(… وَمِنْهُم مَّن يَسْتَمِعُ إِلَيْكَ) (And among them are those who listen to you,…): The Arabic word used in this verse meaning (listen) refers to when a person intentionally listens so that he can understand what is being said. For human beings, the sense of hearing is the first tool of perception. It is a tool which will never be absent, such that even when he is sleeping, he can hear but not see. Allah (swt) has said of the People of the Cave:
فَضَرَبْنَا عَلَى آذَانِهِمْ فِي الْكَهْفِ سِنِينَ عَدَدًا
(So We pitched a drowsy dead silence over their years in the great cave for a multitude of years) (Al-Kahf:11)
They slept for this very long time, as Allah (swt) had prevented the hearing mechanism from working. Thus, they did not hear the sounds of the atmosphere, the winds and the barking of the dogs around the cave. Therefore, in this verse, they intentionally listen to you in order to hear what you have to say of the Quranic verses. As Allah (swt) says in another verse:
وَمِنْهُم مَّن يَسْتَمِعُ إِلَيْكَ حَتَّى إِذَا خَرَجُوا مِنْ عِندِكَ قَالُوا لِلَّذِينَ أُوتُوا الْعِلْمَ مَاذَا قَالَ آنِفًا أُوْلَئِكَ الَّذِينَ طَبَعَ اللَّهُ عَلَى قُلُوبِهِمْ وَاتَّبَعُوا أَهْوَاءهُم
(There are some of them who listen to you (O Prophet), but when they depart from you, they say (mockingly) to those (believers) gifted with knowledge, “What did he just say?” These are the ones whose hearts Allah has sealed and who (only) follow their desires) (Muhammad: 16)
(… وَجَعَلْنَا عَلَىٰ قُلُوبِهِمْ أَكِنَّةً أَن يَفْقَهُوهُ … ) (…but We have placed over their hearts coverings, lest they understand it …): What is the connection between the hearing and the heart? We mentioned before that the heart is the control center for the human body and it is connected to the brain and all other parts of the body. It is also the center for sensations, feelings and emotions; thus, it can think and consider. So, when these people, as a result of their disbelief, wanted to listen carefully to the Quran in order to find anything at all they could use to cause confusion regarding it and to deny it, what did Allah (swt) do to them? The answer is here:
(… وَجَعَلْنَا عَلَىٰ قُلُوبِهِمْ أَكِنَّةً أَن يَفْقَهُوهُ … ) (…but We have placed over their hearts coverings, lest they understand it …): Here, it is as if the heart is the one which understands the Quran. And true enough, it has been proven scientifically today, that the heart is the container which contains understanding, as the Prophet (saws) has said:
“Beware! There is a piece of flesh in the body, if it becomes good (reformed) the whole body becomes good but if it gets spoilt the whole body gets spoilt, and that is the heart”
It is also the main body part, as mentioned in this verse:
أَفَلَا يَتَدَبَّرُونَ الْقُرْآنَ أَمْ عَلَى قُلُوبٍ أَقْفَالُهَا
(Do they not then reflect on the Quran? Or are there locks upon their hearts?) (Muhammad: 24)
He (swt) did not say, Locks upon their minds, but instead, upon their hearts. Therefore, this confirms what is found in this verse. Thus Allah (swt) casts veils over their hearts, leaving them unable to comprehend it.
(… وَفِي آذَانِهِمْ وَقْرًا ۚ… ) (…and in their ears deafness. …): Meaning, so it is as if they did not hear it.
( حَتَّىٰ إِذَا جَاءُوكَ يُجَادِلُونَكَ يَقُولُ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا إِنْ هَٰذَا إِلَّا أَسَاطِيرُ الْأَوَّلِينَ … ) (…Even when they come to you arguing with you, those who disbelieve say, “This is not but legends of the former peoples.”): They are enveloped; deafness in their ears and veils over their hearts, thus even if they saw the signs, there would be no depth in their understanding of the Quran, nor would the light of the Words of Allah (swt) be able to penetrate their hearts through these veils that have been placed by Allah (swt). So, they come and argue:
( إِنْ هَٰذَا إِلَّا أَسَاطِيرُ الْأَوَّلِينَ … ) (…“This is not but legends of the former peoples.”): The legends means ‘something which tells of wonders and strange things that are known to human beings.’ They had concealed in themselves beforehand that whatever it was that the Prophet (saws) said, he was a magician and liar. Thus, they fabricated many lies, as they did not want to believe and be burdened with responsibilities, nor did they want to discuss through proofs and evidence, as Allah (swt) says in the following verse:
وَقَالَ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا لَا تَسْمَعُوا لِهَذَا الْقُرْآنِ وَالْغَوْا فِيهِ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَغْلِبُونَ
(The disbelievers advised (one another), “Do not listen to this Quran but drown it out so that you may prevail.”) (Fussilat: 26)
In every time and period, there are those who want to create confusion regarding the Quran, whereas it has come with the truth, evidence and clear proofs.