Introduction [Sin of the Heart]

Human beings are made up of a physical body and a soul. Everyone has a visible existence and an invisible entity. Also, man is either righteous or evil-minded. Whether righteous or evil, the character of man consists of two aspects. One aspect of his character becomes visible through his physical body. For example a person prays, fasts, performs Hajj or gives charity. Or he may be involved in sinful activities like drinking, gambling and fornication etc. All these types of deeds are performed and become apparent through his physical body.

Another aspect of human character is connected with his inner dimensions and thoughts. For example, belief (Iman), love, fear, hope, satisfaction or for example, disbelief, hypocrisy, hatred and pride. All these aspects become apparent only when a person wants to make them apparent.

Evil deeds that are related to physical body are also prohibited by Almighty Allah. It is obligatory for every person to be aware of all such evils and to refrain from them. In the same way evils of the heart are also sinful and Allah Almighty has commanded us to shun them. We must be cognizant of evils of thoughts and heart also. We must also refrain from such deeds and try our best to keep our hearts free from such sins. 

[Quran and the sins of the heart]

The Almighty has warned against sinful thoughts in a number of places in the Quran. For example, in Surah Baqarah Allah says:

But He will call you to account for what your hearts have earned, and Allah is Forgiving, Forbearing.[6] 

In the same chapter a person who hides testimony is referred to as a sinner of the heart. The Quran says:

And do not conceal testimony, and whoever conceals it, his heart is surely sinful.[7]


And whether you manifest what is in your minds or hide it, Allah will call you to account according to it.[8] 

Similarly, in Surah Bani Israel, the divine words say, 

Surely the hearing and the sight and the heart, all of these, shall be questioned about that.[9] It means that the eyes will be questioned for what they have beheld, the ears for whatever they heard and the heart for all the thoughts it harbored. Furthermore, in Surah Nur, Allah states:

Surely (as for) those who love that scandal should circulate respecting those who believe, they shall have a grievous chastisement in this world and the hereafter; and Allah knows, while you do not know.[10] This verse has refrained us from desiring that evil may befall the people of belief (Muslims). It is a sin of the heart and earns a terrible chastisement. In the same way Allah says in Surah Anam: 

And abandon open and secret sin.[11]

Some commentators of the Holy Quran have mentioned that apparent sins are those that are related to the physical being and hidden evils are perpetrated in ones heart. 

Thus, whenever evils and sins are discussed in Quranic verses and traditions, the sins of the heart are also included. [Sin of the Heart or inner disease]

The evils of the heart are compared to disease of the heart in a number of places in the Quran:

There is a disease in their hearts, so Allah added to their disease.[12]

The above verse is speaking about the hypocrites.

[Paradise is the abode of only those who possess a perfect heart]

When a heart is clean and purified from all sorts of sins and evils, it is known as the “perfect heart” or in other words the correct or whole heart; a healthy heart. It is supposed to be the basis of righteousness. The verse of Surah Shuara says:

The day on which property will not avail, nor sons. Except him who comes to Allah with a heart free (from evil).[13]

Like wealth, all the worldly things are not beneficial in each and every circumstance. They are useful only in some few situations. For example, wealth profits us only during our lifetime, but after death what we require is a perfect and sinless heart. Without such a heart we cannot gain anything. One of the names of Paradise is ‘Abode of peace’ (Darus Salaam)

They shall have the abode of peace with their Lord.[14]

However, the exegesis of Quran mentions that “Darus Salaam” means the abode of those who shall be safe from every kind of disease and affliction. Consequently, those who are afflicted with the maladies of sins will have to remain in the infirmary of Hell till they are cured of every affliction and regain spiritual health. Only after undergoing this process can they qualify to enter Paradise. But there are some diseases that are incurable, like disbelief, hypocrisy and enmity with Allah and holy personalities. People afflicted with such diseases have to remain in Hell forever. [What is ‘disease of the heart’?]

