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Purification Of The Soul- Position Of The Heart

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"And keep yourself (O Muhammad *saaws* patiently with those who

call on their Lord (your companions who remember their Lord with

glorification, praising in prayers, etc., and other righteous

deeds, etc.) morning and afternoon, seeking His Face, and let

not your eyes overlook them, desiring the pomp and glitter of

the life of the world; and obey not him whose heart We have made

heedless of Our Remembrance, one who follows his own lusts and

whose affair (deeds) has been lost."

Al-Quran: Surah 18: Al-Kahf ayat 28.



The Four Poisons Of The Heart




You should know that all acts of disobedience are poision to the

heart and cause its sickness and ruin. They result in its will

running off course, against that of Allah, and so its sickness

festers and increases. Ibn al-Mubarak said:

I have seen wrong actions killing hearts,

And their degradation may lead to

their bcoming addicted to them. Turning away

from wrong actions

gives life to the hearts, And opposing

your self is best for it.


Whoever is concerned with the health and life of his

heart, must rid it of the effects of such poisons, and

then protect it by avoiding new ones. If he takes any by

mistake, then he should hasten to wipe out their effect by

turning in repentance and seeking forgiveness from Allah, as

well as by doing good deeds that will wipe out his wrong



By the four poisions we mean unnecessary talking,

unrestrained glances, too much food, and keeping bad

company. Of all the poisons, these are the most widespread and

have the greatest effect on a heart's well-being.


Unnecessary Talking


It is reported in al-Musnad, on the authority of Anas,

that the Prophet *saaws* said: "The faith of a servant

is not put right until his heart is put right, and his heart is

not put right until his tongue is put right."1 This shows that

the Prophet *saaws* has made the purification of faith

conditional on the purification of the heart, and the

purification of the heart conditional on the purification of the



At-Tirmidhi relates in a hadith on the authority of Ibn

Umar: "Do not talk excessively without remembering

Allah, because such excessive talk without the mention of Allah

causes the heart to harden, and the person furthest from Allah

is a person with a hard heart."2


Umar Ibn al-Khattab, may Allah be pleased with him,

said: "A person who talks too much is a person who often

makes mistakes, and someone who often makes mistakes, often has

wrong actions. The Fire has a priority over such a freqent



In a hadith related on the authority of Mu'adh, the

Prophet *saaws* said, "Shall I not tell you how to

control all that?" I said, "Yes do, O Messenger of Allah." So

he held his tongue between his fingers, and then he said:

"Restrain this." I said, "Oh Prophet of Allah, are we

accountable for what we say?" He *saaws* said, "May your mother

be bereft by your loss! Is there anything more than the harvest

of the tongues that throws people on their faces (or he said 'on

their noses') into the Fire?"4


What is meant here by 'the harvest of the tongues' is

the punishment for saying forbidden things. A man,

through his actions and words, sows the seeds of either good or

evil. On the Day of Resurrection he harvests their fruits. Those

who sow the seeds of good words and deeds harvest honour and

blessings; those who sow the seeds of evil words and deeds reap

only regret and remorse.


A hadith related by Abu Huraira says, "What mostly

causes people to be sent to the Fire are the two

openings: the mouth and the private parts."5


Abu Huraira also related that the Messenger of Allah

*saaws* said, "The servant speaks words, the

consequences of which he does not realise, and for which he is

sent down into the depths of the Fire further than the distance

between the east and the west."6


The same hadith was transmitted by at-Tirmidhi with

slight variations: "The servant says something that he

thinks is harmless, and for which he will be plunged into the

depths of the Fire as far as seventy autumns."7


Uqba ibn Amir said: "I said: "O Messenger of Allah, what

is our best way of surviving?' He, may Allah bless him

and grant him peace, replied: "Guard your tongue, make your

house suffice for sheltering your privacy, and weep for your

wrong actions."8


It has been related on the authority of Sahl ibn Sa'd

that the Prophet *saaws* said, "Whoever can guarantee

what is between his jaws and what is between his legs, I

guarantee him the Garden."9


It has also been related by Abu Huraira, may Allah be

pleased with him, that the Prophet, may Allah bless him

and grant him peace, said, "Let whoever believes in Allah and

the Last Day either speak good or remain silent."10


Thus talking can either be good, in which case it is

commendable, or bad, in which case it is haram.


