Ramadan 08: The Fasting of the Heart

“And if anyone believes in Allah, (Allah) guides his heart (aright)” (Surah At-Taghabun:11)

The guidance of the heart is the foundation for all guidance, the origin for every good deed and the key to success, in this world and the Hereafter. The Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him said:

 ”In the body there is a morsel of flesh which, if it be sound, all of the body is sound and which, if it be diseased, all of the body is diseased. This part of the body is the heart.” (Recorded in Bukhari and Muslim)

The heart is the source of our intention, and as such we must protect it from corruption, such as seeking to please other than Allah, all praises and glory be to Him. In fact, there are two types of heart – the one that is alive and pulsating with faith, and the other that is dead, covered in disease and blackened. Allah, says of those:

“In their hearts is a disease (of doubt and hypocrisy), and Allah lets their disease increase. A painful torment is theirs because they used to tell lies” (Surah al-Baqarah:10)

“And they say, ‘Our hearts are wrapped (i.e. do not understand Allah’s word).” Nay, Allah has cursed them for their disbelief, so little is that which they believe.” (Surah al-Baqarah:88)

“Will they not then ponder this Qur’an? Or are there locks upon their hearts?” (Surah Muhammad:24)

“And so they say, [as it were] “Our hearts are veiled from whatever thou callest to us, [O Muhammad] and in our ears is deafness.” (Surah Fussilat:5)

When we read these verses from the Holy Qur’an, we can be in no doubt that our hearts can become ill, covered, locked and dead to the call of faith. The disbelievers have hearts in their chests, but they do not perceive with these hearts. Hence the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, used to make dua:

“ O Turner of the Hearts, keep my heart firm upon your religion. (Ya muqallib al Quloob, thabbit qalbee alaa deenik)”

The heart of the believer fasts during Ramadan and outside of Ramadan. The fast of the heart is performed by emptying it of all corrupt material, attitudes and influences. The heart of the believer should be filled with love of Allah and obedience to Him. It should know it’s Lord through His names and attributes, and should witness these manifestations in the creation of Allah. The believer’s heart is filled with light of Divine teachings and does not allow the darkness of sins or bad thoughts to remain within it.  It increases in faith whenever it listens to the Qur’an, it grows in conviction when it contemplates, and increases in guidance when it reflects.

The believer’s heart abstains from pride and arrogance because they break the fast. Rather, during Ramadan, the believer should reflect on their own shortcomings, sins and misdeeds and beg Allah to forgive them whilst striving to improve themselves. The heart of the believer also abstains from envy, because it lowers righteous deeds and puts out the light of the heart, stopping it from progressing towards Allah. Allah asks us:

“Or do they envy man for what Allah has give them from His bounty?” (Surah An-Nisa:54)

We should know that everything comes from Allah alone and to envy others is to be ungrateful. Envy includes hating to see someone superior or better off than yourself, disliking it when someone else receives a bounty, or wishing that someone else would lose what they have.

The Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, once informed one of his companions that he would be amongst the people of Paradise. When he was asked about what had earned him this place, the man said : ‘I do not have for any Muslim in my heart any deceit, or envy for good that Allah has blessed him with.’ (Reported by Imam Ahmad)

Are there any hearts that would then fast from these things, yearning for their Lord the Most Merciful and the promise of Paradise? Ramadan is the time for us to strive to purify our hearts, and empty them of all these negative feelings and influences. It is the time for us to stand in the early hours of the morning seeking forgiveness from our Lord, asking him to purify our hearts and guide us to the Straight Path. It is the time for us to draw closer to Our Creator, Allah the Lord of all the Worlds.

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