The Spiritual Heart: its dimensions, states, maltreatment, and remedies

All praises belong to Allah. May His peace and blessings be upon Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), his brethren among the Prophets and Messengers, his pure family members, his loyal companions and all of those who follow his way.

Often when we have something precious, we try to safeguard it and not let it be maltreated. Similarly, Allah has blessed every single human with a precious gift, which is the spiritual heart, or as He calls it in the Quran “qalb”. Just as physical heart that plays a vital role in the functionality of the body, so does the qalb.Its state may affect immensely one’s metaphysical existence. Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) stated in a hadith reported by his companion, Nu’man bin Bashir (r.a.),

عَنْ أَبِي عَبْدِ اللَّهِ النُّعْمَانِ بْنِ بَشِيرٍ رَضِيَ اللَّهُ عَنْهُمَا، قَالَ: سَمِعْت رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم يَقُولُ:

أَلَا وَإِنَّ فِي الْجَسَدِ مُضْغَةً إذَا صَلَحَتْ صَلَحَ الْجَسَدُ كُلُّهُ، وَإذَا فَسَدَتْ فَسَدَ الْجَسَدُ كُلُّهُ، أَلَا وَهِيَ الْقَلْبُ.

Truly in the body there is a morsel of flesh, which, if it is sound, the whole body is sound, and when, it is corrupted, the whole body is corrupted. Truly, it is the heart.(narrated by Bukhari and Muslim)

A sound heart will allow the individual to appreciate and perceive God’s given valuable gifts in this world and achieve various rewards in the Hereafter. Nevertheless, when the heart is corrupted, it will have a negative impact on all of the human’s body limbs. As a result, the person won’t be able to taste the sweetness of faith, nor attain God’s pleasure.

Dimensions of the heart

The Arabic language is the richest language in terms of words. There may be multiple words describing the same thing that are in different states and conditions. For example: The word basil describes a ferocious lion who is the first to attack in a combat.For the same animal there is the word abbas, which stands for a lion who is the meanest, the proudest and feared by everyone. In the same manner there are many other terms denoting to the animal lion. In the Qur’an, the spiritual heart is portrayed in three distinctive dimensions: fuad, qalb and sadr.

1. Fuad

The word fuadis used to describe a heart that is in a state of agony, distress, or positive enthusiasm. It comes from the Arabic word fa’ada, which stands for burning. It can be said that the heart too when described as fuad, it means a heart which is in flames. During these instants, a person can often accomplish something really good or something really bad. When one is spiritually enthusiastic, the person can adhere to compassion, gentleness forgiveness, or even achieve something productive that no one else has achieved before. When the heart is engulfed with agony or distress, then the person may adhere to anger, jealousy and hatred. Allah says in the Qur’an:

وَلَا تَقْفُ مَا لَيْسَ لَكَ بِهِ عِلْمٌ إِنَّ ٱلسَّمْعَ وَٱلْبَصَرَ وَٱلْفُؤَادَ كُلُّ أُولَئِكَ كَانَ عَنْهُ مَسْـُٔولاً

“And do not pursue that of which you have no knowledge. Indeed, the hearing, the sight and the heart – about all those [one] will be questioned. Q. (17-36)

2. Qalb

The word qalbis also used in numerous places in the Quran and hadith. This word can be used also as a verb, qallaba,which stands for an alteration of something from one particular state to another. The heart too can alternate from one state to another. However, in the Quran the word qalbhas a good connotation. It represents the true tranquil core of the heart itself. None can have direct access to it except the individual who possesses it, or the Creator Himself. Allah mentions in the Quran,

إِنَّ فِي ذَلِكَ لَذِكْرَى لِمَن كَانَ لَهُ قَلْبٌ أَوْ أَلْقَى السَّمْعَ وَهُوَ شَهِيدٌ

“Indeed, in that is a reminder for whoever has a heart or who listens while he is present [in mind].” Q (50:37).

Qalbis generally linked to the natural inclination (fitrah). Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) used to pray to God by saying,

يَا مُقَلِّبَ القُلُوبِ ثَبِّتْ قُلُوبَنَا عَلَى دِيْنِكَ،

O You who can change the heart, make my heart steadfast in Your religion.

