‘HEART’ IN THE HOLY QUR’AN

‘HEART’ IN THE HOLY QUR’AN

The word ‘heart’ carries special importance and has been used extensively in the Holy Qur’an and narrations. But what is meant by ‘heart’ is not the pine‑shaped physical heart located in the left side of the chest which supports the animal life system by continuously pumping fresh blood into various parts of the body, because the Holy Qur’an relates things to heart which are not comparable with this pine‑shaped heart. e.g.:
Reasoning and Comprehension

The Holy Qur’an said:

أَفَلَمْ يَسِيرُوا فِي الْأَرْضِ فَتَكُونَ لَهُمْ قُلُوبٌ يَعْقِلُونَ بِهَا.

“Have they not travelled in the land, and have they hearts wherewith to feel. 22:46”
Uncomprehending and Reasoning

The Holy Qur’art said:

لَهُمْ قُلُوبٌ لَا يَفْقَهُونَ بِهَا.

“Having hearts wherewith they understand not. 7:179”

وَطُبِعَ عَلَى قُلُوبِهِمْ فَهُمْ لَا يَفْقَهُونَ.

“And their hearts are sealed, so that they apprehend not. 9:87”

Faith

The Holy Qur’an said:

أُوْلَئِكَ كَتَبَ فِي قُلُوبِهِمْ الْإِيمَانَ وَأَيَّدَهُمْ بِرُوحٍ مِنْهُ.

“As for such, He hath written faith upon their hearts and hath strengthened them with a Spirit from Him. 58.22”
Blasphemy and Disbelief

The Holy Qur’an said:

فَالَّذِينَ لَا يُؤْمِنُونَ بِالْآخِرَةِ قُلُوبُهُمْ مُنكِرَةٌ وَهُمْ مُسْتَكْبِرُونَ.

“But as for those who believe not in the Hereafter their hearts refuse to know, for they are proud. 16:22”

أُوْلَئِكَ الَّذِينَ طَبَعَ اللَّهُ عَلَى قُلُوبِهِمْ وَسَمْعِهِمْ وَأَبْصَارِهِمْ وَأُوْلَئِكَ هُمْ الْغَافِلُونَ.

“Such are they whose hearts and ears and eyes Allah hath sealed. And such are the heedless. 16:108”
Dissension

Almighty God says in the Holy Qur’an:

يَحْذَرُ الْمُنَافِقُونَ أَنْ تُنَزَّلَ عَلَيْهِمْ سُورَةٌ تُنَبِّئُهُمْ بِمَا فِي قُلُوبِهِمْ.

“The hypocrites fear lest a surah should be revealed concerning them, proclaiming what is in their hearts. Say: Scoff (your fill)! Lo! Allah is disclosing what ye fear. 9:64”


To Receive Guidance

Almighty God says:

وَمَنْ يُؤْمِنْ بِاللَّهِ يَهْدِ قَلْبَهُ وَاللَّهُ بِكُلِّ شَيْءٍ عَلِيمٌ .

“And whosoever believeth in Allah, He guideth his heart. And Allah is Knower of all things 4:11”

إِنَّ فِي ذَلِكَ لَذِكْرَى لِمَنْ كَانَ لَهُ قَلْبٌ أَوْ أَلْقَى السَّمْعَ وَهُوَ شَهِيدٌ.

“Lo! therein verily is a reminder for him who hath a heart, or giveth ear with full intelligence. 50:37”
Negligence

Almighty God says:

وَلَا تُطِعْ مَنْ أَغْفَلْنَا قَلْبَهُ عَنْ ذِكْرِنَا وَاتَّبَعَ هَوَاهُ وَكَانَ أَمْرُهُ فُرُطًا.

“And obey not him whose heart We have made heedless of Our remembrance, who followeth his own lust and whose case hath been abandoned. 18:28”
Certainty and Tranquillity

Almighty God has said:

أَلَا بِذِكْرِ اللَّهِ تَطْمَئِنُّ الْقُلُوبُ.

“Verily in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find rest. 13:28”

هُوَ الَّذِي أَنْزَلَ السَّكِينَةَ فِي قُلُوبِ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ لِيَزْدَادُوا إِيمَانًا مَعَ إِيمَانِهِمْ.

“He it is Who sent down peace of reassurance into the hearts of the believers that they might add faith unto their faith. 48.4”
Anxiety and Conflict

Almighty God has said:

إِنَّمَا يَسْتَأْذِنُكَ الَّذِينَ لَا يُؤْمِنُونَ بِاللَّهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الْآخِرِ وَارْتَابَتْ قُلُوبُهُمْ فَهُمْ فِي رَيْبِهِمْ يَتَرَدَّدُونَ.

“They alone ask leave of thee who believe not in Allah and the Last Day, and whose hearts feel doubt, so in their doubt they waver. 9.45”
Blessing and Kindness

Almighty God has said:

وَجَعَلْنَا فِي قُلُوبِ الَّذِينَ اتَّبَعُوهُ رَأْفَةً وَرَحْمَةً.

“And (We) placed compassion and mercy in the hearts of those who followed him. 57:27”

هُوَ الَّذِي أَيَّدَكَ بِنَصْرِهِ وَبِالْمُؤْمِنِينَ وَأَلَّفَ بَيْنَ قُلُوبِهِمْ.

“He it is Who supporteth thee with His help and with the believers and (as for the believers) hath attuned their hearts. 8:62‑63”
Hot‑temper and Cruelty

Almighty God has said:

وَلَوْ كُنْتَ فَظًّا غَلِيظَ الْقَلْبِ لَانْفَضُّوا مِنْ حَوْلِكَ.

