Hardening of the Heart - Chapter 1
Methods of Cure:
The First Method - Du`aa or Supplication
The first method is dua or supplication. Nothing softens the heart more than asking Allah to soften it and make it merciful. This is the promise of the Prophet Sallallahu 'Alayhi wa sallam when he said: Call on Allah being certain that your prayer will be answered, but know at the same time that Allah will not answer the prayer of a heart which is negligent.
Dua will soften the heart and Allah is the One who will soften the heart. Our dua to Him will be answered, but we have to believe it. If we just raise our hands and ask, "O Allah, soften my heart!" and not really ask from the heart, it is just something we said - and we could have said ANYTHING else! If we call on Allah SINCERELY, He will soften the heart. "Call on Me and I will answer you."
Quran, Surah Al-Baqarah 2:186: "When my servants ask thee concerning Me, I am indeed close to them: I respond to the prayer of every suppliant when he calleth on Me; let them also, with a will, listen to My call and believe in Me: that they may walk in the right way"
If we consider the many examples that we have from the lives of the Prophet Sallallahu 'Alayhi wa sallam and his companions, they would show us that it is Allah who can change the hearts.
Let us consider 'Umar ibn Al-Khattab. His attitude towards the Prophet Sallallahu 'Alayhi wa sallam and Islam was so harsh that he set out one day to kill the Prophet Sallallahu 'Alayhi Wa sallam. He was fed up with the efforts of Prophet Sallallahu 'Alayhi wa sallam to spread Islam that he felt he had to take it in his hands to finish this. He strapped on his sword and set out. On his way, he met another companion who told him to check on his own sister before seeing the Prophet Sallallahu 'Alayhi Wa sallam. He was surprised and went to his sister's house, virtually tearing down the door. He slapped her and her husband until blood came from her face. He then stopped and looked at what he had caused.
On his way in, he had heard something from the Quran and it had touched him, but his anger did not allow it a chance to settle in his heart. But when he struck his sister and saw the blood, it stopped him for a minute. What he had heard before touched his heart. He asked what was being read before and some of the Quran was read for him. And he changed.
That was enough to turn him upside down. This was 'Umar! On another occasion, the other companions saw him laughing and then crying; one after the other. They asked what had caused that to happen to him. He said. "I remember that in the days of Jahiliyya, I used to have this idol made of dates. One day, I became so hungry that I ate a piece of it. And then, I cried when I remembered digging a hole and burying my daughter. Whilst I was putting her in, she reached up and brushed dirt from my beard." And he had buried her alive. That was the practice - those who felt it was a dishonour to have a daughter killed them. That was how hard his heart was - how hard his heart had become, to bury his daughter alive.
But his heart changed. Changed so much that 'Umar, when he used to lead the prayers, would be so choked up with tears that people from way back in the third row could hear him crying. This was Umar, a man who was so harsh, so powerful. a courageous individual, but with the acceptance of Islam, his heart was turned around.
So we should do as the Prophet Sallallahu 'Alayhi wa sallam advised us to go to Allah and call on him to give us softened hearts and we should seek refuge as the Prophet Sallallahu 'Alayhi wa sallam had from the heart without fear. And in the same dua, he also sought refuge from the eyes that do not become full with tears, eyes that never cry.