Ep. 11 The Forties – Wisdom and Insight are the Result of Sincerity

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Al-Salam ‘Alaykum, this is Syed Ali Imran – and you are listening to the Forties podcast, brought to you by Mizan Institute.

This is episode 11 – Wisdom and Insight the Result of Sincerity

وَ بِإِسْنَادِهِ قَالَ قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ ص‏ مَا أَخْلَصَ عَبْدٌ لِلَّهِ عَزَّ وَ جَلَّ أَرْبَعِينَ‏ صَبَاحاً إِلَّا جَرَتْ يَنَابِيعُ الْحِكْمَةِ مِنْ قَلْبِهِ عَلَى لِسَانِهِ

Hadith #10: Imam Riḍā (a) from the Prophet: A servant of Allah azwj does not maintain sincerity for 40-days except that the springs of wisdom begin to flow from his heart to his tongue.

Hikmah or wisdom means insight in the matters of this world, as it is also understood from a number of other traditions. When you continuously maintain sincerity in your deeds, for 40-days, you haven’t given room and space to anyone in your heart except Allah (swt), it’s at this point you’ve freed your heart completely from the attachment and love of the world, and because of this the springs begin to flow onto your tongue.

What you say now is not tarnished and polluted with any ounce of vain and petty desires, because you haven’t allowed the lowly world to ground its root into your heart. You’ve essentially uprooted it. Your heart is now occupied only with the presence of Allah (swt) and so of course what you say and utter now is going to be much different than when your heart is still being swayed away by the world and your desires.

You gain greater insight of your surroundings, your decision making becomes more precise and sounder, your thinking becomes more accurate and you choose your words very carefully.

Despite attaining such a blessing, someone can ponder and ask, well we know the Prophets or the Imams were at this stage – their words were pure wisdom, so how it is possible that when others would listen to them they would not always be impacted by their words? In fact, many people openly rejected and fought against Prophets and the Imams. Likewise, even when it comes to great scholars who enjoyed and possessed great wisdom – why is it that their words don’t always have an impact on people?

Well you see, one of the conditions for someone’s words to have impact on another is that the listening party has to have the potential to be a recipient. When you shoot an arrow, the arrow won’t pierce through iron, a rock can rip through paper, but it can’t break down iron. Likewise, a person who has committed themselves to sincerity for 40-days is blessed with wisdom and insight, but their words can only impact those who have the capacity to be recipients for it.

This is when we realize the significance of purification of the self – because there could come a point where a Prophet is speaking to you, but his words have no impact on you, or an Imam is telling you to do something but to no avail. In fact, we can take it even higher and say – even God can be speaking to you directly, but it will have no impact on you, instead you can even take his words and due to the corrupt state of your heart, you can twist God’s words and end up becoming even more misguided.

As for the notion of maintaining sincerity for 40 days – well there is something symbolic about the number 40 in the Islamic tradition. One of the possibilities is that 40 symbolizes and signifies the progression of humans towards their perfections – for example the various stages of the fetus’ development in the womb tend to span over 40 days, and then in this world 40 years of age is considered to be the stage where man reaches his physical and intellectual maturity.

So if this is the case with the body, then perhaps for the spiritual progression of the soul there is a similar consideration of 40 days. Some other traditions tell us that the repentance of someone who drinks alcohol is not accepted for 40 days – that it is put on hold – and maybe this has to do with one’s spiritual state at the time the repentance was done.

In any case, we’ve seen now the necessity of sincerity and as well as the benefits of maintaining it for 40 days. In the next hadith we’ll learn how sincerity is not just to avoid falling into the traps of shirk, but rather it is actually a condition for the very validity of our acts of worship. We’ll expand on this a little in the next episode inshallah.

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