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.

What is the Difference Between the Names of Allah al-‘Aziz and al-Qawi?

Answered by Ustadh Tabraze Azam

Question: Can you explain the differences in Al-Aziz and Al-Qawi?

Answer: Wa alaikum assalam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

I pray that you are in the best of health and spirits, insha’Allah.

In short, the Names of Allah Most High, al-Qawi and al-`Aziz, overlap in their meaning. They both relate to Allah’s Power, but the latter has a sense of Transcendence.

Allah Most High says, “It is your Lord who is the Strong, the Mighty One.” [Qur’an, 11.66]

Biqa`i explains that al-Qawi is the one who overcomes everything, and al-`Aziz is the one is able to prevent all other. [Biqa`i, Nazm al-Durar]

The Strong One (al-Qawi)

Ghazali writes in relation to the Name of Allah Most High, al-Qawi: Strength (quwwat) is indicative of perfect power. Inasmuch as Allah Most High has the utmost of power and is perfect therein, He is strong. [Ghazali, al-Maqsad al-Asna]

The Mighty One (al-`Aziz)

And with regards to the Name of Allah Most High, al-`Aziz, the scholars have noted a number of potential meanings. But they ultimately return to the two previously mentioned matters: Power and Transcendence. Qushayri brings up four possible meanings of al-`Aziz. He is the one who is Overwhelming, and cannot be overcome; the one who has no similar or equal; the one who is All-Powerful and Strong; or the one who gives Power or Might. [Qushayri, al-Tahbir fi al-Tadhkir]

I’d highly advise taking the following course: The 99 Beautiful Names of Allah

See also: An Introduction to the Significance of Allah’s Beautiful Names

and: llah’s Names Explained: Al-Aziz – Shaykh Faraz Rabbani with Dr. Umar Abd-Allah

And Allah alone gives success.


Tabraze Azam

Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani

My Husband Won’t Let Me Wear the Hijab

Answered by Ustadha Zaynab Ansari

Question: My husband and I have been married for over 20 years and we have children together. I have truly begun practicing Islam only in the past 6 years. My husband also has started to practice in the last couple of years. I have wanted to start wearing hijab for the last few years, but he won’t agree. The last time we discussed this, he threatened to walk out of the marriage. My question is that I am not sure of what is my next step. He has made up his mind that this is not necessary. He does not stop me from any other thing, such as salah or fasting etc. I make dua to Allah swt everyday and seek His Help and forgiveness .

Answer: In the Name of Allah, the Gracious, the Merciful

Dear Sister,

Assalamu alaikum,

Your husband cannot stop you from wearing hijab. Hijab, as attested by generations of ‘ulama, is a religious obligation and there is no obedience to the creation that entails disobedience to Allah.

My advice is to wear your hijab. Is your husband really willing to throw away 25 years of marriage because his wife seeks to cover her hair out of devotion to God? He should be proud of you.

Please encourage him to seek counseling on this matter.

May Allah Ta’ala facilitate ease,

Zaynab Ansari

Related Answers:

Wearing the Hija

Seeking Forgiveness for Premarital Relationship and Informing One’s Spouse

Answered by Ustadha Zaynab Ansari

Question: I was in a relationship with a guy but we didn’t end up getting married.  I feel really guilty for being in a relationship and my parents don’t know about it.  I knew it was wrong but I justified it by saying we will get married one day.   I feel really guilty and I can’t forgive myself.  How can I seek forgiveness?  Also, do I owe an explanation to the person I’ll be getting married to? Will it be wrong to hide it? It seems that telling the truth would create more problems.  Thank you.

Answer: Assalamu alaikum,

Dear Sister,

Thank you for your question.

When God has concealed a sin, it’s not correct to reveal it. Be thankful you were able to move on from this relationship without suffering serious consequences.

You have to consider the culture in which you live, a culture that often does not look favorably upon women with a past, no matter if those women have repented.

If asked about prior relationships, you don’t have to disclose anything unless there might be some physical consequence (for example, a sexually-transmitted infection, etc). If you feel uncomfortable hiding the details, then discreetly say that you’ve made some mistakes in the past, but that you have learned from them, made your repentance, and have got right with Allah Ta’ala. All of this depends on the level of tolerance shown by your prospective husband.

As far as feeling guilty is concerned, strike a balance. Feel remorse for the past, but don’t allow it to overwhelm you to the point where you can’t function. Thank Allah for concealing your sins but don’t be cavalier about them.

