The importance of the heart in Islam cannot be understated as Allah refers back to the heart again and again throughout the Quran to show us how powerful the heart is in the lives of humanity. The believer and the non-believer alike are controlled by their hearts.
So what does the Quran say about the Heart? And how do you purify your Heart according to Islam and it’s teachings? There are numerous ways to do this and we’ll discuss some of this in the article, however, the number one method for softening the heart is to be in the remembrance of Allah. Doing any type of worship, reflection and contemplating about the Creator and the signs of Allah in the creation will put your life into context and help you to soften the heart and become humbled. The Heart in the Quran is the most important part of the human body as it controls the actions of every person.
Currently neuro-scientist are telling us that the Emotion has more power over a persons actions than the intellect. The intellect is the rational mind, and the heart controls the emoitional state.
The Prophet ( peace and blessings be upon him) informed us in a Hadeeth:
أَلاَ وَإِنَّ فِي الْجَسَدِ مُضْغَةً إِذَا صَلَحَتْ صَلَحَ الْجَسَدُ كُلُّهُ، وَإِذَا فَسَدَتْ فَسَدَ الْجَسَدُ كُلُّهُ. أَلاَ وَهِيَ الْقَلْبُ
“Indeed in the body there is a peace of flesh, if it is reformed, the whole body becomes good, and if it is spoilt, then the whole body becomes spoilt. Indeed it is the Heart.”
This shows us the heart has a crucial role in the body, more than just the physical function of pumping blood. It has a spiritual function that affects the soul.
If you are able to understand your heart, take control of the heart, and cleanse it from those things that defiles it, then you would gain mastery over it and over your actions.
In this article, we will look at the most powerful way to do this and how Allah describes the heart in the Quran. We will look at a powerful verse of the Quran where Allah shows us with absolute clarity the effects of the heart of life.
This short lesson is inspired by the explanation / Tafsir of Surah Al-Baqarah, verse 74,
Allah informs us that there are different types of hearts.
ثُمَّ قَسَتْ قُلُوبُكُم مِّن بَعْدِ ذَٰلِكَ فَهِيَ كَالْحِجَارَةِ أَوْ أَشَدُّ قَسْوَةً ۚ وَإِنَّ مِنَ الْحِجَارَةِ لَمَا يَتَفَجَّرُ مِنْهُ الْأَنْهَارُ ۚ وَإِنَّ مِنْهَا لَمَا يَشَّقَّقُ فَيَخْرُجُ مِنْهُ الْمَاءُ ۚ وَإِنَّ مِنْهَا لَمَا يَهْبِطُ مِنْ خَشْيَةِ اللَّـهِ ۗ وَمَا اللَّـهُ بِغَافِلٍ عَمَّا تَعْمَلُونَ
“Then your hearts became hardened after that, being like stones or even harder. For indeed, there are stones from which rivers burst forth, and there are some of them that split open and water comes out, and there are some of them that fall down for fear of Allah . And Allah is not unaware of what you do.”
In this verse Allah, the Most Wise draws a parallel between ‘the Heart’ and Rocks. Allah demonstrates that the Heart comes in different forms, just like stones do. Through this example we learn that there is hope for the heart, even if it has becomes hardened by Sins. There is hope that even the hardest of hearts can become soft and grow by purifying ourselves
The Types of Hearts in this Quranic Verse
The heart is the central control of the human body, and it is where motivation and energy comes from. The mind, on the other hand, is where we rationalise, analyse and create logical reasons and even understandings / paradigms of the world around us. The two together control how the world affects us.
However, the heart is what pushes us to do the things that we do, and it’s where we feel the emotions that motivate or demotivate us
Allah talks about different types of hearts and I’ll summarise it for you here:
1) The heart which gushes forth with mercy and compassion.
2) The heart which is hard but has some mercy and compassion
3) The heart which falls into submission and prostration from the fear and reverence that it has for Allah the Almighty
4) Lastly, the Hard Heart which is devoid of all mercy and compassion.
In the above 4 types of hearts, we see that the first 3 have some elements of mercy and compassion. You can equate mercy and compassion to the soft and tender nature of a heart or a person. The different types of hearts have varying degrees of mercy, however, the 4th heart is completely devoid of any mercy and compassion and thus it is a dark and hardened heart.
The 4th heart, the hardened heart is the type that commits heinous crimes and is merciless to its victims. This is the type of heart that is not affected when it sees suffering and torment.
Instead, this type of heart or this type of person justifies why it is okay to see such suffering and torment in the world.
What Causes the Heart to Become Hard
In the Hadeeth the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) informed us that the heart can be reformed, and it will have a reforming affect on the whole body, so it’s important to understand what spoils the heart.
The greatest of harmful things to the heart is:
To live in Sin – constantly committing sins, and making excuses for them. We tend to fool ourselves by telling ourselves that Allah is the Most Merciful, then committing Sins knowingly.
You see there is a difference between the one who is in a state of weakness, falling into sin out of that weakness, and the one who knows it is a Sin and prefers to satisfy his or her desires by giving it what Allah has forbidden.
Sounds like the same thing, but the later commits the sin over and over again knowing it is displeasing to Allah, and doesn’t even try to stop themselves.
The Prophet (saw) informed us that for every sin, a black spot is placed on the heart, and it continues this way till the heart becomes so dark it is overcome by the Sins and falls into ruin.
What can you do to stop this? Resist, Repent, put barriers between you and the Sin. Then strive hard against yourself falling into this again.
What is the Condition of your Heart?
Allah the Most Merciful and Compassionate taught us by sending to us the Messenger of mercy (pbuh), that Islam is about perfecting your character until you become full of mercy and compassion.
This is because the merciful and tender heart is the one that submits in obedience to its creator.
Whereas the arrogant and hardened heart is the one that is rebellious, disobedient and ungrateful to its creator.
The soft heart spreads goodness upon the earth, whilst the hard heart spreads corruption and evil upon the earth.
Allah the Most Merciful and the Most Compassionate says:
“And we have not sent you (oh Muhammad), except as a mercy to mankind.”
Surah Al-Anbiyah, v.107
In this verse, Allah describes the characteristics of his messengers, (peace and blessings be upon him) and gives us a role model to be followed, and a standard that we should be working towards.
This journey of life is a journey of growth and development towards the greater image of a human being. The Prophet Muhammad ((pbuh) is that best of role models.
The greatest heights that a human being can reach is to combine all the first 3 types of hearts to become a sign of God’s mercy on the Earth.
That means to have a heart which is gushing forth with mercy and compassion and to fall in prostration and worship of the Allah.
We have to perfect and purify our hearts so that we become the very best people that Allah is guiding us towards. The Quran and the Sunnah is the guidance and the way to perfecting that character and getting rid of the harshness of the hardened heart.
So how do you soften your heart?
The softening of the heart is dependent on your relationship with Allah. You have to spend time connecting to Allah through reflecting on the blessings in your life, and on the power of Allah over all aspect of your life.
The more you remember Allah, the quicker you’ll find your way to soften your heart. Reflection reminds us of the greatness and elevated station of Allah in contrast to the human who is weak and needy. The station that we humans have in creation is elevated according to the level of connection we have with the creator. The Creator of the heavens and the earth is all powerful and all merciful.
When you recognise this, you realise that we are in complete need of His mercy and His endless bounties.
No matter where you are on the scale of goodness. Your heart is your key to fixing your life and connection to the Creator. Allah will have mercy for you always, as long as you purify your heart with repentance and work on improving your state.
Don’t ever be hopeless, Allah will always except you and raise your rank if you ask and turn back to him. You can do it ?
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