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Differences between the words “Qalb”, “Fu’aad” and “Lubb” used in the Qur'an


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Question: What are the differences between the words “Qalb”, “Fu’aad” and “Lubb” as used in the Qur’an?

Answer: As salaamu alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

The Qur’an expresses the word “heart” using different Arabic words at different times; these can mostly be summed up as the Arabic words qalb, fuaad and lubb. Since in the Arabic language, there is no such thing as an exact synonym, there are subtle differences in the root meanings and indications given by the different words that must be understood if one wants to understand the nuances of the Qur’anic message. When does Allah Most High say Qalb? Why is it different than fuaad?  Let’s look at their underlying meanings first, then move on to how the meanings are used to express highly nuanced messages.


Imam al-Raghib in his Mufradaat says that qalb literally means to turn something around on its face, or to flip something over, such as the turning over of a cloth, or the turning of a person when they turn away from the direction they were going in to another direction. Hence, its derivatives all express some form of this flipping or turning over, so inqilaab as a verb can be used in the Qur’an for “turning on their heels”, or changing your direction to retreat and flee from battle, or as a noun to mean the act of overthrowing someone, where a sense of a flip in power or revolution (literally) is expressed. It is also used in its passive sense to express being turned, rather re-turned, to Allah, Most High, after death.

Then, al-Raghib says that this term is applied to the human heart (physically as well), it is said, because of its frequent turning over, or going through what we call “changes of heart” where emotions, decisions and opinions flip and switch often. He says the term “heart” itself goes to encompass the soul, knowledge, bravery and more.

He points out however that the heart is not the same as the intellect, but that the heart is often generalized as the intellect the same way that a river doesn’t literally run, but rather its water runs, but the running is generalized to the river because it contains the water. Allah Ta’ala even says “Nuqallibu al-af’ida”, which is using another word for heart, al-fuaad, to say “we turn the hearts” from one opinion to another.

The qalb is a heart that can either be sick or sound, dead or alive, due to the beliefs and certainty inside it. Al-Jurjani refers to it as the “true essence of a human being”, while al-Hakeem al-Tirmidhi, who dedicated an entire book to the difference between the words for “heart”, said the qalb contains all levels of inner being.


Imam Al-Raghib says fuaad basically means qalb (i.e. heart), with the distinction that a heart is called a fuaad when there is a sense of kindling or burning, so its derivative is used to refer to roasting meat under flame, after which the meat is called fa’eed. Fu’aad (or its plural af’ida) is specifically used to highlight how much the burning heart has an ability to effect things. When a flame burns brightly, it is akin to a heart that is excited with eagerness, and there is a sense of commotion and pulsation.

It has also been called the emotional cover around the qalb, giving the sense that the qalb is deeper and more special than the superficial emotions of the fuaad. This view, purely linguistic, is what E. Lane favours in his Lexicon, however, scholars who have a hand in actually seeing the word applied in Qur’anic contexts have said that the fuaad is actually deeper than the qalb in the sense that it is the place where witnessing takes place and the light of knowing God is kindled.





The lubb [pl. albaab] signifies the pure intellect, free from inner blemishes and suspicion (note this is deeper than simply “the mind” or “brain”).  The word itself means the marrow, pith or innermost core of something – a tree, a fruit or the breast of mankind, the heart.  It is also said to represent the most discerning type of intellect, so that every lubb is an intellect, but not every intellect reaches the level of a lubb.

For this reason, Allah Ta’ala constantly uses Ulul-Albaab, the people of hearts, to refer to those intelligent and discerning believers who are in touch with their innermost core that recognizes the signs of Allah and understands the Truth, free from the tumultuous emotions of the fuaad and beyond the hesitating fickleness of the human qalb.  This is truly the heart of hearts.


In his tafseer, al-Nisabouri also mentions al-sadr (chest) as being another word for heart in the Qur’an, the same way that when we say the “breasts of mankind”, we mean their hearts on the most external and shallow level.

Allah Ta’ala often uses sadr when speaking about “expanding the breast” of His prophets such as Musa and the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon them), because sadr is the broadest, most general term, and so it is understood that the other layers of the heart will also be expanded. However, for the rest of mankind, it is also the place where secrets are kept, where the Shayton whispers, and where the ego that commands to evil takes hold of a person, but it should be noted that these influential forces, at least linguistically, have access only to the outermost aspect of the heart, not its inner layers, for which the individual alone is accountable to keep pure or to corrupt.

