The importance of heart in Islam
The word Islam means voluntary submission or surrender to the will of God. It derives from the root word ‘Salam’, meaning peace. God mentions, in the Quran, that the only reason why he created mankind is to worship him. However, Islamic religion gives us the right to choose whether to obey or disobey God, but ultimately we will be held accountable to God in the end next life for the choice we make in this life.
God sent his Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, to teach people how to worship him. It is important to state that all prophets who are sent by God came with the same message, that there is no God to worship except one God. Subsequently, Islam does not come to marginalize or humiliate any nation’s culture or language. Because I wonder why do people, when they convert to Islam, change their original names by Arabic names?. Islam has nothing to do with names and does not come with the change of names of people or nations. Islam, in fact, aims at reforming one’s heart. To be a muslem does not necessarily means to have a long beard for male or to wear long veil for female. But, it is necessary to have a good and pure heart which contains sincere intentions.
When God wants to describe his prophet Muhammad Peace Be Upon Him, in the Quran , he precisely says: “And indeed, you are of great moral character” verse 4, Surat Al-qalam. This verse shows clearly that morals are the most important in one’s personality. That is to say, God does not describe his prophet according to his appearance, race, lineage, whether he is prestigious or not, nor does He describe his language or wealth, or any of these factors at all. Thus, God concerns more on one’s heart and intention. If you have a pure heart you will be, of course, a good person. In this respect, even people will thank and admire you.
More important, if we have a look at some verses in the Quran we will surely deduce that the role of Islam’s coming is reforming people’s hearts as the following verse clarifies:
God says: “And remember the favour of Allah –upon you- when you were enemies and he brought your hearts together and you become , by His favour, brothers” verse 103,Surat Ali imrane. This verse explains that people, before the coming of Islam, were enemies, but after that they become brothers because of the impact of Islamic instructions and the will of God. This is really the importance of Islam which contributes to make people co-operate and related to each other as one unity.
Again, Abu Hurairah narrated: Messenger of Allāh ,Peace Be Upon Him, said:“Allāh does not look at your figures, nor at your attire but He looks at your hearts [and deeds].” [Muslim]. What we can conclude from this Hadith is that God does not look at the figures of people, if they are big or small, healthy or sick, nor at their looks if they are beautiful or not. So, whoever has a pure heart is closer and more honorable in the sight of Allāh. People should not be proud of their wealth, beauty, body, children, language, or with anything of these worldly matters at all. As a result, the saying of the Prophet shows obviously that the matter is all about what is contained within our hearts.
However, the intention is the basis of everything. For instance, you may find two men are praying side by side, in the same row, led by one Imāme, but they differ in their prayers as the difference between the east and west, because the hearts differ. The heart of the first one might be absent, whereas the heart of the other is present. So, there is a big difference between the two. Hence, the deeds are based on what is in the heart. So, we inquire Allāh to purify our hidden intentions, because if the hidden intention is good and proper, then expect good reward, but if it is not then you will lose all what you have done good.
Since Allāh has emphasized in the Quran and the Prophet has emphasized in his sunnah the importance of rectifying one's intention, then it is a duty upon each person to rectify his intention and to rectify his heart. So if the Satan puts doubt in your heart then look at the signs of Allāh. Look at this universe; who arranges its matters? Look at how the conditions change, at how the days interchange between the people, so that you know that this universe has a Wise Sustainer. So, try to purify your heart from associating partners with Allāh especially by knowing that the people can not benefit you nor save you from the punishment if you do not obey Allah, nor can they reward you if you obey Allāh. God is, indeed, the one who brings about the reward and prevents the punishment. As a result, if Allāh is pleased with you, then He will also make the people pleased with you,
The abovementioned reasons contribute to make the purification of the heart is a crucial matter which paves the way to be a good person. We all know that we shall be tested on our intentions and heart not on our language or culture. How can you be a Muslim if your heart is full of hatred, envy, enmity, and hypocrisy and so on and so forth. At this case, even if you have got a long beard or pray regularly in time, nothing will be accepted from you. I am saying this, because many people misunderstand Islam. They think that Islam is only praying and going to the mosque which is not the case.
Unfortunately, I also see many people when they convert to Islam they underestimate and humiliate their mother tongue and their culture. They become in hurry to learn Arabic language. Learning Arabic is good since Islam comes in that language, but the problem is in the complete humiliation to one’s language and culture. This is not the role of Islam not to deprive people from their own mother tongue or to damage their culture. This bad habit has nothing to do with the true religion. Therefore, I seek Allah to purify my heart and yours and to make us sincere to Him and for each other.
Written by Gallouj Ali