In the Name of God, Most Gracious, Most Merciful

Thinking with the heart!

Jaime Sherman, a psychology student at Arizona State University, underwent a heart transplant at University Medical Center in 2002, after battling a heart defect since birth. For most of her life, this young woman hated sports. And though she was born and raised in Tucson, Arizona, she never liked Mexican food. She craved Italian and was a pasta junkie. But, three years ago, all that changed ! "Now I love football, basketball, baseball, you name it, I follow it." Said Sherman. "And Mexican food is by far my favorite!" She had heard similar stories - of people who get donor hearts, develop new and surprising tastes and traits, then trace them to the donor! It's an eerie phenomenon that has triggered controversy and skepticism. No scientific evidence exists to explain how characteristics of an organ donor might live on in the person who gets their organ. But even the self-described skeptics admit there may be more to this than imagination, though insist it happens to a minority of patients. "It's highly controversial, but I don't exclude it completely," Said Dr. Jack G. Copeland, UMC's chief of cardiothoracic surgery and head of the heart team that has performed more than 700 transplant in 25 years, including Sherman's. When Jame Sherman met her donor's family nearly two years ago, she learned 29-year-old Scott Phillips- a Phoenix bar - was a sports fan who loved Mexican food. He played on several teams at Kansas State University and followed college and pro sports. Well aware of the speculation that traits can transfer from organ donor to recipient, Sherman accepted the concept. "I'm a psychology major, and my professors will tell you it's all in your mind," she said. "But the scientists, the psychologists - they don't have someone else's heart beating inside them. I do. I have a very strong faith in God. And I am willing to believe there are things we cannot explain."

God mentions the word "heart" at least 110 times in the Quran !!! It even implies heart's thinking power ! One such verse states:

[18:57] Who are more evil than those who are reminded of their Lord's proofs, then disregard them, without realizing what they are doing. Consequently, we place shields on their hearts to prevent them from understanding it (the Quran), and deafness in their ears. Thus, no matter what you do to guide them, they can never ever be guided.

Most of us are not aware of heart's thinking ability. Traditionally, the study of communication pathways between the brain and heart has been approached from a rather one-sided perspective, with scientists focusing primarily on the heart's responses to the brain's commands. Now, we learn from the research that communication between the heart and brain is actually a dynamic, ongoing, two-way dialog, with each organ continuously influencing the others function. Scientists also believe that heart has its own "brain" - an intrinsic nervous system! It's not clear what it does or if it is subservient to the higher brain. But it is clear that it is there. The Quran emphases the importance of using our hearts (Quran 39:23; 57:16). One such verse states :

[57:16] Is it not time for those who believed to open up their hearts for God's message, and the truth that is revealed herein? They should not be like the followers of previous scriptures whose hearts became hardened with time and, consequently, many of them turned wicked.

Science had prove that the heart does impact the brain's thinking capability, and does also feed the brain thoughts and feelings that would control the perspective of the person. In numerous verses God gives the traits of the heart which characterize the perspective of believers (Quran 4:65; 7:43; 8:2,10,11; 10:57; 13:28; 15:47; 22:32,35,54,60; 26:89; 39:22; 48:4; 49:3; 58:22; 59:9-10). One such verse states:

[8:2] The true believers are those whose hearts tremble when God is mentioned, and when His revelations are recited to them, their faith is strengthened, and they trust in their Lord.

God also gives the characteristics of the heart which control disbelievers (Quran 2:7,93,283; 3:7,118,151,156; 5:41; 7:100; 8:12,42; 9:8,64,77,127; 16:22; 23:63; 33:26; 3:63; 33:26; 40:18; 47:29; 59:2,14; 61:5). One such verse states:

[2:74] Despite this, your hearts hardened like rocks, or even harder. For there are rocks from which rivers gush out. Others crack and release gentle streams, and other rocks cringe out of reverence for God. God is never unaware of anything you do.

