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Tazkiyyah series Part 12: So what is a sound heart?

When speaking of tazkiyyah (purification of the heart), know that it’s not a state, it’s an ongoing process. Just as we clean our body daily and dirt gathers, similarly the heart needs to be polished regularly.

The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Verily, when the servant commits a sin, a black mark 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, rather a covering is over their hearts from what they have earned.” (83:14) Sunan al-Tirmidhī 3334

Polish it with obligatory worship followed up with sunnah and nawaafil which you are most inclined to – Imam Malik (RA) said “God has opened up for his servants doors of goodness: for some He opens doors of fasting; for others He opens up doors of charity; others doors of Knowledge and teaching, others doors of abstinence and contentment. And I am pleased with what God has opened up for me in educating people.”

Qalbun Saleem refers to a “sound heart” which the early generations of Companions and Tabi’een would describe the characteristics of a sound heart as:
1. Sincerity: Abdullah bin Abbas, Mujaahid, Qataadah, Ibn Sireen and many others (R.A.A.) are of the opinion that Qalb-e-Saleem is a heart that is absolutely free from Kufr (disbelief) and Nifaaq (hypocrisy).
2. Purity: It is heart that is free from Kibr (pride), Hasad (jealousy), Shuh nafs (greed) and Hiqd (hatred).
3. It is the heart which, due to extreme love for Allah and His Rasool ﷺ , leads to total obedience to Allah and his Rasool ﷺ
4. It is the heart which, due to extreme awe and fear for Allah, is like the heart of a person who has just been bitten by a scorpion. (Qurtubi)

The ultimate sickness and it’s cure

The root of all diseases of the heart is love of the Dunya and it’s soundness is in loving Allah (SWT). The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Renounce the worldly life and Allah will love you. As for people, leave this to them and they will love you.” Ḥilyat al-Awliyā’ 8/41

Beware the danger of preferring the dunya for it negates one’s shahada as the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “The declaration of ‘there is no God but Allah’ protects the servants from the displeasure of Allah as long as they do not prefer the promise of their worldly life over their religion, for if they prefer the promise of their worldly life over their religion and then say, ‘There is no God but Allah,’ it will be rejected from them, and Allah Almighty will say, ‘You have lied!’” Musnad Abī Ya’lá 4034

Love of Allah

The heart is an organ of love and the believer is the one who can exclusively focus that love on Allah SWT with Tawhid, and avoid this being overtaken by love of the dunya, their desires or any other object.

Love is the greatest station the seeker on the path to Allah (subḥānahū wa taʿālā) can attain. The love of Allah is the purest and greatest of all loves. It gives life to the heart, it is sustenance for the soul, and is the roadway to eternal success.

وَمِنَ ٱلنَّاسِ مَن يَتَّخِذُ مِن دُونِ ٱللَّهِ أَندَادًۭا يُحِبُّونَهُمْ كَحُبِّ ٱللَّهِ ۖ وَٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُوٓا۟ أَشَدُّ حُبًّۭا لِّلَّهِ ۗ وَلَوْ يَرَى ٱلَّذِينَ ظَلَمُوٓا۟ إِذْ يَرَوْنَ ٱلْعَذَابَ أَنَّ ٱلْقُوَّةَ لِلَّهِ جَمِيعًۭا وَأَنَّ ٱللَّهَ شَدِيدُ ٱلْعَذَابِ ١٦٥
Still there are some who take others as Allah’s equal—they love them as they should love Allah—but the ˹true˺ believers love Allah even more. If only the wrongdoers could see the ˹horrible˺ punishment ˹awaiting them˺, they would certainly realize that all power belongs to Allah and that Allah is indeed severe in punishment. (Surah al Baqarah 165)

Ibn al-Qayyim (raḥimahullāh) writes, “Undoubtedly, the greatest pleasure of this world is the pleasure of knowing and loving Allah. This is the highest level of bliss one can experience in this world. In contrast, other temporary pleasures of this life are like a drop in the ocean – for indeed, the soul, heart and body were created (to know and love Allah). The most joyous aspect of the world is to know and love Allah, and the greatest pleasure in Paradise will be to see Allah.”