The Prophet *saaws* said: "Everything the children of

Adam say goes against them, except for their enjoining

good and forbidding evil, and remembering Allah, Glorius and

Might is He." This was reported by at-Tirmidhi and Ibn Ma'jah on

the authority of Umm Habiba, may Allah be pleased with her.11


Umar ibn al-Khattab visited Abu Bakr, may Allah be

pleased with them, and found him pulling his tongue with

his fingers. Umar said "Stop! may Allah forgive you!" Abu Bakr

replied; "This tongue has brought me to dangerous places."12


Abdullah ibn Mas'ud said: "By Allah, besides Whom no god

exists, nothing deserves a long prison sentence more

than my tongue." He also used to say: "O tongue, say good and

you will profit;desist from saying evil things and you will be

safe; otherwise you will find only regret."


Abu Huraira reported that Ibn al-Abbas said: "A person

will not feel greater fury or anger for any part of his

body on the Day of Judgement more than what he will feel for his

tongue, unless he only used it for saying or enjoining good."


Al-Hassan said: "Whoever does not hold his tongue cannot

understand his deen."


The least harmful of a tongue's faults is talking about

whatever does not concern it. The following hadith of

the Prohet *saaws* is enough to indicate the harm of this fault:

"One of the merits of a person's Islam is his abandoning what

does not concer him."13


Abu Ubaida related that al-Hassan said: "One of the

signs of Allah's abandoning a servant is His making him

preoccupied with what does not concern him."


Sahl said, "Whoever talks about what does not concern

him is deprived of truthfulness."


As we have already mentioned above, this is the least

harmful of the tongue's faults. There are far worse

things, like backbiting, gossipying, obscene and misleading

talk, two-faced and hypocritical talk, showing off, quarrelling,

bickering, singing, lying, mockery, derision and falsehood; and

there are many more faults which can affect a servant's tongue,

ruining his heart and causing him to lose both his happiness and

pleasure in this life, and his success and profit in the next

life. Allah is the One to Whom we turn for assistance


Unrestrained Glances


The unrestrained glance results in the one who looks

becoming attracted to what he sees, and in the

imprinting of an image of what he sees in his heart. This can

result in several kinds of corruption in the heart of the

servant. The following are a number of them:::


It has been related that the Prophet *saaws* once said

words to the effect: "The glance is a poisoned arrow of

shaytan. Whoever lowers his gaze for Allah, He will bestow upon

him a refreshing sweetness which he will find in his heart on

the day that he meets Him."14


Shaytan enters with the glance, for he travels with it,

faster than the wind blowing through an empty place. He

makes what is seen appear more beautiful than it really is, and

transforms it into an idol for the heart to worship. Then he

promises it false rewards, lights the fire of desires within it,

and fuels it with the wood of forbidden actions, which the

servant would not have committed had it not been for this

distorted image.


This distracts the heart and makes it forget its more

important concerns. It stands between it and them; and

so the heart loses its straight path and falls into the pit of

desire and ignorance. Allah, Mighty and Glorious is He, says:


And do not obey anyone whose heart WE have made

forgetful in

remembering Us- who follows his own desires, and

whose affair has exceeded all bounds. (18:28)--<*


The unrestrained gaze causes all three afflications.


It has been said that between the eye and the heart is

an immediate connection; if the eyes are corrupted, then

the heart follows. It becomes like a rubbish heap where all the

dirt and filth and rottennes collect, and so there is no room

for love for Allah, relating all matters to Him, awareness of

being in His presence, and feeling joy at His proximity-only the

opposite of these things can inhabit such a heart.


