Do you get sins based on your thoughts?
Two years ago, I witnessed this question being posed to Shaykh Yasir Qadhi in an AlMaghrib seminar. Fortunately, the answer was in the negative and that one does not get sinned based on their thoughts except when in Makkah, Alhamdulillah.
I had left it at that for the time being, but when I later listened to a lecture entitled, Allah Is Al-Hayyiy, I was amazed to hear the following:
The Prophet (salAllahu alayhi wa sallam) once came to the Sahabah and told them, “Have the Hayaa’ (modest in one’s relationship to Allah) from Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) in the proper manner that you’re supposed to have Hayaa’.”
The Sahabah said to Rasulullah, “Oh Messenger of Allah, we are shy in front of Allah, and Alhamdulillah that He gave us that quality to be shy in front of Him.”
Rasulullah (salAllahu alayhi wa sallam) tells them, “That’s not what I mean and that is not what is meant having the true Hayaa’ from Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala). The right way is…” and then Rasulullah mentions four things.
The first of these is “To be mindful of what is in your head” (the others are to have Hayaa’ in the stomach and the rest of the body, to remember death, and what comes after it).
SubhanAllah, this just took everything up a notch. Yes, it may be that we will not get sins based on our thoughts, but at the same time, we will never possess the proper and complete Hayaa’ unless and until our minds are only filled with thoughts that are pleasing to Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala). When thinking about this in the American context, it’s especially scary because we have been taught our whole lives to proclaim, “Freedom for all! Freedom of Speech! Freedom of Thought!…” and it goes on and on. If one dares to suggest anything else – that perhaps some censorship may be necessary (even if it may be Jackie Chan), then that person will be charged with being un-American (oh, the horror!) and it will be taken as a supreme offense by all “freedom fighters” (say, doesn’t that mean fighting freedom?).
But perhaps, just perhaps, do we need to take a step back and purify our mind. Filter our mind. Cleanse our mind. Just maybe.
There’s a famous quote that says,
“Watch you thoughts; they become words. Watch your words; they become actions. Watch your actions; they become habits. Watch your habits; they become your character. Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.”
It all begins with the thoughts that preoccupy your mind, inevitably taking possession of your character and identity. These thoughts can be developed either from internal introspection or due to external influences. The latter could actually have a greater impact on one’s thoughts because one spends the majority of his/her day interacting with other people while at school, work, or even online. Knowing this, it’s important that we make sure to interact with the right crowd because they will inevitably dictate your thought process, words, and actions; if you’re around cursing fools a lot, you will find that your first thought and reaction toward anything will be a curse. Fortunately, the opposite is true as well; if you find yourself around very focused individuals that hope to make an impact in the world and earn Jannah in the next, then you will find that your first reaction towards anything is to see it from an eye of opportunity.
To all those freedom fighters out there, here’s my challenge to you: let’s see if you possess the freedom to limit the freedom of your thoughts. Let’s see if you have the freedom to only hang around the right crowd.
The Green Field Effect
Ever had weird thoughts swirling in your head? Wait, scratch that. Did you ever not have weird thoughts swirling in your head? ;)
Whenever I do, I instantly try enacting something that I call the Green Field Effect. No matter where it be, whether I am by myself or in the middle of a crowd, I immediately close my eyes for a second and try imagining a scene that’s looks very open, vast, and seemingly pure. For me, it turns out to be a green field, similar to the post image above. SubhanAllah, it instantly reminds me of the purity that we’re supposed to possess as Muslims and brings Jannah back into focus. Try the same when you need to, and see what comes to your mind when you think of purity. Check then to see if it has a positive effect on you. See if it gets you focused once more.
For once that focus is regained, we gain the true freedom, the freedom of a slave of Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala).
With all that’s going around us, perhaps, just perhaps, do we need to take a step back and purify our mind. Filter our mind. Cleanse our mind. Just maybe.
I pray that Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) helps us to gain the ideal Hayaa’. Ameen.