The Quran

Commentaries for 4.143

An Nisa (The women) - النساء

4.143 Abbas - Tanwîr al-Miqbâs min Tafsîr Ibn ‘Abbâs
(Swaying between this (and that)) wavering between faith and disbelief: disbelief in secret and faith in front of people, ((belonging) neither to these) they are not with the believers as far as what is in their heart is concerned, such that that which is obligated upon the believers is obligated upon them (nor to those) nor do they belong to the Jews when they declare their faith in public, such that what is prescribed for the Jews is prescribed for them. (He whom Allah causeth to go astray) from His religion and proof in the depth of his heart, (thou (O Muhammad) will not find a way for him) you will not find a religion or proof for him as far as the conviction of his heart is concerned:
4.143 Jalal - Al-Jalalayn
Wavering, hesitant, all the time, between that unbelief and belief — not, belonging, to these, disbelievers, neither to those, believers; and he whom God sends astray, you will never find for him a way, a path [back] to guidance.
4.142-143 Kathir - Ibn Al Kathir
The Hypocrites Try to Deceive Allah and Sway Between Believers and Disbelievers
In the beginning of Surat Al-Baqarah 2, we mentioned Allah's statement,
يُخَـدِعُونَ اللَّهَ وَالَّذِينَ ءَامَنُوا
(They (think to) deceive Allah and those who believe). Here, Allah states,
إِنَّ الْمُنَـفِقِينَ يُخَـدِعُونَ اللَّهَ وَهُوَ خَادِعُهُمْ
(Verily, the hypocrites seek to deceive Allah, but it is He Who deceives them.) There is no doubt that Allah can never be deceived, for He has perfect knowledge of the secrets and what the hearts conceal. However, the hypocrites, due to their ignorance, scarce knowledge and weak minds, think that since they were successful in deceiving people, using Islamic Law as a cover of safety for themselves, they will acquire the same status with Allah on the Day of Resurrection and deceive Him too. Allah states that on that Day, the hypocrites will swear to Him that they were on the path of righteousness and correctness thinking that such statement will benefit them with Allah. For instance, Allah said,
يَوْمَ يَبْعَثُهُمُ اللَّهِ جَمِيعاً فَيَحْلِفُونَ لَهُ كَمَا يَحْلِفُونَ لَكُمْ
(On the Day when Allah will resurrect them all together; then they will swear to Him as they swear to you) Allah's statement,
وَهُوَ خَادِعُهُمْ
(but it is He Who deceives them) means, He lures them further into injustice and misguidance. He also prevents them from reaching the truth in this life and on the Day of Resurrection. Allah said,
يَوْمَ يَقُولُ الْمُنَـفِقُونَ وَالْمُنَـفِقَـتُ لِلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ انظُرُونَا نَقْتَبِسْ مِن نُّورِكُمْ
(On the Day when the hypocrites ـ men and women ـ will say to the believers: "Wait for us! Let us get something from your light!'' It will be said: "Go back to your rear! Then seek a light!'') until,
وَبِئْسَ الْمَصِيرُ
(And worst indeed is that destination). A Hadith states;
«مَن سَمَّعَ سَمَّعَ اللهُ بِهِ، وَمَنْ رَاءَى رَاءَى اللهُ بِه»
(Whoever wants to be heard of, Allah will make him heard of, and whoever wants to be seen, Allah will show him.) Allah's statement,
وَإِذَا قَامُواْ إِلَى الصَّلَوةِ قَامُواْ كُسَالَى
(And when they stand up for Salah, they stand with laziness). This is the characteristic of the hypocrites with the most honored, best and righteous act of worship, the prayer. When they stand for prayer, they stand in laziness because they neither truly intend to perform it nor do they believe in it, have humility in it, or understand it. This is the description of their outward attitude! As for their hearts, Allah said,
يُرَآءُونَ النَّاسَ
(to be seen of men) meaning, they do not have sincerity when worshipping Allah. Rather, they show off to people so that they gain closeness to them. They are often absent from the prayers that they can hide away from, such as the `Isha' prayer and the Dawn prayer that are prayed in darkness. In the Two Sahihs, it is recorded that the Messenger of Allah said,
«أَثْقَلُ الصَّلَاةِ عَلَى الْمُنَافِقِينَ صَلَاةُ الْعِشَاءِ وَصَلَاةُ الْفَجْرِ، وَلَوْ يَعْلَمُونَ مَا فِيهِمَا لَأَتَوْهُمَا وَلَوْ حَبْوًا، وَلَقَدْ هَمَمْتُ أَنْ آمُرَ بِالصَّلَاةِ فَتُقَامُ، ثُمَّ آمُرَ رَجُلًا فَيُصَلِّي بِالنَّاسِ، ثُمَّ أَنْطَلِقَ مَعِيَ بِرِجَالٍ مَعَهُمْ حُزَمٌ مِنْ حَطَبٍ، إِلى قَوْمٍ لَا يَشْهَدُونَ الصَّلَاةَ، فَأُحَرِّقَ عَلَيْهِمْ بُيُوتَهُمْ بِالنَّار»
