Imam Shafi, of the Albuquerque Islamic Center, continues his discussion of the Islamic perceptions of purification and forgiveness. 1
“In all testing, Muhammad has told us the heart desires first. The heart is the decision maker, even though the eyes see a temptation, the tongue utters a tempting word, and the hands touch the object of desire.”
When a person sins, “the sin leaves a mark or smudge on the heart.” But when the person repents and asks for forgiveness, “God wipes the mark away. The heart then goes back to its original, pure form.”
Now, states Imam, “if the person continues to sin, then there will be more black dots on the heart. Sometimes they can cover the whole surface of the heart.” If this happens the person loses the ability to distinguish right from wrong.
The important thing to remember, however, is that “if you sin but then confess your sin, God will forgive you. The only exception is if the sin involves crimes against people whom you have wronged.” If this is the case, “ask this person for forgiveness first, and then ask God for forgiveness.”
Imam says that we can bring our hearts back to their original, pure form. How can we do this?
He explains that God has given us two ways to purify the heart and to protect it from future sin.
“First of all, there are daily obligations one must fulfill, which include praying at least five times a day and showing charity to others.”
Next, one must understand that “the source of weakness in the body is the heart. One must strive to keep the heart free of contaminating desires through daily obligations and by worshipping God.”
So, back to our question, why must we purify the soul? Imam answers, “To bring it back to its original form, away from corruption, to the pure soul that God originally breathed into us.”
He concludes by saying, “Through submission to the will of God, which is the true meaning of Islam, one may purify the soul.”
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If you are interested in contacting Imam Shafi, you may get in touch with him at the Islamic Center, 1100 Yale Blvd. SE, in Albuquerque, or call him at (505) 256-1450, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org .
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Note: All quotes are from an interview with Imam Shafi on January 31, 2012, unless otherwise indicated.
1Please see the previous articles in this series: http://modenook.com/spirituality-in-albuquerque/albuquerque-islamic-center-islamic-spirituality-part-1 , http://modenook.com/spirituality-in-albuquerque/albuquerque-islamic-center-islamic-spirituality-part-2 , http://modenook.com/spirituality-in-albuquerque/albuquerque-islamic-center-islamic-spirituality-part-3 .
For more information on Islam, you may go to http://www.icnm-abq.org/ , http://www.islam101.com/sociology/spiritualPath.htm , and http://www.khilafah.com/index.php/concepts/belief/5660-islam-and-spirituality- .