Lecture by Waleed Basyouni | Transcribed by Sameera
[The following is the video and transcript of Shaykh Waleed Basyouni’s lecture “Enlightenment of the Soul.” The transcript includes slight modifications for the sake of readability and clarity.]
Allāh (subḥānahu wa ta‘āla) created us in a unique and sophisticated fashion. It is perfect. When you contemplate how Allāh (subḥānahu wa ta‘āla) created man, it is amazing. You don’t know much about so many things in you, and you don’t know much about your own self. “They ask you about the concept of the soul, and it is from Allāh.” No matter how much knowledge you have, it is not much compared to the knowledge of Allāh (subḥānahu wa ta‘āla).
Imam Ibn Al-Rajab said, “‘ilm is three stages. Whoever enters the first stage becomes arrogant.” This is very natural. When you see people start learning physics, medicine, or whatever field of knowledge, in the beginning you are arrogant because you think you know everything. “Whoever enters the second stage humbles himself. Whoever enters the third stage realizes his or her ignorance.” You are exposed to a mountain of knowledge, and you compare whatever you have acquired over all of these years to what is out there. You realize there is so much knowledge out there. Imagine the knowledge of all of humanity together, and compare it to the knowledge of Allāh (subḥānahu wa ta‘āla) and it is nothing.
Of the amazing things Allāh has created is al-qalb (the heart). I am not here to talk about the muscle that pushes the blood in the body. There is something unique about this heart. There are secrets about this heart that even us with all of our technology today are not familiar with.
The heart is the place of īmān. Allāh and His Messenger (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) have said īmān is related to the heart of the mu’min. Allāh (subḥānahu wa ta‘āla) told us that those who will survive on the Day of Judgment and those who will be saved from the Hellfire and from Allāh’s Wrath are those who will come with a clean and pure heart. It is a heart that is pure from the desires, lust and the evil feelings. It is pure and free from all the doubts about Allāh (subḥānahu wa ta‘āla) and His religion and His Messenger.
Allāh (subḥānahu wa ta‘āla) told us about those who will be saved on the Day of Judgment: He will come on the Day of Judgment with a qalb that is muneeb. What is muneeb? It is a heart that comes to Allāh (subḥānahu wa ta‘āla) all the time and is attached to Allāh and His religion and what Allāh loves. It is a heart that is detached from what Allāh dislikes.
Allāh told us to control our hearts in a verse in Surat’l-Anfāl. This verse was explained by the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) many times. Imam Muslim reported that of the du‘ā’s of the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) was: “O Allāh, the One who controls the hearts, direct my heart towards You.” This means that the heart can be directed in other directions and occupied with other things and focused on other things. The Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) himself said he wants Allāh to direct his heart towards Allāh.
In Sahih Muslim, the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said, “Allāh (subḥānahu wa ta‘āla) controls the hearts and all of the hearts of humanity are between Allāh’s fingers.” Allāh controls the hearts the way He wants. Some people say the qalb linguistically is called this because it comes from the word taqallub, meaning to change. The Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) defined al-qalb and said it is called this because it is constantly changing. It constantly moves.
In another hadith in the Musnad of Imam Aḥmad, he (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said, “It is like when you boil water and it bubbles – this is how the heart is inside of your body.” This means that our heart cannot stay or remain at one level. It is either heading up or going down. Your heart will never pause. Sometimes it shoots up faster than other times and sometimes it declines faster than other times. It is in constant movement. The only time your heart will stop moving up and down is when it stops beating. At that time, when you die your īmān will stop.
If we can establish this fact and everybody realizes this, then everybody should be so worried about his īmān. The Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said the heart is like boiling water. Every time you boil water for tea or coffee in the kettle, listen to the bubbles and remember this – that is how your heart is. You have to be constantly aware of your heart and which direction it is going. Unfortunately, brothers and sisters, so many of us take our hearts for granted.
One of the great scholars Sufyān Al-Thawri said, “I’m always worried about my heart and the impact of sins on my heart and how my heart will change.” The gates of Jannah are open to those of pure and clean heart and the heart which is filled with īmān and faith. Allāh (subḥānahu wa ta‘āla) describes the hearts as solid and harder than the rock. Aren’t you worried that your heart will turn to that status?
