Reflections on Purification of the Heart – Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil

On Friday 13th September, Shaykh Yahya Rhodus gave a talk on Purification Of The Heart, based on the book written by Imam Al-Mawlud and translated by Shaykh Hamza Yusuf. I left the talk uplifted, motivated, and best of all, armed with practical tips on how to journey along the path to Allah.
Here’s a summary of Shaykh Yahya’s talk:

  1. The heart is the centre of the human being in Islam; everything that occurs in the limbs stems from the heart.
  2. The number one killer in America is heart disease. What leads to it? A complete neglect of self, diet and lifestyle. You can also get spiritual heart disease if you neglect your spiritual condition.
  3. The inner eye of the heart is even more sensitive than the physical eye, and this faculty is constantly being impacted.
  4. Scholars say that the heart is so important because it has two sides; one side is attached the the nafs (who you are in this dunya or worldly life), and the other side is attached to the ruh (spirit), which attaches us to the ghayb (unseen).
  5. A neglected heart is overtaken by the nafs, and the door to the ghayb closes.
  6. The arrogance of Man can be seen in his dealings with Mother Earth – anything but treading lightly!
  7. Using the metaphor of farming, if the nafs takes over, the heart becomes hard, and is no longer fertile. A hard heart loses the sensitivities needed to treat people properly.
  8. Activism will never work until you recognise that history is in good Hands; even the bad is within the Will of Allah, and transgressors will be called to account.
  9. Muslims should be clean people. Don’t have a dirty car. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) was a very well-kept person, and he’s even a means to purify us outwardly.
  10. We need specialists in Islamic law, but each of us needs purification of the heart.
  11. You can have your heart aligned with the will of Allah at every single moment.
  12. Imam Al-Haddad was known as the blacksmith of the heart, and your life would chance even by reflecting on the English translation [of his book].
  13. Modern Man cannot be understood without understanding the neglect of hearts. Corporate greed, hatred etc all stem from diseases of the heart.
  14. As long as we have diseases of the heart, our deen is incomplete. This is why we should get married, because any dormant diseases of the heart will get flushed out through interactions with your spouse. Only in marriage can you learn so much about yourself. The difficulties of marriage are a hidden blessing.
  15. Catch yourself [having diseases of the heart] and your heart will become pure. When it becomes overwhelming, let it go, then rein it in.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASome Gems from Shaykh Yahya:
Begin with reading at least a paragraph, or 5-10 pages daily from the following three books:

  • Purification of the Heart by Imam al-Mawlad, with translation and commentary by Shaykh Hamza Yusuf
  • Book of Assistance by Imam Al-Haddad
  • Path of The Worshippers by Imam Al-Ghazzali

1)  Sit with the righteous.
2)  Recite Qur’an, with or without understanding, and it will change you.
3)  Cut back on food intake. Stop two bites short. Shaykh Yahya’s teachers advised him that doing so will be very spiritually beneficial.
4)  Pray Tahajjud (night vigil prayer)
5)  Turn to Allah in dhikr. Say “Ya Allah” 100 times with your heart turned towards Him, preferably before Fajr.

Paraphrased Q&A:

Q)  Reflections on the Qasidas sung tonight.
A)   Outward behaviour influences our inward state. Look at the meaning of Qad Kafani.

            The knowledge of my Lord is sufficient
            from my asking or choosing
            So my dua and my beseeching You
            is a testimony to my impoverishment
            For this secret (reason) I ask You
            in ease and hardship
            I am a servant whose glory
            is in my impoverishment

It’s so comforting. Allah knows what we need even before we ask. If we have that, our hearts won’t have turbidity.
Q) What is your advice on friendship?
A)  When it comes to voluntary friendships, seek out good people who will uplift you. When it comes to involuntary friendships (family members, in-laws etc), then remember that Allah gives us these relationships to test us, but at the same time, it doesn’t mean we just sit there and take abuse if it happens. Shaykh Yahya knows people for whom it’s impermissible to be around their own fathers, out of fear of physical abuse.
Q)  How do we deal with our children using electronic devices such as the TV, iPads, iPhones etc?
A)  Parents must monitor their kids in what they watch. Keep them away from nonsense as much as possible, and show alternatives. Watch TV shows with them, and when you see something bad, tell them, “Look, that’s terrible!” It’s much more exhilarating for children to work in the garden, milk goats etc.
Q)  What is the greatest lesson you learned from Shaykh Hamza Yusuf?
A)  Understanding what sincerity is. When doing acts of worship, have no other reason except for Allah being deserving of our worship.
Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil has spent almost two years in Amman, Jordan, where she learned Shafi’i’ fiqh, Arabic, Seerah, Aqeedah, Tasawwuf, Tafsir and Tajweed. She continues to study with her Teachers through Qibla Academy and SeekersHub Global. She also graduated with a Psychology and English degree from University of New South Wales.