A week or so ago, I mentioned that I was “feeling a sense of gentle tranquility…” and Alhamdulillah, that feeling is stronger today than it was then, but I still have a ways to go.After 10+ months of not fasting, it’s shocking to me how hard my heart had become. I felt it at the time, some of it anyway, and knew I needed to do something about it, but I didn’t have the will to change my behaviors, or know, really, what I needed to do.
Alhamdulillah, fasting has been ordained for us, and Alhamdulillah it has softened my heart considerably, in many areas. I’m more willing to step away from writing these posts to go water the garden, for example, or to chat with my darling, adorable wife. I have an easier time handling distractions and interruptions at work, and I’m more able to deal with the regular annoyances that come when you’re wound a bit too tight in a loosey goosey environment.
Alhamdulillah, I can feel it in many areas of my life: more empathy, more compassion, more patience, more acceptance. But there are other areas in which it seems that my heart has hardened. Or maybe it’s just that I can see it easier, because the other areas of my life softened so easily.
I won’t name them.
So what can I do from here?
A couple of years ago, Imam Khalid Latif, the Chaplain at NYU, blogged his Ramadans at HuffPo, and I came across his entry about softening the heart yesterday, in which he discusses some heart-softening techniques enumerated by Dhu-nun al Misri, a 9th century Sufi scholar.
If you desire that hardness of your heart leaves you, then endure fasting. and if you still find the hardness, then make longer standing (at night for prayer), and if you still find hardness, then refrain from that which is prohibited, and if you still find hardness, then connect the bonds of kinship, and if you still find hardness, then be gentle with the orphan.
- fasting: check.
- extend the night prayer: to be honest, I’ve fallen off here, but then I wasn’t really ever going out of my way to pray Qiyam, and, as mentioned before, I’ve not been attending tarawih prayers at the masjid due to work hours (and other things, about which my heart is quite hard at present)
- refrain from the prohibited: InshaAllah I’m doing that to the best of my ability, and going a bit further in Ramadan than normal
- connect the bonds of kinship: InshaAllah I’ll be visiting Alex in a few hours for Father’s Day, but I need to do more of that, both with my own family and with Hana’s
- be gentle with the orphan: InshaAllah I’ll be spending the vast majority of my limited charity this month feeding people who can’t afford it, and InshaAllah I’ll have the courage to go with the brothers who deliver the food and help distribute it some
After 14 days of fasting, if you find that your heart is still hard, give some of this a try! InshaAllah it will help.
Ya Allah, guide us to soften our hearts and connect more deeply with you in this blessed month, Ameen!