Short Answer: Out of His Mercy and Wisdom, Allah purified the heart of His Messenger to carry the weight of the critical responsibility He gave him. And out of Mercy and Wisdom, Allah did not hold us up to an angelic standard of sinless-ness. Rather, Allah knows our limitations, and appreciates our efforts and struggles and will help us and reward us for them beyond our imagination and beyond what we could ever deserve.
Thank you for sending your question. We ask Allah to enable us to address your concerns in a way that soothes your heart and mind.
The Prophetic Incidents
There are two sound, agreed-upon incidents for the opening of the chest of the Messenger (saw). The first incident when he was a child. Angel Gabriel extracted the Messenger’s heart and washed it in a way that left no portion for Satan in it. Thus, the Messenger was brought up free from any satanic corruption or deviation. This is to equip the Messenger’s heart for the massive, critical responsibility of carrying the last and final Divine message for all humanity. Also, to prepare him for the insurmountable challenges and resistance he was meant to face upon delivering this message. And to Allah belongs all Wisdom.
The second incident was before the ascension journey to heaven. Angel Gabriel descended, opened the Messenger’s chest, extracted his heart and poured Wisdom and Belief in it. This was to equip the Messenger’s heart for the mighty, miraculous journey that no human has been honored to witness before. This is also to prepare him for experiencing what’s beyond the realm of human being’s observed reality in this journey. If you were to witness a magnificent scene in this world, you’d describe it as ‘breathtaking’, imagine everything the Messenger has seen in the heavens “For truly did he see of the Signs of his Lord the Greatest!” (53: 18) And not only did he see the greatest signs, but he was meant to deliver the message and obligations he received afterward to doubtful people with firm heart.
As you can see, we were not obligated to carry the same heavy responsibility as the Messenger. And Allah Almighty equips His slaves with what’s needed to carry their designated responsibilities.
Why did Allah not rinse our hearts?
To Allah belong All-Knowledge, Wisdom, and Compassion. Allah gives all of us what we need to fulfill the purpose He created us for.
Allah did not create us to be angels.
If Allah rinsed all our hearts completely, we will be angels. We will not have any inclinations to do wrong. There will be no challenge for us in believing in Him, committing to Him and following Him. In this case, where is our test? What proves our true faith if we have no desire to do wrong or the ability to experience difficulty?
Allah wanted us to be humans who have both good and evil inclinations.
Our test is to strive to be good and sincerely faithful despite the temptations. THIS is what puts us in a high position with Allah. It’s not our sinless-ness and flawlessness that make us truthful believers in Allah’s sight, but our sincere efforts, struggle and desire to choose Him and commit to Him despite all temptations.
Allah Almighty says:
“Righteousness is not in turning your faces towards the east or the west. Rather, the righteous are those who believe in Allah, the Last Day, the angels, the Books, and the prophets; who give charity out of their cherished wealth to relatives, orphans, the poor, ˹needy˺ travelers, beggars, and for freeing captives; who establish prayer, pay alms-tax, and keep the pledges they make; and who are patient in times of suffering, adversity, and in ˹the heat of˺ battle. It is they who are true ˹in faith˺, and it is they who are mindful ˹of Allah˺.” (Quran 2: 177)
A Reminder of Our Purpose in Life
We learn from the Qur’an that Allah Almighty created us for a noble purpose. He honored us with the ability to learn, be taught by Him and grow closer and closer to Him in knowledge, love, and connection. He also gave us the ability to make choices. That’s how we can be tested.
Human beings have the ability to be indulged in their worldly life, desires, greed, temptations to follow Satan, to cause corruption, to be ungrateful to their Creator and go further and further away from Him. But they also have the ability to choose Him, commit to Him, love Him and seek Him strongly and passionately despite the struggles and temptations.
This is the way to prove honest, sincere and pure faith and love to Allah. It is when you have the ability and inclination to turn away, yet you choose to turn to Him.
Allah appreciates & rewards the efforts and difficulties
Having said that, don’t think that your struggles have no weight in the sight of Allah. Rather, your struggles are what proves your faith and bring you closer to Him.
Every difficulty you go through is rewarded by Allah and is a means to expiate your sins.
‘A’isha (may Allah be pleases with her) reported: I heard Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) as saying:
“There is nothing (in the form of trouble) that comes to a believer even if it is the pricking of a thorn that there is decreed for him by Allah good or his sins are obliterated.” [Sahih Muslim]
In another narration, the Messenger of Allah said:
“Never a believer is stricken with a discomfort, an illness, anxiety, a grief or mental worry or even the pricking of a thorn but Allah will expiate his sins on account of his patience.” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim].
If you struggle because you commit mistakes, then remember that Allah says in a Hadith Qudsi:
“O son of Adam, so long as you call upon Me and ask of Me, I shall forgive you for what you have done, and I shall not mind. O son of Adam, were your sins to reach the clouds in the sky and were you then to ask forgiveness of Me, I would forgive you. O son of Adam, were you to come to Me with sins nearly as great as the earth and were you then to face Me, ascribing no partner to Me, I would bring you forgiveness nearly as great as it.” [At-Tirmidhi]
Finally, remember that Allah is rewarding us for our sincere efforts.
“And that there is not for man except that [good] for which he strives. And that his effort is going to be seen. Then he will be recompensed for it with the fullest recompense” (53: 39-41)
How do we rinse/purify our hearts?
The important issue is to desire purifying ourselves and to live and die on the path of purification.
Allah will not purify people who don’t want to purify themselves. He will not force it upon them. So we have to choose it.
Once we choose and take steps, Allah will facilitate the matter for us. As He said:
“Surely the ends you strive for are diverse. As for the one who is charitable, mindful ˹of Allah˺ and ˹firmly˺ believes in the finest reward, We will facilitate for them the Way of Ease.” (Quran 92: 4-7)
So, in short: out of His Mercy and Wisdom, Allah purified the heart of His Messenger to carry the weight of the critical responsibility He gave him. And out of Mercy and Wisdom, Allah did not hold us up to an angelic standard of sinless-ness. Rather, Allah knows our limitations, and appreciates our efforts and struggles and will help us and reward us for them beyond our imagination and beyond what we could ever deserve.
And Allah knows best.
I hope this helps.
Salam and please keep in touch.
(From Ask About Islam archive)
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