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|Purification of the Heart|
|10/22/05 at 15:07:08|
|Purification of the Heart |
From the works of [i]Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali, Ibn al-Qayyim al-Jawziyya, and Imam al-Ghazali[/i]
Types of Hearts
Just as the heart may be described in terms of being alive or dead, it may also be regarded as belonging to one of three types; these are the healthy heart, the dead heart, and the sick heart.
The Healthy Heart
On the Day of Resurrection, only those who come to Allah with a healthy heart will be saved. Allah says: "The day on which neither wealth nor sons will be of any use, except for whoever brings to Allah a sound heart. (26:88-89)"
In defining the healthy heart, the following has been said: "It is a heart cleansed from any passion that challenges what Allah commands, or disputes what He forbids. 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 seeks the judgment of no other except that of His Messenger (s). 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 (s). Those who follow the Prophet (s) in observing his Sunnah and the Shari`ah are guides to those who had not met him (s).
A servant with a healthy heart must dedicate it to its journey's end and must not give precedence to any other faith or words or deeds over those of Allah and His Messenger, may Allah bless him and grant him peace and those who are rightly guided, keeping the Prophetic example. Allah says:
"Oh you who believe, do not put yourselves above Allah and His Messenger, but fear Allah, for Allah is Hearing, Knowing. (49:1)"
The Dead Heart
This is the opposite of the healthy heart. It does not know its Lord and does not worship Him as He commands, in the way which 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 loves and its hatreds, and its giving and its 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, fleeting pleasures.
It is called to Allah and the akhira from a distance but it does not respond to advice, and instead it follows any scheming, cunning shaytan. Life angers and pleases it, and passion makes it deaf and blind1 to anything except what 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.
The Sick Heart
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 and His Prophet (s) and the afterlife (akhira); 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.
The first heart is alive, submitted to Allah, humble, sensitive and aware; the second is brittle and dead; the third wavers between either its safety or its ruin.
Symptoms Of the Heart's Sickness and Signs of Its Health
"He it is Who sent down calmness and tranquillity into the hearts of the believers, that they may grow more in Faith along with their (present) Faith. And to Allah belong the hosts of the heavens and the earth, and Allah is Ever Al-Knower, All-Wise." The Holy Quran: 48:4
Four-Symptoms Of the Heart's Sickness and Signs of Its Health
The Signs of a Sick Heart
A servant's heart may be ill, and seriously deteriorating, while he remains oblivious of its condition. It may even die without him realising it. The symptoms of its sickness, or the signs of its death, are that its owner is not aware of the harm that results from the damage caused by wrong actions, and is unperturbed by his ignorance of the truth or by his false beliefs.
Since the living heart experiences pain as a result of any ugliness that it encounters and through its recognising its ignorance of the truth (to a degree that corresponds to its level of awareness), it is capable of recognising the onset of decay-and the increase in the severity of the remedy that will be needed to stop it-but then sometimes it prefers to put up with the pain rather than undergo the arduous trial of the cure!
Some of the many signs of the heart's sickness if its turning away from good foods to harmful ones, from good remedies to shameful sickness. The healthy heart prefers what is beneficial and healing to what is harmful and damaging; the sick heart prefers the opposite. The most beneficial sustenance for the heart is faith and the best medicine is the Qur'an.
The Signs of a Healthy Heart
For the heart to be healthy it should depart from this life and arrive in the next, and then settle there as if it were one of its people; it only came to this life as a passer-by, taking whatever provisions it needed and then returning home. As the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said to Abdullah ibn Umar, "Be in this world as if you were a stranger or a passer-by."2 The more diseased the heart is, the more it desires this world; it dwells in it until it becomes like one of its people.
The healthy heart continues to trouble its owner until he returns to Allah, and is at peace with Him, and reaches Him, like a lover driven by compulsion who finally reaches his beloved. Besides his love for Him he needs no other, and after invoking Him no other invocations are needed. Serving Him precludes the need to serve any other.
If this heart misses its share of reciting the Qur'an and invoking Allah (dhikrullah), or completing one of the prescribed acts of worship, then its owner suffers more distress than a cautious man who suffers because of the loss of money or a missed opportunity to make it. It longs to serve, just as a famished person longs for food and drink.
