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About the Heart

Man’s Innermost Reality, Center Of Consciousness

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At the end of a longer hadith the Prophet ﷺ said:

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“Truly in the body there is a morsel of flesh which, if it be sound, all the body is sound and which, if it be diseased, all of it is diseased. Truly it is the heart.”

Imam Ali  said: “The disease of the heart is worse than the disease of the body.”

Al-Nawawi said: “This hadith was used as proof that the seat of the mind is the heart (al-ʿaql fi al-qalb) and not the head.”
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  On The Science Of The Heart

The term “heart” has different connotations in the Islamic tradition. It is not simply the organ of emotions, “feelings” and desires, but encompasses the soul, knowledge, bravery and more. When purified it is the seat of the intellect, i.e. the ray of the Divine in man and woman.

This is why it is called the “true essence of a human being” (Al-Jurjani), containing “all levels of inner being” (al-Hakeem al-Tirmidhi), and for the prophets it is the place of revelation (peace and blessings be upon them all).

At first the “heart” (qalb) is something unstable, unreliable, easily changing. In short it can either be sick or sound, dead or alive, due to its beliefs and certainty and due to the actions of man.

 About The Pure Heart

Concerning God-consciousness (taqwā), the Prophet ﷺ said, while pointing to his heart:

"God-wariness is right here" (al-taqwā hāhunā).

And as an unstable organ, it is continually influenced and turned by - but in the best of cases - eventually inspired and re-turned (and re-tuned) to - Allah (may His Majesty be exalted) Most High:

Quran verse 8-24

{ Allah intervenes between man and his heart } 8-24

Allah (may His Majesty be exalted) has informed us in the Holy Quran about the “heart” (qalb), where it is mentioned not less than ≈137 times, which is indicative of the importance of this term!

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  Islam - A Holistic Way of Life

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Islamic virtue is grounded in the attempt to find Allah present at all times and in all places, just as the Prophet ﷺ found Him present. So virtue pertains to the heart (qalb), where one is able to experience the reality of Allah - God without any intermediary.

Islamic understanding is rooted in investigating the objects of faith that are identified by the Koran - Allah, the angels, the scriptures, the prophets, the Last Day, and the ”measuring out” (qadar) of good and evil.
So understanding pertains to the mind or ”intelligence” or ”intellect” or ”reason” ('aql).

Islamic practice is rooted in the Sunnah or model of the Prophet ﷺ, who demonstrated how the Koran could be applied to everyday life, so practice pertains to the domain of the body.

The Worldview of Islamic Philosophy, W C Chittick

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