The Alchemy Of The Heart

Already one day over during this blessed month. Before we know it, I’ll be having my morning coffees as though no time has passed. Again, who can actually understand the movement of time?

Setting aside time, let’s instead turn to a far more facile concept to understand – purification of the heart. My Prophet, peace and blessings upon him, said that Wrong action is what irritates the heart. I know that for me, when I do something wrong or hurtful, when I do not behave in good manner, when I act against God’s guidance, I often feel as though I am suffocating. Shortness of breath, and stress run me in such situations; it’s why I am a terrible liar. In the aftermath of such behaviour, I am often guilt-ridden (and quite grateful for it, because it helps to temper me and force my evolution at a snail’s pace to better).

As when I wrote about forgiveness, and the levels of character within that framework, it should come as no surprise that Islam, like many other faith traditions, believes that the inward state of our heart precedes the outward state of the world. It naturally follows, then, that if we wish to rectify the outside world, we must first rectify our inward state of being. Hence why today’s study was focused on purification of the heart.

While Muslims believe that our fitra (the natural beginning / resting place of a human) is to goodness, we also believe that within the human heart – both a spiritual and physical organ – always lie dormant spiritual diseases (vanity, anger, ostentation, envy, miserliness, etc.) which must be overcome, in an effort to elevate ourselves closer to God. These diseases, if nurtured, grow and take over our spiritual state. The more cut off our heart is from actions which elevate and purify (charity, forgiveness, trust, gratitude, etc.), the sicker the spiritual heart becomes. Coming full-circle then, since the inward precedes the outward, and considering the state of the world today, I believe that everyone needs to exercise a little more purification of their own hearts.

In pursuit of a purified heart, I am constantly struggling to do the right thing, because it is the right thing to do; I am always trying to soften, to be kinder, to find a gentler approach, and a more forgiving heart. (But never toward a munafiq, whom is better left to Allah.)

Almost daily, I fail in this task.

Hamza Yusuf (an American convert to Islam, and one of my favourite Muslim scholars) explained today that the very character of Islam is shame before God. It is doing the right thing / avoiding committing wrong even when no other human is present as witness, because Allah is always present and you do the right thing out of love for Him.

Reflecting upon this point, it dawned on me that perhaps the reason I keep failing is because I have not pinned the doing of the right thing to love. Instead, it sits as some detached behaviour simply ‘right’. So my first point of order, then, with intention as purification of the heart, is to shift the doing of the right thing from because it is the right thing to do to because of my love for Allah. I know that in application, when I do something out of love for a friend, I am far more likely to keep doing the thing. I imagine this is the same thing, but far more elevated.

I’ll keep you posted on how I fare now on.

Today, I am grateful for:
1. Getting through the first day of Ramadan without a headache, and minimal craving for water.
2. Spending the day cooking with momma. Or, really, spending the day hanging out with momma in the kitchen while she cooked.
3. Three months without the use of Q-tips. No more ear traumas for your girl, inshAllah.

Ottawa | May 6, 2019

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