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Five principles of the heart | Al-Ghazali

Al-Ghazali says, ‘you should spend every effort in preserving your heart, taking care of it and repairing it as it is the mightiest and most dangerous and subtlest of your organs.’ In his Minhâj al-Abidîn, he says there are five many principles when dealing with the heart. (here heart means the metaphysical heart of subtle reality)

1. Allah is aware of everything that happens in it

(Allah) knows of (the tricks) that deceive the eyes, and all that the hearts conceal. (Ghâfir 40:19)

Allah knows (all) that is in your hearts: and Allah is All- Knowing, Most Forbearing. (al-Ahzâb 33:51)

Surely he knows the contents of your chests. (Hûd 11:5)

Knowing that Allah knows what is in our hearts is the beginning of muraqabah, vigilance.

2. Allah looks to your heart and not to your bodies

The Messenger, upon him be peace, said: Surely Allah does not look to your bodies nor to your forms. Rather He looks to your hearts and he pointed to his chest. (Muslim)

We spent time and energy in making sure we are presentable and become concerned about a speck of dirt on our clothes or outer forms because people see them, yet we do not take care of the place that Allah looks to.

3. The heart is the king of the body and the other limbs follow it

The Messenger, upon him be peace, said: 'Surely in your body is a piece of flesh and if it is healthy the whole body is healthy and if it is spoiled the whole body is spoiled. It is the heart.' (Bukhari and Muslim)

4. The heart is the treasure chest of all virtue

It is the seat of the intellect and the place of gnosis (ma’rifa), which is the cause of one’s eternal happiness in both worlds. It contains the inner sight (basîra) and intention (niyah) and various sciences (ulum) and wisdom (hikam)

5. The heart is unique

It is unique in five ways: 1. Man’s enemy, satan, targets it directly and is perched ready to attack it at any time.
2. It works harder than any other organ. It is the organ of thought, intellect and caprice.
3. Khawâtir, thoughts, come to it like incessant rain or arrows pouring down upon it without any respite. The other organs get rest, for example one may close one’s eyes or mouth.
4. Curing it is extremely difficult as it is unseen and one does not know it is sick until the blameworthy trait is already exposed. Therefore, it requires research into its dangers, close inspection of its states and exercise (riyâda).
5. Its dangers affect it very quickly. It is called the heart (qalb) because it is quick to turn (taqallab).

Oh Lord, make our hearts firm on your path (religion) and turn our faces towards You. Amin. Amin


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Technology of the Heart: Five principles of the heart | Al-Ghazali
Five principles of the heart | Al-Ghazali
Technology of the Heart
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