بِسْمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحْمَـنِ الرَّحِيمِ
In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful
Ayah 74 – the Harshness of the Jews
Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala criticizes the Children of Israel that they witnessed His tremendous Signs including bringing the dead back to life, and yet they were not moved. He says,
Why did their hearts harden? It was due to their continuous disobedience and mockery of the ayaat of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. When a person disobeys Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala, turns away from His commands, argues in the religious matters, then the heart hardens. No goodness is left in such a heart and it is blocked from receiving guidance.
A person must always keep his heart in check and when he perceives a veil over it – when he is unable to perform much ibadah or understand a religious matter – he should do istighfar and ask Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala to cleanse his heart. A person should also not act arrogantly towards the Book of Allah or the Friends of Allah. One should ask for a humble heart.
Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala compares the hearts of the Children of Israel to stones and forbids us from imitating them. In Surah Al-Hadeed ayah 16, He says,
أَلَمْ يَأْنِ لِلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ أَن تَخْشَعَ قُلُوبُهُمْ لِذِكْرِ اللَّهِ وَمَا نَزَلَ مِنَ الْحَقِّ وَلاَ يَكُونُواْ كَالَّذِينَ أُوتُواْ الْكِتَـبَ مِن قَبْلُ فَطَالَ عَلَيْهِمُ الاٌّمَدُ فَقَسَتْ قُلُوبُهُمْ وَكَثِيرٌ مِّنْهُمْ فَـسِقُونَ
“Has not the time come for the hearts of those who believe (in the Oneness of Allah ـ Islamic Monotheism) to be affected by Allah’s Reminder (this Qur’an), and that which has been revealed of the truth, lest they become as those who received the Scripture (the Torah) and the Injil (Gospel)) before (i.e. Jews and Christians), and the term was prolonged for them and so their hearts were hardened. And many of them were Fasiqoon (the rebellious, the disobedient to Allah.” (Al-Hadeed 57:16)
It is because of their hearts being hard like stones that they were unable to believe in Muhammad ﷺ despite witnessing all the signs and acknowledging that indeed it was him mentioned in their Book.
Types of Stones
Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala tells us about the different types of stones:
وَإِنَّ مِنَ الْحِجَارَةِ لَمَا يَتَفَجَّرُ مِنْهُ الأَنْهَـرُ
“And indeed, there are stones out of which rivers gush forth…”
Imagine a person whose heart is filled with the reverence and fear of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. He hears the commands of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala or remembers Him and tears flow from his eyes. He is a pious person with an extremely soft heart.
Yatafajr [يَتَفَجَّرُ] is gushing forth on a large scale. Such a person only spreads goodness. He leaves no good deed behind and tries to serve Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala with whatever skills or resources he has. A believer due to his faith can be a lava (meaning intense), but his heart is soft. He cannot see others in pain and does not cause them any trouble.
As an example, we have the life of the first Caliph Abu Bakr Siddiq radhiAllahu ‘anhu before us. He was a kind-hearted person who left no good deed behind. He exhausted himself by striving in the way of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala physically as well as through his wealth. He generously spent his wealth not for a material gain, but for freeing slaves who had embraced Islam and were being intensely tortured. When Abu Bakr Siddiq radhiAllahu ‘anhu would recite the Qur’an he would weep so much that even the Christians in the community would come out and weep with him.
May Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala grant us such a heart, ameen.
وَإِنَّ مِنْهَا لَمَا يَشَّقَّقُ فَيَخْرُجُ مِنْهُ الْمَآءُ
“…and indeed, there are of them (stones) which split asunder so that water flows from them…”
Imagine a person who is distant from Allah, but an incident in life causes his heart to split asunder just like the land splits in an earthquake. They breakdown and turn to Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala.
Some people are going on with their lives without thinking about the Creator or the purpose of their creation. Then, something happens in their life, a divorce, death of a loved one or something else and they collapse. Their collapsing is only a mean to rise back up. It is a wake-up call from Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala – a form of His favor to help us correct our ways before we are held accountable in the Hereafter. It is a test to take people out of their sweet slumber and allow them to reflect on the reality of this life.
When a person wakes up from his slumber he then begin to question his past: Where was I lost? What was I thinking? Where was I heading? Why didn’t I realize? Earlier, they were distant from Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala and had no concern for His commands. They then come closer to Him and strive in His cause.
When a person’s heart is broken by the people
and it finds solace with Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala,
then such a person transforms into the best of people.
