February 22, 2008
Bismillah, walhamdulillah, wasalaatu wasalaamu ala’Rasulullah!
the book Purification of the Heart by Hamza Yusuf is a translation & commentary of the poem Matharat-al-Qulub (literally, Purification of the Hearts) by Shaykh Muhammad Mawlud-al Ya’qubi al-Musawi al-Muratani, rahimullah. It is a beautiful treatise on the ‘alchemy of the hearts’, on how to transform the human heart. Shaykh Mawlud was from Mauritania, West Africa and a brilliant scholar who mastered all of the Islamic sciences, including the inward sciences of the heart, Subhan’Allaah. May we benefit from the most beloved of Allaah, our Creator, our Lord, so that we may serve Him as best as we possibly can, in shaa ‘Allaah.
The Prophet salaalahu elahiye wasalaam said in one of his m ost cited statements, “Actions are based upon intentions.” All deeds are valued according to the intentions behind them, and intentions are located in the heart. Thus, we must learn to purify ourselves, starting with the very organ that keeps us alive morning to night, every single day.
now this is what I call true poetry,
I begin by starting with the heart of beginnings,
for it is the highest and noblest of beginnings.
Have courtesy with God, the High and the Majestic,
by practicing modesty and humility—
dejected out of shame and humility
humbled in awe, imploring Him—
by giving up your designs for His,
emptied of covetousness for what His servants have,
by hastening to fulfill His commands, and by being wary of
the subtle encroachment of bad manners.
If you–the spiritual aspirant– realize your attributes of
servitude, you will then be assisted with something of the
attributes of the Eternally Besought.
Realize your abject character and impoverishment,
and you will gain dignity and wealth from the All-Powerful.
There is no salvation like the heart’s salvation,
given that all the limbs respond to its desires!
After firmly grasping this foundation,
then mastering the heart’s infirmities is the second stage,
Knowledge of the heart’s ailments, what causes each of
them and what removes them, is an obligation on everyone.
This is the ruling of al-Ghazali. However, this does not
apply to one who has already granted a sound heart,
as scholars other than al-Ghazali opine,
for al-Ghazali reckoned the heart’s illnesses as inherent
to humanity. Others deemed them predominant in man–
not qualities necessarily inherent to his nature.
But know that obliteration of these diseases until no trace
remains is beyond the capacity of human beings.
Nonetheless, here I give you what you need to know of
their definitions, etiologies, and cures.
(i encourage you to purchase a copy of the book for yourself,
and you can truly get the core of the explanation and poetry
from the Shuyukh themselves, but i’ll go ahead and give you the last of it.)
A comprehensive treatment plan for the heart’s diseases is
to deny the self of its desires, enjoin hunger, keep worship
vigilance in the night, silence and meditation in private;
also keeping company with good people who posess sincerity,
those who are emulated in their states and statements;
and, finally, taking refuge in the One unto whom all affairs return.
That is the most beneficial treatment for all of the previous diseases.
The root causes of all of these diseases is love of the temporal world.
This is the opinion of both al-Hilali and Ibn Ashir.
Ibn Ata’illah, on the other hand, considered the root cause of every
disease to be man’s self satisfaction.
Likewise the root cause of all good qualities is the lack of self-satisfaction.
And this conclusion is obvious because being dissatisfied with oneself
prompts you to seek virtuous character and to vigilantly avoid what is
The origin of either of these states relates to the company one keeps
(from either camp, good or bad), for a mans character is that of the
company he keeps.
Subhan’Allaah every word that is read and written by this Shaykh is truly a golden gem, realize the weight beneath each word and statement, and you are truly on your way, in shaa ‘Allaah, (with the will and wind of God).
with love and respect,