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The major impediments and dangers to one’sspiritual purification must be recognized by the Muslim. He must be aware ofthem so that he may protect himself from them. Some of these may be summarizedas follows:

(1) Desires, lusts andpassions: These are the urges that occur in the soul and drive a person tocommit an act that he knows is displeasing to Allah. Unless one works tocontrol and overcome these desires, they can be disastrous for his effort ofpurification. Indeed, they can even completely overcome the person and becomethe “god” which he starts to worship.

(2) Ignorance, doubtsand misconceptions: It is via ignorance that one does not know what the correctpath is. When a person does not realize his own ignorance, he acts thinkingthat what he is doing is correct while it may actually be very harmful. Inaddition, ignorance can also lead to doubts and uncertainty. Doubts anduncertainty in turn affect a person’s resolve and willingness to sacrifice toremain upon the path of purification.

(3) Innovations andheresies: These are of extreme danger for the purification of the soul. Inessence, they can lead a person down an errant path while he believes that heis following nothing but the truth. It is only by sound knowledge and byfollowing the way of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him)closely that one can avoid falling into this major pitfall.

(4) Sins: One getscloser to Allah by acts of obedience and one distances himself from Allah bysins and acts of disobedience. No matter whether the sin is a major or minorone, it signifies, at least to some extent, a step back in one’s journey ofspiritual purification.

(5) Being overcome bythis world and its glitter: One of the greatest dangers, especially in this dayand age, is to be overcome with all of the “pleasures and excitement” that thisworld has to offer. This worldly life can make one lose one’s focus. Instead ofconcentrating on the Hereafter, one begins to work to accumulate the goods ofthis world. The situation can be so bad that the individual sacrifices theHereafter for this life. This would sound a crushing defeat for the soul’spurification process.

(6) Evil companions,environment and surroundings: One’s surroundings and one’s friends can greatlyinfluence an individual. For example, at the very least, evil friends maysuggest deeds and ideas that are displeasing to Allah and harmful to the soul.Beyond that, they may further encourage and even help the person perform actsthat are clearly disliked by Allah. Such friends and environments can clearlybe a hindrance in one’s path of purification.

(7) Satan and hissoldiers: When Allah created man, He had already created an enemy that wasgoing to test his will and his devotion to Allah. When mankind gives into Satan,Satan’s only goal is to drag him into the Hell-fire. To protect himself on thepath of purification, the believer must always be aware of Satan and his waysof operating.

(8) The enemies ofAllah (those who have earned His wrath and those who have gone astray): Theseare the people who have either knowingly or unknowingly gone away from the pathof purification. One must always be wary of them as they will eitherintentionally try to drive a person away from the Straight Path or they mayinadvertently misadvise a Muslim causing him to swerve from the Straight Path.