The Quran

Commentaries for 4.139

An Nisa (The women) - النساء

4.139 Abbas - Tanwîr al-Miqbâs min Tafsîr Ibn ‘Abbâs
Allah then showed their traits, saying: (Those who choose disbelievers) the Jews (for their friends) when it comes to assistance and help (instead of believers!) instead of sincere believers. (Do they look for power) might and invincibility (at their hands) the hands of the Jews? (Lo! all power appertaineth to Allah).
4.139 Jalal - Al-Jalalayn
Those who (alladhīna, is either a substitution for, or an adjectival qualification of, al-munāfiqīna, ‘the hypocrites’) take disbelievers for friends instead of believers, because they mistakenly believe them to be strong — do they desire, [do] they seek, power with them? (an interrogative of disavowal), that is to say, they shall not find such [power] with them. Truly, power belongs altogether to God, in this world and the Hereafter, and none but His friends shall attain it.
4.139 Kashani - Kashani
Those who take disbelievers for friends, by virtue of their correspondence to them in terms of being veiled, instead of believers, because of the lack of [their] generic compatibility [with believers] - do they desire, to assume power through them in this world and to draw strength from their assets and their statusḍ There is no possibility of that. Moreover they are mistaken, because power altogether is one of God's attributes, exalted be He, unassailable is He in His powers and might. His is the power to vanquish and to overwhelm all. Therefore power is actualised [for a person] in the measure that one is near to Him, receptive of His light and strength, and possessive of His attributes. So the people of faith are more deserving of this [power], while the people of the veil and disbelief are more deserving of making errors.
4.137-140 Kathir - Ibn Al Kathir
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,
لَّمْ يَكُنْ اللَّهُ لِيَغْفِرَ لَهُمْ وَلاَ لِيَهْدِيَهُمْ سَبِيلاً
(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,
بَشِّرِ الْمُنَـفِقِينَ بِأَنَّ لَهُمْ عَذَاباً أَلِيماً
(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,
مَن كَانَ يُرِيدُ الْعِزَّةَ فَلِلَّهِ الْعِزَّةُ جَمِيعاً
(Whosoever desires honor, then to Allah belong all honor), and,
وَلِلَّهِ الْعِزَّةُ وَلِرَسُولِهِ وَلِلْمُؤْمِنِينَ وَلَـكِنَّ الْمُنَـفِقِينَ لاَ يَعْلَمُونَ
(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,
وَقَدْ نَزَّلَ عَلَيْكُمْ فِى الْكِتَـبِ أَنْ إِذَا سَمِعْتُمْ ءَايَـتِ اللَّهِ يُكَفَرُ بِهَا وَيُسْتَهْزَأُ بِهَا فَلاَ تَقْعُدُواْ مَعَهُمْ حَتَّى يَخُوضُواْ فِى حَدِيثٍ غَيْرِهِ إِنَّكُمْ إِذاً مِّثْلُهُمْ
(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,
وَإِذَا رَأَيْتَ الَّذِينَ يَخُوضُونَ فِى ءَايَـتِنَا فَأَعْرِضْ عَنْهُمْ
(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,
وَمَا عَلَى الَّذِينَ يَتَّقُونَ مِنْ حِسَابِهِم مِّن شَىْءٍ وَلَـكِن ذِكْرَى لَعَلَّهُمْ يَتَّقُونَ
(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,
إِنَّ اللَّهَ جَامِعُ الْمُنَـفِقِينَ وَالْكَـفِرِينَ فِى جَهَنَّمَ جَمِيعاً
(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.
4.136-141 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."
4.139-140 Qushairi - Al-Qushairi
Those who take disbelievers for friends instead of believers-do they desire power with themḍ Truly power belongs altogether to God. It has been revealed to you in the Book that: “When you hear God's signs being disbelieved and mocked do not sit with them until they engage in some other talk for otherwise you would surely be like them.” God will gather the hypocrites and disbelievers all together into hell. Whoever clings to a created being has sought refuge with someone other than the One who protects. He relies on a place that will provide no shelter. He has fallen into the abyss of error whose depth is bottomless and ruse calamitous. Do they desire power with those who have themselves been humbled by [the command] to “Be”ḍ How can they have any power to determine the truthḍ How can those who have no power extend power to anyone elseḍ It is said that “We do not know what is more shameless in their condition: seeking power while they are themselves humbled by the [divine] subjugation and held in the [divine] grasp or their thinking and imagining that [power] can be from anything other than God.” It is said that whoever seeks something from any direction other than Him-failure is the ultimate end of his effort fa-l-ikhfāqu ghāyatu jahdihi. Whoever desires wealth in regions of indigence-being reduced to poverty is the outcome of his toil fa-l-imlāqu quṣārā kaddihi. It is said that if they had been rightly guided to finding [the true source of] power their seeking would not have been diverted to those who possess no authority. Truly power belongs altogether to God: The power is of two kinds: an eternal power which is an attribute of God and a contingent power which He سبحانه apportions to whomever He will. [Power] belongs to God most high as something that is His and is [also] a gift from Him [to human beings]. It has been revealed to you in the Book... Do not make neighbors of those alienated in feeling and affection for the darknesses of their souls extend to your hearts as you seek to inhale the fragrances they refuse to take in. One becomes partner to the state of those with whom one sits. The sitting companion of those in a state of intimacy becomes an intimate himself while the sitting companion of those in darkness is himself estranged.
It is said that emigrating from the enemies of the Real is a duty. Opposition to and separation from adversaries is an obligation. To trust in those who are heedless is to knock on the door of separation. For otherwise you would surely be like them: The clearest evidence of a man's secret being can be found in the company he keeps and the relationships he cultivates. Like is tied to like and the branch extends outward from the trunk.
4.139 Tustari - Al-Tustari
…Do they desire power with them?...This refers to the hypocrites who were seeking power and protection from the Jews. Do you not [recall] the Prophet’s words, ‘Nothing descended from the heavens mightier than certainty’? That is, there is nothing more indomitable or formidable. His words: