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15.8.12

Heart & Intellect

The word 'Heart' is described in dictionary with multiple meanings,  1. As the chambered, muscular organ in vertebrates that pumps blood received from the veins into the arteries, thereby maintaining the flow of blood through the entire circulatory system. A similarly functioning structure in invertebrates. 2. The area that is the approximate location of the heart in the body; the breast. 3. The vital centre and source of one's being, emotions, and sensibilities. The repository of one's deepest and sincerest feelings and beliefs: an appeal from the heart; a subject dear to her heart. The seat of the intellect or imagination: the worst atrocities the human heart could devise. 4. Emotional constitution, basic disposition, or character: a man after my own heart. One's prevailing mood or current inclination: We were light of heart. My heart is not in it. 5. Capacity for sympathy or generosity; compassion: a leader who seems to have no heart. Love; affection: The child won my heart. 6. Courage; resolution; fortitude: The soldiers lost heart and retreated. The firmness of will or the callousness required to carry out an unpleasant task or responsibility: hadn't the heart to send them away without food. 7. A person esteemed or admired as lovable, loyal, or courageous: a dear heart. 8.   The central or innermost physical part of a place or region: the heart of the financial district. synonyms at centre. The core of a plant, fruit, or vegetable: hearts of palm. 9. The most important or essential part: get to the heart of the matter. 10. A conventionalized two-lobed representation of the heart, usually coloured red or pink. 11.   Games. A red, heart-shaped figure on certain playing cards. A playing card with this figure. hearts n (used with a sing. or pl. verb. The suit of cards represented by this figure. A card game in which the object is either to avoid hearts when taking tricks or to take all the hearts) [Excerpted from American Heritage Dictionary]. The use of word 'heart' with multiple metaphoric meanings in English, in many cases is also in vogue in other languages.

The debate on heart or brain to be the centre of intellect is very old. The cardiocentric model of Aristotle [384–322 B.C.E] went against the encephalocentric (brain-centered) model of his teacher, Plato. Aristotle may not have been completely wrong in his belief that the heart is an organ of intelligence. Brain is the portion of the vertebrate central nervous system that is enclosed within the cranium, continuous with the spinal cord, and composed of gray matter and white matter. It is the primary centre for the regulation and control of bodily activities, receiving and interpreting sensory impulses, and transmitting information to the muscles and body organs. It is also the seat of consciousness, thought, memory, and emotion. While it most certainly is true that  the brain is the major relay centre for cognitive function, it seems that the heart is not just a muscle pump, as many believe it to be.
Now let's examine the functions of heart from latest scientific research. While it most certainly is true that  the brain is the major relay centre for cognitive function, it seems that the heart is not just a muscle pump, as many believe it to be. Human heart has its own nervous system that is composed of approximately 40,000 neurons. These neurons are connected differently and more elaborately than elsewhere in the body and while they’re capable of detecting circulating chemicals sent from the brain and other organs, they operate independently in their own right. Having it’s own “mini-brain” is the reason why heart transplants work, given the fact that severed nerve connections do not reconnect in a different body. Furthermore, this elaborate nervous centre in the heart has more functions than simply regulating the electrical activities of the heart to keep it pumping. However, it is interesting to note that the heart starts beating in the unborn fetus even before the brain has been formed. Instead of simply pumping blood, it may actually direct and align many systems in the body so that they can function in harmony with one another.
In support of the mind-gut connection, one could say that sometimes the "gut feeling" is a lot smarter than the "brain droppings" The latter is a fancy name for such brain activity as thinking and reasoning. Gershon says, that the digestive system has its own nervous system and constantly communicates with the brain. It learns and it remembers.
The heart communicates with the brain and the rest of the body in three ways documented by solid scientific evidence: neurologically (through transmissions of nerve impulses), biochemically (through hormones and neurotransmitters), and biophysically (through pressure waves). In addition, growing scientific evidence suggests that the heart may communicate with the brain and body in a fourth way – energetically (through electromagnetic field interactions). Through these biological communication systems, the heart has a significant influence on the function of our brains and all our Systems. Scientists are discovering that our hearts may actually be the "intelligent force" behind the intuitive thoughts and feelings we all experience.

