What is the key to a heart at peace with itself?

THE respected Islamic scholar, Ibn al-Qayyum, may Allah have mercy on him, once wrote, "The keys to the life of the heart lie in reflecting upon the Quran, being humble before Allah in secret, and leaving sins."

By Abid Ishaq

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Published: Fri 22 Jul 2005, 11:25 AM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 6:45 PM

Dear readers, more and more people in the West have only recently felt the need and started to believe in the life of the heart. The proof of this lies in the fact that an increasing majority of Westerners are turning towards spirituality. They define spirituality as something supernatural and terms such as "spiritual fulfilment"; "spiritual values" and "unearthly love" are now commonly being used. But despite the definitions and ideologies, the West still struggles to find the door to the life of the heart, let alone the keys. It is not unusual to find people in today’s fast-paced societies jumping from one ideology or faith to another, seeking "spiritual fulfillment".

On the other hand, Islamic scholars like Ibn al-Qayyum contemplated this vital part of life centuries ago and wrote numerous volumes to guide others towards spirituality. Their research and guidance is based on the divine revelation of the Creator and the Guide. Hence reflection upon the Quran, according to Ibn al-Qayyum is the first key to the life of the believer’s heart.

Allah, the Most High, says: "A Book which We have sent down to you, full of blessings that they may ponder over its verses, and that men of understanding may take heed." [Quran, 38:29]

So Allah informs us that He sent down this Great Quran, blessed in its words, meaning, commands, prohibitions and regulations. Amongst its blessings is that the one who recites even one word of it, has a reward, and this reward is increased tenfold, as mentioned in the noble Prophet Muhammad’s (peace be upon him) hadith, authentically reported by Tirmidhi. Also amongst the Quran’s blessings is that the one who reads it and acts upon it shall not be misguided in this world, nor fall into distress and misery in the Hereafter as stated by Ibn Abbas in the commentary to the verse:

"Whoever follows My guidance shall neither go astray nor fall into distress and misery." [Quran, 20:123]

Amongst its blessings is also that the one who learns it and teaches it is from the best of people as occurs in another hadith reported by Bukhari which states: "The best of you is the one who learns the Quran and then teaches it."

Dear readers, now for Muslims there is no jumping from one ideology to another when they possess such a strong spiritual guide. Another one of the Quran’s blessings is that it will be an intercessor on the Day of Judgment for its companions who used to act by it in this world as occurs in the two Prophetic sayings (ahadith) reported by Muslim in his Saheeh.

Allah, the Exalted informs us that He revealed the Quran so that its meanings, commands and prohibitions may be reflected over, such that if one were to come across a verse commanding something then he should follow it. If one were to come across a verse forbidding something then he should leave it. If one were to come across a verse concerning the mercy of Allah then he should hope for His mercy and ask for it. If one were to come across a verse threatening with punishment then he should fear this, abstain from the prohibition and seek refuge with Allah from it.

If one were to come across a verse concerning the glorification of Allah then he should glorify Allah and through this glorification, his faith, knowledge, guidance and piety (taqwaa) will increase. Such is the life of the believer who seeks spiritual fulfilment in Islam. While describing the believers, Allah the Most High says: "And when His verses are recited unto them, they increase their faith." [Quran, 8:2]

Today we have looked at the first key of the life of the heart and in days to come will ponder over the other two keys as stated by Ibn al-Qayyum, may Allah have mercy on him, centuries ago.

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