I’ve been wanting to read Purification Of The Heart by Hamza Yusuf for years and I have finally been able to obtain a copy. I am blissfully grateful to Allah (SWT) for having been blessed with the opportunity to read this book. It has not only helped me to gain a greater understanding of Islam, but also of what it means to be a Muslim, especially in light of current events highlighted in the media. The recent incidents of the United States’ grand jury rulings refusing to indict the police officers that killed Michael Brown and Eric Garner, and the shootings of unarmed journalists in Paris have weighed heavy upon my consciousness. Feelings of anguish, despair, rage, and resentment were difficult to hold at bay, and it has become strikingly evident that we as human beings can all benefit from purification of our hearts.
One night shortly following the ruling in the Michael Brown hearing, I lay in bed, unable to sleep, and picked up from where I had left off in the book. It just so happened that I had reached the section addressing hatred as a disease of the heart and a specific hadith citation about a man of paradise was like a soothing balm upon the gaping wound that was keeping me restless that night. The hadith reads thus:
The Prophet (SAW) once said to his Companions, “Do you want to see a man of Paradise?” A man then passed by, and the Prophet (SAW) said, “That man is one of the people of Paradise.” One of the Companions of the Prophet (SAW) wanted to find out what it was about this man that earned him such a commendation from the Messenger of God (SAW), so he decided to spend some time with this man and observe him closely. He noticed that this man did not perform the night prayer vigil (tahajjud) or do anything extraordinary. He appeared to be an average man of Medina. The Companion finally told the man what the Prophet (SAW) had said about him and asked if he did anything special. The man replied, “The only thing that I can think of, other than what everybody else does, is that I make sure that I never sleep with any rancor in my heart towards another.”
Purification of the Heart illustrates the depths of Islamic spirituality and addresses some of the psychological diseases of the heart while also providing guidance and instructions on how to treat and cure those diseases. Shaykh Hamza Yusuf provides Quranic verses and hadith from the Sunnah of our beloved Prophet Muhammad, may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, to address diseases like miserliness, envy, hatred, treachery, rancor, malice, arrogance, and other afflictions while highlighting practical cures from within the teachings of Islam.
Racism, terrorism, injustice, rage, and disrespect of human dignity are all diseases of the heart and when a disease is discovered, it is the responsibility of the doctor to diagnose the illness and to treat it. Likewise, I’ve come to believe that we have a collective responsibility to one another when we discover these illnesses in ourselves and others. We all share this planet – we are all created by God.
The Holy Quran reads in Surah Al Baqarah 2:148:
To each is a goal to which Allah turns him; then strive together (as in a race) towards all that is good. Wheresoever ye are, Allah will bring you together. For Allah has power over all things.
And Jesus, peace be upon him, is recorded to have said in the Holy Bible Book of Matthew, Chapter 22 Verse 37-39 when asked which is the great commandment of the law:
And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
We must first love God with our whole heart, our whole soul and our whole mind, then we must love each other as we love ourselves. We must be merciful to ourselves, be kind, compassionate and just to ourselves, and then we must extend this treatment to others. I cannot help but think that if we as human beings did more to remember these sayings in our daily interactions with one another that we could easily change this world.
Peace and blessings to you and yours!