The amazing heart

 The heart is the seat of awareness, consciousness and feelings. The heart could be good or bad, healthy or unhealthy in the spiritual sense. Prophet Mohammad has said “Surely in the breasts of men is a lump of flesh, if sound then the whole body is sound, and if corrupt then the whole body is corrupt. Is it not the heart?”

Mohammad al-Ghazali, often Algazel in English, one of the most celebrated scholars in the history of Islamic thought, pointed out that the heart denotes two things, the physical heart and the ‘divine entity.’ He mentions that the ‘spiritual’ heart is the essence of man. It is incumbent that this ‘divine entity’ or the potential seat of God’s illuminations and serenity is kept sound and healthy for the physical body to operate optimally.

In his exposition of the heart, Al-Ghazali emphasised its purification. The term purification is described as a disciplined process that gives birth to the seed of awareness in the heart. This enlightenment, a moment of unique divine intervention or the first ray of divine light that expands the heart, is the beginning of a personal transformation. The purification of the heart is related closely to the function of the heart itself, which is to know the Creator, to love Him, and to seek closeness to Him. If the heart fails in this function, then it is considered sick.

The importance of a healthy and purified heart is brought out clearly in this verse of the Qur’an wherein a sound heart has been made a condition for salvation. “The day on which neither wealth nor sons will be of any use, except for one who brings to God a sound heart” (26: 88-89).

We go to great lengths in order to maintain the well being of the body, following a proper diet and doing regular exercises lest we fall sick and at the slightest sign of any disease we  make sure that we do all that we can to overcome the disease and regain our lost health at the earliest. The well being of our hearts, however, is far more important than that of our bodies, and calls for greater care from us for while the illness of the body ends with the death of the body but the disease of the heart or the soul does not die with the body as it is eternal.

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