Harshness of the Heart

The heart can fall ill and be diseased, just like the rest of the body, and breaks as the glass breaks, gets hungry as the stomach feels the hunger, and the diseases of the heart are many and different, depending on the reasons and the causes of the disease, to the point when one can be blinded by the diseases that one cannot see the truth in front of them.

From amongst the biggest of these diseases is the harshness of the heart, and this is dangerous, and no one can guarantee not having this except those that Allah SWT has saved.

The imam mentioned sura 74 of Sura Baqara which is translated to say:

Then your hearts became hardened after that, being like stones or even harder. For indeed, there are stones from which rivers burst forth, and there are some of them that split open and water comes out, and there are some of them that fall down for fear of Allah . And Allah is not unaware of what you do.

Scholars have remarked on this ayat in that it is meant to explain the harshness and rigidity of the heart – and its due to being away from the Quran and its contemplation. The prophet peace and blessings be upon him has warned of the harsh heart and indeed there are many other verses in the to Quran confirming this.

One example of this is the 16th ayat of Sura Al-Hadid which is translated to say:

Has the time not come for those who have believed that their hearts should become humbly submissive at the remembrance of Allah and what has come down of the truth? And let them not be like those who were given the Scripture before, and a long period passed over them, so their hearts hardened; and many of them are defiantly disobedient.

The imam mentioned a dua of the Prophet SAWS which translated, speaks of the topic of this weeks reminder. It is translated to say:

[O Allah! I seek refuge in You from the inability (to do good), indolence, cowardice, miserliness, decrepitude and torment of the grave. O Allah! Grant me the sense of piety and purify my soul as You are the Best to purify it. You are its Guardian and its Protecting Friend. O Allah! I seek refuge in You from the knowledge which is not beneficial, and from a heart which does not fear (You), and from desire which is not satisfied, and from prayer which is not answered].

Dear brothers and sisters, we also have accounts from scholars who have remarked on the harshness of the heart. One such example of this is a quote which says:

Whenever the eyes dries up and no tear comes out from the awareness and fear of Allah – then realise that this is as a result of the harshness of the heart, and many of the Salaf used to love being able to cry and that it is higher than some worship.

And so we know that the heart is subject to disease and that it is so critical that the rest of the body is prone to falling it if the heart is ill and vice versa. However, we also know that the heart is capable of repair and Allah SWT is able to repair and restore our hearts.

A harsh heart can be attributed to one of two things. Firstly, the increase of sins. We know this because the Prophet SAWS told us that:

“When the believer commits sin, a black spot appears on his heart. If he repents and gives up that sin and seeks forgiveness, his heart will be polished. But if (the sin) increases, (the black spot) increases.”

The second is the excessiveness of the permitted things. Things such as excessiveness of food, sleep and talk. We know this from the hadith which is translated to say:

“It is from the excellence of (a believer’s) Islam that he should shun that which is of no concern to him”

Dear brothers and sisters, this help from Allah SWT comes from our own efforts first and foremost and so this reminder concludes with practical tips we can all do to improve the health of the heart.

Firstly, and most importantly it is the reading of the Quran with contemplation. Dear brothers and sisters, this is often regarded as a challenge to those of us who aren’t born with Arabic language. However, this is not a viable excuse in a time of lectures filling sites such as YouTube and Facebook Groups. We should be making an effort to find online study circles or talks at the very least in order to increase our understanding of the Quran. Alongside this, we ought to have mp3s of the Quran recitation on our phones and in our cars. We have the technology and so we ought to back this up with the effort on our part.

Secondly, we should remember Allah SWT during our day. Whether this is through focus in our five daily prayers, set zikr or even just contemplation of the natural world around us during the day, we need to be mindful that this world is designed to be a distraction that leads us away from the remembrance of Allah SWT and so lets not get caught in that trap of bring just focused on chores, tasks and everyday things that we do in this life because that is the wrong focus to have.

Thirdly, it is to pray in congregation and on time. As mentioned last week, we need to be mindful of our prayers as they are critical to our success but also it is important to note it can help in repairing the heart too. Let’s aim, at the very least, to time our day around the prayers and not the other way around. The prayers are the anchors in the day to which everything else revolves and adjusts.

And lastly, to be amongst the righteous. Whether it’s the study circles in the masjid, congregational prayer community or just your friends who encourage you towards bettering yourself in front of Allah SWT, we are told that we are the company that we keep. And so, especially in a place where most of the time we are striving to keep hold of our Islamic identity, we should dedicate some time where we are around like-minded people so that we can strengthen our resolve and our sense of identity, which in turn will strengthen our hearts.

Dear brothers and sisters, our heart is told by doctors as being the most important organ in our body. We also know that it is the most important organ for our soul. We are told by doctors on how to keep our heart healthy for the sake of our body but let’s use today’s reminder to help keep our heart healthy for the sake of our soul.

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