Dr. Abu Ameenah Bilal Philips
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The Prophet Muhammad Sallallahu ‘Alayhi wa sallam informed us in a very famous tradition, commonly quoted with reference to halal and haram, about the importance of the heart. He said:
“There is in the body a clump of flesh – if it becomes good, the whole body becomes good and if it becomes bad, the whole body becomes bad. And indeed it is the heart.” [The hadith in full :- Bukhary, Volume 1, Book 2, Number 49: Narrated An-Nu’man bin Bashir: I heard Allah’s Apostle saying, ‘Both legal and illegal things are evident but in between them there are doubtful (suspicious) things and most of the people have no knowledge about them . So whoever saves himself from these suspicious things saves his religion and his honor. And whoever indulges in these suspicious things is like a shepherd who grazes (his animals) near the Hima (private pasture) of someone else and at any moment he is liable to get in it . (O people!) Beware! Every king has a Hima and the Hima of Allah on the earth is His illegal (forbidden) things. Beware! There is a piece of flesh in the body if it becomes good (reformed) the whole body becomes good but if it gets spoilt the whole body gets spoilt and that is the heart.]
He said that after explaining that the halal is clear and that the haram is clear and that between them are obscure areas, not known to most people. However, what protects a person from the haram and ensures that he remains in the halal is knowledge ; but beyond knowledge, it is the state of the heart. If the heart is good, then it makes use of the knowledge and it avoids what is prohibited. If the heart is bad, then the knowledge is of no benefit to it and it will indulge in what is prohibited. The Prophet Sallallahu ‘Alayhi Wa sallam, on the last pilgrimage, informed his Companions and the nations of Muslims to come, that there is no favour or no special place of the Arab over the non-Arab; nor is there any favour or special position of White over Black, but that favour in the sight of Allah, is with those who fear Him, those who have taqwa. After bearing witness to that, he said that “Taqwa is in the heart.”
In these statements and other similar statements, we find stress being placed on the heart – that the heart is the part of the body, which Allah has favoured over all other parts. It is the place of iman. Had there been in the body another part that were nearer to Allah, taqwa would have been placed there because iman is the most valuable thing that a human being can have. There is nothing more valuable. It is the determination ultimately of those who have belief in Allah – those who have accepted the message and who have chosen Paradise over Hell. It is the distinction of those who have belief and those who have disbelief.
The value of iman is more than all of the things of this world. This is why the Prophet Muhammad Sallallahu ‘Alayhi wa sallam said that for ALLAH to guide by your hands a single person to Islam is worth more than anything in this world. For you to help someone to find iman is worth more than any of the things in this world. The heart is the place by which the correctness of deeds is judged. The Prophet Muhammad Sallallahu ‘Alayhi wa sallam said : ” Deeds are judged according to the intention.” The place of the intention is not on the lips. It is in the heart . [The hadith in full:- Bukhary, Volume 1, Book 2, Number 51: Narrated ‘Umar bin Al- Khattab: Allah’s Apostle said, “The reward of deeds depends upon the intention and every person will get the reward according to what he has intended. So whoever emigrated for Allah and His Apostle, then his emigration was for Allah and His Apostle. And whoever emigrated for worldly benefits or for a woman to marry, his emigration was for what he emigrated for.”]
Our deeds – what we do externally – are judged ultimately by the states of our hearts. These are good deeds. Evil deeds are evil, but these good deeds are in reference to those that we perceive to be a part and parcel of righteousness. Allah will inspect the hearts to determine whether they are truly acts of righteousness. The Prophet Muhammad Sallallahu ‘Alayhi wa sallam had informed us that the first 3 people who would be cast into the Hell Fire are people who were involved in what everybody considers great acts of righteousness. They are the scholar who taught knowledge; the wealthy person who gave from his wealth in charity and the martyr who gave his life fighting in the path of God.
The Prophet Muhammad Sallallahu ‘Alayhi Wa sallam, in an authentic narration, said that they would be among the first groups of people thrown into because the scholar, when he taught the knowledge that Allah gave him, did not do so for the sake of Allah. He taught so that people would praise him, saying what a great scholar he is and how knowledgeable he is. Allah will say to him: “You received your praise, what you sought in that world. But there will be nothing for you in the next.” So he will be drawn off on his face and thrown into Hell.
Similarly the rich individual – the philanthropist, who was generous with his wealth. He gave and people praised his generosity, but Allah will say, “You did it for the praise and you were praised. There was no sincerity there; it was not for the sake of Allah. You did it for as long as people appreciated it, but when people did not pay you mind, you were not generous anymore. Your generosity was conditional; it was not really for the sake of Allah.” So that individual will be drawn off on his face and thrown into Hell.
And the martyr – the one whom we all assumed had died fii-sabilillah. We would think that his place in Paradise is guaranteed. But Allah will say: “You fought so people would say, ‘How brave this one is! How strong and courageous he was!'” People said it; they praised him, but he did not do it for the sake of Allah, so he will be drawn off on his face and thrown into Hell. Continue reading