By Naseer Ahmed, New Age Islam
12 March 2019
What are the characteristics of a disbeliever? The Quran uses the metaphor of a rock to describe the heart of one who rejects belief in Allah.
(2:74) Thenceforth were your hearts hardened: They became like a rock and even worse in hardness. For among rocks there are some from which rivers gush forth; others there are which when split asunder send forth water; and others which sink for fear of Allah. And Allah is not unmindful of what ye do.
(2:264) .....They are in parable like a hard, barren rock, on which is a little soil: on it falls heavy rain, which leaves it (Just) a bare stone. They will be able to do nothing with aught they have earned. And Allah guideth not those among the kafirin.
The heart of a believer in contrast, is like soft fertile soil which comes alive with copious vegetation when a little rain falls on it and is covered with green. It is stirred (to life), it swells, and it puts forth every kind of beautiful growth. On it can grow well-planted orchards full of beauty and delight.
The rain is the mercy from Allah in the form of His revelations in the Book with which you can grow well-planted orchards of beauty and of delight by following Allah’s religion. In other words, with a heart that is open to Allah’s religion, you can, with the mercy of Allah, mould your lives to become like the ample yielding fruit trees for the benefit of all.
The rain can work only on fertile soil and not on hard rock. Hard rocks will remain barren no matter how much rain falls on them.
What can a person do to?
• Keep his heart soft and prevent it from hardening
• Softening a hardened heart?
The heart of every human is soft to begin with and hardens only when he becomes a zalim or wilful wrong doer.
(30:9) .....there came to them their messengers with Clear (Signs). (Which they rejected, to their own destruction): It was not Allah Who wronged them, but they wronged themselves. (30:10) In the long run evil in the extreme will be the End of those who do evil; for that they rejected the Signs of Allah, and held them up to ridicule.
(45:23) Then seest thou such a one as takes as his god his own vain desire? Allah has, knowing (him as such), left him astray, and sealed his hearing and his heart (and understanding), and put a cover on his sight. Who, then, will guide him after Allah (has withdrawn Guidance)? Will ye not then receive admonition? (24) And they say: "What is there but our life in this world? We shall die and we live, and nothing but time can destroy us." But of that they have no knowledge: they merely conjecture:
To keep the heart soft, the way is:
1. Seek Allah’s Forgiveness Excessively
“Truly, Allah loves those who repent, and He loves those who cleanse themselves.” (Quran, 2:222)
“But surely the righteous will be in the midst of gardens and springs, receiving what the Lord will give them; for they used to do good before that. They used to sleep but a little of the night; and at the dawn of the day they sought forgiveness…” (Quran, 51:16-19)
“Ask forgiveness (from) your Lord. Indeed, He is Oft-Forgiving. He will send down (rain from) the sky upon you (in) abundance, And provide you with wealth and children, and make for you gardens and make for you rivers.”(Quran, 71:10-12).
Seeking Allah’s forgiveness excessively by saying “I seek forgiveness from Allah” or the short Arabic “Astaghfirullah” is the surest way to keep the heart soft. Seeking forgiveness of Allah requires humbling oneself. The one whose heart is hardened may ask “for what should I seek forgiveness when I do no wrong?” When we recite “Astaghfirullah”, we should consciously think of the things for which we need Allah’s forgiveness. The list of such things is very long. For example:
• For not being grateful enough for Allah’s bounties. Think of the violence that we practice on our environment for making our life comfortable. How wasteful we are. How many species we have wiped out and continue to do so by our extravagance.
• For not doing all that is commanded by Allah
• For the misery in this world while we are prosperous because we do not do enough for others or because we are party to the exploitation of others through wars that our nation wages to keep itself rich.
Say sorry whenever you wrong another even if you are the boss of the other. Spend a few minutes before going to sleep and reflect on the wrongs of the day and make proper amends
2. Practice Charity Excessively
Do an act of kindness that brings a smile, wipes a tear, gives strength and courage to the depressed, anything that makes a difference to another person’s life, every day. The heart of one who practices excessive charity can never harden.
3. Be Grateful To Allah and To Everyone Who Is Good To You
But if ye count the favours of Allah, never will ye be able to number them (14:34). Therefore, thank Allah for his bounties excessively.
Allah is swift in rewarding those who serve Him with gratitude (3:144)
(14:7) And remember! your Lord caused to be declared (publicly): "If ye are grateful, I will add more (favours) unto you; But if ye show ingratitude, truly My punishment is terrible indeed."
(39:7) If ye reject (Allah), Truly Allah hath no need of you; but He liketh not ingratitude from His servants: if ye are grateful, He is pleased with you.
Do you count your spouse as among the gifts/blessings of Allah? Thank Allah for it and let your spouse know how you are grateful to Allah for granting you such a great blessing. A happy married life is among the greatest blessings and this is only for those who are grateful.
Gratitude to Allah is expressed by:
Performing regular prayers
Excessive remembrance and praise of Allah
Counting each of the blessings and thanking Allah
Obeying the commands of Allah
How to Soften A Heart That Is Hardened?
(6:46) Say: "Think ye, if Allah took away your hearing and your sight, and sealed up your hearts, who - a god other than Allah - could restore them to you?" See how We explain the signs by various (symbols); yet they turn aside.
The most important step is to recognize that there is a problem and decide to do something about it. Say to Allah what your problem is and seek Allah’s help in resolving it. There are rocks through which “rivers gush forth; others there are which when split asunder send forth water; and others which sink for fear of Allah”, so there is always hope.
Contemplate on the wrongs that you have done, repent, and seek Allah’s forgiveness. If doing so brings tears to your eyes, then your heart is that rock when split asunder, sends forth water. If you truly feel ashamed, then you are still that rock which sinks with shame at the thought of Allah. There is hope for you.
