Kindness is a natural result of faith

How Can We Soften The Heart

The heart is commonly associated with feelings, emotions, and sentiments. Whenever someone speaks nicely or acts gently with others, that person is said to be kind-hearted, while the ill-treatment of others labels one being hard-hearted. The Islamic point of view regarding this matter includes both religious and communal decency. An-Nu`man ibn Bashir once narrated the Holy Prophet (PBUH) to have said: Allah says:

لَّا يُؤَاخِذُكُمُ اللَّهُ بِاللَّغْوِ فِي أَيْمَانِكُمْ وَلَٰكِن يُؤَاخِذُكُم بِمَا كَسَبَتْ قُلُوبُكُمْ وَاللَّهُ غَفُورٌ حَلِيمٌ

“Allah will not call you to account for thoughtlessness in your oaths, but for the intention in your hearts; and He is Oft-forgiving, Most Forbearing.” (Surah Al-Baqara, 225)

Our deeds – what we do externally – are judged ultimately by the states of our hearts. These are good deeds. Evil deeds are evil, but these good deeds are in reference to those that we perceive to be a part and parcel of righteousness. Allah will inspect the hearts to determine whether they are truly acts of righteousness. A true believer who reads Almighty Allah’s Book in deep contemplation feels great awe of Him Most High. Allah says:

وَمِنَ النَّاسِ مَن يُعْجِبُكَ قَوْلُهُ فِي الْحَيَاةِ الدُّنْيَا وَيُشْهِدُ اللَّهَ عَلَىٰ مَا فِي قَلْبِهِ وَهُوَ أَلَدُّ الْخِصَامِ 

“There is the type of man whose speech about this world’s life May dazzle thee, and he calls Allah to witness about what is in his heart; yet is he the most contentious of enemies.” (Surah Al-Baqara, 204)

We should remember the Hereafter, to remember our death. The one thing that we are one hundred per cent certain of is that we are going to die. But our lives are such that we become so occupied with the things of this life that we forget that we are going to die. As Allah said, the gathering of wealth has deluded them to the realities of life and they only come awake when they end up in their graves.

Some of the essential guidelines for softening one`s heart towards the attainment of spiritual uprightness:

  1. Seeking Allah`s Forgiveness Through Tawbah
  2. Fearing Allah SWT And His Remembrance
  3. Visiting Graves:
  4. Repentance
  5. Du’a (and Dhikr)
  6. Reflecting On The Holy Quran
  7. Thinking About The Creations Of Allah
  8. Remembrance Of Death And Day of Resurrection

The heart is so hard nothing will penetrate it. Consequently, there are no barriers to sin, to the extent that such a numb heart will have no qualms about even changing the Book of Allah. It has lost all sensitivity to goodness and evil. An overturned vessel metaphorically cannot collect any blessings. Unable to distinguish between what is right and what is wrong, it is under the control of his whims. Whims, on the whole, tend to be evil. Allah says:

وَمَا جَعَلَهُ اللَّهُ إِلَّا بُشْرَىٰ لَكُمْ وَلِتَطْمَئِنَّ قُلُوبُكُم بِهِ وَمَا النَّصْرُ إِلَّا مِنْ عِندِ اللَّهِ الْعَزِيزِ الْحَكِيمِ 

“Allah made it but a message of hope for you, and an assurance to your hearts: (in any case) there is no help except Allah. The Exalted, the Wise.” (Surah Al-Imran, 126)

The value of a man is more than all of the things of this world. There is nothing more valuable. It is the determination ultimately of those who have belief in Allah – those who have accepted the message and who have chosen Paradise over Hell. It is the distinction between those who have believed and those who have disbelief.