“For if thou hadst been stern and fierce of heart they would have dispersed from round about thee. 3:59).

Therefore, ‘heart’ in the Holy Qur’an has been assigned the most important privileged position and various psychic tasks have been related to it; namely, faith, blasphemy, hypocrisy, reasoning, understanding, ununderstanding, acceptance of truth, unacceptance of truth, guidance, deviation, sin, intention, purification, corruption, benevolence, aggravation, love, invocation, negligence, fear, anger, doubt, conflict, mercy, cruelty, regret, assurance, arrogance, jealousy, rebellion, offense and other similar things. Since the pine-shaped piece of flesh called heart could not be the origin of these effects, instead these effects we the consequences of human self and spirit. Therefore, it could be said: What is meant by ‘heart’ is the same ‘Celetial Essence that controls the degree of humanness within a human being.

The heart possesses such exalted position in the Holy Qur’an that it is mentioned when the topic of revelation, i.e. communication between God and men, is discussed. Almighty God said to the Holy Prophet (a.s):

نَزَلَ بِهِ الرُّوحُ الْأَمِينُ .عَلَى قَلْبِكَ لِتَكُونَ مِنْ الْمُنذِرِينَ .

“The True Spirit hath brought dow upon thy heart, that thou mayst be (one) of the warners. 26:193‑194”

قُلْ مَنْ كَانَ عَدُوًّا لِجِبْرِيلَ فَإِنَّهُ نَزَّلَهُ عَلَى قَلْبِكَ بِإِذْنِ اللَّهِ مُصَدِّقًا لِمَا بَيْنَ يَدَيْهِ وَهُدًى وَبُشْرَى لِلْمُؤْمِنِينَ.

“Say (O Muhammad, to mankind): Who is an enemy to Gabriel! For he it is who hath revealed (this Scripture) to thy heart by Allah's leave, confirming that which was (revealed) before it, and a guidance and glad tidings to believers. 2:97”

The heart’s position is so eminent that it sees the revealing angel and hears his voice. Almighty God has said:

فَأَوْحَى إِلَى عَبْدِهِ مَا أَوْحَى. مَا كَذَبَ الْفُؤَادُ مَا رَأَى.

“And He revealed unto His slave that which He revealed The heart lied not (in seeing) what it saw. 53:10‑11”

 


Soundness and Sickness of Heart

Our existence depends upon spirit and heart because they manage the body. All the parts of the body obey their command and all deeds and action initiate from the heart. Therefore, the salvation and cruelty of a person depends upon his heart’s condition. It has been inferred from the Holy Qur’an and narrations that like the human bodies which are healthy and sick at different times, heart’s condition may also follow the same cycle (i.e. sometimes, it is healthy while at other times, it is sick).

Almighty God in the Holy Qur’an has said:

يَوْمَ لَا يَنْفَعُ مَالٌ وَلَا بَنُونَ. إِلَّا مَنْ أَتَى اللَّهَ بِقَلْبٍ سَلِيمٍ.

“The day when wealth and sons avail not (any man Save him who bringeth unto Allah a whole heart. 26:88‑89”

إِنَّ فِي ذَلِكَ لَذِكْرَى لِمَنْ كَانَ لَهُ قَلْبٌ أَوْ أَلْقَى السَّمْعَ وَهُوَ شَهِيدٌ.

“Lo! therein verily is a reminder for him who hath a heart, or giveth ear with full intelligence. 50:37.

وَأُزْلِفَتْ الْجَنَّةُ لِلْمُتَّقِينَ غَيْرَ بَعِيدٍ. هَذَا مَا تُوعَدُونَ لِكُلِّ أَوَّابٍ حَفِيظٍ. مَنْ خَشِيَ الرَّحْمَنَ بِالْغَيْبِ وَجَاءَ بِقَلْبٍ مُنِيبٍ.

“And the Garden is brought nigh for those who kept from evil, no longer distant (And it is said): This is that which ye were promised. (It is) for every penitent and heedful one Who feareth the Beneficent in secret and cometh with a contrite heart. 50:31‑33”

The above verses make it explicit that the health of a person is related to his heart’s condition and his eternal salvation depends upon his return to Almighty God with a pure and humble heart. On the other side, the Holy Qur’an introduces some examples of hearts which are sick:

فِي قُلُوبِهِمْ مَرَضٌ فَزَادَهُمْ اللَّهُ مَرَضًا.

“In their hearts is a disease, and Allah increaseth their disease. 2:10”

وَأَمَّا الَّذِينَ فِي قُلُوبِهِمْ مَرَضٌ فَزَادَتْهُمْ رِجْسًا إِلَى رِجْسِهِمْ وَمَاتُوا وَهُمْ كَافِرُونَ.

“But as for those in whose hearts is disease, it only addeth wickedness to their wickedness, and they die while they are disbelievers. 9:125”

وَإِذْ يَقُولُ الْمُنَافِقُونَ وَالَّذِينَ فِي قُلُوبِهِمْ مَرَضٌ مَا وَعَدَنَا اللَّهُ وَرَسُولُهُ إِلَّا غُرُورًا.

“And when the hypocrites, and those in whose hearts is a disease, were saying: Allah and His messenger promised us naught but delusion. 33:12”

فَتَرَى الَّذِينَ فِي قُلُوبِهِمْ مَرَضٌ يُسَارِعُونَ فِيهِم يَقُولُونَ نَخْشَى أَنْ تُصِيبَنَا دَائِرَةٌ.

