Sunday, March 11, 2012

Achieving the sweetness of Iman.

"Anonymous asked: Salaamu Alaykum, I have never cried in salah and haven't ever felt the sweetness of having Imaan. I love my deen, I love Allah and his messenger (pbuh) but I feel like i'm doing something wrong and that my heart has become hard. Do you have any advice for me? Jazakallah khayr

Answer:

Walaikum Assalaam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu brother/sister,

I hope this finds you in the best of health & iman.

The first step toward rectifying a problem, whether it’s in regard to one’s deen or otherwise, is recognizing where shortcomings lie. So may Allah reward you for understanding the issue, and seeking to come closer to Him.

Hardness of the heart is a common problem that many of us, including myself, strive against on a daily basis. Being aware of one’s lack of iman and hard heart is also one of the most disheartening feelings. Know that the heart is the key or gateway to earning the blessings of Allah, and strengthening one’s deen and iman. And purity of the heart has been stressed time and time again in the Sunnah.

As the Prophet (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) has said:

“There is a small piece in the human body. If it is pure, the whole body becomes pure. However, if it is corrupt, the whole body becomes corrupt. Indeed it is the heart.”

[Reported in Sahih Bukhari]
There’s a great deal of advice that can be given concerning how one may soften the heart, and taste the sweetness of iman, but the following tips are what I personally find to have helped me:

Practice Five Things
Avoid sins like the plague
Never delay or miss salah
Recite Qur’an daily & often
Work on attaining Khushu’ in salah

1. Avoid Sins like the Plague

This is crucial in preventing hardness of the heart. Sins blind the heart, deterring one from good deeds, and act as a catalyst for persisting in wrongdoing.

As Ibn Taymiyyah (rahimahullah) said in his Kitab Al-Iman:

“Just as the person who closes his eyes doesn’t see anything even if he isn’t blind, likewise the case of the heart in relation to the stain of sins which blind the heart so that it doesn’t see the truth. This is the case even if the heart is not blind, like the blindness of the disbeliever.”
Making a concentrated effort to disengage from sinful behavior and activity, and seeking the pleasure of Allah is vital to the well being of one’s heart.

As Ibn Al Qayyim (rahimahullah) has stated,

“The keys to the life of the heart lie in reflecting upon the Qur’an, being humble before Allah in secret, and leaving sins.”

[Haadee al-Arwaah ilaa Bilaad al-Afraah (p.45) of Ibn al-Qayyim]
The committing of sins is what takes one from having a sick heart to a dead heart. A dead heart is most dangerous, as it is devoid of any love for obedience to Allah and his beloved Messenger (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam). A dead heart submits to its desires instead of submitting to Allah.

As the Prophet (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) warned:

“The temptations are presented to the heart, one by one. Any heart accepts them will be left with a black stain, but any heart that rejects them will be left with a mark of purity, so that hearts are of two types; a dark heart that has turned away and become like an overturned vessel, and a pure heart that will never be harmed by temptation for as long as the heavens and the earth exist. The dark heart only recognises good and denounces evil when this suits its desires and whims.”

[Sahih Muslim, Kitab Ar-riqaq 2/170 with different wording]
I know this may be easier said that done, but know that leaving all sins immediately is the first step toward purifying the heart. I advise reading the following for an excellent reminder that Allah is watching us at all times, even when we sin:


2. Never Delay or Miss Salah

Salah is beautiful; it not only allows us to take time from our day to reflect and connect with Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala, but is a means of purification for both the body and soul. To add more, studies have found that prayer (salah specifically) is found to lower blood pressure, heart rate, and calm the mind and body.

Revolve your daily routine around the salah times, and always ensure that it is done at a steady pace with khushu’. The Prophet (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) advised us:

“When you stand to pray, pray as if it is your last prayer, don’t speak with that which you would apologize for tomorrow, and be hopeless for that which is in the hands of the people.”

[Imaam Ahmad, Authenticated by Al-Albaanee]
Please see this answer on how to attain khushu’ in salah, and enjoy this act of ibadah. And linked below is an excellent article on the effect salah has in removing sins:

The Prayer and its Effect in Removing Sins
3. Recite Qur’an Daily & Often

Recitation of the Qur’an is one of the best means to soften and instill love for Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala in one’s heart. The Qur’an mends and heals broken, hard, and sick hearts.

As Amir-ul-Mu’mineen Uthman ibn Affan (radhiAllahu ‘anhu) stated:

“If our hearts were truly pure, we would never get enough of the Words of our Lord, and I hate that one day passes with me not looking in the Mushaf.”

[Al-Bidayah wan-Nihayah (7/215)]
Reading, reciting, and reflecting upon the words of Allah increases one in humility and submission. It places love for Allah and his Messenger of Allah (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) in the heart, and allows one to come closer to Him.

As Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala tells us:

“And they fall upon their faces weeping, and the Qur’an increases them in humble submission.”

