We also have the Hijrah of Prophet Sulaiman (AS) who embarked on journey with his entourage and showed appreciation to God for His grace and mercy on him and his father, Prophet Daud.
Similarly, Prophet Yunus (AS) embarked on Hijrah. He was sent on a mission to the city of Nineveh, then steeped in wickedness. He was rejected on the message of the oneness and worship of Almighty Allah and Yunus denounced Allah’s wrath on them, but they repented and obtained Allah’s forgiveness.
But Prophet Yunus “departed in wrath” (Qur’an 21:87), forgetting that Allah has mercy as well as forgiveness. The Holy Qur’an, Saffat, 37:139-148, relates: “So also was Jonah among those sent (by Us). When he ran away (like a slave from captivity) to the ship (fully) laden, he (agreed to) cast lots, and he was condemned. Then the big fish did swallow him, and he had done acts worthy of blame. Had it not been that he (repented and) glorified God, he would certainly have remained inside the fish till the Day of Resurrection. But We cast him forth on the naked shore in a state of sickness, and We caused to grow, over him, a spreading plant of the gourd kind. And We sent him (on a mission) to a hundred thousand (men) or more. And they believed. So, We permitted them to enjoy (their life) for a while.”
Beyond the physical emigration Prophet Muhammad (SAW), the ultimate hijra is the holy flight from self-desires of the heart and mind. People with sound hearts, in the Qur’anic sense, have faith in Allah, observe the limits and prohibitions that He has established and submit to Him fully. There is no other form of a sound heart, for the Qur’an defines a person with a sound heart as someone who constantly brings Allah to mind and feels at peace with His remembrance.
A very important characteristic of believers is sensitivity of the heart that enables them to derive pleasure from the Qur’an’s morality and to feel a great pleasure and peace in obeying Allah. Allah describes this sensitivity as Allah’s guidance: “Allah has sent down the Supreme Discourse, a Book consistent in its frequent repetitions. The skins of those who fear their Lord tremble at it, and then their skins and hearts yield softly to the remembrance of Allah. That is Allah’s guidance, by which He guides whoever He wills… (Qur’an 39:23).
Consequently, a sound heart in the Islamic context means a heart that is purified from all forms of impurity that draws one away from Allah. Such people stay away from worldly greed, selfishness, fears and insecurity. As a result, they do not become attached to any person or thing other than Allah or feel a type of love for them that is independent of Allah.
The essence of the purification of the soul (tazkiyah) is the major work of the Apostles of Allah, including Prophet Muhammad (SAW) for his followers. The Holy Qur’an, 2:129, notes: “Our Lord! Send amongst them an Apostle of their own who shall rehearse Thy Signs to them and instruct them in scripture and wisdom and sanctify them for Thou art the Exalted in Might, the Wise.”
It is through the purification of the soul that we can achieve God-oriented personality that leads to Paradise. Qur’an 3:79-80 attests: “It is not (possible) that a man to whom is given the Book and Wisdom and the prophetic office should say to people: ‘Be ye my worshippers rather than God’s’; on the contrary (he would say): ‘Be ye worshippers of Him Who is truly the Cherisher of all for ye have taught the Book and ye have studied it earnestly’. Nor would he instruct you to take angels and prophets for lords and patrons. What would he bid you to unbelief after ye have bowed your will (to God in Islam)?”
Thus, the purification of the soul with righteous deeds will lead man to Paradise. The purification of the soul (tazkiyah) is a continuous process that makes us eschew forbidden behaviours and sins. That is considered true Hijrah. The wife of Prophet Muhammad (SAW), A’isha, says in an authentic Hadith: “On every occasion, the Prophet of Islam remembered God” (Sahih Bukhari).
On the purification of the heart and soul, Imam Abu Hamid Muhammad Al-Ghazali (1058-1111 AD), Persian polymath, philosopher, theologian, jurist, logician and mystic identifies three types of heart:
Healthy heart – This is a heart that is cleansed from any passion that challenges what Allah commands or disputes what He forbids. It is safeguarded against the worship of anything other than Allah, and seeks the judgment of no other except Prophet Muhammad (SAW)(Qur’an 49:1). The Holy Qur’an 26:88-89 says: “The Day whereon neither wealth nor sons will avail but only he (will prosper) that brings to God a sound heart.”
The dead heart – This is opposite of healthy heart. It does not know Allah and does not worship Him as He commands, in the way He likes, and with which He is pleased. It clings instead to its lusts and desires, even if these are likely to incur Allah’s displeasure and wrath. It worships things other than Allah, and its loves, hatreds, giving, and withholding arise from its whims and caprices. Its whims are its Imam. Its lust is its guide. Its ignorance is its leader. Its crude impulses are its impetus. It is immersed in its concern with worldly objectives. It is drunk with its own fancies and its love for hasty, fleeting pleasures. The dead heart called to Allah and the Hereafter from a distance, and does not respond to advice, and instead follows any scheming, cunning Devil (Shaytan). Life angers and pleases it, and passion makes it deaf and blind to anything except what is evil. To associate and keep company with the owner of such a heart is to tempt illness. Living with him is like taking poison, and befriending him means utter destruction.
The sick heart – This is a heart with life in it, as well as illness. The former sustains it at one moment, the latter at another, and it follows whichever one of the two manages to dominate it. It has love for Allah, faith in Him, sincerity towards Him, and reliance upon Him, and these are what give it life. It also has a craving for lust and pleasure, and prefers them, and strives to experience them. It is full of self-admiration, which can lead to its own destruction. It listens to two callers: one calling it to Allah and His Prophet (SAW) and the Hereafter; and the other calling it to the fleeting pleasures of this world. It responds to whichever one of the two happens to have most influence over it at the time.
The first heart is alive, submitted to Allah, humble, sensitive, and aware; the second is brittle and dead; and the third wavers between its safety and its ruin.
In his books, ‘Disciplining the Soul’ – Kitab Yiyadat al-Nafs, ‘On Breaking the Two Desires’ – Kitab al-Shahwatayn Books XXII and XXIII of The Revival of The Religious Sciences – Ihya ulum al-Din, Imam Al-Ghazali identifies four poisons of the heart: One, unnecessary talking (Qur’an 5:101; 23:3; 24:15; 25:63; 49:11-12); two, unrestrained glances (Qur’an 18:28; 24:30, 35); III, too much food (Qur’an 2:195; 6:141; 7:32; 20:81; and IV, keeping bad company (4:1; 33:70-71; 43:67.
Meanwhile, Imam Al-Ghazali gives 17 points as the Process of the Purification of the Heart thus: 1. Observance of the five canonical salat at their appointed time. 2. Remembrance of Allah (Dhikr) and recitation of the Holy Qur’an. 3. Seeking Allah’s forgiveness. 4. Supplication – special times of prayers include Day of Arafat (ninth day of Dhul-Hijjah); the month of Ramadan; Friday; early morning hours; Sujud (prostration). And prayer requests should be pure.
Invoking blessings on Prophet Muhammad (SAW). 6. Praying at night (Tahajjud or Kiyamu Layl). 7. Doing without the pleasures of the world. 8. The states of the self. 9. Perseverance. 10. Gratitude. 11. Complete reliance on Almighty Allah. 12. Love of Allah. 13. Contentment with the decree of Allah. 14. Hope in Allah. 15. Fear of Allah. 16. The life of this world – to abstain. 17. Repentance (Qur’an 24:31; 49:11; 66:8; 9:118; 6:153; 25:71).