3. Sadr

The third word referring to the spiritual heart is called sadr, which literally means chest. Also, in the English language when people mention chest, they are often referring to the heart. For example, they would use the expression, “I want to get it out of my chest” meaning: I have something in my heart, and I would like to express it outload. The difference between the qalband the sadris that qalbcontains the individual’s secrets of believe, including the experiences with the divine and the devil is unable to penetrate through it. As for the chest, it is the place which safeguards the heart, just as the treasury chest protects the valuables inside of it. The devil can whisper to the sadrbut not to the qalb. Allah, the Almighty says in the Qur’an:

ٱلَّذِى يُوَسْوِسُ فِى صُدُورِ ٱلنَّاسِ

The one who whispers [evil] into the breasts of mankind. Q. (114:5)

Some scholarsalso recognize the fact that there is another dimension of the heart called al- Lubb. This is the intelligence part of the heart which stands above the distinctive rationality of our brain. It is the place where God-given unpolluted wisdom is originated from. In the Quran, people who possess such a quality are called, “people of the inward intellect” (ulu albab).

States of the heart

According to the book “Purification of the Soul” written by Imam Ibn Rajab, Imam Ghazali and Imam Ibn al-Qayyim, the heart has three eminent states: the healthy heart, the dead and the sick one.

1. The healthy heart

Imams define it as a heart that is cleansed from any passion that challenges what Allah commands, or disputes what He forbids. It goes hand to hand with the Qur’an and the hadiths of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). It is free from any impulses which contradict His good. As a result, it is safeguarded against the worship of anything other than Him and seek the judgement of no other except that of His Messenger. Its services are exclusively reserved for Allah, willingly and lovingly, with total reliance, relating all matters to Him, in fear, hope and sincere dedication. When it loves, its love is in the way of Allah. If it detests, it detests in the light of what He detests. When it gives, it gives for Allah. If it withholds, it withholds for Allah. Nevertheless, all this will not suffice for its salvation, until it is free from following or taking as its guide, anyone other than His Messenger. In the Quran it states,

يَوْمَ لَا يَنفَعُ مَالٌ وَلَا بَنُونَ. إِلاَّ مَنْ أَتَى اللَّهَ بِقَلْبٍ سَلِيمٍ.

The Day when there will not benefit [anyone] wealth or children. But only one who comes to Allah with a sound heart.” Q (26:88-89)

Sufis describe the Messenger of Allah as the sun that brings light to earth. The saints (awliya’) and anyone who possesses a sound heart is described as the moon, which reflects the light of the sun.

2. The dead heart

Imams mention in regard to the dead heart that it is a heart which does not know its Lord and does not worship as He commands in the way He likes, and with which He is pleased. It clings instead to its lusts and desires, even if these are likely to incur Allah’s displeasure and wrath. It worships things other than Allah, and its love, hate, and withholding, arise from its whims, which are of paramount importance to it and preferred above the pleasure of Allah. Its whims are its imam. Its lust is its guide. Its ignorance is its leader. Its crude impulses are its impetus. It is immersed in its concern with worldly objectives. It is drunk with its own fancies and its love for hasty and fleeting pleasures. It is called to Allah and the Hereafter from a distance, but it does respond to advice, and instead it follows any scheming, cunning Satan. Life angers and pleases it, and passion makes it deaf and blind to anything except what it is evil. To associate and keep company with the owner of such a heart is to tempt illness: living with him is like taking poison and befriending him means utter destruction.

3. The sick heart

A sick heart means there is always a chance for it to get better. However, it is between dead and healthy. Imams mention that this is a heart with life in it, as well as illness. The former sustains it at one moment, the latter at another, and it follows whichever one of the two manages to dominate it. It has love for Allah, faith in Him, sincerity towards Him, and reliance upon Him, and these are what give it life. It also has a craving for lust and pleasure, and prefers them, and strives to experience them. It is full of self-admiration, which can lead to its own destruction. It listens to two callers: one calling it to Allah, His Prophet (pbuh) and the Hereafter; and the other calling it to the fleeting pleasures of this world. It responds to whichever one of the two happens to have most influence over it at the time.

