The Holy Qur'an

‘The Quran on a Mountain’: Lessons for Spiritual Progress

Dr Kamrudeen Mohammed, UK

Allah the Exalted says in the Holy Qur’an:

‘If We had sent down this Qur’an on a mountain, you would certainly have seen it humbled and rent asunder for fear of Allah. And these are similitudes that We set forth for mankind that they may reflect.’[1]

The Promised Messiah and founder of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (as), has provided a beautiful commentary of this verse of the Holy Qur’an which provides a roadmap to spiritual excellence. He says:    

‘One meaning (of the verse) is that the Qur’an has such an effect that if it were to descend on a mountain, then the mountain would become fragmented into pieces and level with the earth.

When it (the Qur’an) has such an effect on inorganic matter, then how foolish are those people who do not derive benefit from its influence. Another meaning is that no person can acquire the Divine love and pleasure unless two qualities are born. One is to destroy arrogance; just as the mountain stands erect with its head held high and then becomes level with the earth, in the same manner a man should remove all thoughts of greatness and arrogance. He should adopt humility and meekness.

The second (quality) is that all previous relationships should be severed as the mountain falls down, split into pieces. Fragment by fragment it becomes separated. In the same way such relationships which were the cause of impurity and Divine displeasure are cleaved and all that remains now is his relationships and friendships, loves and enmity (which) are all for Allah only.’[2]

Three key points for spiritual progress are explained; firstly, we should develop a relationship with the Qur’an so that we become influenced by its teachings. Secondly, we should abandon all traces of arrogance from our character. Thirdly, we should sever unhealthy relationships and instead form new ones which lead us to Allah.

The first point discussed in this unique commentary is the effect of the Qur’an on human beings. Despite the widespread availability of the Qur’an on almost every platform, ranging from websites to mobile phones and a plethora of apps with commentaries of its verses, it is apparent that people are not influenced by its beauty, guidance and greatness. On an individual level, we rush to consume content curated by humans for our enjoyment (Tweets, forwarded WhatsApp messages etc.) but we neglect the words of Allah, specially chosen for our guidance. On an international scale, many so-called Muslim countries do not utilise the eternal principles for governance which are so clearly explained by Allah in His Book. So, the Promised Messiah (as), alluding to the metaphor of the scattered mountain, laments the fate of those who are not moved by the beauties of the Qur’an.

How can we begin the journey of a deep and effective relationship with the Qur’an so that we are practically influenced by its teachings? Volumes have been written on this subject. I will mention only a few aspects.

Our mental approach to the Qur’an should be one of humility before Allah, praying that He opens our heart to the true understanding of its meanings. The evidence of a true understanding is a change in our emotional state. A difference in our daily conduct with others.

A simple practical step open to anyone, even without knowledge of the Arabic language, is to reflect on the personal implication of what he or she reads. Whenever blessings are mentioned to a particular group, we should pause and beseech Allah to be included. When the punishment for misconduct is discussed, we should seek Allah’s protection. In this way there is a living, dynamic and personal interaction with the Qur’an; each reading becomes an opportunity for a personal supplication. The Qur’an then becomes healing and a cure for spiritual diseases. Allah says: ‘And We are gradually revealing of the Qur’an that which is a healing and a mercy to the believers, but it only adds to the loss of the wrongdoers.’[3] This is one manner in which anyone can be affected by the Qur’an and become even more fortunate that the mountains which the Qur’an so profoundly influences, in the analogy given above.

According to the Promised Messiah (as) the verse then goes on to explain two of the most important ways of making spiritual progress. The first is to shun and destroy feelings of arrogance. The Qur’an provides a comprehensive solution to arrogance, the first sin which led to the ruin of man. The root of arrogance lies in one’s perception of superiority over others. Iblis proclaimed ‘I am better than he (Adam)…’[4] as he viewed the chosen one of Allah to be inferior resulting in his expulsion from the heavenly state.

On the other hand, Allah indicates that if we wish to distinguish ourselves, we should seek to do so firstly in the eyes of Allah. And even in that circumstance only one quality and criterion is singled out for mention – that of God-consciousness ‘….Surely the most honourable among you in the sight of Allah is he who is most God-conscious among you…’[5] Expertise, knowledge, wealth and worldly influence, for example, are not mentioned.

