The Quran states:
“The day whereon neither wealth nor sons will avail. Except him who brings to Allah a clean heart.” (26:88-89)
As Muslims, we believe that life after death is true and never-ending life. It is towards this objective; we are sent to this world by Allah (SWT) to test our conduct in this world. We would be judged about our life in this world on the Day of Judgment. The prescription for our eternal success during that Day of Reckoning in the hereafter is brought out succinctly by Allah in the above verse. While Allah makes a mention of the various events and horrors that would unfold on that fateful day at various places of the Quran, He explicitly brings out this ayah, the yardstick with which our life in this world would be measured to determine the success or failure of each one of us.
While in the courts of this world, criminals can get away paying a ransom from their wealth to escape punishment, in the court of Allah, neither their material wealth nor their progeny would be of any avail. It is this fact Allah brings that out in these verses mentioned above from Sura As Shu’araa. Thus, these verses would serve as the acid test of our life’s success or failure in this world. Only those of us with a clean and sound heart would be able to succeed in our tests of the Hereafter, these verses mention. In other words, anyone whose heart is tainted with any impurity will face doom. Allah’s protection is sought!
Wealth and children, the two important aspects of one’s life in this world, are mentioned in this verse as they both serve as the yardsticks for success in this materialistic world. While this is so, Allah has termed them both to be adornments of this world in Sura Al-Kahf, and these two aspects would not be the ultimate basis for judgment on the Day of Reckoning. These two important assets, per se, are not evil, blameworthy, and to be detested, but the outcome from these would act as the criteria for our success. If the individual’s wealth and children are used to gaining the pleasure of Allah, then it would be a source of comfort in the Hereafter.
These verses also mean that wealth and sons will be of benefit to us in the aakhirah, only if it is backed up by the cleanliness/soundness of the heart. So, what is a clean/ sound heart? Who has a pure heart? According to Ibn Abbas (radiyallahu anhu), a leading Commentator of the Quran and a great Companions of Prophet(pbuh), it means a heart of a believer that testifies the Oneness of Allah and is pure from Shirk. Ibn Sirin (rah) said: “The Clean heart knows that Allah is true and that the Hour will undoubtedly come and that Allah will resurrect those who are in the graves.” Sa’id bin Al Musayyib (rah) said: “The clean heart is the sound heart. This is the heart of the believer, for the heart of the disbeliever and the hypocrite is sick, as Allah says: In their hearts is a disease.” According to Abu Uthman An-Nisaburi:“It is the heart that is free from innovation and is content with the Sunnah.”
(Tafseer Ibn Katheer).
Thus it becomes clear that the sound heart is the heart with the soundness in faith and is free from disobedience and sin. Our Prophet (pbuh) attached so much importance to the soundness of the heart that he (pbuh) 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, the whole body is corrupt. Indeed, it is the heart.” (Bukhari and Muslim). This hadith highlights the influence the heart has on the body and thus it becomes clear that the indulgence in sin by the body parts is only a result of the impurity of the heart.
This could be one of the reasons why our Prophet (pbuh) would very often and most frequently supplicate to Allah with these words: “O Changer of the hearts, Strengthen my heart upon Your Religion i.e.make my heart firm upon Your Religion.”
A similar dua of the Prophet (pbuh) reads thus: “O Allah! The Controller of the hearts, direct our hearts to Your obedience.”
Another dua of the Prophet (pbuh) was to seek the protection of Allah from a heart that is not humble and submissive i.e. from a heart that does not find peace and calmness in the remembrance of Allah.
O Allah, I seek refuge in Thee from incapacity, from sloth, from cowardice, from miserliness, decrepitude and from torment of the grave. O Allah, grant to my soul the sense of righteousness and purify it, for Thou art the Best Purifier thereof. Thou art the Protecting Friend thereof, and Guardian thereof. O Allah, I seek refuge in Thee from the knowledge which does not benefit, from the heart that does not entertain the fear (of Allah), from the soul that does not feel contented and the supplication that is not responded.
If these were the words used in supplication by the one who had the cleanest of hearts and who was sent to purify the hearts of others from all forms of disobedience, then how often should we all be supplicating to Allah for a sound and clean heart?
Scholars of the past and present have also written in great detail about the heart’s diseases, what causes them, and how to overcome them. Among the various ways in which the impurity of the heart manifests itself are: Malice, Hatred, Envy/Jealousy, Hypocrisy, Treachery, Vileness, Laziness, Self- centeredness, Self- glorification, Lustful glances of the opposite gender, Pride/Vanity, Self-delusion, Enmity, Rancor, Boastfulness, Excessive talking, Arrogance, etc. Each of these bad traits, in whatever quantity is present in one’s heart, will cause the diseases of the heart to grow. In short, it is to love what displeases and angers Allah.
Prophet (pbuh) has also warned about these evil traits and the consequences of nurturing them in our hearts. Whatever be the amount of rites and rituals one might perform, it will be of no avail to him/her, if the heart is infected with these ailments. The amount of importance, Quran places on the soundness of the heart, and its purification from all such vices and the exemplary code of conduct lead by our Prophet (pbuh) bears ample testimony to the divinity of Islam.
Some of the ways in which the heart can be cleansed of its spiritual illnesses include:
• Reciting the Quran and pondering over it, for the Qur’an is Shifa (cure) for the hearts.
• Learning the blessed life of our Prophet (pbuh), for he was sent to perfect our character and was sent with lofty morals.
• Consistently performing righteous deeds and renewing the intentions constantly, for actions are to be judged by intentions, and the place of intentions is the heart.
• Leaving indecent and unnecessary actions, as most of these evil traits have something to do with others, for Prophet (pbuh) said: It is from the best of Islam to leave what does not concern him.
• Constantly seeking forgiveness from Allah, for sinning causes black spots in the heart, and seeking forgiveness cleanses those sins.
• Eating less, sleeping less, and Talking less.
• Knowing that ultimate control of the hearts is possible only through the help of Allah and therefore resorting to frequent supplicating Allah for the same, especially using the words of our beloved Prophet (pbuh)
May Allah bless us with a sound heart to benefit us both in this world and the hereafter.
Sound and Clean Heart
The Quran states: