Divisions of the Heart

“Where the heart would be described living or its opposite, it was divided accordingly into three divisions”:

The true heart being first, and that is the sound heart that no survival on the Day of Judgment but for those who come to Allah with it. As Allah the Exalted says in His final revelation what translates from Arabic as the following:

The Day when there will not benefit [anyone] wealth or children, But only one who comes to Allah with a sound heart” (Chapter of the Poets, verses 88-89).

The word ‘Sound’ in the verse above is translated from the word ‘Saleem’ in Arabic, which is a form of adjectives that indicates a constant and steady characteristic, which in turn comes as the opposite of the word ‘Sick’ which in Arabic means ‘Mareedh’ or ‘Saqeem’ or ‘Aleel’.

Scholars differed when it came to the meaning of ‘A sound heart’, but of the whole matter, it came down to mean that it is the heart which is clear from all kinds of desires that is contrary to the orders of Allah and what He forbids, and from anything that opposes and conflicts with what it tells, and is clear from submitting to anything except Allah, as well as being clear from any arbitration except from the teachings of His messenger, Muhammad (Peace and blessings be upon him), thus becoming cleansed from truly loving anything alongside Allah, and be fearful, hopeful and reliant on Him alone, turning back to Him, and have humility only to Him, seeking only to please Him in every state, and diverge from His discontent in every possible way; All that is the true fact of servitude which can only be valid to Allah alone.

The sound heart, which is cleansed from being to other than Allah, and from assigning partners to Him in any way, having sincere servitude and submission to Allah the Exalted in will, love, reliance, turning in need, fear, plead and sincerity. So, if one loves, loves for the sake of Allah, and if one hates, hates for the sake of Allah, and if one gives, gives for the sake of Allah, and if one withholds, withholds for the sake of Allah. All this is not enough until one is cleansed from being subjugated and arbitrated from all except the teachings of Allah’s Messenger, Muhammad (Peace and blessings be upon him), thus holding ones heart firm to follow and take His messengers role model alone, in saying and action; the sayings of the heart, which is the creed, and the sayings of the tongue, which is what the heart tells, as well as the heart actions, which is the will, love, hate and what follows them, also the acts of the senses, by taking governance upon all that, big or small, what was brought by Allah’s Messenger (Peace and blessings be upon him), and so, nothing comes forth between ones hands with a creed, say or deed, as what Allah the Exalted says in His final revelation what translates from Arabic as:

O you who have believed, do not put [yourselves] before Allah and His Messenger but fear Allah . Indeed, Allah is Hearing and Knowing.” (Chapter of the Rooms, verse 1).

Which means do not say anything until he says, and do not do a thing until he orders.

Scholars say, “Not one act, even if small, but will have two records, “Why? and How?” meaning, why have you done what you did? and how did you do it?.

The first question is about the reason of the act, its motive and purpose; is it among the quick flukes and a purpose from the purposes of this life; from loving people’s praise or the fear of their dispraise, or recruiting an urgent desire, or pushing away an urgent adversity? Or is the motive behind the act coming from establishing the fact of servitude, seeking the courtship and closeness of the Lord, the Exalted, and seeking the means towards Him alone?

The place for this question comes within the following format: “Did you have to do this act for the sake of your Lord? or did you do it for the sake of fortune and desire?

The second question is about following His Messenger (Peace and blessings be upon him) in acts of worship, meaning: Was that act from what was legislated to you through the words of His messenger? or was it an act that He did not legislate or be pleased with?

The first question is about sincerity, and the second is about following up? because Allah the Exalted does not accept an act or deed except with them both. And the way to accomplish the first question is by stripping clean sincerity, while the way to accomplish the second question is by applying the follow up, and clearing the heart from the will that opposes sincerity and desires that opposes following.

This is the fact of brining the heart to its sound state, which guarantees happiness and survival for it.

The second type of hearts is the exact opposite of the above mentioned, which is the dead and lifeless heart, the heart that does not know its Lord, and does not worship Him according to His order and what He loves and is pleased with, but also stands with its desires and its self, even if it caused the displeasure of the Lord or  His anger, such people do not care -if they won for their desires and luck- whether their Lord is pleased or is displeased, as they are worshipping other than Allah, with love, fear, plead, please, displease, glorification and humility. If one loves, loves for the sake of their desire, if one hates, hates for the sake of their desire, if one gives, gives for the sake of their desire, if one withholds, withholds for the sake of their desire, their desires are prefered to them and are more appealing from the gratification of their Creator. Ones fancy and desire becomes its leader, ignorance is their policy, and heedlessness is their life boat, all their thinking revolves around gaining worldly inhabitants, and the drunken moments of desire, sunken deeply in quick fixes, calling to Allah and to the hereafter from a far place, and so, does not respond to an advisor, and follows every rebellious devil; life either satisfies them or displease them, desire blind them except from every falsehood.

