Bismillahir Rahmanir Rahim
The Prophet (s.a.w.s.) said,
Beware, in the body there is a piece of flesh; if it is sound, the whole body is sound and if it is corrupt the whole body is corrupt, and hearken it is the heart. [Sahih Muslim]
From the above hadith it is clear that we should make it our priority to constantly check our hearts for hardness. Allah Azza Wa Jall says in the Quran:
Then woe to those whose hearts are hardened against the remembrance of Allah . Those are in manifest error. [39:22]
When our hearts are hardened, it becomes very difficult to worship Allah. Even praying the bare minimum of five daily prayers seems hard. And the more we let it sit in that state, the harder it becomes. We don’t feel anything when the verses of the Quran are recited, when we listen to Islamic lectures nothing happens. Nothing touches our heart. We don’t feel like crying when we see the misfortunes of our fellow brothers and sisters. And if we let our hearts be in this state long enough, soon it might become dead, may Allah save us from such a calamity.
Here are a few things which harden the heart:
The Prophet said,
“When the believer commits sin, a black spot appears on his heart. If he repents and gives up that sin and seeks forgiveness, his heart will be polished. But if (the sin) increases, (the black spot) increases. That is the Ran that Allah mentions in His Book: “Nay! But on their hearts is the Ran (covering of sins and evil deeds) which they used to earn.” [83:14] [ibn Majah]
The more sins one commits, the harder the heart becomes, and the harder it feels to stop. We must make tawbah immediately, and make dua for guidance.
Excessive Joking and Laughing
A Muslim personality is easy going. We are not morose individuals always frowning at people. We laugh and joke, but always maintain some moderation. The Prophet said,
Laugh little. Much laughter kills the heart. [Al Adab al Mufrad]
Too much joking turns our hearts away from the awareness of the Unseen, from the reality of death and the life beyond. The Prophet (ﷺ) said, If you knew that which I know, you would laugh little and weep much. [Sahih Al Bukhari]
Excessive Vain Gossiping without the Mention of Allah
The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said, Do not indulge in excessive talk except when remembering Allah. Excessive talking without the Remembrance of Allah hardens the heart; and those who are the farthest from Allah are those whose hearts are hard. [At-Tirmidhi]
Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) said, A believer eats in one intestine (is satisfied with a little food), and a kafir (unbeliever) or a hypocrite eats in seven intestines (eats too much). [Sahih Al Bukhari]
When our stomachs are over-worked, it is difficult to concentrate on our hearts. Too much eating weakens our body’s metabolism, makes us lazy and also is a precursor to many kinds of physical diseases. It is also a manifestation of greediness and love of dunya.
Preoccupation with Dunya
O you who have believed, let not your wealth and your children divert you from remembrance of Allah . And whoever does that – then those are the losers. [63:9]
Wealth and children are the two most potent distractions for human beings, and that’s why Allah specified them in the above ayah. In fact, everything in this life which is prone to distract us and preoccupy our thoughts will take us away from Allah.
‘Two hungry wolves sent in the midst of a flock of sheep are no more destructive to them than a man’s greed for wealth and fame is to his Deen.’ [At Tirmidhi]
Abandoning the Sunnah
The practices of the Messenger of Allah, apart from the obligatory, are the best ways of attaining the pleasure of Allah. None of us know Allah better than the Prophet, and the way he worshipped Allah is the best way. Abandoning the practices of the Prophet is thus a sign of lack of enthusiasm in our part of pleasing Allah, and lack of love for the Prophet. Allah said,
Race toward forgiveness from your Lord [57:21]
If we are neglecting the sunnah on a daily basis, we are definitely not racing towards Allah, we are perhaps crawling like a snail.
It is said in a hadith Qudsi that Allah said:
The most beloved thing with which My slave comes nearer to Me is what I have enjoined upon him; and My slave keeps on coming closer to Me through performing Nawafil till I love him. [Al- Bukhari].
The Quran is the Book that was sent to the Prophet (saws) through Jibreel (as) by Allah, and that was in Arabic. That is the only Quran, and what we read in English or any other language are just translations of the meanings of the Quran. That is why it is so important to learn Arabic in order to understand the Quran in its own language.