“And thou seest those in whose heart is a disease race toward them, saying: We fear lest a change of fortune befall us.  5:52”

In these verses, blasphemy, hypocrisy and friendship with the pagans have been introduced as heart sicknesses. Similar verses and hundreds of authentic traditions narrated by the Holy Prophet (a.s) and the Infallible Imams (a.s) state that human heart and soul, like human bodies, are susceptible to sickness.

Almighty God—the Creator of heart and soul—, the Holy Prophet (a.s) and the Infallible Imams (a.s) who know human beings more than anyone else informed us about the sickness of some hearts. Why should we ignore this reality? Having identified the symptoms of the heart sicknesses; namely blasphemy, dissension, refusal of truth, arrogance, revenge, anger, criticizing, slander, treason, self‑conceit, fear, malevolence, defamation, ill‑speaking, backbiting, harshness, oppression, felony, misery, avarice, fault‑finding, lying, ruthlessness, hypocrisy, deceit, suspicion, cruelty, self‑weakness and many other indecent characteristics, have been introduced by the one who best recognize the human self as the sickness of heart and soul. Therefore, those who leave this world with such contaminated hearts will not return to God with a pure and sound heart to be worthy of the verse:

يَوْمَ لَا يَنْفَعُ مَالٌ وَلَا بَنُونَ. إِلَّا مَنْ أَتَى اللَّهَ بِقَلْبٍ سَلِيمٍ.

“The day when wealth and sons avail not (any man Save him who bringeth unto Allah a whole heart. 26:88‑89”

The sicknesses of heart and self could not be considered as small or insignificant; rather they are much more dangerous and incurable if compared to bodily diseases. In case of bodily diseases, the physical order of the body loses its equilibrium causing pain and discomfort and inflicting damage upon a specific part of the body. Yet, it is rather limited and, in any case, these effects cannot go on beyond the physical life span of the inflicted person. However, the sickness of heart and self are accompanied by continuous anguish, torture and eternal punishment; the pain and punishment which penetrate to the very depths of heart engulfing the soul with eternal flames.

A heart that is completely ignorant of God’s existence without witnessing His signs by spending a life of disbelief, deviation and sins is in reality blind and dark and will be raised on the Day of Judgment with similar condition having no other choice except Hell to live a painful eternal life full of anguish and torture. Almighty God, in the Holy Qur’an, has said:

وَمَنْ أَعْرَضَ عَنْ ذِكْرِي فَإِنَّ لَهُ مَعِيشَةً ضَنكًا وَنَحْشُرُهُ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ أَعْمَى .قَالَ رَبِّ لِمَ حَشَرْتَنِي أَعْمَى وَقَدْ كُنتُ بَصِيرًا .قَالَ كَذَلِكَ أَتَتْكَ آيَاتُنَا فَنَسِيتَهَا وَكَذَلِكَ الْيَوْمَ تُنسَى .

“But he who turneth away from remembrance of Me, his will be a narrow life, and I shall bring him blind to the assembly on the Day of Resurrection. He will say: My Lord! Wherefor hast Thou gathered me (hither) blind, when I was wont to see. He will say: So (it must be). Our revelations came unto thee but thou didst forget them. In like manner thou art forgotten this Day. 20:124‑126”

أَفَلَمْ يَسِيرُوا فِي الْأَرْضِ فَتَكُونَ لَهُمْ قُلُوبٌ يَعْقِلُونَ بِهَا أَوْ آذَانٌ يَسْمَعُونَ بِهَا فَإِنَّهَا لَا تَعْمَى الْأَبْصَارُ وَلَكِنْ تَعْمَى الْقُلُوبُ الَّتِي فِي الصُّدُورِ.

“Have they not travelled in the land, and have they hearts wherewith to feel and ears wherewith to hear? For indeed it is not the eyes that grow blind, but it is the hearts, which are within the bosoms, that grow blind. 22:46”

وَمَنْ كَانَ فِي هَذِهِ أَعْمَى فَهُوَ فِي الْآخِرَةِ أَعْمَى وَأَضَلُّ سَبِيلًا.

“Whoso is blind here will be blind in the Hereafter, and yet further from the road. 17:22”

وَمَنْ يَهْدِ اللَّهُ فَهُوَ الْمُهْتَدِي وَمَنْ يُضْلِلْ فَلَنْ تَجِدَ لَهُمْ أَوْلِيَاءَ مِنْ دُونِهِ وَنَحْشُرُهُمْ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ عَلَى وُجُوهِهِمْ عُمْيًا وَبُكْمًا وَصُمًّا مَأْوَاهُمْ جَهَنَّمُ كُلَّمَا خَبَتْ زِدْنَاهُمْ سَعِيرًا .

“And he whom Allah guideth, he is led aright; while, as for him whom He sendeth astray, for them thou wilt find no protecting friends beside Him, and We shall assemble them on the Day of Resurrection on their faces, blind, dumb and deaf; their habitation will be hell; whenever it abateth, We increase the flame for them. 17:97”

The aforementioned discussion may seem to you strange making you ask how the esoteric eyes will become blind on the Day of Judgment. Do we have eyes and cars other than these apparent bodily eyes and cars? The reply is: Yes! The Creator of human beings and Divine human doctors informed that human heart and soul have their own eyes, ears and tongue but of their own kind. Human self is a mysterious existence possessing a special life in the inner essence. Self has its own world in which there is light as well as darkness; there is purity and cleanliness as well as indignation and contamination, and there is seeing and hearing as well as blindness and deafness. But the light and darkness of that special world is not similar to the light and darkness of this world; rather the belief in Almighty God, Day of Judgment, Prophethood and the Holy Qur’an is the illumination for the self’s world. Almighty God has said:

فَالَّذِينَ آمَنُوا بِهِ وَعَزَّرُوهُ وَنَصَرُوهُ وَاتَّبَعُوا النُّورَ الَّذِي أُنزِلَ مَعَهُ أُوْلَئِكَ هُمْ الْمُفْلِحُونَ .

