Al-Baqarah · Juz 3 · Qur'an Tafseer

Accountability of the Concealed Thoughts of the Heart

In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful
Tafseer Al-Baqarah Ayah 284

The earlier ayah mentioned the command to reveal evidence and forbade its concealment. This ayah is also a complement of the same subject. Here, a warning has been given that it is haram [unlawful] to conceal evidence. Anyone who conceals the truth should remember that Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala is All-Knowing and All-Aware. He will make us account for what we conceal.

Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala states that His is the kingship of the heavens and earth and of what and whoever is on or between them. He has perfect watch over them. No apparent matter or secret that the heart conceals is ever a secret to Him, however minor it is. He will hold His servants accountable for what they do and what they conceal in their hearts. We read similar ayaat in other parts of the Qur’an, for example in Surah Aal Imran it was said, “Whether you conceal what is in your chests or reveal it, Allah knows it. And He knows that which is in the heavens and that which is on the earth. And Allah is over all things Competent,” (3: 29).

He has knowledge of what the hearts conceal, and consequently, He will hold the creation accountable for whatever is in their hearts.

The ayah means that Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala will make all His created beings give an account of all their deeds. It will include deeds they have actually done, and those they were determined to do but kept them secret in their hearts and were never able to do. This conforms to the report of ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Umar radhiAllahu ‘anhu who said; I heard from the Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam that the believer will be drawn near his most exalted Lord when Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala will make him recall his sins one by one and will ask him if he knew that he had committed those sins. The believer will confess. Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala will say, “I concealed your sins in the life of the world and never allowed this to be known to others. Today, I forgive that.” He will be given the Book of Good Deeds, while the sins committed by disbelievers and hypocrites will be announced before everybody.

It appears in another hadeeth that Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala will say on the Day of Judgment: This is the Day when hidden things will be surveyed and secrets concealed in hearts will be laid out in the open. And (forget not that) My angels charged with writing down your deeds wrote down only those visible on the outside, and I know what angels do not know, nor did they write those in your Book of Deeds. Now I tell you all about it and ask you to stand and answer. I shall forgive anyone I will and I shall punish anyone I will.

We ask Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala for an easy reckoning and such God-consciousness that protects us from committing any evil and even allowing evil thoughts from entering our hearts. Allahumma aameen.

It is said that when this ayah (2: 284) was revealed, it was hard on the Companions radhiAllahu ‘anhum. Since their emaan [faith] and conviction was strong, they were afraid that such reckoning would diminish their good deeds.

Imam Ahmad recorded that Abu Hurairah radhiAllahu ‘anhu said when this ayah was revealed the Companions came to the Messenger salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam and fell to their knees saying, “O Messenger of Allah! We were asked to perform what we can bear of deeds: the prayer, the fast, Jihad and charity. However, this ayah was revealed to you, and we cannot bear it.” The Messenger of Allah salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said,

أَتُرِيدُونَ أَنْ تَقُولُوا كَما قَالَ أَهْلُ الْكِتَابَيْنِ مِنْ قَبْلِكُمْ: سَمِعْنَا وَعَصَيْنَا؟ بَلْ قُولُوا: سَمِعْنَا وَأَطَعْنَا غُفْرَانَكَ رَبَّنَا وَإِلَيْكَ الْمَصِير

“Do you want to repeat what the People of the Two Scriptures before you said, that is, ‘We hear and we disobey’? Rather, say, ‘We hear and we obey, and we seek Your forgiveness, O our Lord, and the Return is to You.’” When the people accepted this statement and their tongues recited it, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala sent down ayah 285, where they were instructed to say, “We hear and we obey,” and seek forgiveness for their thoughts.

Abu Hurairah radhiAllahu ‘anhu said that the Messenger of Allah salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said,

إِنَّ اللهَ تَجَاوَزَ لِي عَنْ أُمَّتِي مَا حَدَّثَتْ بِهِ أَنْفُسَهَا مَالَمْ تَكَلَّمْ أَوْ تَعْمَل

“Allah has pardoned my Ummah for what they say to themselves, as long as they do not utter it or act on it.” We learn that we should not share our evil thinking with others because if we do then we will be accountable for it.


-Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala pardons what happens in the heart as long as a person does not act on his thoughts. A person should therefore be careful about what occupies his heart and keep it clean from negative thinking. We should avoid thinking bad about others or holding ill feelings about them. We should remember that negativity is a tool of Shaytan to make us harm others, hold bad thoughts and have resentments.

-The following Du’a from the Qur’an teaches us to keep our hearts clean from ill-feelings against fellow Muslims.

The Two Saheehs recorded that Abu Hurairah radhiAllahu ‘anhu said that the Messenger of Allah salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said,

قَالَ اللهُ: إِذَا هَمَّ عَبْدِي بِسَيِّئَةٍ فَلَا تَكْتُبُوهَا عَلَيهِ، فَإِنْ عَمِلَهَا فَاكْتُبُوهَا سَيِّئَةً، وَإِذَا هَمَّ بِحَسَنَةٍ فَلَمْ يَعْمَلْهَا فَاكْتُبُوهَا حَسَنَةً، فَإِنْ عَمِلَهَا فَاكْتُبُوهَا عَشْرًا

“Allah said (to His angels), ‘If My servant intends to commit an evil deed, do not record it as such for him, and if he commits it, write it for him as one evil deed. If he intends to perform a good deed, but did not perform it, then write it for him as one good deed, and if he performs it, write it for him as ten good deeds.’

-It shows that there is no punishment or wrath on the volition of the heart. These are Satanic inciting and involuntary. They will keep coming into one’s mind even if one does not think about them; therefore, one must be conscious of the health of his heart and seek protection in Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala from the whisperings of Shaytan. Remember that the enemy only attacks in places where he knows the treasure lies. Our hearts are the most valuable thing, therefore, we need to keep them healthy by reading the right things and adopting the company of the righteous.

-Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala has forgiven involuntary thoughts for this Ummah. The accounting that has been identified in the ayah relates to what man intends and proposes with his choice and volition. It means that he not only nurses these in his heart, but also tries to put into them in practice. It does not matter if he is unable to act upon them due to accidental causes. He will still have to account for these intentions on the Day of Judgment.  Then it is upon Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala whether He chooses to forgive us or punish us.

O Allah, cleanse our hearts of their hatred and arrogance, purify us and grant our souls piety, ameen.

DOWNLOAD PDF: Tafseer Al-Baqarah Ayah 284

رَبَّنَا تَقَبَّلْ مِنَّا ۖ إِنَّكَ أَنتَ السَّمِيعُ الْعَلِيم                
“Our Lord, accept [this] from us. Indeed You are the All-Hearing, the All-Knowing.” [Al-Baqarah 2: 127]

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