4. Lifelong commitment
This principle deals with the question of effectiveness how can we insure that our tazkiyah efforts bear their expected fruits, help us achieve piety, and fulfill our purpose in this life? Allah Almighty gave a hint: "Take what We have given you with determination and remember what is in it, that perhaps you may become righteous" [Quran 2:63]. Elaborating on this very theme, Prophet Muhammad has explained the hint in the above verse and taught us a key element for success in matters of this life and the one to come. He called it mudawamah—continuance or persistence. He said: "The most beloved deeds to Allah are those done continuously even if they were small" [Al-Bukhari]. Short-lived deeds and onetime big achievements are good, but Allah prefers that we seriously commit to good deeds and be steadfast on them—even if they are small. The issue is quality not quantity. And commitment reflects sincerity and strong character, two qualities that surely can elevate our rank with Allah.
Lifelong commitment makes tazkiyah part of the nature of the faithful, and as such it becomes the common factor for the believer's success in all things.
5. Ways of Tazkiyyah: Whole and comprehensive
As explained earlier, everything we do—and do not do—affects our spiritual development and strength of our faith. However, there are certain ways that can help us focus our tazkiyah efforts and tremendously increase our odds at transforming ourselves. Here are some suggestions:
The first, and probably the most important way, is to espouse a demeanor of full submission to Allah, maintain sincerity and humbleness and feel in utter need of Him. We should recognize that whatever efforts we are making are due to His grace and favor and not because of our own merit. Allah Says (what means): "And if not for the favor of Allah upon you and His mercy, not one of you would have been pure (achieved tazkiyah) ever, but Allah purifies whom He wills, and Allah is Hearing and knowing" [Quran 24:21].
Focus on achieving excellence (ihsan) in worshipping. Take salah, for example. If we succeed in achieving excellence in it, our tazkiyah will be dramatically enhanced. "And establish salah. Indeed, salah prohibits immorality and wrongdoing" [Quran 29:45] Thus, when salah is done correctly, tazkiyah is accomplished. The same applies to other types of worship. Bear in mind that Allah says: "Surely Allah is with the excellent ones" [Quran 29:69].
Commit to daily reading, contemplation, and studying of the Quran. Allah says: "A Book which We have sent down to you, full of blessings so that they may ponder over its verses, and that men of understanding may take heed" [Quran 38:29]. Read it in its entirety at least once a month. And if you cannot, then try for once every two months. Memorize the verses and surahs that were assigned certain virtues like, Al-Kahf, Al-Mulk, the last three surahs, etc. Do it with the highest level of devotion and reverence and ask Allah to soften your heart with the Quran.
Engage in thikr (Allah's remembrance) in all situations: "(Those) who remember Allah while standing or sitting or (lying) on their sides and give thought to the creation of the heavens and earth." [Quran 3:191] The best thing to engage in after obligations is thikr, the prophet said: "Shall I not inform you of the best of your actions, the most pure in the sight of your Lord, the one which raises your ranks highest, that which is better for you than giving gold and silver (in charity and better for you than striving in His path?" The Companions urged him: "Of course, 0 Messenger of Allah! (Inform us!)" He replied: "It is the Remembrance of Allah" [Abu Daawood].
For thikr to have a profound effect on you, commit to a wird or wadheefah—specified daily sessions at least twice a day. Make up one of your own or use any of the known wirds. It is extremely important, however, that you choose carefully so that the wird is based on authentic ahadeeth and that it covers thikr, isfighfar, duaa, and salah upon the Prophet . In Addition, learn the various thikr the Prophet, sallallaahu alayhe wa sallam, used to say in his regular daily affairs. No one will be written among "those who remember Allah abundantly" without them.
Say that which is good, speak well of others, or be silent. Avoid disputation, but if you have to elucidate a position, do it using clear proofs and watch for your intention.
Guard your gaze and become a person of taqwa. Serve your Creator. Honor your parents and kinfolks. Treat others, Muslims and non-Muslims, with respect. Cultivate compassion for the environment and Allah's creation. Tazkiyah cannot be limited to specific rituals. People are different, and what works for one may not work for another. Our focus, therefore, should not be on what deeds to do. Rather, it should be on how to maximize our chance of tazkiyah in everything we do.
Some scholars have written excellent treatises on this subject. Writings by al-Ghazali (d. 505 AH), Imam Ibnul-Qayyim (d. 751 AH), and Ahmad Zarruq, among others, may be consulted.
As an obligation upon all Muslims, tazkiiah's objective is to help them, individually and as a community, realize servitude to their Lord and achieve success in all of their affairs. The principles outlined by Prophet Muhammad, sallallaahu alayhe wa sallam, for understanding and practicing tazkiyah are as valid today as they were for the first Muslim community. If we, the Muslims of today, can muster the courage and commitment the first-generation Muslims managed to give to these principles - they will produce for us the transformation, development, and success, we are desperately in need of.