بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
والحمدلله رب العالمين والصلاة والسلام على أشرف الأنبياء والمرسلين
In the name of Allah, the Most Merciful the Most Compassionate
All praise be to Allah, and may peace and blessings be upon the most noble of the Prophets and Messengers
Alhamdillah, this tarbiya group has been going strong (more than 7 months now!), and the weekly tarbiya sessions at university have been going on for even longer, may Allah allow us all to benefit from them. Yet sometimes, it easy for us to get caught up in doing things, forgetting why we started them to begin with. So this tarbiya should inshAllah be a renewal of intentions and to implement our learning to our lives.
Meaning of Tarbiya
The word “Tarbiya تربية” in Arabic can have many different meanings, depending on context. “Tarbiyat Al Atfaal تربية الأطفال” would literally mean, raising or educating children. “Tarbiya Islamiya تربية اسلامية” would mean an Islamic upbringing or Islamic education. “Tarbiya Badaniya تربية بدنية” means physical training . Conventionally, Tarbiya means development and training. Linguistically, it means increase, growth, and loftiness.
So, what should Tarbiya mean to us?
We all know that our function as human beings is to worship Allah (through the various means Allah has given us). This can only occur through knowledge- when we truly know that it is God who has created us; when we learn of His infinite Mercy; when we learn of His presence in our everyday lives. This knowledge should bring us closer to Him, and Allah says in the Qur’an:
“…Say: Are those who know and those who do not know alike? Only the people of understanding are mindful” (Surat Az-Zumar, 39:9)
The Prophet (pbuh) emphasized this when he said:
“Seeking knowledge is an obligation upon every Muslim.” (Sunan Ibn Mâjah)
The Prophet’s (pbuh) statement relates to religious as well as worldly knowledge. But without the proper knowledge of our deen and our relationship with Allah, the worldly knowledge may not help us because we would not utilize it in the way of Allah. And this is why Islam places a great deal of emphasis on ‘self-development’- the tarbiya that we speak about- in order that we may grow closer to Allah, to increase in our knowledge and grow as people.
It does not mean that people should all go out to be scholars. But as human beings, our iman fluctuates. We go through bouts of forgetfulness and times of remembrance. This is natural- however, the key is to make sure that when we are forgetful, this lasts for as little as possible, and when we are active with the deen, this lasts for as long as possible.
Especially when things around move so fast, it is easy to be complacent with our acts of worship and our checking of our intentions. When we are busy with our work and exhausted from it, we start to become lax as to when we pray. When we finally do get round to praying, it takes (this is an example only) 2minutes as opposed to our usual 5 mins. We start to become more concerned with the matters of this world.
And what is the ultimate effect of this? It affects our relationship with Allah, matters of our deen, and our ultimate purpose. When Allah starts to move down in our list of priorities, we know we’re in trouble. We become heedless.
And this relates to the concept of of our need for tazkiya- purification. We know that zakaat, which comes from the same root word of tazkiya, is purification for our money. Purification of ourselves is to cleanse ourselves from blameworthy characteristics. Allah states in the Qur’an:
“قد أفلح من زكاها”
“Successful indeed is the one who purifies his whole self” [ash-Shams 91:9]
There is a certain important pre-requisite to the self-development and purification process, and that is acknowledging that we have a responsibility, as Allah says in the Qur’an: “Verily, We created man in the best conformation, and thereafter We reduced him to the lowest of the low – excepting only such as attain to faith and do good works: and theirs shall be a reward unending!” [Surat at-Tin 95: 4-6.]
We can only find the motivation to do so when we remember our purpose- the pleasure of Allah, our Creator and Sustainer, and thereby Paradise. The next question that crops up is how? This ‘how’ is the basis of our self-development and purification process.
And this is why there is a need for a constant reminder- to remind us of Allah and ways of achieving closeness to Him. Whether that be by pointing out a defect in our character and how to remedy that, or guiding us to do some sort of good, or learning about the righteous people who came before us. Tarbiya, self-development, reminds us of our aim and how to achieve it, and brings us back to what is truly important.
Any example in history, whether we are to look at scholars such as Al-Ghazali or Imam Malik, or great people such as Salah Al-Din Al-Ayyoubi, or even lay people such as the girl who prevented her mother from mixing milk with water (i.e. cheating) because she said “Umar (ra) does not see us, but the Lord of Umar (ra) sees us”, had a constant reminder of God in their lives. And that has made the difference.
To relate it back to this tarbiya group- what is its purpose? On an individual level, it helps us to dedicate some time to research a topic in the deen, and motivate ourselves to practice what we preach. By teaching it to others, we are not just helping ourselves to grow, but sharing it with our wider community, and hopefully it will be a continuous good deed. It should be a nurturing ground for educational, spiritual, and intellectual development. This is only a drop in the ocean of self-development, but we should nonetheless use this as a resource to implement in our lives, as that is the purpose of knowledge- to do something with it.
Forgive me for the shortcomings of this tarbiya, I’ve been quite a scatterbrain recently!