By Khalid Baig
A lot of people have misunderstandings about tasawwuf. Many think that it is something beyond Qur'an and Sunnah. Actually, although the term tasawwuf, like many other religious terms in use today, evolved later, the discipline is very much part of the Shariah. The department of the Shariah relating to external deeds like salat and zakat is called fiqh while the one dealing with the internal feelings and states of the heart is called tasawwuf.
Tasawwuf is the soul of Islam. Its function is to purify the heart from the lowly bestial attributes of lust,calamities of the tongue, anger, malice,jealousy, love of the world, love of fame, niggardliness, greed, ostentation,vanity, deception, etc. At the same time it aims at the adornment of the heart with the lofty attributes of repentance, perseverance, gratefulness, fear of Allah, hope, abstention, tauheed,trust, love, sincerity,truth, contemplation, etc.
How to practice Tassawuf:
1. Perform repentance for all the past sins and take steps to make amends, e.g. if any salat has been missed so far in the life,youstart making up for it.
2. If you have any unmet financial obligations toward another person make plans to discharge them.
3. Guard your eyes, ears,and tongue.
4. Perform dhikr regularly.
5. Start a daily session of self-accounting before going to bed. Review all the good and bad deeds performed during the day. Repent for the bad ones and thank Allah for the good ones.
6. Perform muraqaba-maut (meditation over death) every night before going to bed. Just visualize that you have died. Reflect upon the pangs of death, the questioning in the grave, the plain of Resurrection,the Reckoning , the presence in the Court of Allah, etc This helps brings softness the heart and break the tendency to commit sins.
7. Develop humility. Even if you observe another individual committing the worst of vices you should not despise him/her, nor should you consider yourself nobler. It is very much possible that the perpetrator of the vice may resort to sincere repentance while the one who despised the sinner become ensnared in the traps of nafs and Shaitan. Onehas no certainty regarding one's end. One, therefore has no basis for regarding another with contempt.