The heart is much more that a muscle that pumps the blood around the body.
The heart is something that can affect the whole body, if it is pure then the whole body is pure and if it is sick then the whole body is sick. The heart is the hidden secret between man and God and what happens there is only accessible to God. Although those with trained eyes can see quite clearly. The body can illustrate what the heart feels but heart can never illustrate what the body feels.
Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) reported that the Messenger of Allah (may Allah bestow upon him peace and blessings) said, “Allah does not look to your forms nor your wealth but He looks to your hearts and your deeds.” (Muslim 6221)
The heart in Arabic is Qalb, the root of this name means to turn over (Hans Wehr p.784). The heart is the muscle that moves the most, even if we are motionless the heart is in motion.
When your heart is with someone then you experience the same things and you feel the same feelings. So even though you may be apart you may say the exactly the same thing as someone else is saying or even thinking. Sometimes someone will say exactly what you are thinking. And if you are lucky your spiritual leader will answer the questions that are in your heart, without you even asking.
Sometimes the heart knows what is about to occur but the mind overrides this ‘emotion’ and keeps going. Sometimes we can feel something that someone else does not; this leads to rejection. How strange it is when someone feels something about someone and the other person does not. Rejection is not registered in the heart sometimes; it can make a person keep coming back to the one who rejected them. They have all these unrequited emotions that are being suppressed but the other person feels nothing. Unrequited love can do so much damage and many times the object of that affection is totally unaware.
Sins of the heart
We are punished for bodily sins in the world and we are punished for sins of the heart and body, in the next. Someone can hide their disbelief in this world but in the next world this hidden internal state will manifest itself.
Actions done with the heart in tune to the limbs have so much more effect that those empty actions of the limbs. The Maliki scholars consider it highly disliked for someone to encourage people to do something that they have not done themselves but only their hearts know.
Sometimes we get inclinations or whisperings that occur in the heart that if we spoke about them then we would be seen as persona non grata.
Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with) narrates that the Messenger of Allah (may Allah bestow peace and blessings upon him) said, “Allah forgave my nation the evil whispering which arise within their hearts as long as they did not speak about them or do not act upon.” (Muslim 230).
If you have a evil whispering then don’t speak about it and turn your heart away from it and it will die away but if you let it grow then it will cause you harm.
Ibn Al-Nafis was the first to find out about the pulmonary circulation of the blood, then he was plagiarised by many who refused to divulge where they obtained this information from.
Heart disease remains America’s leading cause of death, killing one American every 34 seconds, or more than 2,500 people per day. But it also remains a highly preventable disease.
The grim statistics come from the American Heart Association’s new report, “Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics — 2005 Update.” The report shows that in 2002, more than 927,000 Americans died from heart disease-related conditions, such as heart attack, high blood pressure, stroke, heart failure, and congenital heart defects. (http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,142436,00.html)
One in five deaths are caused by heart disease in the UK and if you are on a lower wage you are more likely to have heart problems. The statistics show that people who have money problems are sure to be in more in danger of having heart problems that those better off.
Worrying about provision and family can lead a person to have a perturbed or disturbed heart; this added to other factors can lead a person to problems.
Light and darkness
Both these things can affect a person in different ways. You can be affected by the light that someone has and by the light they contain. If someone has a lot of light greater than your light or your darkness then their light can affect you. Similarly, someone with more darkness than you can affect you as well.
Sometimes people with darkness and falsehood can affect your heart in the most despicable ways and you may even find yourself agreeing with their poison. Because your heart has been so affected by their darkness there is no room for light!
As can someone with truth and light can transform you if you are receptive to it. This is the point are we receptive to it or not? If we are then we can attain greater levels and if we are not because of the darkness we carry we will reject it.
The Prophets (upon them peace) came with light and the truth; some accepted and some rejected. The eyes and ears are channels to the heart and if we are not careful then we will have hearts that are not pure and open to the truth.
The heart of the Quran
Surah Yasin has been described in hadith as the ‘Qalb Al-Quran,’ (At-Tirmidhi 2887) literally the heart of the Quran. If you take a good look at the Quranic chapter then you can see that it continually refers to accepting the messenger or prophet. This has special reference to the heart because that is the seat of belief because someone can have belief in the heart and be believer with Allah but not according to the world.
Types of heart
The Messenger of Allah (may Allah bestow upon him peace and blessings) said, “Hearts are four; a pure heart with a shining lamp; that is the heart of the believer; a black heart covered which is the heart of the disbeliever; a covered heart, linked to its cover that is the heart of the hypocrite and the heart with layers faith and hypocrisy.” (Imam Ahmed).
