I stated that maturing process has two important phases and defined "Refinement of the Nafs" in my previous article. This article is about "Purifying the Heart".
"Purifying the Heart" (Tasfiatun Qalb) means cleaning the heart from all kind of spiritual diseases by getting rid of all bad things and then making the heart strong with Muhabbetullah (Love for Allah) by connecting it to Allah (swt).
In this way, "faith" becomes a real and strong belief. At this stage, there are no doubts or hesitations in the heart and no one can stop the person from faith.
# Spiritual diseases of the heart
There are many spiritual diseases of the heart. The most common disease of the heart is the commitment of the pleasures, desires, and wishes of nafs as a passion. In brief, it is obeying the rules of his nafs. This fake god in the person's heart fills the heart so that there isn't any space for the signs of Allah (swt). He doesn't remember Allah (swt).
The heart wishes earthly pleasures as goods, positions, various food, clothing and jewelries, sightseeing, entertainment and passion because it obeys the orders of his nafs. It is also the underlying reason for all evil things as pride, hate, etc...
This person's heart is filled with ideas and visions of the real world even while he prays for Allah (swt) unless he purifies his heart and refines his nafs, because the heart is subject to them spiritually.
# Two phases of purifying the heart
The desires of the nafs diminish gradually and the fake gods in the heart are erased in time through Riyazat (Self Discipline) and Mudjahada (Self-struggle), which means abstaining from everything Allah forbid and obeying His orders. Thus the first step of purifying the heart is achieved and the refinement of the nafs is completed by clearing its effect in the heart.
In the second phase the heart is filled with signs and love of Allah the real owner of human. This is only achieved through dhikr, which is the remembrance of Allah every time.
"Allah (swt) must be remembered every time. There must be nothing but Allah (swt) in the heart. One must dhikr when eating, drinking, sleeping, going somewhere, or coming back." (Imam-ı Rabbani)1
The times when Allah (swt) is not remembered are called blindness. The heart must never be blind.
# A love story
I had a close friend when I was young. I will keep his name secret because it is a real story. He was attracted by a girl in our neighborhood. It was a simple attention that every young person can experience at first. Once I saw that he wrote the capital letter of his girl friend in his watch. I asked him the reason. He said he would like to remember her every time he looked at his watch. These remembrances strengthened his love for the girl and soon he fall in love with her. The girl was not so beautiful. However, who is loved is beautiful. "Copper becomes gold because of love." And this love ended in marriage.
Remembering the beloved ones strengthens the love in the heart. It strengthens the spiritual connection. If the remembrances are repeated continuously, the love in the heart becomes a passion. Don't our commitments to possessions, degrees and pleasures become constant ideas and passions as we think of them every time? Even the strongest love connections in the heart disappear without seeing and remembrance.
# Don't forget that Muhabbetullah becomes stronger by dhikr
Dear Readers, one must never forget that the most important factor that strengthens Muhabbetullah in the heart is dhikr (the remembrance of Allah) and never give up dhikr. Allah (swt) must be remembered as much as possible on every occasion.
It is ordered in the verse from the Qur'an that:
"Those who believe, and whose hearts find satisfaction in the remembrance of Allah; for without doubt in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find satisfaction." (Rad, 28)
In Hadith it is also ordered that:
"Dhikr is the sign of Allah's love" (Bayhaqi)
Let's remember again that Rasulullah (s.a.w) ordered:
"The best way of dhikr is citing Lailahe illallah (There is no god, but Allah). " [Tirmidhi]
# Dhikr is beneficial if one quits the things that are forbidden by religion
However, in order that dhikr which means remembrance Allah (swt) strengthens the love for Allah, the heart must leave the love for world and the things that are forbidden by religion.
Bayhaqi stated in a Hadith that:
"The one who cites "Lailahe illallah" is saved from torture unless he prefers world to religion. If he is interested in world rather than religion, Allah (swt) orders you are lying when he cites Lailahe illallah"
Taberani stated in another hadith that:
"Whoever recites Lailahe illallah sincerely enters Paradise. Reciting it sincerely detains the person from the harams." [Haram means an act or product which is prohibited in Islam.]
# The essence of a mature belief is clearing the heart from love of world
Upon studying and thinking about these two Hadiths, it is understood that in order to fill the heart with belief and love for Allah (swt) which is the light of belief, in other words to have a perfect belief, one must leave his love for real world and quit the forbidden things by Islam.
I would like to remind that having wealth is different from "love for world". As you can remember, some of the Sahaba-i Kiram hazrats who were heralded with paradise were very rich. However, they didn't have love for wealth or real world in their hearts. Most of them spent their wealth for the sake of Allah when needed without hesitation. There are many rich people today whose hearts are filled with terrible love for wealth and real world even they needn't anything. They try to get rid of the people who are in need by saying "May God help you". What is criticized here is not the wealth but the love for the real world or the preference of real world to religion.
