Ethical Discourse # 76 – Page 1 of 6

In the Name of All{h, the Source of General Mercy to all of Humanity, the Source of Specific Grace to the Believers

Topic of Discussion: The Spiritual
Life and Death of the Heart
«ad|th 61 · Discussion 76
Lectures on Akhl{q [Isl{mic Ethics and Spirituality] Delivered by
his Eminence ¤yatull{h al-`U£m{ al-H{jj Shaykh N{#ir Mak{rim Sh|r{z|

Translated by Saleem Bhimji
for Al-Fat¡ Al-Mub|n Publications [ --] and Isl{mic Publishing House []

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Text of «ad|th:
....· ... . . , ....· . . ·. .. .. : .. ..· .. ...-.·. .... .· ...·.. .· . .· ...· . .
Translation of the «ad|th:
The Prophet Mu¡ammad has said, “O’ `Al|! Sitting and associating with three (groups) of people kills the heart: sitting and
associating with low people, sitting and associating with the rich people and speaking with women.”
Explanation of the «ad|th:
The points which we are able to benefit from as have been mentioned in this section of the testament of the Noble Prophet
which are addressed to Am|r al-Mo’min|n ‘Al| ibn Ab| ¬{lib include:
1. From this ¡ad|th, we are able to bring forth the important conclusion in regards to the life and death of the heart. In this
¡ad|th, the word heart has been used as a allusion to the spirit and soul of the person; meaning that in addition to the physical
body of the person being able to possess this state of life and death, so too is the (spiritual) heart and soul of the person also
able to have both life and death and this has been referred to as the “spiritual life and death”.
..s.. ¸ . · ¸ .:÷ :. ¸ L. . .. .. ... ¸
“O’ All{h! Surely my many errors have covered over my true essence and my spiritual distance from You has clothed me in the
separation from Your Essence and my major crimes and sins have killed my heart…”

This Du`{ clearly shows and proves the point (in the ¡ad|th) that the heart too possesses the states of life and death and in
principle, this whispered prayer of those who turn to All{h in repentance is itself proof of the reasons of the death and life of
the heart. In this prayer, the Im{m says, “O’ All{h! Enliven my heart through turning back to You in repentance” and
thus, this means that it is through turning back in repentance to All{h i that give us life while it is through sinning against
All{h i in which is our true death!
There are some people who have thousands of things happen to them in their life which should act as lessons for them. In
addition, there area others who hear thousands of verses of the Qur’{n and a¡{d|th which contain points of admonition,

The Whispered Prayers of Those Who Turn in Repentance, as-ªa¡|atul K{milatul Sajj{diyah, Prayer 1
Ethical Discourse # 76 – Page 2 of 6
however these things do not have even the slightest effect on them and they do not waver in the least, since their hearts have
Thus, there are two ways which we judge life: one is through the feelings and emotions and the other is the physical movement
– meaning that if a creature has no feelings or emotions or is an entity which has no movement to it, it is likely that that
creature is dead. This can be seen in the Qur’{n in which in its detailed discussions on the spiritual life and death that it, for
example, speaks about some ‘dead’ people as actually being at the level of those who are alive when it states:
. ¸ .:· ¸.... ÷ ·. :. ÷ ¸. ¸ . . . .::· _. · .. · _. ..·.. ¸. ÷ ¸ ¸ . ... ¸ ... ..
“And do not consider those people who have been killed in the way of All{h as being dead, rather, they are alive in the
presence of their Lord receiving sustenance.”

In another place in the Qur’{n, a group of people who are (apparently) alive are classified as being dead when we are told:
· : . . ..:· ·... . . ¸ ¸ ·... .:· . .:· . .
“And surely you can not make the dead hear and you can not make the deaf hear (your call).””

