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Quran and Sunnah

The Heart: Fu’aad, Qalb and Sadr



[Written by Amatullah, based on notes]


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In the Qur’an, Allah 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 Allah 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), Allah 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)

Allah 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. Allah 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 Allah 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 Allah 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)

Allah 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 Allah 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 Allah 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 Allah 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 Allah’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 Allah ta’ala to make us amongst its companions, Ameen.

Allah is Most Knowing.

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Amatullah 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. abu abdAllah, the Houstonian

    February 11, 2009 at 2:22 AM

    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!


    February 11, 2009 at 6:12 AM

    masha’allah, barakallahu feek.

  3. MM Associates

    February 11, 2009 at 9:03 AM

    wa iyyakum wa feekum barak Allah.

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


  4. Ayesha Fatima

    February 11, 2009 at 9:16 AM

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

  5. Faiez

    February 11, 2009 at 1:10 PM

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

  6. suhail

    February 11, 2009 at 3:05 PM

    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.

  7. bint al noor

    February 11, 2009 at 5:01 PM

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

  8. bz

    February 11, 2009 at 6:22 PM

    jazakallah khair that was really nice

  9. MR

    February 11, 2009 at 6:22 PM

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

  10. midatlantic

    February 11, 2009 at 10:22 PM

    Jazakillah for sharing.

  11. ayesha

    February 12, 2009 at 1:14 AM


  12. intellect1429

    February 12, 2009 at 10:41 AM


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

  13. Sadaf

    February 12, 2009 at 2:18 PM


    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!

    • farrah

      September 16, 2016 at 6:40 AM

      Assalamuaikum, sister Sadaf.
      SubhanAllah, one morning in late 2016, I’m reading the same ayah you’re reading, wondering the same things you’re pondering on. Such is the glory and timelessness of AllahSubhanahu wa ta’ala’s words. This ayah suggests that the outer defenses of the sadr have been breached and that the innermost qalb has become blinded. As sahih international’s tafseer states, the blind is not the one who cannot see, but the one who has no insight!
      Barak Allah feeki.

      • Noor

        December 8, 2017 at 2:18 PM

        Jazak Allah Khair for sharing your thoughts Sisters!

  14. AsimG

    February 12, 2009 at 3:47 PM

    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.


  15. Khan Shahid

    February 20, 2009 at 7:21 AM

    Salaamun Alaikum

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

    JazakkAllah Khair

  16. Farhan

    February 20, 2009 at 5:48 PM

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

  17. Smartbuddy

    November 15, 2009 at 8:37 AM


    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.

  18. Tehsin

    March 17, 2010 at 12:28 PM

    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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  21. Hafsa

    April 29, 2010 at 8:48 AM

    Jazakallahukhair. This is absolutely wonderful, SubhanAllah!

  22. Nadia

    May 6, 2010 at 11:15 AM

    JzakAllaahu Khair

  23. Uzma

    May 9, 2010 at 10:54 AM

    JazakAllah khair

  24. Shayla

    April 13, 2011 at 9:16 AM

    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 !

    • Amatullah

      April 13, 2011 at 9:08 PM

      You’re welcome Shayla.

      Kursi and ‘Arsh have two different meanings. Kursi, refers to a foot stool and an ‘Arsh is a throne.

  25. Sopranovinita

    May 1, 2012 at 9:57 AM

    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????

  26. Asmeeni

    June 4, 2012 at 10:28 AM

    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

  27. Hussein Pakhtoon

    August 22, 2013 at 4:34 PM

    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.

  28. Hussein Pakhtoon

    August 22, 2013 at 4:37 PM

    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

    • Aly Balagamwala | DiscoMaulvi

      August 23, 2013 at 3:11 AM

      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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  30. nida faisal

    November 25, 2016 at 10:45 AM

    subhaan Allah , that was really helpful . i am doing a workshop on ‘a journey from heart to qalb’. Your insight is really helpful . May Allah Paak increase His ilm and amal for you and accept in the best of darajaats.ameen

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