He repeated this with each sentence of this verse until the end of it’ ”. This was narrated Muslim from Abu Bakr ibn Abi Shaybah from Waki‘. The commentators of the Qur’an said: “When the verse (and whether ye make known what is in your minds or hide, Allah will bring you to account for it) was revealed, Abu Bakr, ‘Umar, ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn ‘Awf, Mu‘adh ibn Jabal and a group from the Helpers all went to the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace. They kneeled down and then said: ‘O Messenger of Allah! By Allah no other revealed verse of the Qur’an is harder on us than this one. One of us speaks to himself with things that he does not like to remain in his heart even in exchange for the world and all that it contains. And now we are taken to task for the things that we speak to our own selves. By Allah, we are doomed’. The Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, said: ‘This is how it was revealed!’ They said: ‘We are ruined; we have been bound by that which we cannot possibly bear’. The Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, said: ‘Are you going to say as the Children of Israel said to Moses (We hear and we rebel!); say rather: We hear and we obey’. They said: ‘We hear and we obey’. This was extremely hard on them, and they remained in this situation for a year upon which Allah, exalted is He, sent down relief and repose with His saying (Allah tasketh not a soul beyond its scope…) which abrogated the verse before it. The Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, said: ‘Allah has pardoned my community for the things with which they speak to themselves as long as they do not act upon them or speak about them to others’ ”.
Asbab Al-Nuzul by Al-Wahidi , trans. Mokrane Guezzou