Show me someone who denies the need for inner peace and I will show you a person in denial.
Even though the need is the same, the search for it varies in style, method and mechanics.
Sages of all faiths have long known that one can attain inner peace with a diseased body, but cannot attain inner peace with a diseased heart.
What are the diseases of the heart and how does one get a cure for them?
In the Quran Allah Subhanawataala states that diseases of the heart will prevent human beings from attaining As Salaam or the abode of peace, he also states that some hearts become hardened and become blind to the recognition of those essential nurturance’s that will heal the heart and fill it with inner peace.
The heart as quoted by Allah Subhanawataala in the Quran is not just the piece of flesh in our chests that beats till the day our spirit is removed and our body comes to the standstill in death, but as a vibrant vessel which when purified of all diseases becomes the carrier of the pure fitra placed in the hearts of righteous ebad by Allah Subhanawataala.
This purity of heart becomes a compass for the human to guide it towards the path of happiness where all difficulties, pain, grief and sadness are laid to rest at the feet of our Creator, leaving us free and light filled with the Noor of inner peace.
There are many methods employed by individuals who seek peace, these range from changing their external environment to noise (music, movies, intense socialization) to drown out the worries and restlessness, others isolate their environment and become hermits, and yet others bury themselves in work, or in a series of relationships with the opposite sex, seeking externally which can only be obtained internally.
The external environment does affect the search for inner peace, in that sometimes the external environment may be so noisy or distracting that one is unable to feel, hear and see what the heart is suffering from until it bursts one day…..
Thus as a first step in the diagnostic phase. For a limited time it is essential to cut out the outside noise, distractions and involvements and just study the cause and effect on the heart of each external stimulus and note it down.
The next step is to recognize that a major factor in this process is the commandeering aspect of our Nafs. The Nafs or the Self as some authors translate it. The Nafs is composed of some basic elements of those traits that allow us to survive, e.g. food, the ability to hunt, to negotiate, to connive and plan etc. If these attributes are not kept to a minimum they can become obese and rampant in their demands such that they dictate how we live rather than being a basic source for livelihood. The spiritual portion of our Nafs within us is always in search of peace and if it weighed down by the other types of Nafs mentioned above, its efforts to maintain inner peace are stifled.
Many people in their search for peace surround themselves in a realm of so much selfish comfort that they can no longer relate to the needy or disadvantaged and become distant from the act of giving that cleanses the heart in the process.
Others turn to food for comfort trying to bring peace to their heart, which for a few minutes does dull the senses but again becomes a weight on the heart and causes clouding of the mind whereas the spirit flutters under this form of obesity and is unable to soar free to bring inner peace.
The third step is to recognize the two major categories of the diseases of the heart mentioned in the Quran and Sunnah:
- Diseases of suspicion
- Diseases of the Shahawaat (sensual and sexual)
This is now the time for planning.
If our goal is to find inner peace, work has to begin on the inside.
Each person knows him or herself best and needs to walk the steps:
- Cut out the surrounding noise (distractions, visual (movies, pictures, ads, TV Internet etc), auditory (songs, background music, unnecessary socialization and sensual (eating, drinking, and circumstances causing vicarious illicit sensual or sexual excitation) and replace these with the recitation and meaning of the Quran and Sunnah.
- Recognize those acts that are dictated by your Nafs and practice to say “NO” randomly toto evaluate who is in charge.
- Evaluate yourself for the two major categories of the diseases of the heart
On completion of this evaluation you are ready to start the process of Tazkiyah Nafs or Purification of the heart.
As your journey begins, you and all of us who are traveling on this path have to remember the equation for acquiring inner peace.
The true measure of inner peace is directly proportional to one’s efforts in the Purification of the Heart (Tazkiyah Nafs)
These are my humble suggestions derived from the Quranic tafseer by Dr. Farhat Hashmi, the Hadith of Prophet Muhammad peace and blessings upon him, and the teachings of Sheikh Mokhtaar Magraoui, and his student HY. May Allah reward my teachers immensely in this life and in the Hereafter.