Foundation, NJ U. S. A
the Message Continues ... 6/91
Newsletter for March 2009
Article 1 - Article 2 - Article 3 - Article 4 - Article 5 - Article 6 - Article 7 - Article 8 - Article 9 - Article 10 - Article 11 - Article 12
by Aqeela Naqvi, New Jersey
| When the word “heart” is
mentioned, what comes to mind? We may refer to anatomy,
where the heart is the hollow, muscular organ that pumps
blood through our body. We may refer to botany, where
the heart is the core of a tree or a plant. Or, we may
take a more figurative angle, where the heart becomes
the center of emotion, spirit, and enthusiasm. All these
ideas relate to the heart, and give definitions of what
we know the heart to be...but are they the true
meanings? Or is there something greater, something more
significant, hidden between the layers of the heart?
In Islam, the rhythmic beating in all of us is not simply a vital function for our bodies...it is also a vital function for our souls. The thumping in our chests is a constant reminder of who we are, why we are here, and what we are meant to do before our time is over. Almighty Allah (swt) has assigned the heart the most privileged position in being the core center for mental tasks that can draw us to our salvation or bring us to our destruction. The heart can be a source of light, allowing for reasoning and comprehension, faith, Supreme guidance, blessings, certainty, and tranquility in knowing Allah (swt). OR, the heart can be a pit of darkness, bringing incomprehension, blasphemy, disbelief, negligence, anxiety, conflict, cruelty, and wrath.
One may wonder how a simple organ in our body, matter made of mere muscle and tissue, can exemplify such characteristics. The truth is, the heart that holds such a high position in Islam is not the physical, but the figurative heart – the human spirit. The human spirit determines the degree of knowing Almighty Allah (swt) and following his commands. Time and time again, the human spirit has been seen capable of overcoming adversity and hardship, thus earning itself the undying characteristic of redemption. Through finding and knowing Allah (swt), even the darkest spirit can be brightened with Noor, and taken on the path that leads to eternal glory.
The heart of a perfect believer is illuminated with the unfading light of Deen. Only few can understand completely the meaning of this true spirituality. It is in this state of mind that the believer becomes able to witness the mysteries of an Unseen World, while continuously striving for absolute perfection and understanding in order to gain God’s Pleasure and Blessing. When Prophet Dawud (s) asked Allah (swt) “Oh Allah, what is your treasure?” Allah (swt) replied: “I possess a treasure which is greater than the sky...its Earth is enlightenment, its sky is belief, its sun is enthusiasm, its moon is love; its stars are inspiration and attention towards me; its clouds are reason, its rain is blessing, its fruits are obedience, and its yield is wisdom. Know that My Treasure is the heart of a believer.”
Our hearts are the embodiment of multitudinous physical, emotional, and spiritual characteristics. What is important to understand is that these characteristics become the deciding factors in whether we take the path to heaven or to hell. The human heart is affected by both angels (who wish to bring the heart towards Sirat-e-Mustaqeem) and Shaytan (who wishes to conquer the heart through seduction and corruption). There is a continuous struggle between the two forces in a pursuit to win over the heart of a believer. Occasionally, the heart can become infected through the influence of Shaytan, whose entrance creates a black spot upon the heart’s otherwise white appearance. The removal of this spot becomes crucial, as the longer it is left there, the more influence it holds over the whims of the heart, and the more difficult it becomes to remove it.
In order to get rid of such impurities, two stages of cleansing, upon which the happiness and well-being of the spirit depends, must be performed simultaneously. The first stage is that of self-refinement, and is called refining and evacuation. In this stage, a person must cleanse their heart through repentance and avoidance of sins. The second stage is that of self-nourishment and perfection, where a person must acquire higher learning for abstraction of absolute truth, attaining moral excellence in conduct, and undertaking of righteous deeds. These stages must be performed at the same time. The first stage of cleansing may be completed, but if the acquisition of higher knowledge is not performed, there will be a recurrence of contamination. Likewise, the second stage of gaining more knowledge cannot be undertaken before the heart is purged of all evil and sin. These two measures must be taken together in order to ensure complete removal of Shaytan’s influence, and the arrival of understanding into the heart.
Upon leaving this world, the Holy Prophet said, “Indeed, I am leaving amongst you two esteemed things: one is the Book of Allah, and the other is my Progeny. If you hold by both of these, you shall never be led astray.” In truth, Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was speaking of the only two sources from which the heart can be healed. The Qur’an is the first and foremost point from which a believer can receive guidance and remedy for any spiritual sickness. Imam Ali (s) has said, “Learn the Holy Quran because it is the best of learning. Pay attention toward its verses, because they are like the spring’s rain – it’s recital revives the heart.”
