Purification of the Soul-Symptoms of Sickness &
Signs of Health
Symptoms Of the Heart's Sickness & Signs of Its
(The Purification of the Soul)
"He it is Who sent down As-Sakinah (calmness and tranquillity)
into the hearts of the believers, that they may grow more in
Faith along with their (present) Faith. And to Allah belong the
hosts of the heavens and the earth, and Allah is Ever Al-Knower,
Al-Quran: Surah 48: Al-Fath ayat 4.
Four-Symptoms Of the Heart's Sickness & Signs of Its Health
************************* The Signs of a Sick Heart
A servant's heart may be ill, and seriously
deteriorating, while he remains oblivious of its
condition. It may even die without him realising it. The
symptoms of its sickness, or the signs of its death, are that
its owner is not aware of the harm that results from the damage
caused by wrong actions, and is unperturbed by his ignorance of
the truth or by his false beliefs.
Since the living heart experiences pain as a result of
any ugliness that it encounters and through its
recognising its ignorance of the truth (to a degree that
corresponds to its level of awareness), it is capable of
recognising the onset of decay-and the increase in the severity
of the remedy that will be needed to stop it-but then sometimes
it prefers to put up with the pain rather than undergo the
arduous trial of the cure!
Some of the many signs of the heart's sickness if its
turning away from good foods to harmful ones, from good
remedies to shameful sickness. The healthy heart prefers what
is beneficial and healing to what is harmful and damaging; the
sick heart prefers the opposite. The most beneficial sustenance
for the heart is faith and the best medicine is the Qur'an.
**************************** The Signs of a Healthy Heart
For the heart to be heality it should depart from this
life and arrive in the next, and then settle there as if
it were one of its people; it only came to this life as a
passer-by, taking whatever provisions it needed and then
returning home. As the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant
him peace, said to Abdullah ibn Umar, "Be in this world as if
you were a stranger or a passer-by."1 The More diseased the
heart is, the more it desires this world; it dwells in it until
it becomes like one of its people.
The healthy heart continues to trouble its owner until
he returns to Allah, and is at peace with Him, and joins
Him, like a lover driven by compulsion who finally reaches his
beloved. Besides his love for Him he needs no other, and after
invoking Him no other invocations are needed. Serving Him
precludes the need to serve any other.
If this heart misses its share of reciting the Qur'an
and invoking Allah, or completing one of the prescribed
acts of worship, then its owner suffers more distress than a
cautious man who suffers because of the loss of money or a
missed opportunity to make it. It longs to serve, just as a
famished person longs for food and drink.
Yahya ibn Mu'adh said: "Whoever is pleased with serving
Allah, everything will be pleased to serve him; and
whoever finds pleasure in contemplating Allah, all the people
will find pleasure in contemplating him."
This heart has only one concern: that all its actions,
and its inner thoughts and utterances, are obedient to
Allah. It is more careful with its time than the meanest people
are with their money, so that it will not be spent wastefully.
When it enters into the prayer, all its worldly worries and
anxieties vanish and it finds its comfort and bliss in adoring
its Lord. It does not cease to mention Allah, nor tire of
serving Him, and it finds intimate company with no-one save a
person who guides it to Allah and reminds it to Him.
Its attention to the correctness of its action is
greater than its attention to the action itself. It is
scrupulous in making sure that the intentions behind its actions
are sincere and pure and that they result in good deeds.
As well as and in spite of all this, it not only
testifies to the generosity of Allah in giving it the
opportunity to carry out such actions, but also testifies to its
own imperfection and shortcomings in executing them.
*********************************** The Causes of Sickness of
the Heart ***********************************
The temptations to which the heart is exposed are what
cause its sickness. These are the temptations of desires
and fancies. The former cause intentions and the will to be
corrupted, and the latter cause knowledge and belief to falter.
Hudhayfa ibn al-Yamani, may Allah be pleased with him,
said: "The Messenger of Allah *saaws* said, "Temptations
are presented to the heart, one by one. Any heart that 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 becom like an
overturned vessel, and a pure heart that will never be harmed by
temptation for as long as the earth and the heavens exist. The
dark heart only recognises good and denounces evil when this
suits its desires and whims." 2
He, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, placed
hearts, when exposed to temptation, into two
---->First, a heart which, when it is exposed to temptation,
absorbs it like a sponge that soaks up water, leaving a black
stain in it. It continues to absorb each temptation that is
offered to it until it is darkened and corrupted, which is what
he meant by "like an overturned vessel". When this happens, two
dangerous sicknesses take hold of it and plunge it into ruin:
The first is that of its confusing good with evil, to
such an extent that it does not recognise the former and
does not denounce the latter. This sickness may even gain hold
of it to such an extent that it believes good to be evil and
vice-versa, the sunnah to be bida' and vice-versa, the truth to
be false and falsity to be the truth.
The second is that of its setting up its desires as its
judge, over and above what the Prophet *saaws* taught,
so that it is enslaved and led by its whims and fancies.
----->Second, a pure heart which the light of faith is bright
and from which its radiance shines. When temptation is presented
to pure hearts such this, they oppose it and reject it, and so
their light and illumination only increase.*
Notes: 1. Al-Bukhari, Kitab ar-Riqaq, 11/233. 2. Muslim, Kitab
al-Iman, 2/170 (with different wording).
--------=-The Purification of the
from the works of Ibn Rajab Al-Hanbabli, Ibn
Al-Qayyim al-Jawziyaa, and Abu Hamid al-Ghazali