With the name of Allah, the most compassionate and the eternally merciful, I hope to start a new series of posts with the title of “Fiqh-ul-Qulub”, based on an encyclopaedia compiled by Muhammad Bin Ibrahim At-Tuwaijiri, which deals with the understanding of the heart. This book is a great treasure of wisdom and inspiration for all those who realize the importance of this life and know that this short journey can lead them to either the ultimate success or complete loss depending on the way they live it.
Being muslims we know that our success lies in following the will of Allah as described in the Quran and Hadith, but somehow a great many of us fail to get the true knowledge of this divine guidance and then out of those who get this knowledge, most of us fail on the next level which is the implementation of these teachings in our lives. Consequently the character which would reflect the true spirit of Islam has become a rare occurrence. That is why the most important question in my mind has always been:
“Why is the character and way of life of a majority of us so-called “practising muslims” so far away from the true spirit of Quran and Hadith?”
And even more importantly “What is the obstacle in the way of implementing our knowledge, and how can we remove it?”
Alhamdulillah these and many other questions have been answered in this wonderful book and I hope and pray that I might be able to share a few things that I learn from it. May Allah accept it and make it beneficial for all… ameen
Episode One: the key to success
“Certainly Allah has created the creation for his worship but it is not possible for anyone to worship Allah in the right way that would please Him, except by knowing our Lord, and knowing his names and attributes, and understanding His religion and His laws, and the knowledge of His reward and punishment.”
These are the opening words of the preface to “Fiqh-ul-Qulub”- the encyclopaedia of understanding hearts. What is most touching about this extraordinary book is that I found in it exactly what I was looking for… simple answers to complex questions!!
For example it would take chapters and chapters to define success and its components and then to describe the obstacles and the reasons why we cannot overcome those. But in this book you can see right from the start… that just in a few simple words the author has stated not only our goal of life but has also laid out the obstacles… in such a way that the solution seems to shine out even without him saying so.
Worship of Allah leads to success…
It should be pleasing to our Lord…
By Knowing our Lord
By knowing and understanding:
who is Allah?
What are His names?
What are his attributes/Qualities
What is Islam and its laws?
What are the rewards and punishments?
The question is why should we know about all these things? After all we do know that Allah is the one who created us and it is a duty on us to worship him… so we bow down to him five times a day… so what more do we need? This is the common train of thought in which we mistakenly think of worship as a set of rituals which we force down our throats like a bitter medicine which we “have to” take. And that is why even when our bodies are standing and prostrating, our hearts keep wandering in their own thoughts in which they are “involved”. True worship happens only when the heart is full of love and fear of Allah. And love and fear are the result of knowledge… not just information but the knowledge of the heart… Like for example you know there is a person called so and so and he works in such and such office and he lives in that city and his income is this much and so on… this is a partial knowledge in which we cannot hope to have any love or fear for that person. We might even recognize his face but we cannot have any feeling for him because we have never spent any time with him. So we don’t know what makes him happy or what angers him and so on. We cannot have any place in our heart for someone whom we don’t love nor fear. So if we have to take his orders it will be just a kind of compulsion which our heart will not accept. There will be no pleasure in his obedience… and so there will be no pleasure on his side as well.
This is what happens to us when we worship without feeling… the heart remains deprived of Allah’s love and so it seeks love from things that don’t really satisfy its need… and so our worship becomes just a part time job… and we forget that it was supposed to be our goal… our success. And so this mechanical worship does not give us the character of a true believer.
Solution: Open the heart and make it the chief participant in acts of worship. Read about Allah… Think about Allah… be conscious of Him and remember that even if you forget him, he never forgets you… not even for a moment!!
your heart’s pleasure
Have you ever been confused as to why there is so little happiness or real satisfaction in the world today when apparently we have so much more in terms of comforts and pleasures? The more progress there is the more cases of depression, anxiety, phobias and what and what not… all of which are the result of dissatisfaction and stress.
So if all of this variety of food and entertainment, glamour and luxuries, fun and freedom cannot give us happiness then what is wrong with us? Where will the heart find peace?
