The Quranic Word Series: Qalb

Today’s Quranic Word is Al Qalb = القلب

The word qalb means heart in both a physical and spiritual sense. 

As we have seen in the video, qalb is the Arabic word that means “heart” in English. The literal meaning of qalb is ‘to turn’. The heart is the home for all of our emotions, rationale, and obedience or disobedience to Allah SWT. Since the heart is always turning and changing, we need to protect it and keep it safe from arrogance and spiritual diseases of the heart.

Prophet Muhammad ﷺ had said:

إِنَّ اللَّهَ لاَ يَنْظُرُ إِلَى صُوَرِكُمْ وَأَمْوَالِكُمْ وَلَكِنْ يَنْظُرُ إِلَى قُلُوبِكُمْ وَأَعْمَالِكُمْ‏.‏

[Sahih Muslim]

Verily Allah does not look to your faces and your wealth but He looks to your heart and to your deeds.

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A Good Heart Leads to a Good Body

The heart is the controller of the entire body. If this heart is good, everything is good. But if it is not, everything will be bad; as mentioned by the Prophet ﷺ in the hadith:

وَإِنَّ فِي الْجَسَدِ مُضْغَةً إِذَا صَلَحَتْ صَلَحَ الْجَسَدُ كُلُّهُ،

وَإِذَا فَسَدَتْ فَسَدَ الْجَسَدُ كُلُّهُ‏.‏ أَلاَ وَهِيَ الْقَلْبُ

[Sahih Bukhari]

There is a piece of flesh in the body if it becomes good (reformed) the whole body becomes good, but if it gets spoilt the whole body gets spoilt and that is the heart.

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The Quran Mentions 3 Types of Hearts

Qalbun saleem

قلب سليم


This is a heart that is sound and dedicated to the worship of Allaah. It is the heart that knows and believes in its Lord and prevents itself from vain desires.

The heart that is characterised as being saleem (sound) is a heart that constantly and consistently adheres to good. This is the guided heart and the one found in the believer.

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Allah says:

وَمَن يُؤْمِن بِاللَّهِ يَهْدِ قَلْبَهُ ۚ‏

[Quran 64:11]

And whoever believes in Allah – He will guide his heart.

After believing in Allah, this heart keeps remembering Him in an upright and good manner.

Allah compensates this heart with tranquillity:

الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَتَطْمَئِنُّ قُلُوبُهُم بِذِكْرِ اللَّهِ ۗ أَلَا بِذِكْرِ اللَّهِ تَطْمَئِنُّ الْقُلُوبُ

[Quran 13:28]

Those who have believed and whose hearts are assured by the remembrance of Allah. Unquestionably, by the remembrance of Allah hearts are assured.

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A heart that is a qalbun saleem can save you from the hellfire.

.يَومَ لا يَنفَعُ مالٌ وَلا بَنونَ. وَلا تُخزِني يَومَ يُبعَثونَ. إِلَّا مَنْ أَتَى اللَّهَ بِقَلْبٍ سَلِيمٍ

[Quran 26:87-89]

Do not disgrace me on the day that they will be resurrected, the day when neither wealth nor children will avail, except him who comes to Allah with a sound heart.

In a hadith narrated by Anas, the Prophet ﷺ repeatedly said three times:

يَخْرُجُ مِنَ النَّارِ مَنْ قَالَ لاَ إِلَهَ إِلاَّ اللَّهُ، وَفِي قَلْبِهِ وَزْنُ شَعِيرَةٍ مِنْ خَيْرٍ

[Al-Bukhari]

Whoever said, “None has the right to be worshipped but Allah and has in his heart good (faith) equal to the weight of a barley grain will be taken out of Hell.”

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Everyone should always ask Allah for this type of heart. Allah says regarding them:

رَبَّنَا لَا تُزِغْ قُلُوبَنَا بَعْدَ إِذْ هَدَيْتَنَا وَهَبْ لَنَا مِن لَّدُنكَ رَحْمَةً ۚ إِنَّكَ أَنتَ الْوَهَّابُ

[Quran 3:8]

[Who say], “Our Lord, let not our hearts deviate after You have guided us and grant us from Yourself mercy. Indeed, You are the Bestower.

Prophet Muhammad ﷺ and his companions would ask Allah for hearts that do not deviate. Our Messenger ﷺ would often make the dua:

يَا مُقَلِّبَ الْقُلُوبِ ثَبِّتْ قَلْبِي عَلَى دِينِكَ

Sahih Al-Albani

O Turner of the Hearts, Keep my heart firm on Your Religion

Qalbun saqeem

قلب سقيم


This is the heart that is spiritually sick or diseased. It has been affected by doubts and desires, leading its owner to hesitate to worship Allah SWT.

This person loves Allah and His commands but he also loves the things of this world and its desires. He is constantly wavering between the two.

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وَارْتَابَتْ قُلُوبُهُمْ فَهُمْ فِي رَيْبِهِمْ يَتَرَدَّدُونَ

[Quran 9:45]

And whose hearts have doubted, and they, in their doubt, are hesitating.