There are four types of heart mentioned here:
1. Pure heart
2. Black heart
3. Covered heart
4. Layered heart.
The pure heart is the healthy one and the ideal one in this list. The pure heart is to aim for and to work for but how do we work to get this type of heart? Some of us are blessed to be born with pure hearts and some of us have to work on ourselves.
“In the remembrance of Allah do hearts find rest!” (Quran: Thunder 13:28)
By performing remembrance does the heart find rest and then it can become pure. How do we know this?
The Messenger of Allah (may Allah bestow upon him peace and blessings) said, “Is there not a morsel of flesh; if it is sound then the whole body is sound; if it is corrupt then the whole body is corrupt; it is not the heart?” (Bukhari 25 and Muslim 1599).
This hadith is a miracle because the Arabic word used is Mudghah which is something similar to a morsol. Almost like a piece of partially chewed meat and this accurately described the shape of the heart. It is nothing like the fantasy picture that we see everywhere especially on valentine cards and the like. It’s like a piece of flesh but it has a life beyond what people can measure with their medical equipment.
Bringing it to a state of purification is something that benefits us beyond this world.
“The day when wealth and sons avail not (any man); except him who comes to Allah with a sound heart.” (Quran: the poets 26:88-89)
We are not busy purifying our hearts for no benefit rather we are doing something that has infinite benefits. So this is not some new matter that has been ‘invented’ or ‘innovated’ this is part of the Quranic narrative and if adhered to brings a wealth of benefits.
Remembrance or dhikr is a way to purify the heart but hearts have to be emptied from other things.
The spiritual masters mention three stages in spiritual development:
1. Ridding oneself of bad characteristics تخلى
2. Adorning oneself with good character تحلى
3. Manifesting the good character تجلى
The Arabic words used above have very small differences but these differences are massive in reality. If you want to decorate a room in your house properly you have to remove everything out of it that is the first level. The second level is about adding and the final level is the manifestation when the room is finally finished but this can take time, it’s not an easy process by anyone’s standards.
You see the heart can be sick and if it is starved from the remembrance of Allah then it will die. Especially, if it is allowed to follow its passions.
Muhammad ibn Ali Al-Baqir said, “The heart dies from passions of the soul; the more you refuse the passions you attain from life its shares; so listen to the living and not to the dead.” Allah, the exalted, states, “You cannot listen to the dead.” (The Ant 16:80). (Awarif Al-Mararif Imam Sarawardi p.17).
The Messenger of Allah (may Allah bestow upon him peace and blessings) said, “A strong believer is better than a weak believer; and in each is goodness.” (Muslim, Ahmed and Ibn Majah). Ibn Ata Allah says that the strong believer is he whose heart is illuminated by the light of certainty. (Taj Al-Aroos p.96-7).
Hudhayfah ibn al-Yaman(may Allah be pleased with him) narrates that the Messenger of Allah (may Allah bestow upon him peace and blessings) said, "Temptations are presented to the heart, one by one. Any heart that accepts them will be left with a black stain, but any heart that rejects them will be left with a mark of purity." (Muslim Book of faith 2/170).
When a white cloth has a black stain on it, it can be seen clearly and most people will notice the black spot more than they will notice the rest of the cloth being white! Similarly, the dark heart recognises darkness and is attached by it.
A reminder placed into the heart
The Messenger of Allah (may Allah bestow upon him peace and blessings) said, “If Allah wishes goodness to his servant then he places admonition in his heart.” (Abu Mansor Ad-Dalami with a good chain).
This is something that can happen when they are about to do something that they shouldn’t the heart is reminded. Then at that moment it can chose to follow it or not.
The place of knowledge
Imam Ghazali said, “The place of knowledge is the heart.” (Ihya Ulum Ud-Deen Vol 3 p.17).
This is where knowledge is kept and if there is light in there it will be displayed for all to see and if it is not present then the knowledge will be darkened and won’t shine through.
The heart is something amazing if it is worked upon with remembrance of Allah or it can something sick if someone gives in to its whims. In one sense it has to be trained to love the divine and love and follow the sacred law. This can only be done by following the Messenger (may Allah bestow peace and blessings upon him).
Following a spiritual path allows one to make progress by the means of admonition and obedience to a spiritual master. We are talking about those who follow the sacred law correctly. A spiritual master can take you further than you can go on your own so bear that in mind.
Hearts are attracted to things that are similar and they will go for what is similar so be careful because that untrained morsel of flesh needs to be cleaned. Only then will it give its true benefits.
Interesting quote about the heart
There are two tragedies in life. One is not to get your heart's desire. The other is to get it.
George Bernard Shaw (1856 - 1950), "Man and Superman" (1903), act 4