Faith is inspired into the heart – or not

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When thou dost recite the Qur’an, We put between those who believe not in the Hereafter a veil invisible: and We put coverings over their hearts lest they should understand the Qur’an and deafness into their ears: when thou dost mention thy Lord – and Him alone – in the Qur’an, they turn on their backs, fleeing. We know best what it is they listen, when they listen to thee; and when they listen to thee; and when they meet in private behold, the wicked say ‘Ye follow none other than a man bewitched!’ See what similes they strike for thee: but they have gone astray and never can they find a way. Q:17:45-48

We have explained in detail in this Qur’an for the benefit of mankind every kind of similitude: but man is, in most things, contentious. And what is there to keep back men from believing, now that Guidance has come to them, nor from praying for forgiveness from their Lord but that the ways of the ancients to overtake them, or the Wrath be brought to them face tot face? We only send the Messengers to give glad tidings and to give warnings: but the Unbelievers dispute with vain argument, in order therewith to weaken the Truth, and they treat My Signs and warnings as a jest. And who doth more wrong than one who is reminded of the Signs of his Lord but turns away from them, forgetting the (deeds) which his hands have sent forth? Verily We have set veils over their hearts so that they understand this not, and over their ears deafness. If thou callest them to guidance, even then will they never accept guidance. But your Lord is Most Forgiving, full of Mercy. If He were to call them to account for what they had earned, then surely He would have hastened their Punishment: but they have their appointed time, beyond which they will find no refuge. Such were the towns We destroyed when they committed iniquities; but We fixed an appointed time for their destruction. Q:18:54-59

And among them are men who listen to thee, till when they go out from thee, they say to those who have received Knowledge, ‘What is it he said just then?’ Such are men whose hearts Allah has sealed, and who follow their own lusts. But those who receive Guidance, He increases their Guidance, and bestows on them their piety and restraint. Q:47:16,17

Those who believe say ‘Why is not a Sura sent down?’ But when a Sura of decisive meaning is revealed, and fighting is mentioned therein, thou wilt see those in whose hearts is a disease looking at thee with a look of one in swoon at the approach of death. But fitting for them were it to obey and say what is just, and when a matter is resolved on, it were best for them if were true to Allah. Then, is it to be expected of you, if ye were put in authority, that ye will do mischief in the land, and break your ties of kith and kin? Such are the men whom Allah has cursed for He has made them deaf and blinded their sight. Do they not then earnestly seek to understand the Qur’an, or is that there are locks upon their hearts? Q:47:20-24

When the Hypocrites come to thee, they say ‘We bear witness that thou art indeed the Messenger of Allah.’ Yea, Allah knoweth that thou art indeed His Messenger. And Allah beareth witness that the Hypocrites are indeed liars. They have made their oaths a screen: thus they obstruct from the Path of Allah; truly evil are their deeds. That is because they believed, then they rejected Faith, so a seal was set on their hearts: therefore they understand not. When thou lookest at them, their bodies please thee; and when they speak, thou listenest to their words. They are as pieces of timber propped up, they think that every cry is against them. They are the enemies; so beware of them. The curse of Allah be on them! How are they deluded! And when it is said to them ‘Come, the Messenger of Allah will pray for your forgiveness, they turn aside their heads, and thou wouldst see them turning away their faces in arrogance. It is equal to them whether thou pray for their forgiveness or not. Allah will not forgive them. Truly Allah guides not rebellious transgressors. Q:63:1-6

We all may have noticed how different people react to these very texts: some reject them and others gladly or fearing accept them as truthful. The holy Qur’an itself explains this phenomenon, why some people do so, without needing empirical evidence. It is the relation between Allah and His individual creature that decides belief or disbelief. Allah gave people a will and option to believe in Him or not and those who are willing to believe and trust Him, will be divinely guided, but vice versa as well. People cannot see how this stream between Allah and man flows, but the result shows in their religious beliefs and the way they practice them – or not. Islamic faith is not only an opinion, it is an action, a relationship between Allah and the individual believer. Faith itself is an invisible flow, its results, however, not. Our words, actions and bodies testify for us and our faith.

Sometimes faith results from direct recitation of traditional scriptures. In that case, obviously, not only the heart is our first point of entry. Preachers and the media proclaim the message and we cannot deny them. Our observation and mind receive and decide over the message, but also this process is a process of choice. Do we choose to accept Allah and His message or to reject them, is a process based on the same factors as the invisible flow: the two-way stream between Allah and His individual creature that we may call a relationship. A relationship that may slip away through our fingers before we notice and that we have to nurture with our remembrance. Faith may get lost from among those that we call our religious role models and that will display itself in their behavior. Since Allah subhana wa ta’ala is forgiving and benevolent towards His creatures, however, a lot is needed to grade down from belief to unbelief. Loosing faith means more than just loss of ritual worship, it shows itself in really harmful ways, both to oneself and to others, as stated in the Qur’anic verses 47:20-24.

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