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Tuesday, June 10, 2003  

An Exposition of the Symptoms by which the Diseases of the Heart may be Recognised, and the Signs which Indicate a Return to Health Know that each member of the body has been created to discharge a particular function, and that it falls ill when it is no longer able to perform it, or else does so in a disturbed fashion: the hand ails when it can no longer strike, and the eye when it can no longer see. Thus it is with the heart, which falls ill when it becomes incapable of performing the activity proper to it and for which it was created, which is the acquisition of knowledge, wisdom, and gnosis, and the love of God and of His worship, and taking delight in remembering Him, preferring these things to every other desire, and using all one's other desires and members for the sake of His remembrance. God (Exalted is He!) has said: I created jinn and mankind only to worship Me (Qur'an, 51:56). Thus every part is possessed of a benign function, that of the heart being the acquisition of wisdom and gnosis [ma'rifa], which is the specific property of the human soul which distinguishes man from the animals: for he is superior to them not with regard to his capacity for eating, mating, seeing and so forth, but rather with regard to his gnosis of the true nature of things, and their origin, and their Originator, Who is God (Great and Glorious is He!). For should he know all things but God it would be as though he knew nothing at all. The sign of the gnosis of Him is love, for whosoever knows Him loves Him also; and the sign of this love is that one should prefer none of the things of this world over Him. As God (Exalted is He!) has said, Say: If your fathers, and your sons, and your brothers, and your wives, and your tribe, and the wealth you have acquired and the trade you fear may not prosper, and the dwellings you desire, are dearer to you than God and His Messenger and striving in His way, then wait until God brings His command to pass (Qur'an, 9:24). Therefore, whosoever possesses a thing which is more dear to him than God is harbouring a sickness in his heart, just as a man who, loving to eat mud, and having lost his desire for bread and water, must needs suffer a sickness in his belly. These are the symptoms of the disease, by which we learn that every heart - saving only those which God has rescued - is sick. Yet there are some diseases which exist unbeknown to those they afflict, and the disease of the heart is one of these, which is why the man who suffers from it is heedless. Even if he becomes aware of it, he finds it difficult to persevere in the bitter medicine of opposing his desires, which is akin to the spirit's extraction during the agonies of death; or, should he indeed find in himself the strength needed for such perseverance, he may be unable to find a physician of insight to treat him. For the physicians, who are the scholars ['ulama'], have also been overpowered by this disorder; and treatment will but rarely be sought from a physician who is himself unwell. It is for this reason that the malaise has become so taxing and chronic, and that this science has become obliterated, so that some people have been led to deny altogether the existence of the medicine - and even the disease - which are proper to hearts. Instead, men have given themselves over to worldliness and to activities which in outward appearance are acts of worship, but inwardly are no more than customs and acts, performed when others are watching. So much for the symptom of the underlying disorder. As for the sign which indicates a return to health following upon treatment, this is perceived by scrutinising the particular sickness which is being addressed. If one is treating the fatal disease of avarice, which sets man at a far distance from God, then [it will be found that] the only method of doing so is to encourage the patient to give and spend his money. This should not be done, however, to the point where he squanders it, for this would also be an illness, resembling the case of a man who treats coldness with heat until the heat, which is also a disorder, comes to predominate. What is required is the establishment of an equilibrium between 'grudgingness' and 'prodigality', so that one remains in the centre and at the greatest possible distance from the two extremes. Should you wish to determine where this middle point lies, then consider the action which results necessarily from the blameworthy trait: if it is easier and more pleasurable for you than its opposite, then that trait is predominant in your case. For instance: should you find the acquisition and retention of money easier and more enjoyable than giving it to those who may justly receive it, then you should know that avarice is a dominant characteristic in you, and you must constantly give until such a time as giving to a undeserving recipient becomes easier and more enjoyable than to withhold it legitimately, at which time prodigality will have assumed the dominant place. Then return to the practice of withholding your wealth, and constantly watch over your soul and draw inferences about your character from the evidence of what deeds it finds easy and which ones hard, until the connection between your heart and money is broken, and you incline neither towards giving it nor withholding it, since it has become as water to you, so that when you give or withhold it you do so for a needful purpose, and so that giving your money does not seem preferable to you than its retention. Every heart which becomes like this has come to God with a sound aspect in this regard. However, it must be sound in respect of the other traits of character also, so that it retains not a single tie with anything connected with the world, whereupon the soul will be enabled to leave this world unattached to it, paying it no heed, and no longer yearning for the things which it contains. At this point it will return to its Lord, at peace, content in His good pleasure, having entered among God's bondsmen who are close to His presence, such are the Prophets, the Saints, the Martyrs and the Righteous; the best of company are they! (Qur'an, 4:69) The authentic mean between the two extremes is exceedingly obscure, being thinner than an hair and sharper than a sword. Assuredly, the man who keeps to the Straight Path [al-sirat al-mustaqim] in this world shall cross the Traverse [al-sirat] in the next; yet it is a rare thing for a man to be free of all deviation from this Straight Path (by which I refer to the mean), and any inclination either to one side of it or the other, which thing would cause his heart to be attached to that side and thereby to suffer chastisement of some sort by passing through Hell, even if only at the speed of a lightning-bolt. For God (Exalted is He!) has said, There is not one of you that shall not come to it. This is a fixed ordinance of thy Lord. Then shall We save those that were Godfearing (Qur'an, 19:71,72), that is, those that were close to rather than distant from the Straight Path. It is because of the difficulty of preserving rectitude [istiqama] that every one of God's bondsmen is required to pray Guide us to the Straight Path seventeen times each day, the recitation of the Opening Sura being an obligatory part of every rak'a. It is related that a man once saw the Emissary of God (may God bless him and grant him peace) in a dream. 'O Emissary of God!' he said, 'Why did you declare that "Hud" had turned your hair grey?' And he replied, 'Because of the statement of God (Exalted is He!), Practise rectitude as you have been commanded.' (Qur'an, 11:112). Thus the treading of the Straight Path with due rectitude is something extremely obscure; nevertheless the bondsman, should he be unable to do this properly, must at least strive to keep in its vicinity. Whosoever wishes for salvation can only win it by means of righteous acts, which proceed solely from good traits of character. Therefore let every bondsman look to and reckon his attributes and qualities, and devote his energies to treating them one after the other. And we ask God, the Generous, to render us among the devout. -Hujjatul Islam, Imam Abu Hamid al-Ghazali, The Revival of the Religious Sciences (Ihya' 'Ulum ad-Din) Translated by Shaykh 'Abdul Hakim Murad (may Allah reward him for his effort and initiative)

posted by SuFiSTiC | 6/10/2003 07:55:00 PM |
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."
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
Md Mubaraq
Md Firdaus

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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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