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The Sound Heart and the Dead Heart Infatuated with Worldly Gain

Imām Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyyah

The sound heart is pure and and dedicated solely to Allāh, while the dead heart follows its sinful desires and renounces the path of Allāh.

The Sound Heart

Allāh says:

وَلَا تُخْزِنِي يَوْمَ يُبْعَثُونَ ‎﴿٨٧﴾‏ يَوْمَ لَا يَنفَعُ مَالٌ وَلَا بَنُونَ ‎﴿٨٨﴾‏ إِلَّا مَنْ أَتَى اللَّهَ بِقَلْبٍ سَلِيمٍ ‎﴿٨٩﴾

‘[Ibrāhīm said] “And do not disgrace me on the Day they are [all] resurrected. The Day when there will not benefit [anyone] wealth or children. But only one who comes to Allāh with a sound heart.’”
[Al-Shuʿarāʾ, 26:87-89]

Imām Ibn al-Qayyim [d. 751 AH] explains:
The interpretations of mankind regarding the sound heart varies. To wholly encompass these [opinions, we say]: it is the [heart] that is completely free from every desire that is contrary to the orders and prohibitions of Allāh. Free from [the influence] of [religious] uncertainties that oppose His proclamations. As such, this heart is truly free from the worship of other than Him, or the seeking of judgement from other than His Messenger (صلى الله عليه وسلم). [This heart] has gained purity through its love of Allāh, while seeking judgement from His Messenger. [Its purity is borne] from fear [of Allāh], possessing hope in Him, putting reliance and trust in Him, seeking forgiveness from Him, being humble before Him, putting His pleasure before anything else in all situations, and remaining far removed from that which causes Him displeasure by any means necessary. Such is the true essence of worship that Allāh alone deserves. Thus, the sound heart is one that possesses no portion that—in any conceivable way—is even remotely dedicated to other than Allāh.

Rather its worship is wholly and completely for Allāh, the Most High: its wants and desires [are consistent with His orders and prohibitions], its reliance [is in Him], it seeks forgiveness [from Him], it is humble [before Him], it has fear based in knowledge [of Him], it hopes [for reward from only Him], and its deeds are done sincerely for His sake. If it loves, it loves only for Allāh. If it detests something, it detests it only for Allāh. If it gives, it gives only for the sake of Allāh. If it refuses to [grant a request], it refuses it only for Allāh. It finds dissatisfaction being confined to just these actions until it rids itself from showing obedience and seeking judgement from anyone other than the Messenger of Allāh (صلى الله عليه وسلم).

His heart has gained steadfast attachment to him and thus takes none other than him as leader, imitating only him, rather than the actions and speech of others. Whether this be the innermost sayings of his heart that stipulates steadfast attachment, or his speech that is the very proclamation of his heart’s contents, or the actions of his heart that manifest in what he desires, loves and hates, and all that follows on from these things including the acts of his limbs. [The possessor of the sound heart’s] only judge and guide in all manifestations, both minute and evident, is only that which the Messenger (صلى الله عليه وسلم) has brought. He does not create from himself a creed, a saying, or action [except in light of the Sunnah].

The Worldly Infatuation of the Dead Heart

The second type of heart is the opposite of the sound type. It is the dead heart possessing no signs of life. It does not know its Lord, nor does it worship Him with what He has ordered, loves, and is pleased with. Rather, it ensconces itself in its own desires and trivial enjoyments, even if they are deserving of the annoyance and anger of its Lord. [The dead heart] pays no mind in so long as its desire and allotment are attained, whether his Lord is pleased or angry. It is fully engaged in the worship of other than Allāh. It loves fears, hopes, seeks the pleasure of, gains the anger of, glorifies and is humble before [other than Allāh]. If it loves, it loves in light of its own desire. If it hates, it hates based on its own desires. If it gives, it gives for its own desires. If it refuses [the granting of a request], it does so only from its own desires. Thus, its own desires are more impactful and beloved to it than the pleasure of its True Master. Its own inclinations are its leader, its desires are its acting captain, and it is driven by ignorance, in a vessel of mindlessness. It has immersed himself deep in the mere fulfillment of worldly aspirations, intoxicated by the inebriation of its desires and blissful love of the temporary. It is as if the call to Allāh and the hereafter has been issued from afar.

Thus, the sincere advisor remains unanswered. Instead, it follows every rebellious shayṭān. This worldly life is its only source of happiness and displeasure. Its own inclinations deafen and blind it from everything other than unadulterated falsehood. Its existence in this life is as was said concerning Laylā [a desired woman, used as a parable for this dunyā]:

An enemy to those who choose opposition, but peace upon her people. Whomsoever gets close to Laylā is loved and brought ever closer.

Imām Ibn al-Qayyim [d. 751 AH]

Thus, to mix with the likes of such a soul is toxic, to cohabitate with its ilk is poison itself, and to keep its company is assured destruction.

Source: Ighātha al-Lahfān: 13-15
Translated by: Riyāḍ al-Kanadī

Published: June 1, 2023
Edited: June 16, 2023

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