Belief COVID-19

COVID-19. LOCKDOWN SOUTH AFRICA

DAY 25. MONDAY 20 APRIL 2020

Oh! The Heart!

The Poets سورة الشعراء

بِسْمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحْمَٰنِ الرَّحِيمِ

In the name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful.

﴿٨٨﴾ يَوْمَ لَا يَنْفَعُ مَالٌ وَلَا بَنُونَ88. 

The Day when neither wealth nor children can help.

﴿٨٩﴾ إِلَّا مَنْ أَتَى اللَّهَ بِقَلْبٍ سَلِيمٍ89. 

Except for him who comes to Allah with a sound heart.”

Hadith 1

Al-Nu’man ibn Bashir reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said:

أَلَا وَإِنَّ فِي الْجَسَدِ مُضْغَةً إِذَا صَلَحَتْ صَلَحَ الْجَسَدُ كُلُّهُ وَإِذَا فَسَدَتْ فَسَدَ الْجَسَدُ كُلُّهُ أَلَا وَهِيَ الْقَلْبُ

Verily, in the body is a piece of flesh which, if sound, the entire body is sound, and if corrupt, the entire body is corrupt. Truly, it is the heart.

Source: Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī 52, Grade: Muttafaqun Alayhi

Imam Al-Ghazzali said: “A person will always interpret everything he hears according to the light which dominates his heart.”

Today we have the scenario where less than half of the world’s population is under lockdown with food and are over eating whilst the rest are in lockdown with no food or with very little food. This said, how does it affect the heart.

Today the population of people displaced and ravaged by war, occupation and oppression would fill a continent. This said, how does it affect the heart.

The list can go on but have we learnt? I don’t think so however, this LOCKDOWN has in many ways driven deep points of realisation into the heart and its beginning to surface. People are looking into the past to find ways to solve today’s problem but, are falling short because those resolutions don’t fit. What we do see therefore, is the tenacity of the human spirit to find answers in the moment. This is admirable because the here and now is explored contextually.

All of the above are external to the heart of the individual because it has an effect on the heart if the the heart is spiritually aligned. Our hearts are either connected or disconnected to Allah, the High the Great or not. The need for this to be said stems from what we are experiencing in the LOCKDOWN and the effects of the pandemic across the world. There is deep problem with our hearts that we are not giving attention to and I hope this article can shed light on it.

In the ayah (evidence from the Holy Quran) cited above, it is clear that we will meet with Allah, the all Knowing and that a sound heart will more acceptable. What is a sound heart? A sound heart is connected to Allah, the Majestic and is free of malice, hatred, discontentment and greed to name few. The question that begs my mind is: “Why is the brain not mentioned here in the Holy Quran?” It came clear to me that the heart is the first receptor of knowledge and knowledge is not only the formal schooling as we know it. Therefore, this heart has to be trained.

Consider this scientific study on the heart:

“The heart senses emotional information five to seven seconds before it happens, while the brain senses it three to five seconds beforehand. So not only are emotions important contributors to our output of thoughts, but they may be one of the best ways to influence and create a change in what and how we think.

In 1974, the French researchers Gahery and Vigier, stimulated the vagus nerve (which carries signals from heart to the brain) in cats and found that the heart and nervous system were not simply following the brain’s directions.

In 1983, the heart was reclassified as an endocrine gland when a new hormone called atrial natriuretic factor (ANF), which affects blood vessels, kidneys, adrenal glands and regulatory regions in the brain, was found to be being produced by the heart.

Dr. J. Andrew Armour discovered the heart also contains a cell type known as intrinsic cardiac adrenergic (ICA), which synthesizes and releases neurotransmitters once thought to be produced only by neurons in the brain and nerve ganglia.

The heart starts beating in an unborn fetus before the brain has been formed, a process scientists call “autorhythmic.”

Dr. Armour introduced the concept of a functional “heart brain” in 1991. Considered an independent entity, the heart’s brain is composed of an elaborate network of neurons, support cells and neurotransmitters which enables it to process information, learn, remember and produce feelings of the heart and then transmit this information from one cell to another.

