The Sealed Heart

Imam Ahmad recorded Abu Sa`id saying that the Messenger of Allah said;

«الْقُلُوبُ أَرْبَعَةٌ: قَلْبٌ أَجْرَدُ فِيهِ مِثْلُ السِّرَاجِ يَزْهَرُ وَقَلْبٌ أَغْلَفُ مَرْبُوطٌ عَلى غِلَافِهِ وَقَلْبٌ مَنْكُوسٌ وَقَلْبٌ مُصْفَحٌ، فَأَمَّا الْقَلْبُ الْأَجْرَدُ فَقَلْبُ الْمُؤْمِنِ فَسِرَاجُهُ فِيهِ نُورُهُ، وَأَمَّا الْقَلْبُ الْأَغْلَفُ فَقَلْبُ الْكَافِرِ، وَأَمَّا الْقَلْبُ الْمَنْكُوسُ فَقَلْبُ الْمُنَافِقِ الْخَالِصِ عَرَفَ ثُمَّ أَنْكَرَ وَأَمَّا الْقَلْبُ الْمُصْفَحُ فَقَلْبٌ فِيهِ إيمَانٌ وَنِفَاقٌ وَمَثَلُ الْإيمَانِ فِيهِ كَمَثَلِ الْبَقْلَةِ يَمُدُّهَا الْمَاءُ الطَّيِّبُ وَمَثَلُ النِّفَاقِ فِيهِ كَمَثَلِ الْقُرْحَةِ يَمُدُّهَا الْقَيْحُ وَالدَّمُ فَأَيُّ الْمَادَّتَيْنِ غَلَبَتْ عَلَى الْأُخْرَى غَلَبَتْ عَلَيْه»

(The hearts are four (types): polished as shiny as the radiating lamp, a sealed heart with a knot tied around its seal, a heart that is turned upside down and a wrapped heart. As for the polished heart, it is the heart of the believer and the lamp is the light of faith. The sealed heart is the heart of the disbeliever. The heart that is turned upside down is the heart of the pure hypocrite, because he had knowledge but denied it. As for the wrapped heart, it is a heart that contains belief and hypocrisy. The example of faith in this heart, is the example of the herb that is sustained by pure water. The example of hypocrisy in it, is the example of an ulcer that thrives on puss and blood. Whichever of the two substances has the upper hand, it will have the upper hand on that heart). This Hadith has a Jayid Hasan (good) chain of narration.

Allah, The Exalted says in the Qur’an:

الَّذِينَ يُجَادِلُونَ فِي آيَاتِ اللَّهِ بِغَيْرِ سُلْطَانٍ أَتَاهُمْ ۖ كَبُرَ مَقْتًا عِندَ اللَّهِ وَعِندَ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا ۚ كَذَٰلِكَ يَطْبَعُ اللَّهُ عَلَىٰ كُلِّ قَلْبِ مُتَكَبِّرٍ جَبَّارٍ

“Those who dispute about the Ayat (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.) of Allah, without any authority that has come to them, it is greatly hateful and disgusting to Allah and to those who believe. Thus does Allah seal up the heart of every arrogant, tyrant. (So they cannot guide themselves to the right path).”


This ayah informs us about the wretched state of the disbelievers. They have a severe dis-ease of the heart that only Allah can cure. People who disbelieve in Allah know the truth but have concealed it deep within their own hearts and have conjured layers of falsehood to cover it [the truth]. They have no interest in seeking the truth as their opinion and the opinion and ways of their forefathers are enough.

When confronted with the truth, any truth, they have an impromptu rebuttle – they think themselves to high to be warned. The boldness of unbelievers! They think they are on right guidance and they make that judgement with no book, no wisdom, no sure knowledge of anything.

You will talk to one of them and they will tell you that their soul is secure from the punishment of Allah and underestimate greatly, death and The Day of Resurrection.

Excerpt from Tafsir Ibn Kathir about this ayah:

(Those who dispute about the Ayat of Allah, without any authority that has come to them,) means, those who attempt to refute truth with falsehood and who dispute the proof without evidence or proof from Allah, Allah will hate them with the utmost loathing. Allah says:

﴿كَبُرَ مَقْتاً عِندَ اللَّهِ وَعِندَ الَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ﴾

(it is greatly hateful and disgusting to Allah and to those who believe.) meaning, the believers too will despise those who are like this, and whoever is like this, Allah will put a seal on his heart so that after that he will not acknowledge anything good or denounce anything evil. Allah says:

﴿كَذَلِكَ يَطْبَعُ اللَّهُ عَلَى كُـلِّ قَلْبِ مُتَكَبِّرٍ﴾

(Thus does Allah seal up the heart of every arrogant.) meaning, so that they cannot follow the truth.



﴿وَقَالَ فَرْعَوْنُ يهَـمَـنُ ابْنِ لِى صَرْحاً لَّعَـلِّى أَبْلُغُ الاٌّسْبَـبَ – أَسْبَـبَ السَّمَـوَتِ فَأَطَّلِعَ إِلَى إِلَـهِ مُوسَى وَإِنِّى لاّظُنُّهُ كَـذِباً وَكَـذَلِكَ زُيِّنَ لِفِرْعَوْنَ سُوءُ عَمَلِهِ وَصُدَّ عَنِ السَّبِيلِ وَمَا كَـيْدُ فِرْعَوْنَ إِلاَّ فِى تَبَابٍ ﴾

(Tafsir Ibn Kathir 40:35)

You will find the disbelieving folk taking with airs of conceit, as if their social status, age, or “life wisdom’s” give them the authority to determine what is right or wrong in matters of religion. A person who is ignorant of their religion [Islam] might be swayed by their speech- as they have grown masterly in the poetry of Shaytan. They invite to all that is evil and forbid all that is good. They think that they are good-doers, yet they are the corrupters and the are the dwellers of the fire.

