Purification of the Heart

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.

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