Verses from Surah Al-Hajj (45 – 51)

[45] So, how many a township We destroyed which was given to wrongdoing!? So (there) it is fallen on its roofs,87 and wells lying idle,88 and castles well-built.89  

Commentary

87. “The roof fell in first, and the whole structure, walls and all, came tumbling after, as happens in ruins. The place was turned upside down (Yusuf Ali).

88. Wells were always a place most frequented in older times. You knew the strength of a village, from the strength of people turning up at the wells (Au.).

89. The understanding of Mujahid, `Ikrimah, `Ataa’, and others is reflected in the translation. They said it means “plastered.” That is, well built. But Qatadah and Dahhak said that it meant “lofty” (Ibn Jarir).

[46] Do they not journey through the land, so that they might have hearts that they think thereby,90 or ears they hear thereby, for, it is not sights that go blind, but rather, hearts that are in the breasts that go blind. 

Commentary

90. Qurtubi has attributed to Abu Hanifah, although he seems to doubt the authenticity, that the mind is the main reasoning organ. Obviously, he was right, but how did he arrive at that conclusion is not easy to answer.

As if Abu Haneefa’s opinion is not enough of a surprise, at a time when there were no electrodes to be attached to the brain in the laboratories to measure the activities of the brain, Shawkani’s conjectures is all the more surprising. He says that even if the actual process of reasoning takes place in the brain, the signals could be going from the heart – just as the signals go from the ear, but actual hearing is done by the brain. Latest scientific findings have vindicated Shawkani’s conjecture made at a time when the scientists were unanimous that brain is the only organ that thinks.

The Heart is also a Brain

The surprise finding of this century is that heart has its own brain, complete with neurons, dendrites, axons, memory, thought processes, data handlers, and rest of the neuron paraphernalia.

Back in 60s neurophysiologists had discovered a neutral pathway and mechanism whereby input from the heart to the brain could ‘inhibit’ or ‘facilitate’ the brain’s electrical activity. Soon it was discovered that the heart is the most powerful generator of rhythmic information patterns in the human body. The conclusion was that as a critical nodal point in many of the body’s interacting systems, the heart is uniquely positioned as a powerful entry point into the communication network that connects body, mind, emotions, and spirit.

Amazingly, the neurons of the nervous system of the heart, numbering some 40,000, group together to form what could be called the ‘brains’ of the heart. They regulate and control cardiac functions of the heart, while they are responsible for functions like learning, memory (both short and long-term) and even ‘feel’ and ‘sense.’

Indeed, in some respects, the heart seems to be more powerful than the brain. Its electrical field is 60 times greater in amplitude than the electrical activity generated by the brain, and the magnetic field produced by the heart is more than 5,000 times greater in strength than the field generated by the brain. It is so strong that it can be detected with the help of magnetometers from the distance of a few meters from the body. This opens up the possibility of heart-to-heart transfer of information through heart-brain synchronization of two people when they interact.

After two decades of research, it is now firmly established that the brain in the head is not the only brain in the body. There are at least two others, one in the heart and another in the gut. In fact, the gut has many more neurons (about 100 million) but the brain in the heart seems to control higher human senses, perceptions, emotions and feelings. It can also ‘remember’ feelings associated with other people and alter the heart rhythm when people meet with each other. Thus, feelings such as of love, hatred, etc. reside precisely in the heart.

By 1991 research had advanced and for the first time the idea of “heart brain” was introduced by the scientists. By now it is firmly established that the heart has its own intrinsic nervous system that operates and processes information independently of the brain or the nervous system.

The specialists of this newest scientific discipline are called Neurocardiologists. They have discovered a profound communication link between the heart and the brain. And, what is surprising, they have discovered that although communications take place from both directions, more information is sent across by the heart to the brain than the other way round. The messages from the heart are sent to the brain through several pathways to an area called the ‘medulla,’ located in the stem of the brain.

This relatively new area on ongoing research is releasing study results almost weekly. The Institute of Heart Math has now published photographs of neurons in the heart–some taken with a confocal microscope. Researchers call these neurons “the little brain in the heart” (Au.).

[47] And they ask you to hasten the chastisement, while Allah will never fail in His promise.91 Verily, a day with your Lord is like a thousand years by your count.92

Commentary

91. Muslims – who wish things to hasten up – will do well to understand this verse. In Mawdudi’s words: “This refers to the ludicrous statement repeatedly made by the Makkan unbelievers to the effect that if Muhammad (peace be upon him) was indeed a Prophet sent by God, then why had his detractors not been visited by the scourge that ought to afflict those who deny a true Prophet?”

Further down he writes, “It is preposterous to think that the consequences of obeying or disobeying God’s injunctions can be observed instantly. If a nation is warned that a certain pattern of behavior it follows will prove catastrophic, it is absurd for them to retort that they have taken that course for the last ten, twenty, or fifty years, and still no calamity has befallen them. For it often takes not days, months or years, but centuries for the consequences of a people’s behavior to become fully evident.”

92. One might put forth here the Salaf’s understanding reflected in Asad’s words, “i.e., what men conceive of as ‘time’ has no meaning with reference to God, because He is timeless, without beginning and without end, so that ‘in relation to Him, one day and a thousand years are alike’ (Razi). Cf. 70: 4, where in the same sense, a ‘day’ is said to be equal to ‘fifty thousand years’, or the well-authenticated saying of the Prophet, ‘God says, “I am Time Absolute (Ad-Dahr)”.”

Accordingly, Ibn Kathir adds, Sa`d b. Abi Waqqas is recorded in Abu Da’ud that the Prophet said, “I hope that my Ummah will not be so insignificant with its Lord as to be denied an extra half a day. Sa`d was asked, “And what is half a day?” He replied, “Five hundred years.”

That is, Sa`d conjectured that the life of this Ummah is one day, where one day is equal to a thousand years. Further, its life-span has been extended by half a day, i.e. five hundred years. All in all, it works out to 1500 years. However, that was Sa`d’s own opinion. Interestingly, while we are in 1436, the unbelievers are saying – going by several factors – that this is perhaps the last century (Au.).

[48] And to how many a township I gave respite which was given to wrong-doing? Then I seized it, and to Me is the (final) destination.

[49] Say, ‘O people! I am unto you a plain warner.’

[50] Therefore, those who believed and worked righteous deeds, for them is forgiveness and a provision honorable.93 

Commentary

93. That is, ‘I am, O unbelievers, only a warner. It is not in my power to bring forward or push back the punishment, if you are destined to receive it’ (Tabari).

In Yusuf Ali’s words, “It is the Messenger’s duty to convey the warning in the clearest terms to the wicked. It is no part of his duty to coerce them or judge them, or bring on the Punishment for them. That only rests with Allah. But the warning itself is full of Mercy; for it gives the highest hope to the repentant sinner who turns and comes to Allah.

He also writes, “The sustenance must be construed in the widest sense, spiritual as well as intellectual and physical. The reward of righteousness is far more generous than any merit there may be in the creature following the Will of his Creator.”

[51] As for those who strive against Our revelations, seeking to frustrate (Our plan), they indeed are the companions of the blazing Fire.94

Commentary

94. Yusuf Ali comments, “It will not be in their power to frustrate Allah’s Plan; all they will do is to go further and further down in their spiritual state, deeper and deeper in their Hell.”

(To be continued)