Narrated by Ibn Bashir: I heard Allah’s Apostle saying: “Both legal and illegal things are evident but in between them there are doubtful (suspicious) things and most of the people have no knowledge about them. So whoever saves himself from these suspicious things saves his religion and his honor. And whoever indulges in these suspicious things is like a shepherd who grazes (his animals) near the pastures of someone else and at any moment he is liable to get in it. (O people!) Beware! Every king has a pasture and the pasture of Allah on the earth is His illegal (forbidden) things. Beware! There is a piece of flesh in the body if it becomes good (reformed) the whole body becomes good but if it gets spoilt the whole body gets spoilt and that is the heart.” [Bukhari]
It is clear from this Hadith that the heart is the essence of the whole body.
So what do we mean by a good and bad heart? Are we saying a bad heart is on the brink of a heart attack, clogged and cluttered with cholesterol and a healthy heart is of the one who cares for his health, eating well and exercising so his heart is strong. NO!
This Hadith describes the doubtful matters, the matters that are not clearly forbidden or clearly permissible; the matters that one has no knowledge of. The one who avoids the doubtful matters, is keeping himself clear from what is unlawful. And the one who indulges in these matters, is likely to slip into the unlawful.
Clearly, with the warning that follows this must mean that the dealing in the doubtful and unlawful matters has an effect on the heart. So this is what we mean by the health of the heart.
To further emphasize the importance of the heart, the Hadith transmitted on the authority of Abu Hurairah with some addition: “Verily Allah does not look to your bodies nor to your faces but He looks to your hearts,” and he pointed towards the heart with his fingers.” [Muslim]
So if Allah is going to look to our hearts, wouldn’t you want your heart to be in the perfect condition? How much effort do we put into making our house, our personal presentation beautiful when we are expecting our fellow Muslims to visit? They are only the creations of Allah, surely we must exert much more effort in our presentation to Allah. We are unaware of what moment our souls will be taken from us forever, so we must make sure the house of our heart is spotless at all times.
To be able to do this we must first understand what condition our heart is in. Understand the different types and conditions of the heart.
The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said: “The hearts are four types: polished as shiny as the radiating lamp, a sealed heart with a knot tied around its seal, a heart that is turned upside down and a wrapped heart. As for the polished heart, it is the heart of the believer and the lamp is the light of faith. The sealed heart is the heart of the disbeliever. The heart that is turned upside down is the heart of the pure hypocrite, because he had knowledge but denied it. As for the wrapped heart, it is a heart that contains belief and hypocrisy. The example of faith in this heart is the example of the herb that is sustained by pure water. The example of hypocrisy in it is the example of an ulcer that thrives on puss and blood. Whichever of the two substances has the upper hand, it will have the upper hand of that heart.” [Ahmad]
This Hadith describes the types of hearts.
The Healthy Heart
We start first with the heart that is polished as shiny as the radiating lamp. This is the heart of the believer in Allah and His messengers and the radiating lamp is the light of faith.
There are so many references in the Quran describing the healthy, believing heart. Allah says: “The believers are only those who, when Allah is mentioned, feel a fear in their hearts and when His Verses are recited unto them, they increase their Faith; and they put their trust in their Lord (Alone);” [Noble Quran 8:2]
“…who patiently bear whatever may befall them (of calamities)” [Noble Quran 22:35]
“And those who give charity and also do other good deeds with their hearts full of fear (whether their charities have been accepted or not), because they are sure to return to their Lord (for reckoning).” [Noble Quran 23:60]
“He it is Who sent down (calmness and tranquility) into the hearts of the believers, that they may grow more in Faith along with their (present) Faith…” [Noble Quran 48:4]
This heart is filled with fear, fear for disobeying Allah, fear of whether their good deeds will be accepted, fear of the Punishment of disobedience, fear of not reaching Paradise. And also patience for whatever befalls them, calmness and tranquility, having Faith in their Creator that everything is the Will of Allah.
Allah also says: “And that those who have been given knowledge may know that it is the truth from your Lord, and that they may believe therein, and their hearts may submit to it with humility.”