“We observed the heart was acting as though it had a mind of its own and was profoundly affecting perception, intelligence and awareness,” explained McCraty.

According to Goleman, it’s a person’s EQ (Emotional Quotient) that enables them to succeed in life as much or more than their IQ (Intelligence Quotient).

During the ‘60s and ’70s pioneer physiologists John and Beatrice Lacey conducted research that showed that the heart actually communicates with the brain in ways that greatly affect how we perceive and react to the world around us.

Neurologist Antonio Damasio stresses the rationality of emotion in his book Descartes’ Error, where he emphasizes the importance of emotions in decision-making. He points out that patients with brain damage in the areas of the brain that integrate the emotional and cognitive systems can no longer effectively function in the day-to-day world, even though their mental abilities are perfectly normal.”

Today I pondered on the above and realised that I have not spent enough time with my own heart. Yes, never did I interrogate it and find out why for example, I prefer the villain to be hero in a book I read or in a movie I watch. Really, I have not and I ask you to practice something that has a management focus and it can be tweaked for an introspective exercise.

Peter Senge. In his book the FIFTH DISCIPLINE, he teaches the LEFT HAND COLUMN (LHC), although a tool for management and leadership, it can be used for personal management too.  He explains the LEFT HAND COLUMN as a technique to ‘see’ how mental models work in particular situations. Draw a line down the page so that you have two columns. In the RHC write your actual experience and what you did with it. In the LHC write down what you think you could have really did with it. Then at the bottom of the column write how you intend using the experience now.

Lets use the example of Rashaad who in his first year study of law at university took part in the FEES MUST FALL CAMPAIGN and spent hours with activism. He appeared on national news for 5 minutes and created a blog documenting his experiences. Rashaad is now 35 years old and working as lawyer in what he says is a 9 to 5 job and is looking for deeper fulfilment

LHCRHC
I should have used that popularity and began a formal society on campus called, Study Focus, teaching students the skill of working on goals and still be alive in social activism because I passed all courses. The social activism was great and it gave me leverage as a student and I got popular.
The contacts I made I should have networked with them beyond the campus days and formed a professional advocacy group on human right violations against children with Aids, because I have so many AIDS cases where children have become vulnerable victims. I made great contacts and we got students fees reduced and some scrapped. I used the contacts for business.
I should have not stopped working on this because I could with the various companies I do work for, opened up a scholarship fund for students who passed grade 12 with excellent results and those who can be put into FET colleges too. The eventual aim would be to track them and then use the network of contacts to find them jobs. It became an issue at all universities in South Africa. I then qualified, worked and opened my private practice. My past gave me leverage.

I think I should open that network with the guys in the top management I know and begin the scholarship programme. A POA with schools and begin identifying the potential pupils. It should start a year from now. I will put down the first sum of R5K down in the  bank account I will open for this purpose.

For me the LHC is what the heart would want in light of deeper achievements and fulfilment. This deeper insight would only come about if the light of the heart is infused with pleasing Allah, the Wise. THIS is the yearning of a sound heart, to reach stations of transcendental contentment based on good actions done daily with an eternal focus. The temporal world of fulfilment is the RHC i.e. what we want now and that fulfilment is also very short-lived hence, we tend to gravitate towards it with haste and less long term planning. I hope to use this RHC & LHC for deeper personal issues too because it will open me to my own heart to know my true and innate desires that would please Allah, the Mighty the Wise.

The LOCKDOWN period is one way to make that conversation with your heart happen. Some will call it meditation or reflection but, get down and write what heart is so conditioned to do in the instant. Put a bridle on the heart’s unbridled passions by conditioning it to be sound and pure so that it will accept light, the light of wisdom, courage, patience and generosity. If your heart were a sponge and if plunged into a bucketful of blood it would absorb it, and thereafter immersed into a bucketful of pure water, it will push the blood out and take in the water but, the bucket would be stained red. If this is continued, eventually the final bucket of water will still be pure. Like that, our hearts have to immersed in the light of Allah, the Pure continuously and it will emanate with HIS light for Allah is the LIGHT.

DAY 26 has opened for the HEART. Let the light enter.

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