Could you explain the Quranic verse “Had We sent down this Qur'an on a mountain, verily, thou wouldst have seen it humble itself and cleave asunder for fear of God.” (al-Hashr, 59:21)?

The Details of the Question
Could you explain the Quranic verse “Had We sent down this Qur'an on a mountain, verily, thou wouldst have seen it humble itself and cleave asunder for fear of God.” (al-Hashr, 59:21)?
The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

The meaning of the verse in question:

Had We sent down this Qur'an on a mountain, verily, thou wouldst have seen it humble itself and cleave asunder for fear of God. Such are the similitudes which We propound to men, that they may reflect.” (al-Hashr, 59:21).

There are of course many hidden wisdoms in the example given in this verse. It is possible to explain one of them as follows:

The Quran, which is so miraculous and has got a style which cannot be excelled by human beings by any means, points out to the psychological situations of those who insist on denying the truth in spite of those miraculous aspects of the Quran and says:

If we had given the mind and consciousness, which We had given to you, to the mountains which are so firm and hard and if we had sent the Quran down to them, you would have seen them humbling themselves, trembling and bowing down before Allah and breaking into pieces due to this honorable and awesome expression of the Quran and its gorgeous and supreme style. However, although you have got perfect consciousness and a perfect mind yet so a weak and powerless structure, you neither tremble, nor bow down. This paradox can be explained only by your lower-self and blind heart.”

The concept of mountain, which has always influenced people’s imaginations to a great extent, was used in this example because it is considered the unique geographical element which touches the skies and symbolizes awe, firmness and height in literatures of almost all nations. As it is stated in the end of the verse, a concrete example was utilized here so that everybody could comprehend the intended meaning easily. The true aim is to emphasize the importance of the message of the Quran and the great responsibility of human beings, to whom it was addressed.

That is to say, if consciousness which had been given to human beings had been given to a mountain, that mountain, the symbol of awe and greatness, would have bowed down in infinite respect before Allah’s greatness, might and His unrestricted sovereignty all over the universe, due to being aware of Allah’s attributions and a feeling of responsibility, and moreover it would have tired itself out to serve Him.

However, human beings resist in order not to feel the burden on their shoulders and waste their lives in heedlessness. Another point to pay attention here is that making a conclusion from this example still depends on human beings, more precisely, on their skill of reasoning, as it is stated in the end of the verse.

This example given in the surah (chapter) which was sent down in Madinah was addressed to those who deny the truth; yet it seems that it was addressed to the Jews firstly. As a matter of fact, their features comply with the following verse:

Thenceforth were your hearts hardened: They became like a rock and even worse in hardness. For among rocks there are some from which rivers gush forth; others there are which when split asunder send forth water; and others which sink for fear of God. And God is not unmindful of what ye do.” (al-Baqarah, 2:74).

The late Elmalili Hamdi Yazir explains these verses as follows:

O the sons of Israel! Your hearts hardened after all of these things that happened. The prophets, clear messages and miracles which were sent to you through them all went in vain. From now on, those hearts are as hard as stones or even harder than them.

Indeed, there are some stones out of which rivers (can) spring naturally or due to human-hand. However, your hearts are never influenced by anything and therefore, they cannot have any good aspects.

There are some of them which crack with an influence and water springs out of them; or at least, it leaks.

And also there are some of them that are influenced by events such as rain, hurricane and earthquake, which are the works of Allah’s divine might, and fall down with fear of Allah and roll down. 
Nevertheless, your hearts are not slightly influenced at all by these so clear and obvious verses of revelation and such certain explanations; and they are not influenced by encouragements and prohibitions, either. Yet Allah is never unaware of what you do. (Hak Dini, interpretation of the related verses)

There are lessons to be drawn by every Muslim and every human being from those verses.

Yes, Allah the Glorious gives us such examples in order to facilitate comprehension for us and realize our thoughts; and He sheds light upon our minds and keeps the door of mercy open for us.

Questions on Islam

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