63 - Al Munafiqun (The hypocrites)

4 Tafsir(s) related to verse 63.4

Al-Jalalayn

And when you see them, their figures please you, on account of their fairness; and if they speak, you listen to their speech, because of its eloquence. [Yet] they are, by virtue of the enormous size of their figures, [yet] in their lack of comprehension, like blocks of timber (read khushbun or khushubun) [that have been] propped-up, set reclining against a wall. They assume that every cry, made, like a battle-cry or one made to [retrieve] a lost camel, is [directed] against them, because of the [extent of] terror in their hearts, lest something should be revealed deeming their blood licit. They are the enemy, so beware of them, for they communicate your secrets to the disbelievers. May God assail them!, destroy them! How can they deviate?, how can they be turned away from faith after the proofs [for it] have been established?

Ibn Al Kathir

The Case of the Hypocrites and their Behavior

Allah the Exalted states that the hypocrites pretended to be Muslims when they went to the Prophet. In reality, they were not Muslims, but rather the opposite. This is why Allah the Exalted said,

إِذَا جَآءَكَ الْمُنَـفِقُونَ قَالُواْ نَشْهَدُ إِنَّكَ لَرَسُولُ اللَّهِ

(When the hypocrites come to you, they say: "We bear witness that you are indeed the Messenger of Allah.'') meaning, `when the hypocrites come to you, they announce this statement and pretend to believe in it.' Allah informs that there is no substance to their statement, and this is why He said,

وَاللَّهُ يَعْلَمُ إِنَّكَ لَرَسُولُهُ

(Allah knows that you are indeed His Messenger,) then said,

وَاللَّهُ يَشْهَدُ إِنَّ الْمُنَـفِقِينَ لَكَـذِبُونَ

(And Allah bears witness that the hypocrites are liars indeed.) meaning, their claims, even though it is true about the Prophet. But they did not believe inwardly in what they declared outwardly, and this is why Allah declared their falsehood about their creed. Allah's statement,

اتَّخَذْواْ أَيْمَـنَهُمْ جُنَّةً فَصَدُّواْ عَن سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ

(They have made their oaths a screen. Thus they hinder (others) from the path of Allah.) meaning, the hypocrites shield themselves from Muslims when they falsely and sinfully swear to be what they are not in reality. Some Muslims were deceived because they did not know their falsehood, and thus, thought that they were Muslims. Some Muslims believed what hypocrites say and even imitated them in their outward behavior. However, inwardly, hypocrites seek the destruction of Islam and its people, and this is why trusting them might bring great harm to many people. This is why Allah said next,

فَصَدُّواْ عَن سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ إِنَّهُمْ سَآءَ مَا كَانُواْ يَعْمَلُونَ

(Thus they hinder (others) from the path of Allah. Verily, evil is what they used to do.) Allah said,

ذَلِكَ بِأَنَّهُمْ ءَامَنُواّ ثُمَّ كَفَرُوا فَطُبِعَ عَلَى قُلُوبِهِمْ فَهُمْ لاَ يَفْقَهُونَ

(That is because they believed, and then disbelieved; therefore their hearts are sealed, so they understand not.) meaning, He has decreed them to be hypocrites because they reverted from faith to disbelief and exchanged guidance for misguidance. Therefore, Allah stamped and sealed their hearts and because of it, they cannot comprehend the guidance, nor any goodness can reach their hearts. Truly, their hearts neither understand, nor attain guidance. Allah said,

وَإِذَا رَأَيْتَهُمْ تُعْجِبُكَ أَجْسَـمُهُمْ وَإِن يَقُولُواْ تَسْمَعْ لِقَوْلِهِمْ

(And when you look at them, their bodies please you; and when they speak, you listen to their words.) meaning, hypocrites have a graceful outer appearance and are eloquent. When one hears them speak, he will listen to their eloquent words, even though hypocrites are truly weak and feeble, full of fear, fright and cowardice. Allah's statement,

يَحْسَبُونَ كُلَّ صَيْحَةٍ عَلَيْهِمْ

(They think that every cry is against them.) means, every time an incident occurs or something frightening happens, they think that it is headed their way. This is indicative of their cowardice, just as Allah said about them,

أَشِحَّةً عَلَيْكُمْ فَإِذَا جَآءَ الْخَوْفُ رَأَيْتَهُمْ يَنظُرُونَ إِلَيْكَ تَدورُ أَعْيُنُهُمْ كَالَّذِى يُغْشَى عَلَيْهِ مِنَ الْمَوْتِ فَإِذَا ذَهَبَ الْخَوْفُ سَلَقُوكُم بِأَلْسِنَةٍ حِدَادٍ أَشِحَّةً عَلَى الْخَيْرِ أوْلَـئِكَ لَمْ يُؤْمِنُواْ فَأَحْبَطَ اللَّهُ أَعْمَـلَهُمْ وَكَانَ ذَلِكَ عَلَى اللَّهِ يَسِيراً

