Abbas - Tanwîr al-Miqbâs min Tafsîr Ibn ‘Abbâs
As for those who did not believe in Muhammad and the Qur'an, Allah then said: (Lo! those who believe) in Moses, (then disbelieve) after Moses (and then (again) believe) in 'Uzayr, (then disbelieve) after 'Uzayr in Christ, (and then increase in disbelief) and then stay firm in their disbelief in Muhammad and the Qur'an, (Allah will never pardon them) as long as they remain unbelievers, (nor will He guide them unto a way) unto a Religion, rightness or a guided way.
Verily, those who believed, in Moses, namely, the Jews, and then disbelieved, by worshipping the calf, and then believed, after that, and then disbelieved, in Jesus, and then increased in disbelief, in Muhammad — it was not for God to forgive them, for what they have persisted in [of disbelief], nor to guide them to a way, to the truth.
Verily, those who believed, and then disbelieved, to the end [of the verse]: in other words, those who were perplexed and wavered between the two aspects of the upper lordship [of God] and the lower one [of themselves] by the intensity of their hypocrisy, with at times the victory of the light of the primordial nature and at others the mastery of the darkness of the soul and caprice. That is because both states were equal in them until [finally] the darkened configurations were able to establish themselves [in their souls], veils multiplied, corrupt beliefs and stagnant disposition took deep root as a result of the sway and absolute mastery that the attributes of the soul acquired [over them], such that they rusted over their hearts; it was not for God to forgive them, because of the veiling rust, the corruption of the heart's substance and the disappearance of preparedness, nor to guide them to a way, to truth, to perfection, or to the original primordial nature because of their non-receptivity to guidance and their chastisement is described as painful because of the status of their preparedness at the point of origin.
Characteristics of the Hypocrites and Their Destination
Allah states that whoever embraces the faith, reverts from it, embraces it again, reverts from it and remains on disbelief and increases in it until death, then he will never have a chance to gain accepted repentance after death. Nor will Allah forgive him, or deliver him from his plight to the path of correct guidance. This is why Allah said,
(Allah will not forgive them, nor guide them on the (right) way). Ibn Abi Hatim recorded that his father said that Ahmad bin `Abdah related that Hafs bin Jami' said that Samak said that `Ikrimah reported that Ibn `Abbas commented;
ثُمَّ ازْدَادُواْ كُفْراً
(and go on increasing in disbelief), "They remain on disbelief until they die.'' Mujahid said similarly. Allah then said,
(Give to the hypocrites the tidings that there is for them a painful torment.) Hence, the hypocrites have this characteristic, for they believe, then disbelieve, and this is why their hearts become sealed. Allah describes the hypocrites as taking the disbelievers as friends instead of the believers, meaning they are the disbelievers' supporters in reality, for they give them their loyalty and friendship in secret. They also say to disbelievers when they are alone with them, "We are with you, we only mock the believers by pretending to follow their religion.'' Allah said, while chastising them for being friends with the disbelievers,
أَيَبْتَغُونَ عِندَهُمُ الْعِزَّةَ
(do they seek honor, with them) Allah then states that honor, power and glory is for Him Alone without partners, and for those whom Allah grants such qualities to. Allah said,
(But honor belongs to Allah, and to His Messenger, and to the believers, but the hypocrites know not). The statement that honor is Allah's Alone, is meant to encourage the servants to adhere to their servitude to Allah and to be among His faithful servants who will gain victory in this life and when the Witnesses stand up to testify on the Day of Resurection. Allah's statement,
(And it has already been revealed to you in the Book that when you hear the verses of Allah being denied and mocked at, then sit not with them, until they engage in talk other than that; certainly in that case you would be like them.) The Ayah means, if you still commit this prohibition after being aware of its prohibition, sitting with them where Allah's Ayat are rejected, mocked at and denied, and you sanction such conduct, then you have participated with them in what they are doing. So Allah said,
إِنَّكُمْ إِذاً مِّثْلُهُمْ
((But if you stayed with them) certainly in that case you would be like them.) concerning the burden they will earn. What has already been revealed in the Book -- as the Ayah says -- is the Ayah in Surat Al-An`am 6, which was revealed in Makkah,
(And when you see those who engage in false conversation about Our verses (of the Qur'an) by mocking at them, stay away from them). Muqatil bin Hayyan said that this Ayah 4:140 abrogated the Ayah in Surat Al-An`am, referring to the part that says here,
إِنَّكُمْ إِذاً مِّثْلُهُمْ
((But if you stayed with them) certainly in that case you would be like them), and Allah's statement in Al-An`am,
(Those who fear Allah, keep their duty to Him and avoid evil, are not responsible for them (the disbelievers) in any case, but (their duty) is to remind them, that they may have Taqwa). Allah's statement,
(Surely, Allah will collect the hypocrites and disbelievers all together in Hell.) means, just as the hypocrites participate in the Kufr of disbelievers, Allah will join them all together to reside in the Fire for eternity, dwelling in torment, punishment, enchained, restrained and in drinking boiling water.