We believe that breaking of hearts is a sign of bad luck. We want life to be always in our favor and go as we have planned. But Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala has other plans for us. He has set a rank for us in the Hereafter that we are not working towards. He then breaks us down to reshape us. The dirt that we had been accumulating on our hearts is cleansed and Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala by His great favor and mercy makes us ‘His’ own. We are now more conscious of our life, of our decisions and our choices.
Pakistani poet Allama Muhammad Iqbal said,
Khuda tujhe kisi taufaan se ashna krde
K teri behr ki maujoun mein iztaraab nahin
[Rough translation: “God acquaint you with a storm because your waves lack restlessness/anxiety.” Meaning, until we are hit by a storm we do not wake up from our sweet slumber and just going about life doing nothing purposeful.]
Point to Reflect: Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala breaks us by the hands of the same people that we love so dearly. Never give someone or something a place in your heart that is only reserved for Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. Do not chase people; seek love and attention from Him Who loves you the most and His love for you is sincere.
وَإِنَّ مِنْهَا لَمَا يَهْبِطُ مِنْ خَشْيَةِ اللَّهِ
“…and indeed, there are of them (stones) which fall down for fear of Allah…”
Imagine a person who is a man of his own mind. He does not blindly follow people, but when he is shown evidence from the Qur’an or Sunnah, he surrenders. When the stones have the awareness of their Creator they fall down, for example, land sliding or avalanches. Apparently, they are strong-willed, but when they hear a command of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala they submit. As an example, we can look at the second Caliph ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab radhiAllahu ‘anhu. Before Islam, he was a ferocious enemy of the Prophet ﷺ and his Companions radhiAllahu ‘anhum, but when he learned the truth he immediately surrendered and embraced it. He was not stubborn. He submitted to Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala upon gaining proper knowledge.
There are people whose hearts have hardened. They have sinned so much that no goodness is left in them. When they are not bothered about the commands of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala then Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala too chooses not to guide them. Remember, one must have the yearning to be guided and to seek what pleases Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. If we are not concerned about the Master and the Hereafter, and we are disobedient and rebellious, we will be left on our own. May Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala protect us and not deprive us of His Love and Rahmah (mercy), ameen.
Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala ends the ayah saying that He is not unaware of what we do. If He has not broken us down or guided us that does not mean He does not see us. He is Al-Aleem, Al-Khabeer and Al-Baseer, He knows and sees everything.
Solid Inanimate Objects possess a certain Degree of Awareness
Some claimed that the ayaat mentioned the stones being humble as a metaphor. However, Ar-Razi, Al-Qurtubi and other Imams said that there is no need for this explanation, because Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala creates this characteristic – humbleness – in stones. For instance in Surah Al-Ahzab ayah 72, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala said,
إِنَّا عَرَضْنَا الاٌّمَانَةَ عَلَى السَّمَـوَتِ وَالاٌّرْضِ وَالْجِبَالِ فَأبَيْنَ أَن يَحْمِلْنَهَا وَأَشْفَقْنَ مِنْهَا
“Truly, We did offer Al-Amanah (the trust) to the heavens and the earth, and the mountains, but they declined to bear it and were afraid of it (i.e. afraid of Allah’s torment),” (Al-Ahzab 33:72).
In Surah Al-Isra ayah 44, He said,
تُسَبِّحُ لَهُ السَّمَـوَتُ السَّبْعُ وَالاٌّرْضُ وَمَن فِيهِنَّ
“The seven heavens and the earth and all that is therein, glorify Him,” (Al-Isra 17:44).
وَالنَّجْمُ وَالشَّجَرُ يَسْجُدَانِ
“And the stars and the trees both prostrate themselves (to Allah),” (Ar-Rahman 55:6).
ثُمَّ اسْتَوَىٰ إِلَى السَّمَاءِ وَهِيَ دُخَانٌ فَقَالَ لَهَا وَلِلْأَرْضِ ائْتِيَا طَوْعًا أَوْ كَرْهًا قَالَتَا أَتَيْنَا طَائِعِينَ
“Then He Istawa (rose over) towards the heaven when it was smoke, and said to it and to the earth: ‘Come both of you willingly or unwillingly.’ They both said: ‘We come, willingly,’” (Fussilat 41: 11).
On the Day of Judgment our skins will testify for or against us, as it appears,
وَقَالُواْ لِجُلُودِهِمْ لِمَ شَهِدتُّمْ عَلَيْنَا قَالُواْ أَنطَقَنَا اللَّهُ
“And they will say to their skins, ‘Why do you testify against us?’ They will say: Allah has caused us to speak,” (Fussilat 41:21).