We must purify our nafs and clear the tendency for the haram things in order to benefit from dhikr spiritually. Afterwards, the affect of dhikr on the heart can be visible.
# The heart must never be blind
Allah (swt) bestows many blessings upon the people who remember Him all the time.
It is ordered in 35th verse of Ahzab Surah in the Qur'an that:
"...For men and women who engage much in Allah's remembrance, for them has Allah prepared forgiveness and great reward."
Of course, one of the most beautiful rewards is strengthening "Muhabbetullah" and reaching the perfect human level by purifying the person from animal characteristics, and the other reward is being able to see Allah (swt) in Paradise. According to some sources, the more a person remembers Allah in life, the more he will see Allah in the Hereafter. It is ordered in the verse from the Qur'an that:
"But whosoever turns away from My Message, verily for him is a life narrowed down, and We shall raise him up blind on the Day of Judgment." [Ta-ha, 124]
Great scholars and Sufis recommend that the heart is never blind but dhikr all the time.
However, I realized that it is hard to realize it practically. I also understood that the meaning that the heart mustn't be blind even for a second is giving up to perform the things that are forbidden by religion by remembering Allah (Swt), thanking Allah for the blessings he gifted and being patient by remembering Allah (Swt) in the hard times. One must remember Allah (Swt) in every events and situations.
# Living in accordance with the orders of the religion is dhikr...
Imam-i Rabbani hazrats orders "Dhikr means saving oneself from blindness. Dhikr is not reciting Lailahe illallah (kalima-i tawhid) or Allah (swt) over and over. Dhikr is saving himself from blindness in any way. Therefore, obeying the rules and abstaining from the restrictions of is dhikr. The trading by concerning the laws of Sharia is dhikr. Marriage and divorce by Sharia rules is a way of dhikr because one remembers the owner of the orders and restrictions while performing these actions. It eliminates the blindness. The dhikr by the names and attributes of Allah (Swt) have faster affects by creating His love and make people reach Allah (Swt) sooner. The dhikr by orders and restrictions are not like this."2
It is clearly understood that believing Allah (swt) and obeying the rules of Sharia which Allah (swt) ordered is itself a way to dhikr. In other words, obeying the orders of the religion and abstaining its restrictions is a way of dhikr. Moreover, the dhikr by reciting kalima-i tawhid and the beautiful names and attributes of Allah (swt) help people reach love of Allah faster. In other words, light of belief in the heart shines faster by remembrance of beautiful names and attributes of Allah (swt) and human reaches the real belief level sooner. Thus, Marifetullah (Knowledge of Allah) accrues quicker.
# Our hearts become the place of Allah (Swt) by purifying the heart...
Our nafs will be purified if we abstain from the activities that Allah (swt) prohibits as committing adultery, disobeying our parents, perjuring, borrow and lend money at interest, drinking alcohol, gambling, accepting bribes and perform the activities that He orders as performing salaat, fasting, spending halal money on food and beverage, and being patient. The real world images in our hearts, which are related to desires of the nafs, are erased in time. Thus the meaning of "Lailahe" (There is no other God) becomes real in our hearts.
In addition to these performances, if we remember Allah (swt) on every occasion during the day without being unaware of Allah (swt), the dhikr and love of Allah (swt) begin to root in our hearts. Our hearts are filled with love of Allah (swt). We begin performing salaat as if we see Allah (swt). We feel Allah (swt) with us in every work we perform. And our hearts become the place of Allah (swt) in time.
It is ordered in the Qudsi Hadiths that:
"I am with him whenever my servant remembers Me…"
" Neither earth nor heavens has encompassed me, but the heart of my servant has encompassed me.."
"I am in the heart of believers."
The stage where the dhikr and love of Allah become constant in the heart is called Baqaa (Perpetuity) stage. Thus, the meaning of "illallah" (but only Allah) becomes real in our hearts.
In this way, the meaning of "Lailahe illallah" becomes complete in our hearts by saving our spirits from fake gods and reaching Allah Who created everything out of nothing, is unique, and has no partners or assistants. This heart is now a satisfied heart. This nafs has the belief, which is contented and satisfied with Allah.
God grant our hearts with belief, satisfaction, and peace.
Be entrusted to Allah.
(1) Dini Terimler Sozlugu, Vol. 2, p.315
(2) Gumus, M. Siddik (Ed.), 1993. Tam Ilmihal Seadet-i Ebediye, 55.Baski. p.885. Hakikat Ltd. Sti.Yay., Darussefeka Cad. No: 57/A, Fatih, Istanbul.