It is the way that people suppress their consciences that prevents most of them from genuinely turning to Allah and that keeps them from abiding by the moral values commanded by Him.
“My heart is pure, so Allah will forgive me.” We often hear such words from those around us. This highly distorted logic that in fact consists of an excuse made up by people themselves is used to suppress the voice of the conscience. What does this “purity of heart” actually mean? According to Qur’anic moral values, is “not doing anyone any harm” sufficient justification for ignoring the responsibilities revealed to us by Allah?
Purity of heart
Allah says: “But only he (will prosper) who brings to Allah a sound heart.” (Qur’an, 26:89) The Qur’anic concept of a “sound heart” is not the pureness of heart that some people understand it to be, for the Qur’an defines a sound heart as turning to and submitting fully to Allah.
People with sound hearts, according to the Qur’an, have faith in Allah, observe the limits and prohibitions that He has established, and submit to Him fully. In the Islamic sense, there is no other form of a sound heart, for the Qur’an defines a person with a sound heart as someone who constantly brings Allah to mind and feels at peace with His remembrance. The following verse makes this quite clear: “Those who believe and whose hearts find peace in the remembrance of Allah. Only in the remembrance of Allah can the heart find peace.” (Qur’an, 13:28).
A very important characteristic of believers is the sensitivity of the heart that enables them to derive pleasure from morality, as laid out in the Qur’an, and to feel great pleasure and peace in obeying Allah. Allah describes this sensitivity as “Allah’s guidance: “Allah has sent down the Supreme Discourse, a Book consistent in its frequent repetitions. The skins of those who fear their Lord tremble at it, and then their skins and hearts yield softly to the remembrance of Allah. That is Allah’s guidance, by which He guides whoever He wills…” (Qur’an, 39:23).
Consequently, a truly sound heart in the Islamic context means a heart that is purified from all forms of impurity that draw one away from Allah. Such people stay away from worldly greed, selfishness, fears, and insecurity. As a result, they do not become attached to any person or thing other than Allah or feel a type of love for them that is independent of Allah.
Purity of Heart Put Forward by People
It is of course important and excellent for someone to be known in the community for “being good and having a pure heart.” However, that does not mean that one is fully living by the Qur’an’s directives on moral values. Also, it might be a self-deception of what one is supposed to be. An act or an attitude that is accepted as a good deed, although it is not based upon Islamic values, may not be worthy in Allah’s sight. The main criterion that renders a deed good and worthy in His sight is the degree of its conformity with Allah’s good pleasure. The following verses are self-explanatory: “Do you make the giving of water to the pilgrims and looking after the Masjid Al-Haram the same as having iman in Allah and the Last Day and doing jihad in the Way of Allah? They are not equal in the sight of Allah. Allah does not guide wrongdoing people.” (Qur’an, 9:19).
Righteousness is not that you turn your faces toward the east or the west, but (true) righteousness is (in) one who believes in Allah, the Last Day, the angels, the Book, and the prophets and gives wealth, in spite of love for it, to relatives, orphans, the needy, the traveler, those who ask (for help), and for freeing slaves; (and who) establishes prayer and gives zakah; (those who) fulfill their promise when they promise; and (those who) are patient in poverty and hardship and during battle. Those are the ones who have been true, and it is those who are the righteous. (Qur’an, 2:177).
Basis of Moral Values in Islam
The way to avoid eternal suffering in Hell, the way to attain the approval and mercy of Allah, lies not in being known as just a “good person,” but in being a true believer in the manner described in the Qur’an.
As stated at the outset, there can be no question of someone who fails to fully submit to our Almighty Lord and to abide by the requirements of Islamic moral values having “purity of heart.”
Those who live by the logic of “my heart is pure, and hence there is no need for me to completely adhere to the requirements of religious moral values” an acts of self-deception instead of making others fool. This also shows one’s ignorance of the Islamic teachings and living in a mistaken belief that he is a true Muslim. Such attitudes can never be acceptable. We are told in one verse from the Qur’an that “Allah knows what your hearts contain.” (Qur’an, 3:119)
Islamic moral values bestow freedom from worldly values and all forms of dependence felt toward other people. A believer with such moral values seeks the approval of Allah, not that of other people. He fears Allah alone and knows that all things are under His control. Fear leads him to scrupulously adhere to the bounds set by Allah and silences all excuses proffered by worldly desires.
Being awestruck by the Divine commandments and making sincere efforts to attain His approval is the basis of moral values.