Peace, one and all…
The Messenger of God (as) said:
‘I have found the good deed to be a light in the heart, an adornment on the face and strength in action, but I have found the sin to be a blackness in the heart, weakness in action and a blemish on the face’
(The Scale of Wisdom, 1613)
I can testify to the truth of this beautiful hadith from my own direct, personal experience. A good deed, done for God in all sincerity, brings light in two distinct ways. Firstly, a good deed brings light into the heart, allowing us to see reality more clearly. Secondly, an act of goodness brings a sense of lightening, and an easing of burdens. Vision and a lessening of burdens strengthen us, and thus our hearts are energised. Sin, by contrast, sows doubt and confusion within the heart, weakening it and causing it to waver.
More deeply, the Prophet is cautioning us here. We are being warned that actions have consequences. We are being brought to a deeper awareness of ourselves, and the motivations behind our deeds. We are being advised to explore our inward states, and to interrogate them more closely. If we feel a sudden weakening of our spiritual resolve, or an inward constriction, it might well be a sign that we have acted inappropriately. It’s as if we are being told: ‘question your heart and retrace your steps’. Where have we gone wrong? What might we have done to harm another? Have we acted falsely? Have we wronged someone? When did we last consciously return to our breath? When did we last consciously seek to reconnect with the Divine?
If we are honest, we can usually locate the fault. Whilst this isn’t always possible, that twinge of guilt we often feel acts like a homing beacon, allowing us to zero in on the problem. Although focusing in this way can be uncomfortable, it helps us to put things right, which brings restitution and a return to equilibrium.
Or, we can ask our teacher. For this poor one, the ability to turn to a teacher is one of the most profound and most beautiful aspects of the Sufi path. We can receive guidance, and sometimes difficult and painful guidance, within the context of a loving spiritual relationship. Hand over hand, all the way back to the Prophet himself (as), we are guided and helped on our way. And praise be to God for that great blessing!
The remedy for wrongdoing is to seek forgiveness. The cure for separation is remembrance and re-connection!
And our last prayer is in praise of God, Sustainer of all the worlds.