By Umarrah Javed Al Hadi
What can give you power to stay grounded as you move through the challenges of life? What is the thing that can keep you in a state of gratitude at all times? How can you adopt and maintain a zoomed out perspective that allows for judgements and reflections to be made without emotions clouding your rational thoughts?
It is a sound heart. Al-qalb al-saleem. A sound heart is free from any blemish, illness, issue. It recognizes life for what it is: A test for the believer, a place to worship and to practice patience while the promise of happiness awaits in the hereafter. Have you pondered about how we work hard to maintain a healthy, preserved body i.e. we exercise, drink enough water, eat healthy and we are so careful to not let our bodies decline but despite our effort our bodies inevitably decay.
Saleem is used in Arabic for someone that survives a snakebite i.e. we in life may come across a strong yearning for something that is not lawful or have certain questions that pose challenges but the person with a sound heart tells themselves that they will not follow through on their desires and they reach out to Allāh ﷻ and He Guides them.
Do we strive for a sound heart the same way we strive for healthy bodies?
A healthy heart is free from doubts and desires. Doubts about Allāh ﷻ and doubts about The Prophet ﷺ – either one or both of these are signs that the heart is diseased. Now, lawful desires are nothing to be ashamed of and we should make dua for such things but desires for things that Allāh ﷻ does not like are indications of an ill heart.
Some of the qualities of a sound heart:
- The heart that has surrendered completely to the *belief* of Allāh i.e. It may be hard to do something in this life but if done for the sake of Allāh then the reward is endless and the heart that is sound recognizes what will please his Lord and ranks that above his or her own opinions and choices.
- Surrendered to the *commands* of Allāh ﷻ with no remains of resistance. Such a heart is on good terms with Allāh. If a heart is not like this then it will see everything in a negative way and it will constantly question commands, ahadith and will question Qadr. You will see such a heart complain, be in pain and repeatedly foster the ‘why me’ mindset. The bitterness that can come about with Allāh ﷻ settles in ones heart and it does not go away by itself ever. It is unhealthy and brews in the heart. One can only overcome such a feeling by asking for the help of Allāh.
- A sound heart is free of everything except Allāh and its only concern is that Allāh should be happy with it. Think about it – we may claim that we are striving to only focus on Allāh but a test of that is our salah. Ask yourself honestly, what is the state of your prayers? Are they on time, do you pause before each action, savour each word?
What can we do to attain a sound heart?
Ask yourself two questions when saying/doing something
1. Why? Why did I do this – for what purpose and for whose sake. Is it worth it? It is only worth it if it is for the sake of Allāh. Everyday habits can become worship if done with the correct intention.
2. How am I doing this? Are you doing it gracefully or begrudgingly? Are you getting closer to the sunnah or further away from it? Are you doing it excellently or with anger and in a way that is displeasing to Allāh? For example during a heated discussion, think about how are you speaking → is that how a righteous servant of Allāh would conduct themselves or are you absorbed in being ‘right’ rather than ‘righteous’?
3. Think well of Allāh. With regard to commands and decrees – be pleased with these things. Believe that Allāh knows best and come to terms with what He has said or done with your life.
4. Be on good terms with people. You become the bigger person, someone that rises above what is happening around them → you can make du’ā but also smile, say salaam to the person that has upset you and perhaps your heart will not be cleared straight away but it will eventually (hopefully) be cleared. A hadith explains that you cannot enter paradise until you believe and you cannot believe until you love one another. You can say salaam, be of service to them and be generous. Especially to those that upset you. Be the one to initiate peace even if the other person made a mistake.
5. Stay connected with the Qurān → whatever the sadness inside you or the anxiety or stress, pick up your Qurān and start reciting. Study it, make notes. Do whatever you can but stay close to the Qurān and it will help you heal.
One thing we should always take care of is our heart. We must take care of it physically and spiritually. If a person has a physically ill heart but they are spiritually strong then they are still promised to attain greater goodness in the hereafter. If a person has an ailment of the heart but is physically well – then that is the severest state, this person is breathing but not alive in the truest sense.
The scary thing is that we will inevitably die at an undisclosed time in whatever state we are in. If we die in a state of contentment and peace that is how we continue but if we die in a state of anxiety or sadness then that is how we continue. We have time right now, Allāh has given us the chance in this moment to heal, let go and protect our hearts for our own sake. We will benefit in this life and the hereafter if we attain and maintain al-qalb al-saleem – may we be among those by the Mercy of Allāh ﷻ.
“The one that did not enter paradise in the world, will not enter paradise in the hereafter i.e. if you did not find inner peace and contentment during your life, you will not find it afterwards.” – Ibn Taymiyyah
How will you strive for a sound heart? Share your reflections below!