Prioritising the Heart 💛

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

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Qur’an Reforms Hearts

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Scholars identify a hardened heart as “root” of all punishments, and its basis in found in Al-Baqarah 74:

ثُمَّ قَسَتْ قُلُوبُكُم مِّن بَعْدِ ذَٰلِكَ فَهِيَ كَالْحِجَارَةِ أَوْ أَشَدُّ قَسْوَةً

“Then your hearts became hardened after that, being like stones or even harder…”

Qaswat al-qalb (hardening of the heart) is a topic many scholars have addressed throughout history because of its pivitol status and the profound impact it has on one’s life in determining success or failure. It is directly linked to receiving guidance and self-reformation.

And in the moving words of Malik ibn Dinar (d.127H) who said, “What is there that strikes the slave (of Allah) greater than hardening of the heart, for the wrath of Allah is upon a nation from whose hearts mercy and compassion is removed.”

Al-‘Allamah Muhammad ibn Salih al-‘Uthaymeen رحمه الله said, in response to a question regarding causes of apathy and feeling weakness in one’s Deen. And how preservation of the heart and moving away from incessant disputation is key:

‏ترى العامي خيرا في عقيدته وإخلاصه من كثير من طلاب العلم الذين ليس لهم هم إلا الأخذ والرد والقيل والقال هذاالذي يضيع العبد ويسلب قلبه عن الله

“…and (thus) you will see that the layperson is better in his ‘aqeedah and ikhlas than many of the students of knowledge, whose only concern is to criticise and refute and (indulge in) qeela wa qaal – causing the slave to become lost and his heart taken away from Allah.” [1]

Thus, taking special care of the heart ensures it remains soft and absorbant; readily accepting admonishment and guidance. Al-Allamah al-Sa’di رحمه الله said:

صلاح القلب بكمال الإنابة إلى الله وقوة التوكل عليه، وتمام الإخلاص له، ومحبة الخير لكافة الخلق، وفساده ونقصه بضدِّ ذلك

“Rectifying the heart fully (and perfectly) confers itself to Allah, and wholly renders sincerity to Him. (Such a heart) loves goodness for all of the creation, and opposes corruption and deficiency.” [2]

Ibn Uthaymeen also said:

إن قسوة القلب لها دواء وهو الإكثار من قراءة القرآن، دليل ذلك قول الله عز وجل: ﴿لَوْ أَنْزَلْنَا هَذَا الْقُرْآنَ عَلَى جَبَلٍ لَرَأَيْتَهُ خَاشِعاً مُتَصَدِّعاً مِنْ خَشْيَةِ اللَّهِ﴾ [الحشر:21] والجبل كما نعلم حجارة صماء لو نزل القرآن عليها لخشع وتصدع، كذلك القلب إذا ورد عليه القرآن وقرأ الإنسان بتفكر وتمعن فلا بد أن يؤثر في قلبه

“The hardening of the heart has a cure, and it is the recitation of the Qur’an. The evidence for this is in the Words of Allah Almighty, ‘If We had sent down this Qur’an upon a mountain, you would have seen it humbled and coming apart from fear of Allah…’ [Al Hashr, 21] And the mountain as we know is (made of) deaf stones, yet if the Qur’an was revealed upon them would render them humbled and asunder apart. Similar to that is how the the heart should respond when the person reads the Qur’an with contemplation and ponderance, it must affect the heart.” [3]

Ibn Uthaymeen also warned those to take note said regarding this remedy:

‏إذا رأيت قلبك لا يتأثر بالقرآن فاتهم نفسك لأن الله أخبر أن هذا القرآن لو نزل على جبل لتصدع، وقلبك يتلى عليه القرآن ولا يتأثر

“If you see your heart is not affected by the Qur’an then indict yourself, for Allah informed us that if this Qur’an descended on a mountain, it would cleave it (asunder). And yet your heart recites the Qur’an and is not affected.” [4]

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May Allah grant us hearts that are quick to return back to Him in repentence, and reform upon reminders and admonishments. Ameen.