(Surat al-Israa, 17:109)
Set some time everyday, even if it is as little as ten minutes, to recite the Qur’an, reflect upon its verses, and ponder over its meanings. For more tips, please read the following:

“How to Get my Heart Attached to the Qur’an”
4. Work on Attaining Khushu’ in Salah

This is my final piece of advice, though no less important. As mentioned above as well, try your best to attain khushu’ in salah. Concentrating in salah is essential to seeking nearness to Allah, and gaining its full benefits.

Isam ibn Yusuf, may Allāh have mercy on him, passed by Hatim al-Asamm who was talking in his gathering.

He asked, “Hatim, have you made your prayer good?”

He replied, “Yes.”

He asked, “How do you pray?”

He replied, “I stand at the command, I walk in fear, I commence with the intention, I perform the takbir bearing in mind His greatness, I recite at a measured pace, carefully and with contemplation, I bow with khushu‘, I prostrate in meekness, I sit and read the whole tashahhud, and then I perform the salam in accordance to the Sunnah. I pray with sincerity to Allāh, Mighty and Magnificent, and yet I fear that it will not be accepted of me; however I will preserve it as much as I can until I die.”

He said, “Keep talking for you have indeed excelled in your prayer.”

[Marwazi, Ta’zim al-Qadr al-Salah, no. 140]
For more on khushu’, please see:

The Five Levels of Performance in Prayer
The Prayer of the Lovers
And for additional articles/advice that may help see:

The Corruption of the Heat by Ibn Al-Qayyim
How to Rectify Your Heart by Shaykh Abu Islam ibn Saalih
In addition to all of the above, make sincere du’a to Allah to soften your heart, and always seek refuge in Him. Do not be negligent in upholding your duties to Him, and know that He is the only one who will be able to aid you.

“O son of Adam! If you mention Me to yourself, I will mention you to Myself. If you mention Me in a gathering, I will mention you in a gathering of the angels (or said in a better gathering). If you draw closer to Me by a hand span, I will draw closer to you by forearm’s length. If you draw closer to Me by a forearm’s length, I will draw closer to you by an arm’s length. And if you come to Me walking, I will come to you running).”

[Recorded in Sahih Al-Bukhari]
Recite the du’a below often, as the Prophet (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) did:

يَا مُقَلِّبَ الْقُلُوبِ ثَبِّتْ قَلْبِى عَلَى دِينِكَ

Yaa Muqallibal Quloob Thabbit Qalbee ‘alaa Deenik.

“Oh turner of the hearts (Allah, the Most High), keep our hearts firm on your religion.”

[Authenticated by al-Albanee in al-Jaam’i as-Sagheer 1323/7988]
Wa anta fajazakAllahu khayran, and I truly hope the advice above helps, In shaa’ Allah! May Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala allow you to taste the sweetness of the deen, and ease your affairs.

May Allah forgive me if I have stated anything incorrect. All good comes from Him alone.
Walaikum Assalaam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu brother/sister,

I hope this finds you in the best of health & iman.

The first step toward rectifying a problem, whether it’s in regard to one’s deen or otherwise, is recognizing where shortcomings lie. So may Allah reward you for understanding the issue, and seeking to come closer to Him.

Hardness of the heart is a common problem that many of us, including myself, strive against on a daily basis. Being aware of one’s lack of iman and hard heart is also one of the most disheartening feelings. Know that the heart is the key or gateway to earning the blessings of Allah, and strengthening one’s deen and iman. And purity of the heart has been stressed time and time again in the Sunnah.

As the Prophet (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) has said:

“There is a small piece in the human body. If it is pure, the whole body becomes pure. However, if it is corrupt, the whole body becomes corrupt. Indeed it is the heart.”

[Reported in Sahih Bukhari]
There’s a great deal of advice that can be given concerning how one may soften the heart, and taste the sweetness of iman, but the following tips are what I personally find to have helped me:

Avoid sins like the plague
Never delay or miss salah
Recite Qur’an daily & often
Work on attaining Khushu’ in salah
1. Avoid Sins like the Plague

This is crucial in preventing hardness of the heart. Sins blind the heart, deterring one from good deeds, and act as a catalyst for persisting in wrongdoing.

As Ibn Taymiyyah (rahimahullah) said in his Kitab Al-Iman:

“Just as the person who closes his eyes doesn’t see anything even if he isn’t blind, likewise the case of the heart in relation to the stain of sins which blind the heart so that it doesn’t see the truth. This is the case even if the heart is not blind, like the blindness of the disbeliever.”
Making a concentrated effort to disengage from sinful behavior and activity, and seeking the pleasure of Allah is vital to the well being of one’s heart.

As Ibn Al Qayyim (rahimahullah) has stated,

“The keys to the life of the heart lie in reflecting upon the Qur’an, being humble before Allah in secret, and leaving sins.”

[Haadee al-Arwaah ilaa Bilaad al-Afraah (p.45) of Ibn al-Qayyim]
The committing of sins is what takes one from having a sick heart to a dead heart. A dead heart is most dangerous, as it is devoid of any love for obedience to Allah and his beloved Messenger (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam). A dead heart submits to its desires instead of submitting to Allah.