Just as the physical body is either healthy or diseased, in the same way heart is also healthy or sick. Physical health implies that all the organs work perfectly for the purpose they have been created for. The opposite of this implies physical disease. That is, when the organs do not perform their duty properly and when their specialty and capability is no more, it is said that the body is sick. This results in discomfort and life becomes difficult. In the same way a healthy heart is one that possesses all the human qualities and emotions. It should have absolute and correct divine recognition (Marefat) and it must be restful as far as the divine truths and beliefs are concerned, and it must be pure from all evil and animal feelings.

Refusal, doubt, jealousy, malice, miserliness, unsuitable friendship or enmity and in the same way, needless fear or hope etc. are different types of heart diseases. These ailments shall be discussed in detail in this book, all of which are against the nature on which man is created. This nature is known as ‘The First Nature’ (Fitrat-e-Awwaliya).

Amirul Momineen Ali (a.s.) says, “The human body has six conditions: Health or sickness, death or life, sleep or wakefulness. In the same way the human soul also has these conditions. Life of soul is its knowledge and ignorance is its death. Sickness of soul is it being involved in doubts and its health is firm belief. Stupor of the soul is that it is heedless while wakefulness is its awareness.”[15]

Imam Ali (a.s.) also says in Nahjul Balagha, “Beware! One of the calamities is hunger. And worst than that is physical sickness. More terrible than physical malady is the sickness of heart. And beware! One of the bounties is wealth. And better than wealth is physical health. More preferable than physical health is the piety of the heart.” This implies that the heart must be purified from all kinds of dirt and sins.

[Harmful effects of the diseases of the Heart]

When a particular part of the body is sick the whole body is under terrible pain and life becomes difficult. Similarly when one is afflicted with a spiritual malady one feels remorse in his worldly life also. He continues to be afflicted even after his death, about which the Shariah has informed in advance. Life becomes difficult due to spiritual maladies and sometimes he is even inclined to commit suicide.

The above discussion shows that incidence of suicide, especially among the youth, that is on the increase day by day, is a consequence of these spiritual diseases. The best prevention is to keep the heart pure from defects. How this can be achieved shall be explained in this book.

For example when we have a toothache we do not enjoy anything. All pleasures become tasteless in such condition and life becomes unbearable. In the same way ignorance, malice, pride, jealousy, arrogance, vanity and all other spiritual maladies have similar effect, like the jealous person who is always filled with remorse. Anger tortures the person himself. So much so that he even loses sleep. He is ever burning within by seeing that another person has obtained a particular status. He is ever waiting for the time when that person is again deprived of that bounty. Quite often a jealous person fails to recognize his wishes and perishes in the fire of jealousy.

Science and research has established that psychological disorders affect the physical body and result in physical maladies. Heartache and diseases also affect physical organs. The human body is affected by it and the organs fail to perform their designated functions. Rather, the effect of every disease is the same.

[Physical sins are caused by diseases of the Heart]

Heart is the ruler of the Kingdom called human body. The tongue moves in compliance with the commands of the heart. Similarly all the voluntary actions are related to it. Obviously, when the heart is sick and uncontrollable, the words and deeds of that person are in complete disorder. He will perform improper actions and utter rubbish, and his actions shall be against human nature. They shall deviate from humanity and path of religion. Thus whatever sin a person commits, it is due to spiritual ailments. Therefore, reason dictates and religion commands us to make every effort to cure the disease of our heart. We must care more for the well being of our heart.

When the heart is in a bad shape the body is affected. The army commits injustice when the king is a weakling.[16]

Amirul Momineen Ali (a.s.) says, “People of Marefat (recognition) see that the worldly people are more concerned about physical death. While more serious is the death of their hearts within their living bodies.”[17]

Physical death deprives the person of a few days of worldly pleasures. Those pleasures had also been accompanied by thousands of discomforts. However, the death of the heart and conscience deprives one of righteousness forever. The pure eternal pleasures turn their back towards him and man cannot spend a purified life of a human being, whether in this world or in the Hereafter.

Therefore we must not take the spiritual maladies lightly and we must not be careless with regard to their cure. Just as carelessness is unsuitable with physical diseases in the same way reason dictates that we pay utmost attention to such spiritual maladies, because they are more dangerous. Physical diseases can lead to death while spiritual diseases make one afflicted with eternal degradation.