Tuesday, 20 September 2011

The Marvels of the Heart: Introduction

The title: Marvels of the Heart

 عجائب القلب      
There are many wonders of the physical heart – its function in the body, scientifically there are still many mysteries that surround the heart, and thus just as there are wonders of the physical heart, that is also so for the inward spiritual heart

Other names for the heart that is found in the Quran and Imaam Al-Ghazzali uses: Fu’aad, Sarira (sara’ir plural)
I wanted to include the arabic text, alas my rubbish IT skills wont allow it. it sounds rather profound in English, but more so in Arabic, thus, I would encourage it to be read or listened to in Arabic.
Translation (by Walter James Skellie) – hopefully I won’t get killed for copywrite, I just had to include exactly what the sheikh said from this translation, it’s just absolutely beyond beautiful, and I couldn’t add anything of my own without ruining its essence.  (Anything written in brackets is just my notes to help me understand it better).

“Praise be to Allah whos majesty does perplex the hearts and thoughts of those who seek in vain to comprehend it; whose shining light is such as to bewilder the eye and sight; the one who beholds the secrets of the heart, the knower of the hidden aspects of our heart; he who has no helper in the ruling of his kingdom; the one who oscillates the heart; the forgiver of sins, the veiler of faults and the one who relieves from anxieties. And peace and blessings be on the master of all messengers; the uniter of the religion and the one who cuts off the people of disobedience, and on his family.”1

And so he begins  أما  بعد    to percede:

“the honour and excellence of man in which he surpasses all other creation/animals in his ability and spiritual preparedness to know Allah – thus the reason why we were created.” 1
(so he says that what makes us humans different to all other creation, is that Allah gave us the ability to know Allah, and this is an honour for mankind, hence why the (mala’ika) angels were ordered to bow down to Adam, the Angels simply obey Allah, as angels were not created with free-will or choice (the same as any other creation, tree/animal), however Mankind was created with free-will, they have the ability to disobey Allah if they choose to, so the people that choose to obey Allah and choose to seek out knowledge of Allah, this makes them superior to all creation for this reason only, that man was given the ability as well as the choice to become spiritually prepared.)
“this knowledge of Allah in this world is mans beauty and perfection and glory and in the next world, it is his provision and store. “1
(to know Allah in this world; the more you know Allah, the more perfect you become,  and the more perfect you become in this world, the more provision there will be for you in the next world – not sure if I understood this correctly but it made sense to me this way.)

“He only prepares himself to know his Lord by way of his heart, not with any of his limbs, the heart! It is the Heart that knows Allah, it is the heart that draws near to Allah, it is the heart that works for Allah, it is the heart that strives towards Allah, it is at the level of the heart where unveilings take place in Allahs presence.  All of the Limbs are subjects, servants and instruments of the heart. For it is the Heart which is accepted by Allah”2
(the key to drawing near to Allah, is doing so with your heart. When the heart is corrupted, then so too are the limbs and when your heart is on the right path, then the limbs will be also. The heart is like the King and the limbs are merely its subjects and servants in the kingdom. The limbs are instruments, they can be used to help the heart get closer to Allah. i.e. doing dikhr – involves the tongue, the lips, the hands/fingers  tasbeeh,  etc)

“…Since every vessel drips that which it contains” 2
e.g. milk in a glass, when spilled will pour out milk, thus, whatever the heart is filled with, if the heart is filled with goodness, it will diffuse goodness out onto the limbs outwardly, and if it is filled with impure things, then this will be shown externally on the limbs. 3

The heart is that in which if a man knows it, he knows himself, and if he knows himself, he knows his Lord. It is that in which if a man knows it not, he knows not himself and thus he knows not his Lord.” 2
To know your weakness and your personality, your bad qualities, is all related to knowing ones Lord, if you know what is disliked by your Lord then you will know what weak qualities you hold.3
(thus knowing oneself is the key to knowing ones Lord)

“He who knows not his own heart is still ignorant of everything else.”4
So if you are ignorant of knowing your heart, then don’t expect to know anything else with this ignorance. By not focusing on the heart and its characteristics means not being able to control outwardly the limbs. The wrong actions that people commit, is all due to this internal blindness. The ignorance of not knowing the importance of the heart and its connection to the Ruh and to Allah, all provides ignorance of ones own actions. 3

1 The Religious Psychology of Al-Ghazzali: A translation of his book of the Ihya on the Explanation of the Wonders of the Heart with introduction and notes. Skellie, Walter James (1899), 77-32, 719 (page 1)
2 Same ref as 1 (page 2)
3 Comments of Sheikh Yahya Rhodus
4 Same ref as 1 (page 3)

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