers to the cleansing of the heart from all forms of filth. The heart is the most important part of the body. Actions are only right if they are from a good heart. Any ‘good deed’ that comes from a corrupt heart has no benefit for the one who does it.  As the messenger commendations and peace of Allaah be upon him said:

Hear! Indeed, there is a morsel-size of flesh in the body, if it is in a good state the body is in a good state. And if it is in a bad state, the body is in a bad state. Hear! It is the heart.

-Saheehul Bakhaaree:52 and Saheeh Muslim:1599

Therefore, it is important for the believer to cleanse his heart from all forms of impurities. This purification is the greater purification. It is more important than ablution, tayammum and ghusl. Rather it is a condition for the validity of types of purification and worship. Your prayer is only valid if your heart is free from disbelief, polytheism and hypocrisy. Therefore, you must take every measure to give your heart the greater purification.

Polytheism, atheism and all other forms of disbelief in the monotheistic creed of Islam are impurities. The deeds of a disbeliever are not useful for him because Allaah will not accept it from him;

Allaah is pure and will accept only what is pure.

-Saheeh Muslim:1015

This impurity (of disbelief) is what Allaah referred to in the verse:

Those are the ones whose hearts Allaah does not want to purify (from disbelief and hypocrisy).

-Al-Ma’idah: 41

And He –exalted and sublime is He- said:

Verily, the Mushrikûn (polytheists, pagans, idolaters, disbelievers in the Oneness of Allaah, and in the Message of Muhammad) are Najasun (impure).

-At-Taubah: 28

herefore, this is what the messenger of Allaah was referring to in the hadith:

None should touch the Quran except a pure (person)

– Mustadrak (3/485), irwaa’ul ghaleel (122)

On the pther hand, the true believer is always free from this type of impurity. This why the prophet (commendations and peace of Allaah be upon him) told Abu Hurairah:

Indeed the believer doesn’t get impure

-Bukhaaree: 283 and Muslim: 371

Types of Greater Purification

Greater purification, or purification of the heart, is of two types.

  • Purification from nullifiers
  • and Purification from reducers

Purification from nullifiers

Cleansing the heart from nullifiers of faith is the greatest form of purification. It refers to cleansing the heart from all beliefs, statements and actions that can nullify the belief of a Muslim. There are beliefs, statements and actions that can completely nullify the Islam of a Muslim – irrespective of his level of knowledge or his devotion in worship.

Unfortunately, many of our brothers, sisters and parents are ignorant of this. Many believe that the only way a person can lose his Islam is if he says, “I’m not practicing Islam anymore” or a similar statement. Yes, this is a nullifier but there are also many other nullifiers. Our ignorance of these nullifiers is the reason why we do not bother to care for our heart.

Open any comprehensive book of fiqh, you will find the chapter of apostasy towards the end. All schools of thought discuss this topic in their books of fiqh. The fact that many Muslims do not pay attention to this is a sign of our laxity and, perhaps, lack of seriousness. We ask Allaah for safety.

The nullifiers that a Muslim must purify himself from are many but for the purpose of this article we will only mention ten of them. These ten, hopefully, will guide us to the remaining.

1.      Shirk; Associating partners with Allaah. Allaah the exalted says:

We shall cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve, because they joined others in worship with God, for which He had sent no authority; their abode will be the Fire and how evil is the abode of the Zâlimûn (polytheists and wrong-doers).

-Aal-Imraan: 151

2.      Taking intermediaries between you and Allaah

Praying to people (dead or alive), objects, prophets or angels and thinking that they will take you closer to Allaah or raise your prayers to Allaah. A typical example is those who say Yaa Ali, Yaa Niyas, or call on their ancestors or dead parents to not sleep and neglect them. Allaah the exalted says:

And they worship besides God things that hurt them not, nor profit them, and they say: “These are our intercessors with God.”

-Yunus: 18

And He also says:

And those who take Auliyâ’ (protectors and helpers) besides Him (say): “We worship them only that they may bring us near to God.”

-Zumar: 3

3.      Doubting that the disbelievers are in plain error and misguidance.

Unfortunately we still hear Muslims saying that some idolators might enter paradise before an alfa (Islamic scholar). They say some of these people have better manners than many alfas.

Firstly, we do not know where thy gathered their statistics from. Secondly, and more importantly, who is more ill-mannered than a person who has no manners with His Lord? He gave the right of his Creator and Provider to a weak and helpless creature like himself. Only Allaah can requite them for their injustice.

Allaah says:

And (remember) when Ibrahîm (Abraham) said to his father and his people: “Verily, I am innocent of what you worship,

“Except Him (i.e. I worship none but God Alone) Who did create me, and verily, He will guide me.”

And he made it [i.e. Lâ ilâha ill-God (none has the right to be worshipped but God Alone)] a Word lasting among his offspring (True Monotheism), that they may turn back (i.e. to repent to God or receive admonition).

