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  Opinion   Oped  02 Aug 2018  Mystic Mantra: Heart’s nature is to constantly turn

Mystic Mantra: Heart’s nature is to constantly turn

Sadia Dehlvi is a Delhi-based writer and author of Sufism: The Heart of Islam. She can be contacted at
Published : Aug 2, 2018, 6:09 am IST
Updated : Aug 2, 2018, 6:09 am IST

Sentences using the ‘heart’ as a metaphor to indicate guidance and righteousness are mentioned multiple times in the holy book.

Sufism (Representational image)
 Sufism (Representational image)

In Sufism, the spiritual heart is at the centre of one’s entire being. Zikr, that is remembrance of God, is recommended for polishing the heart so that it reflects Divine knowledge. A famous saying of Prophet Muhammad is, ‘Actions are based upon intentions’. All intentions emanate from the heart, which means that every action is rooted in the heart.

The Arabic word for heart is qalb, meaning something that turns and inqilaab is from the same root, means to turn upside down. Two of the ninety-nine names of Allah are Al Qabid and Al Basit, The Constrictor and the Expander, for it is Allah who makes our hearts expand and contract, both physically and spiritually. The nature of the heart is to constantly turn, and is understood as either moving towards purity or impurity; either towards God or away from Him.

According to Islamic philosophy, the heart is designed to be in a state of calm, something that is achieved constant acts of piety. The Quran says, ‘Surely in the remembrance of Allah do the hearts find calm’. Sentences using the ‘heart’ as a metaphor to indicate guidance and righteousness are mentioned multiple times in the holy book.

The Prophet David is said to have once asked ; ‘Oh God! All the emperors possess treasure then where is Your treasure? God-Almighty replied: ‘I possess a treasure which is greater than the sky; vaster than the Heaven’s firmaments; smells better than the perfumes of Paradise, and is beautiful than the Celestial Kingdom.

Its earth is enlightenment; its sky is belief, its sun is enthusiasm; its moon is love, its stars are inspiration and attention towards Me; its clouds are reason, its rain is blessing, its fruits are obedience; and its yield is wisdom. My Treasure has four doors, the first one is the door of knowledge, the second one is the door of reason, the third one is the door of patience, and the fourth one is the door of contentment. Know that My Treasure is the heart of a believer’.

Reiterating the importance of the heart, Prophet Muhammad 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’. He spoke of the heart as repository of knowledge and a vessel sensitive to the needs of the body. He explained that it perceives wrongful action and is agitated by it. Just as one works to keep a healthy physical heart, a sound spiritual heart requires constant God consciousness to protect it from falling to lower passions of the self.

The Prophet also said, ‘ the difference between one who remembers God and one who does not is like the difference between the living and the dead’.  The hearts of those who have never known truthfulness, humbleness, generosity, compassion or struggles in the way of God are what are referred to spiritually dead hearts. When the heart becomes pure, serene and sound, it is able to hear the call of God, the call of the Prophets, Sufis and sages. A sound heart is tender, compassionate, detached from worldly pursuit and acts in accordance with the will of God.

Tags: sufism, heart, prophet muhammad