The Sacred Art of Listening

By Imam Jamal Rahman

“Those who listen closely to all that is said and follow the best of it; it is they whom God has graced with His guidance, and it is they who are endowed with insight. “(Qur’an 39:18)

“Listening is like putting your head on a person’s chest and sinking into the answer.” (Rumi)

Listening is a precious art and a pathway to peace and self-development.

Often, when someone is speaking I am not fully present. I might be distracted. Perhaps, I am formulating what to say either to refute or impress. Thus, the wise caution us to listen closely. When talking, I am simply repeating what I know; when listening, I might learn something new. And, here is a priceless insight: “An enemy is someone whose story I have not fully listened to.”

If I am truly listening to others offering me advice and guidance, how do I know which are best for me? The Prophet Muhammad offered priceless counsel: “Always, first consult your heart.” No matter which authority advises you, accept and act on the counsel only if it resonates in your heart. The resonance of your heart is the voice of your higher self, the divine spark which exists within every human being.

The truth is that there is a cacophony of voices inside of me clamoring for attention. Besides my higher self, there is the voice of my wounded self, my arrogant ego, my frightened inner child and so on. How do I discern which one is real? The sages ask us to choose the need of that voice which feels closest to our heart. If you made a mistake, with compassion for yourself, learn and grow from your choice. With repeated experiences and continuous inner work of self-purification, you will connect to your heart and learn to make wise choices. If you are sincere and persistent, Spirit will help and guide you in ways you cannot imagine.

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