ف۪ي قُلُوبِهِمْ مَرَضٌ فَزَادَهُمُ اللّٰهُ مَرَضًا
“In the very center of their hearts is a sickness, and God has increased them in sickness. For them is a painful punishment because they habitually lie.” (Al-Baqarah 2:10)
Some interpreters of the Qur’ān interpret the expression, “God has in-creased them in sickness,” in relation to the ruling: “the punishment is in keeping with the crime.” However, it would be more fitting to understand this expression as follows: “God has increased them in sickness,” not only because their intentions are filled with evil but also because they put these intentions into action whenever they have the opportunity. The results are that the more evils they commit, the greater their sickness becomes, ending in a vicious cycle. Evil intentions that cannot be uprooted from the heart, or worse, if the person does not even intend to get rid of such evil intentions, they generate other evil thoughts and deeds; this is how the hypocrite is ruined. Thus, it is more reasonable to interpret the second half of this verse—“God has increased them in sickness”—as the natural consequence of such a vicious cycle.
Just as good health is our essential nature and illnesses are acci-dental, we are born with a sound disposition (to good); spiritual illnesses are also accidental. Those who neglect to take care of the health of their hearts or to impose quarantine conditions will find that this divine faculty has been infected by viruses. There are diverse paths that open from one error to another, from one wrongdoing to a more grievous sin, which may even lead to unbelief, the greatest sin of all. A small diversion at the center may end up at an unimaginably wide angle on the periphery.
If the illness in the heart is a corruption or suspicion in faith, this is potential unbelief or denial; if the chains that extend from sin to unbelief are not broken through Divine help then such a sin is likely to end up in denial and unbelief. Sometimes, such hypocrites, who are doubtful about everything that extends from God to their souls, feel as if everyone is suffering in the claws of the same illness, aggravating their inner anguish. This, in turn, burdens them with more layers of doubt and denial, and they writhe in the pain of the tides of their souls; they are choked by the numerous afflictions they have conceived in their imagination, one heaped upon another, for they consider everyone to be as faithless, inconsiderate, and unreliable as themselves.