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islam from inside ☰

Unrolling Heedfullness

Heedlessness and Heedfullness

Added August 22, 2022

Abstract scrolls

“And for the scrutiny of heedfulness rolled up in heedlessness, an unroller....” (Sahifa al Sajadiya).

Our belief, our heedfulness of the Qur'an's guidance, our desire to make our selves and our characters congruent with the character of the Qur'an - all of these exist already within each and every inwardly sincere Muslim. And I have observed fleeting glimpses and evanescent signs of all this within so many whom I have known, even in those who seemed, in their external manner, the most unlikely to have any inward adherence to the Qur'an. It emerges in flashes of selflessness, kindness, goodness, humility, principled behaviour, trustworthiness, insight, a charitable nature - qualities evident across the human spectrum. But nearly always this heedfulness of ours is evanescent, rolled up, muffled, within a blanket of heedlessness, in the distractions of life, in our inability to escape from ingrained habits, in our engagement with the endless intrusion of popular media, in the mental shackles of ideologies with which we blindly fall in step, in the infrequency of contemplative thought, in succumbing to the everyday pressures of society or the pressures of a group to which we belong, and in a self-inflicted narrowness of spiritual and religious vision.

It takes a level of perspicacity to become aware of and to penetrate through our own heedlessness, a keen scrutinizing awareness and truthfulness to realize that our lives have been shaped, in large part, by our own lack of mindfulness. We have an inner core, a Divinely bestowed fitra of heedfulness as defined by the covenant God made with each human soul (Qur'an 7:172), but it needs to be nurtured, unpacked, unfurled from the veils within which it is tangled and which prevent it from having a position of primacy within our lives. Heedlessness is an opaque envelope that conceals and covers. Our interactions with, and distractions within, an ephemeral but ever fascinating and compelling external world continually derails our finest and most sincere internal intentions. Like a rolled up scroll with God's words written upon it, the deep contents of our inner nature and spirit is true belief and a desire to be heedful, but the scroll needs to be unrolled, the contents must be spoken, manifested, lived. With sincerity and deep understanding.

And what a difficult task it is to replace that ever-arising heedlessness with heedfulness. So, in commencing this task, and in recognition of its difficulty and our inability, we open the gates of our hearts in supplication (in dua). And through this we ask God to cause us to succeed in that in which we continually falter and fail despite our repeated efforts and our finest inwardly proclaimed intentions, and to replace our inability with ability, our ignorance with knowledge, to remove the layers of heedlessness that veil our innermost heart.

“O God...and appoint the Qur'an for us an intimate in the shadows of nights...for the scrutiny of heedfulness rolled up in heedlessness make it for us an unroller. Attach to our hearts the understanding of the Qur'an's wonders....” (Sahifa al-Sajadiya - The Psalms of Islam)

To the extent that the Qur'an has become instead for us a secondary document - secondary to the social fashions and politics of our time, secondary to the myriad other influences that consume the bulk of our attention and therefore our mental and physical lives, our time, our internal orientation and outward direction in life, to that extent we are in danger of selling our Divinely given heedfullness for heedlessness.[1]

“Has not the time yet come for those who believe that their hearts should be humble for the remembrance of Allah and what has come down of the truth? And that they should not be like those who were given the Book before, but the time became prolonged to them, so their hearts hardened, and most of them are transgressors.” (Qur’an 57:16)



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