السلام عليكم ورحمة الله وبركاته
بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
الحمد لله، والصلاة والسلام على رسول الله، وبعد:
PREPARING FOR RAMADAN: POLISHING THE HEART
(Part 1: THE SOUND AND PURE HEART OF THE BELIEVER)
The heart or qalb (القلب) is the most significant part of our being and is often referred to as our entire inner-being and our true essence. Al-Imam al-Ghazali (RA) describes it as “the conscious, the knowing, and the perceiving part of the human being”. The heart is also the source of all beliefs and actions, and all morals and ethics. And as al-Imam Ibn al-Qayyim (RA) said: “Actions vary in the eyes of Allah based on the variation in the hearts …and according to the strength of motivation, sincerity, devotion and giving preference to Allah Almighty over oneself.”
We must accordingly pay particular attention to the condition of our heart - from a spiritual perspective - and spend considerable time to correct and polish it. This is because the heart is also the repository of the most foundational aspects of our identity: faith, trust, motivation, sincerity, happiness, etc.
The heart moreover is the responsible and enduring part of our being that will be judged by Allah in our final evaluation and for our ultimate salvation on the Day of Resurrection. “It is addressed, punished, blamed, and accountable.” (al-Ghazali). We have to strive throughout our lives therefore to cleanse our heart, and produce and maintain one that is spiritually sound and pure: one that is free from unbelief or disbelief in, or doubts about, Allah (SWT) or associating anything with Him; one that is totally devoted to Allah and fully submitted to His will; one that is filled with consciousness, awe, love, humility, gratitude, reliance, hope, dedication, asceticism, etc.; one that is at the same time also devoid of hypocrisy, ostentation, heedlessness, complacency, malice, hate, envy, avarice/greed, pride, lust, love for the world, etc.
This is the type of heart to which everyone should aspire. Allah (SWT) tells us that it is such a heart that is in the prayer of Prophet Ibrahim (AS), with which he wished to meet the Almighty and attain salvation:
وَلَا تُخْزِنِى يَوْمَ يُبْعَثُونَ. يَوْمَ لَا يَنفَعُ مَالٌ وَلَا بَنُونَ. إِلَّا مَنْ أَتَى ٱللهَ بِقَلْبٍ سَلِيمٍ
And do not disgrace me on the Day all will be resurrected. The Day when neither wealth nor children will be of any benefit. Except for those who come to Allah with a sound heart.” (Qur’an, 26:87-89)
Allah’s Messenger Muhammad (SAW) told us also that on the Day of Accountability, we will be judged according to the purity of our hearts and the righteousness of our deeds:
إِنَّ اللهَ لَا يَنْظُرُ إِلَى صُوَرِكُمْ وَأَمْوَالِكُمْ وَلَكِنْ يَنْظُرُ إِلَى قُلُوبِكُمْ وَأَعْمَالِكُمْ
Surely, Allah does not look at your appearance or your wealth, but rather He looks at your hearts and your actions. (Muslim)
The heart is the nucleus and the fountainhead, and is at the core of our actions. Al-Nu’man ibn Bashir (RAA) reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said:
وَإِنَّ فِي الْجَسَدِ مُضْغَةً إِذَا صَلَحَتْ صَلَحَ الْجَسَدُ كُلُّهُ وَإِذَا فَسَدَتْ فَسَدَ الْجَسَدُ كُلُّهُ أَلَا وَهِيَ الْقَلْبُ
Indeed, in the body is a piece of flesh which, if sound, the entire body is sound, and if corrupt, the entire body is corrupt. Truly, it is the heart. (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)
Abu Hurayrah (RAA) is reported (by ibn al-Qayyim) to have added that “the heart is the sovereign (king) and the limbs are its soldiers. If the sovereign is whole, the soldiers will also be whole, but if he is rotten, they will likewise be rotten.”
Purity and soundness of the heart is attained by being in a constant state of total awareness of Allah and in full compliance with His commands, and in acceptance of, and contentment with, His will. Everything in the life of a person with such a heart is dedicated to Allah (SWT) who is their only or first priority, and their primary objective is His pleasure: when they act, please, love and sacrifice, their thoughts and their time, their utterances and what they look at and listen to, their body and soul and what they use their senses and limbs for, every emotion and resource, is used for the sake of Allah, Exalted and Mighty is He, and in His path.
This purified state of the heart produces many noble benefits and beautiful rewards - both in this life and the next. Among the many blessings of Allah that He gifts for them are the following:
Living a full and wholesome existence (حياة طيبة), experiencing the true bliss in this life that accompanies coolness in the heart, peace of mind, tranquility of the soul (in the higher self) and appreciation of Allah’s decrees. And then looking forward to meeting Allah and what He has reserved in Paradise as the eternal and unparalleled pleasure.
Enlightenment in the heart and guidance on the path to Allah’s pleasure, and becoming the recipient of all good things, leading to ultimate happiness and felicity.
Recognition of the truth (الحقّ) and all things good (الخير), and the ability to distinguish between it and falsehood (الباطل) and evil (الشرّ) - this is because the heart is alive and alert to reality.
The capacity to welcome admonishment and advice, and to recognize and comprehend the signs (الآيات) that surround us, as well as the ability to draw lessons from events around us.
Receiving Allah’s divine help (al-tawfeeq) in all affairs and His assistance in rectifying wayward behavior. Al-Ghazali (RA) noted: "Know that when Allah wishes for His servant goodness, He grants him/her insight into his/her faults (which lie in the heart/soul). And whoever knows his/her faults is in a position to treat them."
Furthermore, the person who consistently strives for a pure and wholesome heart is on track to establishing a firm bond with Allah and His creation. They endear themselves to other people and can thereby make a positive and lasting impact on those around them (as a passive form of da’wah), including on their own family members, friends and people in their community. This is due to the tenderness in the heart of such a person, and the endless love and kindness that flows from there and is the foremost tangible expression of its wholeness and purity. Perhaps this is why a person with a pure and content heart is also mostly smiling, like the Prophet of Allah (SAW) would do in the company of his family and his companions.
The sincere believers who strive constantly (making jihad) to cleanse themselves of the maladies of the heart are already in a burgeoning love-love (and therefore, win-win) relationship with the Almighty, who becomes a major part of their own being: He (SWT) Himself becomes ”their eyes by which they see, their ears by which they hear, their hands by which they operate, and their feet by which they walk”, (as in the well known Hadith Qudsi in al-Bukhari). Allah becomes their Wali (Patron and Guardian), who “protects them and grants them from His immense Providence, and dislikes that any harm befalls them, even their death that He has prescribed and promised”. In another narration of this Hadith, Allah says that: “I will be the first to their aid and I will go into battle for them more fiercely than an angry lion”. The Prophet (SAW) said: "There are among the slaves of Allah who, if they swear by Allah, Allah fulfills their oath.” (al-Bukhari and Muslim)
إِنَّ مِنْ عِبَادِ اللَّهِ مَنْ لَوْ أَقْسَمَ عَلَى اللَّهِ لأَبَرَّهُ
What an enviable position to be in! May Allah, the Supreme, the Gracious, make us from among those whose hearts are clean and pure, from those who are His faithful and dedicated servants, and those who love Him, His Messenger (SAW), His book and His deen (al-Islam). May Allah bless us with soundness in our hearts and righteousness in our conduct, and may He, Glorified and Almighty, forgive us for our mistakes and bad actions and accept our good deeds. Ameen.
Next time: The hearts that are spiritually sick and dying - the causes and remedies, God willing.