Precedence of Soul Purification over Acquiring Knowledge according the Qur’an

Question: According to the verses of the Qur’an, Purifying the soul is prior to Learning”

According to the verses of the Qur’an, “Purifying soul” precedes “Learning “.It is pertinent to mention here that the learning is an important pre-requisite of purification of the soul and development of the soul and spirit is the ultimate objective of a believer. This goal cannot be achieved without learning about the basics, teachings, wisdom and so  on.

Therefore, these are all pre- conditions, and soul purification is the prelude.Notably, in some verses, purification of the soul is mentioned before the learning of the Book and Wisdom, it is only to show its relevance.

Detailed answer:

Considering that in verse 164 of Surah Al-Baqarah (1) and verse 2 of Surah Jumu’ah (2) of the Holy Quran, purification of soul precedes teaching and in verse 129 of Surah Al-Baqarah (3) , learning precedes purification of the soul. So,the answer of this question is not complicated as purification of the soul is the destination and learning is the path, through which one reaches his/her destination. Importance of the path is due to the destination it leads to.

In any case, each of these two things affects each other; That is, unless there is a stage of purifying the soul, man does not seek knowledge, and unless there is no learning, you cannot move on towards the higher levels of faith. Therefore, learning & purification have an interaction with each other and the variety of verses support this statement.

So, seeking knowledge and purification of soul goes hand in hand and are complementary to each other.

(1) إِنَّ فِي خَلْقِ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالأَرْضِ وَاخْتِلاَفِ اللَّيْلِ وَالنَّهَارِ وَالْفُلْكِ الَّتِي تَجْرِي فِي الْبَحْرِ بِمَا يَنفَعُ النَّاسَ وَمَا أَنزَلَ اللّهُ مِنَ السَّمَاء مِن مَّاء فَأَحْيَا بِهِ الأرْضَ بَعْدَ مَوْتِهَا وَبَثَّ فِيهَا مِن كُلِّ دَآبَّةٍ وَتَصْرِيفِ الرِّيَاحِ وَالسَّحَابِ الْمُسَخِّرِ بَيْنَ السَّمَاء وَالأَرْضِ لآيَاتٍ لِّقَوْمٍ يَعْقِلُونَ 

Surely in the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the alternation of night and day (with their periods shortening and lengthening), and the vessels sailing in the sea with profit to people, and the water that God sends down from the sky, therewith reviving the earth after its death and dispersing therein all kinds of living creatures, and His disposal of the winds, and the clouds subservient between sky and earth – surely there are signs (demonstrating that He is the One God deserving worship, and the sole Refuge and Helper) for a people who use their reason.

(2) هُوَ الَّذِي بَعَثَ فِي الْأُمِّيِّينَ رَسُولًا مِّنْهُمْ يَتْلُو عَلَيْهِمْ آيَاتِهِ وَيُزَكِّيهِمْ وَيُعَلِّمُهُمُ الْكِتَابَ وَالْحِكْمَةَ وَإِن كَانُوا مِن قَبْلُ لَفِي ضَلَالٍ مُّبِينٍ

He it is Who raises (commissions) among the unlettered a Messenger of their own. He recites (reads and explains) to them His Verses and cleanses them (their souls), teaches them the Book (the Noble Qur’ân) and the Wisdom. And verily, they had been before (wishing to reach Allah) in manifest Misguidance.

(3) رَبَّنَا وَابۡعَثۡ فِيۡهِمۡ رَسُوۡلًا مِّنۡهُمۡ يَتۡلُوۡا عَلَيۡهِمۡ اٰيٰتِكَ وَيُعَلِّمُهُمُ الۡكِتٰبَ وَالۡحِكۡمَةَ وَ يُزَكِّيۡهِمۡ​ؕ اِنَّكَ اَنۡتَ الۡعَزِيۡزُ الۡحَكِيۡمُ

Our Lord! Raise up in the midst of our offspring a Messenger from among them who shall recite to them Your verses, and instruct them in the Book and in Wisdom, and purify their lives. Verily, You are the Most Mighty, the Most Wise.”

Translator: Salma Syeda

Keywords: Quran, Verses, Teaching, Learning , Soul , purification, destination ,path , Al-Baqarah ,peaceful life,


(1). The Message of the Quran, Makarem Shirazi, Nasser, with the collective cooperation of scholars, Dar al-Kitab al-Islamiya, Tehran, 2007, sixth edition, vol. 7, p. 20.