Jumuah lecture on Friday 21 February 2020 (26 Jamadil Thani 1441)
Mowlana Syed Aftab Haider
Ahlul Bait (a.s) Masjid, Ottery, Cape Town
One of the very important messages of the Holy Quran is to look in-depth at our behaviour, actions and attitude in this worldly life. The Holy Quran draws our attention to the inner face of our external behaviour. The way we act and behave in this world, according to the Holy Quran, is a reflection of our inner self. Whether it is good or bad, the source of our external behaviour in this world is our inner self.
The Holy Quran discusses this issue in great detail on the subject of Qalb (heart) and draws a direct correlation between our behaviour and the condition of our heart. The Quranic reference to the heart does not refer to the heart in our chest. The Quranic reference to heart is the soul of a human being, rather than our cardiac position.
Taking care of the cardiac position is the job of the medical doctor. The Holy Quran is referring to a different heart, namely the soul, which requires a “spiritual doctor”. This heart is referred to as Qalb in the Holy Quran.
Quranic Analysis Of Sick Hearts Reflecting In External Behaviour
The Holy Quran discusses different conditions of this heart. Sometimes, these hearts are very healthy and reflects in very healthy behaviour of the people. Then, there are times when these hearts are filled with diseases, which results in commensurate unhealthy behaviour.
Then there are times when the diseases of the sick heart go untreated and dies! This is explained in the Holy Quran, about the dying heart in this spiritual context, yet the body is still alive! People are moving around in society with dead hearts, and they act in a manner as if they do not have a heart! This condition is referred to in the Holy Quran as qasawatul-qalb (hardened heart).
Verse 74 of Surah Baqarah (chapter 2 of the Holy Quran) makes reference to this in describing how the Israelites would break the laws of Almighty Allah (SWT), and they would brazenly cross the red lines and make excuses, continuing with their bad behaviour.
ثُمَّ قَسَتْ قُلُوبُكُمْ مِنْ بَعْدِ ذَٰلِكَ فَهِيَ كَالْحِجَارَةِ أَوْ أَشَدُّ قَسْوَةً ۚ وَإِنَّ مِنَ الْحِجَارَةِ لَمَا يَتَفَجَّرُ مِنْهُ الْأَنْهَارُ ۚ وَإِنَّ مِنْهَا لَمَا يَشَّقَّقُ فَيَخْرُجُ مِنْهُ الْمَاءُ ۚ وَإِنَّ مِنْهَا لَمَا يَهْبِطُ مِنْ خَشْيَةِ اللَّهِ ۗ وَمَا اللَّهُ بِغَافِلٍ عَمَّا تَعْمَلُونَ
“Then your hearts hardened after that, so that they were like rocks, rather worse in hardness; and surely there are some rocks from which streams burst forth, and surely there are some of them which split asunder so water issues out of them, and surely there are some of them which fall down for fear of Allah, and Allah is not at all heedless of what you do.”
Of course, the examples of history in the Holy Quran are not restricted to these people. They are equally applicable to us too. This verse makes a compelling reflection of hearts being harder than rocks! This verse then explains that there are times when a spring gushes from the rock when you break it, and then there are also times when you find water under the rock. Then there are also times when mountains collapse, due to the fear of Almighty Allah (SWT).
The Holy Quran uses these examples as metaphors to explain how hard-hearted human beings can become. Sometimes, the word “shakih” (wretched) is used in the Holy Quran to describe hard-hearted behaviour. This contrasts with “saeed” (happy).
The Holy Quran explains this in verse 105 of Surah Hud (chapter 11), in reference to the Day of Judgement:
يَوْمَ يَأْتِ لَا تَكَلَّمُ نَفْسٌ إِلَّا بِإِذْنِهِ ۚ فَمِنْهُمْ شَقِيٌّ وَسَعِيدٌ
“On the day when it shall come, no soul shall speak except with His permission, then (some) of them shall be unhappy and (others) happy.”
Then, there are times when the Holy Quran describes hearts which are completely dead! Verse 179 of Surah A’raaf (chapter 7) serves as reference:
وَلَقَدْ ذَرَأْنَا لِجَهَنَّمَ كَثِيرًا مِنَ الْجِنِّ وَالْإِنْسِ ۖ لَهُمْ قُلُوبٌ لَا يَفْقَهُونَ بِهَا
“And certainly We have created for hell many of the jinn and the men; they have hearts with which they do not understand.”
How Do Our Hearts Become Harder Than Rocks?
This hardening of the hearts (qasawatul-qalb) has 2 phases. Sometimes, hearts are rock hard when it comes to the relationship between human beings and Almighty Allah (SWT). Nothing penetrates such hearts. Verses of the Holy Quran and advice from Prophets (a.s) has no effect on such a person.
Then there are times when this hardening of hearts refers to the relationship between human beings themselves! Such hearts do not have any mercy or compassion for his fellow human beings. He feels nothing wrong upon killing or abusing in its extremity. The inner conscience is dead, and there is no inner voice to scream at such a person to avoid such ghastly crimes.
The Holy Quran discusses this condition of the heart, to warn us and be mindful of this disease which will kill our hearts. A long list of reasons is presented in the Holy Quran, which explains why our hearts become hard. I will enlist a couple here to explain the point.
The Holy Quran explains the first step towards the hardening of our hearts is when we turn away from dhikrullah ie. when we disconnect from the remembrance of Almighty Allah (SWT). Having a strong connection with Almighty Allah (SWT) is the most important factor for the softening of the hearts. The further you drift away from Allah (SWT) and the more you indulge yourself in this dunya, results in the gradual hardening of one’s heart.
