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Heart & Its Connection with God

Mankind is the best art of God in the universe. God manifested Himself best in human nature. The names, attributes and essential qualities of God that worked to create/fashion/maintain the universe also worked in human nature, thus every human is like a universe in a micro level.

One of the key concepts that make human beings so valuable at the side of God is the heart and its connection with its Creator.

Although the heart is a biological organ which pumps blood through arteries and veins in the human body, it is also the center of intellectual and spiritual faculties.

Heart is the human truth that contains one’s real nature. Mankind can know, perceive, and understand through the heart. The human soul or spirit is an inner dimension of the heart; therefore, God speaks to it with utmost care.

When God offered “amanah” (the Trust) to the heavens, the earth and mountains, they all shrank from bearing it because they did not have such capacity, but human has undertaken it because, the heart has a capacity to carry out heavy responsibilities such as reflecting the divine knowledge in its nature.

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Human beings are addressees of divine speech (Qur’an) and God promised rewards and Paradise for those who purify their hearts from all kinds of dirt and sins.

The heart can be elevated to divine pleasures through guidance and be honored with God’s acceptance.

The biological heart is a vital organ for the human body similarly the spiritual heart is the center of true humanity, and the source of all human feelings and emotions.

Human beings can achieve knowledge, faith and love of God through the heart. If spirituality is dominant in the heart people will enjoy peace and tranquility. However, if it is polluted with immoral thoughts and is disconnected from God then people will experience stress, anxiety and emptiness.

The importance and significance of people at God’s side is according to the quality of their hearts. Because, the heart is the center for many key elements in human nature such as reason, knowledge, intention, belief, wisdom etc. Believers must struggle very hard to keep their heart alive for the Prophet declared that:

“There is a fleshy part in the body. If it is healthy, then the whole of the body is healthy. If it is corrupted, then all the body is corrupted. Beware! That part is the heart.” (Al-Bukhari)

One’s spiritual health is strongly connected with his/her heart. If the heart has a connection with God, it is healthy and alive otherwise it is dead and useless. In order to keep the heart alive people should rely on God and only ask for His help. Although Prophet Muhammad had the best heart he always supplicated to God to protect it from swerving:

“O God, O turner of hearts! Establish my heart firmly on Your religion.” (Tirmidhi, Sunan, Qadar 7)

If people are aware of the needs of their hearts they seek help and protection. God is the One whom we can trust, rely and seek help.

God is known and recognized best in the human heart for it is the most eloquent and truthful tongue of the knowledge of God.

The heart is a means in which all good or bad things can enter into the human mind. When it is connected with God and guided by Him it enlightens all of human nature. On the other side, it can be a source of all evil acts and thoughts when it is controlled by the evil commanding self and carnal desires.

Satan always targets the heart and waits for an opportunity to attack it. If it is not protected by du’a, reliance on God and asking for His help it can be a target for Satan’s poisonous arrows. Since the heart is an abode of belief, worship, and love of God, Satan struggles very hard to steal it.

One of the most important means which can eliminate negative feelings and emotions from the heart is remembrance of God. Offering worship sincerely can strengthen the heart and remove immoral thoughts from it. Sometimes the ablutions in the garden of a mosque or an imam leading the Prayer with a voice coming from his heart can move people to spirituality.

Similarly, by gathering in circles to remember and mention God’s names people could connect themselves to God and feel His presence in their hearts. When remembrance of God is made sincerely this could affect others positively.

Believers should never forget that death is destined for everyone. The Prophet encouraged people to have a strong connection with God by renewing their faith continuously and doing righteous deeds until death comes:

“Control and renew your ship once more, for the sea is truly deep. Take your provisions perfectly, for the journey is truly long. Keep your load light, for the slope before you is truly steep. Be sincere in your deeds, for God, who scrutinizes everything, is aware of what you do.” (Daylami, Musnad, 5/339)

Human beings are in a long journey where they pass through different stages from childhood to old age, and from there to the grave, Resurrection, the Bridge, and then to Paradise or to Hell.

Those who meet with God with a sound heart will be prosperous as God declared in the Qur’an:

{The Day when neither wealth will be of any use, nor offspring, but only he (will prosper) who comes before God with a sound heart (free of all kinds of unbelief, hypocrisy, and associating partners with God).} (26: 88-9)

Faith and knowledge of God is the life of the heart. Living an Islamic life, carrying out religious rituals and worshipping God as if seeing Him is like the blood flowing in its veins to maintain human life. Without worship the heart cannot remain alive, therefore the heart of a believer who does not practice Islam and does not worship God is close to dying.

Although having faith and worshipping God is important for the survival of the heart it is not enough. Muhasaba (self-criticism) and reflection is an important element to feed the heart and maintain its livelihood. Without self-criticism and reflection, the heart is open to dangers and spiritual diseases.

Everyone needs to confront their shortcomings, mistakes and weaknesses. Umar ibn al-Khattab told believers to constantly bring themselves to account before the Day of Reckoning comes. (Tirmidhi, Sunan, Qiyamah, 25)

If people are occupied with their own mistakes, they will neither disdain others nor develop ill thoughts about them. They will constantly struggle to purify their own hearts by freeing themselves from carnal desires and entering the level of the life of the heart and spirit.