Or in another place in the Qur’{n we are told:
e ¸. ¸.. .: ... ¸.
“So that you may warn those who are (spiritually) alive…”

Thus, those people who receive warning and admonition from the Qur’{n (and act according to it) are considered as alive in
the view of the Qur’{n.
The Life and Death of the Hearts The Life and Death of the Hearts The Life and Death of the Hearts The Life and Death of the Hearts - -- - Mankind Possess many Examples of Life and Death! Mankind Possess many Examples of Life and Death! Mankind Possess many Examples of Life and Death! Mankind Possess many Examples of Life and Death!
1. The first life and death can be seen in the plants whose manifestation comes in the form of their growing and
development, their nourishment and their reproduction - and all plants are the same in these regards.
2. Another form of life and death is that of the animal world which is a clear example of both the feelings and emotions
and also movement and action and again in this regards, all animals are the same.
3. However as for the third form of life and death which is limited to only humanity and this is what separates them
from plants and animals is the life which can be divided into “physical” and “spiritual” life. This is the same thing
which has been mentioned in the Isl{mic a¡{d|th as being referred to as the “spiritually alive heart” in which the
meaning of heart in this definition is the soul, intellect and emotional capacity of the person.
In the words of Amirul Mo’min|n `Al| ibne Ab| ¬{lib both in his speeches and also in his short sayings which have been
narrated in Nahjul Bal{gha we see a great emphasis placed on this issue. In speech 110, he says the following in regards to the
÷ ·. .... . ¸ .:.÷ .. .. : .:· ·.
“Ponder upon it (the Qur’{n) since this is the spring (it enlivens) of the hearts.”
In speech 133, in regards to wisdom and knowledge, he has stated:
a ¸ ...:· .:.:: ....
“(Wisdom and knowledge) are life for the dead heart.”
At other times, he places the sickness of the heart at the same level as the sickness of the body and, for example, in short
saying 388, he has clearly stated:

S}rat ¤le `Imr{n (3), Verse 169
S}ratul Naml (27), Verse 80
S}rat Yasin (36), Verse 70
Ethical Discourse # 76 – Page 3 of 6
¸ · .:.:· ¸ ¸. ¸ ..:· ¸ ¸. ¸. .:
“And even worse than the sickness of the body is the sickness of the (spiritual) heart.”
In addition, in short saying 349, he has stated:
. . . ¸ ¸ _÷ ¸. . .:÷ :.
“The one whose level of precaution (Wara‘ – a level higher than that of Taqw{) is low, his heart is dead.”
There are many more such phrases used by this Im{m in this regards.
From another point of view, the Noble Qur’{n believes in a particular form of seeing, hearing, understanding and
comprehending other than the apparent understanding of sight, hearing, comprehension and understanding, just as it is said
in regards to the open disbelievers:
. . .÷ ¸. . .s . . . ¸. :...
“Deaf, dumb, and blind, they do not understand anything at all.”

In another place in the Qur’{n, the hypocrites are referred to as having a sick heart and due to their sick heart (and no desire
to change), All{h i adds to their sickness:
÷ ¸ : ÷ .::· . a .·¸÷ ¸ ¸. .... .. ¸.
“In their hearts is a disease (and due to their obstinacy) All{h has added to their sickness.”

Those people who do not have the fear of All{h i within themselves have been introduced as people possessing hearts of
stone – rather, their hearts are even harder and firmer than stones:
.÷ .s .. : ÷ ..÷ . . ¸ . ¸...:.e · : · ¸ . ÷ . ..
“Then your hearts hardened after that, so that they were like rocks, rather worse in hardness;”

In relation to a group of disbelievers, there is a phrase which has been used in the Qur’{n in which they have been referred to
as being impure, where it has been said:
:¸ · :· .. . .::· .¸. .: ¸. .L . ¸ · . .. : ÷ ¸ .
“Surely those are the people whom All{h does not wish their hearts to be purified.”

In another place in the Qur’{n we read that the only people who shall hear and respond to the call of the Prophet are those
who are spiritually alive and who possess the ears to hear such a call:
· .... ..: :· .. . ::· ...... ¸. ..:· ¸ ¸. .... ¸. . . . · ¸ ... ¸ . ..:
“The only people who shall accept and answer (your call) are the people who (spiritually) hear you and as for the (spiritually)
dead, Allah will raise them, then to Him they shall be returned.”

