In the name of God, the Most Compassionate, the Most Merciful.

As Muslims, purifying our hearts and getting closer to Allah is one of our main goals in life. The Quran and teachings of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) provide us guidance on the deeds and actions that can help purify our hearts from diseases like greed, hatred, arrogance, and envy. Two such recommended acts that have immense spiritual benefits are giving charity and volunteering for good causes.

The Importance of Purifying the Heart

Before discussing charity and volunteering specifically, it’s crucial we understand why purifying our hearts is so important in Islam.

Allah tells us in the Quran:

“The Day whereon neither wealth nor sons will avail, Except him who brings to Allah a sound heart.” (26:88-89)

This verse indicates that when we meet Allah on the Day of Judgement, the only thing that will benefit us will be coming with a sound, pure heart. Our status in the hereafter will not be determined by our wealth, our children, or any other aspect of this worldly life. The condition of our heart when we die – how much it is purified from diseases and attached to Allah – is what will determine our fate.

The more we purify our heart from loving this temporal world and shape it to love Allah and the eternal afterlife, the more Allah will love us and grant us the highest ranks in Paradise. As Prophet Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم said:

“Verily, Allah does not look at your appearance or wealth, but He looks at your hearts and your actions.” (Muslim)

Making sure we regularly check our heart’s status through reflection and striving to purify it is thus absolutely essential. Giving charity and volunteering our time for the betterment of humanity are two powerful ways of achieving this purification, inshaAllah.

Purifying the Heart through Charity

Giving charity has immense benefits for both the recipient and the giver. For the recipient, it meets important physical needs, reducing hardship and improving lives.

But in the context of this article, I want to focus specifically on the spiritual and psychological benefits that charity delivers for the giver or donor.

Allah says in the Quran describing the righteous believers:

“And they give food in spite of their love for it to the needy, the orphan, and the captive, [saying], “We feed you only for the countenance of Allah. We wish not from you reward or gratitude.” (76:8-9)

These verses indicate that charity should ideally be given sincerely for God alone, without wanting any praise or thanks from people. Such charity illuminates the heart and helps rid it from the disease of greed, allowing it to gain closeness to Allah.

The renowned Islamic scholar Ibn al-Qayyim thus beautifully explains the heart-purifying effects of giving charity:

“Nothing purifies the son of Adam’s heart more than giving charity. It strengthens his Islam, increases his īmān (faith), and makes his heart free from misery. And nothing can increase one’s life span more than giving charity.”

Prophet Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم emphasized this teaching through many hadiths, such as:

“Cure your sick ones through giving alms, ward off the waves of calamity through supplication, and drive away poverty by being steadfast upon your religion.” (Al-Asbahani)

Giving charity is thus a means of curing our spiritual diseases and getting us closer to Allah through His mercy. The charity removes greed from the heart by detaching us from an excessive love of wealth and attuning us to using Allah’s blessings to help others in need. It makes us realize the greater purpose He has given us wealth for – to support those less fortunate.

The Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم set the best example of selfless generosity in all his charitable endeavors. His willingness to give away anything and everything he possessed for the sake of Allah established a model for all Muslims to emulate in striving to purify their hearts.

So let’s all aim to give charity as much as we can, whether it’s through making regular donations to worthwhile causes or helping needy individuals in our community. Small acts done sincerely for Allah will surely have big returns – purification of the heart, and Allah’s eternal blessings and mercy.

Purifying the Heart through Volunteering

Similar to charity, volunteering our time, skills, and energy to help advance good in society also has immense benefits for heart-purification.

Allah orders Muslims to cooperate with each other towards righteousness and piety:

“Help one another towards righteousness and piety; do not help each other towards sin and aggression.” (Quran 5:2)

Volunteering allows us to fulfill this crucial command. When we selflessly devote our time to improving our societies and assisting others with no expectation of reward or recognition, we please Allah greatly. He sees our sincerity in giving up comforts to spiritually strengthen the community, and He replaces those comforts with inner peace and tranquility. As the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم said:

“The best charity is when a Muslim gains knowledge, then he teaches it to his Muslim brother.” (Ibn Majah)

Seeking beneficial knowledge with good intentions and teaching it to others is one of the highest forms of charity. Volunteering to spread proper Islamic guidance in our communities will thus help cleanse our hearts and keep our knowledge actively benefiting the ummah. Knowledge unused is knowledge wasted.

Other volunteering initiatives – like working at Islamic relief organizations, assisting new Muslim converts, helping organize Mosque events, or visiting patients and prisoners to comfort their hearts – are also extremely rewarding spiritually. We give our most valuable asset – our time and energy – for the betterment of humanity seeking only Allah’s reward. This selfless act detaches our hearts from the superficialities of this world and liberates our spirit.

