the importance of tazkiyah tul-nafs can not be stressed enough times, people keep going on about the importance of knowledge, but what seems to have happened know is that people have left tazkiyah tun nafs, which is basically purifying the heart from the spiritual diseases, for example: Jealousy, arrogance etc... They are right in some aspect but tazkiyah is also needed.
We can some what see the importance of this in the situation of Satan (iblis). when he was put to the test before Adam (a.s) as we know the story, who can claim that he/she will or has more knowledge than satan except the prophets, he not only had knowledge but he had it with certainty, meaning that he saw with his own eyes the paradise, hell, the angels, the prophets and moreover he saw Allah (swt)
not only that but he even spoke to Allah (swt), but having all this knowledge did not help him one bit, for instance when he was put to the test before Adam (a.s) and told to bow he did not, therefore he became expelled and cursed forever. There his evil spiritual heart disease came out and it manifested. this then as we know caused him to fall, know one may ask that if he had all this knowledge then how come he still fell, the answer is that he did not do tazkiyah on himself and therefore even though having all this knowledge he still fell, for the very reason that he could not implement his knowledge properly, he just was implementing it outwardly and not inwardly and therefore when he was put to the test he failed drastically.
Allah (swt) himself stresses the importance of Tazkiyah tun nafs in sura shams: to the nearest meaning that
"Successful is the one who has purified himself"
The heirs of the prophet (sallahualihiwasalam) are the Awliyah (the people who have purified themselves) who have purified themselves inwardly and outwardly, by following the Sunnah of the Prophet (sallahualihiwasalam) inwardly e.g. by not hating another Muslim brother which the prophet (sallahualihiwasalam) was like inwardly, And by following the Sunnah outwardly. like our past generations for example: Syedina Abdul Azeez Dabbagh (r.a) who lived and died in Fez, morocco (Maghrib), imam Ghazali, shaykh Abdul Qadir Jilani etc... not the normal scholars who just have knowledge but do not implement what they have learnt one bit, this is why most of our normal Ulema are not properly representing the teaching which they have learnt or the past generations who acted by what they knew the reason is because they have not purified themselves, this is why we often see scholars getting into disputes etc...
The people who have purified themselves (the Awliyah) are the ones of whom Allah (swt) praises them in front of angels and tells them look such and such a person is my obedient slave.
People keep on going to conferences after conferences but they do not change one bit they stay exactly the same as they had before they went to the talk. And once the talk has been finished then they straight away go home put the TV on and completely forget about the talk or seminar they had just been to, and the lessons they had learnt,
Because talks after talks will not change a person unless he takes manifest actions to do it to change himself. Allah (swt) will not pick up a person and change him although it has happened in the past but it was very rarely probably 1 in a billion. As Allah (swt) says in the glorious Quran to the nearest meaning that “if you take one step towards me then i would take to steps towards you...". From this we can see that Allah (swt) is ready all the time to forgive and to take us close to him but the slackness is in us. As Allah (swt) says that he wants us to take those initial steps towards him and then the remaining journey will be easy inshallah because then ALLAH (SWT) special mercy and forgiveness will come and help that person. These (talks after talks which people seem to go to every time and not change even one bit) are only fulfilling the desires of the nafs, and then once it has been fulfilled then they simply forget.
:) hope you are not put off after reading all this. if you want more information on tazkiyah nafs and how to purify oneself from it then please go to the following web site www.zawiyah.org - www.zawiyah.org or call on 0161 351 1957 - 07790 550 360. To begin the course of self purification. insha Allah this then will be the initial steps to which Allah (swt) says to us, because then the person will be taking action into to changing his/her condition and not only saying i wish i could change and not doing nothing about it.
Jazzak Allah for reading it and May Allah (swt) reward us for our efforts which we put in to promote and to spread the deen - Amin! or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org