Praise be to Allaah.
Some of the acts mentioned are obligatory, and those which
are obligatory should be given precedence, as Allaah says according to the
hadeeth qudsi narrated from His Messenger (peace and blessings of
Allaah be upon him): “My slave does not draw near to Me with anything more
loved by Me than the religious duties I have enjoined on him.” Then He says:
“And My slave continues to draw near to Me with supererogatory works so that
I shall love him.” Outward physical acts are not valid and acceptable unless
they are accompanied by appropriate actions of the heart, because the heart
is like the king and the physical faculties are like his troops. If the king
is evil his troops will also be evil. Hence the Prophet (peace and
blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “In the body there is a piece of
flesh: if it is sound the whole body will be sound and if it is corrupt then
the whole body will be corrupt.” Similarly the (hidden) actions of the
heart inevitably affect the (visible) physical actions. So precedence must
be given to that which is more obligatory, whether it is called inward or
outward. Perhaps things that are called inward may be more obligatory, such
as refraining from destructive envy and arrogance, for that is more
essential than observing naafil fasts. Or acts that are described as outward
or physical may be better, such as qiyaam al-layl (praying at night), which
is better than simply giving up some thoughts that may cross one's mind such
as (non-destructive) jealousy, etc. Inward and outward deeds support one
another, and prayer keeps one from doing evil actions and generates fear of
Allaah, and has other important effects. It (prayer) is the best of good
deeds and charity. And Allaah knows best.
Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah (may Allaah have mercy on him),
Majmoo’ al-Fataawa, 6/381
So there is no separation between correcting what is inward
and correcting what is outward or physical.
The outward acts of worship which a person performs with his
physical faculties – if he does them for the sake of Allaah – will
undoubtedly have an effect on his inward nature.
For example, the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah
be upon him) said: “Shall I not tell you of something that will take away
the evil of the heart? Fasting three days of each month.” (Narrated by
al-Nasaa’i, 2386; classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Nasaa’i,
2249). The evil of the heart refers to rancour, hatred and destructive
One of the most important remedies for diseases of the heart
is to study and ponder the texts which include warnings to the one who
leaves these diseases to fester in his heart, such as the hadeeth in which
the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “No one
will enter Paradise who has an atom’s-weight of arrogance in his heart.”
(Narrated by Muslim, 91).
And the hadeeth according to which Hell will say, “My share
is the arrogant.” (Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 4850; Muslim, 2846)
And the hadeeth: “On the Day of Resurrection the arrogant
will be gathered like ants in the form of men.” (Narrated by al-Tirmidhi,
2492; classed as hasan by al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Tirmidhi, 2025).
And the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon
him) said: “The disease of the nations who came before you has started to
spread among you: destructive envy and hatred. These are the shavers. I do
not mean that they shave hair but they shave away religious commitment. By
the One in Whose hand is my soul, you will not enter Paradise until you
believe, and you will not believe until you love one another. Shall I not
tell you of something which if you do it, you will love one another. Spread
(the greeting of) salaam amongst yourselves.” (Narrated by al-Tirmidhi,
2510; classed as hasan by al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Tirmidhi, 2038).
Whoever ponders with true insight such warnings about the
diseases of the heart will undoubtedly strive to cleanse his heart thereof,
and will seek help in doing so by doing outward physical acts, praying to
his Lord to cleanse his heart of hatred, destructive envy, rancour and so
on, as Allaah says, describing the prayer of the believers:
“and put not in our hearts any hatred against those who
[al-Hashr 59:10 – interpretation of the meaning]
And Allaah knows best. May Allaah send blessings upon our Prophet Muhammad.