Alhamdulillah we are over halfway through Ramadan already! The first day of Ramadan does seem to stretch a little till iftar, while we keep looking at the clock or the phone, checking the timings chart for the minutes as if our looking again and again will make the Magrib come any faster! However, the rest of the days of Ramadan go by in a snap, literally. It seems like yesterday was the first day and here we are with just two more weeks left in this blessed month and before we know, it will be Eid, in sha Allah.
In Ramadan the satans are chained, the doors of hell are closed, then how come we still find ourselves indulging in a lazy, disobedient and unproductive behaviour. The other days we easily put the blame on Satan and his minions. Who are we going to blame for our misdeeds in this blessed month? Ramadan is the best time to do a self-check. It is the best time to see what has happened to our hearts and souls. Our hearts have been so tampered, so bruised and infected by the whispers of the satan, that his work with us has already been done. However the effects remain for a long time after.
“Satan reaches everywhere in the human body as blood reaches in it, (everywhere in one’s body).” (Sahih Bukhari, Book 33, Hadith 10)
If we are fasting and still find ourselves envious, backbiting, bickering about the daily misfortunes, then we should stop and check our hearts. Surely, the health of our heart is compromised and needs immediate attention.
Ramadan is the best time to introspect. Not only to understand the conditions of our heart and souls but also the best month to seek the remedies as well. Ramadan afterall is a blessed month of the year. So without further ado, let’s get straight to the five gifts that we can give our heart this Ramadan. By keeping away from these five things, we will be providing the ultimate happiness and content to our hearts. A healthy heart is after all a happy heart!
- Bhugd (Hatred or Dislike)
One of the diseases that affect our heart is Bhugd, hatred or dislike of a person for no legitimate reasons. We live in a world, where we easily hate each other for many reasons, mostly worldly reasons. Families hate each other over the matters of wealth; friends, neighbors, colleagues hate each other for one thing or the other. When we hate a person for no good reason, we are actually doing more harm to ourselves than to them. Our heart turns out everytime we see them and we are filled with negative thoughts, so much so that it can affect our physical well being.
The Prophet (pbuh), “Do not desert (stop talking to) one another, do not nurse hatred towards one another, do not be jealous of one another, and become as fellow brothers and slaves of Allah. It is not lawful for a Muslim to stop talking to his brother (Muslim) for more than three days.
Al Bukhari and Muslim (2558 b)
We harbour so much hate inside us that we hardly even think of letting these strong feelings go away, let alone forgive the ones who have caused them. Forgiving can be hard when we feel we have been wronged by someone. The least we can do, if not go upfront and talk to the people involved, is to forgive them from our heart. Empty the room in our heart that holds the grudges and the hate. If we don’t free our heart of these feelings, they will stay there and keep coming up again and again. What can make forgiving someone we hate or dislike easy, is remembering that Allah loves to forgive, and He swt will forgive us and love us more for forgiving His creation, the ones who wronged us.
Envy is considered to be among the first sins by which Allah was disobeyed, the other two being covetousness and arrogance. Covetousness was displayed by Adam (as), arrogance by Iblis, and envy by Qabil when he killed Habil. Blameworthy Envy or Hasad is exhibited when one desires that another person lose a blessing that he or she has been blessed with, even if it means the one who is jealous does not attain the likes of such blessings.
“Avoid envy, for envy devours good deeds just as fire devours firewood.” Related by Abu Dawud.
Bulugh al Maram (Book 16, Hadith 1522)
Every blessing is from Allah swt and He swt in His infinite wisdom proportionates them as He likes and to whom He likes. When we envy others for what they have been blessed with, with dislike and resentment, we are in a way, questioning this wisdom. It is tantamount to saying that Allah should not have given this person a blessing, or, worse yet, that He swt was wrong to do so “because I deserve it more.” May Allah forgive us. This makes envy reprehensible and forbidden.
The basis of remedy for envy is taqwa! Know that Allah swt is All-Powerful and Just. This diffuses false notions of misappropriated blessings. Allah has given us everything we will ever need or want! Trust Him! Whatever we might wish for, if it is right for us He swt will give it to us. If not, He swt will replace it with something even better. If not in this world, then definitely in the Hereafter. We need to engrave this belief in our heart. It will help in overcoming a lot of sorrow and grief we subject our hearts to. As they say the grass always looks greener on the other side. It looks, it doesn’t mean it truly is! No one is ever truly satisfied with what they have, unless of course they are satisfied with Allah swt. We don’t have to be envious, when we feel envy rising in our heart, we should bless the other person for his blessing and make duaa for the same blessing for ourselves. If it is willed for us,Allah swt will bless us with it in sha Allah.
Ostentation or riya is the most nefarious disease that ails the heart. In plain terms it is showing off, doing something to gain notoriety.When you do deeds other than seeking the pleasure of Allah swt, you are exhibiting riya. In our tradition intentions are of utmost importance when it comes to acceptance of deeds.
The Prophet (pbuh) said, “The thing that I fear most for my nation is associating others with Allah. I do not say that they will worship the sun or the moon or idols, but deeds done for the sake of anyone other than Allah, and hidden desires.”
Sunan Ibn Majah (Book 37, Hadith 4345) (Da’if)
We must always check our intentions before commencing any deed and act of worship. Sometimes we are so caught up in the ‘doing’ part, that we forget why we are doing and for whom. A good way to keep our intentions in check is to always ask these two questions before doing anything. Why am I doing it? For whom am I doing it?
