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Monday, April 11, 2016

Fashionista's Book Review: Purification of the Heart by Hamza Yusuf

I was given the book last year by the SRC (Student's Representative Council) at Inceif for participating as a speaker in the SRC's annual student conference. As I was reading another book at the time (Yasmin Mogahed's Reclaim Your Heart), I kept this book on the shelf and finally had the time to read it late last year.

This book is actually based on a poem which was written by Imam Al-Mawlud entitled Matharat al-Qulub (which I assume means Purification of the Heart, but do correct me if I'm wrong). The book expounds upon the poem by providing explanations, examples, verses from the Quran and Hadith of the Prophet Muhammad p.b.u.h. and it tries to shed light into what the verses of the poem meant. The topics are all about the heart; it covers all about the diseases of the heart (not physical diseases but emotional ones) and how we can cure ourself of those diseases.

When I first read the book, I was only able to read a page or two at a time simply because the subject matter is very heavy and I needed time to recover from reading (and absorb what is being said). Thus, one can say that this book is definitely not for light reading. I initially wasn't too keen on reading the book (after the first few pages) simply because I felt it caused a burden on my heart and made me feel kinda forlorn and I wasn't sure whether it's the right book for me. Now for those who know me, they would know that I'm quite a cheerful person with a positive outlook on life and heavy stuff just kinda anchors me and makes me mellow (or kinda out of sorts).

Anyway, I am not the kind to shy away from finishing a book and I don't like not being able to finish a book (unless of course it's a textbook, that's something entirely different and is on a different plane of its own). So I decided that I could only cover subtopic per reading session and I proceeded to do just that. A subtopic could range from a page and a half or even around 10 pages. After a while, having gotten used to the style of writing and how the author looks at the subject matter, I was no longer affected by how serious the book is and I actually kinda liked reading the book (i.e. it no longer felt heavy). In fact, I actually looked forward to my nightly sessions. I used to read the book right before I go to sleep just so that I can contemplate and understand what's being said without dealing with my daily distractions.

So, what can I say about the book? Firstly, it's an absolutely fascinating book. I never knew that there were so many diseases of the heart (I was slightly afraid of getting a heart attack from reading about all those diseases) and how I can actually relate to those diseases in my daily life. In fact, I have most of those diseases in me. What I've discovered is that, some things, we might take them lightly, but when it's put in perspective, it's not something that we should take lightly at all. Instead we should constantly be aware of them (bad habits, bad thoughts etc) trying to attach themselves to our heart.

Secondly, the book has definitely given me a different perspective about myself (and having read so many self help books, motivational books and books that try to give you insight about yourself, I am not easily surprised by what current/ present gurus are trying to say). But this book has helped me to see things in different ways and have even helped to see how I can recalibrate the direction that I want to take in the future if I want to be closer to my Creator. Indeed, Jannah is my goal (as it is with most people) and discovering the many diseases that I have in me (planted and nurtured *sigh*), I know that I need to change and I need to have a game plan if I want to stick to this direction.

Thirdly, I wouldn't mind reading this book again and again (just to make sure I remember what are the diseases of the heart) and recognise their symptoms. Inshaa Allah.

So, would I recommend the book? Most definitely! As I said, it's a heavy book, not that easy to read but it's definitely worth a read. Thank you to members of the SRC for gifting me with such a wonderful gift. May Allah reward you all immensely, ameen.

xoxo Mrs Fashionista