May Allah make things easy,

Zaynab Ansari

What is the Islamic Concept of Heaven?

Answered by Shaykh Ilyas Patel

Question: Assalamailaikum.

My Christian friend has asked me what is the Islamic concept of heaven.  How should I answer this question?

Answer: Wassalamu alaykum warahmatullahi wa barakatuhu,

Muslims do believe in heaven and hell, in eternal reward or punishment depending on whether human beings follow the will of Allah and act with justice and mercy towards others in their lifetime. The Qur’an emphasizes moral responsibility from each believer. The Qur’an’s understanding of afterlife is both physical and spiritual.

Bodies and spirits will be joined together and the pleasures of heaven will be fully experienced. Heaven is an eternal abode of peace, mercy and love without any emotions of sadness or pain. Hell on the other hand is an eternal abode of misery, pain and sadness.


Ilyas Patel

Sleeping After Eating and Praying Fajr

Answered by Shaykh Ilyas Patel

Question: After we eat sahur and pray fajr, should we go to sleep, or are there more religious practices/duties from the sunnah that we should engage ourselves in? And from a health perspective, is sleeping right after we’ve had a light meal counter productive?

Answer: Wassalamu alaykum warahmatullahi wa barakatuhu,

I hope you are in the best of health.

Yes it would be better to engage yourself in dhikr after fajr until sunrise, as mentioned in many ahadith if possible. One will be allowed to sleep if one has to go work or has been worshiping throughout the night until sahur, otherwise he will have a difficult day.

It has been reported by Jabir ibn Samurah: The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, would pray the dawn prayer and sit crossed legged in his place until the sun had risen brightly. (Abu Dawud)

عَنْ جَابِرِ بْنِ سَمُرَةَ قَالَ كَانَ النَّبِيُّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ إِذَا صَلَّى الْفَجْرَ تَرَبَّعَ فِي مَجْلِسِهِ حَتَّى تَطْلُعَ الشَّمْسُ حَسْنَاءَ – سنن أبي داود كِتَاب الْأَدَبِ إذا صلى الفجر تربع في مجلسه حتى تطلع الشمس حسناء

Ilyas Patel

Returning Borrowed Items

Answered by Shaykh Ilyas Patel

Question: Assalaamu ‘alaykum,

What does shari’ah say, if someone has borrowed something, didn’t return it after using what he needed, and then continued to use it?

I see women who borrow sewing thread to sew clothes, but do not return the rest – mostly out of ignorance/ or just don’t think it is necessarily.

Is this haram?

Answer: Wassalamu alaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu,

I hope you are in good health

If someone borrows something from you it has to be given back. The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, ‘the borrowed is to be returned…’ (Tirmidhi)

It is wrong to keep the any item if one has finished using it. It would good to remind the person to return it if he is finished with it.

And Allah alone gives success

Ilyas Patel

Did the Prophet and the Sahaba Advocate Forcing People to Become Muslim?

Answered by Shaykh Ilyas Patel

Question: Assalamu alaykum. There is an issue which is bothering me, hence I am sending this email to you.

A non-Muslim sent me a message trying to emphasize that Rasool (Sallalahualaihiwasallam) and the Sahaba (R.A.) forced people to become Muslim.

In this message, to back up his claim the non-Muslim gave me this particular quote:

‘Abu Bakr said: “You asked me for the best advice that I could give you, and I will tell you. God sent Muhammad with this religion and he strove for it until men accepted it VOLUNTARILY OR BY FORCE.” (Ibn Ishaq, Sirat Rasul Allah, pp. 668-669)’

However I am aware that Allah declares in Surah Baqara that there is no compulsion in Islam.

Has ibn Ishaq really written this and if ibn Ishaq has written this, then is it true what he says?

Answer: Wassalamu alaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu,

I hope you in good health.

Yes he might have said the above. Far from being apologetic or polemical, ‘force’ is not meant in its literal sense, but the meaning of it has to be taken into its wider context and meaning. It is mentioned under the commentary of the above verse in Ibn Kathir, as follows:

Abu Dawud and An-Nasa’i also recorded this Hadith. As for the Hadith that Imam Ahmad recorded, in which Anas said that the Messenger of Allah said to a man,’ Embrace Islam.’’ The man said, ‘I dislike it.’ The Prophet said, ‘Even if you dislike it.’