From all of these different phrases which have been used and indeed many other similar phrases in the Qur’{n, we can clearly
see that the angle which the Qur’{n takes on life and death is the humanistic and logical angle of the discussion since all of the
worth of a person is contained and based on this aspect of his life (his spiritual traits and worth and not his physical

S}ratul Baqarah (2), Verse 171
Ibid., Verse 10
Ibid., Verse 74
S}ratul M{idah (5), Verse 41
S}ratul An‘am (6), Verse 37
Ethical Discourse # 76 – Page 4 of 6
The factors which determine a spiritual death and life are very many, however without doubt, things such as ‘hypocrisy’,
‘pride’, ‘prejudice and nationalism’, ‘ignorance’ and the major sins are the things which kill the heart. This is the same thing
which has been mentioned in the Whispered Prayers of those who turn in Repentance which is one of the fifteen whispered
prayers of Im{m Za|nul ‘Abid|n, ‘Al| ibnil «usa|n when he says:
· ¸ . .:÷ :. ¸ L. .. .. .. . ¸
“My dreadful crimes have deadened my heart …”

Thus, the Noble Prophet has stated, “Sitting and associating with three groups of people kill the heart: sitting with people
who themselves are polluted with sins kills the heart and by a person interacting with such people, he will spiritually descend
to such a level that he himself shall become an instrument through which others will be able to learn a lesson from (in how
not to act).”
The word used in this «ad|th for “people who themselves are polluted with sins” or “_.:” is in the meaning of a low or
despicable individual from the point of view of his morals and etiquette, faith, thoughts, etc…
As it is known, there are many ways in which a person can acquire status and character, of which there are four principle
1. Through the training and upbringing which his father and mother grant to him;
2. The society and his interactions in the streets, markets and all of those things which the common population perform
and which is common in that society and environment which he picks up;
3. His teacher;
4. His friends and acquaintances as this section of influence is perhaps the most important one which affects a person’s
status and character. Thus, if one’s friends are corrupt and spoiled, then that person who associates with them will
also become corrupt however if they are pure and clean in their morals so then the person who is around them will
be the same.
Within a person, there is a psychological trait known as “involuntary following” in which anything a person sees others do, he
would automatically also perform. For example if a person was to yawn then almost instantly, others who are in the same
gathering and see this would also, inadvertently also begin to yawn. Many of the characteristics and states of humanity are
the same as this example which occur involuntary within them and of these is also the effects of the surroundings which a
person is in and the morals and etiquette of friends upon one another.
It has been stated that if you see a person who has an ego however is reserved, and if (due to his being reserved) you are not
able to determine his morals and character in your first and second encounter with him, then you must look towards his
friends and those who associate with him (to be able to tell his character):
· ¸¸ L:.÷ · .: : ¸: . ¸ ... .: ...
“So then look towards those who are his friends (lit. followers) and those who associate with him.”

If you see that a group of (spiritually) low and despicable people are always gathered around him, then do not be tricked and
fooled by seeing his heavily used and worn out prayer mat, since:
· . ¸:. . ¸.:· ¸ :: ¸. :. ¸ .:. .:.
“Surely a person follows the faith of his friend and those who are in his company.”

Therefore, sitting with those people who have negative ethical traits kills the heart.

Tafs|r-e-Namuna, Volume 18, Page 442 to 444
Bi¡{rul Anw{r, Volume 74, Page 197
Ethical Discourse # 76 – Page 5 of 6
2. Sitting with rich people also kills the heart of a person. Of course the meaning of rich people in this «ad|th is a specific type
of rich person. It is not such that simply any person who happens to be rich is a bad person since how many times have we
seen very rich people whom sitting with them actually increase our felicity and happiness.
It has been mentioned that Prophet Ibr{h|m was a very rich person however when an individual merely did the
remembrance of All{h i and said:
¸¸ . ÷ ¸ -.. .
he gave half of his wealth in the way of All{h i to that person!
Thus, the meaning of this «ad|th and it mentioning rich people is something else – it is those people who are not devout to
the faith and are rather devoted to their money. However since usually a majority of those people who are extremely affluent
do not face any difficulties in their life (due to their wealth), are always pleased with themselves, show self-importance and
have drowned themselves in the vanity and pride it can be seen that when a person sits with them or speaks to them, their
discussion would always be in regards to their income or their expenses and you never hear anything from them about All{h
i, the Prophet and any other spiritual issues or very little…If they do speak, then you would see that they could easily list
off seventy different types of food which they have eaten! Their knowledge and facts on the various types of food,
nonsensical things and instruments of fun and pleasure of this world, etc… is much, however when a discussion on ethics and
morality comes up, these same people would remain quiet and silent – it is as if the dirt of the grave has covered them under
the Earth! Thus, it is due to gatherings and sitting with rich people who are like this and who possess these traits which kills
the person’s heart.