When you are praying, do you sometimes not feel it and think your heart is not that soft anymore? It is like a picture without sound, and you don’t feel the closeness to Allāh (subḥānahu wa ta‘āla). Whenever you raise your hands, you don’t feel that you are close to Him and that you are truly talking to Him. You don’t feel His Presence in your life and the love taking over your heart.
So many of us feel distanced from Allāh (subḥānahu wa ta‘āla). The moment your heart is away from Allāh is the moment your soul will be lost. The moment your heart is free from Allāh (subḥānahu wa ta‘āla) and is not occupied and filled with the love of Allāh and His Messenger, believe me it will be filled with something else.
The Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) told us the heart is like a container. The worst thing is to fill your heart with things that are not beneficial, which is why the hadith said poetry – it is a waste to fill your heart and mind with just poetry, leaving no space for anything else. The hadith is not meant to criticize poetry. The Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) is criticizing those whose hearts are filled only with poetry and have no space for anything else. The heart is like a cup and there is only so much space in it. Look carefully at what you are occupying your heart with. Your ears, eyes, memory, tongue, and words you say occupy your heart. Everything you acquire and everything you do brings things inside your heart.
Be careful about your heart. Make sure you are filling your heart with something good before you fill it up quickly with junk. If you don’t have filtration in your mailbox, it will in no time be filled with junk mail. Similarly with your heart, if you don’t have filtration, it will be quickly filled with junk.
Today I would like to remind myself and my brothers and my sisters about one of the most important issues that should of concern: the weakness of īmān. It is what can bring darkness to the soul and can make it shine again.
What are the signs that you should look for? If you have any of these signs, then it is an alarming sign and you should take it very seriously. There are many signs, and I went over them five times, without exaggeration, to make sure that whatever I bring is relevant to us here today. If you can see the signs and the symptoms, then you can quickly react and start fixing yourself.
One of the first signs is that you see yourself starting to not fulfill the duties of Allāh (subḥānahu wa ta‘āla) upon you – the wājibaat. You know that these are obligatory to do but you start missing it, such as salat. The Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) only one time in his life missed salat’l-fajr. Why? He was on a journey and would ask someone to guard the time. One person would stay awake for a while and then would sleep while another guarded the time until fajr.
Bilal volunteered to guard the time the whole night until fajr because everyone was tired. He was waiting and waiting, and he fell asleep. Everyone woke up from the heat of the sun. Do you know what the companions were doing? They put the sand over their hands, a sign that they thought this was their destruction and that they had committed a major sin. The Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) couldn’t control the crowd with anything but to tell them all to ride their camels. They kept walking and traveling until everyone became so tired after an hour or two, and then the adhan was called and then they prayed the sunnah of fajr and then fajr in congregation. The crowd was so disturbed because they had missed one ṣalāh. They couldn’t believe they missed salat’l-fajr.
Do you know how many times we miss salat’l-fajr? Not long ago, a young brother was proposing to a girl, and the future mother-in-law asked, “How many times have you missed salat’l-fajr?” He said, “Eh, once or twice a week.” He thinks that this is good. Missing salat’l-fajr is missing one of the most important salawat.
Also, one of the signs of weakness is missing salat’l-asr or salat’l-maghrib. It is not only missing the wājibaat, but then it becomes something easy and not a big deal. The ṣaḥābah would wake up crying if they missed the ṣalāh. We don’t even care if we miss the ṣalāh. People pray asr just before maghrib and don’t care about it. This is a big sign of weakness of īmān.
Hajj: Allāh made the Hajj obligatory on you. Every year the opportunity comes for you to make Hajj and you have the money, health, and time and every reason to go, but you think you’ll go next year as if it is nothing. This is one of the pillars of Islam.
Also, sometimes the sisters don’t care much about the hijab. She used to take care of the hijab but now she starts taking it lightly. This is a sign of weakness.
Birr’l-walidayn: In the beginning you call your family every week and care about them. It is wājib to look after and respect your family. All of a sudden you start to not care and weeks go by before you remember your mother. This is a weakness of īmān.