This state can be seen in the affair of the arrogant tyrant Fir’aun (Pharaoh). When his beliving cousin warned him and he turned away to his own dictates;

يَا قَوْمِ لَكُمُ الْمُلْكُ الْيَوْمَ ظَاهِرِينَ فِي الْأَرْضِ فَمَن يَنصُرُنَا مِن بَأْسِ اللَّهِ إِن جَاءَنَا ۚ قَالَ فِرْعَوْنُ مَا أُرِيكُمْ إِلَّا مَا أَرَىٰ وَمَا أَهْدِيكُمْ إِلَّا سَبِيلَ الرَّشَادِ

“O my people! Yours is the kingdom today, you being dominant in the land. But who will save us from the Torment of Allah, should it befall us?” Fir’aun (Pharaoh) said: “I show you only that which I see (correct), and I guide you only to the path of right policy.”


In truth, the disbelievers are in great doubt about religion. However,their arrogance prevents them from acknowledging that truth as they are unmotivated to do so. Their lust for the worldly life has deceived them and because of their doubt and turning away from Allah he has left them astray. They are the ones who have let the chief deceiver (Shaytan) deceive them about Allah.

It is important to understand the state of those who disbelieve– those who are have been warned but are obstinate in their rejection of the truth of Islam. The pitiful state of these persons, can be likened to a child who has ran away to a dark room, locked the door, and slung the only key under the door far from reach. They see only by the light that exists in the world they have created in their minds. They spend their time groping around, hands outstretched, reaching for substance. They have are content with consuming whatever they are able to gain, unconcerned about the halal and haram of it all. They are in utter blindness yet they think they can see!

The disbelievers only hope is with Allah and they have rejected Him. So, who will guide them after Allah?

إِنَّكَ لَا تَهْدِي مَنْ أَحْبَبْتَ وَلَٰكِنَّ اللَّهَ يَهْدِي مَن يَشَاءُ ۚ وَهُوَ أَعْلَمُ بِالْمُهْتَدِينَ

“Verily, you (O Muhammad, S.A.W.) guide not whom you like, but Allah guides whom He wills. And He knows best those who are guided.”


وَعَلَى اللَّهِ قَصْدُ السَّبِيلِ وَمِنْهَا جَائِرٌ ۚ وَلَوْ شَاءَ لَهَدَاكُمْ أَجْمَعِينَ

“And upon Allah is the responsibility to explain the Straight Path. But there are ways that turn aside (such as Paganism, Judaism, and Christianity). And had He willed, He would have guided you all (mankind).


By Allah’s infinite Mercy and His Justice, he has placed the obligation upon the Muslims to warn and the best of those who have warned are The Prophets (A.S.).

Allah, The Exalted says in The Qur’an:

وَأَنذِرْ عَشِيرَتَكَ الْأَقْرَبِينَ

“And warn your tribe (O Muhammad, S.A.W.) of near kindred.”


Narrated Ibn `Abbas (R.A):

When the Verse:– ‘And warn your tribe of near kindred.’ (26.214) was revealed. Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) went out, and when he had ascended As-Safa mountain, he shouted, “O Sabahah!” The people said, “Who is that?” “Then they gathered around him, whereupon he said, “Do you see? If I inform you that cavalrymen are proceeding up the side of this mountain, will you believe me?” They said, “We have never heard you telling a lie.” Then he said, “I am a plain warner to you of a coming severe punishment.” Abu Lahab said, “May you perish! You gathered us only for this reason? ” Then Abu Lahab went away. So the “Surat:–ul–LAHAB” ‘Perish the hands of Abu Lahab!’ (111.1) was revealed.

(Sahih Bukhari, Book 65, Hadith 4971.)

The heart of the believer must be attached to spreading the Words of Allah (S.W.T.) just as we are accustomed to breathing. Those who spread the message of Al Islam to disbelieving folk must realize that only Allah can open the breast and the only duty incumbent is to convey the message clearly.

Giving da’wah to enemies of Islam must be handled with extreme patience as Allah, The Exalted, says in The Qur’an:

ادْفَعْ بِالَّتِي هِيَ أَحْسَنُ السَّيِّئَةَ ۚ نَحْنُ أَعْلَمُ بِمَا يَصِفُونَ

وَقُل رَّبِّ أَعُوذُ بِكَ مِنْ هَمَزَاتِ الشَّيَاطِينِ

وَأَعُوذُ بِكَ رَبِّ أَن يَحْضُرُونِ

“Repel evil with that which is better. We are Best-Knower of the things they utter. And say: “My Lord! I seek refuge with You from the whispering (suggestions) of the Shayatin (devils). And I seek refuge with you, My Lord! lest they should come near me.”


According to Tafsir Ibn Kathir, these are the only three Ayat that carry this meaning. Allah commanded that we be lenient human enemy, so that his soft nature might make him an ally and a supporter. He also commanded that we seek refuge from the satanic enemy, because the devil does not relent in his enmity if we treat him with kindness and leniency. The devil only seeks the destruction of the Son of Adam due to the vicious enmity and hatred he has always had towards man’s father, Adam. 

Allah (S.W.T.) sends His reminder to the disbelievers so that the case may be established against them. On The Day of Judgement they will no be able to use the excuse that they were never warned. Allah is utterly Just to His slaves.

We seek refuge in Allah from the fate of those who are going to be cast into the fire and we ask Allah to give us firmness and patience in spreading His beautiful Book. Ameen yaa Rabbi.

Published by Umm Nadia Taliah Muhammad

Striving to be a faithful servant of Allah سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَ. Mother of six. Forever a student, In shaa Allah- in the areas of Qur'an, Sunnah, and Islamic Herbal Herbal Medicine.

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