Journey of a Heart

“By the soul and the proportion and order given to it; and its enlightenment as to its wrong and its right- truly he succeeds that purifies it and he fails that corrupts it!”


Which one do you feed?

There is a widely circulated story that many of you may have come across about an old Cherokee’s conversation with his grandson. He said, ‘my son, there is a battle between two wolves inside us all. One is evil. It is anger, jealousy, greed, resentment, inferiority, lies and ego. The other is good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, humility, kindness, empathy and truth.’ The little boy thought about it for a minute then asked, ‘grandfather, which wolf wins?’ The old man quietly replied, ‘the one you feed.’ We forget that just as our bodies need nourishment so do our souls. The type of nourishment we provide it with is what will lead us to either success or ruin.
Feeding our bodies with junk food leads to many diseases, similarly, feeding our souls with the wrong thing leads to a hardened heart whose ultimate destination is the fire of hell. Tazkiyatun Nafs, simply put, is the process of purifying our souls from spiritual diseases so that we may flourish in our deen and imaan and worship Allah as He should be worshipped. Its ultimate goal is to become as complete and truthful a servant of Allah as we can be, as Allah states, ‘I have only created Jinn and Men that they may worship Me’.
We can only achieve it by strengthening our faith by eradicating the diseases of the heart and submitting to our creator through the obligatory and voluntary acts of worship. It is also important to note that scholars often use the heart and the soul synonymously when discussing Tazkiyah.


Which type of heart do you have?

It is mentioned in an authentic narration that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said ‘beware, in the body there is a flesh; if it is sound, the whole body is sound, and if it is corrupt, the whole body is corrupt, and behold, it is the heart.’
The heart can be categorised into three types: a dead heart, a sick heart and a healthy heart. The ill-fated one whose heart is dead cannot respond to anything of religion, even upon hearing the Qur’an this heart is not shaken nor is there any reflection. The possessor of the sick heart is not wholly upon the path of destruction just yet, but their heart is sick due to the distractions of this world.
Finally, oh how fortunate is he whose heart is healthy? How fortunate is he whose heart is righteous and devoted in submission to Allah?! This beautiful heart is protected by Allah and undergoes a continuous emaan rush which we can, by the will of Allah, also achieve.


The barriers to a healthy heart

In order to achieve a healthy heart we must rid ourselves of the diseases of the heart and purify it with the remembrance of Allah.


Do you procrastinate?

Laziness and procrastination is another disease which causes us to waste our time and lose sight of the end goal. The Prophet (pbuh) has said that ‘there are two blessings which many people do not make the most of: good health and free time.’
Our time is as precious as our health. Life is not guaranteed to any one of us. We could go to sleep today and not wake up tomorrow. It is true that the foolish do not appreciate a thing until it is lost but the wise one does not wait to lose something to understand its value. Procrastination is a ploy of the shaytan designed to deter us and distract us from the remembrance of Allah.


The dangers of pride

Our ego is our own worst enemy, which brings us to perhaps the most dangerous of the diseases of the heart- pride and arrogance.  Pride causes us to have a false sense of entitlement and superiority over others. The Prophet (pbuh) has given us a clear warning that “no one who has the weight of a seed of arrogance in his heart will enter Paradise’.
Is this not admonition enough for us to stop thinking of ourselves so highly?!
Each one of us came from this earth and will return to it. Many of us are arrogant due to the wealth and status we hold but we forget, from who did this blessing come?! Every atom that we hold claim to is only there by the will and mercy of Allah. Some amongst us are arrogant and judge others because they hold more Islamic knowledge, know that this is a trick of shaytan. He fools you into believing that you are superior to others because you are supposedly more pious and in turn destroys the good deed that you have done by filling your heart with pride and arrogance.
Another vile symptom of pride is that we reject the sincere advice of others behind the façade of ‘don’t judge me, you don’t know what’s in my heart’, well that may be the case but the truth is we reject this advice because we believe we know better and are better than the one advising us. It is a sad reality that we are quick to take offence when a fellow Muslim says to us ‘may Allah forgive you’ or  ‘may Allah guide you’, however condescending the tone it is said in may be, are we saying that we are not in need of Allah’s forgiveness and guidance? Instead of feeling angry at such a comment we should say ‘Ameen! Ya Rabb please accept this person’s dua!’


