PROPHET’S ACADEMY – INSTITUTE OF ADVANCED PRACTICAL SUFISM
WISE GOLDEN HEARTS AND SUFI LOVE
WISE GOLDEN HEARTS
All praises be to Allah the only true God of all existence and Allah’s choicest blessings and most comforting and delighting greetings of peace be on His Last and Final Messenger to all mankind for all time to come, namely Muhammad and also on all his brothers the other prophets and messengers who passed before him from our father Adam to our master Moses and our master Jesus Christ with all other prophets and messengers of Allah in between them and also on all the good followers of theirs until the Last Day. Amen.
My dear pupils and readers, this new series of brief articles I hope are being inspired to my humble self from the Source of all blessed inspirations, namely our Lord Allah the Most Sublime and Dear. Please do not misunderstand me- I am no prophet nor anybody else can ever be after Muhammad , since he has been the last owner and the pinnacle of prophethood. I can only say what Allah may kindly make me say but that does or mean that at times I may not err out of my foolishness and ignorance without being aware of it. Allah is always ready to help us in the matter of right guidance at all times as in all other matters but we may not be always in tip top condition to receive His merciful guiding inspirations. The Holy Spirit is always around to help people of faith so long people of faith do not damage their faith by any lapses of care. That Allah supports true believers with the Holy Spirit so long as they maintain their faith can be conclusively seen from the verse:
“They are those on whose hearts Allah inscribed faith and whom He supported with a Spirit from Himself” (58: 22). What a head-turning, stunning good-news! Let us hope for the best then.
Our line of exploration in these articles is collecting as many pearls as we can from the depths of hearts enjoying a swim in Allah’s Infinite Merciful Wisdom Oceans although no heart can even begin to exhaust those oceans. Let us than see what this ocean can delightfully surprise us with. Before that though we need define what a wise golden heart is.
Every time we mention the name and the titles of Muhammad or other prophets we invoke Allah’s blessings on say salutations of peace on them which from now on is implied.
1. WHAT IS A WISE GOLDEN HEART
Allah reminds us that human heart can deteriorate into a rusty and dirty state after forgetting Allah and indulging in harams (acts banned by Islam) while through repentance and maintenance of remembering Allah (zikrullah) it regains its purity and shine. That is why a true believer’s heart in its purest state can be likened to gold and called a golden heart. Sure, nobody other than Allah can be perfect, we all sometimes makes mistakes and as a result some darkness or oppression can descend on our heart but once we as true believers notice this sorry condition and turn to our Lord with repentance the darkness lifts and the shine of gold re-emerges like the sun from behind a passing cloud. If a heart is of gold or when a heart becomes golden thanks to the alchemy of Islamic spirituality acting on it there is no going back; this heart may be occasionally contaminated on the surface but not rusted. Allah’s true servants are quick in catching themselves in the wrong and cleansing themselves of its dirt by repentance. Read if you wish:
“As for those who attained piety (the golden heart), when a temptation from the Satan touches them they immediately remember (Allah and consider) and are seers (see the whole evil of it and avoid it) (7: 201)
It is not easy to attain that level of heart purity. It takes true having faith in true God representing surest realities and truest and noblest values. For example there are some very populous religions where animals are honoured like gods while fellow human beings, especially women and people of humbler classes are treated like only too expendable creatures. Not a single insect can be harmed; in fact many wild animals like snakes, rats and monkeys are worshipped and fed while many fellow humans are starving. A woman can be burned alive on the same pyre as her dead husband so that she may serve him in the hereafter as well! Such barbaric superstitions, however sincerely believed in and with however good intentions obeyed do not lead to a golden heart; golden heart is a Godly heart which means it follows the guidance of the One True and not a non-entity ignorantly imagined to be the God or a god. The best and fullest description (if we may call it so) of the One True God is in the Qur’an. There He is ‘al Haqq’ (the Ultimate reality and Truth), ‘al Fatir’ (the Originator), ‘al Khaliq (the Creator), ‘al Rahman, al Rahim’ (the Universally Caring and Mercifully Pardoning) with a hundred more equally splendid epithets being applied to Him.
This impure heart of ours firstly needs a spiritual-medical examination, so-to-speak, rather like a full hospital health check-up. Like measuring the blood pressure, heart, kidney and liver functions, and doing neurological, hormonal, bacteriological etc. tests and investigations we the spiritual patients need examinations into our spiritual functioning to identify our unhealthy conditions and remedy them. But unlike medical examinations it is more ourselves than others who must make the examinations.