Because just as the tongue is satisfied by good taste and eyes are soothed by beautiful scenes, ears find joy in a melodious sound…
Similarly, there must be something which the heart yearns for… and it will not be happy until it gets it… what is it?
Here lies the answer in the beautiful words of Muhammad bin Ibrahim, in his book “Fiqh-ul-Qulub”…
In this world there is
which could be compared to the blessings of the hereafter
Except the blessing of faith in Allah
And the blessing of knowing his names
And His attributes
And His actions
And there is for the Heart no joy, neither any pleasure
Except in the love of Allah and His Recognition
And in seeking His Closeness through the things which He loves and which make Him happy
And His complete love cannot be firmly rooted in the heart except by knowing Him
And by turning away from all the objects of love… other than Him
Whenever I read or listen to talks about our Prophet, (S.A.W), it is always so amazing to observe His magnificent attitude and behaviour in the worst of circumstances… and I think to myself: what I would have done if faced with even half as much as He endured? Why can’t I be as patient, as forbearing, as loving, as kind, as polite, as gentle, as forgiving, as generous…??Do I not believe in the goodness of these qualities?Do I not want these qualities to be a part of my character?Do I not want to please Allah?Yes I believe… yes I want… BUT then what is lacking in me?Ok now I understand…The problem is that only KNOWING is not enough, unless you can be WISE enough to ACT on what you know at the right TIME.So the question is how can we acquire this wisdom?Let’s take a moment to read and absorb the following words from Fiqh-ul-Qulub:
Each and every shortcoming in our OUTWARD actions…
Is caused by in-sufficient “imaan” INSIDE the heart!!
That is why someone who does not submit his heart for Allah INSIDE the Salah…
Cannot attain the ability to submit his heart for Allah OUTSIDE the Salah
If we observe the life of the Prophet (S.A.W) we can see that He used to be in a constant state of remembrance of Allah. He was never ever forgetful about His Creator, His Master. In His prayers he had the utmost khushu (focus and humbleness) and in His worldly affairs he was always doing what pleased His Lord.He ate only what was beneficial… never to the fullHe slept only as much as was needed… never “over-slept”He dressed simply… in clean and comfortable clothes… not for fashionHe had companions and he spent time with them but only in beneficial things… never to just “having a great time”In his personal life he was not distracted by desires…That is how He kept Allah as His most beloved… and never ignored him for anybody’s sake… i.e. utmost “Tawheed“… utmost love and devotionTherefore it is the focus on Allah, while loving him and fearing him, which can give us the wisdom to act according to His pleasure.And to have this wisdom we must release our hearts from the chains and shackles of desires… And let the heart be free to worship its Creator.Allah has given us such a gift of salah in which we can cut off the whole world just to be with Him… so don’t just stand and sit and bow down with your body… but move the heart along with the words and actions… so that Allah, the Merciful, will fill it with Imaan and Wisdom…. and thus enable us to live with kindness and generosity, patience and forgiveness, and sweet and pure goodness…
Life is constantly on the move… in every second countless new lives are being born and countless lives are being brought to the end… not just on the surface of the earth but also in the vastness of the heavens and in the depths of the oceans…
So whoever wants any progress in life, then there is no option but to move forward… because life is not stagnant… there has to be some movement in whatever direction we choose… its either forward or backward… its either life or death…
So if you are not going forward then you will definitely go backward… just like if you are not alive then surely you are dead!
But to go up… to climb a mountain… requires efforts… continuous, calculated, planned… efforts
Its Allah’s blessing on us that he has made our breathing effortless… the pumping of the heart, the circulation of blood, the digestion of food… all the systems for physical survival and growth are automatic.
But for the growth and development of our character we need to nourish our heart and soul with the right knowledge and its application. And this requires us to make the right efforts in the right direction…
And this is not where the story ends… Allah is pleased with us only when we want for others what we want for ourselves… and this means that we have to work on the development and progress of other people too. Not just helping them sustain their physical life but also in assisting them in their spiritual and intellectual development.
