In an answer to one Maulāna Saheb, Maulāna Ashraf Ali Thānvi rehmatullāhi alayh said that it is not from amongst the statements of Muhaqiqīn (those with the insight) that one should first rid his heart from Mā Siwā’ Allāh (all that is besides Allāh) and thereafter instill Allāh’s remembrance in it. Whosoever believes this is greatly deceived. It is extremely difficult for a heart to be empty of Mā Siwā’ Allāh, and to think otherwise is a grave error.
A beneficial way to attain this is by filling the gap with good as one empties it (from Mā Siwā’ Allāh). There are many good things one can fill into ones heart, for example a constant connection and friendship with the Ulamā to learn Dīn. Filling the void in the heart with good, while one rids it of the bad, is not harmful for a Sālik, rather it will be a catalyst to attain the aim. Laymen do not understand these things. Only those people with farsightedness understand this.*
A statement of Imam Shāfi’ī rehmatullāhi alayh says “Since I came to know that a person will meet his friends in the Jannah, I started to yearn for Jannah”, hence such friendship is intended.**
Malfuzāt Hakīmul Ummat Malfuz # 332 – vol. 1 pg. 250
* Hazrat Mufti Ebrahim Desai (db)’s discourse about making free time more effective by adding tasks which are religiously oriented is an example of this in our daily life (See previous). It will be foolish for one to think that he will be able to first set aside enough free time, and thereafter allocate worship or Allāh or other Dīnī activities in that time. It will simply not work. Thus a more practical course of action is that one frees a little bit of time, and allocates this time for some Dīnī activity right away. This way one will start to reap the rewards of new activities while one continues to rid oneself of idleness.
The truth is that this heart does not have a capacity to be empty from everything. If the Sālik rids it of one thing, something else has to take that place. This substitute can either be another illness, or can be the pristine and true love of Allah. This is why it is very important to closely monitor what one instills into this heart. Gaining company of the pious, reading Qur’an, pondering on the wonders of Allah and constant dhikr etc. are thoroughly grilled into ones heart. What good can come from ridding one self of the love of wealth only to have instilled the love of fuhsh (vulgarity)?
** Imam Shāfi’ī rehmatullāhi alayh did not yearn to be in Jannah, but his love for the company of his pious friends was so much that he sought Jannah to get the fruits of such company.