He(rh) also said  “In the heart are disorders that cannot be remedied except by responding to Allah. In it is a desolate feeling that cannot be removed except by intimacy with Him solitude. In it is sadness which will not leave except by happiness with knowing Him and truthfulness in his dealings. In it is anxiety that is not made tranquil except by gathering for His sake and fleeing to Him from His punishment. In it is a fire of regret which cannot be extinguished except by satisfaction with His commands, prohibitions, and decrees, and embracing patience with that until the time he meets Him. In it is a strong desire that will not cease until He is the only one who is sought. In it is a void that cannot be filled except by His love, turning to Him, always remembering Him, and being sincere to Him. Were a person to be given the entire world and everything in it, that would never fill the void.” Madārij al-Sālikīn 3/156

وَٱسْتَغْفِرُوا۟ رَبَّكُمْ ثُمَّ تُوبُوٓا۟ إِلَيْهِ ۚ إِنَّ رَبِّى رَحِيمٌۭ وَدُودٌۭ ٩٠
So seek your Lord’s forgiveness and turn to Him in repentance. Surely my Lord is Most Merciful, All-Loving.” Surah Hud 11:90

Al Wadd means pure love without condition.

One of the most famous instances of the ardent lover, Majnun in his love of Layla, is that of him following a dog that belonged to Layla through the streets of the city. He believes that by following the dog’s trail, he might catch a glimpse of Layla or find some connection to her. He passes by a group of Muslims praying and continues by them until he finally arrives at the gates of her home which the dog slips through but he remains there pining away for a while. As he retraces his steps back to his home after accepting he will not catch a glimpse he passes by the worshippers who berate him saying you haven’t even prayed the last prayer and we are now at the next one. He responds “Forgive me, I didn’t even notice you as I followed the dog of my beloved. How did you notice me while you were focused on your Beloved?”

True love manifested

It was only true for love Allah SWT that led:

– Adam (AS) to fall into prostration for 40 years in remorse for eating from the tree (Tafsir at Tabari on the authority of ibn Abbas (RA)
– Nuh (AS) after seeing his son drowned before his own eyes and being told by Allah SWT about that he was not from his family – Nuh (AS) pleaded, “My Lord, I seek refuge in You from asking You about what I have no knowledge of, and unless You forgive me and have mercy on me, I will be one of the losers.” (Surah Hud: 47)
– Ibrahim (AS) being catapulted into a huge fire as punishment by his father and community for destroying their idols. Abandoned by his people, but never forgotten by His Lord, Jibreel Alayhi Salaam was sent to Ibrahim (AS) and asked him if he wanted help to which he replied, “if it’s from you, then no. But if it is from Allah (SWT) then yes.” Rather he favoured the words HasbunAllahu wa ni’mal wakeel Allah is sufficient for us and he is the Best
Disposer of our affairs (ibn Abbas)
– Musa (AS) when beset by his nation and jammed between the river and the army of Firown baying for their blood to say Inna ma’iya rabee sa yahdeen…Truly my Lord is with me
– And the Prophet (SAW) when he was stoned and bleeding from head to toe by the youth and rabble of Taif, his call was still “If you are not angry with me, than I don’t care about anything” In lam yakun bika ghadhabun ‘alayya falaa ubaalee.

How to love Allah SWT

Following His commands and completing the fard (obligatory) duties: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Allah said: Whoever shows hostility to a friend of Mine, I have declared war upon him. My servant does not grow closer to Me with anything more beloved to Me than the duties I have imposed upon him. My servant continues to grow closer to Me with extra good works until I love him. When I love him, I am his hearing with which he hears, his seeing with which he sees, his hand with which he strikes, and his foot with which he walks. Were he to ask something from Me, I would surely give it to him. Were he to ask Me for refuge, I would surely grant it to him. I do not hesitate to do anything as I hesitate to take the soul of the believer, for he hates death, and I hate to displease him.” Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī 6502

Do this by following the Prophetic example for Allah (SWT) reminds us: “Say, ˹O Prophet,˺ “If you ˹sincerely˺ love Allah, then follow me; Allah will love you and forgive your sins. For Allah is All-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” (Surah aale Imran 3:31)

Sidq (Honesty, Integrity and Good treatment): The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Whoever is pleased to love Allah and His Messenger, or to be loved by Allah and His Messenger, let him be truthful when he speaks, let him fulfill the trust to whom it is due, and let him treat well anyone who would be his neighbor.” Shu’ab al-Imān lil-Bayhaqī 1533

Fear, hope & sacrifice: The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Nothing is more beloved to Allah than 2 drops and 2 footsteps: a teardrop from fear of Allah and a drop of blood shed in the way of Allah.