This may look like a daunting prospect and in many ways it is so but equally in many other ways it is not so difficult if we are sincere in our desire to attain more sincere faith, more self-understanding and God-understanding and thereby attain improved conduct.
To see how let us first see what contributes to the contamination of the heart. Allah the Most Wise informs us:
“When to him (the determined sinner) Our verses are recited he says “The tales of the ancients!”. Never! It is only that what such people have been earning (in the way of evil acts) have left (layers of) dirt on their hearts” (83: 13- 14)
Yes, every evil committed, despite knowing better, poisons the heart and makes it even more prone to further evil.
We may now sum up the conditions for and the evolution of a golden heart. It is rooted in a true faith in the Only True God, namely Allah the Originator (Fatir) of all existence which are realities material as well as spiritual. From this root must shoot up branches of God’s Guidance received through firstly His prophetic messengers whose ultimate member and final spokesman is Muhammad and secondly through personal dutiful regular meditation (tafakkur), contemplation, (tazakkur) ritual devotions (ibadat) and thirdly using any and every opportunity to do some good and right thing to other people and creatures in general (khairat). This combined pious strategy allows our hearts to become purer and purer gold until all who perceptively look at us see in us Gracious Allah in Spirit looking at them through us, although we are no gods. Amen.
2. THE IDEAL TWINS
There is a saying going like this: “The path to Hell is paved with good intentions”. What is meant is this: Mere good intentions are not enough to produce good results. We also need good, correct knowledge about the nature of things and persons and how things work. I remember a nice true story told to us the gathered family members by a lady cousin of ours when I was about five or six years old. She broke the news that a Greek family had gone to cinema one night leaving a six months old baby named Angela with her five year old sister named Marulla. Silly, but that was what happened. When the cinema goers came back they found the baby looking dead. Unsure, they asked the five year old “What happened to ‘Angela?”. She replied quite innocently “You see, I was tickling her to make her laugh. I tickled her saying “tickle tickle Angela, tickle tickle Angela. She laughed very much but in the end she fell asleep”. The baby was dead in fact, suffocated by too much laugh. Sure, the older sister’s heart was pure gold, she meant no evil but only fun for herself and her little sister. But her ignorance more than cancelled the benefits of her goodwill. Many a time many people act like Marulla. They mean well, they think they are doing some good and end up doing harm instead.
Obviously goodwill in itself is not enough; with ignorance around not all the best wishes in the world can ensure a happy result for acting or interacting parties. “A bird cannot fly with a single wing” they say. Not only it needs two wings but the two wings must be equal in size and power for a straight flight. The two equal wings are like two equal twins. The two together are ideally suited to bird flight.
In producing good then we similarly need two wings as equal in every respect like the two wings of a healthy bird. Short on goodwill and not the best knowledge is enough to produce a good result. Short on correct and complete knowledge and not best will in the world can produce good.
It is then clear that one of the twins is a good heart filled with good intentions and the other twin is a sound mind with correct knowledge about the matter we want to deal with or achieve. That is why we Muslims claim, on the basis of Allah’s Book that best good can only be achieved by a sincere believer full of best goodwill (which makes up the first twin) and additionally by acting on a full and correct knowledge about God and His Laws (which knowledge is the second twin). The two make up the inseparable ideal twins.
Now, please do not misunderstand me. I am not saying that there is no other source of full and correct knowledge outside the Qur’an and then the Hadith. All experimental, scientific and technical realities in so far they stood the test of time are sound knowledge on which we may act. Again, Allah has many inspired men and women outside His prophets, which men and women at least occasionally are granted deep inspired knowledge which proves its worth when acted upon. Lastly every single person may have from time to time a worthy inspiration which gives good results when acted upon. This is the case even when the person involved is an infidel or a criminal. Don’t you see how one son of Adam killed the other out of satanic jealousy and while wondering how he could dispose of the corpse he saw a crow digging the earth to hide a piece of food it was carrying in its beak for later consumption? Many animals have this clever habit for keeping their excess food safe for future. In Surat al Maide vv. 27- 31 Allah relates this story stating clearly that He was sending the crow to serve as an inspiration for the criminal. If even criminals can be inspired with situational helpful ideas what about good believers? Of course Allah had a wise good reason for helping a criminal. The help brought him to regret and repentance. “I could not be as good as this crow” he mourned in shame and regret.