Poisons of the heart

Our spiritual heart can be poisoned by internal and external factors. An internal factor which is full of whims and yearnings for the materialistic world (dunya) is the soul (nafs). This inner subtlety can alternate our heart from one state to another. Devil is another external factor which can affect the state of our heart as well. If the heart is sick, it requires an immediate attention to curing it first and then looking for preventative care in the future. It would be absurd to look for preventative care first and then cure later. In the same way, the believer must recognize the internal and external factors that are causing sickness to the spiritual heart and later look for ways on how to maintain heart’s purity. True repentance from sins and substituting a bad deed with a good one can be cures for the heart. Allah says in the Quran,

وَأَقِمِ ٱلصَّلَوٰةَ طَرَفَىِ ٱلنَّهَارِ وَزُلَفًۭا مِّنَ ٱلَّيْلِ ۚ إِنَّ ٱلْحَسَنَٰتِ يُذْهِبْنَ ٱلسَّيِّـَٔاتِ ۚ ذَٰلِكَ ذِكْرَىٰ لِلذَّٰكِرِين

And establish prayer at the two ends of the day and at the approach of the night. Indeed, good deeds do away with misdeeds. That is a reminder for those who remember.”Q (11:114).

Although there are many poisons that can cause sickness to the spiritual heart, Imams, in the book Purification of the Soul summarized those great poisons in four: Unnecessary talking, unrestrained glances, eating excessively and keeping bad company.

1. Unnecessary talk

Islam encourages people to talk when necessary. Unnecessary talk can lead to exaggeration, lies, backbiting, waste of time, etc. It is reported in the ‘Musnad’ of Imam Ahmad (ra), on the authority of Anas (ra) that Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said:

لَا يَسْتَقِيمُ إيْمَانُ عَبْدٍ حَتَّى يَسْتَقِيمَ قَلْبَهُ وَلَا يَسْتَقِيمُ قَلبُهُ حَتَّى يَسْتَقِيمَ لِسَانَهُ

“The faith of a servant is not put right until his heart is put right, and his heart is not put right until his tongue is put right.”

In this hadith, Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) linked the function of the tongue with servant’s faith. A person will not have a good faith until he/she possesses control over the tongue. It demonstrates in a way that controlling the tongue can lead to heart refinement, just as heart refinement leads to faith uprightness.

Beside unnecessary talk, Islam also favors the individual to integrate in conversations in which there is the mentioning of God. In a hadith narrated by Abdullah ibn Umar (ra), the blessed Messenger of God (pbuh) stated,

لَا تُكْثِرُوا الْكَلَامَ بِغَيْرِ ذِكْرِ اللَّهِ فَإِنَّ كَثْرَةَ الْكَلَامِ بِغَيْرِ ذِكْرِ اللَّهِ قَسْوَةٌعَنِ ابْنِ عُمَرَ قَالَ: قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ: لِلْقَلْبِ، وَإِنَّ أَبْعَدَ النَّاسِ مِنَ اللَّهِ الْقَلْبُ الْقَاسِي

“Do not talk excessively without remembering Allah, because excessive talk without the mention of Allah causes the heart to harden, and the person furthest from Allah is a person with a hard heart.” (reported by Imam al-Tirmidhi)

Nowadays, people rarely make mentioning of God in their conversations. In some settings it reaches the point where people who often mentioned God, or incorporate religious words in their discussions with others, are looked down upon.

A way to avoid unnecessary talk is simply to remain silent. When a person remains silent, it helps in making the person of someone who thinks more precisely and also make the person a better listener.Abu Hurairah (r.a) relates that the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said:

مَن كَانَ يُؤمِنُ بِاللَّهِ فَلْيَقُلْ خيرًا أوْ لِيَصْمُتْ

Let whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day either speak good or remain silent.

Controlling the tongue is mandated from the individual in order to live a righteous life in this world and receive the ultimate blessings in the Hereafter; otherwise, it can be disastrous for his/her spirituality.One day, Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) approached his companion Mu’adh ibn Jabal (r.a) and said:“Shall I not tell you how to control all that?” I said, “Yes do, O Messenger of Allah.” So, he held his tongue between his fingers, and then he said: “Restrain this.” I said, O Prophet of Allah, are we accountable for what we say?” He said, “May your mother be bereft by your loss! Is there anything more than the harvest of the tongues that throws people on their faces (or he said on their noses) into the Fire?

