Sins of the Mind – Levels 1 to 10
Alhamdulillah and Congratulations on reaching the second stage of purification, the purification of the mind. It is true, not many people actually reach this stage, so have a little celebration.
Many students actually say, “this is where the magic happens” and it was certainly true for me. ʾInshāʾAllāh you will have the commitment and persistence to complete this stage too.
Below are the 10 levels that we will cover:
- Not to Think of Anything Against the Sharia
- To Learn to Connect with Allah Before Any Worldly Activities
- To Learn to Think Abstractly about Allah Most of the Time or Before Any Major Activity
- To Learn to Recite the Masnun Sunnah Duas with Meaning Before Any Major Activity
- To Increase the Awareness of Allah 24 Hours a Day
- To Learn Deep Thinking
- To Learn Positive Thinking
- To Avoid Negative Thinking
- To Create the Love of Prophet Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم and His Obedience
- To Create the Love of Allah and Awareness of His Presence
The Second Stage of Purification
Purification of the Mind
A seeker carries out a sin with one or more of his seven sensory organs, when a sinful thought enters his mind and then with his heart, he makes the intention to carry it out. At the beginning, the sin is presented in the form of a small spark and thought, at this point it is easy to save himself. However, if the spark turns into a flame it takes over the whole heart and mind which subsequently leads to the person using his organ to carry out the sin.
In order to tackle the spark or devilish thought from entering, settling or expanding in his mind, the seeker is practically trained in the second stage to purify the mind from Shaytaanic and evil thoughts and taught how to preoccupy himself with the remembrance of Allah. In the event that an evil thought does enter and settle in his mind, the seeker is taught how to practically extinguish, extract and prevent it from reoccurring in the future.
In this stage, there are ten levels in which the seeker is practically trained on how to purify the mind from devilish and evil thoughts for a consecutive period of thirty days. In the second level of this stage, the seeker is trained to conquer the devilish thoughts on conception, the settled thoughts and also how to extinguish them. In the subsequent levels, the seeker is taught how to remain occupied in the remembrance of Allah.
By the end of the second stage, the seeker who successfully completes the ten levels will have purified his thoughts and mind and will become firmly established in the remembrance and presence of Allah and in the love of His Messenger صلى الله عليه وسلم . If the seeker remains resolute in his remembrance of Allah by not entertaining any sinful thought, it becomes easier for him to disregard the evil desire and save himself from committing the sin in the future.
Level 1 – Not to Think of Anything Against the Sharia
In the first level the seeker is taught not to intentionally invite or think of an evil thought. However, if a Shaytaanic (devilish) or nafs (egoistic) thought enters the mind then one should disregard it and not intentionally extend it. On the contrary, one should seek refuge with Allah and redirect the thought towards Allah, the Exalted, the Messenger صلى الله عليه وسلم , the Hereafter or any other permissible worldly action.
One should never engage or fight with the thought, as this will cause the thought to become stronger and reoccur. Instead, when a person is incited with an evil action, he should immediately recite “Oh Allah I seek refuge with You from the accursed devil” or “I believed in Allah and His Messenger” and begin to think about any permissible worldly matter. After that, the seeker should recognise that the thought only came with the permission of Allah and it is within Allah’s Knowledge what the seeker is thinking, and Allah is fully capable of punishing him or forgiving him.
Referring to the Aeroplane Example
In the context of the example of the plane, the physical body of the plane represents the mind, which is the second stage of purification. In the same way that the body of the plane crucially shields and protects the passengers from rain, storms and winds, the mind can also be trained to build a shield in order to protect against the whispers of Shaytaan. The whispers of Shaytaan are like storms, thunder and winds of fire, distracting the seeker away from the course towards Allah (Azzawajal) (closeness). However, every remembrance of Allah the Exalted is like a layer of protection, a layer of light which deflects the wind of fire, namely, the whispers of Shaytaan.
How to Negate the Whispers of Shaytaan
There are always two routes, one which leads towards disobedience and sin and the other towards striving and closeness of Allah. When the whispers of Shaytaan enters the mind, it is like showers of lava of fire, which sticks to the plane. If one entertains the thought, the whisper deepens, the lava of fire begins to burn. If it is left, then the lava of fire will inflame the entire mind/plane. If the mind/plane begins to burn, one will commit the sin.
