by Umme Muhammad
Nadia was perplexed; her students, once understanding, patient, and kind, had suddenly become violent and angry, holding grudges and complaining about each other. Nadia tried to counsel them but to no avail.
One day she asked them to bring a paper and told them that every time they had a resentful feeling or wanted to complain they should pencil a dot on it. After a few days there were many dots, but the students had stopped being aggressive and were trying to be their old selves again.
When this happened Nadia told them that for each kind deed they should erase a dot. Soon all the dots were erased, but the pencil impressions remained; their papers could never be clean as before.
How a Heart Gathers Rust
Nadia then explained to them that just as they didn’t like this paper— dirty with holes and scars—grudges and bad deeds leave black dots on our hearts, and a continuation of such deeds makes the heart black.
The blackened heart can’t be guided, as disclosed in the hadith narrated by AbuHurayrah RA, that Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) said, When a believer sins there is a black spot on his heart, and if he repents and asks pardon his heart is polished; but if he does more it increases ‘til it gains the ascendancy over his heart. That is the rust mentioned by Allah Most High, ‘Nay, but what they were committing has spread like rust over their hearts.’ [Quran, 83:14] (Ahmad, Tirmidhi and Ibn Majah transmitted it, Tirmidhi saying this is a hasan sahih tradition.)
Then your hearts became hardened after that, being like stones or even harder. For indeed, there are stones from which rivers burst forth, and there are some of them that split open and water comes out, and there are some of them that fall down for fear of Allah. And Allah is not unaware of what you do. [Quran, 2:74]
We should make our hearts pure and clean, but how? We can use the soap of repentance and the salty water of remorseful tears to wash away our sins. And the brush of being kind, polite, helpful, of giving duas and gifts to those for whom we hold grudges, leaving no trace of hatred in the heart.
Is It Presentable?
Don’t we check ourselves in the mirror to see whether we look presentable before leaving home? Don’t we ask others whether our project looks presentable before placing it on the professor’s desk? Allah (swt) doesn’t look at our bank account or status as the Quran: The Day when there will not benefit [anyone] wealth or children But only one who comes to Allah with a sound heart. [Quran, 26: 88-89] So we should make our hearts presentable in the sight of Allah (swt). To accumulate these things we often forget what Allah (swt) will see.
As a Hadith goes: There is in the body a clump of flesh— if it becomes good, the whole body becomes good and if it becomes bad, the whole body becomes bad. And indeed it is the heart. [Bukhari, Volume 1, Book 2, Number 49]
Complete purification of the heart will be achieved also by the remembrance of Allah [swt]. That’s why Allah (swt) said [Quran, 20:124]: Whosoever turns away from My Message, verily for him is a life narrowed down, and We shall raise him up blind on the Day of Judgement.
It is only with the remembrance of Allah that hearts find rest. [Quran,13:28]: Those who believe, and whose hearts find satisfaction in the remembrance of Allah: for without doubt in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find satisfaction.
Conclusion and Dua
So not only should we remove from the heart lust and the temptations of dunya and evil thoughts about others, we should also fill it with the Almighty’s remembrance and bow in awe in prostration and narrate His praises to everyone we meet rather than boasting and complaining of materialistic things.
Just as the scars of the pencil marks don’t get completely erased, our bad deeds scar our hearts and pierce other hearts, too. Allah (swt) will ask for a sound heart on the day of judgement.
We should pray to Allah (swt) to bestow us with sound hearts filled with His love, hearts of which we need not feel ashamed on the day of reckoning.