A person who talks needlessly, talks a lot; therefore, he/she won’t be able to taste the insight from the wise people. In a gathering, the needlessly talking person can be the reason to prevent hi/herself and others from acquiring knowledge. As a result, people around will not be able to relate their important ideas, nor will they learn something new from each other. Al-Hassan (ra) said:“Whoever does not hold his tongue cannot understand his faith.

An individual who is often engaged in unnecessary talk and preoccupied with matters that do not concern him/her is a sign of God’s abandonment of that person. The companion of the Messenger of God, Abu Ubaida related that Prophet’s grandson, al-Hassan (r.a) said,

وَرَوَى أَبُوعُبَيْدَةَ عَنِ الْحَسَنِ قَالَ: مِنْعَلَامَةِإِعْرَاضِاللَّهِتَعَالَى،عَنِالْعَبْدِأَنْيَجْعَلَشُغْلَهُفِيمَالَايَعْنِيهِ

“One of the signs of Allah’s abandoning a servant is His making him preoccupied with what does not concern him.”

One who is abandoned from God, has a serious problem, for all humans need God’s mercy, forgiveness, blessings, etc. Without them we can be more prone to evil and won’t be able to live a tranquil life.

In the category of unnecessary talk there can be other treacherous behaviors that are associated to talking. Some of them can be far worse than others. Imams list the following treacherous behaviors that are associated to talking. They are: backbiting, slandering, obscene and misleading talk, two-faced and hypocritical talk, showing off, quarrelling, bickering, singing, lying, mockery, decision and falsehood; and there are many more faults which can affect a servant’s tongue, ruining his faults and causing him to lose both his happiness and pleasure in this life, and his success and profit in the next life.

In order for one to be absolved from the unnecessary talk, one must analyze his/her conversations constantly. As a result of this analysis or self-reflection the person will be able to see what really is essential and important to be incorporated in the future conversations and what is not. The reflections of a teacher who guides others spiritually (murshid) or someone wise and honest can help immensely through their feedback.

2. Unrestrained gaze

Some scholars say that there is no barrier between the gaze and the heart. Looking at something good, it pleases his heart simultaneously. On the contrary, looking at something bad or prohibited, it poisons the heart. Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) stated in a hadith narrated by Hudhayfah (ra),

عَنْ حُذَيفَةَ رضي الله عنه أنه قَال: قَالَ عَلَيهِ الصَّلَاة ُوالسَّلَام

النَّظْرَة سَهْمٌ مَسْمُوْمٌ مِنْ سِهَامِ إبْلِيس، مَنْ تَرَكَهَا مِنْ خَوْفِ اللهِ تَعَالَى، أثَابَهُ اللهُ إيْمَاناً يَجِد حَلَاوتَهُ فِي قَلْبِهِ

“The glance is a poisoned arrow of Satan. Whoever lowers his gaze for Allah, He will bestow upon him a refreshing sweetness of faith which he will find in his heart on the day that he meets Him.” (reported by at-Tabarani, al-Hakim and Ahmad ibn Hanbal)

The beloved Prophet (pbuh) compared the evil glance to a poisoned arrow. If a person gets hit by an arrow, chances are that he may or may not survive. However, if a poisoned arrow hits the person, the damage could very well be devastating. Therefore, lowering the gaze is an immense struggle with the self (nafs): nonetheless, the ultimate reward that could be given to the struggling person is the sweetness of faith.

Satan implores the unrestrained glances to enter the human mind and whisper in his/her heart. In the book The Purification of the Soul, it states, “He (Satan) makes what is seen appear more beautiful than it really is and transforms it into an idol for the heart to worship. Satan creates an illusionary image in the heart and the person’s heart gets connected with it, thus impairing the functionality of the heart. Then he promises it false rewards, lights the fire of desires within it, and fuels it with the wood of forbidden actions, which the servant would not have committed had it not been for this distorted image.” This can be further elaborated with an example from the Quran. In surah Yusuf, Allah describes the moment when the wife of Aziz (the government official) requested from Prophet Yusuf (pbuh) to commit with her adultery, to which he expressed his undesirability. In the Quran it says,

