While many of us remember to supplicate to Allāh (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.” [Bukhāri 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 (alayhi salaatu wa salaam) 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 (alayhi salaatu wa salaam); and one narration from Umm Salamah (radi Allahu anha) states that this was the duaa he made the most. This duaa 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 duaa from the sunnah of the Messenger that is narrated in Saheeh 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 Allāh's Messenger (sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam) said:
اللَّهُمَّ مُصَرِّفَ الْقُلُوبِ صَرِّفْ قُلُوبَنَا عَلَى طَاعَتِكَ
Allāhumma Musarrif al-Qulūbi Sarrif Qulūbana 'alā Tā'atika
O Allāh, Turner of the hearts, direct our hearts to Your obedience.
Word for Word Translation and Audio
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Selected Word Analysis
Musarrif/Sarrif: 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 duaa is to turn or direct. How is this word different from “Muqallib al-Qulūb?” 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 duaa, we are asking Allāh (azza wa jal) to sarrif, turn and direct our hearts to His Obedience, while in the other duaa, we are asking Allāh to thabbit, make our hearts firm on Islam, and not qallib because the heart is constantly changing about and turning directions.
Qulūb: Qulūb 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.
Tā'atika: Tā'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 Allāh ta'ala to direct our hearts to willingly submit and obey Him.
Points of Benefit
- Supplications on the heart are found both in the Qur'an and Sunnah. In the Qur'an, the believers supplicate, “Our Lord, let not our hearts deviate after You have guided us.” (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.” (59:10) Both of these duaas are seeking refuge from Allāh in corrupted hearts - the first duaa seeks refuge from deviation after guidance, and the second duaa from evil and ill feelings towards fellow Muslims.
- The Prophet (sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam) constantly made duaa 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 Allāh 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 duaa is to ask Allāh to keep changing back our hearts to His Obedience as we are prone to falter.
- Scholars like imām 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 āyah, “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.” (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 Allāh, 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. Allāh (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.” (100:9-11)
- In another hadeeth of the Prophet (sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam), he pointed to his heart and said three times, “Taqwa (consciousness and fear of Allāh) is here.” [Musnad Ahmad] This hadeeth shows us that when the heart fears Allāh, then the limbs will follow, just as the first hadeeth narrated that, “if it is sound [the heart], the whole body is sound.”
- This duaa is a constant reminder for us that we are not in control of our guidance. It is crucial for us to make duaa 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 Allāh, so who else can we turn to than Musarrif al-Qulūb to keep our hearts towards the direction of His obedience?