Fruits for the Week

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The Prophet (saw) said: “Halal is clear and haram is clear, and between the two are ambiguous matters that many people do not know their rulings. So whoever avoids the ambiguous matters will safeguard his religion and reputation. And the one who falls into them falls in the haram, like the shepherd who gazes around the sanctuary and is about to cross into it. Indeed, every king has a sanctuary and the sanctuary of Allah is His prohibitions. And indeed in the body there is a morsel of meat that if it is well, the rest of the body will be well; and if it is corrupt, then the rest of the body will be corrupt. It is the heart.” (Bukhari)

The most important part of the body is the heart, and its condition determines the quality of our lives and iman. Following the halal and avoiding the doubtful and haram happens only because of the piety of the heart.

The morsel inside the body

Go back to a time where you felt really happy and contended. May be you just received some good news or everything around you felt right and you were in a great mood. Go back to that time and think: How did your body react? Was it also happy? Were your eyes happy, finding beauties in everything you saw? Was your tongue happy, gushing with sweetness and kindness to all those around you? Were you more satisfied with your life? Were you more forgiving and patient with people mistakes and offenses?

Now, please switch and remember a time when you were sad and depressed. Were your eyes also sad, failing to notice joy around you and spotting imperfections instead? Was your tongue sad, repeating phrase of desperation and lashing out at people/things around you? Were you more likely to punish and condemn those who offend you? Did you feel you were depleted of energy? Did you feel tired or even physically sick?   

The effect our emotions have on our bodies is undeniable. In fact, the way we feel can make us physically healthier or sicker. Feeling depressed alters the levels of serotonin in the body and makes us more sensitive to pain.

Depression also compromises our immune system, making us less able to fight infection and disease. It also increases our stress hormone levels and increases our chance of heart disease. There is also research to suggest that happiness has a positive physical influence on the body.

In a similar fashion and as the hadith confirms, the religious state of the heart determines the religious state of the body and how upright it is. So the health of the heart, in more than one way, determines the health and well-being of the body.

The Prophet (saw) called the heart a bite-sized piece of meat, contrasting its small size with the great power it has. Abu Hurairah (ra) said: “The heart is the king and the limbs are its soldiers. So if the king is good, his soldiers will be good. And if he is evil, his soldiers will be evil.” (Baihaqi)

The heart sets the tone for the rest of the body just like the king directs the soldiers under his service. Let’s illustrate with another example. Let’s think of a security control room with cameras, mics, speakers, and score of officers and guards. Let’s imagine them protecting a big bank.

The one behind the controls chooses the movement of the cameras and what they zoom on, the sensitivity of the mics and what they pick up, the instructions broadcasted from the speakers, the movement of the officers, and where the guards are stationed.

The safety of the building depends primarily on who is in the control room. In this example, the control room represents our heart. Like the cameras, what our eyes look at is decided by the controls from our heart. What the ears listen to (like the mics), what our tongues say (like the speakers), and what our body parts do (like the officers and guards) are all directed by the heart. If the heart does its job – it’s healthy and alert – the rest of our body will do its job well. But if the heart is sick and distracted, the rest of our body will be sick, and distracted.

So the time your eyes looking at something, remember the zoom of the camera and ask yourself, why is the person in my control room (i.e. my heart) looking at this? And what does this say about my control room?

(To be continued)

by Dr. Ali Albarghouthi