Islam and the Quran

Seals Upon Hearts

Does God really lock or seal people’s hearts? Why are they responsible, then?

God the Almighty commands:
(It is as if) God has marked their hearts and their ears, and over their vision are veils. What they deserve is a great torment.” (Al-Baqara/ The Cow 2:7)

 The first sentence is a metaphorical representation of the prejudice of ignorers. The preposition of similarity is normally hidden while using metaphors in figurative language. However, the metaphor in this verse is commonly misunderstood or mistranslated. Therefore the hidden expression of similarity in Arabic has been explicitly written in English translation as: “It is as if”. 

This and other verses similar to this show the consequences of negative actions. It is similar to rusting of iron, decaying of a tree or smutting of a mirror out of negligence, because the human decay is similar to decay of the nature.

Qur’an explains the creation (fitrat). The Glorified God commands:
“So set your face steadily and truly to that religion, the creation (fitra) of God, in which He has created the mankind. There is nothing to replace what God creates. That is the righteous religion. But most people do not know.” (ArRoom/The Romans 30:30)

The ‘fitrat’ stands for the creatures’ basic being and the body of laws and principles that influence its creation, change, and development. The function and structure of everything; skies, earth, human beings, animals, and plants are in accordance with this body of laws, which is the natural order. Those who comply with the Qur’an and act in compliance with this natural order are able to benefit from the earth and the skies most. After death, they go to the Gardens and become immortal.

Since the Qur’an relates to the fitrat, those who behave against the rulings in the Qur’an will have opposed the truth, and will disrupt the balance. Disruption starts with the human himself. What causes the human to act this way is his personal profits, expectations, and wannabes. If he doesn’t quit behaving this way, his heart will get rusted as iron does and that rust will transform into a new structure. The Glorified God commands:
“Woe that Day to those who take to lie. They lie about the Day of Judgment. None but all sinful transgressors lie about it.  When Our verses are recited to them, they say, “These are) legends of ancient people.” Nay! What they have earned has become like rust on their hearts.” (Al-Mutaffifin/ The Cheaters 83:10-14)

Thus, people get used to bad actions and start enjoying them. Smokers for instance; at the first cigarette they are disgusted, the second tastes horrible, but if they continue smoking something new is formed inside their bodies that makes them enjoy smoking. It is the same with the liars; at the beginning they are disturbed by their lies, but as they continue lying they are equipped with a new feeling that makes think of the lies as a necessity.
People’s command centers are their hearts. Their reason identifies the truth, while the heart ;affected by people’s personal profits, expectations and wannabes; accepts or denies them. Because, accepting the decision of the mind requires to pay a price.

Those who don’t want to pay the price don’t accomplish many of the things they notice to be right. Then, defilement starts. After that the eyes fail seeing certain things and the ears fail hearing certain things. The universal truths are replaced by personal goals. A new world is formed. The person finds new friends there. The Glorified God commands:

Haven’t you seen him who takes his low desire for his god? Since he made it by knowing, God has considered him astray and has set marks upon his ear and his heart and set a veil upon his eye. Who can then consider him guided after God (has decided so)? Will you not use your mind?” (Al-Jathija/ Kneeling 45:23)

The seal on the heart and ears and the veiling of the eyes denote the newly formed structure. The following verse clarifies the issue:
He who ignores God after having believed, except for whom under compulsion with his heart remaining firm in faith, but he who opens (his) chest to ignoring, on them is the wrath of God. There is a grievous chastisement for them.
This is because they love this world’s life more than the hereafter. God does not guide a group of people who ignore (the truth).
It is they on whose hearts and hearing and eyes God has set marks. They are the heedless ones.
” (Al-Nahl/The Bee 16:106-108)

The words (الختم) khatm and (الطبع) tab’ mentioned in this and similar verses mean both to mark with something like stamp and the trace left[1]. In many translations the meaning of these words has been explained as locking, enclosing or sealing. In the 7th verse of Al-Baqara it has been given this explanation: [2]

According to us this translation is against the entirety of the Quran. If God had enclosed their hearts and ears and had veiled their eyes then there is nothing the ‘kafirs’ can do. In this case, their punishment is unfair. But God never commits injustice. The Glorified God commands:

And when Moses said to his people: O my people! why do you give me trouble? And you know indeed that I am God’s apostle to you; but when they turned aside, God made their hearts turn aside, and God does not guide the transgressing people” (As-Saff/ The Rank 61:5)

In this and similar verses it is related how negative actions teach the bad habits. This is God’s law. In this worldly life, foundation is very close to devastation.

[1] Mufradat, Art. ختم  and Art. طبع
[2] Ali Ozerk and friends, The Holy Qur’an and its Commentary with Explanation.
[3] Image taken from

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