Abu Hafs at-Tarsousi said:

I went to Abu ‘Abdullah [Imam Ahmad] and said: May Allah have mercy on you Oh Abu ‘Abdullah, with what do the hearts soften?

He remained silent for a while, then raised his head and said: Oh my Son, by eating that which is halal (i.e. lawful).

Then I passed by Bishr ibn al-Harith, and said to him: Oh Abu Nasr, with what do the hearts soften?

He said: “Verily, in the remembrance of Allâh do hearts find rest” [Ar-Rad 13:28].

I said: I just came from Abu ‘Abdullah.

He eagerly said: And what did Abu ‘Abdullah tell you?

I said: By eating that which is halal.

He said: He came with the origin.

Then, I passed by ‘Abd al Wahhab bin Abi al- Hasan and said: Oh Aba al-Hasan, with what do the hearts soften?

He said: “Verily, in the remembrance of Allâh do hearts find rest”.

I said: Well, I just came from Abu ‘Abdullah …

His cheeks reddened with joy, and he said to me: What did Abu ‘Abdullah say?

I said: By eating that which is halal.

He said: He came to you with the essence, he came to you with the essence, the origin is what he said, the origin is what he said [1].

Reference:

[1] Tahtheeb Hilyat al-Awliyaa 3/144

Commentary:

Just as eating halal is a condition before a duaa’ (supplication) is accepted by Allah, Imam Ahmad –Rahimahu Allah- also saw it as a necessary condition needed before Remembrance could have an effect on one’s heart.

The importance of Eating Halal is indicated in the following hadeeth (Narrated by Muslim):

عن أبي هريرة رضي الله تعالى عنه قال : قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم : إن الله تعالى طيب لا يقبل إلا طيبا وإن الله أمر المؤمنين بما أمر به المرسلين فقال تعالى { يا أيها الرسل كلوا من الطيبات واعملوا صالحا } وقال تعالى { يا أيها الذين آمنوا كلوا من طيبات ما رزقناكم } ثم ذكر الرجل يطيل السفر أشعث أغبر يمد يديه إلى السماء : يا رب يا رب ومطعمه حرام وملبسه حرام وغذي بالحرام فأنى يستجاب له ] رواه مسلم

Abu Hurayrah (may Allaah be pleased with him) said: the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Allaah is Good and only accepts that which is good. Allaah commanded the believers to follow the same commandments as He gave to the Messengers. He says (interpretation of the meaning):

‘O (you) Messengers! Eat of the Tayyibaat [all kinds of Halaal (lawful) foods which Allaah has made lawful (meat of slaughtered eatable animals, milk products, fats, vegetables, fruits)] and do righteous deeds. Verily, I am Well-Acquainted with what you do’ [al-Mu’minoon 23:51]

‘O you who believe (in the Oneness of Allaah — Islamic Monotheism)! Eat of the lawful things that We have provided you with’ [al-Baqarah 2:172]

Then he mentioned a man who has travelled on a long journey and is dishevelled and covered with dust; he stretches forth his hands to the heaven, (saying) “O Lord, O Lord”, but his food is haraam, his drink is haraam, all his nourishment is haraam, so how can he du’aa’ be accepted?”

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