Tuesday, August 7, 2012

7 Conditions to Purify your Heart in Ramadhan

In his works Imam Muhammad ibn Abu Bakr (ibn Al-Qayyim) elucidates seven conditions that we, as Muslims must possess for our hearts to be saleem (Healthy & Sound).

The below article shows us how these seven conditions can be easily achieved in Ramadhan so as to purify our heart and make it 'Qalb-e-Saleem'.

The heart is the seat of Iman, or faith.  The heart is the source of all righteous action. Purity (Tazkiya) of the heart shows itself by transforming knowledge into action. Sickness of the heart shows itself by meeting reminders with heedlessness.

In his mercy, Allah has sent Ramadan to us to purify our hearts. Though we may lose sight of it, during Ramadan while our bodies are fasting, our hearts should be feasting. In this celebration of self-restraint, we should also be celebrating a degree of nourishment for our hearts that we do not normally find the rest of the year. 

We should be revelling in this break Allah has given us to look inward - revelling in the freedom we find from the addictions and preoccupations that normally chain our hearts to our base desires. We should find joy in the liberation that comes with moving closer to Allah. 
The temporary cessation of our seemingly endless quest for material pleasure should afford us the opportunity to strengthen our hearts and indeed to purify them.

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The seven conditions  to attain Purity of Heart in Ramadhan:

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1) In this month, we must establish a sense of belonging to the next world.

Allah SubhanahuwaTa'Ala says in Suratul-Hadid.

(surah 57.  ayat 20)
"know you (all), that the life of This world is but play and amusement, pomp and mutual boasting and multiplying, (in rivalry) among yourselves, riches and children. here is a similitude: How rain and the growth which it brings forth, delight (the hearts of) the tillers; soon it withers; Thou wilt see it grow yellow; then it becomes dry and crumbles away. but In the Hereafter is a penalty severe (for the devotees of
wrong). and forgiveness from Allah and (His) good pleasure (for the devotees of Allah.. and what is the life of This world, but goods and chattels of deception?"

The Messenger of Allah, SallAllahuAlayheWaSallam said:
“What have I got to do with the material world. The example of the material world and I is that of a traveller. Traveling in the afternoon heat, he stopped to rest under the shade of a tree for some moments. Then, he rose and left it.”
 -Tirmidhi, Ahmad (Hasan)

Again, seperation from those desires that normally consume our days, should allow us to reflect, to think about the deception of this life. To understand the deception that lies in living each day only for the fleeting pleasure of eating, drinking, sleeping or copulating.
Allah is detatching us from these things so that we can begin to understand what he and his messenger are telling us -- that to continuously pursue pleasure, is to chase something that will escape from you as soon as you catch it, and will cause a person to forget their return to Allah.

“And hell is brought near that day; on that day man will remember, but how will the remembrance avail him? He will say: Ah, would that I had sent before me (some provision) for my life!” -- [Al Fajr 89/23-24]

Ali – Radi Allahu ‘anhu – once stood at the head of a grave and said to his companion, “If he had a chance to return to this life, what do you think he would do?” His companion
replied, “He would do nothing but good deeds.” Ali – Radi Allahu ‘anhu – then said, “If it is not going to be him, then let it be you.”

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2) Our hearts must begin to feel remorse and anguish upon committing sins.

The Messenger of Allah said:
"Beware of sins which are treated as being minor, just like a people who encamp in the centre of a valley, so someone brings a stick of firewood and someone else brings a stick until they are therefore able to bake their bread.
Likewise sins which are treated as being minor and for which the person is taken to account will destroy him."  Reported by Ahmad (5/331) and others.
'Abdullah ibn Mas'ood said: The believer sees his sins as if he were sitting beneath a mountain which he feared was about to fall upon him, whereas the wicked sees his sins like a man who finds a fly settle upon his nose, so he does this (one of the narrators said: He brushes it away from his nose). Reported by al-Bukhari (Eng. Trans. 8/214/no.320) .

The fact that we are doing an act of worship that permeates our entire day should make us more aware of everything that we do. We are aware that not leaving sins during the day will cause Allah to not accept our fast, so we are more inclined to leave sins. In essence because we are fasting we begin to magnify each sin as something that stands between us and our worship of Allah - prevents us from progressing in our quest to come nearer to Allah.
This lesson is one that we should carry with us all of the time. If we thought of each sin as something that would destroy our relationship with Allah, and bring about his anger, we would never commit such acts. But we are a people of forgetfulness -- we are a people that use our good deeds as an excuse to do things we know are displeasing to Allah. Brothers and sisters, Allah is not in need of anything from his creation. It is we who are in need of every good deed we could possibly accumulate in this world.
We cannot ignore the affect committing sin (without striving against it) has on our hearts. Whether this means that we willingly surround ourself with people that continuously commit sins, or we are taking as entertainment things which make light or even promote sins such as drinking alchohol and zina. Brothers and sisters it affects our hearts when we watch things that are contrary to the laws of Allah – but not only do we not avoid these things, indeed we boldly seek them out -- drowning our hearts in a sea of disobedience and then expecting to have humility in our salah. Bringing to our ears endless streams of idle talk and profanity and still expecting that our own tongues speak only good. Does it make sense to believe that our hearts are unaffected by what goes on around us?