Another very important point which the Holy Quran refers to on this subject is when a person starts committing sins and openly transgresses the laws of Almighty Allah (SWT). You may feel your inner conscience pinching you initially, resulting in regret or a guilty conscience after committing the sin. However, the more you repeat the sin, the more normal it feels and that feeling of regret is no longer an obstacle. This is the hardening of one’s heart!
Interestingly, the Holy Quran also lists being drowned in this dunya as one of the reasons for the hardening of hearts. When your heart, mind and sole focus of your existence is your endless desire for worldly pursuits, the result is the hardening of your hearts, because there is nothing remaining by the name of sacrifice, mercy and compassion.
These are some of the long list of warning signs which the Holy Quran explains, for us to avoid going down this dangerous path of developing a hardened heart.
In Hadith narrations from our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) and his purified Ahlul Bait (a.s), they say that there is no disease worse than the hardening of the hearts!
Our External Behaviour Expresses Our Inner Reality
In summary, our daily existence is the product of the internal combat between our intellect and our desires. Our desires refer to our animalistic instincts such as eating, drinking, etc. The humane aspect of our creation is directly opposite to this, which is focussed on controlling the animalistic instincts. Once the animalistic aspect of our personality defeats the humane element, then our hearts become rock hard, or worse than rock, as referred to earlier, in verse 74 of Surah Baqarah (chapter 2 of the Holy Quran).
This animalistic aspect of our existence takes over to the point where the Holy Quran says in the following excerpt from verse 179 of Surah A’raaf (chapter 7 of the Holy Quran) that they are worse than animals:
أُولَٰئِكَ كَالْأَنْعَامِ بَلْ هُمْ أَضَلُّ ۚ
“These are as the cattle – nay, but they are worse!”
It certainly crosses all the limits when human beings break away from humanity! This is when animals are much better than human beings, because they do not have the capacity to commit crimes like humans are capable of.
May Almighty Allah (SWT) protect us from this worst disease of the heart, which eventually kills it. And when the heart is killed, then we are worse than moving animals.
Murder Of Tazne Van Wyk Shows A Sick Society Void Of Basic Humanity
The reason I have discussed this problem in the first khutbah, of hardening of the hearts (qasawatul-qalb) as explained in the Quranic context, is due to the sickening discovery this week in our very own society. We were all shocked beyond belief upon witnessing this hardening of the hearts to the worst of levels.
We understand what the meaning is of “qasawatul-qalb” when we see and hear news of the killing in that most brutal manner of an 8-year-old girl, Tazne van Wyk, by a so-called Muslim man. Where does such a heart reach, where the Holy Quran says in verse 74 od Surah Baqarah that rock is much softer than this heart, and that such people are worse than animals (verse 179 of Surah A’raaf)?
Unfortunately, this shock is gradually becoming the norm in our society. Therefore, while we categorically condemn this most inhumane atrocity, I would like to reflect on why our society is moving more in this direction.
There are 2 horrific incidents in the past week we need to reflect upon in this regard. The first is of course the brutal murder of this 8 year old girl, Tazne van Wyk in Elsies River. The other incident is where people took the law in their own hands in another township and burned alive those who were allegedly stealing there.
This is also totally unacceptable, while we can understand the frustration of the people. Again, burning a human being alive, while watching and cheering is equally hard-hearted. It is also “qasawatul-qalb” and there is a burning need to reflect on this.
The issue comes down to our distance from remembering Almighty Allah (SWT) in its real sense (and not the traditional sense) regardless of religion. It is not important that the murderer of this 8 year old girl has a Muslim name. That is really immaterial.
The underlying issue is when societies produce people like this, when spirituality, morality and connection to Almighty Allah (SWT) is the most ignored and trivialised issue in society.
Sick Antics At The Sona Debate Treats The Dignity Of Women As A Political Football
We should not confine ourselves to simply reflect on this terrible person who committed this heinous crime in Elsies River. He is the worst example on the streets, but what can one say about how animalistic our MPs were in Parliament this week in the SONA Debate!!!
In this country where gender-based violence is at its worst, they were using the bodies of women as weapons to fight each other and score points through wild accusations against each other. What is really serious and worth reflecting is that neither party were ashamed to name the women they are presenting as the victims. The dignity of women is not at all important for them. This is not forgivable.
This is what it is! The horrific incidents we see occurring down there in the gutters is coming from somewhere! It is the reflection of the whole society having lost its moral compass and sinking into an abyss! These events from the past week are therefore a very, very serious concern for us to address, but nobody is placing a priority on this, because everyone thinks that if the issue of poverty in our society is addressed, then everything will be resolved.
Of course, alleviating poverty is a crucial part of the resolving these societal diseases. Poverty and the economic crisis facing society is a key issue, without any doubt. However, this sick man stooping to that low level of killing an 8 year old girl and dumping her in a drain is caused by a cancer in our society which is a lot deeper than poverty.
Let us pray to Almighty Allah (SWT) to protect our society and to re-establish that spiritual connection. This disease in our society is beyond any particular religion. Religion as a whole plays a key role, irrespective of your ideological affiliation. Religion plays a crucial role in softening the hearts and providing stability in society, and the sustenance of humanity and human values in society.
This particular aspect of religion has been completely sidelined, totally ignored. This is the reality before us every day unfortunately.