Does your body ever testify against you?

Mine does.  You’ve eaten too much again.  These stairs are winding you because I was made to move around not sit at a desk.  You can’t play your iPod so loud and assume I’ll be able to hear just as well.  Your late nights staying up reading are making these old eyes weak.  My joints protest under too much weight and not enough exercise.  Yeah, my body talks to me! 

Of course, none of this is anything as serious as what today’s new surah is talking about.  Still I see its intriguing point: the body can testify against a person. 

The message is the now familiar one: disbelievers, you’ve had a chance.  You can’t thumb your nose at God and think there will be no punishment.  You’ve had plenty of warning.  Today, this surah approaches this common refrain in a new way: a very physical, bodily way. 

This surah is chock full of words associated with the senses, especially the senses of hearing, sight, and touch:

  • solid (41:10)
  • smoke (41:11)
  • beautiful (41:12)
  • blast (41:13)
  • roaring wind (41:16)
  • taste (41:16, 50)
  • trample (41:29)
  • see (41:39)
  • touch (41:42, 49, 51)
  • show (41:53)

The point here is plain: you should have heard, seen, and felt the reality of the presence of God.  How could you not? 

No, they “do not hear” (41:4).  They have “encased their hearts” so thy cannot feel and made their ears to “heavy” to hear (41:5).  They “preferred blindness” (41:17) and refused to “listen” to the Quran (41:26).  But their ears are “heavy” and “they are blind” to the truth (41:44).   

So now the disbelievers’ bodies will testify against them:

On the Day when God’s enemies are gathered up for the Fire and driven onward, their ears, eyes, and skins will, when they reach it, testify against them for their misdeeds.  They will say to their skins, “Why did you testify against us?” and their skins will reply, “God, who gave speech to everything, has given us speech — it was He who created you the first time and to Him you have been returned — yet you did not try to hide yourselves from your ears, eyes, and skin to prevent them from testifying against you.” (41:19-22)

To these people who have refused to let their bodies sense the reality of God, His punishment will be unmistakably physical, just like God did years ago to others like them:

We let a roaring wind loose on them for a few disastrous days to make them taste the punishment of shame in this world; more shameful still will be the punishment of the life to come, and they will not be helped. (41:16)