The Dead Heart
This is the heart that contains no life. It does not know its Lord and it does not worship Him by complying to His command and doing that which He loves and is pleased with. Instead it is a slave to its carnal desires, temptations, and pleasures; oblivious of, and indifferent to whether they lead to the displeasure of its Lord and His anger or not. Therefore it worships other than Allah: it directs its love, hope, pleasure, displeasure, glorification, and submission to other than Him. If it loves, it loves for the sake of its base desires; if it hates, it hates for the sake of its base desires; if it gives, it gives for the sake of its base desires; if it withholds, it withholds for the sake of its base desires. It gives preference to its base desires and these are more beloved to it than the pleasure of its Master.
Base desires are its leader, carnal desires are its commander, ignorance is its driving force, and negligence is the vessel upon which it embarks. It is completely engrossed in pursuing its worldly desires. It is driven wild by the intoxication of its base desires and love of temporal things. It hears the call to Allah and the Abode of die Hereafter from a distant place and does not respond to the sincere advisor. It follows every cunning devil and the world is the cause of its anger and its pleasure. Base desires have deafened it and blinded it to anything other than falsehood. In this world it is like that which is said concerning Layla,
An enemy to whosoever she displays enmity
and at peace with those she likes
Whosoever she draws close to,
he loves and draws close to.
Mixing with the person who has this heart is a sickness, interacting with him is poison, and sitting with him is ruin.
The Diseased Heart
This is the heart that contains life but also possesses a defect. It has two impulses calling it: one leading it to life and the other leading it to death; and it follows whichever of the two that predominates.
It contains love of Allah, Exalted is He, faith in Him, sincerity to Him, and trust and reliance upon him; those matters that are essential to its life.
It also contains the love of its carnal desires, giving preference to them, and eagerness to attain them. It contains jealousy, arrogance, self-amazement, and love of ranking through attaining leadership: those matters that necessarily lead to its destruction and ruin.
It is constantly being tried by two callers: one calling it to Allah, His Messenger, and the Abode of the Hereafter; and the other calling it to temporal, worldly matters. It responds to the one that is closest and most influential at the time.
Therefore the first type of heart is the living, humble, soft, attentive and heedful heart. The second type is the brittle, dry, and dead heart. The third type is the diseased heart, either it is closer to its salvation or it is closer to its devastation,
Allah, the Glorious, has mentioned these types of the hearts in His saying,
“Never did We send a Messenger or a Prophet before you without Shaytan insinuating something into his recitation while he was reciting. But Allah revokes whatever Shaytan insinuates and the Allah confirms His Signs, Allah is All-Knowing, All- Wise. That He may make what Shaytan insinuates a trial for those in whose heart is a disease and whose hearts are hardened. Indeed the wrongdoers are entrenched in hostility. And that those who have been given knowledge may know that it [the Qur’an] is the truth from your Lord, that they may believe therein and their hearts may submit to it with humility. Indeed Allah is the Guide of those who believe, to the Straight Path.” [Surah Al-Hajj (22): 52-54]
In these three verses, Allah, Glorious and Exalted is He, has mentioned two types of hearts put to trial and one type that is victorious. The two types of heart that are put to trial are the diseased and the harsh heart. The victorious heart is the heart of the believer that is humble before its Lord; it is at rest and satisfied with Him, submissive and obedient to Him.
It is desired of the heart and other limbs that they be healthy and sound, having no defect so that they can do that which agrees to their nature and fulfil the purpose for which they were created. The hearts' stepping outside the bounds of steadfastness in obedience (istiqamah) could either be due to its dryness and harshness, or the absence of doing that which is desired of it. In this respect it is like a mute tongue or an eye that cannot see, or only partially see, due to some form of illness or defect.
This is why the hearts have been classified into three types:
1. The healthy and sound heart which contains no impediment preventing it from accepting the truth, loving it, and giving it preference other than its coming to know of it. Therefore its comprehension of the truth is correct and it accepts it with complete submission.
2. The dead, harsh and dry heart that does not accept the truth nor submit to it.
3. The diseased hearty when its disease predominates, it joins the ranks of the dead and harsh heart; but if its soundness predominates, it joins the ranks of the truthful and sound heart.
Anything that is directed to the person by Shaytan such as his making him hear certain words, or suggests to the heart such as suspicion and doubt acts as a trial for the latter two types of hearts and serves to further strengthen the living, truthful and sound heart.
This is because the living heart rejects all of this, dislikes it, and is angered by it for it knows that the truth opposes it. Therefore it submits to the truth and is content with it. It knows the fallacy of that which Shaytan has tempted it with and therefore increases with respect to its certainty of the truth, its love of it, and its rejection of falsehood.
However the heart put to trial remains in doubt and dispute concerning what was directed to it by Shaytan. The healthy and sound heart, on the other hand, is not harmed by what Shaytan directs to it.
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