Maududi - Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi - Tafhim al-Qur'an
To ask believers to believe might at first seem strange. The fact is, however, that belief as used here has two meanings. First, belief denotes that a man has preferred to acknowledge the soundness of true guidance, to distance himself from the fold of those who disbelieve, and to join the camp of the believers. Second, belief denotes faith, a man's believing in the truth with all his heart, with full earnestness and sincerity. It denotes man's sincere determination to mold his way of thinking, his taste and temperament, his likes and dislikes, his conduct and character, his friendship and enmity, and the direction of his efforts and striving, in conformity with the creed which he has resolved to embrace. This verse is addressed to all those who are 'believers' in the first sense of the term, and they are asked to change themselves into true believers, i.e. believers in the second sense.
Here kufr implies two things:
(1) a person may reject Islam outright;
(2) one may pay lip service to Islam but may not (sincerely) believe in it or may show one's conduct that one does not, in fact, believe in Islam, in spite of one's profession.
Here kufr implies both these things, and the verse warns that neither kind of kufr can go side by side with the fundamental articles of Islamic Faith and will mislead the one who adopts it, away from the Truth into the paths of deviation.
These are the people who do not consider Faith a serious matter but play with it like a toy to gratify their whims and lusts. They adopt Islam, if and when they are swayed to it by some fanciful notion, and become disbelievers, if another notion moves them away to the opposite side. Or, they become Muslims when their interests demand it and become disbelievers, without the least hesitation, if their interests lie in disbelief. Obviously, for such people there is neither forgiveness nor guidance from Allah. They do not stop at their own disbelief but go much further in it. They strive to turn other Muslims also away from Islam, conspire against it and make open designs to harm it so as to raise the standard of kufr high up and to pull down the standard of Islam. As this is an addition to the sin of one's personal disbelief, it deserves much severe punishment than the offense of the one who disbelieves in Islam but is not antagonistic to it.
The Arabic word 'izzat is more comprehensive than the English word honor, "the regard in which one is held by one's followers". Izzat refers to such a high regard and secure position as is inviolable.
The Command to the Believers to quit the company of the disbelievers, as soon as they get engaged in ridiculing Islam, is contained in v. 68 of Al-An'am which was revealed earlier than An-Nisa'. If a Believer sits in the company of disbelievers and coolly listens to the ridicule of Divine Revelations he becomes a partner in that blasphemy, and there remains little difference between him and the disbelievers.
The hypocrites of every age have always enjoyed all the benefits conferred by Islam, by professing it with their tongue, and nominally joining the Muslim Community. At the same time they enjoy all the benefits they can derive from the disbelievers, by mixing with them and assuring them, "We are not bigoted Muslims though we are nominally connected with them. We are akin to you in culture, in thoughts and in the way of life and our interests and loyalties are the same as yours. Therefore, you should rest assured that we will side with you in the conflict between Islam and kufr."
Verily those who believed and then disbelieved and then believed and then disbelieved and then increased in disbelief-it was not for God to forgive them nor to guide them to a way. Give tidings to the hypocrites that for them there is a painful chastisement. Those whose states have alternated so that they rise and fall then rise up again and then stumble -He has sealed their states in their unseemliness. The arrows of divine power have struck them by decree and the misery of fate has caught up with them as their final state. The Real سبحانه will not guide them to a purpose nor lead them to good sense. “Give tidings to them of separation without end fa-bashshirhum bi-l-furqati al-abadiyya and tell them of punishment uninterrupted wa-akhbirhum bi-l-ʿuqūbati al-sarmadiyya.”