. (The heaviest prayers on the hypocrites are the `Isha' and Dawn prayers. If they know their rewards, they will attend them even if they have to crawl. I was about to order someone to pronounce the Adhan for the prayer, then order someone to lead the prayer for the people, then order some men to collect fire-wood (fuel); then I would burn the houses around men who did not attend the (compulsory congregational) prayer.) In another narration, the Prophet said,
«وَالَّذِي نَفْسِي بِيَدِهِ، لَوْ عَلِمَ أَحَدُهُمْ أَنَّهُ يَجِدُ عَرْقًا سَمِينًا أَوْ مِرْمَاتَيْنِ حَسَنَتَيْنِ، لَشَهِدَ الصَّلَاةَ، وَلَوْلَا مَا فِي الْبُيُوتِ مِنَ النِّسَاءِ وَالذُّرِّيَّـةِ لَحَرَّقْتُ عَلَيْهِمْ بُيُوتَهُمْ بِالنَّار»
(By Him, in Whose Hand my soul is, if anyone of them had known that he would get a bone covered with good meat or two (small) pieces of meat between two ribs, he would have turned up for the prayer, and had it not been that the houses have women and children in them, I would burn their homes around them.) Allah's statement,
وَلاَ يَذْكُرُونَ اللَّهَ إِلاَّ قَلِيلاً
(And they do not remember Allah but little) means, during the prayer they do not feel humbleness or pay attention to what they are reciting. Rather, during their prayer, they are inattentive, jesting and avoid the good that they are meant to receive from prayer. Imam Malik reported that Al-`Ala' bin `Abdur-Rahman said that Anas bin Malik said that the Messenger of Allah said,
«تِلْكَ صَلَاةُ الْمُنَافِقِ، تِلْكَ صَلَاةُ الْمُنَافِقِ، تِلْكَ صَلَاةُ الْمُنَافِقِ، يَجْلِسُ يَرْقُبُ الشَّمْسَ، حَتَّى إِذَا كَانَتْ بَيْنَ قَرْنَيِ الشَّيْطَانِ، قَامَ فَنَقَرَ أَرْبَعًا، لَا يَذْكُرُ اللهَ فِيهَا إِلَّا قَلِيلًا»
(This is the prayer of the hypocrite, this is the prayer of the hypocrite, this is the prayer of the hypocrite. He sits watching the sun until when it goes down between the two horns of the devil, he stands up pecks out four Rak`ahs (for `Asr) without remembering Allah during them except little.) Muslim, At-Tirmidhi and An-Nasa'i also recorded it. At-Tirmidhi said "Hasan Sahih''. Allah's statement,
مُّذَبْذَبِينَ بَيْنَ ذلِكَ لاَ إِلَى هَـؤُلاءِ
((They are) swaying between this and that, belonging neither to these) means that the hypocrites are swaying between faith and disbelief. So they are neither with believers inwardly or outwardly nor with disbelievers inwardly or outwardly. Rather, they are with the believers outwardly and with the disbelievers inwardly. Some of them would suffer fits of doubt, leaning towards these sometimes and towards those sometimes,
كُلَّمَآ أَضَآءَ لَهُم مَّشَوْاْ فِيهِ وَإِذَآ أَظْلَمَ عَلَيْهِمْ قَامُواْ
(Whenever it flashes for them, they walk therein, and when darkness covers them, they stand still). Mujahid said;
مُّذَبْذَبِينَ بَيْنَ ذلِكَ لاَ إِلَى هَـؤُلاءِ
((They are) swaying between this and that, belonging neither to these) "The Companions of Muhammad,
وَلاَ إِلَى هَـؤُلاءِ
(nor to those): the Jews.'' Ibn Jarir recorded that Ibn `Umar said that the Prophet said,
«مَثَلُ الْمُنَافِقِ كَمَثَلِ الشَّاةِ الْعَائِرَةِ بَيْنَ الْغَنَمَيْنِ، تَعِيرُ إِلى هَذِهِ مَرَّةً، وَإِلَى هَذِهِ مَرَّةً، وَلَا تَدْرِي أَيَّتَهُمَا تَتْبَع»
(The example of the hypocrite is the example of the sheep wandering between two herds, sometimes she goes to one of them, and sometimes the other, confused over whom she should follow.) Muslim also recorded it. This is why Allah said afterwards,
وَمَن يُضْلِلِ اللَّهُ فَلَن تَجِدَ لَهُ سَبِيلاً
(and he whom Allah sends astray, you will not find for him a way.) meaning, whomever He leads astray from the guidance,
فَلَن تَجِدَ لَهُ وَلِيًّا مُّرْشِدًا
(For him you will find no Wali (guiding friend) to lead him (to the right path)) because,
مَن يُضْلِلِ اللَّهُ فَلاَ هَادِيَ لَهُ
(Whomsoever Allah sends astray, none can guide him). So the hypocrites whom Allah has led astray from the paths of safety will never find a guide to direct them, nor someone to save them. There is none who can resist Allah's decision, and He is not asked about what He does, while they all will be asked.