Practice all the things described above and constantly seek Allah’s help.
The Pitfalls That Lead To Hardening Of The Heart
To criticise one’s religion, the Quran and their Prophet is looked upon by many Muslims as a proof of their being “open-minded”, of their being “moderate” and “non-literalist”. To overlook parts of one’s scriptures is necessary for the followers of other religions whose scriptures have been partially abrogated and are no longer tenable but not for the followers of the “perfected and complete religion”. If a person does not think that Islam is “perfect and complete” then he should have the integrity to leave it. The followers of other religions do not have to contend with a claim from their scriptures that these contain the “perfect and complete’” religion, and therefore, it is not a question of integrity for them to follow a part and ignore a part. They remain persons of integrity while exercising choice. For a Muslim, whose religion claims both perfection and completeness, what choice does he have but to accept and follow the entire religion or leave it entirely? The choice is truly binary for a person of integrity while choosing to follow or choosing to reject a religion which claims both perfection and completeness. A Muslim cannot be like others accepting what he likes and rejecting what he does not like.
Those among the Muslims who try to straddle the fence are hypocrites who will lose faith completely and become apostates. The followers of other religions are not wrong in overlooking parts of their scriptures and doing so is virtuous because a part of their scriptures was only meant for a period.
While all moral precepts have come from religion, political philosophies have taken some of these and idealized and romanticized certain concepts beyond what is good for the individual and the society but packaged these as the ideal to strive for. These “synthetic ideals or values” are thrust down on people by aggressive politics. Religion being revelations from Allah is based on the “principle of things” and what contributes to our happiness as an individual and as a society best. It is not based on what sounds great or what is considered politically correct and makes for good copy or optics in a campaign for political office. If your starting point is therefore a set of unshakable positions or articles of faith outside of Islam, then you do not need Islam. Leave it alone and follow your “synthetic values”. The people of other religions, for example, have confined their religion to the personal sphere and removed it from defining their criminal, judicial and the administrative systems and defining the rules for waging war and even personal laws on inheritance, marriage, divorce etc. This makes eminent sense for them because their scriptures are silent on inheritance, divorce and many other matters. The guidance on war in their scriptures is abrogated and no longer tenable. Islam is different. It is the “perfected and complete religion”. If you don’t believe in it, leave it. There is no compulsion in religion.
The way to approach Islam for any person is to do so with an open mind and initially accept its claims at face value or with faith. When you do so, and come across Ayats or verses that you find disagreeable vis-à-vis the synthetic values from some political philosophy, then the best course is to:
• Make sure that you have got the meaning right
• Every moral precept was counter intuitive to start with and has become received wisdom only after believing in it and practicing it. Some of the things that the Quran says may likewise be still counter intuitive for you. Examine the meaning as a lawyer would to see if the correct meaning is justifiable and if so, under what circumstances. This will help you understand better and see both justification and wisdom in it. Seek Allah’s guidance through prayer. You will find the right answers. Allah never lets down a genuine seeker of the truth who approaches with faith and humility. However, if you have the attitude that you know better and the Quran is after all only a seventh century book, then Allah allows such conceited fools to go astray.
If you do find what the Quran says is irreconcilable with your “values”, then do yourself a favour and exercise the option of leaving Islam. Do not become a hypocrite saddling the fence neither believing nor disbelieving. You may still be rewarded for your good deeds and your integrity as long as you do not blaspheme the religion as an apostate.
911 is a defining moment in many ways. It has also given birth to a new category of Muslims who like to call themselves “moderate”. President Bush is on record imploring people to reject conspiracy theories: “Let us never tolerate outrageous conspiracy theories concerning the attacks of September the 11th” which he said were “malicious lies that attempt to shift the blame away from the terrorists, themselves, away from the guilty.” What Bush desired has become an article of faith for the post 911 moderates to distinguish themselves from the rest. They declare “we are with you” to the other threat by Bush “either you are with us or with them”. Truth simply does not matter to such Muslims. These Muslims will question the Qur’an, the Prophet and Allah but not the official story of the US government on 911. They will steadfastly deny the truth. If belief in the official story has become an article of faith for such Muslims, then it is polytheism and rejection of the truth or Kufr.
The other defining characteristics of the “moderates” are to be seen to be questioning the religion, Quran, Allah and the Prophet. They make a virtue of it. They define “literalism” as belief in the entire Quran and make a virtue of arguing for the excising of many verses from the Quran. The western society is paranoid of Shariat and Jehad. These “moderates” therefore reject the verses of the Quran on these subjects to become acceptable. Such people will surely sink deeper and deeper into denial until they reach a point of no return. There is neither hope nor cure for them and the word of Allah will come true.
(16:107) This because they love the life of this world better than the Hereafter: and Allah will not guide the Kafir.(108) Those are they whose hearts, ears, and eyes Allah has sealed up, and they take no heed.(109) Without doubt, in the Hereafter they will perish.
(30:52) So verily thou canst not make the dead to hear, nor canst thou make the deaf to hear the call, when they show their backs and turn away.(53) Nor canst thou lead back the blind from their straying: only those wilt thou make to hear, who believe in Our signs and submit (their wills in Islam).
verily We have propounded for men, in this Qur´an every kind of Parable: But if
thou bring to them any Sign, the kafaru are sure to say, "Ye do nothing
but talk vanities."(59) Thus does Allah seal up the hearts of those who
Naseer Ahmed is an Engineering graduate from IIT Kanpur and is an independent IT consultant after having served in both the Public and Private sector in responsible positions for over three decades. He is a frequent contributor to NewAgeIslam.com
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