A servant's heart may be ill, and
seriously deteriorating, while he remains oblivious of its condition. It may
even die without him realizing it. The symptoms of its sickness, or the signs of
its death, are that its owner is not aware of the harm that results from the
damage caused by wrong actions, and is unperturbed by his ignorance of the truth
or by his false beliefs.
Since the living heart experiences pain as a result of any ugliness that it
encounters and through its recognizing its ignorance of the truth (to a degree
that corresponds to its level of awareness), it is capable of recognizing the
onset of decay-and the increase in the severity of the remedy that will be
needed to stop it-but then sometimes it prefers to put up with the pain rather
than undergo the arduous trial of the cure!
Some of the many signs of the heart's sickness if its turning away from good
foods to harmful ones, from good remedies to shameful sickness. The
healthy heart prefers what is beneficial and healing to what is harmful and
damaging; the sick heart prefers the opposite. The most beneficial sustenance
for the heart is faith and the best medicine is the Quran.
The Signs of a Healthy Heart
For the heart to be heality it should
depart from this life and arrive in the next, and then settle there as if it
were one of its people; it only came to this life as a passer-by, taking
whatever provisions it needed and then returning home. As the Prophet, may Allah
bless him and grant him peace, said to Abdullah ibn Umar, "Be in this world as
if you were a stranger or a passer-by."1 The More diseased the heart is, the
more it desires this world; it dwells in it until it becomes like one of its
The healthy heart continues to trouble its owner until he returns to Allah, and
is at peace with Him, and joins Him, like a lover driven by compulsion who
finally reaches his beloved. Besides his love for Him he needs no other, and
after invoking Him no other invocations are needed. Serving Him precludes
the need to serve any other.
If this heart misses its share of reciting the Quran and invoking Allah, or
completing one of the prescribed acts of worship, then its owner suffers more
distress than a cautious man who suffers because of the loss of money or a
missed opportunity to make it. It longs to serve, just as a famished
person longs for food and drink.
Yahya ibn Mu'adh said: "Whoever is pleased with serving Allah, everything will
be pleased to serve him; and whoever finds pleasure in contemplating Allah, all
will find pleasure in contemplating him." This heart has only one concern:
that all its actions, and its inner thoughts and utterances, are obedient to
Allah. It is more careful with its time than the meanest people are with their
money, so that it will not be spent wastefully. When it enters into the prayer,
all its worldly worries and anxieties vanish and it finds its comfort and bliss
in adoring its Lord. It does not cease to mention Allah, nor tire of serving
Him, and it finds intimate company with no-one save a person who guides it to
Allah and reminds it to Him.
Its attention to the correctness of its action is greater than its attention to
the action itself. It is scrupulous in making sure that the intentions behind
its actions are sincere and pure and that they result in good deeds.
As well as and in spite of all this, it not only testifies to the generosity of
Allah in giving it the opportunity to carry out such actions, but also testifies
to its own imperfection and shortcomings in executing them.
The Causes of Sickness of the Heart
The temptations to which the heart is exposed are what cause its sickness. These
are the temptations of desires and fancies. The former cause intentions and the
will to be corrupted, and the latter cause knowledge and belief to falter.
Hudhayfa ibn al-Yamani, may Allah be pleased with him, said: "The Messenger of
Allah *saaws* 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, so that hearts are of two
types: a dark heart that has turned away and becom like an overturned vessel,
and a pure heart that will never be harmed by temptation for as long as the
earth and the heavens exist. The dark heart only recognises good and denounces
evil when this suits its desires and whims." 2
He, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, placed hearts, when exposed to
temptation, into two categories:::
---->First, a heart which, when it is exposed to temptation, absorbs it like a
sponge that soaks up water, leaving a black stain in it. It continues to absorb
each temptation that is offered to it until it is darkened and corrupted, which
is what he meant by "like an overturned vessel". When this happens, two
dangerous sicknesses take hold of it and plunge it into ruin:
The first is that of its confusing good with evil, to such an extent that it
does not recognise the former and does not denounce the latter. This
sickness may even gain hold of it to such an extent that it believes good to be
evil and vice-versa, the sunnah to be bida' and vice-versa, the truth to be
false and falsity to be the truth.
The second is that of its setting up its desires as its judge, over and above
what the Prophet *saaws* taught, so that it is enslaved and led by its whims and
----->Second, a pure heart which the light of faith is bright and from which its
radiance shines. When temptation is presented to pure hearts such this, they
oppose it and reject it, and so their light and illumination only increase.