How to Achieve Tranquility of the Heart Series: Part I | Part II | Part III | Part IV | Part V | Part VI | Part VII | Part VIII | Part IX | Part X | Part XI | Part XII | Part XIII | Part XIV | Part XV | Part XVI | Part XVII | Part XVIII | Part XIX | Part XX
“Indeed, good deeds do away with misdeeds. That is a reminder for those who remember.” (Qur’an, 11:114)
Last week we talked about reflecting on our states and relieving our hearts of burden by seeking forgiveness from Allah. This week we look at forward-looking actions. The verse above tells us that if we want cleanse our hearts further, we should do good actions, because they also help to wipe away our sins. When we feel guilty because we committed a sin, in addition to seeking forgiveness, we should consciously go out and try to do good; perform a rewarding deed that is beloved to Allah. This can be anything from giving charity, helping our family out with the chores to reading Qur’an; anything that is deemed praiseworthy in Islam. And obviously, this is not only for when we feel guilty.
But how does this help us to achieve tranquility of the heart? Allah says in the Qur’an, “Indeed, those who have believed and done righteous deeds – the Most Merciful will appoint for them wud.” (Qur’an, 19:96)
Allah uses the word “wud” for love in the above verse, and one of Allah’s Names is Al-Wadud (the Most Loving). What is the significance of the word wud? Why did Allah not use a more common word, such as “hubb” or even “`ishq“? They each mean a type of love but the emphasis is different. Wud is a love that is manifest. For example, someone can really love you, but not show it. Their love may be pure and true, but you don’t know about it because they never show their love for you in their actions. Yet Allah is Al-Wadud, and for those who do good, He will bestow upon them wud, a love that is apparent, that is shown. And as long as we do good we are within the realm of Allah’s love. Subhan’Allah! (Glory be to Him).
How will Allah show this love towards us?
The Prophet ﷺ (Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him) told us,
“When Allah loves someone he calls to Jibreel (as) saying, ‘O Jibreel, I love such and such a person, so love him.’ Then Jibreel will call to the (angels) of the heavens, ‘Allah loves such and such a person so love him.’ And the angels will love [that person]. And then Allah will place acceptance on earth for that believer.” (Bukhari, Muslim)
Subhan’Allah, by performing the acts that Allah loves, we receive His love and affection. This love and affection is manifested by His placing acceptance for us with other people. And how could it be any other way? A believer is not only one that performs the acts of worship that are solely between him and God, such as prayer or fasting, but a true believer is one that is in the service of people. The crucial point though is that when the believer serves people, his intention is for the sake of Allah; so if people do not appreciate his work, he is still content with the pleasure of Allah, and strives to do more good because his ultimate transaction is with His Lord and Sustainer.
Every human being has a need for love and sometimes we put countless hours of effort in order to receive that love from people. This is not necessarily bad, but by naming Himself al-Wadud, Allah is telling us that He is the Most-Loving – and that we should vie for this love by doing work that is deemed good by Allah.
How else does Allah manifest this love? Allah tells us in a hadith qudsi:
“Nothing endears My servant to Me than doing of what I have made obligatory upon him to do. And My servant continues to draw nearer to Me with the supererogatory (nawafil) so that I shall love him. When I love him, I shall be his hearing with which he shall hear, his sight with which he shall see, his hands with which he shall hold, and his feet with which he shall walk. And if he asks (something) of Me, I shall surely give it to him, and if he takes refuge in Me, I shall certainly grant him it.” (Bukhari)
All of the above is a result of Allah’s love. We start with the obligatory and add on the recommended and the voluntary. As long as we are doing what is deemed good by Allah, we are receiving love from Al-Wadud. What could give us more tranquility than the knowledge of that?
Tricks of Shaytan
When we feel down spiritually, it is easy to feel and believe that our good deeds don’t matter, because we are so bad. But the verses mentioned above and the ahadith show us that this is not the case. Even if we are sinning, we should not give up good deeds. These good deeds help to wipe away the bad, and they are a means to get closer to Allah. We will never be perfect, and the key is to recognize our faults in order to remind ourselves to be humble and to seek forgiveness, but to never despair because of them. Al-Wadud brought a prostitute into the realm of His love because she gave a dog water – and for that she was given Paradise. But we have to remember to strike a balance between refraining from belittling our sins and not giving up because of them.
The best way is to look at the example of the Prophet ﷺ and the companions. Although the Prophetﷺ was faultless, he sought forgiveness from his Lord on a daily basis. He prayed while people slept, and he was their aid when they needed him, may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him.
He taught people not to take their sins lightly. In the story of Ka’b bin Malik (ra), for example, the Prophetﷺ forbade all the Muslims from talking to him for a total of 50 days because he did not join them for battle and had no excuse (this was an order from Allah). Imagine if you were Ka’b: you deserted your fellow Muslims when they needed you the most (it was the battle of Tabuk, which was an especially tough battle). That is enough to make someone feel guilty and worthless. But on top of that, when you tell the truth about what you did, the Messenger of Allahﷺ is ordered not to speak to you, as are the rest of the Muslims, as punishment. How would you have felt? Ka’b (ra) felt extremely guilty, and a part of him wished he hadn’t told the truth about why he did not join them for battle, but he remained steadfast. He prayed and turned to his Lord and he resisted the temptation of those who sought to capitalize on the opportunity to take someone away from Islam. So what happened after 50 days? Allah reveals in the Qur’an that He has forgiven him! As well as the two other companions who had committed the same mistake he did (see Surat at-Tawbah, verses 118-119).
Ka’b bin Malik knew that the key to redemption was to continue doing good and seeking forgiveness of his Lord. And for that, he is recorded in the Qur’an as one whom Allah has forgiven, so that we all take heed and emulate this behaviour.
So whenever you are feeling down and troubled in your heart, give yourselves a boost by immersing yourself in deeds that are beloved to Allah. Because the one who has named Himself Al-Wadud, the Most Loving, will bestow upon you love and affection, insha’Allah.