The Humble "I"

Knowing, Doing, Becoming

Ibn Taymiyyah: Best Moisturiser for Dry Hearts

In the 1970s, there was an advert on TV for a popular brand of moisturising cream.1 The advert sought to show how great the cream was by first showing us a dry autumn leaf which, upon being scrunched in the palm of the hand, crumbled into pieces.

Next came another dry leaf, this time the moisturising cream was applied to it. After it was squeezed, one saw the dry leaf gently unfolding back to its original shape. The message: If this is what the cream can do to a dry leaf, imagine what it could do for your dry or crinkled skin. I suspect many were sold on this moisturiser … including a young, teenage me!

The idea of moistening or revitalising faces and hands also applies to spiritual hearts. For the remembrance of Allah – dhikru’Llah – nourishes and revitalises the heart like nothing else. Indeed, it is its very lifeline. So much so, that Ibn Taymiyyah once made this following comparison:

.الذِكْرُ لِلْقَلْبِ كَالمَاءِ لِلسَّمَك فَكَيفَ يَكُونُ حَالَ السَّمَك اِذَا فَارَقَ المَاء

Dhikr is to the heart as water is to a fish. Don’t you see what happens to a fish when it is taken out of water?’2

Islam’s masters of the heart teach us, then, to be constant in remembering Allah and in invoking Him. Consistent dhikr, with the required courtesy or adab towards the One being invoked, is key. As commitment to dhikr grows and deepens, and as souls begin to be illumined by the mention of His holy Name, Allah will cover our weaknesses with His might, cloth our lowliness in His glory, conceal our ignorance with His knowledge, heal the anger of our ego with His clemency, and calm the agitations of our heart with His assurance and serenity; such that one will be given to taste the bliss of the eternal realm whilst still living in this earthly abode.

1. The link to the actual advert was sent to me (via an earlier posting of this piece on my facebook page) courtesy of Paul Williams, and can be seen on his: Blogging Theology.

2. Cited in Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyyah, al-Wabil al-Sayyib (Damascus: Maktabah Dar al-Bayyan, 2006), 93.

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4 thoughts on “Ibn Taymiyyah: Best Moisturiser for Dry Hearts

  1. Muhammad Luqman on said:

    Assalamualykum warahmatullahi wa barakatuhu.
    I hope what I understood from the writings of imam haddad of Yemen would be beneficial for those seeking to soften their hearts.
    1. The first level of dhikr is to visualize the letters in order to prevent the mind from wandering elsewhere.
    2. The second level of dhikr is to contemplate upon the meaning of the words.
    3. The third level is to contemplate upon the madhkur. (ie: His dhikr of us in the highest company)

  2. Wa alaykum as-salam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu.

    The writings of Imam al-Haddad, rahimahullah, are hugely beneficial in matters of suluk and tasawwuf. His books are among the best mini manuals on how to actually train the soul, internalise acts of worship, instill in hearts divine love, and help align our will with the Will of God – especially his “Book of Assistance”.

    Jazakumullahu khayran for sharing.

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