Staring and gazing without restraint is disobedience to



Tell the believing men to lower their gaze and quard


modesty; that is more purifying for them. Surely

Allah is aware of what they do. (24:30)


Only the one who obeys Allah's commands is content in

this world, and only the servant who obeys Allah will

survive in the next world.


Furthermore, letting the gaze roam free cloaks the heart

with darkness, just as lowering the gaze for Allah

clothes it in light. After the above ayah, Allah, the Glorious

and Mighty, says in the same surah of the the Qur'an:


Allah is the light of the heavens and the earth: the

likeness of His light is as if there were a niche, and

in the niche is a lamp, and in the lamp is a glass, and

the glass as it were a brilliant star, lit from a

blessed tree, an olive, neither of the east nor of the

west, whose oil is well nigh luminous, though fire

scarce touched it. Light upon light. 'Allah guides

whomever He wants to His Light. Allah strikes metaphors

for man; and Allah knows all things. (24:35)


When the heart is a light, countless good comes to it

from all directions. If it is dark, then clouds of evil

and afflictions come from all directions to cover it up.


Letting the gaze run loose also makes the heart blind to

distinguishing between truth and falsehood, between the sunnah

and innovation; while lowering it for Allah, the Might and

Exalted, gives it a penetrating, true and distinguishing



A righteous man once said: "Whoever enriches his outward

behaviour by follwing the sunnah, and makes his inward

soul weathy thorugh contemplation, and averts his gaze away from

looking at what is forbidden, and avoids anything of a doubtful

nature, and feeds soley on what is halal-his inner sight will

never falter."


Rewards for actions come in kind. Whoever lowers his

gaze from what Allah has forbidden, Allah will give his

inner sight abundant light.


***Too much Food, Keeping Bad Company, and What Gives

the Heart Life and Sustence from this chapter, will be

sent tommorrow by the will of Allah***



Too Much Food


The consumption of small amounts of food guarantees

tenderness of the heart, strenght of the intellect,

humility of the self, weakness of desires, and gentleness of

temperament. Immoderate eating brings about the opposite of

these praiseworthy qualities.


Al-Miqdam ibn Ma'd Yakrib said: "I heard the Messenger

of Allah *saaws* say: "THe son of Adam fills no vessel

more displeasing to Allah than his stomach. A few morsels should

be enough for him to preserve his strength. If he must fil it,

then he should allow a third for his food, a third for his drink

and leave a third empty for easy breathing."15


Excessive eating induces many kinds of harm. It makes

the body incline towards disobedience to Allah and makes

worship and obedience seem laborious-such evils are bad enough

in themselves. A full stomach and excessive eating have caused

many a wrong action and inhibited much worship. Whoever

safeguards against the evils of overfilling his stomach has

prevented great evil. It is easier for shaytan to control a

person who has filled his stomach with food and drink, which is

why it has often been said: "Restrict the pathways of shaytan by



It has been reported that when a group of young men from

the Tribe of Israel were worshipping, and it was time

for them to break their fast, a man stood up and said: "Do not

eat too much, otherwise you will drink too much, and then you

will end up sleeping too much, and then you will lose too much."


The Prophet *saaws* and his companions, may Allah be

pleased with them, used to go hungry quite frequently.

Although this was often due to a shortage of food, Allah decreed

the best and most favourable conditions for His Messenger, may

Allah bless him and grant him peace. This is why Ibn Umar and

his father before him-in spite of the abundance of food

available to them-modelled their eating habits on those of the

Prophet *saaws*. It has been reported that Aisha, may Allah be

pleased with her, said: "From the time of their arrival in

Madina up until his death *saaws*, the family of Muhammed

*saaws* never ate their fill of bread made from wheat three

nights in a row."17


Ibrahim ibn Adham said: "Any one who controls his

stomach is in control of his deen, and anyone who

controls his hunger is in control of good behaviour.

