On Softening the Heart

They will tell you it is hormones after your baby is born that affect your emotions. That hard shell that’s up all the time, keeping us from being touched by the world around us, that hardening of the heart, it slips a little. You are more vulnerable. You feel. Because you have the most precious thing, and you feel gratitude and fear.

When we brought her home from the hospital, I gazed into that beautiful, perfect face, and for the first time in my life I wept in awe and gratitude. I thanked Allah for this tiny, perfect being. I made dua for her protection. Oh Allah, give her every good. Oh Allah, don’t take her away from me.

I felt the pain and horror of things in the world that I didn’t let touch me before. Our Prophet (s) wept for Ibrahim. For the first time, I read this and felt more than just the lesson that it is okay to weep for the dead. I realized for the first time, that Allah has taken the most precious thing in the world from him, and look at his patience! Oh Allah, don’t try me like that. I don’t know if I could bear it.

I’ve never loved so much in my life. I didn’t know it was possible to love so much. Every other love I’ve felt was like an ant hill compared to this mountain. But we are supposed to love Allah and His Messenger (s) more, so don’t let me forget that. Allah gave me this precious baby, and he could take her away. But Oh, Allah, please don’t take her from me. Let her grow into your righteous servant.

I saw the stories of others who had lost their babies. I remembered my mother. I remembered a child I had loved who died of cancer. How, oh how, did her mother and grandparents, continue on?

A brother claims to hate Jews. He is offended by the atrocities he sees Israel committing. I say, judge as individuals. Not all Jews are Zionists anyway. I can’t stand all this talk of hate. Racism is racism in any form.

Somehow I’ve been reading all these books about the Holocaust, and the true horror of it has hit me as never before. They didn’t shy away from it then. They called it racism back then, but they believed in it. Oh, I know a lot of Muslims who are Holocaust deniers or they say, “Stop making a fuss, there are other bad things in the world.” But I’m telling you, there are many bad things, injustices, things that hurt to hear about, but there’s something about this that’s especially chilling. It’s not just the number of deaths, it’s not the deaths. For the first time, I felt physically ill. Somehow I managed not to feel it before. And as I read, I kiss my baby and think, those mothers loved their babies, as I love mine, and they could not protect them.

This brother, in a particularly offensive comment, says too bad that Hitler didn’t kill them all. I know he’s angry, but can’t he see that it’s hatred that got us there? Two wrongs don’t make a right. I have relatives who are Jewish, one of whom is a baby. The idea that that innocent, lovable baby should not live because of who her ancestors are, how can you justify it? They killed children; they did; systematically; intentionally. How could anyone love as I have loved and justify that? That’s true hardness of heart.

I heard a lecture last year about the sweetness of Iman. To taste the sweetness of iman we must do three things:

1. Love Allah and His Messenger.

2. Love all of humanity.

3. And hate to revert to disbelief and you would hate to be thrown into the fire.

It’s the middle one we are speaking of now. Love all of humanity. We need more love, not hatred. You can have iman, but your iman lacks sweetness without the love. You can hate the evil deeds. But love the humanity. How do you know whom Allah will guide and favor? How do you know where you will be in the end? Your guidance is not guaranteed. It could be that your hatred will lead you astray.

I’ll borrow an idea from my Christian background here. Forgive as you should like to be forgiven. Allah does not show Mercy on those who have no mercy in their hearts.

Forgiveness doesn’t mean we tolerate oppression. But our motivation should be mercy and love. We want to help the suffering and give them justice. Our motivation shouldn’t be destruction and hatred. Intention is everything.

From what is good, comes good fruit. From evil, comes evil fruits. Look at the world around you. Yes, good and evil are mixed. But if people claim to stand for Islam, there should be goodness coming from them. If you see cruelty, oppression and hatred, and people are not safe from them, then beware. Because the fruits of goodness are goodness, and the fruits of evil are evil.

Already, my heart is not as soft. There’s something about this life that leaves you jaded. It’s only the remembrance of Allah that can truly soften our hearts.

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