the words of Ibrahim Haqqi of Erzurum:
heart is the home of God; purify it from whatever is other than Him
So that the All-Merciful may descend into His palace at night.
The word “heart” has two meanings. One denotes the body’s most
vital part, which is located in the left part of the chest and resembles a
pine-cone. With respect to its structure and tissue, the heart is different
from all other bodily parts: it has two auricles and two ventricles, is the
origin of all arteries and veins, moves by itself, works like a motor, and,
like a suction pump, moves blood through the system.
In Sufi terminology, “heart” signifies the biological heart’s
spiritual aspect as being the center of all emotions and (intellectual and
spiritual) faculties, such as perception, consciousness, sensation, reasoning,
and willpower. Sufis call it the “human truth”; philosophers call it the
“speaking selfhood.” An individual’s real nature is found in the heart.
With respect to this intellectual and spiritual aspect of existence, one is
able to know, perceive, and understand. Spirit is the essence and inner
dimension of this faculty; the biological spirit or the soul is its mount.
It is one’s heart that God addresses and that undertakes
responsibilities, suffers punishment or is rewarded, is elevated through true
guidance or debased through deviation, and is honored or humiliated. The heart
is also the “polished mirror” in which Divine knowledge is reflected.
The heart both perceives and is perceived. The believer uses it to
penetrate his or her soul, corporeal existence and mind, for it is like the eye
of the spirit. Insight may be regarded as its faculty of sight, reason as its
spirit, and will as its inner dynamics.
The heart or spiritual intellect, if we may so call it, has an intrinsic
connection with its biological counterpart. The nature of this connection has
been discussed by philosophers and Muslim sages for centuries. Of whatever
nature this connection may be, it is beyond doubt that there is a close
connection between the biological heart and the “spiritual” one, which is a
Divine faculty, the center of true
humanity, and the source of all human feelings and emotions.
In the Qur’an, religious sciences, morals, literature, and Sufism, the
word “heart” signifies the spiritual heart. Belief, knowledge and love of
God, and spiritual delight are the objectives to be won through this Divine
faculty. The heart is a luminous, precious ore with two aspects, one looking to
the spiritual world and the other to the corporeal, material world. If an
individual’s corporeal existence or physical body is directed by the spirit,
the heart conveys to the body the spiritual effusions or gifts it receives
through the world of the spirit, and causes the body to breathe with peace and
As stated above, God considers one’s heart. He treats men and women
according to the quality of their hearts, as the heart is the stronghold of
many elements vital to the believer’s spiritual life and humanity: reason,
knowledge, knowledge of God, intention, belief, wisdom, and nearness to God
Almighty. If the heart is alive, all of these elements and faculties are alive;
if the heart is diseased, it is difficult for the elements and faculties
mentioned to remain sound. The truthful and confirmed one, upon him be peace
and blessings, declared: 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 heart.25 This saying shows the importance of
the heart for one’s [spiritual] health.
The heart has another aspect or function, one that is actually more
important than those already mentioned: It has the points of reliance and
seeking help ingrained in it and in human nature, by which it enables the
individual to perceive God as the All-Helping and All-Maintaining. That is, it
always reminds one of God in the tongues of neediness and seeking help and
protection. This is vividly expressed in a narrated Prophetic Tradition, which
Ibrahim Haqqi relates as follows:
God said: “Neither the heavens nor the earth can contain Me.”
is known and recognized as a “Treasure” hidden
in the heart by the heart itself.
individual’s body is the physical dimension of his or her existence, while
one’s heart constitutes its spiritual dimension. For this reason, the heart
is the direct, eloquent, most articulate, splendid, and truthful tongue of the
knowledge of God. Therefore, it is regarded as more valuable and honored than
the Ka‘ba, and accepted as the only exponent of the sublime truth expressed
by the whole of creation to make God known.
heart also is a fortress in which one can maintain sound reasoning and
thinking, as well as a healthy spirit and body. As all human feelings and
emotions take shelter and seek protection in this fortress, the heart must be
protected and kept safe from infection. If the heart is infected, it will be
very difficult to restore it; if it dies, it is almost impossible to revive it.
The Qur’an, by advising us to pray: Our Lord! Do not cause our hearts to
swerve after You have guided us (3:7), and our master, upon him be peace
and blessings, by his supplication: O God, O Converter of hearts! Establish
our hearts firmly on Your religion, remind us of the absolute need to
preserve the heart.
Just as the heart can function as a bridge by which all good and blessings may reach the believer, it can also become a means by which Satanic and carnal temptations and vices can enter. When set on God and guided by Him, it resembles a projector that diffuses light even to the furthest, remotest, and darkest corners of the body. If it is commanded by the carnal (inherently evil) self, it can become a target for Satan’s poisonous arrows. The heart is the native home of belief, worship, and perfect virtue; a river gushing with inspiration and radiation arising from the relationships among God, humanity, and the universe. Unfortunately, innumerable adversaries seek to destroy this home, to block this river or divert its course: hardness of heart (losing the ability to feel and believe), unbelief, conceit, arrogance, worldly ambition, greed, excessive lust, heedlessness, selfishness, and attachment to status.