As the Prophet (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) warned:

“The temptations are presented to the heart, one by one. Any heart accepts them will be left with a black stain, but any heart that rejects them will be left with a mark of purity, so that hearts are of two types; a dark heart that has turned away and become like an overturned vessel, and a pure heart that will never be harmed by temptation for as long as the heavens and the earth exist. The dark heart only recognises good and denounces evil when this suits its desires and whims.”

[Sahih Muslim, Kitab Ar-riqaq 2/170 with different wording]
I know this may be easier said that done, but know that leaving all sins immediately is the first step toward purifying the heart. I advise reading the following for an excellent reminder that Allah is watching us at all times, even when we sin:

Practice Five Things
2. Never Delay or Miss Salah

Salah is beautiful; it not only allows us to take time from our day to reflect and connect with Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala, but is a means of purification for both the body and soul. To add more, studies have found that prayer (salah specifically) is found to lower blood pressure, heart rate, and calm the mind and body.

Revolve your daily routine around the salah times, and always ensure that it is done at a steady pace with khushu’. The Prophet (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) advised us:

“When you stand to pray, pray as if it is your last prayer, don’t speak with that which you would apologize for tomorrow, and be hopeless for that which is in the hands of the people.”

[Imaam Ahmad, Authenticated by Al-Albaanee]
Please see this answer on how to attain khushu’ in salah, and enjoy this act of ibadah. And linked below is an excellent article on the effect salah has in removing sins:

The Prayer and its Effect in Removing Sins
3. Recite Qur’an Daily & Often

Recitation of the Qur’an is one of the best means to soften and instill love for Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala in one’s heart. The Qur’an mends and heals broken, hard, and sick hearts.

As Amir-ul-Mu’mineen Uthman ibn Affan (radhiAllahu ‘anhu) stated:

“If our hearts were truly pure, we would never get enough of the Words of our Lord, and I hate that one day passes with me not looking in the Mushaf.”

[Al-Bidayah wan-Nihayah (7/215)]
Reading, reciting, and reflecting upon the words of Allah increases one in humility and submission. It places love for Allah and his Messenger of Allah (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) in the heart, and allows one to come closer to Him.

As Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala tells us:

“And they fall upon their faces weeping, and the Qur’an increases them in humble submission.”

(Surat al-Israa, 17:109)
Set some time everyday, even if it is as little as ten minutes, to recite the Qur’an, reflect upon its verses, and ponder over its meanings. For more tips, please read the following:

“How to Get my Heart Attached to the Qur’an”
4. Work on Attaining Khushu’ in Salah

This is my final piece of advice, though no less important. As mentioned above as well, try your best to attain khushu’ in salah. Concentrating in salah is essential to seeking nearness to Allah, and gaining its full benefits.

Isam ibn Yusuf, may Allāh have mercy on him, passed by Hatim al-Asamm who was talking in his gathering.

He asked, “Hatim, have you made your prayer good?”

He replied, “Yes.”

He asked, “How do you pray?”

He replied, “I stand at the command, I walk in fear, I commence with the intention, I perform the takbir bearing in mind His greatness, I recite at a measured pace, carefully and with contemplation, I bow with khushu‘, I prostrate in meekness, I sit and read the whole tashahhud, and then I perform the salam in accordance to the Sunnah. I pray with sincerity to Allāh, Mighty and Magnificent, and yet I fear that it will not be accepted of me; however I will preserve it as much as I can until I die.”

He said, “Keep talking for you have indeed excelled in your prayer.”

[Marwazi, Ta’zim al-Qadr al-Salah, no. 140]
For more on khushu’, please see:

The Five Levels of Performance in Prayer
The Prayer of the Lovers
And for additional articles/advice that may help see:

The Corruption of the Heat by Ibn Al-Qayyim
How to Rectify Your Heart by Shaykh Abu Islam ibn Saalih
In addition to all of the above, make sincere du’a to Allah to soften your heart, and always seek refuge in Him. Do not be negligent in upholding your duties to Him, and know that He is the only one who will be able to aid you.

“O son of Adam! If you mention Me to yourself, I will mention you to Myself. If you mention Me in a gathering, I will mention you in a gathering of the angels (or said in a better gathering). If you draw closer to Me by a hand span, I will draw closer to you by forearm’s length. If you draw closer to Me by a forearm’s length, I will draw closer to you by an arm’s length. And if you come to Me walking, I will come to you running).”

[Recorded in Sahih Al-Bukhari]
Recite the du’a below often, as the Prophet (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) did:

يَا مُقَلِّبَ الْقُلُوبِ ثَبِّتْ قَلْبِى عَلَى دِينِكَ

Yaa Muqallibal Quloob Thabbit Qalbee ‘alaa Deenik.

“Oh turner of the hearts (Allah, the Most High), keep our hearts firm on your religion.”

[Authenticated by al-Albanee in al-Jaam’i as-Sagheer 1323/7988]

Wa anta fajazakAllahu khayran, and I truly hope the advice above helps, In shaa’ Allah! May Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala allow you to taste the sweetness of the deen, and ease your affairs.

May Allah forgive me if I have stated anything incorrect. All good comes from Him alone. "

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