Among the spiritual diseases that the qalbun saqeem is affected by are miserliness, envy, jealousy, arrogance, and others. If this heart is cleansed and returns back to Allah, it becomes saleem (sound), but if it remains upon the path in search of its desires, it becomes the heart of a hypocrite that draws further away from Allah.

Allah SWT says:

فِي قُلُوبِهِم مَّرَضٌ فَزَادَهُمُ اللَّهُ مَرَضًا ۖ وَلَهُمْ عَذَابٌ أَلِيمٌ بِمَا كَانُوا يَكْذِبُونَ

[Quran 2:10]

In their hearts is disease, so Allah has increased their disease; and for them is a painful punishment because they [habitually] used to lie.

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This heart is neither here nor there; neither saleem (sound) nor mayyit (dead). In a state of saqeem, this heart never fully conforms with the other two states.

تَحْسَبُهُمْ جَمِيعًا وَقُلُوبُهُمْ شَتَّىٰ ۚ ذَٰلِكَ بِأَنَّهُمْ قَوْمٌ لَّا يَعْقِلُونَ

[Quran 59:14]

You think they are together, but their hearts are diverse. That is because they are a people who do not reason.

It is a heart that does not have a firm stance in anything. If this heart doesn’t return back to Allah and become saleem, it is in danger of becoming stuck in uncertainty and destruction. Allah can seal this heart with its hypocrisy until the Day of Judgment. He says:

فَأَعْقَبَهُمْ نِفَاقًا فِي قُلُوبِهِمْ إِلَىٰ يَوْمِ يَلْقَوْنَهُ بِمَا أَخْلَفُوا اللَّهَ مَا وَعَدُوهُ وَبِمَا كَانُوا يَكْذِبُونَ

[Quran 9:77]

So He penalised them with hypocrisy in their hearts until the Day they will meet Him – because they failed Allah in what they promised Him and because they [habitually] used to lie.

Qalbun mayyit

قلب ميت


This heart contains no life. It is caught in its base desires. It does not know its Lord, nor does it worship Him. The owner of this heart is always arrogant to the truth.

A qalbun mayyit has been covered, sealed and screened from the truth. It can’t see the truth as the truth, much less follow the truth. And it cannot see falsehood as falsehood, much less avoid it.

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فَالَّذِينَ لَا يُؤْمِنُونَ بِالْآخِرَةِ قُلُوبُهُم مُّنكِرَةٌ وَهُم مُّسْتَكْبِرُونَ

[Quran 16:22]

But those who do not believe in the Hereafter – their hearts are disapproving, and they are arrogant.

خَتَمَ اللَّهُ عَلَىٰ قُلُوبِهِمْ وَعَلَىٰ سَمْعِهِمْ ۖ وَعَلَىٰ أَبْصَارِهِمْ غِشَاوَةٌ ۖ وَلَهُمْ عَذَابٌ عَظِيمٌ

[Quran 2:7]

Allah has set a seal upon their hearts and upon their hearing, and over their vision is a veil. And for them is a great punishment.

A heart in the state of mayyit still has a chance to hear the truth. But it won’t follow the truth or guidance set in front of it. Instead, the person with a heart in this state turns the truth into a mockery; a joke to laugh at or a playful matter. They fool themselves and in turn, have the influence to fool others like them. However, they can never fool Allah or the believers.

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وَإِذَا انقَلَبُوا إِلَىٰ أَهْلِهِمُ انقَلَبُوا فَكِهِينَ

[Quran 83:31]

And when they returned to their people, they would return jesting.

وَقَالُوا قُلُوبُنَا فِي أَكِنَّةٍ مِّمَّا تَدْعُونَا إِلَيْهِ وَفِي آذَانِنَا وَقْرٌ وَمِن بَيْنِنَا وَبَيْنِكَ حِجَابٌ فَاعْمَلْ إِنَّنَا عَامِلُونَ

[Quran 41:5]

And they say, “Our hearts are within coverings from that to which you invite us, and in our ears is deafness, and between us and you is a partition, so work; indeed, we are working.”

وَنُقَلِّبُ أَفْئِدَتَهُمْ وَأَبْصَارَهُمْ كَمَا لَمْ يُؤْمِنُوا بِهِ أَوَّلَ مَرَّةٍ وَنَذَرُهُمْ فِي طُغْيَانِهِمْ يَعْمَهُونَ

[Quran 6:110]

And We will turn away their hearts and their eyes just as they refused to believe in it the first time. And We will leave them in their transgression, wandering blindly.

May Allah protect us, guide us, and soften our hearts so that we may stand before Him with a sound heart. Ameen.

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Conjugations of Al Qalb (القلب)
found in the Quran

مُقَلِّبَ
The one who turns

قُلُوب
Hearts

قَلْبِ
The heart

نُقَلِّبُ
We turn away
or gain

انقَلَبُوا
The return

Synonyms of Al Qalb (القلب)

أَفْئِدَة
Hearts

فؤاد
Heart


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Discover More Quranic Arabic Words

Did you enjoy learning about the different types of القلب mentioned in the Quran?

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