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References:

[1] Al-Bab al-Maftooh, 232 (Audio @ http://bit.ly/2l4kqeM)
[2] Majmu’ al-Fawa’id wa Iqtinas al-Awabid
[3] See: http://binothaimeen.net/content/1661
[4] Majmu’ Fatawa wa Rasa’il, 8/278


To Mazâh or Not to Mazâh?

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

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The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said:

لا تكثر الضحك فإن كثرة الضحك تميت القلب

Do not laugh too much, for too much laughter deadens the heart.” [1]

The consequences of a dead heart are extremely dire, as some scholars identified it to be “root” of all punishments (due to what is mentioned in Al-Baqarah 74  for example). From a hardened or dead heart rises every type of negative characteristic. One such risk of excessive laughter is highlighted by Ibn Hibban, who said of mazâh:

‏و كم من افتراق بين أخوين و هجران بين متآلفين كان أول ذلك المزاح

“And how much of division (and breakup) has occurred between brothers and desertion among (those who were previously) harmoniously close, the first (cause) of which is due to mazâh.” [2]

Ibraheem an-Nakha’i said: لا يمازحك إلا من يحبك

“Do not Mazâh around except with those whom you are beloved to.” [3]

And the reasons for this are obvious. One who loves you will tolerate your antics.

المزاح (Al-Mazâh) is something that includes joking, humourism and jesting; it also denotes practical jokes. And when the limits and conditions of mazâh are exceeded, it usually leads to souring of relationships and even ruination because of abuse and hatred it risks breeding. Imam Al-Nawawi said it aptly in his ‘Al-Adhkar’, (p.390) that:

المزاح المنهي عنه هو الذي فيه إفراط ويداوم عليه ، فإنه يورث الضحك وقسوة القلب ويشغل عن ذكر الله تعالى ويؤول في كثير من الأوقات إلى الإيذاء ، ويورث الأحقاد ، ويسقط المهابة والوقار ، فأما من سلم من هذه الأمور فهو المباح الذي كان رسول الله ﷺ يفعله

“Al-Mazâh that is forbidden is what is excessive and persistent, which leads to (much) laughter and hardens the heart, which distracts from the remembrance of Allah Almighty; and is given to much abuse and breeds hatred, and what diminishes one’s prestige and dignity. Thus it was to be safe from such things that the Messenger ﷺ would permit actions (to the contrary).”

What is not recommended is making people laugh using false speech or making it a  regular habit of a person, otherwise it isn’t to be detested; for the Messenger ﷺ used to laugh until his premolars appeared. Seeking comfort in such thing every now and then is like adding salt in the cooking pot (to enhance flavour). The Companions too, used to enjoy lighter moments and laugh, yet they were the firmest of men of faith and understood moderation and the proportionate wisdom behind humour.

Ibn Is-haq conveyed that Al-Zuhri would teach knowledge, and then afterwards end his gathering by saying, “Bring forth your humour. Bring forth your poetry. Engage in some of what amuses you and increases your jovial mood, for the ears are no longer absorbing (serious knowledge) and the hearts are unstable.” Malik ibn Dinar said, “When people before you got weary of serious talk, they would say, ‘the ears are desorbing and the hearts are sour, so bring forth your funny stories.'” Abu Zayd said that his father told him, “Ataa’ ibn Yasar would talk to me and Abu Hazim until we would weep; then he would (lighten the mood by) talk to us until we would laugh.” Then he added, “Once like this, and once like that.” [4]

A man once said to Sufyan ibn ‘Uyaynah:

المزاح هجنة أي مستنكر! فأجابه قائلاً : بل هو سنة ولكن لمن يُحسنه ويضعه في موضعه

“Al-Mazâh is faulty and should be denounced.” He replied, “Rather it is Sunnah, but only for those who know how to perfect it (and use it) at the appropriate time.” [5]

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May Allah grant us a good clean sense of humour that strengthens bonds and makes people smile, for indeed putting a smile on the face of your brother is an easy charity.

