By Sadia Dehlvi
Apr 04, 2013
Prophet Mohammed pointed to his heart and said, “Renunciation is here, the love and fear of Allah is here, sincerity is here.” When the heart becomes pure, serene and sound, it is able to hear the call of God, the call of prophets, Sufis and sages. A sound heart is tender, compassionate, detached from worldly pursuits and acts in accordance with the will of God.
People who show no mercy and whose eyes never get moist have hardened hearts, a sign that they are disconnected from God. Once a man complained to the Prophet about the hardness of his heart to which the Prophet replied, “Stroke the head of an orphan and give him something to eat.” Softening of the heart requires fulfilling moral obligations towards our families, relatives, neighbours and society.
The Prophet also said, “Surely in the breasts of humanity there is a lump of flesh, if sound then the whole body is sound, and if it is corrupt, then the whole body is corrupt. Indeed, it is the heart.” The spiritual heart that resides in the physical heart has been favoured by God, who has placed within it faith, beliefs and values. Good intent flows first from the heart and is then followed by good deeds.
It is the sincerity and mindfulness with which an act is done that can make a small deed great and a great deed small. We should, therefore, be wary of underestimating the deeds of others and exaggerating our own self-worth.
The spiritual heart has been likened to a mirror. If a mirror has not been polished and contains certain blemishes, its reflection of images is distorted. Similarly, spiritual blemishes darken the heart, distorting one’s perception of knowledge and the ability to distinguish between truth and falsehood.
Common spiritual ailments are arrogance, selfishness, rude behaviour, lust, greed, ungratefulness and rejecting the truth. Just as the physical heart requires exercise and fresh air to keep it healthy, the spiritual heart needs spiritual exercises. Spending a little time meditating and reflecting on one’s actions and thoughts is a good routine to follow. An honest introspection of one’s inner state helps renew one’s intentions.
An important way of counterbalancing pride in one’s heart is to lower oneself to the very people s/he feels arrogance over, and to seek out tasks which help break one’s ego and increase humbleness. Physically serving others, especially the elderly and the poor, are actions that are humbling and a sure way of connecting with God. The best way to polish the heart and keep it free from rust is constant remembrance of God, supplicating for His refuge and seeking protection from diseases of the heart.
Sadia Dehlvi is a Delhi-based writer and author of Sufism: The Heart of Islam.