Are you jealous of others?

Often stemming from pride we have the disease of jealousy and hatred, each one feeding the other in a vicious cycle.  General hatred stems from jealousy of someone who we perceived to have been more blessed by Allah than us in terms of worldly success. By holding such feelings we are showing displeasure at the way Allah has blessed us differently, which in effect hardens our hearts and takes us very far from deen.
Someone close to me recently shared something with me regarding success which I found to be very true and profound. They said that the goalpost of worldly success is continuously moving. Each time we feel like we have achieved something, almost immediately we set our aspirations and our gazes higher.
So for example, throughout our school life we perceive success as being enrolment into a high ranking university. Once we are in university the goalpost moves to completing our degree with the highest classification. After achieving that, our next goal becomes to find a good job then working up the career ladder. At each one of these stages we are not even momentarily content and grateful for what we have but we are always craving for more.


Are you prepared to eat the flesh of your fellow brother/sister?


Hatred also causes one to backbite and slander people as well as lying about them in order to make ourselves look better than them. Let us not waste our energy and time both of which are extremely precious in wasting our good deeds and seeking the wrath of Allah by backbiting and slandering others. Let the warning of Allah be enough when He says in the Qur’an: O you who have believed….do not spy or backbite each other. Would one of you like to eat the flesh of his brother when dead? You would detest it. And fear Allah; indeed, Allah is accepting of repentance and Merciful’.
Backbiting is no doubt the hardest habit to rid ourselves as most of us do it without realising. Nevertheless, it is a grave sin and we must work tirelessly to refrain from it and seek Allah’s repentance from it.


The cure

So far we have discussed some of the most common diseases of the heart. It is now time to look at the remedies and the steps we can take to purify ourselves. First and foremost is intention. We must have a sincere intention to purify our hearts of these spiritual diseases in order to be successful in the hereafter. Alongside intention is sincere dua, we need to ask Allah to make this journey easy for us and help us conquer our nafs and our base desires. We must remember though that dua is only a part of the journey to purification, as with anything, action must accompany the intention.


So what action can we take?

1). Cleansing our hearts through the remembrance of Allah. What better way to do it than to understand the message of Allah?! In order to understand the message we must first know the language the message is in, so let us actively seek to learn the meaning of the Qur’an to really benefit from it. It is rather insulting that we do not even understand the basics of what we recite in salah on a daily basis.


2). Completing the obligatory acts of worship and engaging in the voluntary as well. We need to make a habit of waking up in the dead of the night to pray qiyam’l’layl when nobody is watching, when it is just us and our Lord. We need to fast secretly, sincerely for Allah and give charity without other people knowing. Also, making a habit of reciting Qur’an daily even if it is a few verses. If we struggle with tajweed, we should get help. Not tomorrow, now! The only person who can judge and improve our link with Allah, our Creator, our Sustainer, is us.


3). Being content, patient and having faith in the decree of Allah- ‘Indeed Allah loves those who put their trust in Him’.
Until we are content we will never be happy.  We should not keep comparing ourselves to others. We may see the successful exterior but only Allah knows their fears and shortcomings. We should also make dua especially for those who are competing with us, Allah is sufficient for all of us. Once we have trust in the plan of Allah and truly believe in a higher purpose of life, we will find that we are content with what we have.


4). Purifying our hearts when it comes to our relationship with others. If we find that we gossip or backbite people, we should make dua for the people we have spoken ill of and take them a gift. If we find ourselves continuously using foul language or engaging in any other sinful habit, we may decide to give money to charity each time we do the bad deed.


5). Forgiving people and being merciful. ‘Those who are merciful will be shown mercy by the Merciful. Be merciful to those on the earth and the One above the heavens will have mercy upon you’.
We should not hold grudges against one another, life is quite literally too short. Do we doubt that we need Allah’s mercy and forgiveness? Of course not! So why then do we not forgive each other and have mercy on one another?


