Chapter Two: The Cow (Al Baqara)
Chapter 2, Verse 74
Even after that, your hearts became as hard as rocks, or even harder, for there are rocks from which streams spring out, and some from which water comes when they split open, and others which fall down in awe of God: He is not unaware of what you do. (Chapter 2: Verse 74)
The heart is where mercy, kindness and love reside. How can you fill your heart with love and compassion? It is through the remembrance of Allah. And when your heart becomes filled with healthy emotions, your whole body follows, and your actions reflect those emotions. Faith, after all, resides within the heart. God says:
God has sent down the most beautiful of all teachings: a Scripture that is consistent and draws comparisons; that causes the skins of those in awe of their Lord to shiver. Then their skins and their hearts soften at the mention of God: such is God’s guidance. He guides with it whoever He will; no one can guide those God leaves to stray. (39:23)
The Prophet (peace be upon him) narrated: “Unquestionably, within the body there is a lump of flesh; if it is sound and upright, the whole body is sound and upright, and if it is corrupt, the whole body is corrupt. Behold, it is the heart!”
So your heart is the key to righteousness. However, if it becomes inclined towards disbelief, it hardens and you start to engage in unlawful activities. In other words, when the heart is void from the remembrance of God, something else has to fill this empty space. More often than not, it is filled with the temporary pleasures of this world and the unhealthy chase after desires. Why, you may ask? because if you have no faith in Allah, then you have no faith in accountability in the hereafter, and this world becomes your only goal. You will chase after worldly gains in every possible way even if it involves injustice, transgression and devouring the rights of the weak. When your heart is void of mercy, it becomes easy for your hand to extend towards theft, and easy for your eye to look at the unlawful. So protect yourself and make sure to fill your heart with the treasure of Allah and the Quran.
This brings us back to the verse where God describes the hearts of the Israelites as ‘hard as rocks, or even harder.’ Every quality is created to perform a certain task. For example, a knife blade is fine and sharp, and this sharpness is the quality that allows the blade to perform its task of cutting. Without it, a knife has no use. Rocks and mountains are created hard and solid because these qualities are required for their function to stabilize the earth and hold structures. You cannot build with soft rocks. Likewise, the heart is supposed to be tender and soft so it can express love and mercy. But when the heart is corrupt, it becomes harder than rock and loses the ability to perform its task.
In this verse, God is informing us that even rocks can display mercy. He says: 'for there are rocks from which streams spring out, and some from which water comes when they split open, and others which fall down in awe of God.' The miracle the Israelites witnessed with their own eyes came from solid rock as God saved them from thirst in the desert and gave them twelve springs.
In another example, Allah says:
and when his Lord revealed Himself to the mountain, He made it crumble: Moses fell down unconscious. When he recovered, he said, ‘Glory be to You! To You I turn in repentance! I am the first to believe!’(7:143)
This is a reminder that when God revealed himself to the mountain it collapsed to dust out of respect and awe. The Israelites had witnessed these miracles firsthand, and these wonders should have filled their hearts with love towards the Lord, and compassion in dealing with each other and with Prophet Moses. Sadly, their hearts hardened, and showed less mercy and compassion than the rocks. How can you tell that the heart has hardened? It is clearly reflected through actions and deeds.
Let's take a moment to explain the difference between the two phrases ‘there are rocks from which streams spring out, and some from which water comes when they split open’ When a spring streams out of a rock, it flows to the people and delivers water straight to them. When, on the other hand, a stone splits open and water comes out, the water pools and people have to go and collect it. With the stream, there is the added benefit of water being delivered to you.
The phrase: ‘And God is not unaware of what you do.’ is a reminder to all of us that nothing we do escapes Allah. You and I will meet our Lord on the day of resurrection where each of us will face the consequences of every deed big or small. At that moment, you will be in desperate need for God's mercy and forgiveness. So ,if you wish for your Lord's mercy on that day, make sure not to allow your heart to become hard. Always fill it with the treasure of the remembrance of Allah. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: "Show mercy to those around you, and God will be merciful to you"