And if I say that I just can’t be bothered to make that effort… I am too busy… I am too weak… I am too inadequate… whatever the excuse may be… the result will be that I will have to go down, because no one can stay on the edge of the mountain…
So it’s either the pain of climbing against the gravity… or slide down… down to nothingness…
Imagine that you have inherited a treasure of gold and silver and the most exquisite diamonds and rubies and sapphires and pearls etc. When you go to collect it you are told that it is all stored in a room so you try to open the door but it is locked and you don’t have the key…
So what will you do?
Find the key… OR give up the treasure?
Of course no one will be foolish enough to give up a treasure…
But look at us Muslims… we have a treasure but don’t even want to be reminded about it because we are too lazy to get the key!!
What is the treasure and where is the key?
Our books in Arabic are the treasure of knowledge and wisdom and the key to this treasure is to learn this beautiful language; BUT how many of us are willing to give it a try?
The most well guarded secret about learning Arabic is that it is the most enjoyable activity to learn it… because it is so easy and close to heart. As the words begin to take a shape and meaning… the excitement of understanding a whole sentence is like suddenly your heart is filled with the most amazing light… I just can’t describe the joy of it… it is only to be felt!!
The best way to learn Arabic is to go through an Arabic book with a teacher who can explain the language as well as the content… so that each one compliments the other. I have done a few lessons of such a book titled “Figh-ul-Qulub” (understanding of the hearts). It can be found on the following link:
Apart from this, there is a new series of lectures based on another book titled “kaifa tanju min makaid ashhaitan” (how can you save yourself from the plots of shaitan?). Yesterday I did a part of its first lesson and afterwards as I thought about it, I realized how deliberately we have preferred to remain ignorant about the reality of shaitan; even though it is one of the most important issue of our lives. Because in order to succeed you must identify your friends and enemies… Just as Allah is our best protecting friend and wants the best for us…. similarly the shaitan is our worst enemy who wants nothing but to destroy us…
So how can we afford to be unaware of his tricks and plots?
And if we are not even aware then how can we save ourselves?
So the only choice we have is to become aware and be saved… in-sha-Allah!!
There are a lot of people out there who are apparently following the way of the disbelievers but inside their hearts they have this feeling that they should go the other way… the way of Allah’s obedience.
Because they know that success and peace can only be found in the path of Allah…
So why are they not doing what their hearts yearn for? What’s stopping them?
There are many reasons for this but one of them is the “difficulty syndrome”… the misconception that acting on Islam is too “difficult”.
Basically it is just a deception of the devil that he makes beneficial things appear to be so hard and boring… and on the other hand beautifies the bad things and makes it so easy and tempting for people to fall into sins…
But we must remember that his tactics are purely on the psychological level… because he has no “real” control over us as such.
The decisions we make in life depend purely on our own choice, and that is why we are going to be held accountable for what we do in life…
It is therefore very important that we realize that Islam is a religion of ease… not difficulty. In the Quran Allah says:
“Allah wants ease for you and does not want difficulty for you”… (Al-Baqarah: 185)
But to experience the inner peace of being on the way of Allah, we have to believe in Allah’s love and mercy…
Appearances are just a test of our faith… even in the worldly things, working hard for achieving success, appears to be so hard but what happens when you actually do strive and get the results of your dreams? The hardship seems like a dream and the success remains with you forever… whether it is in the form of good grades, or a good job or whatever…
And what happens to the ones who cannot put up with hard work? Apparently they have a good time but it is only for a short while! But the regret and failure which follows this path of ease… remains with them forever…
This concept has been discussed in the book Fiqh-ul-Qulub in the following words:
In following the commands of Allah and His Messenger (s.a.w) apparently there is hardship;
But this hardship is like a drop;
While the tranquillity which is hidden behind this (apparent difficulty), is like an ocean…
And in following the desires and rejecting the commands of Allah and His Messenger (s.a.w) apparently there is ease and tranquillity;
But this tranquillity is like a drop;
While the pain and hardship hidden behind it is like an ocean
So the choice is ours:
Are we willing to put up with a drop of temporary hardship to enjoy an ocean of permanent delight and tranquillity?
Or should we lose an ocean of goodness for the sake of a drop?