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What is the True Essence of Islam?

There is so much information out there about our religion that sometimes the essence of Islam gets lost.

Growing up for example, sometimes we are taught a lot of lists.

We have a lot of lists of do’s and don’ts.

We have a lot of list of what is allowed (halal) and what is prohibited (haram).

And then we have a lot of rituals that we do.

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And sometimes the essence of Islam gets lost in the rituals.

So it is very important that we often come back and remind ourselves about the essence.

The Prophet, peace be upon him, in a very famous hadith, says:

What is lawful is clear, and what is unlawful is clear, and what is between them are the doubtful matters.

And then he goes on to warn us to stay away from the doubtful matters in the same way that a shepherd who does not want his flock to go into the preserve, should not take the flock near that area.

And in the same way we should stay away from the haram by avoiding the doubtful matters.

This prophetic teaching does not end there, but in fact continues.

There is another half of this prophetic teaching which is typically taught separately…

“Indeed in the body there is a lump of flesh, and if it is set right then the entire body is set right.

And if it is corrupted, then the entire body is corrupted. Indeed it is the heart.”

Now what is the connection between this part of the hadith and the first part of the hadith?

The first part of the hadith is about rules. Correct?

It’s about how we live our lives.

It’s about all these do’s and don’ts that we are taught and we hear about. Right?

How do we now connect these rules to the heart?

The Prophet, peace be upon him, says is that yes, there are prohibited matters, and there are things which are doubtful.

Staying away from those prohibited matters is not because we are doing God a favor…

The heart is the very core of Islam, as Allah (SWT) tells us in the Qur’an:

“The Day when there will not benefit [anyone] wealth or children.

But only one who comes to Allah with a sound heart.” (Qur’an, 26:88-89)

Don’t miss this excellent 21 minutes talk by sister Yasmin Mogahed.