A Verse of The Holy Qur’an

No Comments | September 2018

In the previous pages we celebrated the memory of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, who served The Review of Religions for over 20 years, including 10 as chief editor.

Here we reprint an article he wrote for the December 1964 edition of The Review of Religions analyzing a single verse of the Holy Qur’an in depth.

 

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‘Nay but that which they have earned has rusted their hearts.’

This verse states a great psychological and moral truth. It explains that in addition to the effect which is the direct result of an action, it also effects the future manifestation and working of man’s morals, his wisdom and knowledge. For instance, take the vice of speaking falsehood. The act of telling a lie leaves its impact upon one who is prone to it. The immediate effect of telling a lie is that the liar earns a bad name; he comes to be looked down upon as a black sheep. Nobody trusts him; no one relies on him. By disobeying Allah he subjects himself to Divine punishment, which may overtake him immediately, or may be delayed. Those about whom he tells lies become his enemies and even his own friends desert him. These are the immediate, natural consequences, which directly flow from the act of telling lies. In addition to its immediate and direct results, which are easily perceived, every sinful action has various other effects on man’s mind and heart.

The Holy Qur’an is a book of such depth and wisdom that even a single verse can capture many
important truths.
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For instance, I have taken up the example of falsehood. Whenever a man tells a lie, the first effect of his action on his own mind and heart is that his dislike for falsehood is weakened; and in future telling lies becomes easy for him. [The] same is the case with other evils. On the first instance of stealing or quarreling, or use of abusive language, or making mischief, or on committing a murder for the first time a man is afraid of being caught and exposed to the public, as such. But once when he has committed such a deed, his mind is so affected by it, that not only his dislike of evil is decreased, but also it becomes easier for him to tell a lie, to steal, to abuse or to make mischief, for the second time. Thus he begins to commit these evil deeds without any hesitation.   

The second effect of doing an evil deed on the heart and mind of man is that his dislike of evil in general is lessened. For one who steals, it becomes easy to commit other crimes, because the act of committing theft results in lessening the feelings of guilt for disobeying the Lord. Similar is the case with other sinful acts. Every sin is not only bad in itself but also it has an external effect of lessening the feeling of abhorrence of sin, and of making a man bold in disobeying his Lord by committing similar evil deeds.

The third effect of an evil action is that he begins to suspect others; when he himself has committed such a crime, he comes to hold, in his own mind, that others also must be doing the same. A liar believes that no one in the world speaks the truth; and he accuses others of telling lies, even when they speak the truth. This is because he himself is a habitual liar. In this way he is unable to know the truth; and instead of deriving benefit from truth and reality, he attributes false motives to other people’s actions. The truth is presented to him; but instead of giving it due consideration, he rejects it out of hand; he thinks since he himself is lying, the others must also be doing the same thing.

The fourth effect is that, as a consequence of doing sinful deeds, he is deprived of the beneficial company of pious and righteous people. Because he judges everyone according to his own self and believes that no one is righteous, that all are liars, like himself, the righteous also avoid his company.

This truth so succinctly presented in the Holy Qur’an is further clarified in a Hadith [oral tradition of the Holy Prophetsa] to the following effect:

‘When a man commits a transgression it leaves a black mark on his heart. Then, if he repents and withdraws himself from that position, his heart is washed clean of that black mark. On the other hand, if he repeats the sin, the mark begins to grow and spread, until it blackens the whole heart.’

This is the meaning of the verse in the Holy Qur’an:

‘Nay but that which they have earned has rusted their hearts.’

In short, the verse explains that every sinful deed has a manifold effect on man’s conscious and unconscious mind; that the past actions of a man determine his future conduct. This is the great psychological and moral truth, which forms the basis of the moral system of Islam. It is by disregarding this basic psychological principle, that the modern man is today steeped in moral degradation of the worst type.

Endnotes

1. The Holy Qur’an, 83:15.

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