Yahya ibn Mu'adh said:
Whoever is pleased with serving Allah, everything will be pleased to serve him; and whoever finds pleasure in contemplating Allah, all the people will find pleasure in contemplating him.
This heart has only one concern: that all its actions, and its inner thoughts and utterances, are obedient to Allah. It is more careful with its time than the meanest people are with their money, so that it will not be spent wastefully. When it enters into the prayer, all its worldly worries and anxieties vanish and it finds its comfort and bliss in adoring its Lord. It does not cease to mention Allah, nor tire of serving Him, and it finds intimate company with no-one save a person who guides it to Allah and reminds it to Him.
Its attention to the correctness of its action is greater than its attention to the action itself. It is scrupulous in making sure that the intentions behind its actions are sincere and pure and that they result in good deeds.
As well as and in spite of all this, it not only testifies to the generosity of Allah in giving it the opportunity to carry out such actions, but also testifies to its own imperfection and shortcomings in executing them.
The Causes of Sickness of the Heart
The temptations to which the heart is exposed are what cause its sickness. These are the temptations of desires and fancies. The former cause intentions and the will to be corrupted, and the latter cause knowledge and belief to falter.
Hudhayfa ibn al-Yamani, may Allah be pleased with him, said:
The Messenger of Allah (s) said, "Temptations are presented to the heart, one by one. Any heart that accepts them will be left with a black stain, but any heart that rejects them will be left with a mark of purity, so that hearts are of two types: a dark heart that has turned away and become like an overturned vessel, and a pure heart that will never be harmed by temptation for as long as the earth and the heavens exist. The dark heart only recognises good and denounces evil when this suits its desires and whims.3
He, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, placed hearts, when exposed to temptation, into two categories:
First, a heart which, when it is exposed to temptation, absorbs it like a sponge that soaks up water, leaving a black stain in it. It continues to absorb each temptation that is offered to it until it is darkened and corrupted, which is what he meant by "like an overturned vessel". When this happens, two dangerous sicknesses take hold of it and plunge it into ruin:
The first is that of its confusing good with evil, to such an extent that it does not recognise the former and does not denounce the latter. This sickness may even gain hold of it to such an extent that it believes good to be evil and vice-versa, the Sunnah to be bida' and vice-versa, the truth to be false and falsity to be the truth.
The second is that of its setting up its desires as its judge, over and above what the Prophet (s) taught, so that it is enslaved and led by its whims and fancies.
Second, a pure heart which the light of faith is bright and from which its radiance shines. When temptation is presented to pure hearts such this, they oppose it and reject it, and so their light and illumination only increase.
1. It has been related on the authority of Abu'd-Darda' that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "Your love for something that makes you blind and deaf." Abu Daw'ud, al-Adab, 14/38; Ahmad, al-Musnad, 5/194. The hadith is classified as hasan.
2. Sahih Al-Bukhari, Kitab ar-Riqaq, 11/233.
3. Sahih Muslim, Kitab al-Iman, 2/170 (with different wording).
|Re: Purification of the Heart|
|10/30/05 at 17:30:33|
|The Purification of the Heart from Kibr (Pride) |
Imam Uthman dan Fodio Handbook on Islam, Iman, Ihsan 1978 by Diwan Press Translated by A`isha `Abd ar-Rahman at-Tarjumana
Pride is one of the blameworthy qualities and it is forbidden to have it. Allah ta`ala said: "I will turn away from My signs those who are arrogant in the earth without right." As far as its reality is concerned, you should know that pride is divided into inward and outward pride. Inward pride is a quality within the self, and outward pride is action which appears through the limbs. The name pride (kibr) is more appropriate for the inward quality. As for action, it is the result of that quality, and you must know that the quality of pride demands action.
When it appears on the limbs, it is called arrogance (takabbur), and when it does not manifest itself, it is called pride (kibr). Its root is the quality in the self which is satisfaction and confidence at seeing the self above anyone towards whom he is overbearing. Mere self-exaltation does not make someone arrogant. He might well exalt himself while seeing that another person is greater than him or his equal. In this case, he is not overbearing toward him. It is not enough merely to disdain others. In spite of his disdain, a person might see himself as more despicable and therefore, he would not be considered arrogant. If someone sees the other as his equal, he is not considered arrogant. He must see that he has a rank and someone else has a rank, and then see his rank as above the other's rank.