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References:

[1] Al-Tirmidhi, 2305; graded as hasan by Al-Albani in ‘Saheeh al-Jaami’, 7435
[2] ‘Rawdatul Uqala’ (p.81)
[3] Rawdatul Uqala’, 1/80

[4] See Ibn Al-Jawzi, ‘Akhbar al-Hamqa’ for more on the suject matter
[5] Hilyat al-Awliya,

 


When Silence is Golden 🔸

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

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From the noble jawaami’ul kalim (concise speech [with expansive meaning]) of the Messenger of Allah ﷺ is the renowned hadeeth:

من كان يؤمن بالله واليوم الآخر، فليقل خيرًا، أو ليصمت

He who believes in Allah and the Last Day must either speak good or remain silent. ❞ [1]

Ibn Hibban said in his ‘Rawdatul ‘Uqala’:

الواجب على العاقل أن يلزم الصمت إلى أن يلزمه التكلم فما أكثر من ندم إذا نطق وأقل من يندم إذا سكت وأطول الناس شقاء وأعظمهم بلاء من ابتلى بلسان مطلق وفؤاء مطبق

“It is incumbent on the intelligent (and wise person) to (maintain the need of) remaining silent than having to speak. Because much remorse lies in uttering speech, while there’s less regret if one is silent. People’s misery is lengthened and greatly afflicted by their calamitous tongues… “ [2]

Thus, much of people’s sins are borne from the tongue, and many trespasses are carried out due to unnecessarily long periods of (social) gatherings. It’s prudent to conclude your gatherings swiftly and end with virtuous words, otherwise curiosities settle in. Imam al-Zuhri said:

إذا طال المجلس كان للشيطان فيه نصيب

“If your gatherings become long, shaytan then takes his share from them.” [3]

Ibn Taymiyyah highlighted a basic outline of how to assess one’s need to speak. He said:

‏التكلّم بالخير خيرٌ من السكوت عنه والصمتُ عن الشرِّ خيرٌ من التكلّم به

“To speak well is better than remaining silent (about something), and keeping silent from (uttering) evil is better than speaking (about it).” [4]

When we have nothing of benefit to say, silence is golden. Mu’ad ibn Jabal asked the Prophet ﷺ to inform him of good deeds that would admit him into Paradise and distance him from the Hellfire. The Prophet ﷺ mentioned to him the virtues of many good deeds, and then added, “Shall I inform you of the foundation of all of that?” He took hold of his tongue and said, “Restrain yourself from this.”

Mu’adh asked, “O Prophet of Allah! Are we held to task for the things that we say?” The Prophet ﷺ replied:

ثَكِلَتْكَ أُمُّكَ يَا مُعَاذُ ، وَهَلْ يَكُبُّ النَّاسَ فِي النَّارِ عَلَى وُجُوهِهِمْ أَوْ عَلَى مَنَاخِرِهِمْ إِلا حَصَائِدُ أَلْسِنَتِهِمْ ؟

May your mother be bereaved of you, O Mu’adh! Does anything cause people to fall headlong into the Hellfire except the harvests of their tongues? ❞ [5]

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May Allah grant us wisdom and foresight in weighing the benefits of advantages when considering to speak or remain silent. Ameen.