Since the life in the dimension of the heart and spirit is superior, believers should not neglect what is necessary to obtain it.

Those who have strong faith (iman) and worship God as if seeing Him and feed their hearts through self-criticism and reflection are under God’s protection. They enjoy complete security by complying all necessary conditions to protect their hearts.

They strengthen their heart by studying the universe and manifestations of God in it. They discover the ultimate reality behind the existence through reflection and increase their faith. The more they know God the more they love Him.

While being full with love of God they fear Him due to the anxiety that they could not worship Him as He deserves to be worshipped. Since their hearts are full with love and fear God loves them and makes others love them.

Fear is a key element which God uses to force us to His Presence and honor us with His company. Like an affectionate mother who reproves her children to draw them to her arms God attracts people to His mercy and blessings by using the feeling of fear in their hearts.

Therefore, every verse in the Qur’an that contains threat and punishment indeed originates in God’s mercy to uplift souls and hearts. If a heart is full with the fear of God it does not fear from others, because, it is freed from all kind of anxiety and useless fear.

Thus, fear is an essential element to keep one’s heart alive and to have strong relation with God. Although people may have good nature and clean hearts this is not enough to refrain completely from committing sins. To help them in their struggle to avoid sins and keep their hearts alive God creates the feeling of fear in their hearts. He praised those servants in the Qur’an who supplicate in fear and hope:

{They forsake their beds to cry unto their Lord in fear and hope.} (32: 16)

When the verse {those who give what they give while their hearts are in awe, because they are to return to their Lord} (23:60) was revealed, A’isha, the Prophet’s wife, asked the Prophet:

“Are those who commit such major sins as fornication, theft, and drinking alcohol?”

He answered negatively saying:

“Those mentioned in the verse are believers who perform the prescribed prayers, fast, and give alms but tremble with fear that such acts of worship may not be accepted by God.” (Tirmidhi, Sunan, Tafsir al-Qur’an, 24)

There is no guarantee for anybody that he will leave this world with faith and pleasure of God even if he reaches spiritual peaks. A real believer always fears and implores God not to swerve his heart from the straight path. The Prophet said:

“God does not let his servants have one of the two feelings of security or fear in both worlds.” (Ibn Hibban, As-Sahih, 2/406)

If a person fears in this world and lives accordingly he will be safe in the hereafter, the opposite is also true. The attitude of the Prophet is an example for us for he feared God in the utmost level in spite being under the protection of God.

Indeed, fear and hope are divine gifts which God implants in Believers’ hearts. By preserving the balance between fear and hope people can fly in the dimensions of spirituality. The Prophet stated:

“So long as the heart of a servant is not sound and straight, his belief cannot be true and upright; so long as his tongue is not true, his heart cannot be sound and straight.” (Ibn Hanbal, Musnad, 3:198)

A heart which is full with fear and love of God and has acquired full spiritual contentment never deviates. This heart is the polished mirror in which God looks in full appreciation. A person who sets his/her heart solely on God and abandons any attachment other than Him and acts with the feeling that God constantly watches him/her can host the Noble Guest in his/her purified heart.

One cannot attain reliance as long as the door of the heart remains open to others. But, once the heart closes its door to all that is other than God it becomes eligible to receive spiritual gifts and favors coming from God. At this stage, the heart implores God saying Glory be to Him Who sees me, knows my place and hears my speech. Then it gradually comes to rest as a result of experiencing spiritual gifts from God.

Those who have set their hearts on God and have decided to reach Him never ignore any way that leads to Him. A sound heart leads one straight to God without any deviation. By living in the shade of the Qur’an and Sunnah they feel the manifestation of the Hidden Treasure in their hearts.

The heart which is satisfied with God welcomes with a smile death and hears the Divine compliments as mentioned in the Qur’an:

{O you soul at rest (content with the truths of faith and God’s commands and His treatment of His creatures)! Return to your Lord, pleased and well-pleasing. Enter among My servants, and enter My Garden.} (89: 27-30)

About Dr. Recep Dogan
Dr. Recep Dogan is a prominent Muslim scholar, prolific author and a respected community activist in Australia. Dr. Recep completed his PhD in the Islamic Studies Department, Philosophy of Religion at University of Ankara. He undertook private study of Islamic Sciences with the world renowned Muslim Scholar, M. Fethullah Gulen, who is the founder of 'Hizmet', a global peace and education movement. Dr. Recep was the Imam of the Tolerance Foundation in California USA from 2004 to 2011. He is also the Muslim Chaplain for Charles Sturt University; he gives lectures on the following topics Islamic Studies; Sīrah (the life of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh); Core Islamic Sciences; Usūl Tafsir (The Methodology of Qur'anic Exegeses); Usūl Hadith (The Methodology of Prophetic Traditions); Islamic Jurisprudence (from Hanafi Perspective); Usūl al-Fiqh (The Methodology of Islamic Law); Kalām (Islamic Theology).