A few years back some notes were made on one of the lectures of Shaykh Ahmad Dabbagh, named “The constriction and expansion of the Heart (Qabz and Bast)”. Essentially this lecture was one of the ‘life changing’ lectures i had ever heard. This, to a degree changed my outlook on life for the most part. As i was able to understand why we feel down, demotivated to do anything positive, bored with life etc. He explained eloquently how we continuously undergo change of scenes in our hearts.
Anyway based on some of the notes from the discourse was made into a book entitled “An advice of a brother to the concerned one”. Which can be brought from Here. Below is some of the contents, which i believe if understood will help us in times when we tend to think there may be no light at the end of the tunnel. With permission from the author i hope to produce some of its contents on this blog. As i believe it is a great support for those who maybe struggling with Iman and life in general…
(Apologies for the long post, but do read all of it…trust me it will be worth it ).
…come to know that the states of the heart are two, by which every son of Adam delves in for the entire life span he goes through on the face of this transient world; the ulema (scholars) and the wise men have transmitted to us as being, constriction (Al Qa’bz) and expansion (Al Ba’ast). If the heart was to be divided up into two sections whereby each section having the mentioned names, we can understand to an extent why our situation is as it is. We will draw on an example to clarify this further, imagine you are undergoing difficult times [considering you are at ease now with less or no anxiety], by which you seem to be in neglect of the obligations of the deen (religion), as well as your daily affairs, the rights of the wife, the children, the rights of the parents are not expressed in its rightful manner, the offering of the five daily salah is of great burden, to an extent as to uttering of one ‘Subhan’Allaah’ (Glory is for the lord of the worlds) is a great burden and struggle. Understand o brother in faith that you are in the section of the heart or undergoing a state, which is named constriction.
The forms may vary but underneath all, is the state of constriction, regret, remorse and sorrow, which are some of the attributes of constriction. The state of expansion will be opposite to that of constriction, at times it is under the disguise of other forms, happiness, ease etc to name but a few.
The constriction (Al Qa’bz)
You, the one who is currently going through times of difficulty, ask yourself the question why are you sad/depressed? Or feeling, life leading you down the Satans steps? You feel let down by the creation and no light seems to be there for you to take you out of the miserable state you are experiencing. Remember this o slave of Allaah that you are in a blessed phase of the test which will, like all things on the face of this deceptive world come to an end, know that Allaah has great things in store for you as after winter comes spring and then summer, realise that the state of constriction upon your heart will soon come to pass followed by expansion where the hard efforts of you’re in striving to be strong will come to fruition. Allaah loves you, for this reason you are being taken through difficult times. Know that in times when the heart is constricted and you feel not the need to carry out the injunctions of the dheen remember one thing, which is well expressed in the words of the Shaykh Ahmad Dabbagh
“…Why do you feel lazy to carry out good deeds?
Are you the slave of your feelings or are you the slave of Allah [subhan’Allaah’wa’taala]…”
Understand this, that whatever test you are experiencing; the grass is greener on the other side, there is light at the end of the tunnel, which to you, seems to be never-ending. Allaah azzawajal loves the one who turns to him so, in placing you in situations where one finds the heart in a state of constriction; it is therefore an opportunity for you to turn to him. Know that the heart will change and it will experience the expansion.
The wise men of the ummah have come to understand that depending on the individual the states can vary, a ummathi (follower) of the beloved can experience one state for the majority part of his/her life. One state may dominate your life over the other with no sign of it changing but know that whenever the change of heart will come it will be with a great fruition from the almighty, the struggles will pay and the rewards will be heavy. Either here in this temporal world or in the real life to come, and in some cases in both places. So keep in mind the wise saying of Shaykh Ahmad Dabbagh whatever the situation calls for understand that you are not the slave of your feelings or the different states you undergo but the slave of the one who provides for you, the one who blesses you, the one who said to his most honorable creation in the Hadith qudsi
On the authority of Anas Radhi’allaah’hu’anhu (may Allaah be pleased with him) who said I heard the messenger of Allaah azzawajal say: Allaah almighty said: “o son of Adam, so long as you call upon me and ask of me, I shall forgive you for what you have done and I shall not mind. O son of Adam were your sins to reach the clouds of the sky and were you to then to ask of me. I would forgive you”.
“O son of Adam, were you to come to me with sins nearly as great as the earth and were you then to face me, ascribing no partner to me, I would bring to you forgiveness nearly as great as it”. It was related by at tirmidihi, with a sound chain.
Remember for every act or thinking to take place you must exhaust some energy, whether it is simply thinking about something or carrying out any actions, irrespective of it being in the obedience of the almighty or otherwise.