Disobedience towardsions we mean unnecessary talkingo is

satiated with a full stomach, and furthest away from a person

who is hungry."



Keeping Bad Company

Unnecessary companionship is a chronic disease that

causes much harm. How often have the wrong kind of

companionship and intermixing deprived people of Allah's

generosity, planting discord in their hearts which even the

passage of time-even if it were long enough for mountains to be

worn away-has been unable to dispel. In keeping such company

one can find the roots of loss, both in this life and in the

next life.


A servant should benefit from companionship. In order to

do so he should divide people into four categories, and

be careful not to get them mixed up, for once one of them is

mixed with another, then evil can find its way through to him:


The *FIRST* category are those people whose company is

like food: it is indispensable, night or day. Once a

servant has taken his need from it, he leaves it be until he

requires it again, and so on. These are the people with

knowledge of Allah-of His commands, of the scheming of His

enemies, and of the diseases of the heart and their remedies-

who wish well for Allah, His Prophet *saaws* and His servants.

Associating with this type of person is an achievement in



The *SECOND* category are those people whose company is

like a medicine. They are only required when a disease

sets in. When you are healthy, you have no need of them.

However, mixing with them is sometimes necessary for your

livelihood, businesses, consultation and the like. Once what

you need from them has been fulfilled, mixing with them should

be avoided.


The *THIRD* category are those people whose company is

harmful. Mixing with this type of person is like a

disease, in all its variety and degrees and strengths and

weaknesses. Associating with one or some of them is like an

incurable chronic disease. You will never profit either in this

life or in the next life if you have them for company, and you

will surely lose either one or both of your deen and your

livelihood because of them. If their companionship has taken

hold of you and is established, then it becomes a fatal,

terrifying sickness.


Amongst such people are those who neither speak any good

that might benefit you, nor listen cloesly to you so

that they might benefit from you. They do not know their souls

and consequently put their selves in their rightful place. If

they speak, their words fall on their listeners' hearts like the

lashes of a cane, while all the while they are full of

admiration for and delight in their own words.


They cause distress to those in their company, while

believing that they are the sweet scent of the

gathering. If they are silent, they are heavier than a massive

millstone-too heavy to carry or even drag across the floor. 18


All in all, mixing with anyone who is bad for the soul

will not last, even if it is unavoidable. It can be one

of the most distressing aspects of a servant's life that he is

plagued by such person, with whom it may be necessary to

associate. In such a relationship, a servant should cling to

good behaviour, only presenting him with his outward appearance,

while disguising his inner soul, until Allah offers him a way

out of his affliction and the means of escape from this



The *FOURTH* category are those people whose company is

doom itself. It is like taking poision: its victim

either finds an antidote or perishes. Many people belong to

this category. They are the people of religious innovation and

misguidance, those who abandon the sunnah of the Messenger of

Allah *saaws* and advocate other beliefs. They call what is the

sunnah a bid'a and vice-versa. A man with any intellect should

not sit in their assemblies nor mix with them. The result of

doing so will either be the death of his heart or, at the very

best, its falling seriously ill.


What Gives the Heart Life and Sustenance


You should know that acts of obedience are essential to

the well being of the servant's heart, just in the same

way that food and drink are to that of the body. All wrong

actions are the same as poisonous foods, and they inevitably

harm the heart.


The servant feels the need to worship his Lord, Mighty

and Glorious is He, for he is naturally in constant need

of His help and assistance.


In order to maintain the well being of his body, the

servant carefully follows a strict diet. He habitually

and constantly eats good food at regular intervals, and is quick

to free his stomach of harmful elements if he happens to eat bad

food by mistake.


The well being of the servant's heart, however, is far

more important than that of his body, for while the well

being of his body enables him to lead a life that is free from

illnesses in this world, that of the heart ensures him both a

fortunate life in this world and eternal bliss in the next.