Then Allah explains that the cure for arrogance lies in the constant awareness that we are weak ‘….Man has been created weak…’[6] We should appreciate that whatever we possess or have attained is due to Allah’s constant grace ‘But for the grace of Allah and His mercy (that rests) upon you and (but for the fact) that Allah is most Compassionate, Ever Merciful (none of you would have ever been so chaste and pure).’[7]

To facilitate a cure of arrogance Allah describes the benefit of its antonym -humility – in order to induce us in this path – ‘Surely those who believe and do good works, and humble themselves before their Lord – these are the inmates of Heaven; therein shall they abide.’[8] Finally, He warns us of the punishment of arrogance, the loss of Allah’s love  ‘…Allah loves not any arrogant boaster’[9] and an evil destination is contrasted with the heavenly state for the humble in this and the next life – ‘..and evil is the abode of the arrogant.[10] A Hadith (saying of the Holy Prophet (sa)) from Sahih Muslim echoes this: ‘He who has, in his heart, an ant’s weight of arrogance will not enter a heavenly life.’[11] 

The second method for spiritual advancement is to sever relationships which lead us to a life of harmful practices and pleasures and, instead, replace these attachments with associations which increase our love for Allah. The Arabic word in the verse of the Qur’an under discussion is مُّتَصَدِّعًا which has the connotation of splitting and separating. The Promised Messiah (as), while explaining the importance of good company said that ‘…man is gifted with the power to absorb the light that others radiate.’[12] We are fortunate, as Ahmadi Muslims, to have the bond and guidance of Khilafat (Divine Successorship). Our Khalifa (Caliph) provides constant guidance for us which helps us navigate the contemporary challenges. Through the many channels of communication available now, we can infuse an environment of spiritual health into our homes.

In his Friday Sermon delivered on 20th May 2011, the Caliph, His Holiness, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad (aba) explained one meaning of the Qur’anic instruction ‘….and be with the truthful.’[13] indicating that today, an effective instrument for keeping pious company is reading the books of the Promised Messiah (as).[14] We should devise a reading plan, allowing ourselves time and space for ample reflection, note-taking, praying to Allah to open our hearts to the guidance described. This is what the Holy Prophet (sa) was alluding to when he foretold that in his second advent, Jesus, son of Mary (as) will distribute wealth until no one will accept it.[15]

The metaphor of the Qur’an on the mountain offers us an occasion for deep reflection on what effect the Qur’an has on our daily lives. It further warns us of the danger of arrogance and counsels us on the importance of breaking free from harmful links and establishing new relationships that increase our love for and obedience to Allah.

About the Author: Dr Kamrudeen Mohammed is a Consultant Endocrinologist by profession who is currently serving as President of the Scunthorpe chapter of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community UK.

[1] Surah Al-Hashr Ch 59 v.22.

[2] Tafsir Hazrat Masih-i-Ma’ood Volume 7 page 386

[3] Surah Bani Israel Ch 17 v.83

[4] Surah Sad Ch 38 v.77

[5] Surah Al-Hujurat Ch.49 v.13

[6] Al-Nisa ch 4 v.29

[7] Surah Al-Nur Ch 24 v.21

[8] Surah Hud Ch 11v.24.

[9] Surah Luqman Ch 31 v.19

[10] Surah Al-Zumar Ch 39 v73

[11] Sahih Muslim Kitabul Iman


[13] Surah Al-Tauba Ch 9 v.119,


[15] Jami’ a-Tirmidhi Chapters on Al-fitan

1 Comment

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  • Excellent presentation!
    Here is a non-religious attempt at explanation of the same mechanism. Not anti-religious, but to wonder at the wonders.
    Arrogance is insidious. It creeps in and catches us unaware. It seems built-into our evolutionary animal origins. It tends to happen when we are absolutely sure of something.
    Humility, on the other hand, has to be intentionally developed and practised through self awareness. Every time we feel absolutely sure, is the time for self reflection. “All evidence so far, points to this conclusion but I need to remain open to the possibility that my observation, method, information, results and conclusion could be wrong”.
    Arrogance shuts off our mentally healthy creative processes. It stops us from advancing and learning. It practically turns us into little Iblis, not prepared to change.
    Humility frees us, opens us up to everything the universe has to offer. We become child-like with all the awe in our heart about unlimited discoveries that await us.