It is recorded in the Saheeh that the Prophet ﷺ said,
هذَا جَبَلٌ يُحِبُّنَا وَنُحِبُّه
“This (Mount Uhud) is a mount that loves us and that we love.”
Similarly, the compassion of the stump of the palm tree for the Prophet ﷺ as confirmed in authentic narrations. In Saheeh Muslim it is recorded that the Prophet ﷺ said,
إِنِّي لَأَعْرِفُ حَجَرًا بِمَكَّةَ كَانَ يُسَلِّمُ عَلَيَّ قَبْلَ أَنْ أُبْعَثَ إِنِّي لَأَعْرِفُهُ الْآن
“I know a stone in Makkah that used to greet me with the Salam before I was sent. I recognize this stone now.”
He said about the Black Stone (Aswad) that,
إِنَّهُ يَشْهَدُ لِمَنِ اسْتَلَمَ بِحَقَ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَة
“On the Day of Resurrection it will testify for those who kiss it.”
This knowledge should not amuse us but rather scare us. The things around us, birds, trees, mountains, etc. will testify for or against us. What will they say? Everything around us is observing us. We should live an honest private and public life, and not do in private that we will be ashamed to do in public.
When a person passes away, the places that he used to offer his Salah at, recite the Qur’an and words of remembrance, miss him and cry for him. If we do not pray or remember Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala, what will these places say about us? More importantly, we are those who appear righteous in public ,but live a corrupt life in private, what will these places say? In Surah Az-Zalzalah, it is said that the earth will throw out its ‘burden’. Our activities, our sins are the burdens that the earth is quietly swallowing up.
There are people when they die, the inanimate objects cry for them and testify to their being righteous. And there are those, when they die the objects feel relieved. How is our conduct? We should be vigilant about our actions and live a conscious life.
Characteristics of Soft-Hearted People:
► They are sensitive about themselves and others.
► They remain restless until they help someone.
► They don’t hurt others by their words or actions.
► They choose for others what they choose for themselves.
► They not only care about human beings, but the entire creation of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. They are kind to animals, plants and trees.
► They are forgiving, patient, enduring and resilient.
The Prophet ﷺ said,
“Should I not tell you whom the (Hell) Fire is forbidden to touch? It is forbidden to touch a man who is always accessible, having polite and tender nature.” [at-Tirmidhi]
Why do Hearts become Hard?
Because of disbelief, hypocrisy, innovations, sins, worldly desires, increase in mubbbah (actions which are neither sinful, nor rewarding such as idle talk).
Treatment for Hardened Hearts:
► Repentance from the sins;
► Good company (make righteous friends for your heart’s sake);
► Pious gatherings;
► Reflection on the Qur’an;
► Remembrance of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala;
► Meeting the orphans, needy and depressed, and helping them;
► Remembrance of death and the Hereafter.
Dangers of Hardened Hearts:
Lack of khushu (humility) or interest in prayer.
Ibn Qayyim said,
“Seek your heart in three places: When listening to the Qur’an (does your heart get engaged?), in the gatherings of (Allah’s) remembrance, and when (alone) in privacy (where is the heart?), and if you do not find it in these places, then ask Allah to grant you with a heart, for verily, you do not have one.” (Fawaid-ul-Fawaid, p. 479)
Ask Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala for a sound heart (Qalb Saleem) because on the Judgment Day nothing else will help, as it appears in Surah Ash-Shu’ara’ ayah 89. It is a heart that is free from rancor, envy and illness.
Seek Solitude to connect/communicate with the ‘Real’ Beloved
When a person truly loves Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala, he seek solitude. He wants people to go away so that he can turn to Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala and communicate with him. Such a person, no more finds it difficult to wake up for tahajjud, perform ablution in the cold nights of the winter and prepare himself for his secret meeting with his Lord. He cries before Him, and not the people. He longs for Him, and not the people. This is a very high level of awareness. This is a heart that is alive. It has understood the purpose of this life. Remember, the Prophet ﷺ loved solitude. While his people were engaged in all kinds of evil, he would go to the Cave of Hira’ and talk to his Creator. (He stopped going there after the Qur’an was revealed because now he had a higher responsibility. He had to spread the Message of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala and call people to His Deen.)
May Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala grant us a heart that only longs for Him, and looks forward to meeting Him one day, ameen.
DOWNLOAD PDF: Tafseer Al-Baqarah Ayah 74
رَبَّنَا تَقَبَّلْ مِنَّا ۖ إِنَّكَ أَنتَ السَّمِيعُ الْعَلِيم
“Our Lord, accept [this] from us. Indeed You are the Hearing, the Knowing.” [Al-Baqarah 2: 127]