Names of Allah 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 | Part XXI | Part XXII | Part XXIII | Part XXIV | Part XXV | Part XXVI | Part XXVII | Part XXVIII | Part XXIX | Part XXX | Part XXXI | Part XXXII | Part XXXIII | Part XXXIV | Part XXXV | Part XXXVI |Part XXXVII | Part XXXVIII | Part XXXIX | Part XXXX | Part XXXXI | Part XXXXII | Part XXXXIII
Alhamdulillah (all praise be to God), we have entered into Ramadan. While this is the most beautiful time of the year—a time in which the doors to Paradise are open, the gates of hell are closed, and the devils are chained—some of us may be coming into it carrying a heavy burden. Some of us might be broken. And still others might not really feel anymore. No one knows our internal state, the fact that all those months have done something to us, that our hearts are numb and we are not even really sure what it is like to feel that energy or that love anymore.
If you are that person, and if you feel that something in your heart has died, don’t give up just yet. This Name of Allah, subhanahu wa ta`ala (exalted is He), is for you. Allah tells us:
“And is one who was dead and We gave him life and made for him light by which to walk among the people like one who is in darkness, never to emerge therefrom?” (Qur’an, 6:122)
In the last article, we briefly mentioned Allah’s Name al-Muhyi—the Giver of Life. We see manifestations of His Name all around us. Life and death are two sides of the same coin; He who causes death, also brings life out of death. In Surat al-Baqara, Allah (swt) tells us the story of the Prophet ‘Uzayr, `alayhi as salaam (peace be upon him), when he came to Jerusalem and found it to be burnt to the ground, with no traces of life whatsoever. ‘Uzayr (as) exclaimed:
“’How will Allah bring this to life after its death?’ So Allah caused him to die for a hundred years; then He revived him […]” (Qur’an, 2:259).
Just as Allah (swt) brought back to life ‘Uzayr—and indeed the whole of Jerusalem—and just like He created a sturdy 400-year-old Redwood tree from a tiny seed—a seed that seems dead, a seed that had you stepped on it would have been crushed—know that He can bring alive your beautiful heart. The same heart that He created to know Him.
If we fail to use our hearts for what they were created for, that is when they become rusty. A person who never exercises finds it much harder to run a marathon, and cannot take it. Even more than that, a person who is bedridden for months probably won’t be able to walk straightaway when he is better, because his legs were out of use for so long. Similarly, when we fail to use our hearts by directing them to Allah (swt), slowly they die and we forget how to exercise them in what they were created for.
It does not really matter how we got here. We may think, “But I am different. I am so beyond help.” That is Shaytan (Satan) or your nafs (base self). Remember Malik bin Dinar, who most people know as a great scholar. But it was not always so. He was a person who went to the extremes in what was prohibited—whether it was through illicit relationships, alcohol or gambling. There wasn’t anything he did not try. But God blessed him and tested him in ways that brought him back. And his heart came alive, even though you would not have believed it if you had met him before.
Some of us may have had a very difficult year, or a very difficult couple of years, and these things take their toll. Others of us may have slowly slipped, such that everything has become more important than our relationship with Allah (swt). But whatever the journey, the result is the same. And for each and every one of us, Allah al-Muhyi, the Giver of Life, calls us to bring us back to life. So don’t think that there is no hope for you, and that there is no point in trying. The only way to truly bring us back is by mending our relationship with Him and making Him our center again.
Just remember your part. Make the intention. Intend to bring back your heart. And remember that you will get what you intend. This Ramadan, intend tawba—a return to Him. And know with full conviction that He will accept you, as He tells us:
“Allah wants to accept your repentance, but those who follow [their] passions want you to digress [into] a great deviation.” (Qur’an, 4:27)
When your heart comes alive—truly alive—you will be light and fulfilled, because your heart is full of what it is meant to be full of—love for Allah. And you will be a living manifestation of Allah’s Name al-Muhyi.
Because our hearts are rusty, it may take a while. But Allah is al-Muhyi, so the result is guaranteed insha’Allah (God willing). So what can we do to aid in the journey?
“O mankind, there has to come to you instruction from your Lord and healing for what is in the breasts and guidance and mercy for the believers.” (Qur’an, 10:57)
The Qur’an was sent as a healing for our hearts, and this is the month of the Qur’an. So reflect on the Qur’an this month in addition to reciting it. If you feel you do not have the tools to do so, then make it a goal to listen to tafseer every night (Nouman Ali Khan is great for this, and I believe he has a Ramadan Qur’an series). Also, make it a point and a goal to choose 5 lessons from the Qur’an that you will implement by the end of Ramadan. This way you are of the people who not only listen to and reflect on the Qur’an, but you are of those who implement it. You will be what the Prophet ﷺ (peace and blessings be upon him) describes as a “citron – its scent is fragrant and its taste is good,” (agreed upon) because of your recitation and implementation of the Qur’an.
Sometimes this numbness is as a result of the wrongs that we do that have become so numerous we do not even notice them anymore. But as the Prophet ﷺ taught us:
“When a slave commits a sin, a black spot appears on his heart. But if he gives it up, seeks forgiveness and repents, his heart will be cleansed. But if he repeats it, (the blackness) will increase until it overwhelms his heart.” [Tirmidhi, Ibn Majah]
The essence of istighfaar is reflection. Our hearts become numb when we do not reflect. So cleanse your heart by seeking forgiveness from Allah (swt).
This is key. Truly, no one knows of that emptiness that we feel except for Him, and only He can fill it. Du`a’ that comes from the heart represents our need for Him, and only Him. So call out to Him in the night. Ask Allah (swt) to bring alive your heart. Ask Him to fill it with love for Him. Take the steps, even the baby steps, to come closer to Allah, through your prayers, through remembering Him and through good company. Remember that He is Generous, Shy and He responds. Pour out your heart to Him this Ramadan. Ask for what you need to give your heart life.