Dr. J. Andrew Armour is a neurocardiologist that has shown some fascinating facts about the heart’s nervous system. You can review his book “Neurocardiology: Anatomical & Functional Principles” if you’re interested in the technical details. For example, while the heart can be influenced by messages sent from the brain, it doesn’t necessarily obey it all the time. Furthermore, the heart’s “mini-brain” can send its own signals to the brain and exercise its influence on it. To give one illustration: oxytocin, which is typically referred to as the “love hormone”, has been shown to be released not only from the brain, but also from the heart. Oxytocin is not only important for love and bonding, especially for pregnant and lactating mothers, but it also has roles in social behavior, wound healing, learning, memory, and empathy. In short, it’s one hormone that affects a very wide variety of important functions.
It’s generally assumed that learning and memory are a central nervous system function. Meaning, this is a function for that organ inside our heads. However, due to some bizarre, controversial and anomalous observations, there is a growing push towards a systemic memory mechanism. In other words, not to limit intelligence functions to the brain. This came from observations in organ transplant patients – more specifically, heart-transplant recipients.
In a study from 2002, researchers from the University of Arizona and University of Hawaii collaborated to publish a paper titled “Changes in Heart Transplant Recipients that Parallel the Personalities of their Donors”. Ten recipients who received heart or heart-lung transplants underwent evaluation through a series of open-ended interviews. These interviews involved the transplant recipients, recipient families or friends, and donor families or friends, in hospitals in various parts of the US. Several parallels were being investigated including, changes in food, music, art, sexual, recreational, and career preferences, as well as specific instances of perceptions of names and sensory experiences related to the donors.
The interview transcripts are beyond astounding to read. There was a case of a straight vegetarian health-consious donor that turned a militant gay McDonalds-loving recipient into a straight vegetarian health food seeking person after the transplant. Another case was of a young donor who was a violin musician that made the older classical-music-hating recipient all of a sudden want to listen to hours of it after surgery. A third case was of a young woman who was a “hell-raiser” all of a sudden picking up her donor’s love for music and poetry. She was even able to finish the words to his songs, which she never heard before. A funny one was the 47-year-old man receiving the heart of a 14-year-old girl injured in a gymnastics accident. His wife commented at how he changed after surgery, “Gus is a teenager. No doubt about that. He’s a kid – or at least he thinks he’s a kid. Even when we’re bowling, he yells and jumps around like a fool. He’s got this weird laugh now. It’s a girl’s laugh and we tell him that. He doesn’t care.”
This study is only an example of many others. Overall, the researchers here found that on average, the recipients picked up two to five parallels per case from the ones they investigated. This is a very high transfer of personality traits that immunosuppressant drugs, stress of surgery, and statistical coincidence cannot explain.
All of us at one point or another have experienced situations where we mentally worked it out, and despite the calculations that show it to be a good thing to be involved in, something was off and it just didn’t feel right. Most of the time we realize that our “strange feelings” feeling, or “gut-instinct” was confirmed.
The human body is much more mysterious than reductionist science would like us to believe. While Aristotle’s cardiocentric view lost the battle, it hasn’t necessarily lost the war. Despite the importance of the brain, the heart seems to be serving as an organ of intelligence in its own right. There is an interesting difference in definition that seems appropriate to point out here. Intelligence is defined as the capacity for learning, reasoning, understanding, and having the aptitude in grasping truths and meanings. It comes from the Latin meaning “faculty of understanding, comprehension, and discerning”. Cognition on the other hand is the act or process of knowing and perception, and it comes from the Latin meaning, “a getting to know; acquaintance; and knowledge”. The definition implies that intelligence is a higher faculty than cognition, and the question that poses itself in turn becomes: Is the heart our organ of intelligence, while the brain is our organ of cognition? Another research has revealed the gut-brain  
[Excerpts: Mohamed Ghilan, UVic Neuroscience &  Heart is the Seat of Emotions and More:by VijaiP.Sharma, Ph.D and American Heritage Dictionary]

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Quranic Terminology for Intellect 

