Ten gems for a good and noble life

1. Wake up in the last third of the night to beg forgiveness from Allah SWT.

2. At least once in a while, seclude yourself from people in order to contemplate.

3. Stay in the company of the righteous.

4. Remember Allah SWt often.

5. Pray two units of prayer with sincerity and devotion.

6. Recite the Qur’an with understanding and reflection.

7. Fast on a hot, dry day.

8. Give charity secretly.

9. Provide relief and aid to the afflicted Muslim.

10. Be as abstemious and abstinent as possible in this fleeting world.

Three types of heart

Imam Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyyah [rahimahullah] has categorized heart of a human into three types.

Think about which category yours may fall into:

  • That which is void of Eeman and all types of good, thus being a dark heart.  Shaytaan no longer needs to confront this heart with whispers because he now dwells in it. He decrees what he wishes in it and has taken complete control of it
  • That which has been illuminated with the light of Eemaan. Faith has kindled its lanterns within it, but at the same time there is still some darkness of desires and winds of disobedience present in it.  Shaytaan approaches and retreats from this category of heart, and at times he takes advantage of opportunities. The WAR [in this heart] is sometimes severe and at other times calm. The affair of the individuals who fall into this category of hearts varies between many and few. Some possessors of this category are usually victorious over their enemy, while others regularly allow their enemy to get the upper hand. Yet another class are of those who have equal moments of defeat and victory.
  • That which is filled with Eemaan. This heart is illuminated with the light of Eeman and the veil of desires and darkness has been lifted from it. The light of Eeman is glowing within the chest and that glow contains flames. If desires challenge to approach this heart they are burned by the flames [of Eeman]. This protection is similar to the protection of the sky by the stars. If Shaytaan attempts to advance towards the sky to steal information he is pelted from every side with a Shihaabun Thaaqib [flaming fire of piercing brightness].

Then Imam ibn Qayyim goes on to brilliantly explain these three categorization of human hearts further with examples in this episode:

  • Void of Eeman and all types of good
  • Illuminated with the light of Eemaan
  • Filled with Eemaan

He [rahimahullah] related the hearts with 3 different types of homes.

  1. The home of a king; in it are his treasures and precious jewels and belongings.
  2. The home of a slave; in it is his wealth and precious jewels and belongings, but indeed his belongings are much less [in value and quantity] than that of the king’s.
  3. The empty home; in it there is nothing to steal.

A thief approaches with the intention of stealing from one of the homes. Which one would you think he would burglarize?
If you say that he would steal from the empty home, this is something impossible because the empty home possess nothing for him to steal.

Based on this reality, it was mentioned to Ibn Abbas – May Allah be pleased with him – Verily, the Jews claim that they do not experience whispers [distractions] in prayer. Ibn Abbas – May Allah be pleased with him – thereupon commented:  What would the Shaytaan do to a heart that is already destroyed  [This is the example of a person whose heart is void of Eemaan]

If you say that he would steal from the home of a king. This would also be impossible due to the strong presence of security for making a thief impossible to penetrate.[This is the example of a person whose heart is filled with Eemaan]

Consequently, there is nothing left for the thief except to approach the third home. [This is the example of a person whose heart is illuminated with Eemaan]

Such is the case with Shaytaan that he approaches the home of a slave, and he snatches any and every opportunity that he gets. Thus, it becomes essential for such an individual to sincerely reflect upon the given examples and guard his home [i.e. heart] from the attacks of Shaytaan.

7 Reasons to Read the Glorious Quran

(1) Intimate:

It dares you to disprove it. How? It says that humans can not write a book like this
even if they pooled all their resources together and got help also from the spirits. The
Quran said this fourteen hundreds years ago and yet no one has been able to
disprove it. Billions of books have been written – but not another one like the Quran.

(2) Incorruptible:

It is the only religious sacred writing which has been in circulation for such a long
time and yet remains as pure as it was in the beginning. The Quran was kept intact.
Nothing was added to it; nothing was changed in it; and nothing was taken away
from it ever since it was completely revealed 1400 years ago.

(3) Unsurpassable:

The Quran is God’s final revelation to humankind. God revealed the Torah to Moses, the Psalms to David, the Gospel to Jesus, and finally the Quran to Muhammad. Peace be upon all of them. No other book will come from God to surpass his final revelation.