-Zukhruf: 26-28

4.      Belief that man-made laws are equal to the sharee’ah

Thinking that there is a better or equally good way of life or government than the sharee’ah of Islam. The evidence for this is the word of Allaah:

They (Jews and Christians) took their rabbis and their monks to be their lords besides God

-Tawbah: 31

When the messenger Allaah recited the above verse in the presence of ‘Adee bn Haatib, a Christian who just accepted Islam, he said:

“They didn’t use to worship them”. The prophet –commendations and peace of Allaah be upon him said:

‘Of course (they did). They (the rabbis and monks) prohibited the permissible (halal) for them (the Christians and Jews) and made the prohibited permissible for them, and they followed them. That is how they worshipped them” 

5.      Detesting any aspect of Islam

Anyone who detests an aspect of Islam, even if he practices it, has committed an act of disbelief. Such as detesting men with beards or women with hijab or any other aspect of the sharee’ah.
Allaah the exalted says:

But those who disbelieve (in the Oneness of God Islâmic Monotheism), for them is destruction, and (God) will make their deeds vain.


That is because they hate that which God has sent down (this Qur’ân and Islâmic laws, etc.), so He has made their deeds fruitless.

– Muhammad: 8-9

6.      Making jest of any aspect of Islam

This includes making jest of Allaah’s commandments, prohibition, reward or punishment.

Our Lord says:

If you ask them (about this), they declare: “We were only talking idly and joking.” Say: “Was it at God, His Ayât (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.) and His Messenger that you were mocking?”

Make no excuse; you have disbelieved after you had believed.

-Tawbah: 65-66

7.      Magic

Performing magic, asking for it to be done on one’s behalf or being pleased that someone is doing it on one’s behalf.

As far as the sharee’ah is concerned, there is no exception in magic; magic is magic, even if he claims that he is doing the magic for good.

but neither of these two (angels) taught anyone (such things) till they had said, “We are only for trial, so disbelieve not (by learning this magic from us).”

-Al-baqarah: 102

8.      Supporting disbelief (or disbelievers) against belief (or believers)

Anyone who supports the disbelievers and assists them against the Muslims in times of war has become one of them.

And if any amongst you (Muslims) takes them (polytheists and disbelievers) as Auliyâ'(bosom friend and helpers), then surely he is one of them. Verily, God guides not those people who are the Zâlimûn (polytheists and wrong-doers and unjust).


9.      Claiming to above the law

Some heretics believe that they have the privilege to go against the way of the messenger –commendations and peace of Allaah be upon him.

This is found among the Sufi sheikhs who claim to have reached the peak of spirituality so they are not obliged to follow the prophet –commendations and peace of Allaah be upon him. So they say adultery, alcohol and neglect of solah are permissible for them. We ask Allaah for safety.

They say, this is because Khadir (peace be upon him) reached a stage in worship that he was not obliged to follow prophet Musa (peace be upon him). In fact, Allaah commanded prophet Musa (peace be upon him) to learn from Khadir (peace be upon him) as is in suratul kahf.

This argument is ignorant and misguided in a number of ways.

Firstly, Musa was sent to the children of Israel and Khadir was not an Israelite. The evidence for this is that khadir didn’t even recognize him as he asked:

“The Moses of Bani Israel?”

-Saheehul Bukhaaree

Secondly, Khadir is a prophet and these blasphemous ‘sheikhs’ are not. So they are not but liars and callers to the anger of Allaah.

10.  Rejecting and detesting Knowledge of Islam

Turning away from Islam by not learning it and practicing it and not having any desire to learn or practice any aspect of it.

Allaah –exalted and sublime- says:

And who does more wrong than he who is reminded of the Ayât (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.) of his Lord, then he turns aside therefrom? Verily, We shall exact retribution from the Mujrimûn (criminals, disbelievers, polytheists, sinners, etc.).

-As-Sajdah: 22

Implications of these nullifiers

The implications of these nullifiers is that it takes one out of Islam. A person who has left Islam is said to have committed riddah (apostasy).

Riddah has a number of implications, some of them manifest in this life while some manifest in the hereafter. Here’s some of these implications:[1]

  1. He cannot give his daughter out in marriage. The scholars have clearly mentioned in their books that a disbeliever cannot give a Muslim woman in marriage.
  2. He cannot inherit. The messenger –commendations and peace of Allaah be upon him said:

A Muslim doesn’t inherit a disbeliever and a disbeliever doesn’t inherit a Muslim.

-Saheehul Bukhaaree (6764) and Saheeh Muslim (4116).

  1. He must not be allowed into Makkah and its sacred environs. Allaah the exalted says:

Verily, the Mushrikûn (polytheists, pagans, idolaters, disbelievers in the Oneness of God, and in the Message of Muhammad) are Najasun (impure). So let them not come near Al-Masjid-al-Harâm (at Makkah) after this year

-Taubah: 28

  1. His slaughtered animal is as good as a carrion. It is impermissible for the Muslim to eat the slaughtered animal of such a person.
  2. There should be no Janazah (Islamic funeral prayer or rites) for him after his death. Also, it is impermissible to ask Allaah to have mercy on such a person. Allaah the exalted says:

And never (O Muhammad) pray (funeral prayer) for any of them (hypocrites) who dies, nor stand at his grave. Certainly they disbelieved in God and His Messenger, and died while they were Fâsiqûn (rebellious, — disobedient to God and His Messenger ).

