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Thursday, April 24, 2003  

The Ailments of the Heart The ailments of the heart are, in many ways and from many different points of view, more harmful, dangerous, repugnant, and hideous than those of the body. Most harmful and dangerous is the fact that the ailments of the heart affect a man's religion (which is his capital for happiness in this world and the next) and that they damage his Hereafter, which is the life of permanence and eternity. Physical illness, on the other hand, harms a man's worldly life, which is ephemeral and quick to end, and harms his body, which is a target for afflictions and rapid destruction. Furthermore, physical illness may be of great benefit to one's religion and to one's future life, for God has made great rewards and numerous immediate and delayed benefits as the consequences of illness, as is evident from many Quranic verses and hadiths. The ailments of the heart cannot be percieved by the senses and yield no painful physical symptoms; they are thus hidden and difficult to recognize and study. People have come to pay little heed to them; no longer do they seek to treat and cure them. Such people are, as Imam al-Ghazali said, like a man who has no mirror but who is disfigured by leprosy, and who, when informed about his affliction by another person, will probably not believe him. Furthermore, the heedless percieve as remote the torments and punishments in the Hereafter awaiting those whose hearts are diseased. They may even have doubts about their very existence - may God protect us - or they may decieve themselves with false hopes and illusions about God, promising themselves that they will be forgiven and saved without having to work for this, and thus arouse in themselves the expectation that they will end up safe and secure. Because of these and similar attitudes, the ailments of the heart remain veiled even though they are overpowering. The heedless make light of them, and people no longer look for remedies, to the extent that some may be well aware of one or more diseases in their hearts yet remain unperturbed. By contrast, when they feel or are informed of a disease in their bodies, they grow most concerned, aggrieved, keen to have it treated, and go to the very limits of their resources to do so. The reason behind this is as we have just said: diseases of the heart cannot be observed by the senses. They yield no physical pain, and the punishments they entail are not in evidence here and now, since they mainly occur only after death - in the Afterlife. The heedless think of death as remote and regard what follows it is as even more distant. Were they only to employ their intelligence and seek certitude they would know that, as [the Prophet] has said, may blessings and peace be on him, "Death is the nearest of hidden things which lie in wait." And, "The Garden is nearer to each of you than the strings of your sandals." And Hell is likewise. The ailments of the heart are many. One of the most dangerous and harmful is to harbour doubts about religion - may God protect us! Others include weakness of faith in God, His Messenger, and the Hereafter; compromising one's religion to please people; arrogance towards God's creatures; greed, avarice, envy, and rancour; deceiving other Muslims; loving the world and being preoccupied with it; harbouring long hopes and forgetting death, thus being heedless of the Afterlife and neglecting to work for it; and so on. It is incumbent upon any man of intelligence who is zealous for his religion and for his safety in the Hereafter to be eager to learn the ailments hidden in his heart, to strive to identify them, and to begin to treat them before death suddenly overtakes him and he returns to his Lord to meet Him with an unsound heart, lest he be one of the losers and perish along with all those who will perish. The heart's ailments are identified by recognizing the outward signs which indicate their existence. These are numerous, and the most evident are laziness with respect to acts of obedience, sluggishness in good works, greed for the world's pleasures and passions, eagerness for worldly prosperity, yearning to continue to abide in the world for a long time, and other similar attributes of the heedless and of those who turn away from God the Exalted. When one detects these signs of the heart's sickness one must strive to treat it. The shortest and most effective way is to search for a learned person who is a gnostic and a scholar, one of the "people of hearts and secrets." Should he fail to find one, let him take counsel from a virtuous brother. Should he fail to find such a brother, as is generally the case in these days when few people help each other in truth and virtue, then he must resort to the books of the leading authorities in such matters, where the diseases and their remedies are described. The most comprehensive and useful of these books is Ihya' 'Ulum al-Din [Revival of the Sciences of Religion], especially the volume on "Mortal Vices". Books are not, however, a substitute for a gnostic teacher or a virtuous brother; they should be a last resort for those unable to find either. God the Exalted helps the seeker according to his determination, sincerity, and aspiration. And God is the Trustee, the Helper. -Imam 'Abdullah ibn 'Alawi al-Haddad, Knowledge and Wisdom (Fusul al-'ilmiyah wal usul al-hikamiyah)



posted by SuFiSTiC | 4/24/2003 06:24:00 AM |
As for him who fears to stand before his Lord and restrains the ego its desires, the Garden is shelter.
(The Snatchers:40)
Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said, "The Fire is surrounded by all kinds of desires and passions, while Paradise is surrounded by all kinds of disliked, undesirable things."
(Bukhari)
Whoever does good at night is rewarded during the day and whoever does good during the day is rewarded at night. Whoever is sincere in abandoning a desire is saved from catering to it. God is too noble to punish a heart that has abandoned a desire for His sake.
(Abu Sulayman ad-Darani)
Beware of your ego, and trust not its mischief;
The ego is worse than seventy devils.
(Arabic Poem)
Abu Bakar Balkhi
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I seek God's forgiveness, and do not claim that my intention in producing this Blog is confined to good religious purposes; how may I do so when I am aware of the hidden desires, egotistic passions, and worldly wishes that I harbour? I do not claim innocence for myself; the ego is indeed an inciter to evil, save when my Lord shows mercy; my Lord is indeed Forgiving, Merciful. O God! I seek Your protection against my committing idolatry [shirk] knowingly, and Your forgiveness for that of which I am not aware! I ask God to make me and all other believers benefit from this Blog and to render my production of it purely for the sake of His Noble Countenance.

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