According to the majority, ṣalāh in jama’ah according to the majority of ‘ulemā’ is wājib, especially for those who live close to the masjid. You start thinking it is for socializing and not the ṣalāh itself A blind person came to the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) and said his house his far and he did not have a way of reaching the masjid and he asked if he could pray at home. The Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) first said yes and then asked him if he could hear the adhan and because he could, he (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) told him that he had no excuse and had to go to the masjid to pray.
The first sign of weakness of īmān is not fulfilling the obligations and not caring much about the wājibat.
2. Ghaflah in dhikr of Allāh. Not remembering Allāh (subḥānahu wa ta‘āla) much.
One of the most important dhikrs is the Qur’an. From last year, how many verses have you memorized? How many surahs have you memorized? Ask yourself honestly. Don’t say that you don’t know how to read Arabic. I’m happy if you have only added one verse. Have 12 months gone by and you could not increase anything? The only explanation of this, in my opinion, is that it is a sign of weakness of īmān because you don’t care anymore. It is a clear sign.
It is narrated that Anas b. Mālik said, “The one who doesn’t make khatm’l-Quran every 40 days and they know how to read the Qur’an, this is a sign of hypocrisy. What about us? How much do you read? The Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said, “If you read 10 verses every night you will not be among the ghafileen (heedless).”
Why did the ‘ulemā’ call the dhikr of Allāh wird? Wird comes from a word in the Arabic language meaning a place the Arabs would bring the camels to drink when they traveled in the desert. Imagine what would happen if one of them missed the spot. You would not be able to survive and would die of thirst. ‘ulemā’ used that word because that is the relationship with dhikr every day and night. If you miss it, it is very hard to survive. It is what keeps you going.
Shaykh Al-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah would make dhikr in the morning and was asked why he spent so much time in this. He said, “This is like my food. If I don’t do it, I won’t have the power to continue my day.”
One of the signs of weakness of īmān is when you see yourself after ṣalāh rushing out. You start checking your e-mail or the last status on Facebook. You miss the adhkar and dhikr. The last thing you look at is movies or watching YouTube videos. Where is the adhkār before you go to sleep? When was the last time you remembered to say bismillah when eating and drinking? When was the last time you remembered to say bismillah and alḥamdulillāh?
If dhikr of Allāh is not a habit of your tongue, it is a very clear sign of weakness of īmān.
3. Another clear sign is doing the ḥarām. All of a sudden a person finds himself or herself doing the forbidden acts without even caring. You will see the person starts doing the ḥarām dealing with interest and not caring. Cheating, lying, backbiting, dating as if it is nothing.
4. One of the signs is that the person doesn’t care much about the recommended acts. Someone asked me a question and I said don’t do it, and he asked, “Is it ḥarām or makruh?” If I say that it is not ḥarām, then it means he will do it.
Ibn Al-Qayyim (rahimahullah) said, “There are hundreds of narrations describing how the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) used to be with the companions. In not a single one did the companions ask if it was wājib or just recommended or if it was just ḥarām or just makruh. None of them asked these questions. All of them accepted what the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) told them.” This is a big difference between them and us.
Yesterday I was telling a story in my masjid about Shaykh Safwat Al-Hijazi, a great scholar from Egypt. Once he was saying that there was a man who prayed qiyām’l-layl and never missed a ṣalāh in the masjid for the past 15 years since he was 15 years old. He said, “One day he came to me and told me, ‘I’ve been doing qiyām’l-layl and this and that. What is the difference between me and the ṣaḥābah?’ I could sense from his words that he had arrogance. I said, ‘You are a righteous person. Ask Allāh (subḥānahu wa ta‘āla) to show you what the difference is between you and the ṣaḥābah.’ He came at fajr and said, ‘I found the difference between me and the ṣaḥābah. Last night, I prayed and asked Allāh to show me the difference between us and the ṣaḥābah. I saw the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) come to me in a dream with the same description that I’ve read in books. He was holding my hand and in the other hand he was holding the hand of one of the companions. We were on a highway and a car was coming very fast, and the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) told me to stop the car from hitting us. I took a rock and threw it. I tried everything, but the car kept coming. I felt so sad. I came to the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) and told him I threw everything I could and couldn’t stop the car. The Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) looked at the companion and told him to stop the car, and the companion went and stopped right in front of the car and the car hit him and stopped. He stopped the car with his own body. Then I woke up from my dream with tears in my eyes and realized the difference between us and the ṣaḥābah.’”