Every second is crucial as every second endangers the body of the plane until it burns the entire mind. So, when the whisper/lava of fire sticks to the body of the plane, use the weapon of Refuge and the water of Will power to defeat Shaytaan and the flames of whisper. By using one’s will power, the water shall extinguish the lava of fire from sticking to the mind. The mind shall build a layer of resistance against the evil flame and whispers of Shaytaan.
In level 1, you have to learn to overcome the whispers of Shaytaan, not to think of anything evil and entertain it, and not to think of anything against Shariah. When the whispers come, simply redirect your thoughts to Allah or anything permissible, like work or family.
Level 2 – To Learn to Connect with Allah Before Any Worldly Activities
In the second level, the seeker is trained to remember and connect with his Lord, Allah the Exalted. For instance, prayer and recitation of the Holy Quran aids a person in remembering Allah, whereas worldly action usually causes a person to become forgetful of Him. Additionally, although every worldly action possesses the ability of causing benefit or loss it must be borne in mind that ultimately benefit and loss lie in the hands of Allah and are within His control. Therefore, in this level, one of the ways in which the seeker is taught to connect with his Lord is by firstly imploring, at the commencement of any worldly activity, from the heart “Oh Allah, protect me from the evil that lies in this action and through the means of it grant me benefit”. By doing so, it is as though one places reliance on Allah for protection from evil in his worldly affairs and moreover every worldly action, which usually causes a person to become forgetful of Allah the Exalted, now becomes a means of connecting with Him.
1) When one leaves the house for any business, he should make invocation that “Oh Allah protect others from the evil inside me, bless my action which I am about to undertake and protect me from the evil of others”.
2) Whenever a person is in any difficulty he should invoke “Oh Allah, grant me patience in it, distance it from me, and make it an expiation for my sins.”
Level 3 – To Learn to Think Abstractly about Allah Most of the Time or Before Any Major Activity
In this stage the seeker imagines in the heart and mind that Allah the Exalted is always with me and whenever he does any religious or worldly action, he should ask permission from Allah the Exalted, and only then should he undertake the action after taking Allah’s name. Whenever he forgets, he should again refresh that thought. The seeker should firstly begin to practice this level with major activities and then gradually over time also implement this level when carrying out minor activities. When someone has the belief that a person of high esteem is with them, naturally he would ask permission from them in permissible matters. Similarly, in prayer, remembrance, recitation, eating, sleeping and before every action, one should be saying in the heart to the One Who is Most Esteemed, “Oh Allah give me permission to do this action, and place blessing in it”.
Level 4 – To Learn to Recite the Masnun Sunnah Duas with Meaning Before Any Major Activity
In this level, after the presence of Allah سبحانه وتعالى is firmly implanted in the seeker’s mind, he should read the forty Prophetic invocations (Duas) that were read by our Beloved Holy Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم on different occasions such as eating, drinking, sleeping, dressing and so forth.
One should learn the Prophetic supplications for those actions which a person frequently undertakes and read them at their appropriate time whilst maintaining the presence of Allah. For example, reading the appropriate supplication before eating, drinking, leaving the house, whilst in the market, wearing clothes and doing business and so forth.
Level 5 – To Increase the Awareness of Allah 24 Hours a Day
In this level, the seeker is taught to maintain the constant and continuous awareness of Allah at every moment and place as though Allah is watching, listening and with the seeker at every moment. The seeker is advised to monitor the time spent with and without the awareness of Allah by ticking the mind tick sheet so that he can identify the amount of time spent in the presence of Allah and the number of hours spent in heedlessness.
One practically achieves this state by communicating and talking to Allah the Supreme about his concerns, worries, desires related to past, present and future spiritual and worldly activities instead of talking and presenting these thoughts to himself. Talking and presenting one’s thoughts to oneself is not unusual as one processes his thoughts to himself throughout the day.
For instance, some thoughts processed can include thinking about the tasks one needs to complete throughout the day, how he will resolve his financial affairs, if his spouse is pleased or displeased, what the future holds, in what state one will die, the outcome of one’s end in terms of Heaven and Hell and so forth.
However, the fourth level of purification trains the seeker to modify the operation of his thought process by talking to Allah about his affairs, by asking Allah to help him throughout the daily tasks, to ease his financial affairs and so forth rather than talking to himself. In this level, instead of talking to himself, the person should begin to talk to Allah, the Supreme, about his concern, worries and desires related to the past, present and future. There are immense benefits in doing this exercise and meditation.
1) If a person talks to himself, his mind becomes pressurised, which results in depression, tension and agitated behaviour. Alternatively, if he talks and prays to Allah, the Exalted his mind becomes clear, free and less depressive because he is releasing the pressure.