(4) Indisputable:

The Quran withstands the test of time and scrutiny. No one can dispute the truth of
this book. It speaks about past history and turns out right. It speaks about the future
in prophecies and it turns out right. It mentions details of physical phenomena which
were not known to people at the time; yet later scientific discoveries confirm that the
Quran was right all along. Every other book needs to be revised to accord with
modern knowledge. The Quran alone is never contradicted by a modern discovery.

(5) Your Roadmap for Life and Afterlife:

The Quran is the best guidebook on how to structure your life. No other book
presents such a comprehensive system involving all aspects of human life and
endeavor. The Quran also points out the way to secure everlasting happiness in the
afterlife. It is your roadmap showing how to get to paradise.

(6) God’s Gift of Guidance:

God has not left you alone. You were made for a reason. God tells you why he made
you, what he demands from you, and what he has in store for you. If you operate a
machine contrary to it’s manufacture specification you will ruin that machine. What
about you? Do you have an owner’s manual for you? The Quran is from your function
for success lest you fail to function. It is a healing mercy from God. It satisfies the
soul, and cleans the heart. It removes doubts and brings peace.

(7) Your Calling Card to Communicate with God:
Humans are social creatures. We love to communicate with other intelligent life. The
Quran tells us how to communicate with the source of all intelligence and the source
of all life- the One God. The Quran tells us who God is, by what name we should
address God, and the way in which to communicate with God.
Are these not seven sufficient reasons for reading the Quran?

Rocks and Sand

A professor stood before his class and had some items in front of him. When class began, wordlessly he picked up a large empty jar and proceeded to fill it with rocks about 2” in diameter.

He then asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was. So the professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles, of course, rolled into the open areas between the rocks.

He then asked the students again if the jar was full. They agreed it was. The students laughed. The professor picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else.

“Now,” said the professor, “I want you to recognize that this is your life. The rocks are the important things – your deen, your salah, your family, your partner, your children – anything that is so important to you that if it were lost, you and your akhirah would be nearly destroyed.

“The pebbles are the other things that matter like your job, your house, your car. “The sand is everything else. The small stuff.

“If you put the sand into the jar first, there is no room for the pebbles or the rocks. The same goes for your life. If you spend all your energy and time on the small stuff, you will never have room for the things that are important.

“Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness and welfare. Take time to repent to your Lord. Play with your children. Take time to get medical checkups. There will always be time to go to work, clean the house and visit your friends.

“Take care of the rocks first – the things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just sand.”

The Emperor and the Seed

An emperor in the Far East was growing old and knew it was time to choose his successor. Instead of choosing one of his assistants or his children, he decided something different. He called young people in the kingdom together one day. He said, “It is time for me to step down and choose the next emperor. I have decided to choose one of you.”

The kids were shocked! But the emperor continued. “I am going to give each one of you a seed today. One very special seed. I want you to plant the seed, water it and come back here one year from today with what you have grown from this one seed. I will then judge the plants that you bring, and the one I choose will be the next emperor!”

One boy named Ling was there that day and he, like the others, received a seed. He went home and excitedly told his mother the story. She helped him get a pot and planting soil, and he planted the seed and watered it carefully. Every day he would water it and watch to see if it had grown. After about three weeks, some of the other youths began to talk about their seeds and the plants that were beginning to grow.

Ling kept checking his seed, but nothing ever grew. Three weeks, 4 weeks, 5 weeks went by. Still nothing. By now, others were talking about their plants but Ling didn’t have a plant, and he felt like a failure. Six months went by-still nothing in Ling’s pot. He just knew he had killed his seed.

Everyone else had trees and tall plants, but he had nothing. Ling didn’t say anything to his friends, however. He just kept waiting for his seed to grow.

A year finally went by and all the youths of the kingdom brought their plants to the emperor for inspection. Ling told his mother that he wasn’t going to take an empty pot. But she persuaded him to go and be honest about what had happened. Ling felt sick to his stomach, but he knew his mother was right. He took his empty pot to the palace. When Ling arrived, he was amazed at the variety of plants grown by the other youths. They were beautiful-in all shapes and sizes. Ling put his empty pot on the floor and many of the other kids laughed at him. A few felt sorry for him and just said, “Hey nice try.”

When the emperor arrived, he surveyed the room and greeted the young people. Ling just tried to hide in the back. “My, what great plants, trees and flowers you have grown,” said the emperor. “Today, one of you will be appointed the next emperor!” All of a sudden, the emperor spotted Ling at the back of the room with his empty pot. He ordered his guards to bring him to the front. Ling was terrified. “The emperor knows I’m a failure! Maybe he will have me killed!”