Mixing with owner of such heart is a disease in itself, and socializing with them is a poison, and hanging out with them is destruction.

The third type of hearts, is a heart that is alive but with an illness; having two substances, every and each time it is supplied by either substances, and the one with such heart leans toward the predominant substance of both, thus you find in them the love of Allah, believing in Him, and having sincerity in Him and reliance and trust on Him, and such is one substance for their livelihood, and in them as well, a love for desires and lusts that they favour as well, keenness to obtaining them, as well as envy, arrogance, self-delusion, and the love of position on earth with headship, such substance is paving for their destruction, and such people are tested between both calls; a call towards Allah, His messenger and the hereafter, and a call to the instant and immediate gains, and they answer to which ever door is closer to them and easier to obtain.

And so, the first heart is alive, answers and submits, is tender and aware.

The second heart is dry and dead.

The third heart is sick; either by coming closer to soundness, or closer to wreckage and damage.

Allah has gathered the mention of those three hearts in His last revelation (Qu’ran), by saying what translates from Arabic as:

And We did not send before you any messenger or prophet except that when he spoke [or recited], Satan threw into it [some misunderstanding]. But Allah abolishes that which Satan throws in; then Allah makes precise His verses. And Allah is Knowing and Wise. [That is] so He may make what Satan throws in a trial for those within whose hearts is disease and those hard of heart. And indeed, the wrongdoers are in extreme dissension. And so those who were given knowledge may know that it is the truth from your Lord and [therefore] believe in it, and their hearts humbly submit to it. And indeed is Allah the Guide of those who have believed to a straight path.” (Chapter of The Pilgrimage, verses 52-54).

And so, Allah the Exalted made hearts in such verses to be divided into three ; two hearts that are tested, and one heart that survives tests. The two tested hearts, with one which has an illness in it, and another with the harsh heart. As for the surviving heart, it is the heart of the believer who answers the call of his Lord, one who is in tranquillity with the call, submitting and surrendering to his Lord.

Meaning that, the heart and other organs are originally supposed to be sound without any illness, in order for one to accomplish what he or she is prepared and created for, and for them to go astray from uprightness, is either going to harshen and harden their hearts, not accomplishing that which they are made for; similar to a disabled hand, a mute tongue, a blocked nose, or a blind eye, or by being inflected with an illness and a defect that prevents them from accomplishing such purpose, falling off uprightness, and thus are hearts divided into those three divisions:

The sound heart, which nothing comes between it and accepting the truth, by loving it, favouring it, it just requires realizing it, meaning that, it is sound in realizing the truth, with complete subjugation and acceptance for it.

The dead and harsh heart, does not accept or subjugate to the truth.

And the sick heart, if overtaken by its illness, it will follow the harsh heart, but if overtaken by its truth, it will follow the sound heart.

What Satan throws in the ears from different terms, and in the hearts from doubts and suspicions, is a test for both of those hearts, and strength to the sound heart because it responds to it, rejects it and hates it, it knows that the truth is opposite to that which was thrown by Satan, thus accepting the truth further more, and is comforted by it and wants to follow it, knowing that what was thrown by Satan is false, thus increasing faith in truth and loving it even more, while disbelieving in falsehood and being hateful for it. The tested heart continues to be tested by what Satan throws, but the sound heart is never harmed by what Satan throws.

