74. Then after that your hearts were hardened and became as stones or even worse in hardness. And indeed, there are stones out of which rivers gush forth, and indeed, there are of them (stones) which split asunder so that water flows from them, and indeed, there are of them (stones) which fall down for fear of Allah. And Allah is not unaware of what you do.
Allah criticized the Children of Israel because they witnessed the tremendous signs and the Ayat of Allah, including bringing the dead back to life, yet,
(Then after that your hearts were hardened).
So their hearts were like stones that never become soft. This is why Allah forbade the believers from imitating the Jews when He said,
(Has not the time come for the hearts of those who believe (in the Oneness of Allah ـ Islamic Monotheism) to be affected by Allah's Reminder (this Qur'an), and that which has been revealed of the truth, lest they become as those who received the Scripture (the Tawrah) and the Injil (Gospel)) before (i.e. Jews and Christians), and the term was prolonged for them and so their hearts were hardened And many of them were Fasiqun (the rebellious, the disobedient to Allah)) (57:16). v In his Tafsir, Al-`Awfi said that Ibn `Abbas said, "When the dead man was struck with a part of the cow, he stood up and became more alive than he ever was. He was asked, `Who killed you' He said, `My nephews killed me.' He then died again. His nephews said, after Allah took his life away, `By Allah! We did not kill him' and denied the truth while they knew it. Allah said,
(And became as stones or even worse in hardness). ''
And by the passage of time, the hearts of the Children of Israel were unlikely to accept any admonishment, even after the miracles and signs they withnessed. Their hearts became harder than stones, with no hope of ever softening. Sometimes, springs and rivers burst out of stones, some stones split and water comes out of them, even if there are no springs or rivers around them, sometimes stones fall down from mountaintops out of their fear of Allah. Muhammad bin Ishaq narrated that Ibn `Abbas said that,
(And indeed, there are stones out of which rivers gush forth, and indeed, there are of them (stones) which split asunder so that water flows from them, and indeed, there are of them (stones) which fall down for fear of Allah), means, "Some stones are softer than your hearts, they acknowledge the truth that you are being called to,
(And Allah is not unaware of what you do).''
Some claimed that the Ayat mentioned the stones being humble as a metaphor. However, Ar-Razi, Al-Qurtubi and other Imams said that there is no need for this explanation, because Allah creates this characteristic - humbleness - in stones. For instance, Allah said,
(Truly, We did offer Al-Amanah (the trust) to the heavens and the earth, and the mountains, but they declined to bear it and were afraid of it (i.e. afraid of Allah's torment)) (33:72),
(The seven heavens and the earth and all that is therein, glorify Him) (17:44),
(And the stars and the trees both prostrate themselves (to Allah)) (55:6),
(Have they not observed things that Allah has created: (how) their shadows incline) (16:48),
(They both said: "We come willingly.'') (41:11),
(Had We sent down this Qur'an on a mountain) (59:21), and,
(And they will say to their skins, "Why do you testify against us'' They will say: "Allah has caused us to speak.'') (41:21).
It is recorded in the Sahih that the Prophet said,
(This (Mount Uhud) is a mount that loves us and that we love.)
Similarly, the compassion of the stump of the palm tree for the Prophet as confirmed in authentic narrations. In Sahih Muslim it is recorded that the Prophet said,
(I know a stone in Makkah that used to greet me with the Salam before I was sent. I recognize this stone now.)
He said about the Black Stone that,
(On the Day of Resurrection it will testifiy for those who kiss it.)
There are several other texts with this meaning. The scholars of the Arabic language disagreed over the meaning of Allah's statement,
(And became as stones or even worse in hardness) after agreeing that `or' here is not being used to reflect doubt. Some scholars said that `or' here means, `and'. So the meaning becomes, "As hard as stones, and harder.'' For instance, Allah said,
(And obey not a sinner or a disbeliever among them) (76:24), and,
(To cut off all excuses or to warn) (77:6).
Some other scholars said that `or' here means, `rather'. Hence, the meaning becomes, `As hard as stones. Rather, harder.' For instance, Allah said,
(A section of them fear men as they fear Allah or even more) (4:77),
(And We sent him to a hundred thousand (people) or even more) (37:147), and,
(And was at a distance of two bows' length or (even) nearer) (53:9).
Some other scholars said that this Ayah means their hearts are only of two types, as hard as stone or harder than stone. Further, Ibn Jarir commented that this Tafsir means that some of their hearts are as hard as stone and some hearts are harder than stone. Ibn Jarir said that he favored this last Tafsir, although the others are plausible. I - Ibn Kathir - say that the last Tafsir is similar to Allah's statement,
(Their likeness is as the likeness of one who kindled a fire) (2:17), and then His statement,
(Or like a rainstorm from the sky) (2:19).
It is also similar to Allah's statement,
(As for those who disbelieved, their deeds are like a mirage in a desert) (24:39), and then His statement,
(Or (the state of a disbeliever) is like the darkness in a vast deep sea) (24:40).
This then means that some of them are like the first example, and some others are like the second example. Allah knows best.