“Then those who believe in him, and honour him, and help him, and follow the light which is sent down with him: they are the successful. 7:157”

قَدْ جَاءَكُمْ مِنْ اللَّهِ نُورٌ وَكِتَابٌ مُبِينٌ.

“Now hath come unto you light from Allah and plain Scripture. 5:15”

أَفَمَنْ شَرَحَ اللَّهُ صَدْرَهُ لِلْإِسْلَامِ فَهُوَ عَلَى نُورٍ مِنْ رَبِّهِ فَوَيْلٌ لِلْقَاسِيَةِ قُلُوبُهُمْ مِنْ ذِكْرِ اللَّهِ أُوْلَئِكَ فِي ضَلَالٍ مُبِينٍ.

“Is he whose bosom Allah hath expanded for Al-Islam, so that he followeth a light from his Lord, (as he who disbelieveth)? Then woe unto those whose hearts are hardened against remembrance of Allah. Such are in plain error. 39:22”

Almighty God has informed that Islam, Qur’an, faith and the Divine obligations are all illumination and the obedience to them makes the heart en­lightened although, in reality, this happens in this same world but its final result is declared in the Next World. Also, He has informed us that blas­phemy, hypocrisy, sinning, inacceptance of the truth are darkness that darkens and contaminates the heart, which will certainly become manifested in the Next‑World. The Divine Prophets were dispatched by Almighty God with the mission of leading human beings out of darkness of blasphemy towards the environment of illumination and belief.

Almighty God has said:

كِتَابٌ أَنزَلْنَاهُ إِلَيْكَ لِتُخْرِجَ النَّاسَ مِنْ الظُّلُمَاتِ إِلَى النُّورِ.

“This is a Scripture which We have revealed unto thee (Muhammad) that thereby thou mayst bring forth mankind from darkness unto light. 14:1”

The believers, by means of illumination of faith, self‑purification, good moral conducts, God’s Remembrance and righteous deeds make their heart and souls illuminated witnessing the sublime realities through their esoteric eyes and ears and ascending toward God’s Nearness through various stages of perfection. Such souls when leaving this world will turn into absolute illumination, joy, cheerfulness, beauty, and in the Next World will utilize the same illumination accumulated by them in this material world. Almighty God has said:

يَوْمَ تَرَى الْمُؤْمِنِينَ وَالْمُؤْمِنَاتِ يَسْعَى نُورُهُمْ بَيْنَ أَيْدِيهِمْ وَبِأَيْمَانِهِمْ بُشْرَاكُمْ الْيَوْمَ جَنَّاتٌ تَجْرِي مِنْ تَحْتِهَا الْأَنْهَارُ خَالِدِينَ فِيهَا ذَلِكَ هُوَ الْفَوْزُ الْعَظِيمُ.

“On the day when thou (Muhammad) wilt see the believers, men and women, their light shining forth before them and on their right hands, (and wilt hear it said unto them): Glad news for you this day: Gardens underneath which rivers flow, wherein ye are immortal. That is the supreme triumph. 57:12”

Yes! The illumination for the eternal world must be arranged in this world and, accordingly, the pagans and hypocrites do not have illumination in the Next World. Almighty God has said:

يَوْمَ يَقُولُ الْمُنَافِقُونَ وَالْمُنَافِقَاتُ لِلَّذِينَ آمَنُوا انْظُرُونَا نَقْتَبِسْ مِنْ نُورِكُمْ قِيلَ ارْجِعُوا وَرَاءَكُمْ فَالْتَمِسُوا نُورًا فَضُرِبَ بَيْنَهُمْ بِسُورٍ لَهُ بَابٌ بَاطِنُهُ فِيهِ الرَّحْمَةُ وَظَاهِرُهُ مِنْ قِبَلِهِ الْعَذَابُ.

“On the day when the hypocritical men and the hypocritical women will say unto those who believe: Look on us that we may borrow from your light! it will be said: Go back and seek for light! Then there will separate them a wall wherein is a gate, the inner side whereof containeth mercy, while the outer side thereof is toward the doom. 57.13”

 


Heart in Traditions

The pioneers of religion, namely the Prophet and Imams, have left many interesting narrations about the heart:

Imam al‑Baqir (a.s) said:

القُلوبُ ثَلاثةٌ: قَلبٌ مَنكوسٌ لا يَعثرُ عَلى شَيءٍ مِن الخَيرِ، وهوَ قَلبُ الكافِرِ؛ وَقَلبٌ فِيه نُكتَةٌ سَوداءُ، فَالخَيرُ والشَّرُّ يَعتَلِجانِ فَما كانَ مِنهُ أقْوى غَلَب عَلَيه؛ وَقَلْبٌ مَفتوحٌ فيهِ مِصباحٌ يَزهَرُ فلا يُطفَأُ نُورُه إلى يَومِ القِيامَةِ، وهوَ قَلبُ المُؤمِنِ.

There are three kinds of hearts: first, a reversed heart that lacs feelings for any sort of righteous deeds. This is the heart of the unbeliever; second, a heart that contains a black spot where a war is waged between the truth and falsehood, and whichever becomes victorious will take over the heart’s control; third, an open heart where there is a lit lamp that is never turned off. This is the heart of the believer. (Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 70, pp. 51)

Imam al‑Sadiq (a.s) quoted his learned father as saying:

ما مِنْ شَيءٍ أفسَدُ لِلقَلبِ مِن الخَطيئَةِ. إنّ القَلبَ لَيُواقِعُ الخَطيئَةَ فَما تَزالُ حَتىّ تَغْلبَ عَليهِ فَيصيرُ أسْفَلُه أعْلاه وأعْلاه أسْفَلَهُ.

