Purification of the Soul-Types of Heart
TYPES OF HEART (Chapter 3)
The Purification of the Soul
compiled from the works of
Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali, Ibn Al-Qayyim
and Abu Hamid al-Ghazali
TYPES OF HEART
Just as the heart may be described in terms of being
alive or dead, it may also be regarded as belonging to
one of three types; these are the healthy heart, the dead heart,
and the sick heart.
The Healthy Heart
On the Day of Resurrection, only those who come to Allah
with a healthy heart will be saved. Allah says:
"The day on which neither wealth nor sons will
be of any use,
except for whoever brings to Allah a sound
In defining the healthy heart, the following has been
said: "It is a heart cleansed from any passion that
challenges what Allah commands, or disputes what He forbids. It
is free from any impulses which contradict His good. As a
result, it is safeguarded against the worship of anything other
than Him, and seeks the judgement of no other except that of His
Messenger (saw). Its services are exclusively reserved for
Allah, willingly and lovingly, with total reliance, relating all
matters to Him, in fear, hope and sincere dedication. When it
loves, its love is in the way of Allah. If it detests, it
detests in the lght of what He detests. When it gives, it gives
for Allah. If it witoholds, it withholds for Allah.
Nevertheless, all this will not suffice for its salvation until
it is free from following, or taking as its guide, anyone other
than His Messenger (saw)."
A servant with a healthy heart must dedicate it to its
journey's end and not base his actions and speech on
those of any other person except Allah's Messenger (saw). He
must not give precedence to any other faith or words or deeds
over those of Allah and His Messenger, may Allah bless him and
grant him peace. Allah says:
"Oh you who believe, do not put yourselves above
Allah and His Messenger, but fear Allah, for
Allah is Hearing, Knowing. (49:1)"
The Dead Heart
This is the opposite of the healthy heart. It does not
know its Lord and does not worship Him as He commands,
in the way which He likes, and with which He is pleased. It
clings instead to its lusts and desires, even if these are
likely to incur Allah's displeasure and wrath. It worships
things other than Allah, and its loves and its hatreds, and its
giving and its withholding, arise from its whims, which are of
paramount importance to it and preferred above the pleasure of
Allah. Its whims are its imam. Its lust is its guide. Its
ignorance is its leader. Its crude impulses are its impetus. It
is immersed in its concern with worldly objectives. It is drunk
with its own fancies and its love for hasty, fleeting pleasures.
It is called to Allah and the akhira from a distance but it does
not respond to advice, and instead it follows any scheming,
cunning shayton. Life angers and pleases it, and passion makes
it deaf and blind (1) to anything except what is evil.
To associate and keep company with the owner of such a
heart is to tempt illness: living with him is like
taking poison, and befriending him means utter destruction.
The Sick Heart
Thisi s a heart with life in it, as well as illness. The
former sustains it at one moment, the latter at another,
and it follows whichever one of the two manages to dominate it.
It has love for Allah, faith in Him, sincerity towards Him, and
reliance upon Him, and these are what give it life. It also has
a craving for lust and pleasure, and prefers them and strives to
experience them. It is full of self-admiration, which can lead
to its own destruction. It listens to two callers: one calling
it to Allah and His Prophet (saw) and the akhira; and the other
calling it to the fleeting pleasures of this world. It responds
to whichever one of the two happens to have most influence over
it at the time.
The first heart is alive, submitted to Allah, humble,
sensitive and aware; the second is brittle and dead; the
third wavers between either its safety or its ruin.
1. It has been related on the authority of Abu'd-Darda' that the
Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace,
said, "Your love for something that makes you blind and deaf."
Abu Daw'ud, al-Adab, 14/38; Ahmad, al-Musnad, 5/194. The hadith
is classified as hasan.