Principles of Heartfulness 3: Clearing the Heart of Idols

Peace, one and all…

This is the third post in our series on heartfulness, by Shaykh Kabir Helminski.

3. Clearing the heart and mind of idols: la illaha il Allah

This is the negation of heedlessness and the affirmation of the Real. Therefore, the Kalimah, la illaha il Allah, is a formula for purifying the mind of negative thoughts, judgments, fears, and inappropriate desires. All of these things prevent us from seeing things as they really are. What the Buddhists call “Beginner’s Mind” is in Islamic terms the mind cleansed of idols. In the remembrance of God, we are experiencing life as if from the mind of God, through the eyes of God, with goodwill, compassion, and mercy.

Too often our habitual thoughts and reactive emotions prevent us from seeing things as they really are. In other words, we fail to notice and be grateful for the gifts of life, for the subtle voice of divine guidance because we are so full with an inner noise. Yet reacting to the inner noise only produces more inner noise.

O men! Call to mind the blessings which God has bestowed upon you! Is there any creator, other than God, that could provide for you sustenance out of heaven and earth? There is no deity save Him: and yet, how perverted are your minds! [35:3]

…and never call upon any other deity side by side with God. There is no deity save Him. Everything is bound to perish, save His [eternal] Self. With Him rests all judgment; and unto Him shall you all be brought back. [28:88]

Too often we let our thinking and our beliefs about what we ‘know’ stop us from seeing things as they really are. We can learn to cultivate a mind that sustains an objective interest, willing to see everything as if for the first time. Being in this state of empty presence we are open to divine guidance and inspiration.

Such is God, your Sustainer: there is no deity save Him, the Creator of everything: worship, then, Him alone – for it is He who has everything in His care. No human vision can encompass Him, whereas He encompasses all human vision: for He alone is unfathomably Subtle, All-Aware.14 Means of insight have now come unto you from your Sustainer [through this divine revelation]. Whoever, therefore, chooses to see, does so for his own good; and whoever chooses to remain blind, does so to his own hurt. And [say unto the blind of heart]: “I am not your keeper.” [6: 102–104]

There shall be no coercion in matters of faith. Distinct has now become the right way from [the way of] error: hence, he who rejects the powers of evil and believes in God has indeed taken hold of a support most unfailing, which shall never give way: for God is all-hearing, all-knowing. God is near unto those who have faith, taking them out of deep darkness into the light – whereas near unto those who are bent on denying the truth are the powers of evil that take them out of the light into darkness deep: it is they who are destined for the fire, therein to abide. [2: 256–257]



14. The term latīf denotes something that is extremely subtle in quality, and therefore intangible and unfathomable. Whenever this term occurs in the Qur’ān with reference to God in conjunction with the adjective khabīr (“all-aware”), it is invariably used to express the idea of His inaccessibility to human perception, imagination, or comprehension, as contrasted with His Own all-awareness (see, apart from the above verse, also 22:63, 31:16, 33:34, and 67:14. In the two instances where the combination of laṭīf and khabīr carries the definite article al (6:103 and 67:14), the expression huwa ’l-laṭīf has the meaning of “He alone is unfathomable” – implying that this quality of His is unique and absolute.

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