6). Being productive and fighting procrastination. We should not delay the tasks on our lists. Once we have completed everything we may relax. We fall into the habit of taking a break first then doing the work, when in reality the break extends to well over the allocated time and the task is left for the next day. As each day comes the same thing repeats itself in a vicious cycle. We must not fall into this trap. We can use diaries, checklists, reminders, incentives and even have a productive buddy who will motivate us, but never procrastinate.


Turn back to Allah, it is not too late…


Once we have successfully purified our souls, every one of our interactions will be influenced by that purification and will lead us to Jannat’l’Firdaws Inshaa Allah. It is never too late to make a change. Let us start from this very moment. Allah has said in a hadith al qudsi ‘I am as My servant expects of me….If he comes to me walking, I go to him at speed’.  So what are we waiting for?!

‘O Controller of the hearts, make our hearts firm upon Your religion.’

Nasira Sultana


Nasira Sultana, settled in Hertfordshire, UK is a recent graduate with a degree in English literature and is currently pursuing advanced Islamic Studies with Al Salam Institute. She is a married Muslimah who loves to spend her time reading, writing and engaging in the voluntary projects. She also teaches Islamic studies to children and and Tajweed to adults in her free time

'Journey of a Heart' have 13 comments

  1. April 27, 2015 @ 10:34 am Rafhana

    An excellent piece.. :) Jazakallahu khairan


  2. April 27, 2015 @ 12:02 pm M.Elahie

    This is a great article. A simple and easy guide for purifying ones heart and keep in the path of Allah subhaanahu wata ala . Very impressive


  3. April 28, 2015 @ 12:51 am Siti

    SubhanaAllah very good reminder…May Allah bless sister and family, ameen. Jazakillahu Khair.


  4. April 28, 2015 @ 6:01 am Abdulmumin

    Masha Allah, What a wonderful article….. May Allah be pleased with you. I shall share it with others insha Allah.


  5. April 28, 2015 @ 8:26 pm Samina Bashir

    Article really makes you question your heart. Very interactive style of writing and intellectually articulated.


  6. April 28, 2015 @ 9:16 pm Sumera

    Excellent article! Jzk for the reminder. May Allah reward all your efforts insha’allah xx


  7. April 28, 2015 @ 10:04 pm Anonymous

    JazakiAllahu khayran for this. Reflecting on my own battle with my nafs, I’ve found a correlation with the ‘peaks and troughs’ I go through with my Emaan in general and find that this is my biggest barrier. When in a ‘trough’ it sometimes feels pretty difficult to find a way out and that feeling can be quite overwhelming at times. Out of the ‘cures’ mentioned, is their a particular action that supercedes others that I should focus on when dealing with a dip in Emaan?


    • June 30, 2015 @ 6:10 pm anon.

      I would personally suggest to pray salaah sincerely and make du’aa.. Verril, Allah swt loves those who turn to him….. “Oh you who believe seek help through patience and prayer, verily Allah is with those who practice patience!”


  8. April 30, 2015 @ 10:30 pm tayaba

    Assalaamu alaikum warahmatullah.
    Jazakillahu khairan for this excellent reminder.
    A reminder that is truly needed in our society.

    The topic is very important and serious. SubhanAllah in today’s society we are so engrossed in the dunya affairs that we do forget about this flesh we all have in our bodies and we must work towards purifying it.

    You touched upon some very good points about the causes and cures.

    An excellent read.

    May Allah bless you. Ameen


  9. May 8, 2015 @ 12:41 pm eebest8 mmk

    Thanks for sharing, this is a fantastic blog article.Really thank you!


  10. June 22, 2015 @ 7:36 pm Nur

    Assalamualaikum Wr. Wb., my dear brothers and sisters of Islam. :)

    I wanted to title this post “A Pious Boyfriend?”, but after much contemplation I’ve decided to change it to “Islamic Couple?” because at times it’s not only the guy’s fault, but also can be the girl’s fault. After all, it takes two hands to clap right? Anyway, this post is not only for those “Islamic Couple” but also who’re engaged. Before I start, I’ll try my best not to be insensitive towards anyone’s feeling, but I just hope that we all could learn from each other’s pasts. InsyaAllah.