The worst thing for the (evil) of the heart is sinning. When a heart is encountered with sin, it struggles against the sin becomes so victorious that it turns it up down. (Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 70, pp. 54)

Imam al‑Sajjad (a.s) has said:

ألا إنّ لِلعَبدِ أربَعَ أعْيُنٍ: عَينانِ يُبصِرُ بِهِما أمْرَ َدُنياهُ، وَعَينانِ يُبصِرُ بِهِما أمْرَ آخِرَتِه. فإذا أرادَ اللهُ بِعَبْدٍ خَيراً فَتحَ لهُ العَينَينِ اللّتَينِ في قَلبهِ فأبْصَرَ بِهِما الغَيْبَ وأمْرَ آخرَتِه. وإذا أرادَ بهِ غَير ذلكَ تَركَ القَلْبَ بما فِيه.

A man actually possesses four eyes; with two of them, he sees the affairs of his world, and with the others, he sees the affairs of his Next World. Therefore, whenever Almighty God desires the good for a believer, He opens his heart’s eyes to enable him to witness the unseen world and its mysteries. But when He does not desire his welfare, He leaves the heart with his esoteric eyes closed. (Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 70, pp. 53)

Imam aI‑Sadiq (a.s) said:

إنّ لِلقَلبِ أذُنَينِ؛ روحُ الإيمانِ يُسارُّهُ بالخَيرِ وروحُ الشَّيطان يُسارُّهُ بِالشّرِّ، فأيُّهُما ظَهرَ عَلى صاحِبه غَلَبَهُ.

A heart possesses two ears; the spirit of belief slowly invites him towards righteous deeds while the Satan slowly invites him towards evil deeds. Therefore, whoever becomes victorious in this struggle takes over the heart’s control. (Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 70, pp. 53.)

Imam al‑Sadiq (a.s) quotes the Holy Prophet (a.s) as saying:

شَرُّ العَمَى عَمى القَلْبِ.

Darkness of the heart is the worst kind of darkness. (Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 70, pp. 51)

Imam al‑Baqir (a.s) said:

ما مِن عَبدٍ إلاّ وفي قَلبِه نُكتَةٌ بَيضاءُ، فإذا أذنَبَ ذَنباً خَرَج في النُّكْتَةِ نُكتَةٌ سَوداءُ. فإنْ تابَ ذَهبَ ذلكَ السّوادُ، وإن تَمادى في الذّنوبِ زادَ ذلِكَ السّوادُ حَتىّ يُغَطّي البياضَ، فإذا غَطّى البَياضَ لم يَرجِعْ صاحبُه إلى خَيرٍ أبَداً. وهُو قولُ اللهِ تعالى ﴿كَلَّا بَلْ رَانَ عَلَى قُلُوبِهِمْ مَا كَانُوا يَكْسِبُونَ.﴾

Initially, there is a white spot and light within the heart of a human being and as a result of his committing sins, a black spot appears. If the person repents, the black spot gets wiped out, but if he persists on sinning, the blackness gradually increases until it covers the entire white spot. When this happens, the owner of such heart will never return towards goodness and become manifestation of the Qur’anic verse, ‘Nay, but that which they have earned is rust upon their hearts. 83:14’ (al-Kafi, vol. 2, pp. 273)

Amir al-Mu’minin Imam `Ali (a.s) has said:

مَنْ قَلَّ وَرعُهُ مَاتَ قَلبُه، وَمَن ماتَ قَلبُه دَخَل النّارَ.

Every one who lacks self-restraint and piety will have a dead heart; and whoever has a dead heart will be in Hell. (Nahj al- Balaghah)

He further emphasized on this matter in his last will addressing to his son:

يا بُنيَّ! إنّ البَلاءَ الفاقَةُ، وأَشَدُّ مِن ذلِكَ مَرضُ البَدنِ وأشَدُّ مِن ذلكَ مَرَضُ القَلبِ. وإنّ مِن النّعَمِ سَعَةَ المالِ وأفْضَلُ مِن ذلِكَ صِحَّةُ البَدنِ وأفضَلُ مِن ذلِكَ تَقوى القُلوبِ.

My son: Poverty is one of the most horrible calamities, but still severer than poverty is the bodily sickness; and the sickness of soul is harsher than the bodily sickness. Plenty of wealth is one of God’s blessings but sound health is better than that; and the piety of heart is even superior than sound health. (Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 70, pp. 51)

According to a narration reported by Anas ibn Malik that the Holy Prophet (a.s) said:

ناجَى دَاوُدُ رَبَّه فقالَ: إلهِي! لِكُلّ مَلَكٍ خُزانَةٌ، فأينَ خُزانتُكَ؟ قال جَلّ جَلالُه: لي خُزانَةٌ أعْظَمُ مِن العَرشِ وَأوْسَعُ مِن الكُرسِيِّ وأطْيَبُ مِن الجَنَّةِ وأزْيَنُ مِن المَلكوتِ؛ أرْضُها المَعرِفَةُ وَسماؤها الإيمانُ وَشمْسُها الشَّوقُ وقَمَرُها المحَبَّةُ ونجومُها الخَواطِرُ وسَحابهُا العَقلُ ومَطَرُها الرّحمَةُ وأثمارُها الطّاعَةُ وثمَرُها الحِكمَةُ ولها أربَعَةُ أبوابٍ: العِلمُ والحِلمُ والصّبرُ والرّضا؛ ألا وهيَ القَلبُ.

