What does the “sealing of hearts” mentioned in many verses of the Quran mean? How can a person whose heart is sealed be held responsible for not believing?

The Details of the Question

How can a person whose heart is sealed be recognized? Can such a person know his state? Is it possible to save that person, and if yes, how?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

The sealing of the heart is defined as a heart’s becoming hardened and blackened by unbelief and rebellion, making it unable to accept belief.

The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) states the following:

“With every sin, a black spot occurs in the heart.” (see Ibn Majah, Zuhd, 29)

The following is stated in a verse:

Allah forgiveth not that partners should be set up with Him; but He forgiveth anything else, to whom He pleaseth... (an-Nisa, 4/48)

According to what we understand from the hadith and verse above, the biggest blackness that darkens the heart is shirk (polytheism), that is, associating partners with Allah. If a person advocates shirk and engages in a struggle with believers on the issue, the blackness in his heart gets darker and larger day by day. It envelops the whole heart. It becomes almost impossible for that person to accept belief and tawhid (oneness). As Nursi puts it, “He becomes incapable of reform and unreceptive to good.”

The verse in question was revealed about the polytheists (mushriks) who opposed the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) and struggled against him. The complete domination of shirk in the hearts of those polytheists and leaving no room for tawhid is expressed as “sealing of the heart”.

Those for whom the door of guidance has been closed are the polytheists who reach that point. Otherwise, the door of guidance is closed for every person who commits sins, oppresses others, or engages in polytheism. Then, how can we explain the conversion of tens of thousands of people who used to worship idols to Islam in the Age of Bliss?

If the heart of every person who committed shirk had been sealed, no polytheist would have been able to embrace Islam. That is, those whose hearts are sealed are those whose return to tawhid has become impossible.

And they fall into that pit by misusing their own will.

We would like to mention a very important point briefly: In the Nur Collection, unbelief is examined in two parts: non-acceptance and denial. Regarding non-acceptance, that is, “not accepting the realities of belief” the following is stated: “It is indifference, a closing of the eyes to something, an ignorant absence of judgement.” In denial, on the other hand, it is a matter of advocating unbelief and trying to prove the wrong creed is in question. This second group is on the side of unbelief and fights against the people of belief. The sealing of the heart is generally in question for such people. We say “generally” because there are those who attained the right path and choose Islam among those people, though a few.

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Not everyone knows that the heart is sealed. A person who conveys the message of Islam cannot act with that prejudice.

Even if a person exits Islam or is an unbeliever, it is possible for him to become a Muslim as long as he lives in the world.

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