3. Speaking with Women also kills the heart – of course this does not refer to women of true faith and who follow the
teachings of the religion since a majority of the discussion which (other) women indulge in are in regards to their own
personal beautification and the beauties of this world. For example, their discussions are either in regards to jewellery or in
picking the defects and faults of others.
In summary, in any place in which there is the discussion of the transient world and the ornaments, beauties and
beatifications, etc… all of this will lead to the spiritual death of the heart, and just as we know the word “«ad|th” refers to
speaking and this necessitates the act of gathering together (to discuss these things).
In relation to (certain) women, the Qur’{n has brought forth a very interesting phrase where it says:
÷ .¸ :. . ¸. ¸ · ¸.. :· ..:. ÷ . a ¸ ¸ .::· . · . ¸.. . ¸.
“Is then one brought up among trinkets (beautification) and unable to give a clear account in a dispute (to be associated with

This is the case since these sorts of women are brought up and nurtured on beautification and adornments – meaning that the
fabric of their thinking is the fabric of beautification (and that is all).
The important point which must be mentioned here is that the things which lead to the live and death of the heart are very
many and thus, a person must be careful that he does not relegate his soul and essence to just anybody.
Without doubt, a person acquires a good part of his thoughts and ethical traits from his friends and acquaintances and this
form of influence (one’s friends) from the point of the logic of Isl{m is to such a level that in the Isl{mic a¡{d|th which have
come to us from the Messenger of All{h Sulaym{n , he has stated:

It is possible that one of the proofs that sitting and associating with rich people leads to the spiritual death of a person’s
heart is that the source of a majority of the corruption and perversion within the society also stems from the rich people who
are completely unaware of All{h i and are completely drowned in the vanities, glories, fun and pleasure of this transient
world and any voice of reason which would lead to their moral refinement, return of human qualities and ethical traits seems
different and unusual to their ears! It is for this reason that such people always stood in the first line against the Prophets of
All{h i and their message, which the rich always assumed was against them directly, was one of justice and equality and the
assistance of those who are downtrodden. (Tafs|r-e-Namuna, Volume 12, Page 60)
S}ratul Zukhruf (43), Verse 18
Ethical Discourse # 76 – Page 6 of 6
. _ . ¸ ¸:. ·. . s.. :. ¸ . .. L.. ¸ ¸ ¸ · · : ¸. ¸ . . ... . ÷ . .: _ . ¸:· . ¸.. . s: .. ¸÷ · ¸ .:. .... ¸ .¸· · ¸:
· .. .: .: · ¸ ... .
“Do not judge a person until you see whom he associates with since surely a person can be known by the friends and
associates which he keeps and he is affiliated with his companions and friends.”
Amirul Mo’min|n `Al| ibne Ab| ¬{lib has stated the following in one of his speeches:
¸. ¸ · ·¸ ¸ L:.÷ . .... ·. ÷¸.. .: ¸ .. ¸. · . s.:. ...: · ÷ . : ¸: ... . . _a · ·. :.e ¸.÷ . . ¸:. . .÷ .· ¸ ..· ¸.
¸ · e ¸ . ¸.. ¸:. ·. :. .÷ .· ¸. . ¸. .: ±. .· ¸. .
“Anytime the state of a person is not known to you and you do not know his faith, look towards whom his friends are. So then
if they are people of the faith of All{h then he too shall be on the faith of All{h and if they are on other than the faith of All{h
then he too shall not be on the faith of All{h.”
Without doubt, the role that a friend plays in the felicity and adversity of a person is more important than any other thing –
either such a friend will drag a person to the ultimate level of spiritual destruction and annihilation or he may pull him
towards the loftiest levels of greatness and spiritual worth!

…and all praise belongs to All{h i – only the mistakes are mine. (Translator)