وَرَاوَدَتْهُ الَّتِي هُوَ فِي بَيْتِهَا عَن نَّفْسِهِ وَغَلَّقَتِ الْأَبْوَابَ وَقَالَتْ هَيْتَ لَكَ قَالَ مَعَاذَ اللَّهِ إِنَّهُ رَبِّي أَحْسَنَ مَثْوَايَ إِنَّهُ لَا يُفْلِحُ الظَّالِمُونَ

And she, in whose house he was, sought to seduce him. She closed the doors and said, “Come, you.” He said, “[I seek] the refuge of Allah. Indeed, he is my master, who has made good my residence. Indeed, wrongdoers will not succeed. Q. (12:23)

Scholars of tafsirmention that when Aziz’s wife, Zulaykha asked Prophet Yusuf (pbuh) to commit adultery with her, Allah exposed to him the horrendous reality of fornication which made Prophet Yusuf (pbuh) abstain from committing it. Many people fall for acts that are forbidden because they are not determined, and their faith is weak. In such circumstances, Satan creates a distorted image of the sin and makes it attractive to people, so they can indulge themselves into it. This poison makes the person forget the more important concerns. It stands between it and them; and so, the heart loses its straight path and falls into the pit of desire and ignorance. Allah, the Almighty warns people in the Quran by saying,

وَاصْبِرْ نَفْسَكَ مَعَ الَّذِينَ يَدْعُونَ رَبَّهُم بِالْغَدَاةِ وَالْعَشِيِّ يُرِيدُونَ وَجْهَهُ ۖوَلَا تَعْدُ عَيْنَاكَ عَنْهُمْ تُرِيدُ زِينَةَ الْحَيَاةِ الدُّنْيَا وَلَا تُطِعْ مَنْ أَغْفَلْنَا قَلْبَهُ عَن ذِكْرِنَا وَاتَّبَعَ هَوَاهُ وَكَانَ أَمْرُهُ فُرُطًا

And keep yourself patient [by being] with those who call upon their Lord in the morning and the evening, seeking His countenance. And let not your eyes pass beyond them, desiring adornments of the worldly life, and do not obey one whose heart We have made heedless of Our remembrance and who follows his desire and whose affair is ever [in] neglect.Q. (18:28)

A righteous man once said: “Whoever enriches his outward behavior by following the Sunnah, and makes his inward soul wealthy by contemplation, and averts his gaze away from looking at what is forbidden, and avoids anything of a doubtful nature, and feeds solely on what is halal (permissible), his inner sight will never falter.”

3. Eating excessively

Some may ask; how is eating excessively harmful to one’s spiritual heart? The human nature is created in a such a way that when physical satisfaction in a body is increased, the spiritual heart is weakened. Often, after eating a heavy meal, people look to find a couch, so they can relax, lay down, or even sleep. Carrying out important tasks would not be in their agenda for the moment, let alone becoming spiritually motivated. Ibrahim ibn Adham who was among the great saints said: “Anyone who controls his stomach is in control of his religion, and anyone who controls his hunger is in control of good behavior. Disobedience towards Allah is nearest to a person who is satiated with a full stomach, and furthest away from a person who is hungry”.

Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) used to eat small portions of food and would instruct his followers to fill no more than one third of their stomachs with food and leave the remaining one thirds for drink and the rest for air. Doing so, guarantees tenderness of the heart, strengthens the intellect, increases humility, weakness the whims, and reduces the temperament. Excessive eating brings about the opposite of these praiseworthy qualities. In a hadith reported by Prophet’s contemporary, Al-Miqdam ibn Ma’d Yakrib (ra), it is mentioned that he heard the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) say:“The son of Adam fills no vessel more displeasing to Allah than his stomach. A few morsels should be enough for him to preserve his strength. If he must fill it, then he should allow a third for his food, a third for his drink and leave a third empty for easy breathing.”(Narrated by Ahmad ibn Hanbal and at-Tirmidhi)

4. Keeping bad company

It is in the human nature to socialize among ourselves, whether thrugh conversations, spending time with each other, or even sharing ideas. In the book, The Purifacation of the Soulit mentions that one must divide people around him/her into four categories and be careful not to get them mixed up.

a) The first category includes those whose company is like food. You need to be in their company often. These are people equipped with knowledge of Allah (ma’rifat allah) and His commands. They are the good practicing believers. Being in their company is a true blessing: however, the sad reality is that people tend to stay away from such people.

