Four Essentials for Success

1 Qalbun Saleem (a sound heart)

يَوۡمَ لَا يَنفَعُ مَالٌ۬ وَلَا بَنُونَ / إِلَّا مَنۡ أَتَى ٱللَّهَ بِقَلۡبٍ۬ سَلِيمٍ۬

“The Day when there will not benefit [anyone] wealth or children, But only one who comes to Allah with a sound heart.”
[Qur’an; 26:88-89]

“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.” [Muslim]

“It was said to the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him): ‘Which of the people is best?’ He said: ‘Everyone who is pure of heart and sincere in speech.’ They said: ‘Sincere in speech, we know what this is, but what is pure of heart?’ He said: ‘It is (the heart) that is pious and pure, with no sin, injustice, rancor or envy in it.’” [Darussalam]

If each faculty of the heart remains in its right proportion and limits and each does its job in a fair manner, it can be called ‘saleem’. What is safe, is sound and healthy as well. If it is not safe, it is not sound and healthy i.e., it is diseased.

When it is diseased, it stops performing its function. It is the king of all parts of the body and when the king becomes defunct one can imagine the fate of the nation (the man).

The scholars and early Muslims interpret “qalbun saleem” in various ways such as a heart that:

– is absolutely free from disbelief and hypocrisy
– knows that Allah is true, that the Hour will undoubtedly come and that Allah will resurrect those who are in the graves
– is free from pride, jealousy, and hatred
– is sincere
– always entertains good thoughts regarding others
– leads to total obedience to Allah and His Messenger (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him)

Sincerity is a condition for the acceptance of the good deeds that one performs in accordance with the teachings of Islam. Sincerity is to clear one intentions of everything other than the seeking of Allah’s (Glorified and Exalted be He) pleasure, and it is a means of not succumbing to Satan, as we read the following in the Qur’an:

قَالَ رَبِّ فَأَنظِرْنِي إِلَىٰ يَوْمِ يُبْعَثُونَ ﴿٧٩﴾ قَالَ فَإِنَّكَ مِنَ الْمُنظَرِينَ ﴿٨٠﴾ إِلَىٰ يَوْمِ الْوَقْتِ الْمَعْلُومِ ﴿٨١﴾ قَالَ فَبِعِزَّتِكَ لَأُغْوِيَنَّهُمْ أَجْمَعِينَ ﴿٨٢﴾ إِلَّا عِبَادَكَ مِنْهُمُ الْمُخْلَصِينَ ﴿٨٣﴾

“(Iblis) said, ‘O my Lord! Give me then respite till the Day the (dead) are raised.’ (Allah) said, ‘Respite then is granted thee, till the Day of the Time Appointed.’ (Iblis) said, ‘Then, by Thy power, I will put them all in the wrong, except Thy Servants amongst them, sincere and purified (by Thy Grace).'”
[Qur’an; 38:79-83]

2 Nafs-ul-Mutma’innah (soul at peace)

يَـٰٓأَيَّتُہَا ٱلنَّفۡسُ ٱلۡمُطۡمَٮِٕنَّةُ / ٱرۡجِعِىٓ إِلَىٰ رَبِّكِ رَاضِيَةً۬ مَّرۡضِيَّةً۬ / فَٱدۡخُلِى فِى عِبَـٰدِى / وَٱدۡخُلِى جَنَّتِى

“O reassured soul, return to your Lord, well-pleased and pleasing [to Him], and enter among My [righteous] servants, and enter My Paradise.”
[Qur’an; 89:27-30]

Tafsir Maududi elaborates on the term “Nafs-ul-Mutma’innah” found in this verse as follows:

“Peaceful .. satisfied soul”: the man who believed in Allah, the One, as his Lord and Sustainer, and adopted the Way of Life brought by the Prophets as his way of life, with full satisfaction of the heart, and without the least doubt about it, who acknowledged as absolute truth whatever creed and command he received from Allah and His Messenger, who withheld himself from whatever he was forbidden by Allah’s Religion, not unwillingly but with perfect conviction that it was really an evil thing, who offered without sacrifice whatever sacrifice was required to be offered for the sake of the truth. who endured with full peace of mind whatever difficulties, troubles and hardships he met on this way and who felt no remorse on being deprived of the gains and benefits and pleasures in the world which seemed to accrue to those who followed other ways but remained fully satisfied that adherence to true Faith had safeguarded him against those errors. This very state has been described at another place in the Qur’an as sharh Badr. (Al-An’am 125)