The Heart of the Matter

To sum up, an to use al-Hakeem al-Tirmidhi’s example, the sadr is where one’s Islam rests, a general term. The qalb is the place where certainty and faith (al-eemaan) rests, and it is like the eye, which is a term applied to all of its component parts that see. The fuaad is the place of witnessing and seeing, like the pupil to the eye, and finally, the lubb is the innermost place where tawheed rests, the light in the vision of the eye. The Ulul-albaab, those people of true hearts, peel away the skin of a metaphorical existence, and subsist in the core (lubb) of the true existence, which is only through the belief in the Oneness of Allah Ta’ala.

Abdullah Misra

Answered by Sidi Abdullah Anik Misra

Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani

النكتة العاشرة : في الفرق بين الصدر والقلب والفؤاد واللب . الصدر مقر الإسلام { أفمن شرح الله صدره للإسلام } [ الزمر : 22 ] والقلب مقر الإيمان { حبب إليكم الإيمان وزينه في قلوبكم } [ الحجرات : 7 ] { أولئك كتب في قلوبهم الإيمان } [ المجادلة : 22 ] والفؤاد مقر المشاهدة { ما كذب الفؤاد ما رأى } [ النجم : 11 ] واللب مقام التوحيد { إنما يتذكر أولوا الألباب } [ الزمر : 9 ] أي الذين خرجوا من قشر الوجود المجازي وبقوا بلب الوجود الحقيقي . ثم إن القلب كاللوح المحفوظ في العالم الصغير فإذا ركب العقل سفينة التوفيق وألقاها في بحار أمواج المعقولات من عالم الروحانيات هبت من مهاب العظمة والكبرياء رخاء السعادة تارة ودبور الأدبار أخرى ، فحينئذٍ يضطر الراكب إلى التماس أنوار الهدايات وطلب انفتاح أبواب السعادات فيقول { رب اشرح لي صدري } وإنما سأل موسى شرح الصدر دون القلب لأن انشراح الصدر يستلزم انشراح القلب دون العكس . وأيضاً شرح الصدر كالمقدمة لشرح القلب والجواد يكفيه الإشارة ، فإذا علم أنه طالب للمقدمة فلا يليق بكرمه أن يمنعه النتيجة . وأيضاً إنه راعى الأدب في الطلب فاقتصر على طلب الأدنى . فلا جرم أعطى المقصود فقال { قد أتيت سؤلك يا موسى } وحين اجترأ في طلب الرؤية بقوله { أرني أنظر إليك } [ الأعراف : 143 ] أجيب بقوله { لن تراني } . واعلم أن جميع المهيئات الممكنة كالبلور الصافي الموضع في مقابلة شمس القدس ونور العظمة ومشرق الجلال ، فإذا وقع للقلب التفات إليها حصلت له نسبة إليها بأسرها ، فينعكس شعاع كبرياء الإلهية من كل واحد منها إلى القلب فيحرق القلب . ومعلوم أن المحرق كلما كان أكثر كان الاحتراق أتم ، فلهذا قال موسى { رب اشرح لي صدري } حتى أقوى على إدراك درجات الممكنات وأصل إلى مقام الاحتراق بأنوار الجلال كما نبينا صلى الله عليه وسلم « أرني الأشياء كما هي » وههنا دقيقة وهي أن موسى لما زاد لفظة { لي } في قوله { رب اشرح لي } دون أن يقول « رب اشرح صدّري » علم أنه أراد أن تعود منفعة الشرح إليه فلا جرم يقول يوم القيامة « نفسي نفسي » وإن نبينا صلى الله عليه وسلم لما لم ينس أمته في مقام القرب إذ قيل له « السلام عليك أيها النبي » فقال :

« السلام علينا وعلى عباد الله الصالحين » ، فلا جرم يقول يوم القيامة « أمتي أمتي » وشتان ما بين نبي يتضرع إلى الله ويقول { رب اشرح لي صدري } وبين نبي يخاطب أولاً بقوله { ألم نشرح لك صدرك } [ الشرح : 1 ] . ولا يخفى أن المراد بالشرح والتيسير عند أهل السنة هو خلقهما ، وعند المعتزلة تحريك الدواعي والبواعث بفعل الألطاف المسهلة ، فإنه يحتمل أن يكون هناك من الألطاف ما لا يحسن فعلها إلا بعد هذا السؤال



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