b) The second category includes those whose company is like a medicine. They are only required when a disease sets in. For example, when one is confused and would like to be consulted or guided, he/she would call the qualified person who will be able to consult or guide the individual, and not someone who is unwise, nor lost.

c) The third category are those people whose company is harmful. Socializing with these people would bring a devastation to the individual’s life and have a negative impact on his/her Hereafter. Amongst such people are those who neither speak any good that might benefit you, nor listen closely to you so that they might benefit from you. Often, you may not escape them because they can be your relatives, or coworkers. If that’s the case, one is recommended to keep a distance and be patient when around them.

d) The fourth category are those people whose company is a disaster itself. It is like taking poison: its victim either finds an antidote or perishes. People of this category are those who are misguided, have abandoned the Islamic practices, and may as well promote the values of different believes. These individuals should be avoided at any cost.

Heart Remedies

There are many ways to cure a heart that is ill from spiritual deceases like; arrogance, envy, heedlessness, etc. Nonetheless, before mentioning the remedies would be important to mention the prevention from those deceases. Just as in medicine, prevention from decease avoids sufferings, medications and treatments, similarly, a constant remembrance of God(dhikr) prevents a person from falling into spiritual deceases. In the Quran it is mentioned,

الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَتَطْمَئِنُّ قُلُوبُهُم بِذِكْرِ اللَّهِ أَلَا بِذِكْرِ اللَّهِ تَطْمَئِنُّ الْقُلُوبُ

Those who have believed and whose hearts are assured by the remembrance of Allah. Unquestionably, by the remembrance of Allah hearts are assured.”Q. (13:28)

How does dhikrprevent one from experiencing spiritual deceases? During the time the believer is engaged in dhikr, he/she is in reality connected to God. For as long as one remains constantly connected to God, He will free the person from the internal or external spiritual harms. However, this requires for dhikrnot be performed only as a formal ritual, but sincerity and attentiveness should also be incorporated in it. In the book, The Purification of the Soul, imams mention the following practices to cleanse the heart:

1. Recitation of the Qur’an (qira’at al-Quran),

According to prophetic narrations and verses of the Quran, the person who recites its verses or its chapters (suwar) will find peace, cure and guidance. Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) recommended his followers to recite as much as they can, especially during particular times during the day and night. In the Quran it says,

يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ قَدْ جَاءَتْكُم مَّوْعِظَةٌ مِّن رَّبِّكُمْ وَشِفَاءٌ لِّمَا فِي الصُّدُورِ وَهُدًى وَرَحْمَةٌ لِّلْمُؤْمِنِينَ

“O mankind, there has to come to you instruction from your Lord and healing for what is in the breasts and guidance and mercy for the believers.” Q (10:57).

2. Seek forgiveness from Allah (istighfar),

Many think that sins have harmful consequences in the Hereafter, and forget about their impact in this world. Sins can certainly cause harm to one’s spiritual heart. Seeking forgiveness would be the first step towards its purifications. Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) mentioned in a hadith which is reported by Abu Huraryah (ra),

عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ عَنْ رَسُولِ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ قَالَ إِنَّ الْعَبْدَ إِذَا أَخْطَأَ خَطِيئَةً نُكِتَتْ فِي قَلْبِهِ نُكْتَةٌ سَوْدَاءُ فَإِذَا هُوَ نَزَعَ وَاسْتَغْفَرَ وَتَابَ سُقِلَ قَلْبُهُ وَإِنْ عَادَ زِيدَ فِيهَا حَتَّى تَعْلُوَ قَلْبَهُ وَهُوَ الرَّانُ الَّذِي ذَكَرَ اللَّهُ كَلَّا بَلْ رَانَ عَلَى قُلُوبِهِمْ مَا كَانُوا يَكْسِبُونَ

Verily, when the servant commits a sin a black spot appears upon his heart. If he abandons the sin, seeks forgiveness, and repents, then his heart will be polished. If he returns to the sin, the blackness will be increased until it overcomes his heart. It is the covering that Allah has mentioned: No, but on their hearts is a covering because of what they have earned.” (Narrated by al-Tirmidhi)