Ways to soften the heart to weep to Allah:

  1. Remember death can help us to cry in front of Allah
  2. Our heart should feel when we call Allah Al-Ghaffar
  3. Taqwa means consciousness, awe or fear of Allah
  4. Listen to the beautiful recitation of Allah’s names
  5. Try to feel those blessings and give more space
  6. Concentrate the feelings of Allah in your heart
  7. Allah has bestowed so many blessings on us
  8. Pick one or two verses and ponder on them
  9. Easy Dhikr which is light on the tongue
  10. Contemplate over his attributes
  11. Being able to breathe the nice
  12. Read Tafseer of Quran
  13. Try to feel Allah’s closeness
  14. Make dua in your own language
  15. Fill the heart with Love for Allah
  16. Remember death and the hereafter
  17. Remember Death to soften the heart
  18. Remember Allah, as much as possible
  19. We develop a loving relationship with Allah
  20. Allah wants us to love Him and His Prophet
  21. We open our heart to Allah and remember Him
  22. Being able to see the beauty in Allah’s creation
  23. Our spiritual heart is the centre and core of our soul
  24. We should be shining and glowing love for our Creator
  25. We feel closer to Allah when we are able to open our heart

Remember that one’s life may end at any second and this should give us a sense of urgency in trying to make the best of every second we have left for any second could be our last. We should remember death and visit the graves often and when we look at the last gravestone we should think the next grave next to it could be ours. Allah says:

سَنُرِيهِمْ آيَاتِنَا فِي الْآفَاقِ وَفِي أَنفُسِهِمْ حَتَّىٰ يَتَبَيَّنَ لَهُمْ أَنَّهُ الْحَقُّ أَوَلَمْ يَكْفِ بِرَبِّكَ أَنَّهُ عَلَىٰ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ شَهِيدٌ

“We will show them Our signs in the horizons and within themselves until it becomes clear to them that it is the truth. But is it not sufficient concerning your Lord that He is, over all things, a Witness?” (Surah Fussilat 41:53)

We should also imagine ourselves on the day of judgment where we will be alongside every soul from the first until last and we will all be judged and we should have hope but at the same time fear. I hope that we may be forgiven and gain eternal salvation and fear that we may be doomed for our terrible sins in this world.

Causes of hardheartedness, Allah SWT describes the state of devotees of Islam in the Holy Quran as:

  • “Truly, in remembering Allah do hearts find rest.” (Quran, 13:28)
  • “In their hearts is a disease; and Allah has increased their disease: And grievous is the penalty they (incur), because they are false (to themselves).” (Surah Al-Baqara, 10)
  • “And who believe in the Revelation sent to thee, and sent before thy time, and (in their hearts) have the assurance of the Hereafter.” (Surah Al-Baqara, 4)
  • “Due to Allah’s mercy, you are gentle with them. Had you been severe and harsh hearted, they would have fled from around you.” (Quran 3:159)
  • “Allah hath set a seal on their hearts and on their hearing, and on their eyes is a veil; great is the penalty they (incur).” (Surah Al-Baqara, 7)
  • “Nay! But on their hearts is the Ran (covering of sins and evil deeds) which they used to earn.” (Surah Al-Mutafiffin 83:14)
  • “Then, after that, your hearts were hardened and became as stones or even worse in hardness.” (Surah Al-Baqarah 2:74)
  • “So because of the breach of their covenant, We cursed them, and made their hearts grow hard.” (Surah Al-Maidah 5:13)

We should also be more careful in dealing with the members of our households including our parents, spouse, children, and other members of the extended family. A household that specifically doesn’t instil kindness may see rude behaviour, stubbornness, and disrespect among each other. This type of attitude then leads to worsening of relationships between family members, in turn leading to bigger issues and problems. Allah says:

إِلَّا مَن تَابَ وَآمَنَ وَعَمِلَ عَمَلًا صَالِحًا فَأُولَٰئِكَ يُبَدِّلُ اللَّهُ سَيِّئَاتِهِمْ حَسَنَاتٍ وَكَانَ اللَّهُ غَفُورًا رَّحِيمًا 

“Except for those who repent, believe and do righteous work. For them, Allah will replace their evil deeds with good. And ever is Allah Forgiving and Merciful.” (Surah Al-Furqan, 25:70)

When we stand before Allah and answer for each and every deed that we have done when nothing escapes Allah when the things that we have in this life will be of no benefit to us. The only thing that will benefit us is to stand before Allah with a healthy heart. The hardening and softening of the heart of a true believer is all down to the fear and remembrance, of Allah Almighty, thinking about one`s death and the Judgment Day, asking the Most Merciful for His pardon, understanding and acting on the Quranic instructions, and last but not the least, reflecting on the astounding creations of Allah.