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Sixth Step on the Journey to God: Purification Before Shining

(Ibn Ata’s Words of Wisdom: Part 7)

“How can the mirror of the heart shine if the material images are covering it?

And how can the heart journey to God if it is chained by its desires?

How can the heart ever hope to enter the divine presence if it has not purified itself from its forgetfulness?”

This is about the technicalities of reflection that we talked about in the previous step. This is about how can you reflect in the best way and how can you benefit your heart from the reflection.

Like a Mirror

The sheikh is giving a very interesting simile which is that our heart is like a mirror. And that when we reflect upon the universe, the universe is supposed to teach us about Allah, versus the universe covering our mirror. If the universe covers our mirror, then we will not be able to reflect upon the universe and we’ll not be able to learn lessons and this imprints on the mirror.

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If you have somebody, someone, wealth, power… imprinted in the mirror of your heart and your heart is like a mirror, the mirror will not reflect the light.

Allah is the light of the heavens and the earth. The parable of His light is like a niche containing a lamp, the lamp is in the glass, the glass is shinning like a radiant star… (Quran 24: 35)

This verse shows us that the light has to have a clear mirror in order to reflect. And this is the wisdom that is inspired by this verse. There is an expression that people use in the knowledge of Tasawwuf that is called “Al-Aghyar” (or the others) and it’s also a Quranic expression:

Should I take anybody other than Allah as a friend? (6:14)

Theses others, the sheikh is warning us from, and saying that others should not cover your heart. Others, other than Allah, should be in your life but not covering your heart.

Get Rid of Desires

And then he asks a question: How can the heart journey to Allah if it is chained by its desires?

Yes there are evil desires, and there are lawful desires. But even the lawful desires are not supposed to chain the heart. They are not supposed to restrict the heart from reflecting, from journeying to Allah, from acquiring the good things…

Because sometimes, yes the desires are lawful, but we’re too busy with the lawful desires and therefore we’re not able to direct ourselves properly to Allah Almighty.

Remember God

Allah Almighty also is asking us to free our hearts from forgetfulness. And that’s what also the sheikh asked:

How can the heart ever hope to enter the divine presence if it has not purified itself from its forgetfulness?

When we remember Allah, then He is with us. And when He is with us, we are not supposed to forget Him. That will purify our heart and make the mirror even reflect better light.

That is how you go forward by forgetting your forgetfulness, forsaking your lawful and unlawful desires in order to move forward in your journey of reflection.

You’re not going to do that all the time. But you have to have a journey doing that in order to advance in the way of Allah Almighty.

A Journey to God (Folder)