{Has the time not come for those who have believed that their hearts should become humbly submissive at the remembrance (that their hearts should submit to the admonition) of Allah and what has come down of the truth?[fn-A] And let them not be like those who were given the Scripture before[fn-B], and a long period passed over them, so their hearts hardened; and many of them are defiantly disobedient.} Sura 57, verse 16

Some Explanations of The Quranic Verse:

Has The Time Not Come?

For the hearts to become humble …

{Has the time not come …}
Sahl al-Tustari said in explanation of this verse:
”Is the time not ripe for them to feel humbled when they listen to the Reminder (the Quran), and witness what is promised and what is warned of, in a contemplative witnessing of the unseen (mushāhadat al-ghayb)?”

{… so their hearts became hardened…}
He said:
That is, through the pursuit of lust.

An illustration of the power of the Quran is the following story when Abu 'Ali al-Fudayl B. ‘Iyad, one of the wayfarers of the Sufis, and one of their most eminent and celebrated men, was struck by the above verse: {Has the time not come …}.

At first he used to practise brigandage between Merv and Baward, but he was always inclined to piety, and invariably showed a generous and magnanimous disposition, so that he would not attack a caravan in which there was any woman, or take the property of anyone whose stock was small; and he let the travellers keep a portion of their property according to the means of each. One day a merchant set out from Merv. His friends advised him to take an escort, but he said to them : ”I have heard that Fudayl is a God-fearing man,” and instead of doing as they wished he hired a Quran-reader and mounted him on a camel in order that he might read the Quran aloud day and night during the journey. When they reached the place where Fudayl was lying in ambush, the reader happened to be reciting:

{Has the time not come for those who have believed that their hearts should humbly submit to the admonition of Allah.} (Kor. 57-16).

Fudayl’s heart was softened. He repented of the business in which he was engaged, and having a written list of those whom he had robbed he satisfied all their claims upon him. Then he went to Mecca and resided there for some time and became acquainted with certain saints of God. Afterwards he returned to Kūfa, where he associated with Abū Hanīfa. He has handed down relations [ie. prophetic traditions] which are held in high esteem by Traditionists and he is the author of lofty sayings concerning the verities of Sufism and Divine Knowledge. It is recorded that he said:

”Whoever knows God as He ought to be known worships Him with all his might,”

because everyone who knows God acknowledges His bounty and beneficence and mercy, and therefore loves Him ; and since he loves Him he obeys Him so far as he has the power, for it is not difficult to obey those whom one loves. Accordingly, the more one loves, the more one is obedient, and love is increased by true knowledge. It is related that he said : ”The world is a madhouse, and the people therein are madmen, wearing shackles and chains.” Lust is our shackle and sin is our chain. KAM97/98

Maududi’s tafsīr (explanation) is as the following:

fn-A: ”Here again, the word ’believers’ is general, but it does not apply to all the Muslims [so here he divides among the Muslims]; it refers to those particular Muslims who had professed the faith verbally and joined the followers of the Holy Prophet ( sallAllahu `aleihi wa sallam ) though their hearts were devoid of any concern for Islam. [Muslims? - why then would Allah call them ”those who believe(d)”? Can Maududi know the hearts of Muslims? If they are not Muslims, then they are hypocrites.] They were watching that the pagan forces were bent upon wiping out Islam; they had encircled the bandful of Muslims from all sides, who were being made the targct of persecution everywhere in Arabia, and thus oppressed the Muslims …

[Maududi’s discussion is confusing. He is mostly concerned with identifying the different kinds of Muslims, superficial, hypocrite vs. the real, sincere Muslims.] Whereas this interpretation has its bearing, it is mostly relevant to times of stress and war, but the interpretation has a higher meaning than that, it is a universal truth, and therefore always valid as it describes the human situation.

In contrast Sahl al-Tustari's perspective is different. He is talking to ALL Muslims, for true belief has to enter the hearts of ALL Muslims. And as long as their hearts are occupied with something else - namely love of the world and lust towards it - belief, faith īman cannot enter wholeheartedly.]

fn-B: That is, "The Jews and Christians seem to have lost fervour and degenerated spiritually and morally hundreds of years after the passing away of their Prophets; but have you already become so depraved that while the Prophet is still present among you, and the Book of God is still being revealed, and not much time has passed over you since you affirmed the Faith, and you have started behaving like the Jews and Christians who have reached this state through centuries of playing aud temperirng with the Book of Allah and its verses ?"