Chapter Two: The Cow (Al Baqara)
And they said, "Our hearts are encased." No indeed, Allah has cursed them for their disbelief; so, little do they believe. (Chapter 2: Verse 88)
In this verse, God is informing us how the Children of Israel justified their repeated transgressions, and killing their Prophets. The phrase they used: ‘Our hearts are encased’ carries two meanings. First, it can be used to take pride in one's own beliefs while rejecting any other points of view. In other words, our hearts are encased means that we have sufficient knowledge, and enough faith that we do not need any advice or help from a new prophet. Second, the phrase is often used as an excuse to blame God for sealing our hearts and preventing the rays of guidance from reaching us. In other words, our hearts are encased means that we cannot help our actions because God destined us to disbelief.
Let's take a moment to answer these claims: If you say that God had encased your heart and destined you to disbelief, wouldn't you ask yourself why? What is the reason? Allah provides us with the answer; He says: 'No indeed, Allah has cursed them for their disbelief; so, little do they believe.' The phrase 'No indeed' confirms that their statement is untrue, and what would follow is the truth. God is refuting that they have enough knowledge in their hearts, and He is also refuting their claim that He encased their hearts. The fact is: God had cursed them and banished the from His mercy. This did not happen for no reason. It was a direct response to their deeds. God deprived them of His mercy because when guidance came to them time and again, they denied it and insisted on disbelief. They were not cursed from the beginning, they had actually earned God's anger.
Some people try to dissociate themselves from the responsibility of faith and deed, and blame God for their disbelief. They use verses like this one for evidence:
What about those whose evil deeds are made alluring to them so that they think they are good? God leaves whoever He will to stray and guides whoever He will. Do not waste your soul away with regret for them: God knows exactly what they do. (35:08)
The disbelievers think that the phrase ' God leaves whoever He will to stray and guides whoever He will' will save them from hell-fire on the day of resurrection because God is responsible for misguiding them. They claim that since God had willed them to disbelief, what were they to do? We answer that a person who blames God for a choice that he or she made has not studied the Quran. Let's look at the following verses:
That is because they preferred the worldly life over the Hereafter and that God does not guide the disbelieving people. (16:107)
And in another verse:
Abraham said, "So indeed it is Allah Who brings the sun from the East - you bring it from the West!" - the disbeliever was therefore baffled; and Allah does not guide the unjust. (2:258)
Say, ‘If your fathers, sons, brothers, wives, tribes, the wealth you have acquired, the trade which you fear will decline, and the dwellings you love are dearer to you than God and His Messenger and the struggle in His cause, then wait until God brings about His punishment.’ God does not guide those who are corrupt. (9:24)
These verses clearly highlight the three groups of people who do not receive God's guidance: the disbelievers, the corrupt and the unjust. Allah sent His messengers, His scriptures and His guidance to all mankind. Moreover, He created the universe and subjected it to our service, so each one of us may ponder the creation. Sadly, many people opposed God, refused to listen to His Messengers, followed their own desires, and took the beauty of creation for granted. The truth is: Allah had blessed humanity with His guidance, and provided all of us with countless bounties. He came forth with love and mercy. Those who responded to this love with denial, and chose disbelief earned themselves God's curse. In response, He sealed their hearts and left them for what they chose.
Allah made His message clear to all humanity. So if you choose to oppresses others, rob them of their rights and cheat them, then God will seal your heart. Likewise, if you indulge in sin and rush towards all that God prohibited, then God will deprive you of His mercy. Allah does not force yon towards guidance. He is the one who granted you free will. Keep in mind that God Almighty has demonstrated to you that He can have absolute power over you if He so wills. Take the examples of your internal organs; they operate completely outside your will. Your heart, blood circulation, kidneys and liver are subjected to God’s will. Likewise, the calamities that may happen to you are out of your control. You cannot prevent disease, a car crash or a rock from falling on you.
Allah gave you full control over one area of your life: your choices and actions. Are going to use these great gifts to practice God’s teachings? This freedom is what you and I will be responsible for on the day of resurrection. If you choose disbelief for yourself, God does not force you to believe; rather, He informs you of the consequences. If you want to benefit from God's guidance then you have to play by the rules. God informed you that He does not guide the disbelievers, the unjust and the corrupt. If you do not intend guidance for yourself, then feel free to discard God's rules.
This brings us back to the verse: when the children of Israel claimed that God had placed a seal on their hearts, God answered that they were the ones who selected this path. He said ''No indeed, Allah has cursed them for their disbelief'
Being cursed means being expelled from God's mercy, and only God can make this happen. He banished them from His mercy due to their disbelief. God does not chase after those who deny Him. Nor does He want His messengers to fatigue themselves trying to get people to accept faith. The Messengers' duty is to convey the message and inform people that judgment in the hereafter will be just, and will be based on their choices and actions. God says:
You may perhaps wear out your heart because they do not come to belief. If We had wished, We could have sent them down a sign from heaven, at which their necks would stay bowed in utter humility. (26:3-4)
Allah wants you to freely turn to Him out of love. He does not benefit from your faith and deeds; the benefits and rewards will be for you alone. Whether you have faith in your heart or not does not affect His Being. Allah is self sufficient. He says:
God bears witness that there is no god but Him, as do the angels and those who have knowledge. He upholds justice. There is no god but Him, the Almighty, the All Wise. (3:18)
Faith in Allah is your personal treasure on the day of resurrection; it will be your salvation on that terrible day.