Allāh chose the companions specifically to be in the company of Muhammad (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) because they are role models. We learn from their lives.
Sa’id ibn Al-Musayyib once missed the first takbīr. For the past 20 years he prayed right behind the imam. One day he came late and was in the back. He was crying and said he saw faces he had not seen the past years because he neer prayed in the back. If you see someone who doesn’t care about the first takbīr and being with the imam, he said, “Wash your hands from him.” This is an Arabic expression and means that there is no hope for this person to reach a high level of īmān.
Sometimes we wonder when the ṣalāh will finish. It is so sad when you see someone who doesn’t care anymore about halaqat of ‘‘ilm. You tell them that there is a halaqah, a class, a weekend seminar or a conference and they don’t care. When you see this in yourself, it is a weakness of īmān.
When you pray jumu’ah and you pass by the box and there is nothing in your heart telling you to give money or when someone is calling you to give sadaqah and you turn your cheek, there is something wrong.
When mixing with the opposite gender and using bad language and text messaging each other with bad words means nothing to you, it is a sign. Allāh said, “Allāh dislikes anyone to pronounce improper words or evil words.”
When you see yourself not caring much about recommended acts or do disliked acts, then it means you are coming closer to the grey area. If you go to the grey area without hesitation, I guarantee you, you will cross the line. It will lead you to leaving the obligatory and doing the ḥarām. Today you are looking and then you are just touching and then tomorrow it is beyond that.
5. One of the signs of weakness of īmān is when you don’t care about da’wah. All you are interested in is your family, kids, business and da’wah doesn’t even cross your mind. What have you done to serve the deen of Allāh and to spread the Word of Allāh (subḥānahu wa ta‘āla)? What have you offered to the da’wah?
6. One of the signs of weakness of īmān is whenever you see yourself trying to hide your Islamic identity. You feel ashamed to make wudu’ or wear anything to identify you as Muslim. I’m not saying everybody should wear shalwar kameez tomorrow. When you feel very uncomfortable and see this in yourself, there is a question mark. Be proud of your deen.
7. When you see yourself excessive in the mubah (permissible things). For example, you spend more time in the gym than the masjid. Muscles will not open the gates of Jannah. Yes, it is good to be healthy, but it is better to be a good Muslim. If you spend hours in the gym and miss salat’l-fajr or are losing your īmān, then it is not acceptable.
Some people care excessively about beauty and looks and it becomes an obsession. If while you are making sujūd you care about if you messed up your hair or not, it is a problem.
8. One of the signs of weakness of īmān is when you cannot continuously do a good deed. You start and you stop, you start and you stop. You start reading Qur’an and then you quit. This means your īmān is weak and you don’t have enough fuel to keep you going in your good deeds.
Also, whenever you do an act of worship, you are always looking at the end. When fasting the day of Arafah, one of the brothers asked me when maghrib is at fajr time. This shows that there is a sign of weakness here.
9. One of the signs is when you get frustrated quickly or have anxiety and so much stress. A mu’min should not live such a life. The Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said, “Īmān is being patient and being easy.” You live a life of ease. If you are with Allāh, you will see every day as an easy day and a good day. If you see every day as a terrible day, it is a problem and a sign of weakness of īmān. When you fight with everyone, this is not how the mu’min acts. The mu’min loves and will be loved by people.
10. One of the signs of weakness of īmān is when you don’t get angry when you see the ḥarām in front of you. People are dying in Syria day and night, and if it means nothing to you and didn’t bother you even one day enough for you to make du‘ā’ for them in ṣalāh and you didn’t pray qiyām’l-layl even one night for your brothers and sisters who are suffering anywhere in the world, it is a sign of weakness of īmān. You have now been reminded of this – do you feel anything in your heart? Dhulm is happening. Your reaction shows how strong your īmān is.