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3) During this month, we must begin to place value where it truly is --
we must begin to feel that the remembrance of Allah is worth more than any material wealth. The third attribute of a healthy heart is that the person is more upset if they miss their daily recitation of Qur'an or Dhikr than if they lost wealth. If the wealth is more dear to us, then that indicates we do not see this Dhikr as essential –we do not have an attitude that our relationship with Allah is in need of maintinence and indeed improvement. If we have such a routine and we have no feeling upon missing it, that most likely means we are continuing to do it out of habit – that the action is upon our limbs, but its place in our heart is vacant.

Can we place a value on the remembrance of Allah? How much would someone have to offer us to make us leave reading the Qur'an during the days of Ramadan. Or if we are
not doing it -- think how much money it would require for us to begin to do that. If someone were to offer $50 for us to finish a Juz' (a 1/30 th part of the Quran) each day would we do it? Would we FIND the time even though we say we might not have it? If so then that means that the enticement of money has a greater effect on our hearts than the reward of Allah.

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4) During Ramadan we must take pleasure in these acts of Ibadah -- we should feel joy, and peace that our days and nights are being spent fulfilling the purpose for which Allah has created us. The fourth attribute of a heart that is saleem is that it finds greater pleasure in worshipping Allah, than in food and drink.
This should be another point of self examination. We all know the pleasure we feel upon having good food. We have a desire to eat more - perhaps even eat more than we should.
Have we ever had this same pleasure to come from an act of Ibadah. Perhaps for some of us the idea of feeling joy or pleasure from fasting or Salah has never even occurred to us.
Now if this is the case -- that we have never even thought about feeling joy from worshipping Allah we have to ask ourselves if it is really possibly to go through our lives
disliking something and still doing it with excellence. We all know that the things we love are the things we do best. And if we have never considered loving our Salah or loving the Fasting of Ramadan, it goes without saying that these acts of worship then are probably among the worst things we do with regards to the care we put into them and their resulting quality.
If we have felt joy from our acts of worship before, and yet food is still more pleasurable, then that means our hearts are in a constant state of emptiness. The hearts are put at rest
when they are fulfilling the purpose of their creation -- when they are aware of their lord and are looking forward to meeting him. We are trying to satisfy our hearts -- an entity
which is not physical -- with a pleasure that is purely physical and extremely fleeting. Though this may distract us, it will not complete us, will not satisfy our hearts -- and perhaps this is why we must eat so much. Because we are trying to use the food to fill a void that cannot be filled by something material.

Allah says in Surat Ar-Ra'ad:
Verily in the remembrance of Allah do the heart's find rest [Ar-Ra'ad 13:28]
Brothers and sisters are we finding rest worshipping Allah in this month of Ramadan?
Are we finding satisfaction or are we finding our empty stomachs again and again throughout the day -- counting down the hours until we can eat again. Are we finding
pleasure standing before Allah in Tarawih -- if we are doing it at all?
If food is more pleasurable, more desireable to our hearts than Ibadah, that means we have an addiction – it means that our fleeting physical pleasure has a greater place in our heart than the worhsip of Allah.

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5) Fasting should show us the importance of doing acts of worhsip with sincerity. The fifth attribute is that the person is very concerned with doing deeds solely for the sake of Allah.
We all realize that no one else knows whether we are fasting or not. And usually we think about this in regards to whether or not we eat when others are around. But brothers and sisters fasting with sincerity is abstaining from sins as well. Is it a sincere fast if we are still committing acts of disobedience thinking that no one sees us? Are we just abstaining from food because everyone else is?
The Messenger of Allah, SullallahuAlayheWaSallam said:
"What I fear for you the most is the minor shirk, that is ar-riyaa. Allaah will say on the Day of Judgement when He is rewarding the people for their actions: Go to those for whom you did riyaa for in the world then see if you find the reward
with them." [Related by Ahmad (5/428, 429) and al-Baghawi in Sharh us-Sunnah (4135) from the hadeeth of Mahmood bin Lubaid, radiyallaahu `anhu, with an authentic chain upon the conditions of Muslim.]

We must search within ourselves and find that sincerity -- if we cannot find it while fasting -- an act that is solely between us and Allah, we will not be able to find it the rest of the year, doing acts that are seen by the people.

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6) During Ramadan we must revive our humility in Salah -- we must find a way to put everything out of our minds except Allah. If we are fasting the whole day, Insha'Allah remembering Allah and then when it comes to Salah we are still distracted, it means our hearts have been infected by a disease. The sixth attribute, then of a heart that is saleem, is that when we stand up for prayer, our worries and concerns leave us.
Now for most of us we commonly experience the opposite phenomenon – that as soon as we make our takbeer every think that we had not been thinking about suddenly comes to
the front of our mind. And to some degree this is navoidable, but we must feel a sense of danger if this occurrence is characteristice of the majority of our Salah.

