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27 September 2010

The Forgotten Piece of Flesh

Bismillahir Rahmanir Raheem

While many of us remember to supplicate to Allah (azza wa jal) for guidance, knowledge, and Paradise, there is one important thing that we forget to include in our prayers. In a narration that many of us are familiar with, the Prophet (sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam) said:

“Unquestionably, in the body there is a lump of flesh; if it is sound, the whole body is sound, and if it is corrupt, the whole body is corrupt, and behold, it is the heart.” [Bukhari and Muslim]

Countless scholars of Islam have dedicated books upon books to reformation and purification of the heart because it is the key to success or destruction. Just as doctors today tell us that having a healthy heart is the key to having a healthy body, the Prophet (sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam) conveys to us that having a good heart is the key to righteousness. Anas (radi Allahu anhu) narrated that asking for a firm and obedient heart was one of the constant supplications of the Prophet (sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam); and one narration from Umm Salamah (radi Allahu anha) states that this was the dua’ he made the most. This dua’ is:
“Allahumma ya Muqallib al Quloob thabbit qalbi ‘alaa Deenik,”
“O Turner of the hearts, make my heart firm upon Your Religion.”
However, there is another authentic dua’ from the sunnah of the Messenger that is narrated in Sahih Muslim that isn’t as well known. The Prophet (sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam) said, “Verily, the hearts of all the sons of Adam are between the two fingers out of the fingers of the Compassionate Lord as one heart. He turns that to any (direction) He likes. Then Allah’s Messenger (sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam) said:

‏اللَّهُمَّ ‏ ‏مُصَرِّفَ ‏ ‏الْقُلُوبِ ‏ ‏صَرِّفْ ‏ ‏قُلُوبَنَا عَلَى طَاعَتِكَ ‏
Allahumma Musarrif al-Qulubi Sarrif Qulubana ‘ala Ta’atika
“O Allah, Turner of the hearts, direct our hearts to Your obedience.”
Meaning of the Words in the Dua’:


Both of these words are from the same root which has many meanings. Of those meanings are, to turn, to divert, to turn from another direction, to avert, and to change. The meaning of this word in this dua’ is to turn or direct. How is this word different from “Muqallib al-Qulub?” There are a few differences linguistically, but the essence of both supplications is the same. Qallaba, just like Sarrafa, means to change and turn the direction of something. The linguistic difference is that qallaba points more to constant moving and turning about, while sarrafa points to changing of the direction. When we make this dua', we are asking Allah (azza wa jal) to sarrif, turn and direct our hearts to His Obedience, while in the other dua', we are asking Allah to thabbit, make our hearts firm on Islam, and not qallib because the heart is constantly changing about and turning directions.


Qulub is plural of qalb which means the heart. Qalb is the general word for heart. It comes from the root which means something that turns around and about and upside down, as mentioned above. It is the nature of hearts that they are constantly changing.


Ta’ah means to obey and to submit. The beauty of this word is that it not only means to submit one’s self, it specifically means to submit willingly, voluntarily and on one’s own free will. We are asking Allah ta’ala to direct our hearts to willingly submit and obey Him.

Points of Benefit

Supplications on the heart are found both in the Quran and Sunnah. In the Quran, the believers supplicate,
“Our Lord, let not our hearts deviate after You have guided us.” (Surah Ali ‘Imran 3:8)

Also in Surah Hashr,
“And [there is a share for] those who came after them, saying, “Our Lord, forgive us and our brothers who preceded us in faith and put not in our hearts [any] resentment toward those who have believed.” (Surah Al Hashr 59:10)
Both of these duaas are seeking refuge from Allah in corrupted hearts – the first dua’ seeks refuge from deviation after guidance, and the second dua’ from evil and ill feelings towards fellow Muslims.

The Prophet (sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam) constantly made dua’ for a righteous and good heart. From this we learn the status of the heart, and to also supplicate as much as we can for an obedient and firm heart upon Islam. The nature of the heart is to constantly change, and by asking Allah ta’ala in this supplication to direct our hearts to His Obedience shows that we are constantly falling short in our obedience to Him. To make this dua’ is to ask Allah to keep changing back our hearts to His Obedience as we are prone to falter.

Scholars like Imam ibn Qayyim (rahimahullah) and ibn Uthaymeen (rahimahullah) state that the intelligence and the understanding of a human lies in their heart, and not necessarily their brain. Their evidence for this statement is the ayah,
“So have they not traveled through the earth and have hearts by which to reason and ears by which to hear? For indeed, it is not eyes that are blinded, but blinded are the hearts which are within the chests.” (Surah Al Hajj  22:46)

Shaykh ibn Uthaymeen (rahimahullah) says that the brain is like the secretary processing information, then it reaches the heart and the heart decides to do good or evil based on that information.

The heart is the foundation. We must purify our hearts from associating partners with Allah, from bid’ah, from ill feelings against our fellow Muslims and any other evil deeds in our character and our theology. The Muslim should focus on the reformation of their heart as well as accumulating good deeds. The heart is the source of good deeds, and the heart is where we will be tested on the Day of Judgment. Allah (azza wa jal) says,
“But does he not know that when the contents of the graves are scattered, and that within the chests is brought out, indeed, their Lord with them, that Day, is [fully] Acquainted.” (Surah Al 'Adiyat 100:9-11)

In another hadith of the Prophet (sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam), he pointed to his heart and said three times,
“Taqwa (consciousness and fear of Allah) is here.” [Musnad Ahmad]

This hadith shows us that when the heart fears Allah, then the limbs will follow, just as the first hadith narrated that, “if it is sound [the heart], the whole body is sound.”

This dua’ is a constant reminder for us that we are not in control of our guidance. It is crucial for us to make dua’ for our hearts on a regular basis because we do not know where our hearts will stand tomorrow. The hearts of the children of Adam are between the two fingers of Allah, so who else can we turn to than Musarrif al-Qulub to keep our hearts towards the direction of His obedience?
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