Allah عزوجل says in The Qur’an;
وَمَنْ أَظْلَمُ مِمَّن ذُكِّرَ بِـَٔايَـٰتِ رَبِّهِۦ فَأَعْرَضَ عَنْهَا وَنَسِىَ مَا قَدَّمَتْ يَدَاهُ ۚ إِنَّا جَعَلْنَا عَلَىٰ قُلُوبِهِمْ أَكِنَّةً أَن يَفْقَهُوهُ وَفِىٓ ءَاذَانِهِمْ وَقْرًۭا ۖ وَإِن تَدْعُهُمْ إِلَى ٱلْهُدَىٰ فَلَن يَهْتَدُوٓا۟ إِذًا أَبَدًۭا
“And who does more wrong than he who is reminded of the Ayat (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.) Of his Lord, but turns away from them forgetting what (deeds) his hands have sent forth. Truly, We have set veils over their hearts lest they should understand this (the Qur’an), and in their ears, deafness. And if you (O Muhammad ﷺ) call them to guidance, even then they will never be guided.”
Surah Al-Kahf, 18:57
Excerpts from Tafsir Ibn Kathir رَحِمَهُ ٱللَّٰهُ about this ayah:
Allah says, `Who among My creatures does more wrong than one who is reminded of the signs of Allah then turns away from them,’ i.e., ignores them and does not listen or pay attention to them.
﴿وَنَسِىَ مَا قَدَّمَتْ يَدَاهُ﴾
(forgetting what his hands have sent forth.) means, bad deeds and evil actions.
﴿إِنَّا جَعَلْنَا عَلَى قُلُوبِهِمْ﴾
(Truly, We have set over their hearts) means, the hearts of these people,
(Akinnah) means, coverings.
(lest they should understand this,) means, so that they will not understand this Qur’an and its clear Message
﴿وَفِى ءَاذَانِهِمْ وَقْرًا﴾
(and in their ears, deafness.) means that they will be deaf in an abstract way, to guidance.
﴿وَإِن تَدْعُهُمْ إِلَى الْهُدَى فَلَنْ يَهْتَدُواْ إِذاً أَبَداً﴾
(And if you call them to guidance, even then they will never be guided.)
﴿وَرَبُّكَ الْغَفُورُ ذُو الرَّحْمَةِ﴾
(And your Lord is Most Forgiving, Owner of mercy.) means, `your Lord, O Muhammad, is forgiving and has great mercy.’
﴿لَوْ يُؤَاخِذُهُم بِمَا كَسَبُواْ لَعَجَّلَ لَهُمُ الْعَذَابَ﴾
(Were He to call them to account for what they have earned, then surely, He would have hastened their punishment.) This is like the Ayah:
﴿وَلَوْ يُؤَاخِذُ اللَّهُ النَّاسَ بِمَا كَسَبُواْ مَا تَرَكَ عَلَى ظَهْرِهَا مِن دَآبَّةٍ﴾
(And if Allah were to punish men for that which they earned, He would not leave a moving creature on the surface of the earth.) ﴿35:45﴾
﴿وَإِنَّ رَبَّكَ لَذُو مَغْفِرَةٍ لِّلنَّاسِ عَلَى ظُلْمِهِمْ وَإِنَّ رَبَّكَ لَشَدِيدُ الْعِقَابِ﴾
(But verily, your Lord is full of forgiveness for mankind in spite of their wrongdoing. And verily, your Lord is (also) severe in punishment) ﴿13:6﴾. And there are many Ayat which say the same thing. Then Allah tells us that He is patient, He conceals faults and forgives sins. He may guide some of them from wrongdoing to true guidance, and whoever continues in his evil ways, then there will come to him a Day when infants will turn grey and every pregnant female will shed her load. He says:
﴿بَل لَّهُم مَّوْعِدٌ لَّن يَجِدُواْ مِن دُونِهِ مَوْئِلاً﴾
(But they have their appointed time, beyond which they will find no escape.) meaning, they will find no way out.
﴿وَتِلْكَ الْقُرَى أَهْلَكْنَـهُمْ لَمَّا ظَلَمُواْ﴾
(And these towns, We destroyed them when they did wrong.) This refers to earlier nations in times past; `We destroyed them because of their stubborn disbelief.’
