Event Review: Marvels of the Heart by Shaykh Ahmad Saad
“Do I have a heart?”
How many times do we honestly ask ourselves this question in our short time here on earth? Now, every human being has a heart. A physical heart, the machine that pumps blood into our circulatory system that keeps us alive, physically. It is not of this heart that was the focus of Shaykh Ahmad Saad’s talk. Titled “Marvels of the heart”, Shaykh Ahmad took the audience down a path that most of us rarely venture.
The path to our hearts, finding them and understanding them. The heart that is blessed by Allah to those he wishes for them to understand Him and to be close to Him. The heart that can be either lit up with Nur or blackened by the love of Dunyaa.
Held at Singapore Expo, on Sunday 24th June 2012 by SimplyIslam, it was a full house event. Shaykh Ahmad Saad is the founder and director of the Ihsan Institute for Arabic and Islamic Studies. His lineage goes back to the Prophet sallallahu ‘alaihi wassalam.
Two hearts – Physical and Spiritual
He started by reciting a Hadith Qudsi “God has said: Neither the heavens nor the earth can contain Me, but the heart of a believer accommodates Me”. This shows how big a believer’s heart can get from feeling the love and presence of Allah inside of it. So big, it overshadows the vastness of the heavens and the earth.
Shaykh Ahmad further explains that the heart that is being referred to in this Hadith, is the second heart. The heart that is able to understand and love Allah. The heart that grips tightly to Allah and that is able to experience and appreciate the sweetness of imaan. This is the heart that separates human beings from animals.
When one has the physical heart without the spiritual one, Shaykh Ahmad describes him as having the machine but without the understanding, much like a frame without a picture. You have the structure but not the content. Sadly, in this day and age, many people are missing the spiritual heart. They lose their hearts in the middle of the mess that we call life.
There are so many signals that we receive which confuses our hearts as to which one they need to respond to. We need to train our hearts to respond to only one signal, the one from Allah. That is why every time before Rasulullah s.a.w delivers a sermon, he tells his sahabah to make their hearts present. When one puts his heart into something, it becomes meaningful but if he/she is only there in body, then it loses the meaning.
Mind vs Heart
Many of us fight this battle on a daily basis. Most of the time, it is a conflict between doing what is right and what is morally correct. We listen to our brains more than we do our heart. While it is not wrong to value the information we gain from studying, Shaykh Ahmad reminded us that knowledge is not what is relayed from the teacher to the student. It is the light that Allah throws in the hearts of those He wishes to. It is with this light that we are able to learn, understand, speak and debate.
One example of a person whose heart is such is Abu Bakr As-Siddique radhiyallahu ‘anh. His heart was so inspired and ready to make the connection to Allah that he believed everything that was relayed by Rasulullah s.a.w without a single doubt. Compare our hearts to his; have we reached that level yet?
King of the Body
The heart cannot function alone. Hence why the body was created for the heart, it is a vehicle for it. Therefore, does it make sense for the desires of the body to be put first before the ones of the heart? Nowadays, we become obsessed with what is outside, the physical beauty of everything. Our body shapes, our facial features, what size we are, what food we eat, what clothes we wear, how much makeup we should cover our faces with and the likes.
Why do we push the needs of our heart to a level of lower importance? As Shaykh Ahmad explains, we busy ourselves with what is already predestined for us (life, marriage, rizq) but we forget what is expected of us; Ibadah. The heart is the king of the body. It is the one thing that determines the state of our spiritual self. What is the point of having a nice physique that everybody appreciates but with no heart? It is like a beautifully decorated car that has no engine.
Three powers that maintain the body and ultimately the heart:
- External soldiers of the body: These are the incentives and movers that we encounter in situations. It is essentially what we do to bring in the beneficial and ward off what is not.
- Internal soldiers of the body: These are our reflexes, desires and emotions. The desire to eat, pro create, and the instinct to defend ourselves.
- Realization: This is the power of imagination that everyone possesses.
Which comes first?
Shaykh Ahmad explained this: The mind comes before the heart, and syari’ah comes before the mind. What this means is that essentially we need to understand the hukum of every situation we are in and think of the consequences before making a decision about it. Not the other way round. N
ow people think about how good it will be for them, how good they would feel if they engaged in an activity. We get distracted by our desires. The last thing that we consider is whether or not it is permissible in Islam. We try to halal-ize what is haram and fit it to accommodate our lifestyle by giving all sorts of excuses.
Based on personal experience, I am amazed at how good we are at making a perfectly clear hukum different just based purely on our circumstances. When we finally accept that it is not permissible, we start to question why.[quote]As Shaykh Ahmad said “We exert our effort to understand the wisdom behind certain actions. We are not in a place to question. Allah speaks to the heart, not the mind.”[/quote]
Four doors of the heart
Shaykh Ahmad shared about the four doors that is in every heart:
- Door that relates to animals: This is the door of anger and primal instincts like violence and bloodlust.
- Door that relates to beasts that have a desire for earthly things: Animals like swine, and the desire for food.
- Door of Shayateen: This is the door that leads to arrogance and haughtiness.
- The door of divinity (Ar Rabbani): This is the door of knowledge, ma’rifah, yearning for Allah and love for the prophet s.a.w.
We need to close the first three doors tightly and open the last door in our hearts. Shaykh Ahmad explains that in order to achieve this, we need to seek out teachers. Mursyids who can guide us in the right direction. There was a question and answer session at the end and one of the questions posed was on how to open the fourth door.[quote]Shaykh Ahmad’s answer was, “No one can fix themselves. We go to the doctor for our illnesses. If we receive everything through someone, we receive spiritual guidance through teachers. Sometimes with distractions we have around us, we get confused about who can teach us. We have to look for them. It is a sign that Allah is pleased with you if He guides you to someone who guides you to Him. If we have to work hard to achieve worldly desires, we have to work hard to find Allah. Cry to Him and ask from Him. “[/quote]
Shaykh Ahmad explains that our hearts are vessels and they need to be unchained from worldly desires to be able to travel to Allah. Once our hearts find God, we will not be bothered by this world because we have reached the ultimate destination. May Allah be pleased with us and guide us to Him.
Shaykh Ahmad Saad was very inspiring. He spoke fluently and simply that made the messages hit home more than once. I found myself tearing at several points of the talk as he reminded us to reflect on the state of our hearts. He emphasised the importance of having a clean, pure heart and stressed that if we put in the effort to find Allah, He will come to us.
As the Hadith goes “Allah said: If you come to me walking, I will come to you running.” The heart is indeed a wonderful thing.
May Allah be pleased with Shaykh Ahmad Saad as he so beautifully delighted us with the Marvels of the heart.
Radhiatul Mardhiyah Mustaffa
Mardhiyah graduated from Temasek Polytechnic with a Diploma in Applied Food Science and Nutrition. She’s an aspiring writer trying to find peace and serenity that comes solely from feeling Allah’s love.