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References:

[1] Agreed upon
[2] Rawdatul ‘Uqala’ (1/47)
[3] Hilyat al-Awliya’, 1/366 (#1413)
[4] Majmu’ al-Fatawa (25/158)
[5] Al-Tirmidhi, 2616; who graded it hasan saheeh


Beyond Mere Citation 📖

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

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Mothers of our Imams and scholars of the Ummah were instrumental in nurturing and pushing them to seek knowledge. And the mother of Sufyan Ath-Thawri was no different; she would encourage him to seek knowledge and met his expenses for this noble cause through utilising her skill in spindling thread. She once parted the following profound advice to him:

يا بَنِي، إِذَا كتبت عشرة أحاديث، فانظر هل ترى فِي نفسك زيادة فِي مشيتك، وحلمك ووقارك، فَإِن لَمْ تر ذَلِكَ، فاعلم أَنَّهُ ل يضرك، ولا ينفعك

O my son, if you write down (and study) ten ahadeeth, then look to see in yourself if there has been increase in (positive) change, and in forbearance and poise. For if you don’t see (any of) that, then know (such endeavour) will cause you harm, and be of no benefit to you. ❞  [Al-Sahmi, ‘Tareekh Jarjan’, 471]

In an age of information overload where ‘ilm and information is incorrectly conflated, it’s not often enough that we take stock of what we’ve learnt and measure its impact within our selves and even upon those around us.

Indeed the virtue of ‘ilm lies in acting upon it and internalising it. Otherwise it can become a wasteful exercise and a source of grief in this world and the Hereafter.


Genius of Misdirection

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

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The Qur’an is the most potent force against shaytan and his evil designs. If people show love for the Qur’an, and want to read, study and contemplate its meanings, shaytan will change tact and increase its awe in a person’s heart. To the extent that the person becomes afraid to even approach the Qur’an out of a false sense of respect.

Ibn Hubayrah رحمه الله (d.560H), the jurist of Baghdad said:

ومن مكايد الشيطان تنفيره عبادالله من تدبّرالقرآن، لعلمه أن الهدى واقع عند التدبّر، فيقول هذه مخاطرة، حتى يقول الإنسان أنا لا أتكلم في القرآن تورعا

It is from the deception of shaytan that he holds back the slave of Allah from pondering and contemplating upon the Qur’an. For he knows the actual reality of guidance is (found) by such taddabur, so he (discourages them) by saying, ‘there is danger in this’… until people (begin to say), ‘I can’t speak about the Qur’an so I’ll abstain (from it).❞ [Ibn Rajab, ‘Dhayl Tabaqat al-Hanabilah’, 3/273]

Shaytan tries to exploit extremities in people’s nature. If they incline towards goodness in seeking what will benefit them, he disheartens them and tries to scare them away to the opposite end.

If this fails, he switches to genuis of misdirection, as was narrated that Abu Bakr ibn al-Arabi (d.543H), who said:

*{ إن إبليس حين لم يستطع أن يشغل الناس عن القرآن شغلهم به عنه }*

أي: أنه جعلهم يشتغلون بشيء فيه لا ينفعهم في معادهم يشغلهم عما ينفعهم في دينهم وآخرتهم

“Indeed when Iblees can’t hold people back from (busying themselves with) the Qur’an, he (strives to) busy them with other than it.”

Meaning: He makes them engage with something that does not bring them benefit; repeatedly distracting them from what will benefit them in their Deen and the Hereafter. ❞ [‘Tahzeeb al-Qur’an’ li ‘Abd Al-‘Azeez al-Harbi, p.42]

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May Allah make us from Ahlul Qur’an, His special people. Ameen.

 


Fit Your Time Around The Qur’an 📖

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

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The relationship of the Companions of the Messenger of Allah ﷺ with the Qur’an was impenetrable no matter where they were, whether traveling or stationary; in peace or at war. It is impossible to find them detached from the Book of Allah, the Most High.