11. Whenever your sujūd is short and your du‘ā’ is so short, it is a sign of weakness of īmān. Sujūd is a road to ask for whatever you want. A man came to Al-Hasan Al-Basri and said, “I heard you say that if you commit sins, then Allāh prevents you from things. I do all the sins that you can think of and don’t do many good deeds. I have a beautiful wife and beautiful kids and a lot of money and land and am successful. Allāh did not prevent me from anything. How is it that you say that because of sins Allāh prevents you?” He said, “Do you pray qiyām’l-layl? Do you enjoy your du‘ā’? Do you enjoy your ṣalāh? That is enough prevention that He prevented you from communicating with Him.” When Allāh wanted to speak to us, He revealed the Qur’an, and when we want to talk to Him, we raise our hands. He cut you off because you are not worthy of it and your īmān is not strong enough.
This is scary if you see yourself like that. Do you turn to Allāh and ask for His Help in every moment of your life to ask for His Help?
12. Also, when you say so much but do so little. Allāh said, “O you who believe, why do you say things you do not do?”
13. One of the signs is that you don’t like to be in the company of those who remind you of Allāh. Al-Hasan Al-Basri said, “I love to be with my students and my brothers more than being at home with my family. My family reminds me of the dunya. My brothers remind me of the ākhirah.” It has also been said: if you can’t find your heart on three occasions, ask Allāh to give you a new heart because yours is dead: 1) when you are with good people remembering Allāh (subḥānahu wa ta‘āla), 2) reading Qur’an, 3) witnessing the janazah.
14. Also, one of the signs of weakness of īmān is when a person starts arguing. They keep asking why and arguing. The Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said, “No one is misguided after Allāh guided him except because of arguing.”
15. One of the signs of weakness of īmān is when a person is always frustrated with what Allāh has decreed for him or her. One of the clear manifestations of this is hasad. You envy others and are never satisfied with what you have. You are always looking at what other people have in their hands.
Allāh (subḥānahu wa ta‘āla) said, “Isn’t it the time for the believers and their hearts to turn to be soft?” Soft whenever you remember what Allāh revealed and you hear the Qur’an and the reminders of the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam). Don’t be like the people of the book who came before you. They stayed for a very long time away from their book and away from the source of goodness and what would remind them of the ākhirah. What is the result? Their hearts turned to be hard and solid.
Be very careful of being far away from what softens your heart. Don’t stay away from the Qur’an, the masjid, the siyam, the ṣalāh, dhikr, ‘ilm (knowledge). Heart softeners are good reminders, but after that you need fuel to learn your deen, which is ‘‘ilm. It is not enough to wear a scarf or grow a beard. This does not make you a religious person until the heart changes and the īmān settles in the heart.
What will help you strengthen īmān?
– Learning. Learn about Allāh as much as you can and about His Names and Attributes. Learn about the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam). Learn through books, CDs, conferences, seminars.
– Take it step-by-step. You are not going to be super religious all of a sudden. If you are consistent in a little, it is better than not keeping up long term.
– Always remember that your death is soon. The Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said, “Jannah and the fire are so close to you.”
– Always try to make a lot of du‘ā’ that Allāh supports you and strengthens your īmān.
– Always stay with good company. Muhammad (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) was ordered to be in the company of good people.
– Be patient. Sometimes you are frustrated, but you have to be patient and stick with it.
– Don’t ever delay the good. If there is an opportunity, take advantage of it. Rush to good deeds. Sometimes you feel in a high mood. Take advantage. Do as much as you can of good deeds.
– Make sure that you pray at the beginning of the time. Make the commitment. Don’t delay the ṣalāh.
– Visit the graveyard. It will remind you of the ākhirah. Sometimes it is good to visit those in the hospital. Give them gifts. Realize the ni’mah of health that Allāh has given you. There are people who don’t have hands and legs, say alḥamdulillāh. Be grateful for what Allāh (subḥānahu wa ta‘āla) has given you.
– Wish good for others even if it doesn’t happen to you. This will help your heart to be pure. A man was running in India behind a train. On the way, he lost one of his shoes. He took off his other shoe and kept going and caught the train. He was asked why he did it, and he said that when he lost the first shoe, he knew that they would not find it and it would not benefit him. He threw the second shoe so that whoever finds the first shoe would also find the second one. He was thinking about others.