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Ethics

Significance of the Heart

In order to recognise the importance of the non-violence of the heart, it is important to appreciate the significance of the heart and its role in shaping the character of the individual and his daily behaviour and conduct. In this respect many traditions have been stressed in Islam, as reflected by the teachings of the Messenger of Allah, Muhammad (S) and his impeccable descendents, the Ahl-ul- Bayt (A).

The Messenger of Allah (S) used to say:

"The heart is (like) a king who has troops. If the king turns out to be a good one, then his troops will be good too, and if the king is corrupt, his troops would follow suit."

He (S) also used to say:

"If a person's heart is healthy, his body would be in comfort, and if the heart is malicious, the body would be malevolent."

In this respect Imam al-Saadiq (A) said:

"Verily, the status of the heart to the body is that of the leader to the people."

On this basis the impeccable Imams of the Ahl-ul-Bayt (A) used to emphasise upon the people in general, and their followers in particular, the significance and imperative need to maintain the purity of the heart from any evil; material and spiritual, and they used to caution them about hardheartedness and its consequences on one's conduct in life and therefore the harmful affects on the society in which he lives in.

Imam Baaqir (A) is reported as saying:

"Allah's punishment could be for the heart or the body . . . and a person could not receive a worse punishment than hardheartedness."

Examples of the guidance given in terms of practical advice in this respect are many. The Messenger of Allah (S) is reported as saying: "Beware of dispute and discord, for they disease the hearts . . . " Narrated from Imam al-Saadiq (A) who said:

"I forbid you from burying your own relatives (even by throwing a handful of earth on the body of the deceased during burial) for this brings about hardheartedness, and he whose heart is hard is distant from his Lord."

It is reported that a man complained to the Prophet (S) about his hardheartedness, and the Prophet (S) said to him: "If you wish to see your heart (become) lenient, then feed the poor, and wipe over the head of the orphan." Narrated from Imam Ali (A) who said:

"Companionship of the nobles gives vitality to the hearts."

Adapted from the book: "War, Peace & Non-Violence" by: "Sayyid Muhammad Sadiq Shirazi"