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THE PROCESS OF PURIFICATION

Rain is a unique and natural phenomenon, which is referred to several times in the Qur’an. One such reference is given in the chapter Qaf; its translation is as follows: And We have sent down from the sky blessed water with which We have brought forth gardens and grain to be harvested. (50:9)

‘Blessed water’ in this verse means freshwater. This is purified water that comes down as rain, giving vital nourishment to all the greenery on the surface of the earth. Without rain, all the land surface becomes like a vast desert. Everyone should learn the art of dematerialization; everyone must learn the art of extracting the spiritual content from the material content. Only through this process can we develop our faith. Purified water means desalinated water. The original source of this water is the saltwater stored in the seas and oceans that are spread over three-fourths of the earth’s surface. This stored water is saline, nature having mixed 3.5 percent of salt in this water as a preservative. However, saltwater is useful neither for man nor for agriculture.

It is nature that initiates a global process of desalination. It is desalinated water that, by the established law of nature, rises in the form of vapor and forms clouds. Then from the clouds, there is a downpour of freshwater. It is this blessed water, or desalinated water, that descends and fulfills the needs of humans and agriculture. It is a demonstration by nature of how we can purify ourselves. By following this natural pattern, we have to process things around us through contemplation, and then make this service as a tool for the purification of the soul (tazkiya).

Nature’s reservoir of water has a certain salt content. But nature separates the water content from the salt content and thus makes the water useful for man and agriculture. This is true of all other things. Everything around us, big or small, has material content as well as spiritual content. We have to dematerialize these things in order to extract the spiritual content. And then we take the spiritual content as our food for tazkiya. Everyone should learn the art of dematerialization; everyone must learn the art of extracting the spiritual content from the material content. Only through this process can we develop our faith.

Water is our physical food, but physical food is not enough. At the same time, we need spiritual food. And the way to have that spiritual food is to separate it from the dross of material things, just as salt is separated from seawater to give us fresh water. We receive water by a natural process, but spiritual food can only be obtained through an intellectual process. Without this process, we will certainly face spiritual starvation and finally spiritual death. For example, everyone can speak. Yet the verbal exchange of dialogue is a rare phenomenon peculiar to human beings: no other creature of this world shares this capacity with us. Speech apparently is a physical phenomenon, but it also has spiritual content, in that it reminds us of the special blessing we have been endowed with by God. And this discovery enables us to acknowledge God in elevated language—something that cannot be done by any other creature in the physical world.

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