About three years ago I was listening to a lecture on the Magnificence of Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala (exalted is He). The lecturer came upon this verse:
“If We had sent down this Qur’an upon a mountain, you would have seen it humbled and coming apart from fear of Allah. And these examples We present to the people that perhaps they will give thought.” (Quran 59:21)
The scholar, Mirza Yawar Baig, then stopped for a moment, and said, “If Allah had revealed the Qur’an onto a mountain, it would have crumbled out of the awe of the words of Allah. Then what mountain has crept up into our hearts that our hearts do not even tremble at the remembrance of Allah?”
Allah (swt) Himself asks a similar question in Surah Hadeed:
“Is it not time that those who believe, that their hearts be submissive at the remembrance of Allah and what has been revealed of the truth? And let them not be like those who were given the Scripture before, and a long period passed over them, so their hearts hardened; and many of them are defiantly disobedient.” (Qur’an 57:16)
Allah (swt) is asking a question that should tug at the heart of every believer. Is it not time that the believer is moved by the words of Allah? Is it not time that when the believer comes across the mention of paradise, the believer cries to Allah seeking it? Is it not right that when the believer hears of the mention of the hellfire, the believer humbly seeks protection from it? How is it that a movie can bring believers to tears (which is fine), but the mention of the heart-breaking story of Yusuf `alayhi as-salaam (peace be upon him) keeps us stone hearted? Allah (swt) then gives the example of the people who were given a book themselves earlier and mentions what happened to them. A long time passed and their hearts hardened. And a hardened heart leads to a defiantly disobedient soul.
It has been a long time since the last Ramadan. Sadly, for most of us, it has meant that the quality of our good deeds has gone down. We make du`a’ (supplication), but there is no longer that fervour, that neediness that we displayed in front of Allah (swt). We were so conscious of sinning back then. Now, we let so many of our sins slide. Heart-breaking it may be, but the truth is that for many of us, over the past year our hearts have indeed gone hard. A mountain has crept up that is not humbled anymore at the remembrance of Allah (swt). But we are believers after all. While the ayah (verse) above is reprimanding us, it is still calling us believers. And in that very word lies the hope. Allah (swt) continues in the next ayah:
“Know that Allah gives life to the earth after its lifelessness. We have made clear to you the signs; perhaps you will understand.” (Qur’an 57:17)
The nature of the words of Allah (swt) is such that after every warning there is hope. After every reprimand there is advice. Allah doesn’t tell us about His anger or about our weaknesses such that we feel a serious bout of low self-esteem and wallow in the ocean of self-pity. Rather Allah gives warnings, mentions His punishment and scolds the believers to only remind them of their purpose and bring them back to Him. After Allah reprimanded us for the hardening of our hearts, He gives a very clear coded message. Allah (swt) is the One who gives life to the dead earth. Similarly, He is the One who can give life to our dead hearts.
Both the land and the heart are revived by what Allah (swt) sends from the sky. For the land, Allah sends rain; “And who sends down rain from the sky in measured amounts, and We revive thereby a dead land – thus will you be brought forth,” (Qur’an 43:11). For the hearts, Allah sent down the Qur’an; “O mankind, there has to come to you advice from your Lord and healing for what is in the chests and guidance and mercy for the believers,” (Qur’an 10:57).
The Qur’an is to our heart what the rain is to the land. Just like the land is revived by the rain, so are our hearts revived by the Qur’an. And what is the only thing that can actually break through a mountain? Water.
Water breaks through a mountain not because of its power, but because of its persistence. In front of us lies Ramadan, the month in which was revealed the Qur’an. There is no better time than now to start hammering at the mountain that has crept into our hearts with the water that has been sent.
The best time of the year to revive our dead heart is now. This Ramadan, let us irrigate our hearts with the Qur’an. Wherever we are with the book, let us improve our relationship with it. Perhaps we struggle to read the Qur’an. Make time to read the Qur’an more this Ramadan. Perhaps we read fluently and want to start reading a good translation of the Qur’an. Perhaps we might enroll in an Arabic course to understand the Qur’an better.
Let us heed the advice of the narration of our beloved Prophet ﷺ (peace be unto him):
“O people of the Qur’an, do not go take the Qur’an lightly. Recite it during all hours of the night and day. And spread it, beautify it and reflect upon it so that you may be successful.” (Narrated by al-Bayhaqi in Shu’ab al-Iman)