“If you look into your heart, and you find nothing wrong there, what is there to worry about? What is there to fear?” -Confucius
This quote had called out to her for quite some time. For her it was beautiful and optimistic. It reminded her that God appreciates a pure heart and sincere intentions. The idea that being good and genuine was all we needed to be was so charming and reassuring. People often speak condescendingly of those who express themselves through quotes. Perhaps it was just her love for the beauty of words that made her scrunch up her nose at comments of such nature. Or maybe it was the fact that she found an enigmatic beauty in the idea that so many people could relate to one individual’s thoughts, and that so many people could take another’s experience and make it their own. It may have been the beautiful fact that those very same words were taken in and re-expressed with such new meaning and emotion every time they were uttered once more. Or that as superficial as a quote may seem at first, as much thought as we give it, the more profound and meaningful it becomes. In light of this last reason, her thoughts on Confucius’ words had changed drastically over the past few days, her heart was no longer at ease.
She walked into another Islamic lecture and quickly settled into a seat, pulling out her favorite notebook and searching for an empty page. She looked around in anticipation, looking forward to the great speaker that would momentarily reach the podium. She pulled her hair in front of her, softly combing her fingers through it as she gazed at the young women surrounding her. She noticed that yet again the hall was filled with dedicated Muslim women who had all covered their hair with hijab. Absentmindedly she dropped her hands to her lap where her fingers immediately intertwined and continued to dance among themselves in a nervous fidget. No matter how many lectures she attended, she was always surprised to be the one or one of two non-hijabis. She felt a little bit different, at least on the outside. How ironic. She thought of why she was sitting in that lecture that evening. Why was she here? Well to gain knowledge of Islam of course, to feel closer to God and to better understand the beauty of her religion and beliefs. Her mind immediately recalled a piece of writing by Robert Merton discussing the concept of manifest and latent functions. Well the manifest function of this lecture was quite obviously and undoubtedly a shared goal by all those in the audience to seek Islamic knowledge. Her latent desire, however, was far more personal. She was here to purify herself. This thought just materialized in her mind and she was quite certain that although she had not acknowledged it in the past, this truly was why she was sitting anxiously in her seat that day. The obvious question following that proclamation of her heart and soul, was, what had she done wrong? What did she need to be purified of? Was there evil in her heart? Darkness in her soul? She frowned at the thought. She knew of nothing unkind in her heart, yet she still knew she was lacking. That is when she recalled that very quote.
“If you look into your heart, and you find nothing wrong there, what is there to worry about? What is there to fear?”
Suddenly that quote seemed to hold another meaning and that meaning was utterly ridiculous. Sure we could look into our hearts and find purity, but what about the ignorance? Was the ignorance not something to fear? The illusion of a pure heart might be a start but only God knows all. Only He would know if our hearts were truly clean. Thus that fear should remain, even when we look within ourselves to find a heart that is free of blemish. Undoubtedly, to reach a state of purity is an endless struggle.