If you want to clean a country from corruption, start with top people. If you want to clean the stairs with water, start at the top of the stairs. If you want to clean a person, start at the top.
Let us say for the purpose of simplification, assume that each one of us has three zones of cleaning: bottom, middle and high. According this idea of “Cleaning Starts at the Top” you may wish to know the types of cleaning. They are: physical, mental and spiritual. Each level has its own system. Because of their connectivity, they work together.
Before we talk about how they work together, let us talk about how they work separately. Each one of them could be likened to a control system. An example of a control system is the heating system at home. To check the health of the system, check its product. If the heating system produces cold air, we know that it needs repair. But the system will not repair itself; it is up-to-us.
The heating system, like all other systems, is made up of three spots (functions). First, the Input Function (IF) senses the temperature of the room and sends a perceptual signal (P) to the Comparator Function (CF). In addition to the P signal, the CF receives another signal R. The R signal is the reference signal; it is the room temperature we want to control when we turn the thermostat to a given degree. The C function compares the P and R signals, if there is a difference; the C function produces an error signal (E) that reaches the Output Function (OF) which will turn the boilers on to produce the heat needed to keep the room temperature in line with R signal. The room temperature is the Controlled Quantity which the system aims at controlling.
Let us move now to examine how the three systems work together. They nest themselves in a hierarchical organization. The R signal of a given system comes from
a higher system. To sum up, the physical behavior (muscle tension) is controlled by signals from the brain/mind. If the brain is thought of as the hardware, the mind may be seen as the matching software. The brain and the mind are two sides of the same coin. And the brain/mind gets its R from the heart/soul/spirit of the person. Healthy hearts send healthy signals to lower- order control systems, going by the mind on their way to the lowest – order muscle-based system.
The three nested control-systems are similar to military systems: soldiers, at the bottom; officers, next up; and the top of the system belong to the commander-in-chief. When the commander sends a signal, every body listens. To clean up your acts, you should clean up your mind and to clean up you’re mind you should clean up your heart. That is why Hamza Yusuf’s book on “Purification of the Heart” is essential not only to read but also to follow.
Hamza Yusuf discusses some twenty-five diseases of the heart. Summarizing what he said is beyond the scope of this article because of space limitation. The diseases are: 1) miserliness, 2) wantonness, 3) hatred, 4) iniquity, 5) love of the world, 6) envy, 7) blameworthy modesty, 8) fantasizing, 10) ostentation, 11) relying on other than Allah, 12) displeasure with Divine Decree, 13) seeking reputation, 14) false hopes, 15) negative thoughts, 16) vanity, 17) fraud, 18) anger, 19) heedlessness, 20) rancor, 21) boasting and arrogance, 22) displeasure with blame, 23) antipathy toward death, 24) obliviousness to blessings, and 25) derision. Br. Yusuf also talks about comprehensive treatments of the heart.
Hadith ( Al Bukhari and Muslim ) says, “Truly in the body there is a morsel of flesh, which, if it be whole, all the body is whole, and which, if it is diseased, all of [the body] is diseased. Truly, it is the heart.” Before closing let us ask Allah to help us to purify our hearts, fix our heads and guide our behavior to the Straight Way. Ameen.