“And verily, Allah is the Guide of those who believe, to the Straight Path.” [Noble Quran 22:54]
And this is the best part of a healthy heart, is the gift of understanding the knowledge. These hearts are filled with the knowledge that Allah has sent, it wasn’t lost in the throat, in the chest, it sank into the heart and cleansed it, polished it so it would shine like a radiating lamp, filling the whole body with the desire to please Allah and fearful of displeasing Him.
The Dead Heart
Then we have two other types described in the previous Hadith “…a sealed heart and a heart that is turned upside down…”
These are the dead hearts. These are the hearts of the disbelievers, the ones who rejected the signs of Allah and who brought upon themselves the wrath of Allah.
The sealed heart is the heart that never believed. As described in the interpretation of the meaning of the Quran:
“Allah has set a seal on their hearts and on their hearings, and on their eyes there is a covering. Theirs will be a great torment.” [Noble Quran 2:7]
Again it is most beautifully described in the Quran:
“Or the state of the disbeliever is like the darkness in a vast deep sea” [Noble Quran 24:40]
The other type of dead heart, is the upside down heart, the heart of the hypocrite. The one who has had knowledge and rejected it. For him is the lowest, most horrific abode in the Hellfire.
In the Interpretation of the meaning of the Quran, Allah says: “And We shall turn their hearts and their eyes away (from guidance), as they refused to believe therein for the first time, and We shall leave them in their trespass to wander blindly.” [Noble Quran 6:110]
They are arrogant in their thoughts:
“The Hypocrites – they think they are over-reaching Allah, but He will over- reach them: When they stand up to pray, they stand without earnestness, to be seen of men, but little do they hold Allah in remembrance;” [Noble Quran 4:142]
They oppose the laws of Islam:
“The Hypocrites, men and women, (have an understanding) with each other: They enjoin evil, and forbid what is just, and are closed with their hands. They have forgotten Allah. so He hath forgotten them. Verily the Hypocrites are rebellious and perverse.” [Noble Quran 9:67]
And they are insulting towards the beloved Prophet of Allah, as Allah explains: “And behold! The Hypocrites and those in whose hearts is a disease (even) say: “(Allah) and His Messenger promised us nothing but delusion!” [Noble Quran 33:12]
Certainly this shows the lowest nature of these hearts.
The Sick Heart
Now we examine the nature of the sick heart.
It is true that words of the Prophet (peace be upon him) come clear and sweet, as only he can explain the sick heart and leave no doubt to its meaning:
“…As for the wrapped heart, it is a heart that contains belief and hypocrisy. The example of faith in this heart is the example of the herb that is sustained by pure water. The example of hypocrisy in it is the example of an ulcer that thrives on puss and blood. Whichever of the two substances has the upper hand, it will have the upper hand of that heart.”
This is the heart of the believer in Allah, and the Last Day, but they are wavering in their faith. Their desires pull them away from their Creator and they are focused on the delights of the Dunya with little regard for the ultimate delights that could await them in the Hereafter. They are drowning in sinful behavior and slow to repent.
Their hearts have been described by the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) “…and the other (heart) black and dust-colored like a vessel which is upset, not recognizing what is good or rejecting what is abominable, but being impregnated with passion.” [Muslim]
We all, as believing Servants of Allah have times where we fall into this category, where our focus is diverted from the Hereafter and we become lost in the trials and delights of this short life we are currently living. It is a time when belief is weakened and fear of Allah is reduced.
Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) said: “There is (at times) some sort of shade upon my heart, and I seek forgiveness from Allah a hundred times a day.” [Muslim]
Surely, on hearing this we must ask ourselves, the heart of the Prophet (peace be upon him) must be the healthiest of all hearts, he has been labeled the best of all Mankind, so if his heart feels a shade upon it and feels that he needs to seek forgiveness 100 times a day, we must ask…what must we do to have a healthy heart?
Repent sincerely, with full hope of Allah’s Mercy and Forgiveness, and strive in His cause to better ourselves and the deeds that we do.