One of the traps of shaytan is that, while Muslims are aware of their religious priorities, they are sometimes practically demobilised and rendered languid to do anything about it. In the case of the Qur’an, it was narrated that Abu Bakr ibn al-Arabi al-Maliki (d.543H) said:

إن إبليس حين لم يستطع أن يشغل الناس عن القرآن شغلهم به عنه
أي: أنه جعلهم يشتغلون بشيء فيه لا ينفعهم في معادهم يشغلهم عما ينفعهم في دينهم وآخرتهم

“Indeed when Iblees can’t hold people back from (busying themselves with) the Qur’an, he (strives to) busy them with other than it… Meaning: He makes them engage with something that does not bring them benefit; repeatedly distracting them from what will benefit them in their Deen and the Hereafter.”  [Tahzeeb al-Qur’an, 42]

The Sahabah used to advocate ease and flexibility in enacting mandhubat [those deeds that come highly recommended]. This was to ensure they were done moderately but consistently ,no matter how small. As a reality check advice, Ibn Abbas رضي الله عنه used to ask:

!ما يمنعُ أحدَكم إذا رجع من سوقه أو من حاجته، فاتكأ على فراشه، أن يقرأ ثلاث آيات من القرآن

❝ What prevents one of you, when coming back from the market or after fulfilling any need you have; that you recline on your couch and read (even) three ayat from the Qur’an. ❞  [Sunan Al-Darimi, 3336]

He did not say “three pages” or even a single page, but only three ayat [verses] that can be read around daily tasks with ease, and pondered upon and even memorised. Surely this is not beyond the reach of most of us; if our hearts were pure and strong, they would never get enough of the Qur’an. So let’s work towards that purity and strength by commencing to fit our time around the Book of Allah ﷻ with a deliberate and concerted effort.

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And Allah ﷻ alone grants tawfeeq.

 


Follow Up With Goodness 💫

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

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The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said:

اتَّقِ اللَّهِ حَيْثُمَا كُنْتَ وَأَتْبِعْ السَّيِّئَةَ الْحَسَنَةَ تَمْحُهَا وَخَالِقِ النَّاسَ بِخُلُقٍ حَسَنٍ

❝Fear Allah wherever you are. And follow up a bad deed with a good deed and it will wipe it out. And behave towards the people with good character.❞ [1]

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Following up a bad deed with a good deed illustrates an important point: that even those with taqwah are not free from faults or immune from slipping. No one is perfect, but those who are from the people of taqwah, do not persist in sin and take immediate remedial recourse in proactively blotting out sin, and building a contiguous stack of hasanat (i.e. good deeds).

Ibn Rajab said in his valued work, ‘Lata’if al-Ma’arif’ about indicators of acceptance and rejection of deeds:

من عمل طاعة من الطاعات وفرغ منها فعلامة قبولها أن يصلها بطاعة أخرى، وعلامة ردها أن يعقب تلك الطاعة بمعصية

“Whoever does an act (of ibadah) from obedience (to Allah) and earnestly completes it, the sign of its acceptance is that he follows it up with another (act of obedience). And the sign of a rejected act (of ibadah) is that its obedience is followed up with sin.” [2]

Our understanding of sin should be mobilising and not debilitating. Too often, we respond to a sin by putting ourselves in a corner and overwhelming ourselves with guilt and regret only – this needs to be a catalyst to move forward in good deeds and no become dejected. Sins can’t be used as an excuse to lag behind, and absolutely must not stop us from swiftly partaking in all other types of qualitative goodness.

Ibn al-Qayyim said about the ease in which deeds can become corrupted and the need to ensure their integrity:

ومحبطات الأعمال ومفسداتها أكثر من أن تحصر وليس الشأن في العمل إنما الشأن في حفظ العمل مما يفسده ويحبطه

“And things that cancel out good deeds and spoils them are too many to enumerate. It is not the importance of deeds (that count), rather it is the importance of protecting one’s good deeds from whatever may corrupt them or cancel them out.” [3]

Our response to a sin should not be languid, but rather a race to enact something good in hope of erasing sin. Our attitude should be one of caution and of eternal hope that Allah will have Mercy on us as long as we keep struggling and pushing forward. As He ﷻ Said in Al-Zumar (53).

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References:

[1] Al-Tirmidhi, 1987
[2] Lata’if al-Ma’arif, (1/224)
[3] Al-Wâbil al-Sayyib, p.18