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CONNECT YOUR HEART -- A PERSONAL EXPERIENCE

Sister Naimah

To be honest, it’s a small miracle to me that I am writing this article right now. In this time, I was drifting away from my religion further and further and could feel my heart hardening until it felt like it had literally turned into a stone. It’s a terrifying feeling and upon reflection, I believe that all of this happened mostly because I was being negligent of my heart.

By implication, this means that the quality of our Salaah is a way to check ourself and the state of our faith and heart. It’s our way to call on Him five times a day, to keep our relationship with Him alive and our hearts connected to Him. We have to fix the quality of our Salaah if we want to fix our hearts. If we don’t have that consistency, that food for the soul, our hearts will automatically be affected.

The five daily Salaah can be seen as a constant refresher of our faith. It revives us spiritually if we engage in our Salaah consciously, and not just treat them like a cardiovascular activity. An issue for many of us is that we are not fluent in the Arabic language, so we might feel disconnected in Salaah because we don’t understand what we are reciting. It’s then up to us to be proactive and find ways to get something out of the Salaah by reviewing, for example, a few of the Aayaat (Verses) you have recited, understanding their meaning…etc.

2. Reading and pondering over the Quraan
Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta'aalaa) has says in the Quraan:

ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ وَتَطۡمَئِنُّ قُلُوبُهُم بِذِكۡرِ ٱللَّهِۗ أَلَا بِذِكۡرِ ٱللَّهِ تَطۡمَئِنُّ ٱلۡقُلُوبُ (28٢٨)

“the ones who believe and their hearts are peaceful with the remembrance of Allah. Listen, the hearts find peace only in the remembrance of Allah.” (ar-Ra’ad 13:28)

I’m sure we have all been in the situation where we attend a Bayaan (Speech or lecture), and go back home feeling a spiritual high rushing through us. But then, after a week or so, we feel a dip in our faith again. Imagine this scenario: if you were to advise a friend who wanted to get in shape, would you tell them to work out for three hours straight, and this would be enough for the rest of the year? If only it were that easy! Just like a few hours of physical exercise every couple of months won’t do anything for our bodies, remembering Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta'aalaa) once a week or once a month won’t do much for our spiritual hearts. In order to be consistent with the remembrance of Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta'aalaa), we have the above-mentioned five daily Salaah, but we have also been given the Quraan, which is not just meant to be kept on our shelves but was sent down to be read, lived and engaged with on a daily basis. Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta'aalaa) tells us in the Quraan that our hearts find ultimate peace and tranquility in His the Zikr (Remembrance). Since the Quraan is said to be the best form of Zikr, it’s an essential component in keeping our hearts steadfast. But how many of us really make an effort to understand His book? How much time do we really spend with it on a regular basis?

I personally believe that reading the Quraan, even if we might not understand or remember everything, is a means to purify our hearts and bring about change inside of us. But in order to really feel the effect of His words on us, we have to be willing to go deeper in order to reap the tremendous benefits of their meaning. I once heard an analogy that I would like to share with you: imagine you receive a letter from a king, a president, or anyone else in a high position. Even if it was written in a language that you didn’t understand, you would get it translated because you would be dying to know what it says. The Quraan can be seen as a letter to mankind and it’s not a letter from just anyone! It’s a message from the Lord of the worlds Himself. It’s one of the most fulfilling experiences to establish a relationship with the Quraan and extract gems on how to enrich your own personal life and enlighten your heart. All you have to do is commit to and set aside a certain time in the day where you can sit down, read, and ponder over the Quraan, even if it’s just one Aayah (Verse) a day. A problem the common man faces is the number of various translations are available in the market or in Islamic Book shops. Included in the list of translators are of people from various categories. To find an authentic translation is sometimes a difficult task, because the translation brings the touch of, overt or covert, whatever is in back of the translator’s mind. One of the translators was a political leader; his translation and Tafseer (Explanation) reflects his political thought. One of the translators was a bureaucrat; his translation revolves around the power of government. Even the deviant sects have their deviated versions religion explained and proved, right or wrong, in their translations. One of the best translations, safe and a secured, is Ma’aarif ul Quraan by Mufti Muhammad Shafi’.

One of the recommended times for recitation of Quraan is right after Salaat ul Fajr as it’s a time of blessings, but I would say the most important thing is that you find a time that works best for you and that you are able to stick to consistently.

Your relationship with others and yourself
1. Surround yourself with people that remind you of Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta'aalaa)
The Messenger (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam) said: “The likeness of a righteous friend and an evil friend, is the likeness of a (musk) perfume seller and a blacksmith. As for the perfume seller, he may either bestow something on you, or you may purchase something from him, or you may benefit from his sweet smell. And as for the blacksmith, he may either burn your clothes, or you may be exposed to his awful smell.” (Bukhari)

Even if you strive to better yourself and purify your heart, it will prove to be very difficult if your company isn’t good. Just as some people can impact you positively, others can literally poison your heart. Therefore, quality is so much more important than quantity when it comes to the friends you choose to surround yourself with. It’s completely normal for us to go through phases where our faith goes up and down, but if we keep good company and don’t isolate ourselves, we can prevent our faith from plummeting to the ground. Choose to be around people who bring you closer to righteousness, people who remind you of Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta'aalaa) and encourage you to do good deeds, the ones who support you and motivate you to have firm belief in Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta'aalaa) in the good times, as well as the bad times.

Go to gatherings regularly, daily or weekly, where you remain intact with practicing Muslims. Angels surround gatherings where Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta'aalaa) is remembered, so imagine how blessed these get-together would be. You will feel an immediate effect on your heart and spiritual self, InShaaAllah.

2. Pause and assess yourself
Frequently assess the state of your heart and think about the way you affect others. Does your character and the way you speak to and treat others, bring them closer to Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta'aalaa), or does it drive them away? I believe that a fundamental aspect of purifying one’s heart starts with working on one’s character and developing inner and outer Sunnah.

When you’re going through a tough time in your life, go out and help somebody deal with their problem. This way, you’ll be able to shift your focus from ‘I’ to a more positive and comprehensive one and will be able to put your own matters into perspective.

We can all do our part in making the world a little better for someone. It might not impact on everyone, but if it can have an impact on even one life, on one heart, then there is still value in it and it still makes a difference. You will realize that what you do for others will not just have an effect on them, but will also soften your own heart. When we look at the Prophet (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam) and his Sahaabah (Companions), we can see that they never let a person feel as though they were alone or as though they had to get through trials by themselves. They didn’t look a person up and down and judge them. Be a real friend to people and someone who they can come and speak to. Think about how you being Muslim is not only a benefit to you, but also a benefit to those around you.

I hope that this article has inspired you to feed and nourish your heart and has provided you with practical advice on how to do exactly that. The state of your heart will determine how you perceive the world around you. Just like how we take care of our minds and bodies, we have to take care of our hearts. Take time out to reflect on certain things going on inside of you that need to be remedied and healed. Nothing of the Dunyaa (world) will be able to give you what a content heart, a heart connected to its Creator, can give you.
 

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