Very often we hear the words, “I feel hardness in my heart,” “I do not find any joy in worship,” “I feel that my faith has hit rock bottom,” “Reading Qur’aan does not move me,” “I fall into sin so easily.” The effects of this affliction can be seen in many people, and this problem is the cause of every disaster and adversity.
The issue of people’s hearts is an important and sensitive issue. The heart is called qalb in Arabic because it changes so quickly and frequently (taqallub – alteration, variation, ups and downs). The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “The heart (qalb) takes its name from its constant changes (taqallub). The likeness of the heart is that of a feather at the root of a tree, being turned over and over by the wind.” (Reported by Ahmad, 4/408; Saheeh al-Jaami’, 2364
Allaah is the One Who turns hearts around and controls them. ‘Abd-Allaah ibn ‘Amr ibn al-‘Aas reported that he heard the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) say: “The hearts of the children of Adam are as one between the fingers of the Most Merciful, and He turns them in whatever way He wills.” Then he said: “O Allaah, Controller of the hearts, direct our hearts to obey You.” (Reported by Muslim, no. 2654).
There are a number of symptoms of the sickness of weak faith, including the following:
1) Falling into sin and committing haraam deeds: there are some sinners who commit a sin and persist in it, and some who commit many kinds of sin. When a person commits many sins, sin becomes a habit which he gets used to, and then he no longer feels that it is abhorrent. He gradually reaches a stage where he commits the sin openly.
2) Due to excessiveness and squandering: This happens by giving ones soul whatever it desires of food, speech, sleep and other such matters which the soul makes its owner aspire for, what it cannot do without and what it loves.
3) Being ignorant and heedless of Allâh’s remembrance: Shaytân exhausts himself in gaining mastery over the soul so that he can prevent it from Allâh’s remembrance. The one who remembers Allâh is in a strong fortress, protected from Shaytân as long as he does not forget or become heedless. Whoever becomes heedless, he will open up a small gap for the enemy by which he can get to him and then penetrate into his soul and whisper to it. This is why there is a strong encouragement and recommendation for making the various supplications and reciting portions of the Qur’aan during every moment and in every place until they become a sanctuary and a preventive measure for the one who uses them.
4) Running away from some acts of worship: The soul runs away often from some acts of worship because they are amongst the things it does not desire. This continues due to certain causes prevent a person from desiring these acts of worship. Amongst them are laziness in performing acts of worship (such as prayer) and the love of sleep. As a result, the opportunity to perform much worship passes him by. It can also occur due to miserliness. A person will not give the obligatory charity or other things which are required of him so that they become endeared to the soul and the soul begins to aspire for them after it had been fleeing from them.
It’s cure is patience by denying our souls its need and desire in its entirety. We should not be extravagant and excessive in giving it food, sleep and other such delights and pleasures. When we shuts this door, against our own souls and against Shaytân we will acquire peace and security. We may achieve this by doing the followings:
1) FASTING: Door of fasting has been opened and we have been urged to fast. Even voluntary fasting has been strongly encouraged. Fasting puts an end to the desire and excessive eating. Thus Islam has encouraged fasting and made it beloved to its adherents.
2) TAHAJJUD PRAYER: Attachment to the night prayer prevents a person from excessive sleep. A person will strive against his soul and wage war against it in order to pray during the night and fast during the day. He will continue in this until his soul submits and humbles itself to these acts of worship.
3) SPEAK GOOD OR KEEP QUITE: It is also, from the wisdom of Islâm that urges the Muslim to be silent unless he has something beneficial to say. The Messenger of Allâh said: ‘Whoever believes in Allâh and the Last Day, let him speak good or remain silent.’ Perhaps, due to his excessive speaking and shouting he will not be on his guard from the danger of falling into backbiting, lying, slandering and other such matters.
4) ADHKAR: Supplications for the evening, the morning, for entering into the house and leaving it, for sleeping and awakening and so on.
5) REMEBRANCE OF ALLAH: With the abundant remembrance of Allâh a preventive barrier is set up against every destructive lust or transgressing desire.
6) BEING PATIENT IN ALLAH’S OBEDIENCE: Turning to Allâh, making continuous du‘â (supplication) to Allâh and requesting His help in this act of obedience to Him, this matter will be made easy for us. And Allâh will lighten our burden for us until these acts (of worship) are beloved to the soul.
7) REFRAINING FROM ALLAH’S DISOBEDIENCE: This means that a person holds his soul to account in order to make himself distant from falling into disobedience.
All of this cannot occur except after fighting and struggling against the soul. We will find ourselves in many trials and intense battles along with our capability of avoiding such actions. This means that even though we are in need and capable of fasting, will not fast due to following our whims and even though we are capable we will not pray and as a result please our desires and our souls which commands the evil.
However, we find that another person fasts voluntarily, although he is not in need of fasting voluntarily (to curb his desires) and neither does his soul aspire towards fasting. Yet he still declares war upon his soul and fights against it (with fasting and prayer) so that he makes it do what he desires and not let it make him do what it commands and desires.
Therefore, patience when accompanied with performing those actions upon which the soul perseveres is considered the greatest and most perfect form of patience as Ibn Taymiyyah (rh) has explained. And Ibn al-Qayyim (rh) said: “Verily, having patience in obedience (to Allâh) occurs by performing an act of obedience, then guarding it and being persistent in (performing) it.”
May Allah make us amongst those who are patient in being continuous in performing the righteous actions and grant us the highest of positions, to the pleasure of Allâh and to everlasting happiness. Ameen.
Adapted with slight modifications from a translation by Abû Iyâd Amjad Rafîq