(Being miserly towards you then when fear comes, you will see them looking to you, their eyes revolving like (those of) one over whom hovers death; but when the fear departs, they will smite you with sharp tongues, miserly towards good. Such have not believed. Therefore Allah makes their deeds fruitless and that is ever easy for Allah.) (33:19) They are shapes that do not have much substance, and this is why Allah said,

هُمُ الْعَدُوُّ فَاحْذَرْهُمْ قَاتَلَهُمُ اللَّهُ أَنَّى يُؤْفَكُونَ

(They are the enemies, so beware of them. May Allah curse them! How are they denying the right path) means, how they are being led astray to the misguidance, away from the guidance. Imam Ahmad recorded that Abu Hurayrah said that the Prophet said,

«إِنَّ لِلْمُنَافِقِينَ عَلَامَاتٍ يُعْرَفُونَ بِهَا: تَحِيَّتُهُمْ لَعْنَةٌ وَطَعَامُهُمْ نُهْبَةٌ وَغَنِيمَتُهُمْ غُلُولٌ لَا يَقْرَبُونَ الْمَسَاجِدَ إِلَّا هَجْرًا، وَلَا يَأْتُونَ الصَّلَاةَ إِلَّا دَبْرًا، مُسْتَكْبِرِينَ لَا يَأْلَفُونَ وَلَا يُؤْلَفُونَ، خُشُبٌ بِاللَّيْلِ صُخُبٌ بِالنَّهَارِ وفِي رِوَايَةٍ سُخُبٌ بِالنَّهَار»

(Hypocrites have certain signs that they are known by. Their greeting is really a curse, their food is from stealing and the war booty they collect is from theft. They shun the Masjid and they do not come to the prayer but at its end. They are arrogant; it is neither easy for them to blend in, nor it is easy for people to blend with them. They are like pieces of wood by night and are noisy by day.)

Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi - Tafhim al-Qur'an

Hadrat 'Abdullah bin 'Abbas has stated that 'Abdullah bin Ubayy was a strongly built, healthy, handsome and smooth-tongued person, and the same was the case with most of his companions. They were all the nobles of Madinah. When they came to sit in the Holy Prophet's assembly, they would sit reclining on cushions against the walls and would talk agreeably and convincingly. From their outward appearance and manner of speech no one could imagine that those honorable people of the city would be so wretched and degraded in their character.

That is, "Those who sit reclining on cushions against the walls, are not but but pieces of timber. Comparing them to timber is meant to imply that they are devoid of the moral sense which is the essence of humanity Then by comparing them to blocks of timber propped up against the wall, it has also been pointed out that they are absolutely worthless, for the timber would be useful only when it has been utilized in making of a ceiling, or a door frame, or a piece of furniture. A block of timber that has just been placed against a wall serves no useful purpose at all."

This brief sentence portrays the state of their guilty conscience. Since they fully well knew what game of hypocrisy they were playing tinder the screen of their superficial faith, they always remained in a state of alarm, thinking as to when the secret of their treason might be exposed, or the believers might feel disgusted with their evil deeds and machinations and take them co task for them. If ever a cry was raised anywhere in the city, or a noise was heard; they immediately grew alarmed and thought it was directed against themselves.

In other words, these hidden enemies are more dangerous than the open enemies.

That is, "Do not be deceived by their outward appearances. Beware of them, for they can deceive you at any moment. "

This is not a curse but a declaration of the verdict about them by Allah that they have become worthy of His punishment and He will certainly inflict His punishment on them. It is also possible that Allah may not have used these words in their literal sense but in the meaning of a curse and condemnation according to Arabic idiom.

It has not been pointed out as to who perverts them from belief to hypocrisy. This by itself makes it clear that there is not one but many factors responsible for their perversion. There is Satan, there are their evil friends, and there are their own selfish motives. Someone's wife or children become his motive, and someone is driven to perversion by the evil ones in his society, or by jealousy, spite and pride.

Tanwîr al-Miqbâs min Tafsîr Ibn ‘Abbâs

(And when thou) O Muhammad (seest them) i.e. 'Abdullah Ibn Ubayy and his two friends (their figures please thee) their bodies and appearance please you; (and if they speak) saying: we know you are Allah's Messenger (thou givest ear unto their speech) you believe what they say and think they are truthful while they are not. ((They are)) i.e. their bodies are (as though they were blocks of wood in striped cloaks) aligned against the wall; He says: there is no goodness or light in their hearts just as dry wood has no life or moistness in it. (They deem every shout) every noise in Medina (to be against them) because of their cowardice. (They are the enemy, so beware of them) and never feel safe from them. (Allah confound them) Allah cursed them! (How they are perverted!) How they lie; it is also said this means: how they turn people away through lies!