Friday, July 25, 2014

‘Heart’ as a Spiritual Metaphor

The heart, a vital organ and essential in its role of pumping blood in the human body is considered, since ages, as the seat of feelings. This is certainly due to the fact that the heart rate increases with emotions. Indeed, love is symbolized by a heart! The heart is small but can contain vast emotions like the ocean. Over the centuries, an infinite amount of expressions in different languages ​​have been linked to heart; expressions associated with emotions (e.g. with a good heart, with all my heart, with rage in the heart), courage (e.g. having one’s heart in the stomach – French Expression “avoir du coeur au ventre”), others in which a loved one is designated (e.g. my little heart, my heart), the inner life (e.g. speaking from the heart), or even the memory (e.g. learning by heart). In our local Creole language there can also be found: Lekér sale (dirty heart), Lekér roche (having a stone in place of the heart),Lekér fermal (a wounded heart), Lekér l’or (a golden heart/ a heart of gold)...

The heart is also a great symbol related to many interpretations, including: The dwelling of faith and of knowledge, understanding, thinking, feelings etc. The heart is described by scientists as the king of organs; it is the seat of the sincerity of a person, without which none of his actions are accepted.

Several hadiths explicitly cite the supremacy of the heart. The Holy Prophet (pbuh) said: “Surely there is in the body a small piece of flesh; if it is in good condition the whole body is in good condition, and if it is corrupt the whole body is corrupt and that is the heart.” (Bukhari). He (pbuh) also said: “Surely Allah does not look at your bodies nor your faces but He looks at your hearts.” (Muslim).

Wabisah Ibn Ma’bad (ra) said: “I once went to the Messenger of God (pbuh) and he said:" 
“Have you come to inquire about virtue (good)?” 

“Yes,” I replied, and he said: “Ask your heart. Virtue is that which contents the soul and comforts the heart, and sin is that which causes doubts and perturbs the heart, even if people pronounce it lawful and give you verdicts on such matters again and again.” (Musnad Ahmad)

The heart is the seat of understanding. Allah (swt) reminds us in His Book that it is the heart which is endowed with reasoning:

So have they not travelled through the earth and have hearts by which to reason and ears by which to hear? For indeed, it is not eyes that are blinded, but blinded are the hearts which are within the breasts(22: 47).

And We have certainly created for Hell many of the jinn and mankind. They have hearts with which they do not understand, they have eyes with which they do not see, and they have ears with which they do not hear. Those are like livestock; rather, they are more astray. It is they who are the heedless. (7: 180).

It probably happens to each of us to take the time to put in order, clean (and arrange) our room, our office or our home... well, in the same way, we must take the time to put our heart in order, cleaning it in all its nooks and crannies and ensuring that all impurities are removed. This cleansing of the heart is crucial. It must be done with the utmost care using the most effective spiritual products such as the invocation of prayer. This purification of the heart is so paramount that God ensured that His Prophet (pbuh) has his heart purified from an early age, so that his message become credible, attractive and pure, by sending to him two angels who split open his chest spiritually and cleaned his heart. 

With the arrival of Ramadan (and now with the approach of Eid-ul-Fitr), Allah (swt) in His infinite mercy calls us to take care of our heart. This is an opportunity for them to make a great cleaning! It is absolutely necessary to get rid of impurities that are accumulated because as a result of sin, the hearts become hard, impure, sick or dead. Therefore, let us wash our Lekér sale (dirty hearts) with sincere repentance and forgiveness. Take the opportunity to revive our dead hearts and hearts of stone with the reading (and understanding) of the Quran. Reinforce our weak hearts, broken hearts, sad hearts and sinking hearts with Zikr: 

Those who have believed and whose hearts are assured by the remembrance of Allah. Unquestionably, by the remembrance of Allah hearts are assured. (13: 29)

The Holy Prophet (pbuh) said: “Do not talk much. Practice Zikrullah (remembrance of Allah); talking a lot without making Zikrullah hardens the heart and no one is more distant than that from Allah than one who has a hard heart.” (Tirmidhi).

Zikr for the heart is like water to fish: What is the situation of the fish when it comes out of water? For the Muslim to enjoy Zikr, and his tongue to tally with his heart and gives the desired effect in the heart, it is imperative that the evocation is bound to worship that is meditation (a form of worship) as the Allah (swt) says in the following verses:

Indeed, in the creation of the heavens and the earth and the alternation of the night and the day are signs for those of understanding

Who remember Allah while standing or sitting or (lying) on their sides and give thought to the creation of the heavens and the earth, (saying), 

“Our Lord, You did not create this aimlessly; exalted are You (above such a thing); protect us then from the punishment of the Fire. (3:191-192)

The Holy Prophet (pbuh) linked everything to the condition of the heart. When we eliminate our evil characters and we endorse good manners, we have a healthy heart. This is why Allah (swt) says in the Quran:

The Day when there will not benefit (anyone) wealth or children, But only one who comes to Allah with a sound heart.” (26: 89-90).

The brain can be stuffed with knowledge, but it shall be useful to the wearer only if his knowledge is canalised through a healthy heart. Science without conscience is the ruin of the soul.

In this blessed month and also for the other eleven months, let us be men and women of heart. From the bottom of the heart, let us take to heart the task of purifying our heart. Let us struggle to empty our hearts of hatred, jealousy and resentment; that our hearts are not ignited by worldly temptations but rather they are full of love for Allah (swt); that our hearts do not swell up with pride and disdain but have love for our neighbour; that our hearts do not despair and lose hope but swell with hope and enthusiasm. The reform of the heart is only possible when adorning it with virtues and wisdom and perfuming it with love.

To all my brothers and sisters, I wish with all my heart that through your efforts Allah (swt) grants you a purified heart, a peaceful heart, a living heart and a healthy heart. And may Allah unite our hearts. Ameen

-Friday Sermon of July 25, 2014 (27 Ramadan 1435 Hijri), delivered by the Khalifatullah Hadhrat Munir Ahmad Azim Sahib (atba) of Mauritius.