3. Supplicate to Him (dua),

Supplication to God can result in fulfillment of requests. One of the supplications that a person may make, it can be for his/her heart or soul purification. Allah is the One who created everything, including our hearts, spirit and souls, therefore; He would be the most Proficient to assist the believers in their internal purification. The companion of the Messenger of God, Zayd bin Arqam (ra) reported that among the supplications Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was,

اللَّهُمَّ آتِ نَفْسِي تَقْوَاهَا وَزَكِّهَا أَنْتَ خَيْرُ مَنْ زَكَّاهَا، أَنْتَ وَلِيُّهَا وَمَوْلَاهَا

“O Allah! Grant me the sense of piety and purify my soul as You are the Best to purify it. You are its Guardian and its Protecting Friend.” (Muslim)

4. Invoke blessings upon Prophet Muhammad (salawat)

Invoking blessings upon Prophet Muhammad (salawat) can be said anytime, through which the believer can attain heart purification, spiritual closeness to the Messenger of God and many more blessings. Every believer should invoke salawaton daily basis as much as possible. In a hadith it is reported that Ubayy ibn Ka’b (ra) said,

وعن أَبي بن كعبٍ رضي اللَّهُ عنه: كانَ رَسولُ اللَّهِ صَلّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وسَلَّم إِذا ذَهَبَ ثُلثُ اللَّيْلِ، قامَ فقالَ: “يَا أَيها النَّاسُ اذْكُرُوا اللَّه جَاءَتِ الرَاجِفَةُ تَتْبَعُهُا الرَّادِفَةُ، جاءَ المَوْتُ بِمَا فِيهِ، جاءَ المَوْتُ بِمَا فِيهِ”قلتُ: يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ إنِّي أكْثِرُ الصَّلاةَ عَلَيْكَ، فَكَمْ أَجْعَلُ لكَ مِن صَلاتي؟ قال:”مَا شِئْتَ”قُلْتُ الرُّبُعَ؟ قَالَ:”مَا شئْتَ، فَإِنْ زِدتَ فَهُوَ خَيْرٌ لكَ”قُلُتُ: فَالنِّصْفَ؟ قالَ”مَا شِئْتَ، فإِنْ زِدْتَ فَهُوَ خَيرٌ لكَ”قُلْتُ: فَالثلثَينِ؟ قالَ:”مَا شِئْتَ، فإِنْ زِدْتَ فَهُوَ خَيرٌ لكَ”قُلْتُ: أَجْعَلُ لكَ صَلاتي كُلَّها؟ قَالَ: إذاً تُكْفي هَمَّكَ، ويُغُفَرُ لكَ ذَنْبُكَ”

“When two-thirds of the night had passed, the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) would say: “O people, remember Allah. The first Trumpet is about to sound and will soon be followed by the second; death has come with all that it entails, death has come with all that it entails.” Ubayy said: I said: O Messenger of Allah, I supplicate for blessings upon you a great deal; how much of my supplication should be for you? He said: “Whatever you wish.”

I said: One quarter? He said: “Whatever you wish, and if you do more it is better for you.”

I said: Half? He said: “Whatever you wish, and if you do more it is better for you.”

I said: Two thirds? He said: “Whatever you wish, and if you do more it is better for you.”

I said: Should I make all my supplication for you? He said: “Then your concerns will be taken care of and your sins will be forgiven.” (Narrated by al-Tirmidhi)

5. Performing the night prayers (tahajjud)

Performing the extra night prayers is a prophetic tradition (sunnat) our beloved Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) who used to perform it regularly. This practice requires one to leave the bed when others are sleeping and dedicate some time for God alone. This is a genuine sign of sincerity, and sincerity beautifies the heart and the character of the individual. In the Quran states,

وَمِنَ اللَّيْلِ فَتَهَجَّدْ بِهِ نَافِلَةً لَّكَ عَسَى أَن يَبْعَثَكَ رَبُّكَ مَقَامًا مَّحْمُودًا

And from [part of] the night, pray with it as additional [worship] for you; it is expected that your Lord will resurrect you to a praised station.” Q (17:79).

Our Lord! We ask you humbly to guide and purify our hearts for as long as we live in this world and bring us to You in the Hereafter with a sound heart! Amin.

(Friday Sermons delivered by Imam Didmar Faja
on June 29th, July 6thand 13th, 2018 at UICA)