63 - Al Munafiqun (The hypocrites)

6 Tafsir(s) related to verse 63.1


When the hypocrites come to you they say, with their tongues, in contradiction of what is in their hearts: ‘We bear witness that you are indeed the Messenger of God.’ And God knows that you are indeed His Messenger, and God bears witness, He knows, that the hypocrites truly are liars, in what they conceal, that which is contrary to what they say.


…and God bears witness that the hypocrites truly are liars.He said:[This was] because they affirmed with their tongues what their hearts did not acknowledge. This is why He named them hypocrites. Whoever knows [the truth] with his heart and affirms it with his tongue, yet without any excuse does not perform with his bodily members (bi-arkānihi) that which God has made compulsory for him, is like Iblīs, may God curse him, who knew it [the truth] and affirmed it, but did not act upon His commandments.He further said:Hypocrisy (nifāq) is of two kinds: [one is] a belief (ʿaqd) held in the heart which is contradicted outwardly on the tongue, just as He has said, Exalted is He: They say with their tongues what is not in their hearts [48:11]; the other is the hypocrisy of the natural self (nafs al-ṭabʿ) towards the person to whom it belongs, and this was referred to by the Prophet when he said, ‘The hidden association [idolatry] (shirk) in my community is more hidden than the crawling of an ant across a boulder on a dark night.’ His words, Exalted is He:

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.)

Kashf Al-Asrar

When the hypocrites come to thee they say, “We bear witness that thou art indeed the Messenger of God.”

On the first day in the era of the Beginningless He sent the diver of power into the ocean of Adam's loins to bring out the night-brightening pearls and the black beads to the shore of existence. There were both faithful and hypocrites, and just as He brought forth the faithful, so also He brought forth the hypocrites. But with His bounty He kept the faithful at the front of the hall of exaltedness on the carpet of gentleness, without bias; and with His justice He kept the hypocrites in the back with the shoes beneath the carpet of severity and abasement, without iniquity. He placed the crown of felicity on the heads of the faithful, and their portion of the Book was this: “So rejoice in your sale you have made to Him” [9:111]. He placed the bonds of abasement and the shackles of degradation on the feet of the hypocrites, and their portion of the Book came to be this: “Die in your rage!” [3:119]. This is why the Lord of the Worlds says, “Those-their portion of the Book will reach them” [7:37]. About the faithful He says, “in a seat of truthfulness, at an Omnipotent King” [54:55], and about the hypocrites He says, “in the lowest reach of the Fire” [4:145].

Be as your luck lets you be, I'll be as my lot allows.

Tomorrow in the courtyards of the resurrection the hypocrites will ride on the coattails of the faithful and will go with their brightness until they reach the Narrow Path. Then the faithful will go ahead and cross over the bridge with the light of their faith and self-purification. The unbelief and hypocrisy of the hypocrites will seize their skirts so that they remain in darkness and bewilderment. They will call out, “Wait for us so that we may borrow some of your light” [57:13]. They will ask for light and brightness from the faithful, but the faithful will respond, “Turn back behind and request a light” [57:13], that is, “'Turn back to the decree of the Beginningless and seek light from the apportioning.' Seek for the light from the decree of the Beginningless, not from us.”

Anyone who is given light was given it on that day. Anyone left aside was left aside on that day. And he to whom God assigns no light has no light. [24:40]. When God desires ugliness for a people, none can repel it [13:11]. “Surely a man may do the deeds of the folk of the Garden while in God's eyes he is one of the folk of the Fire, or he may do the deeds of the folk of the Fire while in God's eyes he is one of the folk of the Garden.” In fear of this station, the hearts and livers of all the great ones of the Tariqah have burned. He put into effect what was precedent as He knew, and He laid down the outcome as He wanted. How many seclusions of the great ones has He struck with fire! How many haystacks of obedience has He given to the wind! How many livers of the sincerely truthful has He ground to dust under the millstone of the decree!

There are thousands upon thousands of realms in this road, but the portion of the ill-fortuned is nothing but dismissal. When wretchedness turns its face toward a man, he may have filled earth and heaven with striving, but that will have no profit for him.

Do not suppose that wretchedness lies in unbelief. On the contrary, unbelief lies in wretch-edness. And do not suppose that felicity lies in the religion. On the contrary, the religion lies in felicity. The dog of the Companions of the Cave had the vileness of unbelief, and the robe of Balaam Beor had the embroidery of the religion. But felicity and wretchedness were waiting in ambush from both directions. When good fortune showed itself, that dog's hide covered Balaam's face, for it was said, “So his likeness is the likeness of a dog” [7:176]. And Balaam's cloak was put on that dog, for it was said, “They were three, and the fourth of them was their dog” [18:22]. The haystack of obedience is given over to the wind of unneediness at the moment of the soul's extraction, for We shall advance upon what work they have done and make it scattered dust [25:23]. There is many a flourishing breast that turns into ruins in the state of death's agonies, for there will appear to them from God that with which they had never reckoned [39:47].

There is many a face that is turned away from the kiblah in the grave. There is many a familiar called a stranger on the first night. To one it is said, “Sleep the sleep of a bride.” To another it is said, “Sleep the sleep of the ill-fated.” The explanation of one is Their mark is on their faces, the trace of the prostration [48:29]. The mark of the other is The offenders will be recognized by their mark [55:41]. “Do not be deluded by the praise of the people, for surely the outcome is obscure.”