In the same way, while the death of the body cuts the

servant off from this world, the death of the heart

results in everlasting anguish. A righteous man once said, "How

odd, that some people mourn for the one whose body has died, but

never mourn for the one whose heart has died-and yet the death

of the heart is far more serious!"


Thus acts of obedience are indispensable to the well

being of the heart. It is worthwhile mentioning the

following acts of obedience here, since they are very necessary

and essential for the servant's heart: ---Dhikr of Allah

ta'Ala, recitation of the Noble Qur'an, seeking Allah's

forgiveness, making du'as, invoking Allah's blessings and peace

on the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, and

praying at night.*





1. Da'if hadith, Al-Mundhari, 3/234; and al-Iraqi in al-Ihya,

8/1539. 2. Da'if hadith, at-Tirmdihi, Kitab az-Zuhud, 7/92,

gharib; no one else has transmitted it other than Ibrahim ibn

Abdullah ibn Hatib, whom ath-Thahabi mentions, 1/43, stating

that this is one of the gharib hadith attributed to him. 3.

Da'if hadith, Ibn Hibban and al-Baihaqi, and al-Iraqi in his

edition of al-Ihya, 8/1541. 4. Sahih hadith, at-Tirmidhi,

al-Hakim, ath-Thahabi. 5. Sahih hadith, at-Tirmidhi and Ahmad;

also al-Hakum and ath-Thahabi. 6. Al-Bukhari in Kitab ar-Riqaq,

and Muslim in Kitab az-Zuhud. 7. At-Tirmdihi, Kitab az-Zuhud;

he said the hadith is hasan gharib. 8. At-Tirmdihi in Kitab

az-Zuhud with a slightly different wording; he said the hadith

is hasan. This wording is reported by Abu Na'im in al-Hilya. 9.

Al-Buhhari, Kitab ar-Riqaq, 11/308 and Kitab al-Hudud, 12/113.

10. Al-Bukhari, Kitab ar-Riqaq, 11/308; Muslim, Kitab al-Iman,

2/18. The complete hadith is: "Let whoever believes in Allah and

the Last Day either speak good or remain silent; and let whoever

believes in Allah and the Last Day be generous to his neighbour;

and let whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day be generous

to his guest." 11. THe hadith is hasan and is reported by

at-Tirmdhi in Kitab az-Zuhud and by Ibn Majah in Kitab al-Fitan.

At-Tirmidhi classifies it as hasan gharib. We have no report of

it other than from Muhammad ibn Yazid ibn Khanis. 12. Hasan

according to Abu Ya'la, Baihaqi and as-Suyuti. Musnad, 1/201;

as-Sa'ati. 13. Sahih, at-Tirmdhi, Kitab az-Zuhud, 6/607; Ahmad,

al-Musnad, 1/201; as-Sa'ati, al-Fath ar-Rabbani, 19/257; hadith

number 12 in an-Nawawi's Forty Hadiths. 14. Da'if, at-Tabarani,

8/63; al-Hakim, al-Mustadrak, 4/314; Ahmad, al-Musnad, 5/264.

15. Sahih, Ahmad, al-Musnad, 4/132; as-Sa'ati, al-Fath

ar-Rabbani, 17/88; at-Tirmidhi, Kitab az-Zuhud, 7/51. 16.

Da'if; it does not appear in most of the sources of the sunnah,

but is mentioned in al-Ghazzali's al-Ihya, 8/1488. 17.

Al-Bukhari, Kitab al-At'ima, 9/549; and Muslim, Kitab az-Zuhud,

8/105. 18. Ash-Shafi', may Allah be pleased with him, is

reported to have said, "Whenever a tedious person sits next to

me, the side on which he is sitting feels lower down than the

other side of me."


-------=-The Purification of the Soul-=---------------------

from the works of Ibn Rajab Al-Hanbabli, Ibn Al-Qayyim

al-Jawziyaa, and Abu Hamid al-Ghazali


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