    It’s just normal isn’t it to love and be loved. To feel accepted by the opposite gender just so you know that you’re attractive like that. Haha. On a serious note, it’s because ladies who have met guys that were equivalent to jerks who just don’t know how to treat a lady right, they’ll start to be more wary with whomever that approaches them. They’ll make sure that the guy prays consistently, fasts regularly, treats everyone nicely, … you got it. They’ll ensure that their next boyfriend(s) is a pious man.

    Being “pious” unmarried couples are not that easy. They need to stop going out together without a third person, need to stop joking around excessively, need to start keeping a halal distance, etc. Of cz it’s gonna be hard abiding those rules just so they could be seen as an “Islamic couple” in Allah’s eyes before they could finally be halal certified. Don’t you think they’re doing a great job? Nope, not at all.

    “So what if my boyfriend has the intention to marry me but only that he’s not financially prepared?”

    Honestly, I think that’s what every guy will say to his girlfriend and living in this increasingly expensive world, that’s what they will continue to say – “I wanna marry you but I’m not financially stable yet”. Harsh reality isn’t it?

    “My boyfriend/girlfriend makes me closer to Allah SWT.”

    Those who are guilty, put your hands up. There’s actually something very ironic about the phrase above. ‘Boyfriend/girlfriend’ is actually the last thing that makes you closer to Allah SWT. Yes, your bf/gf can encourage you to go to the mosque, to read more Islamic books, to be a better Muslim/Muslimah but actually, you’re not doing it for Allah SWT. You’re doing it for that person!

    In the past, I was always depending on someone to guide me to be a better Muslimah. I needed someone to tell me what’s right and wrong. Then I realised, the keywords are “I needed someone”, hence Allah SWT brought someone to me. It may seem like a blessing at first, but actually Allah SWT allowed syaitan to blind my hearts.

    A few weeks ago, I’ve got the chance to meet this wonderful lady whom has never been into a relationship nor has she gone for dates before. She’s EVERGREEN but I’d like to call her a RARE GEM instead. There are of cz guys who asked her out but she simply said no. Of cz it’s not that simple to say no, but she knows every reason to why going out with a guy is wrong. She’s saving her chastity and her heart only for the rightful one. She believes that if you want to get closer to Allah SWT, you don’t need anyone to be a reason to do so cz it just shows how insincere you are to seek Him.

    I can never agree more. All these while my heart, eyes and mind were blinded by syaitan. I allowed syaitan to take control of me. I was cheated by my own desires. I thought my love for Allah SWT was real, but it was nothing but a mere trap from my own foolishness.

    These are the reasons why you should not be in any before marriage relationship:

    -A pious person will never get into a haram relationship cz you know Allah forbids us from going even near to fornication (zina).

    Allah says:

    “Nor come nigh to adultery: for it is a shameful (deed) and an evil opening the road (to other evils).” (Al-Israa:32)

    Even our Beloved Prophet Muhammad says:

    “I have not left behind me any fitnah more harmful to men than women.” [Sahih Bukhari]

    If we can understand these two powerful Divine statements, then we will not even think of committing into a haram relationship. Humans are humans, we tend to fall into syaitan’s trap and it’s inevitable to not slip along the way even how clean we try to make this concept of “Islamic relationship” be.

    Even with this kind of joke, it can jelly your Imaan.

    -You’ll never know if he/she is the person that you gonna be married to.

    Increasingly I’ve seen couples taking a picture together with captions like “May Allah bless our relationship” or “May we last till Jannah” on social media. Allah will never bless haram relationship and haram relationship will only land you in Jahannam (Hellfire) instead. You can try all ways to keep your relationship stable, but if Allah says that person is not the one for you, he/she will not be the one. Yeap, you can be with your bf/gf for 8 years or a few months, but if Allah says you’re not for him/her, you’ll never be for him/her. Of cz this happens to me and I would want to say “I’ve got no regrets”, but I realised regretting is one of the conditions to taubah (repentance). I regret my actions because my husband is the one who has to bear all the jealousy.