The only problem here, I mean in a case of probable correct inspiration as far as a believer is concerned, is whether he checks his inspiration on a serious matter with Allah’s Book and the Prophet’s Sunna. What the believer thinks may be a helpful inspiration need not be directly supported by a verse or a hadith. That it does not clash with Allah’s Book and His Prophet’s Sunna is enough. In fact the subject may be unmentioned in these two holy sources to begin with. Incidentally this shows how important and vital is to have a good knowledge of Allah’s Book and His Prophet’s Sunna. All the same we still admit that becoming a scholarly Muslim is not everybody’s meat; the great majority of us will have to consult brothers and sisters who know about the holy sources more than we do.
A good, believing heart and good Islamic knowledge are mutually supportive. The good heart of a person demands from the intellect of that person to acquire as much useful and correct knowledge it can get. As the intellect increases in such beneficial knowledge it asks the heart to purify itself more in the light of the new knowledge. True spiritual knowledge always asks for self-purification on the part of the knower. It compels him to purify himself! For spiritual knowledge is not about verbalisable information as compelling edifying urges.
Now let us see how Allah describes a golden-heart, the first twin for pious success:
“The servants of the All-Gracious (Allah), who walk the earth in humility and when the ignorant address them they respond with ‘salaam’ and go on their way (25: 63) and
“They do not bear false witness; when they come across idle talk the pass by with dignity. When Allah’s verses are reminded them they do not remain deaf and blind to them” (25: 72-73) “Believers are those whose hearts tremble (with awe and love) when Allah is mentioned and when Allah’s verses are recited out to them their faith is enhanced and they put their trust in Allah” (8:2)
You see, this heart is full of Allah, drenched in and illuminated by Allah’s Light and the sweetest sound to such people is hearing the name “Allah” and listening to the Qur’an can only increase their faith. In another verse we have more detail and confirmation:
“Allah has sent down the Best Ever Hadith (Message) in the form of a Book (the Qur’an) full of harmonious verses and metaphors, all repeatedly and eminently readable. The skins of those who fear their Lord tremble with their hairs standing on end on its account. Then their skins and their hearts soften to Allah’s Reminder” (39: 22)
Which means how much golden is our heart can be measured by the strength of our positive reaction to Allah’s Book. A pure, twenty four carat gold heart is always overwhelmed and directed by Allah’s Book to the full. To the degree that you are less than fully interested in and ruled by the Book of Allah you have less of a pure golden heart. Only if and when the study of the Qur’an becomes the sweetest, most moving experience of your life your heart can be said to have attained purity acceptable to Allah. You have no time for the Qur’an? Are you easily bored with it or you could not care less about its study, I mean understanding, not parroting study? Then sit down and weep for your bad fortune and let your face go red with heat and shame. This is a sign that you are in for at least some punishment in hell if you die at that low level of spiritual growth because we earn both hell and paradise here. Let me tell you a story.
It is said that the great Abbasid caliph Harun al Rashid had a brother called Bahlul al Dana. ‘Dana’ means ‘learned’. But his learning was not bookish learning. It was more spiritual learning. One day Bahlul disappeared from his habitual mosque where Harun also said his regular prayers and did not turn up for a whole week. Both Harun and everybody else were dead worried about him. Then as suddenly as he had disappeared he turned up. They asked him “Oh Bahlul, where have you been all this time? We were dead worried”. He replied “I went to hell”. “Aha!” said some sarcastic friends “then did you bring some hellfire as proof?”. Bahlul made his point briskly “There is no fire there. People bring there their own fire from this world”.
Is not the message clear? If your heart is full of hellfire because it is a den of greeds, lusts, angers, jealousies and mercilessness you are bound for hell, the full-blown post mortem hell which awaits all enemies of God. If on the other hand you have cultivated a golden heart, a heart full of mercy, love, forgiveness, charity, grace… all of which are embedded in a matrix of WISDOM, yea, WISDOM, then you are in a psychological paradise already and when your time comes you are taken by Allah to His paradise when he takes your blessed soul. Read if you wish:
“O ye settled and contented soul! Return to your Lord, you pleased with Him and He pleased with you. Enter then among My choicest servants, enter then My Garden” (89: 27- 30). Amen