The Sound Heart (Al-Qalb As-Saleem)
Allah (swt) informs us in the Quran through the words of His khaleel Prophet Ibraheem that, on the day of Judgment the whole of mankind will be in loss “except he who brings to Allah a sound heart (Al-Qalb As-Saleem)”. This means it is indeed vital for us to know what a saleem (sound) heart is.Islam considers the human heart to be the most important organ in the body. What appears to be an ordinary organ is actually the seat of human feelings, desires, aspirations, intuitions, and belief. Prophet Muhammad (saw) said,
“Surely, in the body there is a small piece of flesh; if it is good, the whole body is good, and if it is corrupted, the whole body is corrupted, and that is surely the heart.” [Bukhari]
Human hearts are of four kinds:
(1) A heart that is polished as shiny as a radiating lamp. This is the sound, healthy, and soft heart. It is the heart of the extremely pious believer. A heart that becomes rarer with the passing time. The light that radiates from it is the light of faith. This light shines through as righteous actions of the body.
(2) A solid heart with a knot tied around it. This is the corrupt, dead, and hard heart. It is the heart of a disbeliever. It is a heart that has rejected the truth after it reached him. Such a heart is sealed by Allah in punishment of its rejecting the clear truth. The solid heart is incapable of benefiting from the remembrance of Allah and accepting the call towards His message.
(3) The upside down heart. It is the heart of the hypocrite believer who outwardly claims to accept the truth but inwardly denies it for the petty gains of this life. It is also the heart of the Faasiq (the disobedient Muslim) who has not entered Islam completely. He persistently disobeys Allah by following some of His commands while leaving off others to fulfill his hearts’ base desires. This heart perceives things inverted; it sees this world as more important than the hereafter. It craves and strives more for this world than worry and prepare for the hereafter.
(4) The wrapped, blackened heart. This is a diseased heart that is neither fully healthy nor completely dead. This heart has signs of hardness in it. It is the heart of a common Muslim and majority of them. There are several levels of hardness and different types of diseases. Some hearts are severely sick and hard while other are near healthy and soft. When a Muslim commits a sin a black dot is put on his heart. If the Muslim repents sincerely by turning away from that sin and seeking forgiveness, the dot is removed and the heart returns to its previous state. If the heart keeps committing more sins without repenting from them the black spots on the heart increase till they cover the whole heart. This is the ‘Raana’ (stain) that Allah describes in the Quran, “on their hearts is the stain of the (ill) which they do!”
Medicine of the heart: A human heart needs purification to remove the stains of sins and the hardness due to its neglecting the remembrance of Allah. The hardness of the heart stems from exaggeration in four things: eating, sleeping, talking, and socializing. As when the body becomes sick, eating and drinking alone cannot cure it; if the heart becomes sick with desires, preaching alone cannot help it. In both cases you need to exercise precaution that you don’t do anything to aggravate the disease and make sure to take the prescribed medicine. Whoever seeks to purify his heart let him chose Allaah over his desires. Here are some steps that every Muslim must take to rid his heart of disease and hardness in order to acquire Al-qalb As-saleem.
(1) Leave off all acts of disobedience immediately
(2) Repent to Allah for all previous sins and seek His forgiveness
(3) Engage in the Thikr (remembrance) of Allah and it includes:
(a) Reciting a portion of the Quran every day while trying to understand and contemplate on it.
(b) Saying the athkaar of morning and evening as taught by the Prophet (saw)
(c) Making thikr at the start/end of every action as prescribed in the sunnah (e.g. thikr to say when starting and finishing food)
(d) Making general athkaar that can be said at any time (e.g. La Ilaaha Illa Allah)
(4) Engage in acts of obedience with full sincerity
(5) Focus on the hereafter through:
(a) Frequent visits to the graveyards and attending funerals to remind about death.
(b) Read details about the severity of death, punishment of the grave, description of the Day of Judgment, Heaven and Hell.
(c) Contemplate on the creation of Allah (e.g.. human being and whatever else surrounds him in the world) as they are from the Signs of Allah.
(6) Keep supplicating to Allah with full reliance (tawakkal) on Him that he will cure the disease of your heart and soften it through His Mercy and Kindness.