Prophet David (a.s) asked God, “Oh God! All kings possess treasures; where is Yours? Almighty God replied, “I possess a treasure which is greater than the sky; vaster than the Heaven’s firmaments; smells better than the perfumes of Paradise and is more beautiful than the Celestial Kingdom. Its earth is enlightenment; its sky is belief, its sun is enthusiasm; its moon is love; its stars are inspiration and attention towards Me; its clouds are reason; its rain is blessing, its fruits are obedience; and its yield is wisdom. My Treasure has four doors; the first one is the door of knowledge, the second one is the door of reason, the third one is the door of patience and the fourth one is the door of contentment. My Treasure is the heart of a believer.” (Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 70, pp. 59)

The Holy Prophet and Imams have described many interesting topics in these traditions. They have specified three categories for hearts:

The Heart of an Unbeliever

These Divine Specialists have described the heart of an infidel as being a reversed or over‑turned containing not any goodness. Such heart is deviated from its primordial nature; does not look towards the Upper‑Heavens and keeps itself amused and preoccupied into worldly affairs; therefore, it does not witness the existence of Almighty God and the Eternal World. It lacks the proper imagination for goodness and righteous deeds, because the righteous deeds reach the perfection stage and Gods’ Nearness only in cases when they are performed with the intention of attaining His pleasure. But since an infidel has reversed his heart, he does not see Almighty God any more and, thus, does not have any other aim except this world in all affairs.

The bearer of such a heart in his primordial nature was blessed with esoteric eyes which now have been blinded because he cannot witness the most explicit shinning realities—the Creator of the Universe. He is blind and will be raised as blind in the Next World. In this world, he is attached to worldly affairs and will be raised in the Next World possessed with the same attachment, but since the Eternal World lacks these worldly amusements, he will be burnt with the fire of separation. In such heart, the light of faith has been extinguished and it is totally filled with absolute darkness.


The Heart of a Believer

Opposite to the heart of an unbeliever, the heart of a perfect righteous believer has doors that are open towards the Upper Heaven and Unseen World and is illuminated with the light of faith which will never be turned off; and through its two esoteric eyes, it witnesses the mysteries of the Hidden World. Such a heart continuously strives for achieving absolute perfection, beauty and salvation and seeks God’s pleasure and blessings. Since it seeks Almighty God, it continuously strives to move in His Direction by means of high moral conduct and righteous deeds. Such heart is wider than the heavens and the Divine Thrown and more beautiful than Paradise. It is the Divine Treasure and the center of the manifestation of the Heavenly Light; its earth is enlightenment, its sky is faith; its sun is enthusiasm for God’s countenance; its moon is God’s love where the wisdom roles and absorbs the rain of the Divine blessings for producing the fruits of worship and obedience to God. It is filled up with absolute light, joy, cheerfulness and purity; and will be raised in the Next World in the same state.


The Heart of a Believer—Occasionally Contaminated

The heart of a believer which occasionally gets contaminated with sin is not dark and confined; rather it is illuminated with the light of faith and remained open for receiving guidance and Divine blessings. But as a result of sinning, it has developed a black spot and Satan has succeeded to make an entry into it. Both angels and Satan have access within such heart. The angels enter through the doors of faith and invite to goodness while Satan influences through the black spot inviting to evil.

In such a heart, both Satan and angels are engaged in a continuous confrontation. The angles want to take over the control of the entire heart forcing Satan out through good deeds and, on the other side, Satan through seduction and sins makes the dark heart darker and strives to take over the control of it entirely by forcing out the angel and permanently closing the gateway of belief forever. These two are permanently engaged in a continuous war until one of them become victorious over his opponent and the magnitude of victory achieved. The esoteric life and eternal destination of human being depends upon this struggle. It is here that the struggle against one’s self becomes of crucial importance.


Hard‑heartedness

In his initial primordial nature, heart is bestowed upon with special virtues such as purity, enlightenment, kindness and blessing. He is sensitive towards other people’s difficulties and feels uncomfortable while seeing others in pain even animals. He desires that others should live a pleasant and comfortable life and takes pleasure in doing favors towards them. In accordance with his pure nature, he is inclined and pays attention towards Almighty God; takes pleasure in performing worship, prayer, supplication and other righteous deeds while immediately feels ashamed and offers repentance if commits sins.

In case the heart accepted the invitation of his pure primordial nature and acted accordingly, it becomes purest, kindest, more sincere and more enlightened. Because of the effects of worship and prayers, its enthusiasm and love for these things increases day by day. But if it neglects and acts against its inner natural feelings and sentiments, they gradually get subdued and eventually become completely silenced and eventually annihilated.

If heart, after seeing the horrible tragic scenes involving others, does not show any reaction, it will gradually be accustomed to such things to the extent that further repetition of such encounters will produce least reaction. Also, it is possible that one may reach a point where seeing the poverty, hunger and wretchedness involving others do not produce any disturbance within his conscience; rather by seeing the painful scenes of imprisonment, torture and murders, he may feel happy and pleased.[50]

If someone commits a sin for the first time, he feels guilty and ashamed about it, but having committed a sin for the first time, to repeat it for the second and third time relatively becomes easier for him, and in case of his persistence on sinning reaches to a point where not only does he not feel any sense of guilt and shame, but also he considers himself victorious and feels happy. The heart of such persons has become dark and reversed and, in the words of the Holy Qur’an and narrations, has acquired hardheartedness. Satan has occupied these hearts forcing God’s angels out and the doors of salvation have been closed permanently leaving no hope for repentance and return towards Almighty God Who said in the Holy Qur’an:

فَلَوْلَا إِذْ جَاءَهُمْ بَأْسُنَا تَضَرَّعُوا وَلَكِنْ قَسَتْ قُلُوبُهُمْ وَزَيَّنَ لَهُمْ الشَّيْطَانُ مَا كَانُوا يَعْمَلُونَ.

