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The Heart: Fu’aad, Qalb and Sadr


[Written by Amatullah, based on notes]


In the Qur'an, Allāh ta'ala uses three words to describe our hearts: qalb, fu'aad and sadr. We know that every Arabic word is chosen for a reason, yet all three of these words for the most part are translated as “heart.” As usual, the intricate meanings of these words are not captured in the translation.

So, what is their difference?


Qalb is the general word for heart. It comes from the root which means something that turns around and about and upside down. It is the nature of hearts that they are constantly changing, this is the normal state of our hearts. When Allāh ta'ala refers to emaan and diseases of the heart, qalb is used.


Fu'aad is from the verb fa'ada meaning burning or a flame and lahmun fa'eed means a roasted meat on a fire. Fu'aad is used when the heart is inflamed with emotion, as they say, “in the heat of the moment.” Fu'aad is used in the Qur'an to describe the heart when it is engrossed in emotion: happiness, sadness, lust, frustration, anger or regret. My favorite example of this is in suratul Qasas (28), Allāh ta'ala says,

وَأَصْبَحَ فُؤَادُ أُمِّ مُوسَىٰ فَارِغًا

But there came to be a void in the heart of the mother of Musa. (28:10)

Allāh ta'ala uses fu'aad to describe the heart of Umm Musa after putting her newborn into the Nile, as if it was about to leave her chest in her worry and sadness. Allāh ta'ala says her fu'aad became faarigha, empty. She was in such an emotional state that she could not think of anything except Musa alayhi salaam. Then He says,

إِن كَادَتْ لَتُبْدِي بِهِ لَوْلَا أَن رَّبَطْنَا عَلَىٰ قَلْبِهَا

She was almost going to disclose his (case), had We not strengthened her heart. (28:10)

After Allāh ta'ala strengthened her heart out of His Mercy, when she regained her emaan, patience and trust in Him, her fu'aad became qalb.

Another example of fu'aad is when Allāh ta'ala says:

إِنَّ السَّمْعَ وَالْبَصَرَ وَالْفُؤَادَ كُلُّ أُولَـٰئِكَ كَانَ عَنْهُ مَسْئُولًا
Indeed, the hearing, the sight and the heart – all those will be questioned. (17:36)

Allāh azza wa jal did not say our quloob will be questioned, rather He ta'ala said the fu'aad.

When people are committing sins, some type of emotion overtakes them which makes them cross the limits. How many times have we heard, “It's not me – it's the hormones!” When we are questioned on the Day of Judgment, we cannot use the “they were a fitnah, I couldn't help it!”, “I was emotional!” or “it was out of anger!” excuse on that Day to Allāh ta'ala because we are the ones in control of our fu'aad. It's not going to work. WE will be accountable for what our hands, eyes and hearing reaped—no one else.


Sadr takes the meaning of chest, and when Allāh ta'ala eludes to motives or secrets, he uses sadr because it gives the illusion literally of a treasure chest: something hidden and boxed up.

This example can be seen in suratun Naas:

الَّذِي يُوَسْوِسُ فِي صُدُورِ النَّاسِ

The one who whispers in the hearts of Mankind. (114: 5)

Shaytan does not make waswas (whispers) into our quloob, but rather he whispers in the chests of the people. There is a distinction because Allāh ta'ala created the qalb as pure. The example of the heart is like a fort and the eyes/tongues/ears/hands are gates to the opening. Shaytan waits outside of this fort, attacking the openings trying to get in. Out of Allāh's Rahmah, He did not give Shaytan access to our quloob, but rather to our sudoor. It is us who let the gates open, not Shaytan.

These seemingly simple words contain an ocean of wisdom behind the use of each. We all understand that the Qur'an is a book of wisdom, but when we study intricate details like this, we truly see HOW it is a book of wisdom. We ask Allāh ta'ala to make us amongst its companions, āmīn.

Allāh is Most Knowing.

allah ameen

About Yusra Owais (Amatullah)

Yusra is a student of the Qur'an and its language. She completed the 2007 Ta'leem program at Al-Huda Institute in Canada and studied Qur'an, Tajwid (science of recitation) and Arabic in Cairo. Through her writings, she hopes to share the practical guidance taught to us by Allah and His Messenger and how to make spirituality an active part of our lives. She has a Bachelors in Social Work and will be completing the Masters program in 2014 inshaAllah. Her experience includes working with immigrant seniors, refugee settlement and accessibility for people with disabilities.


  1. bismillah wa jazak Allah khayr for sharing this reminder with us! were the notes from any particular class? one of Nouman’s Bayyinah classes, maybe? in any case, do keep posting them!

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  2. masha’allah, barakallahu feek.

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  3. wa iyyakum wa feekum barak Allah.

    Abu abdAllah: of course br Nouman’s notes! mashaAllah, may Allah ta’ala preserve him. Ameen.


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  4. Jazakumallahu khairaa for sharing this incredible notes.You always motivate me to study arabic.

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  5. If you had a brain transplant, would you end up in a different body or would you acquire new memories?

