How does the Heart fast?
by Shaykh Aa’id ‘Abdullâh al-Qarnî
The guidance of the heart is the basis of all guidance, the law of all success, the origin of every deed and head of every action. The Prophet saws said:
‘Truly there is a piece of flesh in the body which, if it be wholesome, the whole body will be healthy and which, and if it be diseased the whole body will be diseased. Truly it is the heart.’
Thus the goodness of your heart is the guarantee of your happiness in this world and in the hereafter. Likewise, its corruption is the surest way to destruction, the extent of which only Allah knows.
‘In this, behold, there is indeed a reminder for everyone whose heart is wide-awake – that is [everyone who] lends ear with a conscious mind’ (50:37).
Every creature has a heart. In reality though they are two hearts, a heart that is alive and pulsating with the light of faith. It is filled with intense conviction and God-consciousness. The other is a dead heart, covered and diseased with every wreckage and rubbish.
Allah Almighty says concerning the hearts of the foolish folk:
‘In their hearts is disease, and so God lets their disease increase’ (2:10).
‘But they say, “Our hearts are already full of knowledge.” Nay, but God has rejected them because of their refusal to acknowledge the truth: for, few are the things in which they believe’ (2:88).
Allah also says:
‘Will they not, then, ponder over this Quran? — or are there locks upon their hearts?’ (47:24).
‘And so they say, [as it were:] “Our hearts are veiled from whatever thou callest us to, [O Muhammad,] and in our ears is deafness”’ (41:5).
From all these verses we learn that the hearts can become ill, they can be covered, locked and they die. The enemies of Allah have hearts in their bosoms but they do not perceive with these hearts. Hence the Prophet saws used to say:
‘O dispenser of hearts make my heart firm in Your religion.’
The heart of the believer fasts during Ramadan and outside of Ramadan. The fasting of the heart is done by emptying it of all corrupt material such as destructive forms of polytheism, false beliefs, evil suggestions, filthy intentions and degenerate thoughts. The heart of the believer is adorned with the love of Allah. It knows its Lord by His names and His qualities as He has described Himself. This heart explores with a discerning eye the lines of His names and qualities and the pages of Allah’s making in the universe and the books of His creations.
The believer’s heart is filled with a brilliant light which does not allow any darkness to remain with it. It is the light of the eternal message, the divine teachings, and the omnipotent laws. To it is added the natural light upon which the servants of Allah were created. Thus two great lights come together
. ‘Light upon light! God guides unto His light him that wills [to be guided]; and [to this end] God propounds parables unto men, since God [alone] has full knowledge of all things’ (24:36).
The believer’s heart glows like a lamp, shines like the sun and sparkles like the morning light. It increases in faith whenever the believer listens to the verses of the Quran, it grows in conviction when it contemplates, and increases in guidance when it reflects. The believer’s heart abstains from pride because it breaks its fast. Pride does not reside in the heart of a believer because it is unlawful. The abode and dwelling place of pride is the heart. Hence, if it enters any heart, that person will become afflicted, foolish, arrogant and frivolous.
Allah Almighty says in a hadith Qudsi:
‘Pride is my upper garment and grandeur is my lower one, whoever contests with me for them I will punish him.’
The Prophet saws himself said:
‘Whoever shows arrogance to Allah, He will humble him, and whoever is humble to Allah, He will raise him in station.’
The heart of the believer fasts and abstains from egotism. Egotism is when the individual sees himself as perfect, better than others and in possession of good qualities that are not found in anyone else. This is destruction in its most naked form. The Prophet saws said:
‘Three things which are totally destructive: a person’s self-centredness and conceit, his reluctance to obey and his following of his desires.’
The cure for this self-importance is to look at one’s own faults, one’s many shortcomings, thousands of sins and misdeeds that one has committed, wrongs that one has done and forgotten but the knowledge of which are with Allah in a book. For Allah is not led astray nor does He forget.
The heart of the believer fasts and abstains from envy because it lowers righteous deeds, puts out the light of the heart and stops its progress toward Allah the Most High. Allah says in the Glorious Quran:
‘Do they, perchance, envy other people for what God has granted them out of his bounty? (4:54).
And the Prophet saws said:
‘Do not envy one another; do not inflate prices one to another; do not hate one another; do not turn away from one another; and do not undercut one another.’
The Prophet informed one of his companions three times that he would be among the people of Paradise. When he was asked about what was it that earned him a place in Paradise, the man said:
‘I do not sleep with envy, grudge or deceit in my heart for any Muslim.’
Are there any hearts that would, therefore, fast like the learned. The fast of the learned has a yearning for the Most Merciful Lord of the worlds. Their hearts fast at all times and in the early hours of morning they seek forgiveness.
O Allah guide our hearts to the straight path and make it firm on faith, O Lord of the worlds.