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Diseases of the Spiritual Heart: Introduction

By: Zainab Nawaz

In a month like Ramadan, we see the reality of who we really are. Our nafs is exposed. Shaytaan is no longer to blame, and we are left with nothing but ourselves.

Why do we still want to sin in a month where Shaytaan is locked up? This is because sins have become a regular part of our lives. They have seeped into our hearts, and have become more than bad habits.

They are diseases.

Just like the heart and body can become physically ill, so can the spiritual heart. When a person has a physical disease, you see symptoms of their disease manifested. Similarly, when a spiritual heart is diseased, symptoms are also visible.

We just don’t know what they are.

The state of the spiritual heart is actually a very big part of our tradition. The Qur’an immediately sets out to define three times of people:

1) Mu’minoon (believers) are described as having hearts that are alive

2) Kaafiroon (disbelievers) are described as having hearts that are dead

3) Munafiqoon (hypocrites) are described as having diseased hearts

Many of us have hearts that are diseased, so which category do we fall into? Do we really want to have characteristics of a hypocrite?

We focus so much on the outward part of our Deen, which yes – is very important, but what good is a person who looks good on the outside but is dirty on the inside?

When we commit sins, it directly affects our spiritual heart. Our heart becomes agitated. Many times instead of realizing what we just did, we busy ourselves with distractions.

We cover that feeling up.

Now if we go days after that without repenting… and those days turn into weeks, and months, and years… what happens to our hearts?

Exactly what would happen to a sick person who never takes their medicine.

In the Qur’an, Allah (swt) says:

“And [by] the soul and He who proportioned it and inspired it [with discernment of] its wickedness and its righteousness, He has succeeded who purifies it, and he has failed who instills it [with corruption]” [91:8-10]

Allah (swt) has placed a moral compass within all of us. We all know very well what is right and what is wrong. Our hearts have lowly desires, and these verses clearly state that the successful person is the one who purifies their heart.

In Surah ash Shuraa, Allah (swt) says that a great Day is coming, the Day of Judgement. This is a Day where no children or wealth will avail anyone. These things will not benefit a person on that Day. Instead, what will benefit people on that Day?

Qalb saleem,’ A sound heart.

A sound heart is one that is free from the defects or any blemishes. A heart free from diseased. This is what we should be striving for.

True freedom is achieved once one realizes the qualities of shame and humility, and empties oneself from their opposites. So many people claim to be ‘free’ but cannot control themselves from gluttony in the presence of food or unlawful sexual relations when the opportunity presents itself.

The real meaning of freedom is when a temptation presents itself and a person is able to remain God fearing and in control.

The Prophet Muhammad (saw) said:

“That which is lawful is clear and that which is unlawful is clear, and between the two of them are doubtful matters about which many people do not know. Thus he who avoids doubtful matters clears himself in regard to his religion and his honour, but he who falls into doubtful matters [eventually] falls into that which is unlawful, like the shepherd who pastures around a sanctuary, all but grazing therein. Truly every king has a sanctuary, and truly Allah’s sanctuary is His prohibitions. Truly in the body there is a morsel of flesh, which, if it be whole, all the body is whole, and which, if it is diseased, all of [the body] is diseased. Truly, it is the heart.” [Bukhari & Muslim]

This teaches us that if a person’s heart is safe, so are all of their limbs and organs, for they act out what is inspired by the heart. A clean heart means clean actions.

This is clearly a path we should all embark upon. One that is important, and extremely forgotten. We must make ourselves aware of what these diseases are, and work really hard to cure these diseases. For the one who does, is the one that is successful.

That is the objective of this column. I will be going through each of the diseases we do have, or could have in our hearts.

I will be writing about what those diseases are, what their signs and symptoms are, and what the cure is for each one of them.

These posts will be based off of an amazing book, ‘Purification of the Heart: Signs, Symptoms, and Cures of the Spiritual Diseases of the Heart,’ translated and commented on by Hamza Yusuf.

Let’s purify our hearts together and become people worthy of Jannah, in shaa Allah.

Diseases of the Spiritual Heart: A column on www.beautyintheordinaryblog.com, written by Zainab Nawaz. In this day and age, there is so much focus on what we look like, and less focus on who we are on the inside. In fact, we know so little about the state of our own hearts. We are not self aware, and we avoid looking at what our own faults are and yet are so quick to point out the flaws in others! In reality, our spiritual hearts are diseased and anything negative that comes out of us is merely a symptom of the disease. The purpose of this column is to educate both myself and others on what these diseases are, how we can tell if we have them, and how we can purify ourselves from them, in shaa Allah.

A little about the writer:

I am a reader at heart and a writer down to my soul! Words were always a big part of my life, whether they were the words I read when I was happy or the truth that poured out of me through the pen in my hand. Alhamdulillah, I am the creator of this blog and have been so honoured to be a part of your life's journey. Whether it is a story you are telling or knowledge you are sharing, please know that I am deeply touched to be a part of this with you. I have a passion for Islamic knowledge and am embarking upon my own journey as I begin the Ribaat Rabata Certificate of a Religious Leader program. I am a daughter, a sister, a friend, a teacher, and a believer before I am anything else. May Allah (swt) accept from us all. Ameen!

Zainab Nawaz

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