Fasting of the heart

As Ramadan pushes on ever so quickly and the finishing line seems not so far away, we can tend to lose focus of our goal; the purification of our hearts.

Before I go any further, I would like to relate to you an inspiring story that occurred at the time of the Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him):

Once the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) was sitting with the sahabah and he told them that a man will show up and he will be from the people of Paradise, and this man entered. The following day the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said a man will show up and he belongs to Paradise and this same man came in. This incident repeated on the third day.

One of the companions, Abdullah ibn Amr ibn al As raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) wanted to know what was special about this man, so he went up to him and said, “I had a problem with my father and made an oath that I won’t enter his house for 3 days, can I stay with you?” and the man agreed.

So Abdullah raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) stayed with him and on the first night he expected to see the man awake performing qiyam al layl or maybe fast a voluntary fast. But the man slept and did not fast. Abdullah raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) began to wonder what was so special about this man but made the excuse that maybe the man had trouble that day and the next day he would stay awake in ibadah. But on the second and third day the man did not stay awake praying neither did he fast.

After the third day, Abdullah raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) went up to the man and said, “I didn’t have any problem with my father, I just wanted to see what is special about you, as the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said you are in jannah. So can you tell me what’s so special about you?”But the man did not know what it could be.However as Abdullah raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) was about to leave, the man called him back and said:

“There’s nothing different from what you have seen except that whenever I go to bed, I do not have any hatred or jealousy towards any Muslim”. Abdullah raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) then said: “this is why, that is the reason (for why he was promised Paradise)”  Musnad Ahmad

The point of the story is my dear sisters, that we may do every act possible in Ramadan : fast, pray tahajjud, read Qur’an but if our hearts remain the same (i.e. we backbite, feel envy and hatred) at the end of Ramadan then the grim reality is that this was a misused Ramadan. And none of us can assure that we will live to see the next Ramadan. The man in the story did not do any extra nawafil deeds but his entry to jannah was by preserving his heart and keeping out diseases that blacken the heart.

So we should use the rest of the time that we have to reflect- put pen to paper and list your main weakness. I admit it can be daunting but how are we to purify our hearts if we don’t confess to our weaknesses? And trust me sisters, I have a pretty big list that I need to work through too, insha’Allah.

Once you have listed these weaknesses then the next step is to find the solution- maybe you need to stay away from certain friends who encourage you to do bad, perhaps reduce watching TV and reflect more on the Qur’an by reading the tafsir so that it goes beyond our throats and reaches our heart. Otherwise the only thing we will gain from Ramadan is hunger and thirst and our hearts will remain unchanged.

The prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) even warned us by saying:

“Beware in the body there is a flesh, if it is sound, the whole body is sound, and if it is corrupt, the whole body is corrupt., and behold it is the heart” Al-Bukhari

In the Qur’an Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) says:

“Has not the time come for the hearts of those who believed to be affected by Allah’s subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) reminder, and that which has been revealed of the truth, lest they become as those who received the scripture (i.e. Jews and Christians) and the term was prolonged for them and so their hearts were hardened”  Surah Al Hadid: 16

So let’s make a pledge to work on our hearts- to expel those things which contaminate our good deeds and remember that whoever leaves something for Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He), He will replace it with something better.

To conclude, I pray that we all maximize our efforts in the remainder of Ramadan. That we open our eyes to our deficiencies and take steps to purify our hearts so that we can yield a harvest that will enable us to tread the path to jannatul firdaus. Ameen.

The Author

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2 Responses

  1. mehr July 23, 2013 / 1:23 pm

    Jazillah khyr.Much needed reminder.
    I wanted to ask that the companion(RA) had not made any oath but he said so to the man.Does this fall into the category of lying?

    • Umm Abdur Rahman July 23, 2013 / 3:48 pm

      Jazak Allah Khair for the question.

      When coming across the hadith, it says that Abdullah ibn Amr (ra) made an ‘excuse’ as he wanted to see what it was that the man was doing that granted him jannah. Also, from what I can gather, Abdullah ibn Amr (ra) intended to tell the man the real situation, which is why after the 3 days he told the man that he didn’t have an argument with his father but in fact wanted to discover what it was that made that man so special.

      I hope that I have answered the question and may Allah (swt) forgive me for any errors in my answer.

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