Types of Heart
Chapter 3 of "The Purification of the Soul" © 1993 Al-Firdous Ltd.
Just as the heart may be described in terms of being alive or dead, it may also be regarded as belonging to one of the three types; these are the healthy heart, the dead heart, and the sick heart.
The Healthy Heart
On the Day of Resurrection, only those who come to Allâh with a healthy heart will be saved. Allâh says:
“The day on which neither wealth nor sons will be of any use, except for whoever brings to Allâh a sound heart.” (26:88-89)
In defining the healthy heart, the following has been said: “It is a heart cleansed from any passion that challenges what Allâh commands, or disputes what He forbids. It is free from any impulses which contradict His good. As a result, it is safeguarded against the worship of anything other than Him, and seeks the judgement of no other except that of His Messenger . Its services are exclusively reserved for Allâh, willingly and lovingly, with total reliance, relating all matters to Him, in fear, hope and sincere dedication. When it loves, its love is in the way of Allâh. If it detests, it detests in the light of what He detests. When it gives, it gives for Allâh. If it withholds, it withholds for Allâh. Nevertheless, all this will not suffice for its salvation until it is free from following, or taking as its guide, anyone other than His Messenger .”
A servant with a healthy heart must dedicate it to its journey’s end and not base his actions and speech on those of any other person except Allâh’s Messenger . He must not give precedence to any other faith or words or deeds over those of Allâh and His Messenger, may Allâh bless him and grant him peace. Allâh says:
“Oh you who believe, do not put yourselves above Allâh and His Messenger, but fear Allâh, for Allâh is Hearing, Knowing.” (49:1)
The Dead Heart
This is opposite of the healthy heart. It does not know its Lord and does not worship Him as He commands, in the way which He likes, and with which He is pleased. It clings instead to its lusts and desires, even if these are likely to incur Allâh’s displeasure and wrath. It worships things other than Allâh, and its loves and its hatreds, and its giving and its withholding, arise from its whims, which are of paramount importance to it and preferred above the pleasure of Allâh. Its whims are its imâm. Its lust its guide. Its ignorance its leader. Its crude impulses its impetus. It is immersed in its concern with worldly objectives. It is drunk with its own fancies and its love for hasty, fleeting pleasures. It is called to Allâh and the âkhira from a distance but it does not respond to advice, and instead it follows any scheming, cunning shaytân. Life angers him and pleases him, and passion makes it deaf and blind to anything except what is evil.
To associate and keep company with the owner of such a heart is to tempt illness: living with him is like taking poison, and befriending him means utter destruction.
The Sick Heart
This is a heart with life in it, as well as illness. The former sustains it at one moment, the latter at another, and it follows whichever one of the two manages to dominate it. It has love for Allâh, faith in Him, sincerity towards Him, and reliance upon Him, and these are what give it life. It also has a craving for lust and pleasure, and prefers them, and strives to experience them. It is full of self-admiration, which can lead to its own destruction. It listens to two callers: one calling it to Allâh and His Prophet and the âkhira; and the other calling it to the fleeting pleasures of this world. It responds to whichever one of the two happens to have most influence over it at the time.
The first heart is alive, submitted to Allâh, humble, sensitive and aware; the second is brittle and dead; the third wavers between either its safety or its ruin.
 It has been related on the authority of Abû’d-Darda’ that the Messenger of Allâh, may Allâh bless him and grant him peace, said, “Your love for something makes you blind and deaf.” Abû Dâw’ûd, al-Adab, 14/38; Ahmad, al-Musnad, 5/194. The hadîth is classified as hasan.