This may sound like a very philosophical question but my only concern is to understand what Islam says about intellect. With so many Quranic verses and Hadith mentioning the importance of having a good heart and to use one's intellect, this question arises.

What is Aql (intellect) in an Islamic perspective and what is it associated with?. Is it exclusive to the heart or is it just as we understand, from the mind/brain?.

Ps. I am really interested to know if any great Islamic scholars have pondered on this thought. Have checked a couple of questions on this site regarding heart and mind but they did not provide an answer for me nor does those questions are asked in the same context as mine.


2 Answers 2


Aql (intellect) is a matter of the heart.

almost everywhere feelings precedes thinking. it's the feelings that generate thoughts.

IN THE QURAN affairs of the heart are mainly three. reason (Aql), reflection (tadabbur) and understanding (fiqh). [ SEE (22:46) for reason, (47:24) for reflection and (6:25), (7:179), (9:87) for understanding ]. in an islamic perspective, the heart covers a wider scope. as it includes thinking, soul, and consciousness in it depending on the context it is used. the importance given to heart (Qalb) in the quran and sunnah is very much evident.

Allah, the exalted said in the quran;

But only one who comes to Allah with a sound heart (26:89)

our beloved prophetﷺ said;

Verily Allah does not look to your bodies nor to your faces but He looks to your hearts [muslim]

SCHOLARS have explored this subject extensively. as you have mentioned your interest, i will provide what i have come across and what i find most relevant to the question you have asked, in sha Allah.

  • Ibn Taymiyyah was one scholar who has written much on Aql. from the many works of the great sheikh i recommend : Risalah Fil-Ruh wal-Aql

  • Imam Al-Ghazali presented his perspective in ihya ulum al-din and this work has been published in english by Mohammad Muneer'Din Olodo Al-Shafi as : the concept of the intellect (al-aql)

another one worthy to mention here is : On Ruh, Nafs, Qalb and Aql : creation of ruh, nafs, qalb and aql, their behaviours by Al-Kafi

may Allah the mighty and sublime grant us mercy and guide us to the straight path.

Allah knows best

  • The function of heart is to pump blood among few others which does not include thinking . The usage of heart in metaphorical in languages and not literal. Apr 11, 2023 at 16:16

Allah mentions that thinking ('aql) is a function of the "heart" (qalb). He says:

So have they not traveled through the earth and have hearts by which to reason (ya'qiloon) and ears by which to hear? For indeed, it is not eyes that are blinded, but blinded are the hearts which are within the breasts. (22:46)

The same is also mentioned about understanding (fiqh). He says:

[...] We have placed over their hearts coverings, lest they understand it [...] (6:25)

[...] They have hearts with which they do not understand [...] (7:179)

The heart is also the one ascribed faith and belief and rejection and disbelief.

We understand mostly from modern science that the biological organ that thinks is the brain. So, there are two possibilities:

  1. "Heart" in these verses is simply a way of referring to the thinking of the brain.

  2. Heart refers to the biological heart, and Allah really is ascribing the process of thinking there.

    • A possible reason for this may be the soul. We know the soul is somehow linked to the body and its thinking. We have no idea how it is. Perhaps the soul thinks in the heart. But, this is all a matter of the unknown and it is impossible for us to comment anything about the soul, and of course, it is entirely outside the realm of biological science.

And Allah knows best.

  • Thanks for clarifying it bit more but as I was expecting references to any scholars whom might have explored this.anyway +1 for your answer. Nov 27, 2021 at 9:51

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