Tasawwuf series, part 1

These notes are from a talk called “Making our hearts fertile”, which is one of a number of talks on Tasawwuf. The speaker is a Chicago-based scholar, Shaikh Hussain Abdul Sattar. You can find this 16 minute talk (fertile_hearts.mp3) and many others of his at http://www.sacredlearning.org/general_talks.htm.


Making our hearts fertile

Humans = 2 parts: body and soul, each with a head (command centre / key aspect)

    • Head of body: nafs (base, animalistic desires)
    • Head of soul: heart

Spiritual battle of each person is in the heart

    • Teachings of Prophet s.a.w. -> aims to purify the heart
    • Shaytaan -> aims to destroy heart

The heart – which is where passion lies – controls the physical body: what’s in the heart is what the physical body will pursue.

2 components of the heart:

1. ‘Soil’ of the heart
2. ‘Seeds’ planted in the heart


1. The soil:

Not all plants grow in all soil.

You need the right soil for a particular plant you want to grow.

If the soil isn’t right, planting the seeds will make no impact – seeds won’t grow.


What we take in (hear, see, smell, etc) is processed by the mind. The mind then plants the seed in the heart. That heart must have the right soil in order for the seeds to survive and grow.

*This is why something can sound good in our mind, but it might never stick within us – we don’t have the right soil.

Our soil of the heart must be: Allah, Prophet s.a.w., the Hereafter.

With this as your focus, your heart becomes fertile to the seeds of the deen – and what you learn of it sticks with you, grows, and you implement it.

Then, when you’re reminded of that which has been planted, the whole body submits to that thing.


How to cultivate the Soil:

  1. Recite Quran and spend time with it: creates receptive soil in heart
  2. Istighfaar: cleans up the soil
  3. Salawaat: Fertilises the soil
  4. Reflection (Muraqaba): helps to enlighten the soil
  • On Allah, Day of Judgement, Grave, blessings given to you, life of the Hereafter, your self
  • Muraqabat were Sahabah that were deep in their reflection


2. The seeds:

Seeds are planted into the heart via:

  • the company of one another
  • the impulses the mind generates.


The mind is the thing with the biggest effect on the heart: if the mind is generating good thoughts, those thoughts filter through to the heart, and sticks in the heart.

The heart is what will be judged on Qiyammah


The power of the mind, and developing your mind:

Very important, because what starts in the mind ends up in the heart. 

If you sit and reflect on the life of this world:

  1. your impulses and thoughts will be focused on this world
  2. that filters to your heart, and your goal becomes this world
  3. your mind is then occupied with this world, which leads to actions (which can end up haraam) towards the goal

If you sit and reflect on the Hereafter:

  1. think about the Hereafter
  2. that filters to your heart, and your goal becomes the Hereafter
  3. that then filters back up to your mind  – which then leads you to do that which is good for the Hereafter, and abstain/avoid things that are bad for the Hereafter


Muraqabah focuses on training the mind to reflect and focus on Allah, so that you can generate positive thoughts. 

Having proper Islamic knowledge straightens out and purifies your mind:

  1. The ideas coming out of your mind are regulated, restricted.
  2. Your mind’s impulses are generated from Quran and Hadith.
  3. Those impulses, plus the proper deeds (i.e. deeds that fertilise the heart) = goodness, goodness, goodness
  4. In the heart, beautiful ‘garden’ grows. A pure heart:
  • pleasure for that person
  • please for those around them (who can see that beauty)
  • success on Qiyammah – that garden (heart) is presented to Allah

Dhikr (remembrance of Allah) focuses on the heart, purifies the heart, creates fertile environment in the heart.


Lessons from salaah (prayer) – part 1

This series of posts is based on a talk given by
Zimbabwe’s Mufti Ismail Menk, and it focuses on the lessons we can learn from the ritual prayer (salaah). It’s really amazing, when you think about the various aspects of salaah, and you see how much depth there is to it…these are things most of us never even thought of, yet the wisdom is all there, and by seeking this kind of knowledge, insha-Allah we can benefit even more from one of the most important pillars of our faith.


These posts only summarise what was spoken about. I’d recommend you download the whole talk to get the full impact of what is being conveyed in it – because hearing (or seeing) often makes a bigger impact than just reading.


The talk was given in Cape Town a few years ago, though I don’t know the year. You can find the talk here, in the downloads section of http://www.muftimenk.co.za/. (All downloads are free on the site. For those concerned about legality, the website is legal. The guys who run the website have Mufti Menk’s permission to put these mp3s up, so don’t be suspicious about that J).


Part 1: The importance of salaah

According to a Hadeeth: ‘Salaah is one of the founding pillars of Islam. Whoever has established it has uplifted the pillar, and whoever has disregarded it has dropped the founding pillar.’


I think for many of us today, we see things the wrong way: we see things through selfish eyes, rather than the point of view which Allah wants us to see.


If you know the story of how salaah was given to us, you’ll know that it was given to us as a gift; a special act of worship which connects us to the Creator of all things, a period of intimacy in which our minds, hearts, souls and bodies actively remember the One who brought everything into being, and to whom we are returning.


But for many of us, being in the state we are in, we see salaah as a burden on us. Something which we have to do – something which interrupts the rest of our lives; the day to day things we think are important…sometimes more important than showing obedience and gratitude to the Almighty.


And when we feel this way – when we lack understanding like this – we’re in a dangerous zone, because shaitaan is always ready to pounce on our weaknesses, and could cause us to unnecessarily delay, then totally abandon our salaah. For he works cunningly slowly sometimes – gradually tempting you further and further into sin, not letting you see where he’s leading you until you actually reach the awful sin that was his objective.


This point is perfectly illustrated in the story of Barseesa, a pious man who lived amongst the children of Israel. If you haven’t heard it, you can read it here. It’s a perfect example of the step by step approach shaitaan can take in leading a person to evil.


So, while we may not understand why we’re reading salaah (and if this is the case, we should seek the knowledge) – as a Muslim, one who submits him/herself to the will of Allah, we go on reading our salaah. Because, after all, “we hear and we obey”.


Before, I end, let me leave you with a quote from Al-Hasan Al-Basree:


“If the shaytaan looks at you and sees that you are consistent in an act of obedience to Allah, he will try to come to you again and again. If he sees that you are persistent in your actions (despite his efforts) he will tire of you and leave you. But if he sees that you are one day like this and one day like that, he will have high hopes in you.”


Insha-Allah, the next topic in this series: Preparation for salaah.