Each heart, according to traditional wisdom accumulated over centuries of spiritual practice and experience, possesses four qualities: predatory, animal, demonic, and divine. The latter represents our true origin and potential, and by use of the intelligence and spiritual practices enabled by God’s grace, we may restore equilibrium to our inner core. As the Quran says, ‘By the remembrance of God do hearts find peace.’
Ghazali uses a series of traditional Sufi teaching stories to illustrate the theme of the heart as a mirror. The light of the divine sun can only shine in the heart when the seeker recalls the Prophet’s teaching that ‘everything has a polish, and the polish of hearts is the remembrance of God.’ Bad character traits, acquired through faulty upbringing, are like ‘a smoke which clouds the heart’s mirror’; this is the ‘heart’s rust’ mentioned in the Quran. But the one who has polished his/her heart is made luminous by God’s light, and brings that light to others, which is the quality of sainthood.