Al-Salam ‘Alaykum, this is Syed Ali Imran – and you are listening to the Forties podcast, brought to you by Mizan institute.
This is episode 7 – A Sound Heart is Empty of Other Than Allah
وَ بِهَذَا الْإِسْنَادِ قَالَ: سَأَلْتُهُ عَنْ قَوْلِ اللَّهِ عَزَّ وَ جَلَّ- إِلَّا مَنْ أَتَى اللَّهَ بِقَلْبٍ سَلِيمٍ قَالَ الْقَلْبُ السَّلِيمُ الَّذِي يَلْقَى رَبَّهُ وَ لَيْسَ فِيهِ أَحَدٌ سِوَاهُ قَالَ وَ كُلُّ قَلْبٍ فِيهِ شِرْكٌ أَوْ شَكٌّ فَهُوَ سَاقِطٌ وَ إِنَّمَا أَرَادُوا الزُّهْدَ فِي الدُّنْيَا لِتَفْرُغَ قُلُوبُهُمْ لِلْآخِرَةِ
Hadith #6: “Once I asked Abu ‘Abd Allah (a) about the words of Allah, the Most Majestic, the Most Holy, ‘Except those who would come to Allah with safe and protected hearts. . . .’ (26:89) The Imam said, ‘A safe and protected heart is such a heart that goes in the presence of his Lord while there is nothing in it besides his Lord. He then said that every heart in which there is polytheism or doubt, such a heart is a failing heart. They (pious people) have chosen to restrict themselves from worldly matters so that their hearts are reserved for the matters of the life of hereafter only.’”
When we perform any deed for Allah (swt) we should approach these acts with what the Qurān calls a qalbin salīm – a protected or sound heart. A sound heart is one that goes into the presence of Allah while there is nothing in it besides his Lord, this person empties their heart from everything other than Allah, and doesn’t give room to anyone in their heart. Such people are spiritually strong and have done their due diligence when it comes to treading the path of spiritually purifying themselves. They are truly embodying the verse Iyyaka Na’budu – You Alone We Worship, where the Quranic commentators have said that the sentence structure itself conveys the meaning of us putting ourselves in the presence of Allah alone and that no one has even an ounce of share in our acts of worship.
One of the consequences of having a sound and protected heart is that one becomes so conscious and attentive that they don’t let Shaytan infiltrate their intentions and actions even when most people would least expect the Shaytan to do so. One of the ways the Shayatin usually do this with us is by sneaking into some aspect of our sincerity where we aren’t prepared for it. So, imagine we are truly praying to Allah (swt) for His sake, and Shaytan may realize that there’s no way he can shake us in our prayers – so what he’ll do is go to some other aspects related to prayers. He may approach you either after you’ve already prayed and make you feel happy and conceited about it, or he’ll approach you before you begin your prayers.
Maybe he’ll approach you when you’re going towards the Masjid, he’ll probably make you think, I should really go to the Masjid and pray, because that’s where people are gonna see me, what’s the point of praying at home where no one can see me.
Instead of going to the masjid to pray because Allah has given him the command to do so, these secondary thoughts begin to occupy him. We have a narration that actually alludes to this from Imam Sadiq or Imam Baqir (a) who said:
Two men entered a Mosque. One was a worshipper and the other a sinner. When they both left the Mosque, the sinner was a true believer, but the worshipper had become a sinner. It so happened, because the worshipper went to the Mosque boastful of his worshipping, thus, his thoughts were all the time on boastfulness. The sinner was regretful for his sins and was asking forgiveness from Allah.
So dear brothers and sisters, we really have to be cautious and attentive, we need to make sure that we don’t allow these thoughts which are the workings of the Shaytan to creep in when we engage in our worship towards Allah (swt). Our worship of Allah isn’t just limited to the Salat and Sawm or Hajj, or acts that are individual or congregational, rather even when we are giving charity, or paying the Khums and Zakat, or even more generic things that have been described as acts of worship like the waiting for the reappearance of the 12th Imam – these are all acts of worship. We need to make sure that such thoughts that creep into our minds aren’t originating in our desire to seek praise and approval others or avoiding their negative remarks about us.
But at the end of the day, even to avoid such thoughts we have no other choice but to seek refuge in Allah (swt) from Shaytan. There isn’t anyone else we can even think about seeking refuge in, especially as the Quran condemns such a thing when it says:
وَأَنَّهُ كَانَ رِجَالٌ مِّنَ الْإِنسِ يَعُوذُونَ بِرِجَالٍ مِّنَ الْجِنِّ فَزَادُوهُمْ رَهَقًا
[72:6] And there were men from mankind who sought refuge in men from the jinn, so they [only] increased them in burden.
And the Quran tells us repeatedly to seek refuge from Shaytan (23:97-98)
وَقُل رَّبِّ أَعُوذُ بِكَ مِنْ هَمَزَاتِ الشَّيَاطِينِ
And say, “My Lord, I seek refuge in You from the incitements of the devils,
The necessity of seeking refuge from Shaytan so that our sincerity does not get spoiled will become even clearer in the next episode where we’ll see how Imam Baqir (a) summarizes all things into two entities – Allah and Shaytan, the symbols of truth and falsehood.
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Sayyid Ali Imran studied in the seminary of Qom from 2012 to 2021, while also concurrently obtaining a M.A in Islamic Studies from The Islamic College of London in the summer of 2018. He continued his seminary studies in legal theory, jurisprudence and philosophy, eventually attending the advanced kharij of Usul and Fiqh in 2018. He is also a regular instructor for Mizan Institute.