In addition to the Quran, there is also the Ahlul-Bayt, or progeny of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), who are the physicians of the heart. They are the ever shining beacons of light sent to guide us toward the path of Almighty Allah (swt). They have rendered the most valuable services for humanity throughout history. Through discovering the Hidden World for themselves, and introducing it to human beings, they succeeded in reviving the human personality and the want for attaining Allah’s pleasure. As Ayatullah Amini has so beautifully said, “If there are marks of meaning, sentiment, love, moral ethics, and other virtues found among human beings, it is all due to the blessing of the continuous efforts and endeavors of all of God’s physicians, and especially the Last Divine Messenger, Prophet Muhammad (pbuh)”.
Cleansing of the self can be done through self-reflection as well as following the guidance of the Holy Quran, the Prophet, and his progeny. If we do not refine ourselves, and cleanse our hearts and spirits, our hearts will become the likeness of an abyss. The heart of an infidel is an over-turned heart that contains no good qualities. It is consistently preoccupied with trivial matters regarding this world, and it does not witness the existence of the All-Mighty Allah (swt). The eyes of such a heart are blinded in this world, and cannot witness the reality and magnitude of the omnipotence of Allah (swt). Ayatullah Amini says about an unbeliever, “He is blind and will be raised blind in the next world too. In this world, he is attached to worldly affairs, and will be raised in the next world with the same attachment. In such a heart, the light of faith has been extinguished” and it will remain enveloped in the grasp of darkness.
If a heart is never healed, it will become rusted with the accumulation of sin and reversed ideology. Allah (swt) says in the Holy Quran, “Then woe unto those whose hearts which are hardened against the remembrance of God. Such are in plain error.” The hardest of hearts are created when tragic suffering and immorality is seen, but nothing is done about it. My brothers and sisters, around the world our fellow Muslims are undergoing trials and tribulations that most of us couldn’t imagine in our worst dreams. They are in desperate need of our help and attention; more than anything else, they need the unity of the Muslim ummah. Our hearts may be clean from the sins of Shaytan, but they will never rest until the remembrance of Allah is achieved. In order to remember Allah, we must do what he commanded us to do – we must unite. It is imperative that we put aside whatever small disagreements we may have, and learn to work together in order to achieve the greater good! If we do not unite, how will we bring ourselves to answer to God Almighty on the Day of Judgment? Allah (swt) says in the Holy Quran, “On that day, wealth and sons will not avail any man – except him who brings unto God a whole heart.”
We must ask ourselves – will we be those who bring to Allah (swt) a whole heart? Or will we be among those who, with their heads hung in shame, bring to Him hearts spotted with silence for the suffering of our fellow Muslims. No, my dear brothers and sisters. We must wake up. We must answer the call that has been resounding since the beginning of time – only through justice, peace will prevail. It is our time now to change what the world has become. Our hearts must be courageous – we must stand as followers of Muhammad wa alay Muhammad and say, “We can make a difference.” With the understanding of Allah (swt), our spirits can, and will, soar to unfathomable heights, and we will create a change for the benefit of all humanity.
The maintenance of the spirituality of the heart is a continuous process and does not end until our return to Allah (swt). There is a constant battle between the forces of good and evil for the attainment of a believers heart. My brothers and sisters, we must cleanse our hearts, empower ourselves through knowledge, and overcome the struggle against evil. Our spirit is the very essence of our existence, and it’s benefits and consequences are eternal. The world and it’s temptations may push us to our knees, time and time again, but let us remember, when we are on our knees, we are in the perfect position to pray. We must instill in our hearts the love of God, and the love of the Ahlul-Bayt, for this love cannot be extinguished even by the darkest of evils. We need to know Allah (swt) – we cannot know him until we worship him, and we cannot worship him if we don’t remember him. As it is said in the Holy Quran, “Verily in the remembrance of God do hearts find rest.” The ability of the human spirit to create change in this world is immeasurable. Each and every one of us harbors this potential, and it is our duty and obligation to use it to spread the beautiful Deen of Islam.
In his poem entitled, Where is God, Jalal ad-Din Rumi beautifully orates:
“Cross and Christians, from end to end,
I surveyed; He was not on the Cross.
I went to the idol-temple, to the ancient pagoda;
No trace was visible there.
I went to the mountains of Herat and Candahor.
I looked, He was not in that hill and dale.
With set purpose I fared to the summit of Mount Qaf
In that place was only Anqa's inhabitation.
I bent the reins of search to the Ka'ba;
He was not in that resort of Old and Young.
I questioned Ibn Sina of His State;
He was not within Ibn Sina's range.
I fared towards the scene of two bow-lengths distance,
He was not in that exalted court.
I gazed into my heart;
There I saw Him; He was nowhere else.
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