The main purpose of religion is to help us purify our instincts, get to know the Creator who has originated everything, understand the task for which He has created us, and follow the path that can lead us to fulfill this task.
When the Qur’an was first revealed to Prophet Muhammad P.B.U.H., its teachings and provisions were mainly concerned with purifying people’s hearts, and removing the dust from above their God-given pure instinct. It laid down a morally righteous path which can lead them to the delight of knowing their Creator, fulfill the task for which He had created them, and make His teachings prevail above any other.
Prophet Muhammad P.B.U.H. said,
“Verily I was not sent except to perfect the moral standards.”
The words are in the sense that this was his most important task. Anyone who studies Prophet Muhammad’s attitude in different situations throughout his life –even before prophethood will instantly understand this. The most important thing that anyone can learn from studying the lives of prophets; righteous, pious humans; and those who followed their path, is how to be endowed with a pinch of their characters. So by all means, “Fiqh,” or the true understanding of religion, is to acquire the spirit with which we should live and perform our rituals, not merely adopting a certain appearance while performing them, or the knowledge of the Dos and Don’ts in our religion. Our sheikhs used to say, “Raising righteous Muslims is what matters, not building Mosques.”
If you read the Qur’an and ponder overits verses, you will find that it does not speak about establishing mosques or Islamic states, it speaks about the characters and morals of those who should inhabit them; its main concern is raising righteous persons with sound hearts. Prophet Muhammad said, “Allah never looks at your faces or appearances, but He observes the hearts inside your chests.” The reader here should understand that whenever the Islamic teachings speak of hearts, they are not referring to the organ that pumps the blood through your body, they are referring to the main instrument through which you get to sense the reality of things, and differentiate between wrong and right. Allah says in the Qur’an:
“Have the people not traveled through the land to make their hearts understand and let their ears hear, verily it is not the eyes that go blind but the hearts inside chests.” [The Qur’an (22:46)].
Allah tells us in the Qur’an that Prophet Abraham invoked Him saying:
“[O Lord] do not disgrace me on the Day when all people are resurrected: the Day when wealth and children will be of no avail, when the only one who will be saved is the one who comes before [You] Allah with a sound heart.” [The Qur’an (26:87-89)].
Later on Allah describes Abraham saying: “Abraham was of the same faith [as Noah], he drew near to his Lord with a sound heart.” [The Qur’an (37:83-84)].
Allah describes the dwellers of Paradise in the hereafter saying:
“Paradise will be brought near to the righteous and will no longer be far away. This is what you were promised—this is for everyone who often turned to Allah and kept Him in mind, who feared the Compassionate One though He is unseen, and returned to Him with a sound heart.”
[The Qur’an (50:31-33)].
Prophet Muhammad explained the importance of purifying the hearts saying:
“Temptations are adorned for the hearts like a straw mat, straw by straw. Whichever heart is soaked with them, a black speck is implanted therein. And whichever heart rejects them, a white speck is implanted therein, until all hearts turn into one of two types: white like Safā (i.e. some kind of white hard stones), it is never harmed by any temptations as long as the heavens and the earth shall exist. The other is like a dusty black inverted jug [that holds no water within], it does not distinguish any good nor deny any evil except through what it has been soaked with from its fancies.” [Recorded by Muslim].
This is why Allah tells us in the Qur’an that among the supplications of those who are knowledgeable is that they say: “O our Lord, let not our hearts deviate after you have guided us and grant us from Yourself mercy, Indeed You are a Munificent Giver.” [The Qur’an (3:8)].
Those with sound hearts always respect good morals and incline towards what’s right. They always try to make it victorious in the best of their capacities, and where it really matters, they might sacrifice their own lives just to see it prevail. They always seek after what’s beneficent for all people, not just for themselves. They are always cheerful, easygoing and they are never troublesome. Whenever they are asked for help, they grant it. Whenever they are treated ignobly, they show patience. They are never arrogant or self-conceited. They always remember their sins, not their good deeds. They never tell a lie, cheat or betray. Based on the reports of those who had lived with Prophet Muhammad, the previous manners and characteristics are just a pinch of his personality P.B.U.H. Allah says in the Qur’an: “Indeed there is a good example for you in the prophet for those who wish to meet with Allah, [receive His bounty] on the judgment day and they remember Allah constantly.” [The Qur’an (33:21)]. Whenever Lady ‘Āʾishah was asked about his character by her students, she said: “His manners were a personification of the Qur’an.”
Of course, who is more knowledgeable of the Qur’an than the Prophet P.B.U.H.?
From this, one may conclude that the first pillar upon which the methodology of reformation in Islam was built is: “Raising sound hearts.”
By: Ehab Shawky.