Quran repeatedly exhorts the humanity to; Ponder [ يَتَدَبَّرُ] over Signs [āyat  ءَايَة], Albāb  أَلْبَٰب understand, Think [فَكَّرَ ], seek Proof [بُرْهَانٌ] seek and employ Knowledge  [il'm  عِلْم] and Wisdom [Hik'mat حِكْمَة] to be guided to true path for salvation. Those who reject the guidance are Ignorant جَاهِل. Quran refers to brain for intellect as commonly perceived now:
بَلْ نَقْذِفُ بِالْحَقِّ عَلَى الْبَاطِلِ فَيَدْمَغُهُ فَإِذَا هُوَ زَاهِقٌ ۚ وَلَكُمُ الْوَيْلُ مِمَّا تَصِفُونَ
"Nay, We hurl the Truth against falsehood, and it knocks out its brain, and behold,  falsehood doth perish! Ah! woe be to you for the (false) things ye ascribe (to Us)". [Quran;21:18]
The sixth word of verse (21:18) فَيَدْمَغُهُ  fayadmaghuhu translated as: 'and it breaks its head / it knocks out its brain. It is divided into 3 morphological segments. A conjunction, verb and object pronoun. The prefixed conjunction 'fa' is usually translated as "and". The imperfect verb (فعل مضارع) is third person masculine singular and is in the indicative mood (مرفوع). 
The verb's triliteral root is dāl mīm ghayn (د م غ). 
دماغ means brain.
Moreover while talking about 'intellect' and 'understanding' Quran also uses other terms like; albāb (أَلْبَٰب) understanding', fuād (فُؤَاد) 'heart', qalb (قَلْب) heart & Sadr (صَدْر) breast. The heart (♥) has long been used as a symbol to refer to the spiritual, emotional, moral, and in the past, also intellectual core of a human being. Metaphoric use of words is common in all all languages. [click here for more details]
Albāb (أَلْبَٰب)
The triliteral root lām bā bā (ل ب ب) 'understanding' occurs 16 times in the Quran as the noun albāb (أَلْبَٰب). For details Click here  >>
Fuād (فُؤَاد)
The triliteral root fā hamza dāl (ف أ د) 'heart', occurs 16 times in the Quran as the noun fuād (فُؤَاد).  For more details click here >>>

Qalb (قَلْب)
The triliteral root qāf lām bā (ق ل ب) , 'heart' occurs 168 times in the Quran, in nine derived forms: 132 times as the noun qalb (قَلْب), For more click here
Sadr (صَدْر)
The triliteral root ṣād dāl rā (ص د ر) occurs 46 times in the Quran, 44 times as the noun ṣadr (صَدْر) breast.  For more details click here >>
Comments by Dr. Zakir Naik
The Arabic word qalb means the heart. It also means intelligence.  In the Arabic language the word 'heart' is also used to connote one's centre of understanding.  Several words used in English language whose literal meaning is different. Even in English language there are several words which are used to explain something, though the literal meaning of these words are different. Consider the following examples
a. Lunatic - Struck by the moon:
The word 'lunatic' literally means struck by the moon. Today people use the word lunatic for a person who is insane or mentally unstable. People very well know that a mad or a mentally unstable person is not struck by the moon. Yet even a medical doctor uses this word. This is normal in the evolution of a language.
b. Disaster - An evil star
The word 'disaster' literally means an evil star. Today the word disaster is used for a great or sudden misfortune or calamity. We know very well that a misfortune has nothing to do with an evil star.
c. Trivial - Three roads meet
The word 'trivial' literally means where three roads meet. Today the word 'trivial' is used for something of small nature or little importance. We know very well that if something is of small value it has nothing to do with where three roads meet.
d. Sunrise and Sunset
'Sunrise' literally means rising of the sun. Today when the word 'sunrise' is used most of the people know that the earth is rotating and is moving in relation to the sun. Most of us know that the sun does not rise during sunrise. However even an astronomer uses the word 'sunrise'. Similarly we know that during sunset, the sun does not actually set.
5.    In the English language heart is the centre of love and emotion
In the English language heart means an organ in the body which pumps blood. The same word heart is also used for the centre of thought, love and emotion. Today we know that brain is the centre of thought, love and emotion. Yet while expressing emotions a person is likely to say "I love you from the bottom of my heart". Imagine a scientist telling his wife, "I love you from the bottom of my heart" and the wife replies, "Don't you even know the basics of science, that the brain is responsible for the emotions and not the heart? In fact you should say I love you from the bottom of my brain."
6.    Arabs know that the word heart in Arabic is also used for centre of thought and understanding
No Arab will ever ask the question as to why Allah has sealed the hearts of the kafir because he knows that in this context it refers to the centre of thought, understanding and emotions.
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