2) If a person keeps his thoughts to himself and only talks within himself there is no change to his situation because a human has limitations and cannot fulfil all of his own needs. Whereas if he talks and presents these matters to Allah, the All-Powerful, whose knowledge and power has no limits, the same person will begin to receive divine help and blessing in his life moment by moment and day by day.
3) If a person only thinks within himself, he can become forgetful of Allah’s remembrance and His presence and become overwrought and distracted by his concerns and worries. By communicating and talking to Allah, the All-Knowing, the greatest benefit the person experiences is that his connection and relationship with Allah strengthens as he is in constant communication with his Lord.
Level 6 – To Learn Deep Thinking
Allah mentions in the Holy Quran, that in the heavens and earth and in the existence of the Creation there are signs that point towards the Creator. Accordingly, in this level the seeker is trained to reflect upon the Creation and events that befall him in such a way that they aid him in the remembrance of Allah. The seeker should implement this level by pondering and reflecting upon seven different incidents that he experiences and writing them down on a daily basis.
If you fall ill, then this is a sign that life is temporal, and that illness and health are both in the hands of Allah. Just like he suddenly became ill, similarly death will come upon him suddenly, unexpectedly and without prior warning. As all matters are in the hands of Allah and in His control, one should focus his attention on Him and try to spend his life according to His commands only.
Level 7 – To Learn Positive Thinking
In this stage, the seeker’s mind and thoughts are trained to become good and positive. A person benefits much from positive thinking and he obtains much closeness to Allah, the Exalted. This is also referred to as ‘Husn-e-Than’ (having a good opinion).
This attribute is divided into three sections:
- To have a good opinion of Allah the Exalted
- To have a good opinion of Allah’s Messenger and also of his Sunnah
- To have a good opinion of the believers
The seeker practices this level by firstly acknowledging the fact that during a person’s life, various events will occur and he will have to engage and interact with many different individuals. On some unfortunate occasions, accidents will befall him and others may cause him difficulty, inconvenience or loss. Despite these adverse experiences, the seeker is taught, in this level, to view these negative events in a positive way, on the condition that the negative action conducted against him is not a sin.
1) How should one react when he is faced with a difficulty and somebody refuses to give him assistance in relieving it. In this situation, rather than having hatred and holding a grudge, the seeker should think that if the person had helped him, it would have been due to that person’s mercy and compassion. He should also think that it was not my right upon that person for him to have necessarily helped me. Additionally, he should think that perhaps he himself could be caught up in some difficulty and not have the means to assist someone. In this manner, he should not allow hatred and animosity to enter his heart and he should pray for him instead.
2) How should one react when he is travelling on a journey and on the way the car breaks down? In this situation, rather than thinking why has this occurred, what sin has he committed for this to happen, and also becoming aggressive with the passengers, the seeker of truth should believe that it is the grace of Allah that in thousands of journeys his car did not break down and that perhaps, in the knowledge of Allah the Exalted, it was much better for us, and Allah saved us from a greater problem. Getting angry and frustrated will not resolve the problem in any way, but rather further deteriorate the situation.
Level 8 – To Avoid Negative Thinking
In this level the seeker is trained how to not think negatively or hypocritically regarding any event, incident, or person’s character. However, if the thought comes unintentionally, then the seeker should not let it settle in his heart, but rather, through positive thinking, he should eradicate it.
Regarding worldly blessings, the seeker should not focus on the wealth and property of those people who possess more wealth than him. Rather one should look at those who are surviving on less wealth and provisions.
Level 9 – To Create the Love of Prophet Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم and His Obedience
In this level, the seeker should learn about the biography and appearance of the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم , and should think about him all the time. Only through the love and obedience of the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم can a person attain the closeness of Allah.
Additionally, the seeker should outwardly follow the Prophetic noble ways and character in all respects, just as though one would spend his day and night as if he was in the company of the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم . For example, the seeker should follow his way of sleeping, waking up, dressing, and doing business. He should also contemplate and imagine how the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم would have conducted those acts in his daily life.
Level 10 – To Create the Love of Allah and Awareness of His Presence
In this level the seeker concentrates his attention towards the essence of Allah completely, and spends his whole life, day and night, as though Allah the Exalted is seeing him, and he should, in reality, behave and act as though He, the Exalted, is besides him. There are two necessary qualities to be attained in this level.
- The mental and spiritual concentration and awareness of Allah
- The appropriate actions and at the same time the mental awareness of Allah’s presence