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  6. MashAllah, that was indeed benficial. JazakAllahu Kair. This only motivates me to learn the Quranic Arabic. I can’t wait for Br. Nouman’s class to come to town.

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  7. nice … Picture.
    jk. Jazaki Allah Khair Amatullah I loved the article:-)

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  8. jazakallah khair that was really nice

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  9. I think I have something similar to this on video with Ustadh Nouman!

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  10. Jazakillah for sharing.

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  12. Mashallah,

    Jazakallhi Khairan. This was indeed a very enlightening piece, I will never read these three words the same again in the Quran.

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  13. Bismillah

    Very deep article Amatullah. Jazaakillahu Khair. Excellent food for thought!

    I wish you’d gone on…..:-) but I suppose this can not be a tutorial. :)
    I was reminded of another verse in the Quran that mentions both “qalb” and “sadr” in it:

    أَفَلَمْ يَسِيرُوا فِي الْأَرْضِ فَتَكُونَ لَهُمْ قُلُوبٌ يَعْقِلُونَ بِهَا أَوْ آذَانٌ يَسْمَعُونَ بِهَا فَإِنَّهَا لَا تَعْمَى الْأَبْصَارُ وَلَكِن تَعْمَى الْقُلُوبُ الَّتِي فِي الصُّدُورِ

    “Have they, then, never journeyed about the earth, letting their hearts gain wisdom, and causing their ears to hear? Yet, verily, it is not their eyes that have become blind – but blind have become the quloob (hearts) that are in their sudoor (breasts)!”
    [Surah Al-Hajj Verse 46] Click here and scroll to bottom of page.
    It’s amazing to note how Allah talks about the hearts/quloob becoming “blind”. Perhaps we can ponder more on how the hearts can become blind to Allah’s signs, as He says so in the above verse. Allah also mentions how, the people mentioned in the verse, did not have hearts that could “gain wisdom” i.e. “ya’qiloon”. So apparently our hearts can not just ‘see’ but also ‘understand’!
    The explanation of “fu’aad” was also an eye-opener for me! I am so grateful to you for writing this article!

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  14. Asalaamu Alaykum,

    May Allah reward you for writing this.

    We need more articles like this as the daily MM feed.

    Short, concise, emaan-boosting and not controversial.

    Insha’Allah we will have more of this.


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  15. Salaamun Alaikum

    May Allah shower the blessings of wisdom and knowledge on you for spending what you have been given.

    JazakkAllah Khair

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  16. Analysis of the words of the Qur’an like this is my favorite kind of article on this site.
    ma sha Allah

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  17. AssalamuAlaikum,

    i may be too late reading it but JazakAllah for posting this, it is really thought provoking. May Allah reward you for the same, aameen.

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  18. Assalam o alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhoo!
    its a very good article,
    i couldn’t understand the meaning of ‘sadr’ please tell me on my email.

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  19. Jazakallahukhair. This is absolutely wonderful, SubhanAllah!

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  20. JzakAllaahu Khair

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  21. JazakAllah khair

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  22. Thank you for this article !! Born english speaker. Only knowing some quranic terms phonetically. Translations are not always accurate but I know there must be a reason for the use of different words. The nuances of difference in meanings are amazing. This question had been on my mind a long time.
    I would also like to know the difference between kursi and arsh. I have noticed also that the words translated as wisdom (hakim) are often other words that really mean logic, reasoning, judgement etc. It takes deep thought to consider the right meaning !

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  23. Brother Salam,

    Can u plz tell me when Allah cleansed the HEART of Muhammad SAW before his Prophethood by Jibreel, the word “HEART” actually meant what????

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  24. Mashaallah, this is amazing. Was just wondering what the difference was between qalb and fu’aad, and i googled it and came to your article, and it totally explained everything… Jazakumullah Khairan

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  25. Hussein Pakhtoon

    I disagree with what you say, Man can be blinded by women etc by her beauty and a man’s decision can be effected by women, so women should be careful and stop messing about with the affairs of males. Women should stick with women and men stick with men. I think most of you imams are too soft and cowardly, I don’t believe in oppressing women at home I believe they can do what they like and enjoy themselves but with there follow women friends. Obviously no women should be locked in the house they all have a right enjoy themselves but stop stirring trouble amongst the males. That’s the thing about women they are proper mischievous they think they know the mans mind but they never will. Dressing outside in the same you way dress in your bed room is proper degrading and this is how most women dress. I admit I had a lot better treatment from women then most men but they should be careful because they can cause a lot of trouble. Males always fighting over women and the women who stirr this stand back and smile. These women should be punished heavily for breaking up good relationship between two brothers and best friends.

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  26. Hussein Pakhtoon

    Tell a women who’s searching for a job apply for a job and when she gets rejected next time unbutton her top button and then apply for the job. I bet you she’ll get the job

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    • Dear “Islam Pakhtoon”

      That is what the test of Allah is … see if His slave is patient when she can see that the only way to get the job is to go against your morals. And still opt for difficulty and possible loss of worldly benefit in order not to displease her Lord.

      *Comment above is posted in a personal capacity and may not reflect the official views of MuslimMatters or its staff*
      *Please use your name or a valid Kunyah when commenting*

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