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.

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)

About Dr. Jasser Auda
Jasser Auda is a Professor and Al-Shatibi Chair of Maqasid Studies at the International Peace College South Africa, the Executive Director of the Maqasid Institute, a global think tank based in London, and a Visiting Professor of Islamic Law at Carleton University in Canada. He is a Founding and Board Member of the International Union of Muslim Scholars, Member of the European Council for Fatwa and Research, Fellow of the Islamic Fiqh Academy of India, and General Secretary of Yaqazat Feker, a popular youth organization in Egypt. He has a PhD in the philosophy of Islamic law from University of Wales in the UK, and a PhD in systems analysis from University of Waterloo in Canada. Early in his life, he memorized the Quran and studied Fiqh, Usul and Hadith in the halaqas of Al-Azhar Mosque in Cairo. He previously worked as: Founding Director of the Maqasid Center in the Philosophy of Islamic Law in London; Founding Deputy Director of the Center for Islamic Ethics in Doha; professor at the University of Waterloo in Canada, Alexandria University in Egypt, Islamic University of Novi Pazar in Sanjaq, Qatar Faculty of Islamic Studies, and the American University of Sharjah. He lectured and trained on Islam, its law, spirituality and ethics in dozens of other universities and organizations around the world. He wrote 25 books in Arabic and English, some of which were translated to 25 languages.