Purifying our hearts is the key to success in the sight of Allah (swt): “He has succeeded who purifies himself, who remembers the name of his Lord and prays.” (Surah Al-A’la 87:14-15)
What is a pure heart? The Prophet (saw) taught, “The pure ones are those who clean themselves from sin, doubt, cheating, lying, and jealousy” (recorded in Ibn Habban, Al-Sahih, II, 76; Ibn Abi Shaybah, Al-Musannaf, VI, 167; Ma’mar ibn Rashid, al-Jami, XI, 191).
So a pure heart loves to please Allah and to follow Islamic values such as honesty, kindness, patience, etc.
For a free list of Islamic values and their references, please view this link: Basic Values of Islam
The Remembrance of Allah: the Polish for the Heart
The Prophet (pbuh) taught: “For everything there is a polish, and the polish for the hearts is the dhikr of Allah. There is nothing more potent in saving a person from the punishment of Allah than the dhikr of Allah” (Sahih Ahmad).
Here are 9 ways to purify our hearts with the Remembrance of Allah (swt):
1. Prioritize the 5 daily prayers.
Allah (swt) loves that we prioritize those actions that He requires of us: “…My slave approaches Me with nothing more beloved to Me than what I have made obligatory upon him…” (Hadith Qudsi in Bukhari and others).
The Prophet (pbuh) was asked, “Which deed is the dearest to Allah (swt)?” He (pbuh) replied, “To offer the prayers at their early stated fixed times” (Sahih Bukhari).
2. Read the Holy Quran with Understanding.
The Holy Quran is Allah’s message to humanity. It was sent to guide and heal our hearts. It was sent to be reflected upon:
“Indeed, We have sent it down as an Arabic Quran, in order that you may understand” (Quran 12:2).
The Prophet told Ibn Umar not to finish reading the Qur’an in less than a week. He also said that one who finishes it in less than three days does not understand any of it (Tirmidthi).
3. Recite the “dearest phrases to Allah”.
The Messenger of Allah (saw) said, “The dearest phrases to Allah are four: Subhan Allah (Glory be to Allah), Al-Hamdulillah (Praise be to Allah), La ilaha illa-Allah (There is no deity but Allah), Allahu Akbar (Allah is Greater). There is no harm for you in which of them you begin with (while remembering Allah). (Sahih Muslim)
For more easy phrases of remembrance, please read the following article: Easy Adhkar
4. Call on Allah by His Beautiful Names
“And the Most Beautiful Names belong to Allah, so call on Him by them” (Quran 7:180).
You can say for example, “Ya Rahman (The Most Compassionate), have mercy on me; Ya Ghaffar (The Oft-Forgiving), forgive me, etc.
For a moving video series about the names of Allah, please view this youtube playlist:
5. Seek Allah’s forgiveness by saying “Astaghfirullah” (I seek Allah’s forgiveness)
The Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) taught that seeking Allah’s forgiveness polishes the heart:
“Sometimes I perceive a veil over my heart, and I supplicate Allah for forgiveness a hundred times in a day.” (Sahih Muslim)
“Verily, when the believer commits a sin, a black spot appears upon his heart. If he repents and abandons the sin and seeks forgiveness, his heart will be polished, but if he increases in sin, the blackness increases. That is the covering which Allah has mentioned in his Book: “Nay, but on their hearts is a covering because of what they have earned. [Qur’an: Chapter 83, Verse 14]”” (Tirmidthi)
6. Make dua (supplication) to Allah (swt) for all of your needs.
The Prophet (pbuh) said, “The dua is worship.” Then he recited (verse 40:60), “And Your Lord said: ‘Call upon me, I will respond to you.’ ” [Jami` at-Tirmidhi]
The Prophet (pbuh) explained the best way to make dua:
“When one of you prays, let him start with praise of Allaah, then let him send blessings upon the Prophet (pbuh), then let him ask whatever he likes after that.” Then another man prayed after that, and he praised Allaah and sent blessings upon the Prophet (pbuh). The Prophet (pbuh) said: “O worshipper, ask and you will be answered.” (Sahih Tirmidthi)
7. Send Salawat (peace and blessings) upon the Prophet (pbuh).
“Allah and His angels send blessings on the Prophet: O you who believe! Send you blessings on him, and salute him with all respect” (Quran 33:56).
Saying “Allahummah Salli Ala Sayyidinaa Muhammad” or “Allahumma Salli Ala
Nabiyunna Muhammad” (Oh Allah please bless our master/ prophet Muhammad) is an easy way to earn blessings, raise your spiritual station, and grow closer to your Lord. You do not need to have Wudu to perform this act of worship.
The Prophet (pbuh) said: “Whoever sends blessings upon me once, Allah will send blessings upon him tenfold and will erase from him ten misdeeds and raise him ten degrees in status.” (Sahih an-Nasaa’i)
8. Think Positive Thoughts About Allah (swt)
“Indeed, having good thoughts concerning Allah is from the perfection of the worship of Allah.” (Tirmidthi)
Remember His Mercy, His Help, His Wisdom, His Love, and His Goodness. Remind yourself of this Hadith Qudsi:
“I am to my servant as he expects of Me. I am with him when he remembers Me. If he remembers Me in his heart, I remember him to Myself, and if he remembers me in an assembly, I mention him in an assembly better than his, and if he draws nearer to Me a hand’s span, I draw nearer to him an arm’s length, and if he draws nearer to Me an arm’s length, I draw nearer to him a fathom’s length, and if he comes to me walking, I rush to him at (great) speed.” (Bukhari and Muslim)
Allah is on your side! If you take 1 step towards Him, he takes many “steps” towards you! Yes, life is hard and unfortunate things happen to us, and we often don’t know why they happen. But if you trust in the mercy and grace of Allah, you know that He wants good for you! Why else would He “rush” to you at great speed if He didn’t want you to succeed?
9. Express gratitude to Allah for His blessings upon you.
Allah (swt) connects remembering Him with being grateful to Him:
“Remember Me and I shall remember you. Be grateful unto Me and deny Me not.” (Quran 2:152)
Allah (swt) describes a purified heart as being thankful:
“Allah does not wish to impose hardship upon you. Rather, He wishes to purify you; and to complete His blessings upon you; and in order that you may be thankful.” (end of verse 5:6)
Every night, think of 3 things that you are thankful to Allah for. You can also think of the best part of your day. By focusing your mind on what went well in your day, you are counting your blessings.
A Little Can Go A Long Way
Try to practice these suggestions every day, even for just a few minutes. The Prophet (pbuh) was asked,
“What deeds are loved most by Allah ?” He said, “The most regular constant deeds even though they may be few” (Bukhari).