The Veil over the Hearts of the Idolators
Allah says to His Messenger Muhammad : `When you recite Qur’an to these idolators, We put an invisible veil between you and them.’ Qatadah and Ibn Zayd said, “It is coverings over their hearts,” as Allah says:
(And they say: “Our hearts are under coverings (screened) from that to which you invite us; and in our ears is deafness, and between us and you is a screen) meaning, there is something that is stopping and preventing your words from reaching us.
(an invisible veil.) meaning something which covers, or that cannot be seen, so there is a barrier between them and guidance. This is the interpretation that Ibn Jarir (may Allah have mercy on him) thought was correct. Al-Hafiz Abu Ya`la Al-Mawusili recorded that Asma’ bint Abi Bakr (may Allah be pleased with her) said, “When the Ayah,
(Perish the two hands of Abu Lahab and perish he!) (111:1) was revealed, the one-eyed woman Umm Jamil the wife of Abu Lahab came with a stone pestle in her hand, screaming, `What was sent to us is somebody blameworthy, or, we reject somebody blameworthy Abu Musa – one of the narrators – said, it is I who am not sure what was said; we shun his religion and disobey whatever he commands!’ The Messenger of Allah was sitting with Abu Bakr by his side. Abu Bakr, may Allah be pleased with him, said, `This woman has come and I am afraid she will see you.’ The Prophet said,
(Certainly she will not see me.) and he recited Qur’an through which he was protected from her:
(And when you recite the Qur’an, We put between you and those who believe not in the Hereafter, an invisible veil). She came and found Abu Bakr, but she did not see the Prophet . She said, `O Abu Bakr, I have heard that your companion is lampooning me.’ Abu Bakr said, `No, by the Lord of this House the Ka`bah, he is not lampooning you.’ Then she went away, saying, `The Quraysh know that I am the daughter of their master.”‘
(And We have put coverings over their hearts,) Akinnah (coverings) is the plural of Kinan, which covers the heart.
(lest they should understand it,) means, lest they should understand the Qur’an.
(and in their ears deafness) something that will stop them from hearing the Qur’an in such a way that they will understand it and be guided by it.
(And when you make mention of your Lord Alone in the Qur’an,) means, when you declare Allah to be One in your recitation, and say La Ilaha Illallah,
(they turn) means they turn away
(on their backs, fleeing in extreme dislike.) As Allah says:
(And when Allah Alone is mentioned, the hearts of those who believe not in the Hereafter are filled with disgust (from the Oneness of Allah).) 39:45 z
(And when you make mention of your Lord Alone in the Qur’an,) Commenting on this Ayah, Qatadah said that when the Muslims said La Ilaha Illallah, the idolators disliked this and found it intolerable. Iblis and his troops hated it, but Allah insisted on supporting it so that it would prevail over those who opposed it. Whoever uses it against his opponent will prevail, and whoever fights for it will be victorious. Only the Muslims of the Arabian Peninsula, which can be traversed by a rider in a few nights, knew it and accepted it, out of all mankind.