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How to Keep the Heart Alive?

The topic today that I wanted to speak about is keeping the heart alive; that is the title that I wanted to work with.

So the question we have to ask is: Why is it even important to keep the heart alive?

What is so important about our heart?

The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said in a hadith:

“In the body there is a lump of flesh, and if that lump of flesh is set right then the entire body is set right, and if that lump of flesh is corrupted then the entire body is corrupted, and verily it is the heart.”

So here the Prophet (peace be upon him) is explaining the importance of the condition of this particular part of us, of ourselves, which is the heart; the condition of our heart.

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In another place in the Quran Prophet Abraham in his du’aa (supplication) to God he asks Allah for something on the Day of Judgment which he describes as:

The day wherein neither wealth nor son will avail a person except the one who comes to Allah with a sound heart. (26:88-89)

What Does a Sound Heart Look Like?

The question we have to ask then is: What is a heart that is sound? What does it mean? And how do we attain it?

In terms of talking about what a sound heart means, God is saying, through the words of Abraham (peace be upon him) that nothing is going to benefit us on the Day of Judgment except the one, the only one who is going to be successful, is the one who has this thing; which is a sound heart.

The heart that is sound and healthy is one that is free from any defect. And defect here means diseases that take over the heart at times, and basically the worst disease that can take over a heart is any form of shirk, which literally means to associate something with Allah.

Now, all of us know what major shirk is; when we pray or worship a statue, make du’aa to someone other than Allah, when we say that God has a son or has a partner and equal.

These are huge acts of shirk, and we all Muslims know that this something that we will never do, as Allah say is the greatest sin.

But there are other forms of shirk that are much more subtle. There is shirk in our love for example. When we love something else as we should only love Allah, that’s a form of shirk; associating or putting something equal with Allah in our hearts, and sometimes we do that, and even Muslims and even believers do that at times when things are so beloved to us.

And here is where it becomes complicated: that a lot of times these things, forms or objects of attachment are within the halal, and that’s why it becomes very difficult to notice in ourselves because these things are buried within the halal. What does this means?

Halal but Destructive

When in the Quran Allah lists a number of things, one after the other, and says if these things:

… are dearer to you than Allah, or His Messenger, or the striving in His cause; then wait until Allah brings about His decision. (9:24)

So, it’s like a very frightening threat, as you know if you are talking to a child and you really want to scare that child what do you say? If you do this and this, you’re going to see! You are going to see what happens!

In this verse Allah says wait to see when He brings about His decision that if you do this there’re consequences in this life before the next.

So now the question is what are these things that Allah is saying that if you love them more than Allah and His messenger and striving in His cause wait and see what will happen?

Among these things are your children, your spouses, your business your job (halal job) your homes, your parents:

Say: If it be that your fathers, your sons, your brothers, your mates, or your kindred; the wealth that you have gained; the commerce in which you fear a decline: or the dwellings in which you delight – are dearer to you than Allah, or His Messenger, or the striving in His cause; then wait until Allah brings about His decision. (9:24)

So, what is common about all these things?

All of these things are halal (permissible); every single one of these is halal. Allah is warning us that if we love all of these things more than Him and His messenger and striving in His cause, we are going to suffer as a result of that.

Now no one comes and says ‘I love my spouse more than Allah’ or ‘I love my parents more than Allah’ or ‘I love my children more than Allah’. No Muslim will do that. But we say this with our actions. How?

I’ll give you a very practical example. How do we say ‘I love my job more than Allah’?

When I see I’m going to make more profit by selling alcohol I go ahead and sell alcohol. When I see I’m taking an interest or dealing with interest or interest-bearing loan, I do it. Because in my heart what do I love more?

When, for example, it comes to our homes; if I see it is more important to me that I have a big fancy house that people can look at and say look at that person’s house, and my image is more important than my love for Allah, then I’m going to choose that house.

The same with my car. Allah says in the Quran:

The love of desires, of women and sons and hoarded treasures of gold and silver and well bred horses and cattle and tilth, is made to seem fair to men; this is the provision of the life of this world; and Allah is He with Whom is the good goal (of life). (3:14)

In this verse Allah lists many things that decorate our dunya (life). And among those things is well-branded like horses and stuff. And you know here it used to be branded horses, are now they are Mercedes and BMWs because it’s a branded ride- that branded ride.

Mere Decoration

So these are the things that Allah is mentioning in the Quran that decorate our dunya. But these are not the things that matter.

They are just decoration like things in this room; the walls, the floor, the ground and the ceiling and these lights. And lights are really insignificant because they are just there for decoration.

About Yasmin Mogahed
Yasmin Mogahed received her B.S. Degree in Psychology and her Masters in Journalism and Mass Communications from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. After completing her graduate work, she taught Islamic Studies and served as a youth coordinator. She also worked as a writing instructor at Cardinal Stritch University and a staff columnist for the Islam section of InFocus News. Currently she’s an instructor for  AlMaghrib Institute, a writer for the Huffington Post, an international speaker, and author, where she focuses most of her work on spiritual and personal development. Yasmin recently released her new book, Reclaim Your Heart, which is now available worldwide. Visit her website, , where you can find a collection of her articles, poetry, and lectures.