When he exalts his own value in relationship to someone else, he despises the one below him and puts himself above the other's company and confidence. If it is very extreme, he may spurn the other's service and not consider him worthy to stand in his presence. If it is less extreme, he may reject his basic equality, and put himself above this other in assemblies, wait for him to begin the greeting, think that it is unlikely that he will be able to fulfill his demands and be amazed at him. If he objects, the proud man scorns to answer him. If he warns him, he refuses to accept it. If he answers him back, he is angry.
When the proud man teaches, he is not courteous to his students. He looks down upon them and rebuffs them. He is very condescending toward them and exploits them. He looks at the common people as if he were looking at asses. He thinks that they are ignorant and despicable. There are many actions which come from the quality of pride. They are too many to be numbered. This is the reality of pride. The harm it does is immense. The 'ulama' can help you but little against it, let alone the common people. How could its harm be other than great when it comes between a man and all the qualities of the mu'minun? Those qualities are the doors to the Garden.
Pride locks all those doors because it is impossible for him to want for the mu'minun what he wants for himself while there is anything of self-importance in him. It is impossible for him to have humility - and humility is beginning of the qualities of those who guard themselves out of fear of Allah - while there is any self-importance in him. It is impossible for him to remain truthful while there is self-importance in him. It is impossible for him to abandon anger while there is self-importance in him. It is impossible for him to offer friendly good counsel while there is self importance in him. It is impossible for him to accept good counsel while there is self-importance in him. He is not safe from the contempt and slander of others while there is self-importance. There is no praiseworthy quality but he is incapable of it from the fear that his self-importance will slip away from him.
As far as its cure is concerned, there are two parts: the knowledge-cure and the action-cure. The remedy can only be effected by joining the two of them. The knowledge-cure is to know and recognize yourself and to know and recognize your Lord. That will be enough to remove your
Whoever knows and recognizes his own self as it should be known and recognized, knows that it is not worthy of greatness, and that true greatness and pride are only for Allah. As for gnosis of his Lord and His glory, it is too lengthy a subject for us to discuss here [...]. Self-recognition is also a lengthy subject. However, we will mention what will help you towards humility and submissiveness. It is enough for you to recognize one ayat of the Book of Allah. The knowledge of the first and the last is in the Qur'an for whoever has his inner eye open. Allah ta`ala said: "Perish man! How thankless he is! Of what did He create him? Of a sperm-drop. He created him, and determined him, and then made him the way easy for him. Then He makes him die, buries him, and then, when He wills, raises him." This ayat points to the beginning of man's creation, his end, and his middle. Let a man look at that if he desires to understand its meaning. As for the beginning of man, he was "a thing unremembered". He was concealed in non-existence. Non-existence has no beginning. What is lower and meaner than obliteration and non-existence? He was in non-existence. Then Allah created him from the basest of things, and then from the most unclean thing. He created him from earth and then from a sperm-drop, thena blood-clot, then a lump of flesh. Then He made the flesh bones, and then clothes the bones in flesh. This was the beginning of his existence and then he became a thing remembered.
He was a thing unremembered by reason of having he lowest of qualities and attributes since at his beginning, he was not created perfect. he was created inanimate, dead. He neither heard, saw, felt, moved, spoke, touched, perceived, or knew. He began by his death before his life, by weakness before his strength, by ignorance before knowledge, by blindness before sight, by deafness before hearing, by dumbness before speech, by misguidance before guidance, by poverty before wealth, and by incapacity before capacity. This is the meaning of His word, "From what did He create him? And determined him," and the meaning of His word, "Has there come upon a man a period of time when he was a thing unremembered? We created him of a sperm-drop, a mingling, trying him. We made him hearing, seeing. We guided him upon the way, whether he is thankful or unthankful." He created him like that at the beginning. Then He was gracious to him and said, "We made the way easy for him." This indicates what He wills for him during the period from life to death.
