deaf, to the truth, so that they cannot hear it and accept it; dumb, mute as regards goodness, unable to speak of it; and, blind, to the path of guidance, so that they cannot perceive it; they shall not return, from error.
deaf, dumb, blind, in reality because of their hearts being veiled from the light of the intellect by which they hear the truth, utter it and see it. Outwardly, because of their not being beneficial, given that the paths from those sense to the heart are blocked and given the locus of the veil, the light of the heart does not reach them so that they might have preserved their benefits; nor do its perceptions touch the heart so that they might understand and take heed; they shall not return, to God because of the two barriers set upon their hearts, [the two barriers] mentioned in His statement and We have set before them a barrier and behind them a barrier [Q. 36:9]. The use of the simile lies in depicting what is intellectual in tangible form that it might find visible expression in the souls of the common folk. He then likens them to a people who are struck by rain amidst darkness, thunder and lightning: rain is the descent of the divine revelation and the arrival of [divine] mercy as assistance to them through the blessedness of the companionship of the believers and the remainder of their preparedness that might benefit their hearts even minimally; and [the rain] is also the materialisation for them of outward graces consistent with their wishes outwardly. The darknesses are the ego-centric attributes and the imaginal and illusory doubts and the satanic whisperings that bewilder them and fill them with anxiety. Thunder is the divine fulmination and the overwhelmingly powerful threat [of chastisement] mentioned in the QurÌān, its verses and the aurally and visually received reports, that which frightens them and results in the smallest breaking of their insolent hearts and a defeat of their rejecting souls. Lightning is the luminous flashes and the spiritual alerts upon hearing the promise [of reward] and being reminded of the favours and blessings that which entices them and gives them hope [of salvation] and thus profits them with a small yearning and sways them to [hope for] the granting [of their supplications].
Allah likened the hypocrites when they bought deviation with guidance, thus acquiring utter blindness, to the example of a person who started a fire. When the fire was lit, and illumnitated the surrounding area, the person benefited from it and felt safe. Then the fire was suddenly extinguished. Therefore, total darkness covered this person, and he became unable to see anything or find his way out of it. Further, this person could not hear or speak and became so blind that even if there were light, he would not be able to see. This is why he cannot return to the state that he was in before this happened to him. Such is the case with the hypocrites who preferred misguidance over guidance, deviation over righteousness. This parable indicates that the hypocrites first believed, then disbelieved, just as Allah stated in other parts of the Qur'an.
ذَهَبَ اللَّهُ بِنُورِهِمْ
(Allah removed their light) means, Allah removed what benefits them, and this is the light, and He left them with what harms them, that is, the darkness and smoke. Allah said,
وَتَرَكَهُمْ فِي ظُلُمَـتٍ
(And left them in darkness), that is their doubts, disbelief and hypocrisy.
((So) they could not see) meaning, they are unable to find the correct path or find its direction. In addition, they are,
(deaf) and thus cannot hear the guidance,
(dumb) and cannot utter the words that might benefit them,
(and blind) in total darkness and deviation. Similarly, Allah said,
(Verily, it is not the eyes that grow blind, but it is the hearts which are in the breasts that grow blind) (22:46) and this why they cannot get back to the state of guidance that they were in, since they sold it for misguidance.
Maududi - Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi - Tafhim al-Qur'an
The parable means that when a person, Muhammad (Allah's peace be upon him), spread the light of Truth that discriminated right from wrong and virtue from vice, those who used their faculties properly began to distinguish between these things. But the hypocrites, who were blinded by self-interest, could not see the right path even with the help of this light. "Allah took away the light from their eyes" should not cause one the misunderstanding that the responsibility of not seeing the truth did not lie on them. Allah deprives of the sight only him who is not himself a seeker after truth, who chooses error for himself instead of guidance, who shuts his eyes to the truth. When they themselves turned away from the light of truth and chose to wander only in the darkness of falsehood, Allah also let them go astray.
"Deaf" to hear the Truth, "dumb" to speak the Truth and "blind" to see the Truth.
By thrusting their fingers into their ears, they delude themselves for a while that they have escaped destruction. But they cannot, in fact, save themselves because Allah, with all His powers, is encircling them on all sides.
The first parable depicts those hypocrites who in their inmost hearts did not believe in Islam at all, but had become 'Muslims' for the sake of self-interest or expediency. The second parable gives a description of those hypocrites who were suffering from doubt, suspicion and lack of faith. Though they were not wholly unbelievers, they practised Islam only to the extent which might not involve them in trouble. In this parable rainfall stands for Islam which came as a blessing to humanity; pitch darkness, thunder and lightning stand for the impending obstacles, the threatening dangers and the glaring difficulties which were being experienced on account of the strong resistance from the opponents of Islam. When the situation eased a little, they began to move onward on the path of Islam, but when the clouds of difficulties began to appear, or when they were given such commands as were against their self-interest or their superstitious beliefs and prejudices, they again stood still in sheer perplexity.
That is, Allah could, if He so willed, totally deprive these hypocrites also of the power to see the Truth just as He deprived the hypocrites described in the tirst parable. But Allah does not do so because it is His will to give them respite to see the Truth and hear the Truth to the extent they want to see and hear it. That is why He left them with only as much power as they made use of in seeing and hearing the Truth.
deaf dumb blind they shall not return Deaf to hearing the calls of the Real with the ears of their hearts dumb to whispered conversation with the Real with the tongue of their innermost selves blind to witnessing the flow of decreed events with the eyes of their faculties of insight. They shall not return from their persistent shamelessness nor can they be deterred from their wholehearted embrace of errors. It is said deaf to hearing through the Real dumb to speaking through the Real blind to studying creation through the Real. There was no predetermination for them to desist iqlāʿ and no allotment to help them in being deterred irtidāʿ.