In being depressed you are recalling the times of ease, the time of the loved one who you used to spend time with, or the time and hard effort you put in, in preparing for the exam on which you did not perform to well, and for others the day when you were financially able. Such thoughts are prevalent upon ones mind in order to be of the saddening state. Ask yourself the question o believers if you are putting efforts in recalling the past, know that recalling the past and reliving the past will not deal with the situation of the present. The past will not come to pass again, more so ask yourself the question, if time and efforts are being spent likewise, why not challenge the thinking and change it to think positively, or use the time you spend recalling the events of the past in a productive way. Recalling the past will only make you sadder.
Understand that being sad will not be the solution to solve the state you are in. o a’bid (worshiper of Allaah) who is in the state of constriction who see’s no ends meet, In most cases the cursed devil uses this opportunity to whisper into the open mind of the mentally struggling one. Statements like “why me” or “why do I have to be the one going through this…” are common, come to know this that theses are the temptings of the devil, that he is trying to mislead you from the path of salvation. During the experience of constriction of the heart one is more prone to committing mistakes and sins of which you regret afterwards. When the outcast and cursed one tempts you with his whisperings, ask yourself the question or moreover challenge the evil whisper and abstain from whatever he utters. Examples are of the ones in which he will say “stop worshiping your lord for he has certainly left you, for certainly he has led you astray”.
Know o obedient slave of God that God never leaves the one who calls on to him.
Man by his essence is hollow, unless he has awakened his soul, by connecting to the almighty. See therefore that whoever has slashed his connection with the almighty searches channels in ways he can fulfil the hollowness within him. Understand this then, the emptiness causes him to worship and take objects as his illah (god), whether it be worshiping the Satan himself or in the form of idols. Leaving the worship of the almighty, will only lead you to worshiping other than he, like that of the evil self.
Man in his nature is created to worship, for surely the almighty has informed us in his mighty words.
Challenge the whisper and carry out the good deed you had planned to carry out for It is only a whisper, carry out the prayers you intended to do, and see what happens, the result will be clear. The person himself brings onto many a time the state of constriction of the heart. At times the state is placed on the son of Adam because of his persistence in committing sins. So, stop my dear brother try not to commit sins, do not think for a moment you are too weak to stop committing sins, for a man once came to a shaykh complaining of his inability to do so, the reply was, “the very act of committing sin is the proof of you having the ability to stop”, “for surely the almighty has given the son of Adam willpower the act itself is a sign that the willpower is being utilised in the wrongful manner, of which the need to channel it in the rightful manner is required”. For surely all acts require for you to sacrifice something, in the example of committing sins, you have to obey in order to disobey, to make you come to an understanding you have to obey the cursed one in order to disobey the lord of the worlds. To illustrate this further, for acts of disobedience you have to exhaust your energy and time, so why not exhaust this effort which you are doing in obeying nafs (ego) and the devil, for the worship and repentance to the almighty the being of whom there is no likeness.
The father of mankind was in a state of constriction when he was placed here on earth, regret, remorse and sorrow were the prevalent states, but through perseverance in repenting he was enfolded into the mercy of Allaah. Never! Lose hope in the mercy and guidance of Allah Azzawajal as to do so is kufr (an act of disbelief), simply because you are limiting the help and mercy of Allah Azzawajal.
When the beloved went to Ta’aif he Salla’huali’hi’wa’Salam was turned down and to make the situation worse for the beloved he was chased out by children throwing stones. For two or three miles the beloved (may Allah Azzawajal bless him with his infinite blessings and give him the promised station as he has promised!) ran, the stones were thrown to such a degree his blessed body was full with flowing blood his blessed feet was covered in blood due to the excessive bleeding, imagine how the beloved felt, this happened at a time when his closest source of comfort from the dunya terms, his beloved uncle and wife, kadhija radiallahu’anha (may Allaah be pleased with her) passed away, the most disliked person by the disbelievers in his home town Makkah, in despair he turned to Ta’aif but what was their reply we have just seen. One of the events which happened before the throwing of the stones was, he Salla’huali’hi’wa’Salam, went to meet the leaders of the town, to do dawah. The three leaders in answer to his Salla’huali’hi’wa’Salam wishes, said words like “if you had any good the first people to benefit from you would have been the people from your own town” the other said “if you are a real prophet than who am I to talk to you and if you are not then you are a liar and I have no time to speak to you”.
Imagine! O Muslim what he the greatest and the most closest to Allah Azzawajal must have been going through, BUT understand what was to come after the experience, the Is’ra’wal’miraj (the night ascension), more so immediate help and guidance was given to him when he made the dua under the tree, angels of wrath were sent to him but as he Salla’huali’hi’wa’Salam is a mercy to all the worlds replied “no, maybe later Ta’aif will be from the muslims” to the nearest words, and we see the fruits of it today.
So, understand and remember o Muslim with every hardship/s there will be ease, if not in this world then in the real life of ours in akhirah (afterlife) InshaAllaah. Do not try to look at the situation from your limited perspective. As the wisdom behind everything in the infinite knowledge of the almighty is far greater than you can imagine.