Allah SubhanahuwaTa'Ala says:
(Surah 39. Az Zumar ayat 22-23)

"So woe to those whose hearts are hardened against celebrating the praises of Allah. They are manifestly
wandering (in error)!
Allah has revealed (from time to time) the Most beautiful Message In the form of a Book, consistent with itself, (yet) repeating (its teaching In various aspects): the skins of those who fear their Lord tremble there at; then their skins and their hearts do soften to the celebration of Allah's praises. such is the guidance of Allah. He guides therewith whom He pleases, but such As Allah leaves to stray, can have none to guide."

If our hearts were softened to Allah's remembrance, to hear the takbeer would be a very affecting thing – we would have humility that would bring our hearts above this influence.
When speaking about the first aspect of knowledge to be raised up, the Prophet(SAWS) said "It is humility, until you will not even see one humble person." [an-Nisaa'ee  in al-Kubraa (3/42), as is found in Tuhfatul-Ashraaf (8/211). And it is related by al-Bazzaar (no. 232), Ahmad (6/26), and by at-Tabaraani in al-Kabeer (18/43), and in his Musnadush-Shaamiyyeen (no. 6867)].

And in another narration:
If you wish, I will inform you of the first knowledge to be raised up: the khushoo'; to the extent that if you enter a congregational mosque, then you will not see a single humble
man in it." At-Tirmidhi Jaami' (no. 2655).

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7) We must begin to take advantage of our time, especially during Ramadan, as an opportunity to do acts that will be pleasing to Allah. We cannot afford to waste time, or spend it idly. Lastly, then one who has a healthy heart is more stingy about wasting time than the greedy or stingy person is about their wealth.
The Messenger of Allah SallAllahuAlayheWaSallam said:
"The two feet of the son of Aadam will not move from near his Lord on the Day of Judgement until he is asked about five (matters):- 1) about his life - how he spent it; 2) about his youth - how he took care of it; 3) about his wealth - how he
earned it; 4) and where he spent it; 5) and about that which he acted upon from the knowledge that he acquired." [at-Tirmidhi, As-Silsilah as-Sahihah #946]
and he said:
"There are two blessings which many people lose: health and free time." Reported by al-Bukhari(Eng.Trans.8/282/no.421)

Brothers and sisters we must occupy ourselves with the remembrance of Allah. There is only free time, time to waste, for the one who has finished his work. The sahaba would
pray to Allah half the year that they be able to reach Ramadan, the rest of the year, they would continue to ask that Allah accept all of their worship during Ramadan. We assume that everything we have ever done, has been accepted from us -- and we allow this to deceive us into thinking we have time to waste -- we have "free time".
The sahaba who were promised Jannah were the most eager in striving for the reward of Allah. We have no such assurance and yet we sit back, satisfied – filling our days with
endless entertainments and diversions. Brothers and sisters now is the time for awakening. Death will soon come to seal all that we have done before it, as our appeal to Allah on the day of judgement.

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What Imam Ibn Al-Qayyim has outlined for us is a very comprehensive list of signposts along the path to purification. If there is a time of the year that this path is made easy for the believer, it is this month. By removing the influence of the Shaytan Allah gives us a clear picture of the state of our own hearts. No longer are the voices within us obscured
by the background noise of the Shayatin. We must realize that every evil impulse, every sinful act this month is purely the result of what is in our own hearts. While simultaneously giving us this window into ourselves, Allah has ordained fasting upon us to restrain our pursuit of material pleasures -- in his wisdom he has given us a perfect opportunity to devote all of our energy to self-examination. But Ramadan is also the month of the Qur'an -- so Allah has made clear for us the state of our hearts, removed the distractions that would normally prevent us from working to purify our hearts, and he SubhanahuwaTa'Ala has inundated us with a book that speaks to the hearts -- a book that, if we allow it, will uplift and strengthen our hearts so that they are worthy of being a
place of residence for true and complete Iman.
During these last 10 nights of Ramadan that are approaching let us try to instill in our hearts a belonging to the next world. Let us leave sins and feel remorse and anguish for all we have done in the past. We must prioritize the remembrance of Allah -- if our hearts are to become healthy it should have more value than any material sum. We should find the pleasure in our Ibadah this month that Insha'Allah will stay with us the rest of the year. We must ask Allah to grant us sincerity in all of our acts. We must clear our minds during Salah and not adulterate our worship with thoughts of the worldly life.
And lastly, let us earnestly strive for the days of Ramadan that remain, and indeed for the days of our life that remain to please Allah.


  1. Mashaallah, Alhamdulillah, Great post,

    100 times thumbs up

  2. Thank you so much for this

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