Human beings have differing strengths and weaknesses. We fluctuate in our spiritual stability and our tendency to sin or to do good deeds. The Creator did not make us as perfect beings – sometimes we get weak, and we fall down into the net of Shaitan and commit sins.
Usually, after some time, we wake up to the reality of our mistakes. We realize our wrongs, and then we feel remorse and try to mend our ways.
Falling down, making mistakes and having lapses in our ability to do good because we are prone to our own weaknesses – these are not ideal, but they are normal. What is not normal is when we let diseases of the heart fester within us. These diseases remain physically invisible, but they can destroy our beings. Like termites in a tree, they relentlessly consume and corrode, tearing the core apart. From all outward appearances, the tree looks in good condition, and no one realizes it is infested. Then a storm or a major flood causes whole tree to collapse, and we discover that it is actually hollow and internally smashed like crumbs, such that it can no longer provide any inner support.
From the remnants of the rotten trunk, one will see the army of termites and insects crawling out – it is not a pretty sight. The tree is now ugly, useless and does not benefit others.
Imagine if the same thing were to happen to our hearts. Nu’man b. Bashir (Allah be pleased with him) reported: I heard Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) as having said this: Beware, in the body there is a piece of flesh; if it is sound, the whole body is sound and if it is corrupt the whole body is corrupt, and hearken it is the heart. (Muslim)
If we, as human beings, fail to exercise vigilance over our own selves, we will allow ourselves to indulge in the sickness and diseases the heart. These cover a full range of negative human behaviour and emotions – stinginess, miserliness, arrogance, jealousy, envy, self admiration, conceit, selfishness, greed – the list goes on. Such diseases make us restless, useless, self obsessed and of no benefit to anyone – not even to ourselves, much less to our families or to societies at large.
A study of Islam will confirm that to err is human. Succumbing to our weaknesses and committing sins happens to the best of us. We are not perfect, nor are we expected to be – what Allah wants from us, however is to constantly strive. Allah knows that we were not created with the spiritual flawlessness of angels nor with the protection against committing sins like the prophets, and has promised forgiveness for those who repent. He will take our hand and lift us from our weaknesses if we turn to Him.
The danger is when we prefer our diseases and weaknesses to the extent that they become normal to us, even when everyone is wagging their fingers and are desperately trying to tell us that hearts are diseased. A person with a sick heart does not believe he is sick, but believes that everyone around him is sick and he is the only one who isn’t. This is the state of a diseased soul, it plummets to such a depth of blindness and stubbornness that the person does not want to change.
The Qur’an explains: For indeed, it is not eyes that are blinded, but blinded are the hearts which are within the breasts. (Al Haj 22:46)
A spiritually sick person does not realize his own disease, and thus has no impetus for change. Meanwhile, his disease spreads internally, eating him alive until he is beyond rescue and dies without repenting. This is scary, and can happen to any of us if we do not safeguard ourselves.
It is much better to be a sinner than to have a disease of the heart. May Allah save us all from being among the latter.
If you are wondering where you fall, if you still want to rescue the good within yourself, and if you want to be a good person, thank Allah. For our inherent weaknesses as human beings are not as treacherous as having a sick heart. However, if you believe that you are fine, then check yourself again, because this self-satisfaction opens the gateway to a spiritual arrogance than can be your own undoing and downfall.
All of us need constant reflection, and if we do carry some diseases in our hearts, then we need to take the medication to heal our weaknesses and sickness before it develops into a chronic disease.
Please study the topic of diseases of the heart – there are various Islamic books and chapters dedicated to this topic. From there, you will understand that all diseases have a cure and ending, which is death. However, the disease of the heart can only be cleansed one way, which is hellfire. So let us cure our diseases now, insha Allah.
May Allah save us from it and may Allah cure our hearts before we meet Him.