    -Your future spouse is the victim of your own foolishness.

    Even how much your spouse says “it’s okay” to your past, he/she is actually not that okay. Knowing that your heart was once captured by other person before him/her, knowing that you once loved someone before him/her, really, nothing can be more hurtful than that. I know of a couple who’s married for 10 years, but the wife still gets jealous when her husband’s ex gf name’s being mentioned. It’s not about trust issue, but when it’s about the matter of the heart, it can remain forever.

    Allah SWT has set guidelines on how we should communicate and interact with the opposite gender. He knows of the detrimental effects of the things that He has made forbidden. Doing whatever that’s against His commandments just show how much we don’t believe in His wisdom. We can live in denial by saying “I believe 100% in Allah’s wisdom”, but really, your actions say it all.

    -Love your future spouse so much. So much so you won’t allow anyone to take his/her place till the akad nikah is finally over.

    It’s very important to guard your heart. Like I’ve mentioned, you never know whether your current bf/gf is the person you’re gonna get married to. Even when you’re at the stage of engagement, GUARD.YOUR.HEART. How many times have we heard of people who are engaged but end up marrying a different person? I do not advocate “engagement” because in Islam, there’s no such thing. Nowadays people treat engagement as a green light to do anything with their future spouse. Errr… I think I’ll need to write up one whole post on engagement itself. Huhu. Anyway, you don’t know who’s your future spouse gonna be cz that’s Allah SWT’s secret, but love him/her so much so that only the deserving one can claim your heart the right way.

    So here what you can do!

    -It’s not too late to bid goodbye to your pious bf/gf. Cz if he/she is pious, he/she will never ask you to be in a relationship with him/her. Break up because of Allah SWT cz I can guarantee you, that’s when you’ll finally realise that you’re getting closer to Him.

    -It’s okay to cry buckets. It’s really okay. If it’s tears of heartbreak and repentance, insyaAllah with the constant remembrance of Allah SWT and Rasulullah SAW, your heart will heal in no time.

    -Wake up for tahajjud prayers. Really, nothing is more healing than waking up at 3 in the morning, praying and crying and asking Allah SWT for forgiveness and a strong heart. It’s guaranteed to work.

    -Fill your heart with Allah SWT’s and Rasulullah SAW’s love first! I remembered making this doa:

    “Oh Allah, fill my heart with Yours and Rasulullah SAW’s love before You fill my heart with human’s love.”

    So how can you fill your heart with Allah SWT’s love? By reciting the Qur’an, do lots of zikir and read the tafsir (translation & interpretation) of the Qur’an. How bout Rasulullah’s love? By learning & emulating his Sunnah and do lots of selawat. When I say zikir and selawat, I mean cleaning up your music playlist and replace it with Qur’an recitation, zikir and selawat. Make sure the zikir and selawat you’re listening to are what Rasulullah has taught us. There are abundance of it,you don’t have to find alternatives.

    Download pdf for supplication of Prophet Muhammad SAW: Fortress of a Muslim by Hisnul Muslim

    I know it’s difficult to take that leap of faith. However, if you want a marriage that lasts till Jannah, you should start it right! How can you ask Allah SWT for a blessed marriage if you start your relationship the haram way?

    “Women impure are for men impure, and men impure for women impure and women of purity are for men of purity, and men of purity are for women of purity: these are not affected by what people say: for them there is forgiveness, and a provision honourable.” [An-Nisaa:26]

    If your future spouse is Allah’s secret, death is Allah’s secret too. You’ll never know if death gonna come to you sooner than marriage.



  11. July 23, 2015 @ 4:06 pm carlos jose rios grajales

    Very informative blog.Really looking forward to read more. Really Great.


  12. August 30, 2015 @ 8:31 am melanotan 2

    Looking forward to reading more. Great blog.Thanks Again. Want more.


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