Just like charity, volunteering also instills gratitude within us for whatever blessings we enjoy, making us content. It enables us to recognize that serving Allah’s creations through actions is the essence of faith. As our Prophet Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم taught us:

“Every act of goodness is charity.” (Sahih Muslim)

Let’s therefore seek ways to volunteer even small amounts of our time or talents regularly with the purest of intentions. Building up our spirituality and uplifting the community will happen automatically when done solely for the Divine, purifying us internally and externally. Our hearts will then be prepared to sail smoothly across the obstacles of this life into the eternal paradise of Allah’s mercy.

Charity, Volunteering, and the Islamic Psychology of the Heart

As practicing Muslim psychologists, it’s crucial we utilize the immense insights the Quran and Sunnah provide about the human heart and soul. Allah tells us He created death and life to test us and see whose actions are best purified (Quran 67:2). A simple yet profound criterion of passing this test is the soundness and purity of our heart.

Both science and Islamic spirituality agree that the heart is much more than an organ for pumping blood. It’s the center of consciousness – the place from which our faith, personality, emotions, intentions, and traits originate and drive our choices and behaviors. Our heart’s nature thus shapes the overarching patterns of our life journey.

The Quran often calls us to reflect deeply and honestly on the state of our own heart. Introspection through Quranic guidance lets us diagnose the spiritual diseases our heart might be suffering from unknowingly – like arrogance, hatred, ostentation, greed, envy, impatience – and take action to cure them. These diseases debilitate faith and good character if left unchecked.

As psychologists, we want to guide people in overcoming psychological issues, achieve inner peace and actualize their best self. But the key to realize such self-realization from an Islamic framework lies in purifying the heart. The Quran tells us that real success and prosperity is when someone’s heart becomes sound, purified, and illuminated with guidance (Quran 91:9-10).

So while fulfilling worldly ambitions has its place, our ultimate motivation should be seeking Allah’s eternal paradise through spiritual purity. Charity and volunteerism geared solely towards Allah cleanse the heart, strengthen one’s connection with Him, and make worldly stresses and worries fade in comparison to His remembrance. This grants the sort of psychological balance, gratitude, and optimism that no material possession alone can deliver.

Let’s therefore utilize charity and volunteering as licensed Muslim mental health professionals to help our patients and website visitors purify their hearts too, God-willing. The Prophetic guidance inspires us that da’wah efforts focused first on our own selves and families bear the sweetest fruits for societal reform. We must embody what we wish to instill in others.

May Allah grant us the best in this life and the hereafter.

Practical Tips to Maintain Purity of Heart

While charity and volunteering provide immense spiritual nourishment, we must ensure the purity generated in our hearts is lasting and sustainable. The trick is to make such heart-purifying deeds a consistent habit instead of a short-lived phase.

Here are some practical tips that can help:

1. Give charity from what you love

As mentioned in surah Al-Insan earlier, the highest level of charity is when we give away something we deeply love for the sake of Allah alone. This could be sacrificing time from a favorite hobby to volunteer at an orphanage or donating a cherished possession to a needy family. The more beloved an object is to our ego self, the more tightly we cling to it. Giving it up loosens this grip of the ego, liberating our heart towards selflessness.

2. Make charity intention-focused, not results-focused

Sometimes our charitable efforts don’t seem to make a major tangible difference. But Allah judges us purely by the intention and sincerity behind the act, not by its size or measurable impact. The purer the intention, the purer the heart becomes even if the charity itself is small. Focus on the intentions behind your charity and volunteering.

3. Don’t limit charity and volunteering to Ramadan

Ramadan is an excellent opportunity to intensely engage in heart-purifying acts. But the training of our spiritual heart is meant to be a lifetime process. To maintain purity outside of Ramadan, devote regular slots year-round towards charity and volunteering even if the amounts seem tiny. Consistency is key.

4. Reflect on the deeper lessons

After finishing an act of charity or volunteering opportunity, reflect deeply upon what subtle lessons the experience might have been trying to teach you. What faults within you came to light? What personality improvements do you need to make? The spiritual journey is an ever-unfolding path of learning and purification.

5. Don’t advertise your charity

Once done with charity and volunteering work, avoid mentioning it to others unless necessary. As the Quran advises, “If you disclose your charitable expenditures, they are good deeds. But if you keep them confidential, and give them to the needy, it is better for you.” (2:271) This minimizes riya’ (showing off) which corrupts intention and heart purity.

6. Increase good deeds after a misdeed

If we fall into sin, we feel darkness enter our heart and distance us from Allah. Try to double up on good deeds like charity and volunteering which will help erase the mistakes and rekindle spiritual light through Allah’s mercy.

7. Make it a family activity

Encouraging everyone at home including children to participate in charity and volunteering activities together teaches them the importance of compassion and selflessness from a young age. It also strengthens family bonds and keeps everyone motivated on the spiritual path.

8. Make dua for steadfastness

Ask Allah sincerely in your prayers to keep steadfast your spiritual heart upon Islam and grant you the best of righteous deeds. Also, ask Him to accept your charity and volunteering work in His cause, purify your intentions always, and shower His mercy upon you – and all believers.

May the Light of the Quran and Sunnah always illuminate our heart’s inner mirror towards enlightened contentment and success. Ameen.

BY: Aisha Ali

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