7.7 The Overt and Covert of the Human Heart
A certain man who had been very badly tortured, broke down and told Quraysh whatever they wanted him to say. But in his heart he was of deep faith and was certain that the message Mohamed had brought was from the Lord of all creation. He felt devastated about what he had been forced to say and went to the Messenger in a pitiable plight, trembling lest what he had said under torture would jeopardize his relationship with his Lord. It was on this occasion that the following verses of the Koran were revealed:
"Those who deny Allah after belief, not he who is compelled while his heart is secure in faith, but those who are glad in their hearts to deny, upon them is the wrath of Allah and for them there is great torture." (16:106)
This verse affirms that it is the human heart that is of consequence. What a man is compelled to say under duress is not binding before Allah, what he harbors in his heart is what matters. A man is not only responsible for what he says, without being coerced, but for what he feels and thinks, for what his heart conceals. On the day of judgment nothing will be of any avail, neither money or children, nothing in fact except a pure heart.
"The day neither money nor children are of any benefit, except going to Allah with a sound heart." (26:88,89)
The word "sound" in Arabic means free from all blemish or impurity, hence sincere, pure, honest, righteous. It implies much.
"To Allah belongs all in the heavens and all on earth. Whether you reveal what is in your hearts or conceal it, Allah will take you to account for it. He forgives whom He will and punishes whom He will. Allah is able to do anything." (2:284)
While to Allah a statement or promise made under duress is not binding, the opposite tendency, that is to pretend belief is a very grave sin. It is hypocrisy to deny Allah inwardly and then to pretend to believe before people in order to appear better than what one, in reality, is. No wonder that hypocrites are assigned to the deepest fire of Jahannam. In this assessment of the behavior of men there is deep perception and justice.