The biggest gift we can give our heart is sincerity. IImagine on the Day of Judgement, if the mountains of our good deeds are turned to dust just because of our lack of sincerity, what good will all of this hard work be for! Keeping our intentions in check is the best thing we can give our heart. Be sincere, and then put in our efforts and be hopeful of Allah swt’s acceptance.
Sometimes it so happens that we stop doing a good deed because we think our intentions are not sincere. However, don’t stop doing the good deed. That’s an advanced weapon of Satan. He puts these thoughts in us that make us doubt our intentions and sincerity. In such cases, make an intention and go on with the deed, even if the heart keeps poking at our insincerity, still go ahead and finish the task, and then make duaa to Allah for its acceptance.
Miserliness or stinginess is the refusal to give what has been made obligatory on us, of our possessions. Allah swt does not love a miser. Charity doesn’t decrease our wealth, it only puts more barakah in it. Allah honors the hand of the giver. Zakat, essentially purifies our wealth of any unknown purity that might have entered our earnings. As for hoarding the wealth, you and I both know that when we die, we are wrapped in one piece shroud and take absolutely nothing with us. Not a single penny goes with us! So, why burden ourselves with the sin of not paying the zakat and be punished instead in the Hereafter for the same.
Ali (Ra) said, “The worst person is the miser. In this world, he is deprived of his own wealth, and in the Hereafter, he is punished.”
We need to open our hearts and let generosity make home in it. Helping out the needy and poor with money when one can is always beloved to Allah. However, we don’t always have to give money to be generous . One can share the many talents and gifts that Allah swt has blessed us with. Sharing them with others can also be a form of charity, some can even count as sadaqah jariyah! Remember, Allah will bless us with more of what we give to others. It can be anything that is of benefit to others. Our time, our efforts, teaching someone a skill that would benefit them, sharing our knowledge, it is all a part of charity. Even if one shares a simple recipe with someone, or a helpful cooking or cleaning tip, is counted as charity. Remember, Allah will always help us as long as we’re helping others
Abu Hurairah (RA) narrated that the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said:
“Allah helps His slave as long as he helps his brother. Related by Muslim..
The second aspect of miserliness is the way in which we give what we do in the name of charity. Zakat or supererogatory charity must be given in humility and with good cheer. It is a privilege to be in a position to offer charity and fulfil a divine obligation. Equally, a blessing is not to be at the receiving end. An important thing to remember while giving charity is that we give of what we love, we give what we would like to receive. Giving something that is inferior, or something that you don’t like, is not charity in essence.
Never will you attain the good (reward) until you spend (in the way of Allah) from that which you love. And whatever you spend, indeed , Allah is Knowing of it. (Al-Imran 2:92)
5. Love of this World
Blameworthy love of this world is considered to be the root cause of all the diseases of the heart. We are encouraged to live a simple life, and the epitome of this kind of life is of our Prophet (pbuh). Being detached from this world does not mean that you should forbid what Allah has made permissible. The essence of simple living is being content with Allah swt and what He swt has decreed for you.
We have become so indulged into the life of this world, that we have forgotten that it is only temporary, fleeting and will soon be over for us. We don’t have to wait for the day of judgement, the world is over for us the moment we die. When death kisses us, we will leave this world and everything we owned in it behind and go with the angel of death in a white shroud carrying with us our deeds.Whether they are good or bad, that will be the crux of our life here in this world.That should be our ultimate goal. We should be working for those good deeds, afterall those are our only true benefactors. Thinking about death and the journey thereafter is crucial for our ultimate success. We go to lengths to plan a small vacation in this world, yet remain oblivious to the plans and efforts for the ultimate everlasting vacation.
The love of this world is praised or blamed based on what good or harm it brings to the person. If it leads a person to become greedy or arrogant in any aspect then it is blameworthy. If it elevates his spiritual being and brings him closer to Allah, then it is praiseworthy. The love that is blamed is the one that leads the person to sin and away from Allah swt.
A man came to the Prophet (pbuh) and said, “O Messenger of Allah, guide me to such an action which, if I do Allah will love me and the people will also love me.” He (pbuh) said, “Have no desire for this world, Allah will love you; and have no desire for what people possess, and the people will love you.”
Ibn Majah (Book 1, Hadith 472)
Ramadan is like a portal of blessings and mercy. This portal opens up once in a year for a short span of 30 days. Whether we will make it through another year to the same portal or not is quite uncertain. .We should make the most of what we have right now. No opportunity should be left untouched. You never know if that opportunity will come again, or even if it does, whether we will be able to take it the second time. That being said an important prerequisite of Ramadan and for that anything else you want to do, is sincerity and effort. Without these two essential ingredients, you can hardly make a difference in our life. They are like salt. Have you ever observed how even if all the spices come together in a dish, it doesn’t taste even a bit good without the salt, of course except the desserts!
May this Ramadan be a starting point of our self-purification and an improved life. May we dedicate our lives to the obedience of Allah swt and make the most of this Ramadan and we ask Him swt to make us witness many more Ramadans. Ameen.
Sarah Muzaffar is a writer, a storyteller who likes to read a lot, paint a little and learn more about her deen. She likes to share what she learns by writing about it in her blog sarahmuzaffar.wordpress.com for anyone who can benefit. A first time mommy of a toddler, she is still struggling to strike a balance between me-hood and motherhood!