Research shows that thinking with the "brain in the heart" can make us healthier and smarter. The brain in our head is dutifully obeying messages that are being sent from another brain, "the brain in the heart." The heart is not just a throbbing mass of muscle, it's actually quite a sensitive instrument that is processing critical information. With every beat of the heart, intricate messages are being sent to the brain and other bodily systems. In fact, these messages are being received by every cell in our body! Angel Gabriel first brought down the Quran to Muhammad's heart as understood from this:

[2:97] Say, 'Anyone who opposes Gabriel should know that he has brought down this (Quran) into your heart, in accordance with God's will, confirming previous scriptures, and providing guidance and good news for the believers.'

Subsequently, the Quran was released into Muhammad's memory :

[25:32] Those who disbelieved said, "Why did not the Quran come through him all at once?" We have released it to you gradually, in order to fix it in your memory. We have recited it in a specific sequence.

Our ability to hear and act on the information being sent from the heart, can make the difference in whether we experience life as a series of stressful events or one that's rich in quality. The heart provides information that can help us eliminate the mental and emotional drain caused by confusion, stress, overwhelm, anxiety and frustration. Hence, the guiding of our heart is so critical (Quran 3:8; 6:125; 64:11) ! One such verse states:

[64:11] Nothing happens to you except in accordance with God's will. Anyone who believes in God, He will guide his heart. God is fully aware of all things.

There are many benefits that come from learning to utilize the heart's intelligence. They range from mental and emotional boosters like more clarity, productivity and creativity, to increased feelings of happiness. We learn from the Quran;

[39:22] If God renders ones heart content with submission, he will be following a light from his Lord. Therefore, woe to those whose hearts are hardened against God's message; they have gone far astray.

In another verse God states:

[6:25] Some of them listen to you, but we place veils on their hearts to prevent them from understanding, and deafness in their ears. Thus, no matter what kind of proof they see, they cannot believe. Thus, when they come to argue with you, the disbelievers say, "These are tales from the past.

The importance of the heart in our thinking process, and showed how the heart does indeed have a thinking capability and storing of thoughts and feelings in it, and how it does interact with brain and control our thinking. Is it not true that God controls our hearts ? God guides believers' heart:

[64:11] Nothing happens to you except in accordance with God's will. Anyone who believes in God, He will guide his heart. God is fully aware of all things.

On the other hand God provides shield on nonbeliever's heart:

[16:108] Those are the ones whom God has sealed their hearts, and their hearing, and their eyesight. Consequently, they remain unaware.

The study on neurological interactions demonstrate that the signal the heart sends to the brain during positive emotions can alter brain activity in several ways. The heart is the most powerful generator of electromagnetic energy in the human body, producing the largest rhythmic electromagnetic field of any of the body's organs. The heart's electric field is about 60 times greater in amplitude than the electrical activity generated by the brain. The magnetic field produced by the heart is more than 5,000 times greater in strength than the field generated by the brain, and can be detected a number of feet away from the body, in all directions !! The possibility that the electromagnetic field generated by the heart may transmit information that can be received by others. We need to reflect why God mentions about heart so many times in the Quran compared to the brain ! Electromagnetic signals generated by the heart have the capacity to affect others around us. Study indicates that one person's heart signal can affect another's brainwaves, and that heart-brain synchronization can occur between two people when they interact !

[6:59] With Him are the keys to all secrets; none knows them except He. He knows everything on land and in the sea. Not a leaf falls without His knowledge. Nor is there a grain in the depths of the soil. Nor is there anything wet or dry, that is not recorded in a profound record.

Last but not least, these are the clear reminders of the Quran about the believers and non-believers heart:

[8:2] The true believers are those whose hearts tremble when God is mentioned, and when His revelations are recited to them, their faith is strengthened, and they trust in their Lord.

[39:45] When God Alone is mentioned, the hearts of those who do not believe in the Hereafter shrink with aversion. But when others are mentioned beside Him, they become satisfied.

Peaceful Friday, salaam and God bless you.

M. Irtaza


  3. Authorized English translation of the Quran by Dr. Rashad Khalifa