-Taubah: 84

  1. Also, such a person cannot marry a Muslim. Allaah the exalted says

O you who believe! When believing women come to you as emigrants, examine them, God knows best as to their Faith, then if you ascertain that they are true believers, send them not back to the disbelievers, they are not lawful (wives) for the disbelievers nor are the disbelievers lawful (husbands) for them.

-Mumtahinah: 11

  1. Such a person will spend his Eternity in hell. This is the greatest of all implications of riddah. We seek refuge with Allaah from it.

Our Lord the exalted says:

Verily, God has cursed the disbelievers, and has prepared for them a flaming Fire (Hell).

Wherein they will abide forever, and they will find neither a Walî (a protector) nor a helper.

On the Day when their faces will be turned over in the Fire, they will say: “Oh, would that we had obeyed God and obeyed the Messenger (Muhammad).”

-Al-Ahzab: 64-66

All these actions take one out of the fold of Islam even if the person performs prayers and says laa ilaaha illa Allaah. Therefore we must be extremely careful and cautious.

Two words of warning

Now that we know some nullifiers of Islam. It is important for us to call our intention to two very important points:

  1. The primary reason the Muslim learns and teaches these nullifiers is to protect himself from them. Thereafter, he should protect his family and those around him from falling into it.

It would be very erroneous of a person to learn these nullifiers so that he can be policing around, searching for someone who has committed one of them then declare him a disbelievers. Indeed, this is not the way of the salaf (pious predecessors).

  1. Not everyone who commits an act of disbelief becomes a disbeliever. Many times people fall into these acts out of ignorance. Therefore, the onus lies on you, O brother/sister in Islam, to educate them. Your aim, when educating them, should be to save them from their misguidance. Your aim should not be to castigate them.

Purification from Reducers

As mentioned at the beginning of these article, there are some anti-Islamic statements, actions and beliefs that do not make one a disbeliever but they weaken faith in a person’s heart.

It is obligatory upon the believer to purify his heart from these. Although they do not directly nullify belief but they weaken it. They may continue to weaken it to the extent that it becomes easy for such heart to commit any of the nullifiers. Therefore, they are dangerous for the following reasons;

  1. they weaken the heart and
  2. they are means to apostasy. We ask Allaah for safety.

Allaah the exalted says:

Nay! But on their hearts is the Rân (covering of sins and evil deeds) which they used to earn.

-Al-Mutaffifeen: 14

These reducers of faith can be broadly classified into three (in descending order of severity):

  1. Minor Shirk or Kufr: Such as show-off and swearing by other than Allaah.
  2. Innovations: Such as celebrating mawlid.
  3. Sins: could be of the heart e.g. arrogance and could be of the body e.g. stealing.

Diseases of the heart such as hatred, arrogance, hypocrisy, jealousy etc. cause impurity on the heart. Innovating acts of worship which Allaah has not legislated and engaging in the disobedience of Allaah such as drinking alcohol, abandoning prayers, cutting the ties of kinship etc. are all acts that cause impurity to the heart.

This is because the person who is innovating is like giving himself the right to legislate, whereas legislation belongs to Allaah alone. So also, the one who is arrogant is like saying he owns something or is better than someone else, whereas we are nothing but slaves to Allaah the Master and Lord of the worlds. He alone owns everything and so He alone has the right to be arrogant.

Also, the one who is jealous of another person is only hating the favour of Allaah on that person. And it is as if he is questioning the wisdom of Allaah in sharing His mercy and bounty.

The one who is committing sins is like he is saying he has right to disobey Allaah and like he is doubting that Allaah sees him while committing sins.

However, innovations, sins and diseases of the heart do not take one out of the fold of Islam. And that is because if you ask the innovator he would never tell you with his mouth that he has the right to change the religion of the prophet –commendations and peace of Allaah be upon him. So also the jealous will never say he doubts the wisdom of Allaah and the sinner will never say with his mouth that he has rights to disobey Allaah. All these are implied from their actions. And there is a difference between a person’s action and the implication of his action.

A person only becomes a disbeliever when he does an act, utters a statement, or keeps a creed of disbelief. If a person utters a statement that is not disbelief but implies disbelief then such a person is not a disbeliever. So also if he has a creed or does an action that implies disbelief but is not disbelief then such a person still remains a believer. This is the creed of the people of sunnah.

However, such acts, statements and beliefs –which imply disbelief- still stain the heart and weaken it. The effect of this weakness may manifest itself in sluggishness to do good deeds, delayed response to prayer, difficulty in assimilating religious knowledge, clouded judgment in giving religious verdicts, and, in the most severe case, punishment in the grave or hell before going to paradise. We ask Allaah for safety.

And Allaah alone knows best.


Nullifiers of Islam by Imam Muhammad bn AbdilWahhaab

[1] See Ahkaam Taarikis-Solah by Sheikh Solih bn Uthaymeen

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