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The Principle of not Neglecting the Heart


َدَّثَنَا أَبُو الْيَمَانِ أَخْبَرَنَا شُعَيْبٌ عَنْ الزُّهْرِيِّ قَالَأَخْبَرَنِي عُرْوَةُ بْنُ الزُّبَيْرِ أَنَّ حَكِيمَ بْنَ حِزَامٍ أَخْبَرَهُ أَنَّهُ قَالَ يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ أَرَأَيْتَ أُمُورًا كُنْتُ أَتَحَنَّثُ أَوْ أَتَحَنَّتُ بِهَا فِي الْجَاهِلِيَّةِ مِنْ صِلَةٍ وَعَتَاقَةٍ وَصَدَقَةٍ هَلْ لِي فِيهَا أَجْرٌ قَالَ حَكِيمٌ رَضِيَ اللَّهُ عَنْهُ قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ أَسْلَمْتَ عَلَى مَا سَلَفَ لَكَ مِنْ خَيْر

Hakim bin Hizam said, "O Allah's Messengerﷺ   . I used to do good deeds in the Pre-Islamic period of Ignorance, e.g., keeping good relations with my Kith and kin, manumitting slaves and giving alms. Shall I receive a reward for all that?" Allah's Messenger  replied, "You embraced Islam with all the good deeds which you did in the past." (Buhari, Zakat 24, Buyu 100, 12, Adab 16; Muslim, Iman 194-196)

Hakim ibn Hizam's curiosity, immediately after understanding the real objective which Islam seeks to construct within people, shows that he realises that he put this objective in his priorities well before he became Muslim.

This question posed by Khadijah bint Khuwaylid's nephew, Hakim ibn Hizam, caught my attention from the moment I read it.  Perhaps the naïve curiosity and the answer given reveals the hints of the main objective of Islam. When I tried to understand the question and answer together, once again, I must confess that I realised an anxious querying had begun within myself: If the total of a person's actions done with good intentions are what merge him with Islam and allow him to take steps, does that mean that when these fall short could one become distant from being Islamic?

Let me begin step by step with my perspective and comprehension process; thought journey in relation to our Prophet's answer to the question.

Hakim ibn Hizam's curiosity, immediately after understanding the real objective which Islam seeks to construct within people, shows that he realises that he put this objective in his priorities well before he became Muslim.  "As there are many behaviours people have taken part in beforehand with the intention of not neglecting the heart, are they perhaps also perceived as valuable by Allah?” This precious train of thought was, in my opinion, what followed after the question of whether Allah approved of or valued such behaviours.

The Prophet's answer expresses that the effort and quest of those who seek goodness in behaviour and who do not neglect people will receive recompense in relation to their intention. Therefore, that which helps you find the road and ensures Allah's assistance is for the traveller to go astray from the road.

These words uttered by our Prophet remind us of how goodness, how an effort to save a heart from becoming tired will be taken into consideration by Allah.  It also reminds us that we can refine ourselves with the face of akhlaq (ethical behaviour) directed towards others, that we are able to feel the tranquillity of being a source of happiness in this world and that due to these reasons we may draw the attention of our Lord upon ourselves. It is as if the answer given carries the meaning, 'the moment you place importance to living without forgetting hearts, you will be considered as important by your Creator.'

The decree "We are closer to him than [his] jugular vein." (Surah Qaf 50:16) is inundated with signs that the voice of reason is being referred to and when we walk with the voice inside of us that hears that voice, becoming closer to the Lord as in complying with the call to salvation may also increase.

Our prophets answer prompts me to think of the decree "if any saves a life, it is as if he saves the life of all mankind" (surah Maidah 5:32) in that salvation is with the person across me, as long as I do not obliviously ignore the wounded person in front of me, the days in which my hand will be held are near.

For the person who, with their state and behaviour, had long since been following the steps of the lifestyle of a believer, Islam uncovers, with its aim to instil a “consciousness and ability to see” the possibility of paths that lead to serenity. What if a Muslim perceives their own way to be the most righteous, without going through the fire of questioning oneself, by falling far away from the conscience which is close to Allah’s voice? Must he be sure that being Muslim will beautify him? Is it enough to be able to say I am Muslim or to simply be a member of a Muslim family!

This hadith which clarifies what a Muslim’s concern should be, reminds us that to find ourselves we must think with a principle of “not neglecting one’s heart” and the superiority of noticing and doing what is “good.” In other words the detail which determines the place near God in terms of deeds.

Being a believer means being a person in pursuit of something. In other words to reach good deeds. In search of what? As we people’s attention to what they are forgetting, we must not neglect things that we may be forgetting by opening our senses; not by thinking that we know and do everything in the best way, knowing that the only way of reaching the truth is to learn from every person, and even if different forms of sadness or trials find us, if I can take and listen and do by helping others, and pay attention a little more; only then can I hear the Merciful’s voice which stops me from drowning in myself.

When we read the hadith, the effort of the person asking the question once again, and the answer, without restricting the meaning it must be reminding us that one who does not neglect others hearts will not be taken for granted by Allah.

To do good, without falling into neglectful questions, trying to understand and get to know people without judging or excluding them, to adopt such life goals understanding that kindness is functional due to the Creator is going to be good for our hearts. Is not all our efforts to beautify our Muslim identity regarded as being good deeds?

This hadith which clarifies what a Muslim’s concern should be, reminds us that to find ourselves we must think with a principle of “not neglecting one’s heart” and the superiority of noticing and doing what is “good.” In other words the detail which determines the place near God in terms of deeds.

It must be expressing that our actions will only gain abundance (barakah) if we are aware of values and care about others in this short worldly life. I believe our efforts to be believers; will only advance if we are sensitive when it comes to not neglecting a single heart.

 

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