Belief is the life of the heart; worship is the blood flowing in its veins; and reflection, self-supervision, and self-criticism are the foundations of its permanence. The heart of an unbeliever is dead; the heart of a believer who does not worship is dying; and the heart of a believer who worships but does not engage in self-reflection, self-control, or self-criticism is exposed to many spiritual dangers and diseases.
The first group of people carry a “pump” in their chests, but it cannot be said that they have hearts. The second group of people live in the cloudy, misty atmosphere of their surmises and doubts, separate from God, and are unable to reach their destination. The third group of people, those who have traveled some distance toward the destination, are at risk because they have not yet reached the goal. They advance falteringly, struggling on the way of God, experience cycles of defeat and success, and spend their lives trying to climb a “hill” without being able to reach the summit.
On the other hand, those who have a firm belief live as if they see God and in the consciousness that God sees them, enjoy complete security and are under God’s protection. They study existence with insight, penetrate the nature of existence, discover their reality through the light of God, and behave soberly and with self-control. They tremble with fear of God, full of anxiety and hope concerning their final goal, and pursue His pleasure by seeking to please Him and living in a way that shows their love for Him. In return, God loves them and causes other believers to love them. They are loved and esteemed by humanity and the jinn, and receive a warm welcome wherever they happen to be.
Prophet Joseph, upon him be peace, the truthful hero of Sura Yusuf, is mentioned five times in this sura as a man of perfect goodness and deep devotion. All of creation, including the Creator and the created, friend and foe, Earth and the heavens, testified to his strict self-control and self-supervision: When Joseph reached his full manhood, We bestowed on him wisdom and knowledge. Thus do We reward those who are perfectly good [worshipping and acting in consciousness of being always seen by God] (Yusuf 12:22). Here, the Almighty states that Prophet Joseph was a man of perfect goodness and self-control at the age of puberty. During his imprisonment in Egypt, every prisoner, whether good or evil, discerned the depth of his mind and purity of his spirit, and appealed to him to solve their problems: Tell us the interpretation of events, including dreams, for we see you [to be] among those who are perfectly good (Yusuf 12:36). Joseph succeeded in every trial he faced, and won a place in everyone's heart, both friend and foe.
Once more God mentions him as a man of perfect goodness, a perfect embodiment of goodness, as his character did not change when appointed to a high government post: Thus We established Joseph in the land, to take possession of it where he pleased. We reach with Our mercy whom We will, and We never cause to be lost the reward of those who are perfectly good [worshipping and acting in consciousness of being always seen by God] (Yusuf 12:56). When his brothers, who had always envied him, acknowledged his goodness and truthfulness even before they discovered that the charitable minister in the royal palace of Egypt was Joseph. They said: O exalted sir. He has a father, aged and venerable; so take one of us instead of him, for we see that you are among those who are perfectly good (Yusuf 12:78).
Lastly, as a man perfectly matured and having acquired full spiritual contentment, Prophet Joseph himself testified to God’s blessings on him: God has been indeed gracious to us. Whoever acts in fear of God and full submission to Him and is patient, surely God does not waste the reward of those who are perfectly good (Yusuf 12:90).
It is inconceivable that an individual with such a sound heart could deviate or be deprived of God’s blessing. Such a heart has the same meaning with respect to its owner as God’s Supreme Throne has with respect to the universe, and is a polished mirror in which the Almighty looks in full appreciation. Such a mirror is not something to be discarded or allowed to break, for it is the essence and spirit of human reality and is praised by God.
In the following couplets, Rumi recalls this:
The Truth says: I consider the heart,
Not the form made from water and clay.
You say: I have a heart within me, whereas
The heart is above God’s Throne, not below.