“If only, when Our disaster came on them, they had been humble! But their hearts were hardened and the devil made all that they used to do seem fair unto them. 6:43”

فَوَيْلٌ لِلْقَاسِيَةِ قُلُوبُهُمْ مِنْ ذِكْرِ اللَّهِ أُوْلَئِكَ فِي ضَلَالٍ مُبِينٍ.

“Then woe unto those whose hearts are hardened against remembrance of Allah. Such are in plain error. 39:22”

Amir al-Mu’minin Imam `Ali (a.s) said:

ما جَفَّتِ الدّموعُ إلاّ لِقَسوةِ القَلبِ، وما قَسَت القُلوبُ إلاّ لِكَثرَةِ الذّنوبِ.

Whenver tears are dired, it is because of hardheartedness; and whenever hearts are hard, it is because excess of sins. (Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 73, pp. 354)

The Holy Prophet (a.s) said:

مِن عَلاماتِ الشَّقاءِ جُمودُ العَينِ وقَسْوَةُ القَلبِ وشِدّة ُالحِرصِ في طَلبِ الرّزقِ والإصْرارُ عَلى الذّنْبِ.

Four things are the indicators of human cruelty: (1) Dryness of eyes, (2) Hardheartedness, (3) Excessive greed for earning a living and (4) persistence of sins. (Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 73, pp. 349)

Thus, the Infallible Imams (a.s) in their supplications took shelter in Almighty God against hardheartedness. Imam al‑Sajjad (a.s) said:

إلهي! إلَيكَ أشْكو قَلباً قاسِياً مَع الوَسواسِ مُتقَلّباً وبالرّينِ والطَّمَعِ مُتَلبّساً، وعَيناً عَن البُكاءِ من خَوفِكَ جامِدَةً وإلى ما يَسُرّها طامِحَةً.

“O God! 1 do complain to you against hardheartedness—the heart which by means of whims and passions is in the state of continuous revolution and has become contaminated. And I do complain to you against the dryness of eye which does not cry and is not afraid of You and, instead, takes pleasure in looking towards whatever makes itpleased.” (Bihar al-Anwar. vol. 94, pp. 143)

Therefore, a human being who desires for his own prosperity and soundness of heart must prevent himself from committing any sin however small it might seem and should gradually motivate his self for performing righteous deeds, such as worship, prayer, communications with God, sincerity, kindness and helping others, defense of the oppressed and the deprived, benevolence and cooperation for achieving social welfare and social justice so that they become habits. His inner purity and illumination continues striving for perfection and purification until his heart becomes a special center of God’s favorite angels.


Heart’s Physicians

It has already been explained earlier that like human bodies, hearts could also be healthy and sick, and the eternal prosperity or salvation of a person depends upon his returning to the Next World with a pure and sound heart. It is therefore important for us to be knowledgeable about the health and sickness of the heart and must identify the symptoms of the disease and understand the causes and factors in order to implement all the health care hygienic measures to prevent its spread.

Do we possess self-sufficiency in this matter or do we need the Prophets? There is absolutely no doubt that we lack sufficient knowledge about the special creation of human self and the secrets and mysteries which have been incorporated by the Creator in this Celestial existence. In fact, we are ignorant about our psychological and esoteric life; do not well recognize the factors and causes responsible for the self’s sickness; cannot properly diagnose the symptoms of the disease; and are not well aware about various kinds of diseases, preventive measures required against their spread and the available methods of their treatment. Therefore, the presence of Divine Prophets is really required in order to provide guidance and lead us to solve the abovementioned problems.

The prophets are the real physicians and specialists of the souls that through Divine Blessing and revelations understands very well about the pain as well as the treatment of self. They have been educated and trained in various disciplines dealing with human beings and their souls in the school of revelation, and are thoroughly knowledgeable about the secret and mysteries of this special celestial existence. They understand the straight path of guidance and ascend towards Almighty God as well as the causes and factors of deviations and, therefore, are in a position to help lead the human beings in following the straight path and can prevent their deviations.

Yes! The Prophets are the physicians who have rendered most valuable services to humanity throughout history; such services are relatively more valuable than the services rendered by the physicians of the human bodies. The Prophets were able to discover the mysterious abstract (i.e. Celestial Spirit) for themselves and by introducing this Celestial Essence to human beings succeeded in reviving their human personalities. They introduced and enlightened human beings with learning, spirituality and moral ethics by showing them the path of journey leading towards God’s Nearness. They, also, made humanity familiar with the unseen world and strived for self‑purification, self-nourishment and self-refinement of human beings. If there are marks of sentiments, love, moral ethics and other virtues found among human beings, it is all due to the blessing of the painstaking continuous efforts and endeavors of all God’s Prophets and specially the Last Messenger, Muhammad (a.s). If the Divine Prophets would not have been dispatched for human guidance, the conditions of human beings would have certainly been something different. Yes! The Prophets are real distinguished personalities and because of this distinction have been called as physicians of self in the traditions. Amir al-Mu’minin Imam `Ali (a.s) said about the Holy Prophet (a.s):

“Muhammad (a.s) was a trawling physician who continuously endeavored for the treatment of souls. He had prepared ready-made ointments and arranged other tools of surgery for the treatment of wounds and disinfecting the diseases at suitable occasions. He cured the heart’s blindness, ear’s deafness and tongue’s dumbness and prescribed medicine for all those who were living in the state of confusion and wandering because they did not utilized the light of wisdom for the abstraction of realities and thus were forced to live like grazing animals. (Nahj al-Balaghah, Sermon 108)

The Holy Qur’an has been described as a health‑giving medicine for the diseased hearts:

يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ قَدْ جَاءَتْكُمْ مَوْعِظَةٌ مِنْ رَبِّكُمْ وَشِفَاءٌ لِمَا فِي الصُّدُورِ وَهُدًى وَرَحْمَةٌ لِلْمُؤْمِنِينَ.