﴿وَجَعَلْنَا لِمَهْلِكِهِم مَّوْعِدًا﴾
(And We appointed a fixed time for their destruction.) `We appointed for them a set time limit, not to be increased or decreased. The same applies to you, O ido- lators, so beware or what happened to them will happen to you too, for you have rejected the noblest Messenger and greatest Prophet, and you are not dearer to Us than them, so fear My punishment and wrath.’
Tafsir Ibn Kathir
This is like the ayah;
وَجَعَلْنَا عَلَىٰ قُلُوبِهِمْ أَكِنَّةً أَن يَفْقَهُوهُ وَفِىٓ ءَاذَانِهِمْ وَقْرًۭا ۚ وَإِذَا ذَكَرْتَ رَبَّكَ فِى ٱلْقُرْءَانِ وَحْدَهُۥ وَلَّوْا۟ عَلَىٰٓ أَدْبَـٰرِهِمْ نُفُورًۭا
“And We have put coverings over their hearts lest, they should understand it (the Qur’an), and in their ears deafness. And when you make mention of your Lord Alone [La ilaha ill-Allah (none has the right to be worshipped but Allah) Islamic Monotheism] in the Qur’an, they turn on their backs, fleeing in extreme dislike.”
Surah Al-Isra’, 17:46
In both verses Allah uses the word; قُلُوبِهِمْ (qalubihim) to describe the heart which comes from it’s root word; “qalb”. In arabic, the “qalb” represents the ever changing state of the heart.
‘Anas رضي الله عنه narrated:
“The Messenger of Allah ﷺ would often say: Ya Muqallibal-qulub, thabbit qalbi ‘ala dinik(‘O Changer of the Hearts! Strengthen my heart upon Your Religion.)’ So I said: ‘O Prophet of Allah! We believe in you and what you have come with, but do you fear for us?’ He said: ‘Yes. Indeed the hearts are between two Fingers of Allah’s Fingers, He changes them as He wills.'”
Through proper examination of these ayahs we can see that there will be some people who are under the veils of disbelief yet, by Allah’s Mercy, they may on day become guided. Allah عزوجل says;
نَّحْنُ أَعْلَمُ بِمَا يَسْتَمِعُونَ بِهِۦٓ إِذْ يَسْتَمِعُونَ إِلَيْكَ
“We know best of what they listen to when they listen to you…”
Surah Al-Isra’, 17:47
Ibn Taymiyyah رحمه الله said;
« Whoever has a disease in his heart, he takes from every speech whatever suits his disease. »
[ جامع المسائل (١٩١/٧) ]
Allah عزوجل says in The Qur’an;
أَمْ تَحْسَبُ أَنَّ أَكْثَرَهُمْ يَسْمَعُونَ أَوْ يَعْقِلُونَ ۚ إِنْ هُمْ إِلَّا كَٱلْأَنْعَـٰمِ ۖ بَلْ هُمْ أَضَلُّ سَبِيلًا
“Or do you think that most of them hear or understand? They are only like cattle- nay, they are even farther astray from the Path (i.e. even worse than cattle).”
Surah al-Furqan, 25:44
With proper comprehension of these verses, the one who calls to Islam should come to realize that;
1. They should call to Allah without fear of rejection. Those who will believe will do so because Allah has turned their hearts so that they are inclined to guidance. Those who disbelieve, Allah has decreed that too.
2. Flattery and joking with non-believers whilst giving dawah is unnecessary and inappropriate. A person accepts Islam based upon a guided heart and clear proofs, not laughs and compliments.
3. There is no need to busy one’s self with preparing arguments for debates with unbelievers for these things fall on deaf ears. Fancy speech is not enough to open ears that all has made deaf or to uncover a heart Allah has veiled. Speech regarding Tawheed is the most complete and the most beneficial when calling to Islam.
Prophet Muhammad ﷺ said;
“The best talk is Allah’s Book (The Qur’an), and the best guidance is the guidance of Muhammad ﷺ.
Sahih Al-Bukhari, 6098
The one who is reminded about Allah and turns away has been unjust only to themselves as they have denied what can bring them benefit. It is true that many people are like this so the caller to Islam should not be amazed.
Maalik bin Deenar رَحِمَهُ ٱللَّٰهُ said;
“O people! Indeed, when gold and silver are presented to a dog, it does not know what they are, but if a bone is presented, it moves towards it. Likewise, the foolish people amongst you do not know the truth.”
Hilyatul Awliyaa 1/419
May Allah forgive the believing men and women. Ameen.