4.142-143 Maududi - Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi - Tafhim al-Qur'an
The offering of the Salat in congregation has been held out as a test of one's being a sincere Believer or a hypocrite because during the lifetime of the Holy Prophet one could not be considered a member of the Islamic Community unless one offered the Salat regularly and punctually. Just as every association or organization considers the absence of a member without genuine excuse from its meetings a sign of his lack of interest, and expels him from it for continuous absence, so if a Muslim absented himself from the Salat in congregation, it was considered a clear sign of his lack of interest in Islam. And if he continuously absented himself from it, this was taken as a proof of his desertion from Islam. That is why even the confirmed hypocrites of that time had to join the Salat in congregation five times a day; otherwise they could not be counted as members of the Islamic Community. But what distinguished them from the true Believers was that the true Believers went to the mosques with great enthusiasm before time and stayed there even after the Prayer was over which was a clear proof of their genuine interest in it. On the other hand, the very call to the Prayer sounded like a death knell to a hypocrite. He would rise up reluctantly to join the congregation, but his whole demeanor clearly showed that he was offering his Salat unwillingly. Then after the Prayer he would leave the mosque in haste as if he had been released from prison. Thus, all his movements showed that he had no interest in the remembrance of Allah.
It declares that no human being has the power to guide to the right way the one who himself does not intend to get guidance from the Book of Allah and the excellent pattern of His Messenger; whom Allah turns to the wrong way to which he himself is inclined and shuts all the doors of guidance against him because of his own quest for deviation. And this happens in accordance with the Divine Law that man gets what he seeks and strives for. For instance, if one seeks to make one's provisions by lawful means and strives for the same, God provides lawful means for him and shuts unlawful doors against him, in proportion to the intensity of the sincerity of his intention. On the contrary, if one has the intention of making one's provisions by unlawful means and strives for the same, Allah provides him with the same through unlawful means. Allah alone has the power to guide any individual on any way whatsoever, and no one can take any course, right or wrong, without His permission and without His help, but He allows and helps every one to proceed on the way he chooses for himself. If one loves Allah and is a seeker after Truth and sincerely strives to follow His way, He allows him and helps him to think and act on the right lines leading to the right way and provides means for him to proceed on the same way. But if one chooses to follow wrong ways and strives to proceed on wrong ways, Allah shuts the way of guidance against him and opens before him evil ways which he chooses for himself. No one has the power to prevent such a one from evil thoughts and evil deeds and from spending his energies in evil ways. It is thus obvious that none can guide to the right way the wretched one who deliberately loses it and whom Allah leads astray in consequence of his intentional deviation.
4.142-143 Qushairi - Al-Qushairi
The hypocrites seek to trick God but He is tricking them. When they stand up to pray they stand up lazily and to be seen by people and they do not remember God save a little. Wavering all the time-not to these neither to those; and he whom God sends astray you will never find for him a way. The trickery of the hypocrites is the outward display of conformity on the path iẓhāru al-wifāqi fī l-Ṭarīqa while inwardly [they] cling to association [of others with God] in [their] creed wa-istishʿāru al-shirki fī l-ʿaqīda. The trickery of the Real toward them is what they imagine regarding salvation [after they] decided they have a special entitlement to it. But when the covering is lifted they will know for certain that what they thought was drink sharāb was a mirage sarāb. God most high said “And there will appear to them from God that which they had never reckoned” [39:47]. When they stand up to pray... The sign of hypocrisy is finding energy when one can be seen by others but then losing resolve when the opportunity to be seen passes. Wavering all the time... Those who are worth the least among created beings are those who remove the vest of servanthood akhassu al-khalqi man yadaʿu ṣidāra al-ʿubūdiyya and have not found a way to true freedom wa-lam yajid sabīlan ilā ḥaqīqati al-ḥurriyya. They do not have even a sliver of precious nobility fa-lā lahu min al-ʿizzi shaẓīyya nor an agreeable way of living in their heedlessness wa-lā fī l-ghaflati ʿīshatu hanīyya.