“O mankind! There hath come unto you an exhortation from your Lord, a balm for that which is in the breasts, a guidance and a mercy for believers. 10:57”

وَنُنَزِّلُ مِنْ الْقُرْآنِ مَا هُوَ شِفَاءٌ وَرَحْمَةٌ لِلْمُؤْمِنِينَ وَلَا يَزِيدُ الظَّالِمِينَ إِلَّا خَسَارًا.

“And We reveal of the Qur'an that which is a healing and a mercy for believers though it increase the evil-doers in naught save ruin. 17:82”

Amir al-Mu’minin Imam `Ali (a.s) said about the Holy Qur’an:

وَتَعَلَّموا القُرآنَ فإنّه أحْسَنُ الحَديثِ وتَفَقَّهوا فيهِ فإنّه رَبيعُ القُلوبِ واستَشفُوا بنُورِهِ فإنّه شِفاءُ الصُّدورِ.

“Learn the Holy Qur’an because it is the best of learning; pay attentions to its verses because they are like the springs rain; its recital revives the heart. And utilize the Qur’anic illumination for it is the heating of your hearts.” (Nahj al-‑Balaghah, Sermon 110)

At some other place, he said:

وَاعلَموا أنّه لَيسَ عَلى أحَدٍ بَعدَ القُرآنِ مِن فاقَةٍ وَلا لأحَدٍ قَبْلَ القُرآنِ مِن غِنىً، فاسْتَشفوهُ مِن أدْوائِكُم واستَعِينوا به عَلى لأْوائِكُم فإنّ فيهِ الشّفاءَ مِن أكْبرِ الدّاءِ؛ وهُو الكُفرُ والغَيُّ والضَّلالُ.

“Know that any one who possesses the Holy Qur’an would not require any thing else and whoever is deprived of it will never be free from want. By means of the Holy Qur’an, heal the sickness of your hearts and strengthen yourself through it while confronting hardships because it contains the cure for the most severe diseases; namely, blasphemy, hypocrisy and deviations.” (Nahj al‑Balaghah, Sermon 176)

Yes! The Prophet of Islam is the best physician of the souls. He recognized well our pain and its treatment; brought the Holy Qur’an and presented it to us as the best program of healing for our internal pains. Apart from that various kind of psychic disease and their treatments have been explained for us through the Holy Prophet (a.s) and the Infallible Imams (a.s) (the Ahl al‑Bait) that have been preserved for us in the form of traditions. Hence, if we are interested in the happiness and soundness of our selves, we must practice the hygienic measures for our psychic and physical health. We must identify these diseases within our souls through Qur’anic verses and guide issued by the Holy Prophet (a.s) and the Infallible Imams (a.s) and must seriously strive for their treatments. Any negligence shown in this important and crucial task would result in serious damage inflicted upon our selves which will become manifested in the Next World.


Refinement and Perfection of Self

It was already discussed that self‑building and self‑nourishment are the most important crucial tasks because the happiness and prosperity of both worlds depends upon them. All of God’s Prophets were dispatched for accomplishing this aim. Self‑building must be undertaken into two stages:

Ÿ The first stage of self‑refinement consists of cleansing of heart from indecent moral conduct and avoiding sins. This act is called refining and evacuation.

Ÿ The second stage of self‑nourishment and perfection consists of acquiring higher learning for abstraction of absolute truth, attaining moral excellence in conduct and undertaking of righteous deeds. This act is called nourishment and perfection.

Both the abovementioned stages are necessary for achieving self-building because unless and until the heart’s ground is not thoroughly cleansed from evilness, it would not be available for acquiring higher learning, attaining moral excellence and performance of righteous deeds. How can a heart contaminated with Satan’s presence become a center for the manifestation of the Divine Light? How can God’s intimate angels enter into such a heart? On the other hand, if faith, enlightenment, moral excellence and righteous deeds do not exist, what means will cause human self to attain nourishment and perfection?

For self-building, both these stages must be attempted simultaneously. On one side, the heart must be thoroughly cleansed and purified from all sorts of impurities and, on the other side, it should be encouraged and motivated for performing righteous and virtuous deeds. Satan must be forced out and God’s Intimate Angel should be welcomed. Any sort of foreign material other than God’s should be thrown out from it, and God’s Blessing and Illumination must be absorbed. These two stages are complimentary to each other.

It is not possible to purify the heart and let postpone the performance of righteous deeds for a later opportunity and, likewise, we cannot ignore the heart’s internal impurities and evilness before undertaking the performance of righteous deeds. It is thus necessary that both stages must be coordinated and should be undertaken simultaneously. Avoiding sins and shameful deeds invites human being towards goodness and, similarly, the performance of righteous and virtuous deeds result in the quittal of sins and obscene deeds. But in order to continue detailed discussion for the both stages, it would be better to divide them into separate chapters.


[50] The videotapes commercially produced by the Serb criminals showing the most horrible brutal crime scenes of mass killings, torture and rapings in recent ethnic cleansing in Bosnia‑Herzegovina under the very nose of the United Nations, in the heart‑land of the ‘civilized’ Europe and their welcome by the sadists in the Westem countries proves the authenticity of this statement [Tr].