As for two footsteps, a footstep in the way of Allah and a footstep in one of the obligations of Allah.” Sunan al-Tirmidhī 1669

Gratitude: How can we not love Allah when every single blessing and good that we have is from Him? There is no one kinder, more appreciative and more generous than Him: He is al-Waḥḥāb, The Ever-Giving.

The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “No one loves to be praised more than Allah Almighty, and no one accepts more excuses than Allah Almighty.” al-Mu’jam al-Kabīr lil-Ṭabarānī 1/285

Good character: The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “The most beloved people to Allah are those with the best character.”   أَحَبُّ النَّاسِ إِلَى اللَّهِ أَحْسَنُهُمْ خُلُقًا Ṣaḥīḥ Ibn Ḥibbān 486

Be from Ahlul Quran (the people of the Quran) ʿAbdullāh b. Masʿūd (raḍiy Allāhu ʿanhu) said “Whoever would love to know whether Allah loves him, he should examine his relationship with the Qur’ān: If he loves the Qur’ān, then he loves Allah, as the Qur’ān is the Word of Allah.”

How to ask for Allahs love

The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “O Allah, make faith beloved to us and beautify it in our hearts, and make unbelief, wickedness, and disobedience hateful to us, and make us among the rightly-guided. O Allah, let us pass away as Muslims, live as Muslims, and let us be joined with the righteous.” al-Adab al-Mufrad 699

اللَّهُمَّ حَبِّبْ إِلَيْنَا الْإِيمَانَ وَزَيِّنْهُ فِي قُلُوبِنَا وَكَرِهَ إِلَيْنَا الْكُفْرَ وَالْفُسُوقَ وَالْعِصْيَانَ وَاجْعَلْنَا مِنَ الرَّاشِدِينَ اللَّهُمَّ تَوَفَّنَا مُسْلِمِينَ وَأَحْيِنَا مُسْلِمِينَ وَأَلْحِقْنَا بِالصَّالِحِينَ

The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “David would supplicate, saying: O Allah, I ask you for your love and the love of those who love you and the deeds that will bring me your love. O Allah, make your love more beloved to me than myself and my family and even a cool drink.” Sunan al-Tirmidhī 3490

Saʿd b. Abī Waqqāṣ narrates that in the Battle of Uḥud, ʿAbdullāh b. Jaḥsh said to him, “Won’t you come so we can make duʿā’ together?” They went to a corner and sat. Saʿd supplicated, “My Lord! When I meet the enemy tomorrow, let me encounter a man of enormous strength and whose enmity is severe. I shall fight him for Your sake, and he shall fight me. Then grant me victory over him until I slay him and acquire his spoils.” To this duʿā’ ʿAbdullāh said “Āmīn”, and then he himself supplicated, “O Allah, grant that I encounter a man tomorrow of enormous strength and whose enmity is severe. I shall fight him for Your sake, and he shall fight me. He shall kill me, and then cut off my nose and ears. And when I meet You, You will say, “ʿAbdullāh! Why were your nose and ears cut off?” Then I will say, “For Your sake and for the sake of Your Prophet.” And then You will say, “You have spoken the truth.”

Saʿd (raḍiy Allāhu ʿanhu) related this incident to his son and said, “The duʿā’ of ʿAbdullāh b. Jaḥsh was better than my duʿā’: I saw him at the end of the day. (He was martyred) and his nose and ears were hanging on a thread.”

The sweetness of Iman

The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Whoever has three traits within himself will find the sweetness of faith: one who loves Allah and His Messenger more than anything else, one who loves a servant only for the sake of Allah, and one who hates to turn back to unbelief after Allah has saved him, just as he hates to be thrown into the fire.” Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī 21, Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim 43

The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Verily, Allah Almighty will put his faithful servant on a diet from the world when He loves him, just as you put your sick on a diet from food and drink, fearing for him.” Musnad Aḥmad 23627 A diabetic or heart patient has to refrain from sweet, high cholesterol or spicy foods – this is for his own betterment just as loss in the dunya may be for the righteous.


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