لَوْ أَنْزَلْنَا هَٰذَا الْقُرْآنَ عَلَىٰ جَبَلٍ لَرَأَيْتَهُ خَاشِعًا مُتَصَدِّعًا مِنْ خَشْيَةِ اللَّهِ ۚوَتِلْكَ الْأَمْثَالُ نَضْرِبُهَا لِلنَّاسِ لَعَلَّهُمْ يَتَفَكَّرُونَ
Law anzalnā hādhal-qur’āna ‘alā jabalin laraytahu khāshi‘an mutasaddi‘an min khashyatillāh, watilkal-amthālu nadribuhā linnāsi la‘allahum yatafakkarūn
Had We sent down this Quran upon a mountain, you would have seen it humbled [and] go to pieces for fear of Allah. We draw such comparisons for mankind, so that they may reflect.
(Sūratِ al-Hashr, No.59, Āyat 21)
The power of the words of the Creator to influence the inner core of the created being is starkly portrayed in this verse. The example given is the mountain crumbling under the power of the Quran. It is a metaphor to illustrate the potential power of the Quran. If the mountain was a being that could receive the Quran, it would crumble under its weight, despite its firmness, strength and size. The fear and awe created would creep into it and splinter it into pieces. The human being who has received it and has the intellect to comprehend it is more worthy of undergoing that effect. It is strange that he not only remains unaffected by it but also opposes and rejects it.
The powerful impact of the Quran is due to the fact that it is the word of God who is in control of all things and has originated the universe. It is a conversation initiated by God Himself. It is also because of the weighty wisdom that lies within it, with its historical details, its rules for growth and perfection, its information of God and His qualities. Without the words from God Himself, who could have known Him? Thus we have been advised to say everyday: alhamdulillāhi-lladhī ‘arrafanī nafsahu, walam yaj‘alnī ‘umyānal-qalb – Praise be to God, Who made Himself known to me, and did not leave me blind of heart.
Note that the metaphor shows a gradual effect of the Quran. In the beginning it is humbled. As it becomes more receptive and perceives the greatness of the message, the mountain eventually crumbles up. The effect on human beings can be similar. Essentially it begins with respect. It is a formal relationship. As understanding develops and relationship with the Quran deepens, inner trepidation sweeps over the entire body, crumbling it from within. The sajdah is an outer manifestation of the plummeting within. The spontaneous prostrations mentioned in the Quran show this truth:
1. The prostration of the magicians overcome by the realization of the truth is a humbling and keeling down of the spirit within (Q 26:46).
2. The prostration of the family of Prophet Yusuf ‘alayhis salām is also a collapse of the inner spirit, overwhelmed by the vision of the power of God (12:100).
The language of the Quran speaks to the heart. Researchers who study religion as therapy and non-medical intervention for diseases find that listening to the Quran calms the spirit of the believer (see https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/
It is time that we humbled our hearts through the words of God; more so in the month of Ramadan when we do a lot of tilāwah. As Allah asks in the Quran: is it not time yet for those who have faith that their hearts should be humbled for Allah’s remembrance and toward the truth which has come down? (Q 57:12). As you prepare for the month of Ramadan and plan how you will increase your familiarity and closeness to the Quran, recite this verse often. Memorize it. Reflect on it. Repeat it each day. Think about it when you begin reciting the Quran. Seek refuge in God from hard heartedness, so you are not deprived of the impact of the Quran. Allow it to affect you. It will bring you much peace.
Sources: Shaykh Tabarsī, Tafsīr Majma’ul Bayan; Āyatullāh Nāsir Makārim Shirāzī (Ed), Tafsīr-e Namūneh;‘ ‘Allāmah Muhammad Husayn Tabātabā’ī, Tafsīr al-Mīzān