Hudhaifa Bin Alyamaan said: I heard the Messenger of Allah (Peace and blessings be upon him ) say, “Temptations will be presented to men’s hearts as reed mat is woven stick by stick and any heart which is impregnated by them will have a black mark put into it, but any heart which rejects them will have a white mark put in it. The result is that there will become two types of hearts: one white like a white stone which will not be harmed by any turmoil or temptation, so long as the heavens and the earth endure; and the other black and dust-coloured like a vessel which is upset, not recognizing what is good or rejecting what is abominable, but being impregnated with passion.” (Sahih, Bukhari)

Here, the messenger of Allah (Peace and blessings be upon him) resembled the presentation of temptations and trials to the hearts step by step, just like a mat made of reed is woven stick by stick, He (Peace and blessings be upon him) divided hearts when tested with temptations into two divisions:

A heart when is presented with a temptation would be impregnated by it, just like a sponge is impregnated with water, leaving a black mark time after time, until it becomes all black and relapses, and this is what was meant by the vessel which is upset, by relapsing and falling, and once it becomes black, such heart is subjected to two kinds of dangerous diseases which will throw its owner into destruction:

  • One of those diseases is having suspicion with what is good being evil, thus not knowing what is good anymore, and not denying what is evil, and it maybe that once such disease takes a hold of its owner, he or she begins to believe that what is good is actually evil and what is evil is actually good, for them the prophetic method becomes an innovation and innovations becomes prophetic methods, truth becomes false and false become truth.
  • The second heart is governed by desires above what the Messenger of Allah (Peace and blessings be upon him) brought, subjugated to desire and following it.

As for the white heart, it is brightened by the light of faith, its lamp is flowering, and when temptations are presented to it, it denies it and hates it, thus increasing its light, brightness and strength.

The tests that are presented to the hearts are the reason behind its diseases. and they are the tests of temptation, the tests of suspicion,  the tests of deception and misguidance, the tests of disobedience and innovations, the tests of injustice and ignorance; This is why the first of those diseases described above results in corrupting intentions and wills, and the second one results in corrupting knowledge and belief.

The companions of the Messenger (Peace and blessings be upon him) divided hearts into four types, as authentically reported by Hudhaifa Bin Alyamaan in his say, “Hearts are four types: An empty heart. A heart that has a shining lamp, and that is the heart of the believer. A heart that is wrapped and closed, and that is the heart of the disbeliever. and a relapsed heart, and that is the heart of the hypocrite, who acknowledged the truth and then denied it, he saw and then became blind. And the heart that is supplied by two substances; the substance of faith, and the substance of hypocrisy, it leans toward whichever is predominant from both substances.”

When Hudhaifa said, “An empty heart”, he meant that heart which is stripped from the belief in Allah and His messenger, it was stripped and submitted to anything but the truth. As for the heart that has a shining lamp, that lamp is the lamp of faith, here Hudhaifa signalled it by stripping it from any false suspicions and the desires of misguidance, by obtaining the lamp of which brought brightness to the heart with the light of knowledge and faith.

Hudhaifa also pointed towards the disbelievers heart which is wrapped and closed, disableing the light of knowledge and faith from entering it.

He pointed to the disbeliever’s heart as the wrapped heart, because it is enveloped with a velum, so the light of knowledge and faith cannot reach it, such velum is a cover placed by Allah on their hearts as a punishment for refusing the truth and continuously being arrogant from accepting it; and so, they are coverings on their hearts, deafness to their ears and blindness to their eyes, it is a veil hidden from the eyes, as Allah the Exalted says what translates from Arabic as the following:

And when you recite the Qur’an, We put between you and those who do not believe in the Hereafter a concealed partition. And We have placed over their hearts coverings, lest they understand it, and in their ears deafness. And when you mention your Lord alone in the Qur’an, they turn back in aversion.” (Chapter of The Night Journey, verses 45-46)

Hudhaifa also pointed out the relapsed heart as the heart of the hypocrite, as Allah mentioned what translates from Arabic:

What is [the matter] with you [that you are] two groups concerning the hypocrites, while Allah has made them fall back [into error and disbelief] for what they earned.” (Chapter of The Women, verse 88)

Which means that they fell back due to what they have earned from false deeds, and this is the most evil of hearts and most malicious, because they believe that falsehood is right and befriends its people, and what’s right is false and is hostile to its people, may Allah help us!

Hudhaifa finally pointed to the heart which has two substances, it is a heart that was not able to get a hold on faith properly, its lamp did not shine in it, and was not stripped out to pure truth which Allah sent His Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) with, nonetheless it has its substance and the opposite of it, sometimes closer to disbelief than faith, and other times closer to faith than disbelief, and the governance goes to the one which is predominant and most returning to it.

From the book /اغاثة اللهفان من مصايد الشيطان لإبن القيم الجوزية / The relief of the lovesick from the traps of Satan by Ibnul-Qayyim.