First, this is an authentic Hadith, with only three narrators between Imam Ahmad and the Prophet. However, it is not relevant to the subject under discussion, for the Prophet did not force that man to become Muslim. The Prophet merely invited this man to become Muslim, and he replied that he does not find himself eager to become Muslim. The Prophet said to the man that even though he dislikes embracing Islam, he should still embrace it, `for Allah will grant you sincerity and true intent.’

Mufti Shaf’i writes, this approach of Islam makes it clear that is does not force people to accept and enter Islam, far from it, rather it is to remove oppression from the world. When Umar( Allah be pleased with him) invited an old Christian woman to Islam, she said, I am an old woman and very close to death, but rather Umar replied with the above verse, there is no compulsion in religion.

Coercion and force is not possible at all as faith is not related to the outward but to the inward, heart. Coercion and compulsion affect nothing but the outward physical and this is all that is affected by jihad and qital (fighting). Finally, it is just not possible that people can be forced to accept faith through these measures. This proves that the verses of jihad and qital are not contradictory to the following verse, there is no compulsion in faith.

A famous letter sent by 36 Islamic scholars to Pope Benedict XVI addressed this verse:

“This verse is acknowledged to belong to the period of Quranic revelation corresponding to the political and military ascendance of the young Muslim community. “There is no compulsion in religion” was not a command to Muslims to remain steadfast in the face of the desire of their oppressors to force them to renounce their faith, but was a reminder to Muslims themselves, once they had attained power, that they could not force another’s heart to believe.”

There is no compulsion in religion addresses those in a position of strength, not weakness. The earliest commentaries on the Qur’an (such as that of Al-Tabari) make it clear that some Muslims of Medina wanted to force their children to convert from Judaism or Christianity to Islam, and this verse was precisely an answer to them not to try to force their children to convert to Islam.

As for the statement of Abu Bakr mentioned in Ibn Ishaq, it should be reliable. Ibn Ishaq is regarded by Imam al-Shafi`i, Ahmad b. Hanbal, Yahya b. Ma`in, al-Bukhari, Muslim and many others by and large reliable especially with regards to sira.

And Allah alone gives success


Ilyas Patel

What is the Sunna Method of Seeking a Cure to an Illness?

Answered by Shaykh Ilyas Patel

Question: I’m aware as a Muslim we should seek medical care first then leave the cure in Allah swt hands. I gathered that from the Musa alayhis salaam tooth ache hadith.

My question is what is the sunnah way of taking medications? For example first do i make intention? Give sadaqah? Any other Islamic practices to along side? I want to take medication the way Allah swt wants us to take it and the way Prophet Muhammed saw advised us.

Also regarding a du’a, “Allahumma rab an naas adh hib ba’sa washifi anta shifa la shifa illa shifa uk shifa la yughadiru saqaman.”

Can i change the “washfi” to ishfini so i’m supplicating cure me instead of cure us?

And can i say in my du’a “Allahumma, ishfini shifa’an kamilan ajilan”

Answer: Wassalamu alaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu,

I hope you are in good health.

1) The Prophet ( Allah bless him and give him peace) recommended specific manners and duas for specific illnesses, but in general it would be a good practice to give a little sadaqah before taking medicine, recite bismillah, prayer on the prophet and then the specific dua for illness. Although there are numerous, one can recite all, alternate, or recite some and leave some.

I recommend you read Medicine of the Prophet by Ibn Qayyim al Jawziyya.

2) It would be better to keep the blessed words of the dua as they are as Allah knows it is recited for you. The blessed words of the Prophet ( Allah bless him and give him peace) will have a profound effect in sha’ Allah.

3) Yes you can say, “Allahumma, ishfini shifa’an kamilan ajilan”

And Allah alone gives success


Ilyas Patel

Is It Permissible to Use Boar for Any Purpose?

Answered by Ustadh Tabraze Azam

Question: Is it permissible to use the boar for any purpose, including its hair?

Answer: Wa alaikum assalam wa rahmatullah,

I pray that you are in the best of health and faith, insha’Allah.

A boar takes the ruling of a pig in that it is essentially filthy (najis al-`ayn). [Ibn `Abidin, Radd al-Muhtar]

This is affirmed by numerous explicit Qur’anic texts, such as, “You are forbidden to eat carrion; blood; pig’s meat; any animal over which any name other than God’s has been invoked.” [5.3]

Thus it would not be lawful to use its hairs.

And Allah alone gives success.


Tabraze Azam