My poor heart-it knows a lot,

but it falls short in knowledge of the outcome.

Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi - Tafhim al-Qur'an

That is, "Although the thing they. are uttering with the tongue is true by itself, it does not reflect their belief. Therefore they lie when they say that they bear witness that you are a Messenger of Allah." Here, one should clearly understand that an evidence or witness is composed of two things: first, the actual thing to which one bears the witness; second, the concerned person's own belief about the thing to which he bears the witness, Now, if the thing by itself is true and the belief of the bearer of witness also corresponds to what he says, he will be truthful in every respect. And if the thing in itself is false; but the beater of the witness believes it to be right and true, he will be regarded as truthful in one way, for he is truthful in expressing his belief, and liar in another way, for the thing he is bearing witness to is by itself false. Contrary to this, if the thing by itself is true but the belief of the bearer of the witness is opposed to it, he will be regarded as truthful because he is testifying to the right thing, and a liar because his own belief is contrary to what he is saying with the tongue. For instance, if a Believer states that Islam is a taste religion, he is truthful in every respect, but if a Jew, while he is steadfast in his Judaism, states the same thing, he would be stating the right thing but his evidence would be regarded as false, for he is testifying against his faith and belief. And if he calls it a false religion, he would be uttering a false thing but he would be beating a true witness according to his belief.

That is, they use the oaths that they swear to convince others of their Islam and faith as a shield to save themselves from the wrath of the Muslims so that they do not treat them as they treat their open enemies.

These oaths may imply the oaths which they usually swear to convince others of their faith as well as those which they swore when they were caught committing some hypocritical act, and also those oaths which 'Abdullah bin Ubayy had sworn to contradict the report given by Hadrat Zaid bin Arqam. Besides these, there is another probability that Allah might have regarded this statement of theirs as an oath: "We bear witness that you are Allah's Messenger." This last probability has given rise to a dispute among the jurists, namely: If a person states something with the words: "I bear witness," will it be regarded as an oath or not? Imam Abu Hanifah and his companions (except Imam Zufar), Imam Sufyan Thauri and Imam Auza'i regard it as an oath (Yamin in the Shari'ah terminology). Imam Zufar says that it is not an oath. Two sayings from Imam Malik have been reported in this connection: first" that it is an oath absolutely, and second, that if while saying: "I bear witness," his intention was to say: “My God, I bear witness," or "I bear witness before God," it would he a statement on oath, otherwise not. Imam Shafe'i says: 'Even if the person says the words: "I bear witness before God." it would not be a statement made on oath, unless he uttered these words with the intention of swearing an oath," (AI-Jassas_, Ahkam al-Qur an; Ibn al'.Arabi. Ahkam al-Qur an).

The verb sadd in Arabic is transitive as well as intransitive. Therefore, saddu 'an sabil-Allah means; "They turn away from the Way of Allah," as well as: 'they turn others away from the Way of Allah." According to the first meaning the verse would 'mean: "By means of these oaths they first plant themselves firmly among the Muslims and then invent ways to escape fulfilling demands of the faith and to avoid obedience to Allah and His Messenger. " According to the second meaning it would mean: "They use their false oaths as a cover for committing evil deeds. Posing as Muslims they weaken the Muslim community from within: find out the secrets of the Muslims and convey these to their enemies, create doubts about Islam among the non-Muslims and use such devices for inspiring the simple Muslims with evil suggestions which a hypocrite in the guise of a Muslim only could do, for an open enemy of Islam cannot use them.

In this verse "believing" means professing the faith in order to be counted among Muslims, and 'disbelieving" means not to believe sincerely and to persist in disbelief as usual. The verse means to say that when they, after due thought, decided to adopt this hypocritical attitude instead of adopting either belief or disbelief plainly, Allah caused a seal to be set on their hearts and deprived them of the grace to adopt the attitude and conduct of a true, sincere and noble person. Now, their power of understanding has been lost, their moral sense has become dead, and while following this way they never even feel that their habit of always telling lies, their deceitful behavior and the ever present contradictions between their word and deed is a wretched state in which they have involved themselves.

This is one of those verses in which the meaning of ';causing a seal to be set on the heart of somebody by Allah" has been made clear. These people did not become hypocrites because Allah.had set a seal on their hearts; so faith did not enter them, and they became hypocrites under compulsion. But, in fact, Allah set a seal on their hearts only when they decided to persist in disbelief in spite of professing the faith outwardly. Then, they were deprived of the capacity to believe sincerely and of the grace of the moral attitude resulting from it. and were helped to persist in the hypocrisy and hypocritical morals, which they had chosen to adopt for themselves.

Tanwîr al-Miqbâs min Tafsîr Ibn ‘Abbâs

And from his narration on the authority of Ibn 'Abbas that he said regarding the interpretation of Allah's saying (When the hypocrites come unto thee): '(When the hypocrites come unto thee (O Muhammad)) when the hypocrites of Medina, 'Abdullah Ibn Ubayy, Mu'attib Ibn Qushayr and Jadd Ibn Qays-who were cousins-come to you, (they say: We bear witness) we swear by Allah (that thou art) O Muhammad (indeed Allah's messenger) we know this and are conscious of it. (And Allah knoweth) and Allah bears witness (that thou art) O Muhammad (indeed His messenger) without the need for the testimony of the hypocrites, (and Allah beareth witness) and Allah knows (that the Hypocrites are speaking falsely) that the hypocrites lie in their oath, because they do not know it nor are their hearts conscious of it.