“The dead person is not one who has left the world, the (truly) dead one is he who walks the earth with a dead heart.”
Stages of hardening of the heart.
There are stages that lead to heart becoming hard. In the first stage the heart becomes dark. Darkness is then followed by rust settling on the heart and in the third stage Qasawat (hardness) overtakes the heart. Qasawat (hardness) is caused when a person stays Ghaafil (unmindful) for long periods of time.
There is hope
The locks on the heart can be opened. It need not stay there forever. The darkness can be removed and the heart can become soft once again.
Imam Qushayri (Rahmatullah Alayh) has mentioned some ways to bring the heart alive.
1. Tears of regret.
The proof of this is in the Noble Ahadeeth (sayings) of The Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wa Sallam)
Al Huznu Jilaa-ul Quloob
To grieve (over one’s sins) illuminates the heart.
2. Staying clear from disobedience.
The wise men have said: “Whoever leaves sin, his heart achieves softness.”
A narration states: “Whoever lowers his gaze (from unlawful) seeking Allah’s pleasure, Allah bestows him with the sweetness of Imaan (faith) that he will taste in his heart till the day he meets Him.”
3. Abundance of Dhikr (Remembrance of Allah)
Everything has a polish and the polish of the hearts is the remembrance of Allah.
4. Tilawah (recitation of Qur`an)
The Hadith informs us that hearts rust just as iron rusts. The Sahaabah R.A (Noble Companions) asked: “How can this rust be removed?” The Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) replied: ‘With Recitation of Qur`an’.
The reason the Qur`an was revealed is to give life to dead hearts. One name of the Qur`an is ‘Rooh’ (life / soul)
Just as the soul gives life to the outer body, the Qur`an gives life to the inner being of a person. Abdullah (Rahmatullah Alayh) says: “Recite Qur`an and stir the heart with it.”
The third Khalif of Islam, Sayyidinah Uthman (Radiyallahu anhu) is reported to have said: “If your hearts were pure, they would never become satiated of recitation of Quran.”
5. Staying Hungry / Fasting
6. Duaa at the time of Tahajjud (pre-dawn prayer)
7. Suhbat-e-Sulahaa (Staying in the company of the righteous)
Almighty Allah has made the Qalb (spiritual heart) such that it is able to contain His Tajalli (attention) and Divine Light. May Almighty Allah bless us with illuminated hearts.
Translated from an Urdu lecture of Shaykh Zulfiqar Ahmad Naqshbandi (May Almighty Allah elevate him) titled Qalb-Bait. Download from tasawwuf.org