When Ling got to the front, the Emperor asked his name. “My name is Ling,” he replied. All the kids were laughing and making fun of him. The emperor asked everyone to quiet down. He looked at Ling, and then announced to the crowd, “Behold your new emperor! His name is Ling!” Ling couldn’t believe it. Ling couldn’t even grow his seed. How could he be the new emperor? Then the emperor said, “One year ago today, I gave everyone here a seed. I told you to take the seed, plant it, water it, and bring it back to me today. But I gave you all boiled seeds which would not grow. All of you, except Ling, have brought me trees and plants and flowers. When you found that the seed would not grow, you substituted another seed for the one I gave you. Ling was the only one with the courage and honesty to bring me a pot with my seed in it. Therefore, he is the one who will be the new emperor!”

The Prophet taught, “Truthfulness leads to righteousness, and righteousness leads to Paradise. And a man keeps on telling the truth until he becomes a truthful person. Falsehood leads to Al-Fajur (i.e. wickedness, evil-doing), and Al-Fajur (wickedness) leads to the (Hell) Fire, and a man may keep on telling lies till he is written before Allah, a liar.” [Sahih al-Bukhari, Vol. 8:116]

Waqouf-al-Qalbi (Halting of the Heart)

One of the central themes of Tasawuff (Purifying the Soul) is the idea called “Waqouf al Qalbi,” which means stopping, halting or standing still of the heart. This concept entails  that a person through his ibaadaat, his submission, his daily dhikr comes to a  state where his heart stops on Allah SWT – meaning his central focus  becomes firm on Allah SWT. This  means his desires, dreams, his aspirations, goals, his central focus stops on Allah, for the sake of Allah.

This concept exists in our daily life in many ways, unfortunately not with the focus of Allah SWT. For instance, if someone in your family passes away, for three or four days you will not be able to think about anything else. No matter what you are doing, that person is still lingering in your thoughts; this is Waqouf al Qalbi. In that case, your heart has stopped or stood still on something other than Allah SWT. Similarly, if you have a big exam the next day, no matter what you are doing you are thinking about it.

In Tasawuff, the goal is that your heart stop stills on the focus of Allah SWT. That you get to a state that no matter what you do, who you talk to, where you go, your heart is always focused on Allah SWT. A state that you can’t even change if you want to. For instance, if someone talks to you, you talk with them, but inside your heart is focused on Allah SWT, that is how deep your connection is with Allah SWT. That is the goal for each person who aims to develop their heart; establish Waqouf al Qalbi.

Waqouf al Qalbi is not only a state but also an exercise. This is a state you have to enter, but it comes only through exercising that state. Initially, it means you have to do your extra dhikr, regular voluntary fasting, regular prayers in the masjid, submission to the Sunnah. Once you achieve all this, then this state becomes permanent and then you begin to constantly without much effort begin to enjoy it. The result is that no matter where you go, you will always be focused on Allah. You will notice that your prayers and your actions become deep.

Another important benefit of Waqouf al Qalbi, once you have achieved it, is that you have a new criterion by which to judge your deeds. So if you commit a sin (you see something you should not have seen, you hear something you should not have heard, you have a fight with your parents, etc.) you will experience a decrease in your Waqouf al Qalbi. That is how you will tell if that act is detrimential to  your spirituality. (You can’t tell if an act is detrimental to your spirituality until you have spirituality). This is what the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) meant when he said ask your heart when you are deciding to do certain deeds. If your heart says its okay, go ahead and do it. What this means is that now that you have been given this state of Islam, a connection with Allah, do the deed if it does not detriment your relationship with Allah SWT. This is how some of the Ulaima define Taqwa. Taqwa is defined as leaving every single deed which causes even the slighest decrease in your connection with Allah SWT. It implies that you had a connection with Allah previously and then every deed you do that decreases your connection with Allah, leaving that deed is called Taqwa.

Waqouf ul Qalbi should be the goal of every Muslim. We should establish it in our lives, by following the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). Some important aspects of developing this state include:

1. Praying in Jamaah at the mosque

2. Daily  interaction with the Quran

3. Seeking out good company

4. Doing all the good deeds we know

5. Leaving the sins that cause us to backtrack

May Allah (SWT) give us the taufik to establish Waqouf al Qalbi in our lives, to remember Allah SWT on a 24 hour basis, to constantly turn our focus back to Allah SWT such that it becomes a permanent state within us. (Ameen)