“There is a piece of flesh in the human body. If it is good, the whole body becomes good and if it is bad, the whole body goes bad. It is the heart.”
– Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him)
Nigeria and any nation can work wonderfully with a critical mass of its citizens dedicated to doing good in all their respective endeavours. All it needs to provide the greatest benefit to a majority of its populace is a sizeable number of good administrators, parents, priests, jurists, politicians, farmers, teachers, journalists, artisans, surgeons and soldiers, etc. So what is stopping us from producing these now?
Of all the parts that define a person such as face, physique, speech, etc, none is as definitive as the heart that also stands at the centre of the life-sustaining nervous system. We all know that the heart, in addition to being indispensable to physical life, is the temporal seat of our soul or spirit. We are dead when it stops. It is the engine room of all the positive and negative mindsets that drive our life: faith, faithlessness; courage, cowardice; determination,indolence; love,hatred,; sacrifice, selfishness, etc.
One of the 79 organs of our body, the heart is not just a pumping machine for essential blood and oxygen but is the driver of the entire human consciousness and existence. It, and not the brain, determine what the rest of the body becomes and what it does; whether well or ill. Nobody says, “Listen to your brain.” It is always, “Listen to your heart.” It makes the man.
In other words, the heart is the hidden master over all the 78 other organs, 360 muscles and 206 bones that constitute the human body. Some schools of thought in medical science attempt to attribute this power to the brain even though they know the heart can live without a brain but not vice versa. The latter is an amazing data processor which operates much like a computer – garbage in; garbage out. Thus, everyone knows how the wonderful abilities, powers and skills of the human brain are being deployed for both good and evil alike.
In this vein, the greatest imperative for peace and happiness is a heart full of positive passions which then propels towards good deeds as opposed to evil emotions that produce pain and punishment. This self-sustaining spiral started at maturity spins away into eternity so that good begets good ad infinitum just as negative passions create evil deeds that accompany the doer, unless he repents, to eternal damnation.
This means that to be good citizens in a good country, a sufficient number of us must harbour a heart full of goodness. Fortunately, no one has to search far to discover what makes this. The major evils are not only familiar and naturally repulsive to all sound hearts, they are enshrined as strong exhortations in all the Holy Scriptures such as the Torah (Old Testament), the Psalms, the Bible (New Testament) and the Qur’an. What is good, better and best for all mankind is also unambiguously spelt out in these books.
For foundation, a sound heart needs to be nurtured with clean or pure sustenance devoid of usury, usurpation, embezzlement, fraud, gluttony, etc. A spiritually sound heart cannot partake in the consumption of the proceeds of corruption in any form. It must especially avoid unlawfully feeding on orphans’ inheritance and on public coffers. Such an organ more easily imbibes the good attitudes and repulses the bad.
To round up, let’s consider the top ten major negative tendencies that Satan seeks to plant in the human heart: idolatry, anger, pride, covetousness, deceit, envy, greed, hatred, miserliness and oppression. All these can be wiped off when the heart cultivates just one positive tendency: love. A heart full of love for the Almighty God and all His creations, animate and inanimate, irrespective of colour, class, creed, gender or race, cannot simultaneously accommodate these destroyers of persons and whole principalities.