Have you ever felt like you were drowning? Submerged in the depths of the world? With darkness encompassing you everywhere you went?

I have.

And what makes the situation even more difficult to swim through is when you don’t know why. Everything seems to be on point; you’re praying, going to the masjid, giving charity, etc. yet that feeling of drowning is ever-so-present.

What’s going on? 

I want you to imagine an empty jar with dirt in it (or just look below).

Imagine pouring water into that jar until it reaches the top. Close the jar. Shake it up a little if you want and voila! What do you see? Likely a very dirty jar. Now, take that same jar and empty out the dirt. Imagine pouring water into the jar. Close the lid. Give it a shake. What do you see now? Likely a cleaner jar full of water.

In this small example is a solution for anyone who feels like they’re drowning.

That jar is our hearts, the dirt is our sins and the water is our good deeds. We can’t expect our hearts to become pure by only doing good deeds. Rather, we have to make a concentrated effort to remove sins and diseases firstly while increasing our good deeds for maximum results.

This doesn’t mean we leave off good deeds all together. It just means that after the obligatory actions, we should put most of our energy into removing the bad qualities and sins first. The reality is our subtle sins, the ones that go unnoticed, those are the anchors that keep us submerged in the depths of the water.

It’s no wonder Allah says so emphatically in Surah ash-Shams:

وَالشَّمْسِ وَضُحَاهَا وَالْقَمَرِ إِذَا تَلَاهَا وَالنَّهَارِ إِذَا جَلَّاهَا وَاللَّيْلِ إِذَا يَغْشَاهَا وَالسَّمَاءِ وَمَا بَنَاهَا وَالْأَرْضِ وَمَا طَحَاهَا وَنَفْسٍ وَمَا سَوَّاهَا فَأَلْهَمَهَا فُجُورَهَا وَتَقْوَاهَا قَدْ أَفْلَحَ مَن زَكَّاهَا وَقَدْ خَابَ مَن دَسَّاهَا

By the sun and its brightness. And [by] the moon when it follows it. And [by] the day when it displays it. And [by] the night when it covers it. And [by] the sky and He who constructed it. And [by] the earth and He who spread it. And [by] the soul and He who proportioned it and inspired it [with discernment of] its wickedness and its righteousness. He has succeeded who purifies it and he has failed who instills it [with corruption].

_Subhanallah. _Look at the number of oaths our Creator, Sustainer, and Protector took just to make a simple point: He has succeeded who purifies it.

If you can escape from those anchors and constantly purify your hearts of the dirt, you’ll have a chance at breathing again; you’ll have a chance at rising from the depths of the world, above the water, and have light encompass you wherever you go. No more drowning. No more darkness. 

So what are some of the common sins that may be holding us down and possibly creating a barrier between us and reaching Allah with a pure heart? Here’s a few to watch out for, all of which will be expounded upon in later posts insha’llah.

  • Acts of hypocrisy: breaking trusts, lying, acting treacherously, arguing in an insulting manner, standing lazily and being absent minded in prayer
  • Acts of the tongue: unnecessarily talking, backbiting, gossiping, slandering
  • Acts of the heart: jealousy, envy, excessive love for the duniya, showing off

وَلَا تُخْزِنِي يَوْمَ يُبْعَثُونَ يَوْمَ لَا يَنفَعُ مَالٌ وَلَا بَنُونَ إِلَّا مَنْ أَتَى اللَّهَ بِقَلْبٍ سَلِيمٍ

And do not disgrace me on the Day they are [all] resurrected – The Day when there will not benefit [anyone] wealth or children, but only one who comes to Allah with a sound heart. [Shu’ara’ 87-89]

May Allah make us of those who reach Him with a pure heart. Ameen.