Explanation of the Quranic word 'Qalb-e-Saleem' by various Imams:
Our beloved Nabi Muhammad (SAWS) used to say in his Du’aa: “O Allah! I ask you for a Qalb-e-Saleem.” (Tirmidhi: On the authority of Shaddad bin Aws.)
Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) says:
ألا وإنّ في الجَسَدِ مُضْغَةً إذا صَلَحَتْ صَلَحَ الجَسدُ كُلُّهُ وإذا فَسَدَتْ فَسَدَ الجَسَدُ كُلُّهُ ألا وهْيَ القَلبُ
“ Indeed there is a piece of flesh in the body (the heart) when that stays right, the whole body stays right, when that goes astray, the whole body goes astray! Listen carefully, that is the Qalb” (Bukhâri)
'Saleem' is a word derived from 'Salaamat'. It is a broad term but we can translate it as 'safe and sound'.
The 'Qalb e Saleem' means that all the qualities (latent or manifest) that have been given to it, are not wasted. The immense potential, which Allah Ta’ala has bestowed to the human Qalb is intact and well used and not disused.
It was already mentioned that man has been selected for expression of all the Attributes of Allah Ta’ala. Man's Qalb is designed to accommodate the faculties of quite different and opposing nature, as man is a mixture of opposites.
If each faculty of Qalb remains in its right proportion and limits and each does its job in a just manner, it can be called as 'Saleem' (safe, sound and healthy). What is safe, is sound and healthy as well. If it is not safe, it is not sound and healthy i.e., it is diseased.
When it is diseased, it stops doing its function. It is the king of all parts of the body and when the king becomes defunct one can imagine the fate of the nation (the man).
1. Abdullah bin Abbas, Mujaahid, Qataadah, Ibn Sireen and many others (R.A.A.) are of the opinion that Qalb-e-Saleem is a heart that is absolutely free from Kufr (disbelief) and Nifaaq (hypocrisy).
Ibn Sirin said, "The clean heart knows that Allah is true, that the Hour will undoubtedly come and that Allah will resurrect those who are in the graves.'' [Ruh-ul-Ma’aani, Ibn Katheer, etc.]
2. It is heart that is free from Kibr (pride), Hasad (jealousy) and Hiqd (hatred). In the words of Qurtubi (R.A.A.) it is a Khaalis (sincere) heart. This opinion is supported by the following:
i.) Rasoolullah (SAWS) said: “None of you can (truly) believe until he loves for his brother what he loves for himself.” (Bukhari, Muslim)
ii.) He (SAWS) also said: “A group of people will enter Jannah – their hearts are like the hearts of the birds.” (Muslim)
iii.) Anas bin Maalik (R.A.) used to say that: “Most of the dwellers of Jannah are AL-Bulh.” According to one interpretation Al-Bulh are people who have clean hearts and who always entertain good thoughts regarding others (Qurtubi). Sa`id bin Al-Musayyib said, "The clean heart is the sound heart.''
3. It is the heart which, due to extreme love for Allah and His Rasool (SAWS) , leads to total obedience to Allah and his Rasool (SAWS) . This opinion is supported by the following:
i.) Rasoolullah (SAWS) said: “…. There is a piece of flesh in the body; if it is good, the whole body is good. And if it is bad, the whole body is bad. Listen! That piece of flesh is the heart.” (Bukhari, Muslim)
ii.) The Salaf (pious predecessors) used to say: “The heart is the king of the limbs and the rest of the limbs are its soldiers; they always obey him by implementing his instructions and they never disobey him in any regard. (Remember) when the king is pious, his soldiers will also be pious. Similarly, when the king is sinful, his soldiers will also be sinful.” (Jaami-ul-Uloom wal-Hikam by Ibn Rajab Hanbali)
iii.) According to one interpretation the statement of Anas (RA) that: “Most of the dwellers of Jannah are Al-Bulh” refers to people who “don’t know sin”. (Qurtubi)
4. Sa’eed bin Musayyab (RA) explains that the Arabs very often used the word 'Saleem' in the meaning of 'Ladeegh' (one who was bitten by a snake or scorpion) and this is exactly the case in the phrase Qalb-e-Saleem. (Ruh-ul-Ma’aani, etc).
Thus Qalb-e-Saleem is the heart which, due to extreme fear for Allah, is like the heart of a person who has just been bitten by a scorpion. (Qurtubi). In the words of Abu Bakr ibn-ul-Arabi (R.A.A.) it is a heart that is “burnt and stung with fear (for Allah)" [Ahkaam-ul-Qur’an].
Some commentators of Hadith claim that the group of people who will enter Jannah because “their hearts are like the hearts of the birds” (Muslim) refer to people whose hearts are overwhelmed with fear for Allah.
It is our duty to make an effort to inculcate this Qalb-e-Saleem. May Allah guide us all to make such an effort and may He bless us all with the Qalb-e-Saleem. Aameen
More on 'Qalb-e-Saleem':
Detailed article on importance of "Qalb" (heart) in Islamic spirituality: