Presence of the Heart
Presence of heart (Arabic: حضور القلب) means reflecting on God by the heart and feeling His presence everywhere, so that He is believed to be Present and Watcher everywhere. Presence of heart is among moral virtues, the spirit of all worships, and among the conditions of perfections for worships. Presence of heart in prayer is emphasized by Imams (a) and scholars of ethics more than other worships. Some of the factors for the achievement of the presence of heart are: repelling Satan's temptations, guarding the soul, keeping away from sins, knowing God, paying attention to the meanings of the phrases in prayer, and controlling the faculty of imagination.
Presence of heart means considering God, peace of mind, giving God an undivided attention by the heart and feeling His presence everywhere, so that He is believed to be Present everywhere as well as an Intimate. According to some sources, the phrase "the presence of heart" has been mentioned in hadiths for the first time. Advising about the presence of heart is also seen in previous religions, including the consultation of Prophet Idris (a), and Luqman the Wise.
According to Mulla Ahmad Naraqi, the presence of the heart means freeing up the heart from anything it is occupied with. In some books of ethics, Ikhlas has been defined as the presence of heart and it has been considered the supplication having ikhlas, a supplication recited with the presence of heart. To the scholars of ethics, the reality of dhikr is the presence of heart.
The presence of heart has been emphasized in the acts of worship including prayer, recitation of the Qur'an, hajj rituals and ziyarah. Presence of heart is the spirit of all worships and among its requirements and without it, worships are defective and do not result in perfection and closeness to God. It is transmitted from Imam al-Sadiq (a) that presence of heart is among the requirements of the fulfillment of supplications.
Mulla Sadra believed that a person who seeks God, need the presence of heart and saying dhikr or performing prayer without the presence of heart does not lead a person to the desirable destination. Some scholars believe that the presence of heart for some short moments does not yield any benefits and only constant remembrance of God results in intimacy with God and keeping away from temptations. Also, according to Imam Khomeini, the key to all sorts of happiness is the presence of heart. He also believed that supplication means seeking and true quest does not happen without the presence of heart.
The scholars of ethics have more emphasized on the presence of the heart in prayers. They believe that the presence of heart is the spirit of prayer. The presence of heart means that upon prayer, the heart should be busy with prayer and not busy with anything which turns it away from it. Some maintain that, in order to have the presence of heart in prayer, it is enough to be mindful of one's actions and words while praying.
Some scholars consider the presence of heart among the requirements for the correctness of the prayer and believe that without the presence of heart, the prayer is not accepted. However, some scholars of jurisprudence did not consider the presence of heart a requirement of the prayer and some others considered it enough to have the presence of heart upon saying takbirat al-ihram. According to al-'Allama al-Majlisi, the prayer without the presence of heart saves the person from punishment, but does not take him to higher levels of perfection. He believes that the presence of heart follows the person's disposition. The more perfect a person's knowledge and at a higher level of certainty is, the more his presence of heart would be. He also believes that reflecting on another act of worship during prayer does not disagree with the presence of heart.
Jawad Maliki Tabrizi mentioned some levels for the presence of heart in the prayer, the highest of which is the person's reflection on the fact that he is standing before God. Also, some scholars considered reflection on the secrets of the prayer (reflection on the truth behind the acts of prayer), entering the reality within the words into the heart and unveiling and intuition (revelation or kashf and shuhud) among other levels of the presence of heart. For the presence of heart, Mujtaba Tihrani too mentioned some levels including knowledge, faith, intuitional and annihilation (fana) levels.
Methods of Achievement
Mirza Jawad Aqa Maleki Tabrizi considered efforts and will as the factors to achieve the presence of heart and believed that if a person believes that "worshiping is the cause of happiness", he would make all his efforts to present his heart before God. In his view, the more a person's efforts are, the more his remembrance of God will be. Fayd Kashani believed that the medicine for the presence of heart is repelling temptations and worldly occupations. Some believe that acquisition of the presence of heart is easier in the middle of the night than during the day.
Observing the self is reflection upon the benefits and harms of ignorance, the knowledge of God, keeping away from sins, repelling the love for the world from the heart, controlling the faculty of imagination, reflecting upon the phrases in the prayer, considering every prayer one's last prayer, observing the requirements of the prayer, reflecting upon the hereafter, and making entreaty to the Ahl al-Bayt (a) have been mentioned as the methods for acquiring the presence of heart.
Practical Instruction of Imam Khomeini
Imam Khomeini believed that a person who seeks to achieve faith, needs to first purify his intention for acquisition of knowledge, truths, and worships at the beginning of the way and then, after purification, in hours such as the middle of the night or before the sunrise, having physical purification, tries to recite verses of the Qur'an such as verse 18 of Qur'an 59 (Sura al-Hashr) with the presence of heart.
Obstacles and Fruits
In the supplication of Abu Hamza al-Thumali, Imam al-Sajjad (a) mentioned some of the obstacles of the presence of heart including the rejection by God, undervaluing God's orders, lying even to God, distancing from godly scholars, not having wariness of God and associating with the people of falsehood.
According to some people, the occupation of the heart, ignorance toward God and indulgence in the world prevent the presence of heart. Mulla Ahmad Naraqi mentioned the causes of the occupation of the heart and ignorance as below:
- Outer obstacles': For example, if during prayer, the person's eyes and ears are busy watching and listening to different things. This way, the person's heart becomes occupied with other thoughts and they prevent the presence of heart. Mulla Ahmad Naraqi considered closing the eyes during the prayer and not performing prayer in busy places resulting in the presence of heart.
- Inner obstacles: Issues existing in the heart which cause distress, ignorance, and lack of focus keep away the person from the presence of heart.
Also physical obstacles, Satan's temptations, forbidden daily sustenance, daily routine, and habits, the inappropriateness of the place of prayer, and inappropriateness of spiritual conditions are considered among the obstacles of the presence of heart.
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