3 Sabrun Jameel (beautiful patience)

فَٱصۡبِرۡ صَبۡرً۬ا جَمِيلاً

“So be patient with gracious patience.”
[Quran; 70:5]

فَصَبۡرٌ۬ جَمِيلٌ۬‌ۖ

“…so patience is most fitting…”
[Qur’an; 12:18]

The scholars and early Muslims interpret beautiful patience as:

– patience without any panic
– being content with adversity and surrendering to the will of Allah
– being outwardly the same at the time of affliction as one was the day before it struck. (This does not mean that a person does not or should not feel pain. It means that one refrains from panicking and complaining.)
– the person who is suffering from some afflictions should behave in such a way that nobody is able to distinguish him from others

4 Abdun Shakur (appreciative slave of Allah)

The Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) used to stand (in the prayer) or pray till both his feet or legs swelled. He was asked why (he offered such an unbearable prayer) and he said, “should I not be a thankful slave.” [Bukhari]

When anything came to the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) which caused pleasure (or, by which he was made glad), he prostrated himself in gratitude to Allah. [Al-Albani]

Being a grateful slave is reflected through action. Gratitude and appreciation is expressed by doing something to demonstrate it, by going the extra mile, etc. We not only hold love in our hearts but also do something to express this love, such as by performing extra worship, or working in service of the religion.

Shukr (gratitude) is about acknowledging blessings by heart, and utilizing them well through our limbs. Allah is the Giver of everything we have, yet we ourselves are unable to enumerate what we possess. So our gratitude can never be complete–it is a continuous state.

وَإِن تَعُدُّواْ نِعۡمَةَ ٱللَّهِ لَا تُحۡصُوهَآ‌ۗ إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ لَغَفُورٌ۬ رَّحِيمٌ۬

“And if you should count the favors of Allah, you could not enumerate them…”
[Qur’an; 16:18]

لَٮِٕن شَڪَرۡتُمۡ لَأَزِيدَنَّكُمۡ‌ۖ وَلَٮِٕن ڪَفَرۡتُمۡ إِنَّ عَذَابِى لَشَدِيدٌ۬

“If you are grateful, I will surely increase you [in favor]; but if you deny, indeed, My punishment is severe.”
[Qur’an; 14:7]

Shukr increases blessings, reward, and earns the pleasure of Allah (Glorified and Exalted be He).

A Prophetic supplication that can help in cultivating this quality:

اللهم أعني على ذكرك وشكرك، وحسن عبادتك‏

Allahumma a’inni ‘ala dhikrika wa shukrika, wa husni ‘ibadatika
“O Allah, help me remember You, expressing gratitude to You and worship You in the best manner”
[Abu Dawud and An- Nasa’i]

Further Reading:

What is Qalb-e-Saleem?

Book: Patience and Gratitude, Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyyah

Book: Purification of the Soul (chapter 3-5)

Allah’s Name Ash-Shakur, pg 89

The Perfect Woman

Hardened Hearts

Hardening of the Heart

The 3 Stages of Nafs in Islam

[Video] The Hard Heart – Symptoms, Causes, and Cures of a Hard Heart by Dr. Yasir Qadhi

[Video] What is ‘Sujood Al Shukr’ (Thankfulness) by Shaykh Yaser Birjas

[Video] Beware the Jealous Heart! – Dr. Umar Faruq Abd-Allah

An Excellent example of an Empowered & Empowering Muslim Woman (p.55) – Dr. Umar Faruq Abd-Allah  |  Fatima al-Samarqandi

Living Islam with Purpose – Dr. Umar F. Abd-Allah

The Prophet’s Heart: Understanding the Prophet’s Beautiful Relationship with Allah and with Allah’s Creation

Book – Purification of the Heart

Book – Purification of the Soul

A Righteous Heart: The Axis of One’s Deeds