In this day and age we are neglectful of taking care of the most important part of ourselves; the heart.
Falling prey to a heart attack is just one of the many and actually the least
fearful of diseases that our heart is in danger from. There are far more dangerous diseases that we must protect our heart from and work to keeping our soul and faith intact by doing so. Before trying to save our heart from diseases that harms it we must understand what exactly the heart is and how it plays a significant part in our lives as Muslims.
Many people may think that the only importance of the heart is that it’s what keeps us alive. But the heart is more than just a pumping organ. Let me first start with a hadith from our beloved Messenger (peace and blessing of Allah be upon him).
An-Nu’man bin Bashir reported that the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessing of Allah be upon him) said: “…Indeed there is in the body a piece of flesh which if it is sound then the whole body is sound, and if it is corrupt then the whole body is corrupt. Indeed it is the heart.” (Bukhari and Muslim).
In one commentary for this hadith, Imam Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali refers to the heart as being the ruler of all other organs in the body with the other organs being obedient soldiers. And that the “soldiers” are pious when their “king” is pious. And if the “king” becomes corrupt, then his “soldiers” become corrupt.
One of the most important things to note is that the heart isn’t just at risk for physical ailments. It is also at risk for spiritual ailments and that is why it’s prudent that we work not only towards keeping the heart physically fit but also spiritually fit, because in the end, it’s our level of faith and spiritual well-being that will determine our status in the hereafter.
Let us now understand how the heart and our faith is related. Imam Ibn al-Jawzi gives us a very nice comprehensive view of this in his book, Minhajul Qasideen: “We should understand that the heart holds the supreme position in the human body. It is this organ that recognizes Allah and works to get close to Allah. Other organs are its subordinates. The heart by its nature quests for the path of righteousness. It is true that whoever has recognizes his heart has recognized Allah.”
The heart is the basis of our emotions, not only does it evoke feelings within us, but it is also affected by our actions. In addition to the physical aspect to our heart, there is also a spiritual aspect to it or in the words of Dr. Gohar Mushtaq, “the physical heart acts like a gateway to the human soul.”
The heart’s connection to the soul is what enables us to feel guilty when we do something wrong or express sympathy towards someone who is in pain. When we keep our heart healthy spiritually by staying on the straight path, then our connection to our soul and more importantly to Allah (SWT) is strong.
When we are neglectful of Islam and fail in our religious duties, our hearts start to weaken and are more susceptible to disease. With every disease we allow to come into and plague our hearts, black spots cover our hearts, and without intervention, eventually we are left with a complete blackened heart; a dead spiritual heart where the light of our soul has been diminished by the black. Our bodies are then equivalent to a house where no one is home.
In hopes to help keep our hearts clean and free from disease we will take a look at the most common diseases of the heart, and how we can cure them in order to maintain a strong connection with Allah.
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