There were many times many years ago when I prayed to Allah SWT to grant me all the good qualities a man can have and exterminate from me all that is bad. My intention was simple. I wanted to be a man free from all bad habits and characteristics and acquire all that is good as much as what an ordinary man can hope to have. I was hoping though that this purification process would be an easy and instantaneous one, something akin to waking up one morning purified from any sense of arrogance, vanity, greed, envy and all other deadly sins and bad characteristics, and at the same time engulfed by the purest of all noble qualities - sincerity, humility, honesty etc.
It just doesn't work that way, does it? You don't get all these qualities and exterminate all that is bad that easily. You can't even learn how to do this in schools and universities. No amount of religious and moral education can guarantee a personality of such purity. Education may help to a certain extent but ultimately it is one's experiences in life that matters. And often, they involve hard and difficult moments.
For example, how does a person acquire humility and sincerity and eradicate from himself arrogance and vanity. Of course there are many who profess to be humble and sincere but are these really valid pronouncements or merely delusions? On the other hand, how can someone possibly know he is not selfish and arrogant? You may think so about youself but does that mean others must share the same assessment?
When I was making that do'a, I probably thought I wasn't far off from the ideal personality I wanted. I wanted to get married at that time and prayed to Allah SWT to bless me with a companion to enable me to complete the purification process. I honestly thought that was the only missing piece in me and once I get it everything will be smooth and easy.
I know now that I was and still am far off from that ideal. There were times in the past I perceived my own actions as honest expressions of self-confidence, totally ignorant of the fact that others saw them as signs of arrogance. At other times, I saw myself as standing firm to my beliefs and principles when in fact I was stubborn, inconsiderate and insensitive towards the feelings of others.
Purification of one's soul is not, has never been and will never be an easy process - something for us to contemplate on as we seek forgiveness from family members and friends in this blessed month of Shawal. Eid Mubarak!
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