Similarly, He said, "of a sperm-drop, a mingling, trying him. We made him hearing, seeing. We guided him on the way." The meaning here is that He gave him life after he was inanimate and dead - first from the earth, and then from a sperm-drop. He gave him hearing after he was deaf and He gave him sight after he lacked sight. He gave him strength after weakness and knowledge after ignorance. He created his limbs for him with all they contain of marvels and signs after he lacked them. He enriched them after poverty, made him full after hunger, clothed him after nakedness, and guided him after misguidance. Look how He directed him and formed him. Look at how He made the way easy for him. Look at man's overstepping and at how thankless he is. Look at man's ignorance and how he shows it. Allah ta`ala said, "Part of His sign is that He created you from earth." He created man from humble earth and unclean sperm after pure non-existence so that he would recognize the baseness of his essence and thereby recognize himself. He perfected the sperm-drop for him so that he would recognize his Lord by it and know His immensity and majesty by it, and that He is the only one worthy of true greatness and pride.
For that reason, He described him and said, "Have We not given him two eyes and a tongue and two lips, and guided him on the two roads?" He first acquainted him with his baseness and said, "Was he not a sperm-drop extracted? Then he was a blood-clot. Then He mentioned His favour and said, "He created and fashioned and made a pair from it, male and female," in order to perpetuate his existence by reproduction as his existence was acquired in the beginning by original formation. When you begin in this manner and your states are like this, how can you have arrogance, pride, glory, and conceit? Properly speaking, man is the lowest of the low and the weakest of the weak. Indeed, even if He had perfecteed him, delegated his command to him and made his existence go on by his own choice, he would still dare to be insolent and would forget his beginning and his end.
However, during your existence, He has given illnesses power over you, whether you like it or not, and whether you are content or enraged. You become hungry and thirsty without being able to do anything about it. You do not possess any power to bring either harm or benefit. You ant to know something but you remain ignorant of it. You want to remember something and yet you forget it. You want to not forget something and yet you do forget it. You want to direct your heart to waht concerns it and yet you are caught up in the valleys of whispersings and thoughts. You own neither your heart nor your self. You desire something while your destruction may be in it, and you detest something while your life may be in it. You find some foods delicious when they destroy and kill you, and you find remedies repugnant when they help you and save you. You are not safe for a moment, day or night. Your sight, knowledge, and power may be stripped away, your limbs may become semi-paralysed, your intellect may be stolen away, your ruh may be snatched away, and all that you love in this world may be taken from you. You are hard-pressed, abased. If you are left alone, you go on.
If you are snatched away, you are annihilated. A mere slave. A chattel. You have no power over yourself or anyone else. What can be more abased? If you recognize yourself, how can you think yourself worthy of pride? If it were not for your ignorance - and this is your immediate state - you would reflect on it. Your end is death. It is indicated by His word, "Then He makes him die and buries him. Then, when He wills, He raises him." The meaning here is that your ruh, hearing, sight, knowledge, power, senses, perception, and movement are all stripped away.
You revert to the inanimate as you were in the first place. Only the shape of your limbs remains. Your form has neither senses nor movement. Then you are placed in the earth and your limbs decay. You become absent after you existed. You become as if you were not, as you were at first for a long period of time. Then a man wishes that he could remain like that. How excellent it would be if he were left as dust! However, after a long time, He brings him back to life to subject him to a severe trial. He comes out of his grave after his separated parts are joined together, and he steps out to the terrors of the Rising. He is told, "Come quickly to the Reckoning and prepare for the Outcome!"
His heart stops in fear and panic when he is faced with the terror of these words even before his pages are spread out and he sees his shameful actions in them. This is the end of his affair. It is the meaning of His word, "Then when He wishes, He raises him." How can anyone whose state this is be arrogant? A moment of freedom from grief is better than arrogance. He has shown the beginning and the middle of his condition. If his end had appeared to him - and we seek refuge from Allah - perhaps he would have chosen to be a dog or a pig in order to become dust with the animals rather than a hearing, speaking man, and meet with punishment (if he deserves the Fire).
When he is in the presence of Allah then even the pig is nobler than him since it reverts to dust and it is spared from the Reckoning and the punishment. Someone with this state at the Rising can only hope for pardon, and he cannot be at all certain about it. How then can he be arrogant? How can he see himself as anything to which excellence is attached? This is the knowledge-cure. As far as the action-cure is concerned, it is to humble yourself to people in a constrained unnatural manner until it becomes natural for you.
|10/30/05 at 17:31:08|
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