Abbas - Tanwîr al-Miqbâs min Tafsîr Ibn ‘Abbâs
(Hast thou not seen) have you not been informed, O Muhammad, about (those who pretend that they believe in that which is revealed unto thee) i.e. the Qur'an (and that which was revealed before thee) i.e. the Torah, (how they would go for judgement (in their disputes) to false deities) Ka'b Ibn al-Ashraf (when they have been ordered) in the Qur'an (to abjure them?) to disavow them. (Satan would mislead them far astray) from the Truth and guidance. This verse was revealed about a hypocrite by the name of Bishr whom 'Umar Ibn al-Khattab had killed. This hypocrite had a dispute with a Jewish man.
The following verse was revealed when a Jew and a hypocrite fell into a dispute. The hypocrite called on Ka‘b b. al-Ashraf, to arbitrate between them, while the Jew called on the Prophet (s). When they came to him, the Prophet ruled in favour of the Jew. But the hypocrite was not satisfied, and so they went before ‘Umar. The Jew told him what had happened, whereupon he [‘Umar] turned to the hypocrite and asked him, ‘Is this true?’, and when he replied, ‘Yes’, he [‘Umar] killed him. Have you not seen those who claim that they believe in what has been revealed to you, and what was revealed before you, desiring to take their disputes to a false deity (tāghūt), one excessive in tempting [others] to falsehood (tughyān), namely, Ka‘b b. al-Ashraf, when they have been commanded to renounce him?, and not to associate with him. But Satan desires to mislead them, far astray, from the truth.
Have you not seen, that is, have you not marvelled at, those who claim that they believe in what has been revealed to you, of the knowledge of the affirmation of the Oneness, and what was revealed before you, of the knowledge of the point of origin and the final return, desiring to take their disputes to a false deity, when it is incompatible with their claim. For if their faith was sound, they would not have affirmed an other [in the first place] for that [other] to then have any power to arbitrate. Indeed they, by virtue of true belief, are obliged to disbelieve in any other than Him. The one who has not been stripped of his attributes and acts and whose essence has not been obliterated in God, exalted be He, constitutes some other [than God]; and the one who orients himself towards some other has verily obeyed Satan. But Satan only desires that they be led far astray, which is to deviate from the truth through association [of others with God], since to incline away from religion is to be in clear error.
Referring to Other than the Qur'an and Sunnah for Judgment is Characteristic of Non-Muslims
Allah chastises those who claim to believe in what Allah has sent down to His Messenger and to the earlier Prophets, yet they refer to other than the Book of Allah and the Sunnah of His Messenger for judgment in various disputes. It was reported that the reason behind revealing this Ayah was that a man from the Ansar and a Jew had a dispute, and the Jew said, "Let us refer to Muhammad to judge between us.'' However, the Muslim man said, "Let us refer to Ka`b bin Al-Ashraf (a Jew) to judge between us.'' It was also reported that the Ayah was revealed about some hypocrites who pretended to be Muslims, yet they sought to refer to the judgment of Jahiliyyah. Other reasons were also reported behind the revelation of the Ayah. However, the Ayah has a general meaning, as it chastises all those who refrain from referring to the Qur'an and Sunnah for judgment and prefer the judgment of whatever they chose of falsehood, which befits the description of Taghut here. This is why Allah said,
يُرِيدُونَ أَن يَتَحَاكَمُواْ إِلَى الطَّـغُوتِ
(and they wish to go for judgment to the Taghut) until the end of the Ayah. Allah's statement,
يَصُدُّونَ عَنكَ صُدُوداً
(turn away from you with aversion) means, they turn away from you in arrogance, just as Allah described the polytheists,
(When it is said to them: "Follow what Allah has sent down.'' They say: "Nay! We shall follow what we found our fathers following.'') This is different from the conduct of the faithful believers, whom Allah describes as,
(How then, when a catastrophe befalls them because of what their hands have sent forth,) meaning, how about it if they feel compelled to join you because of disasters that they suffer due to their sins, then they will be in need of you.
(They come to you swearing by Allah, "We meant no more than goodwill and conciliation!'') apologizing and swearing that they only sought goodwill and reconciliation when they referred to other than the Prophet for judgment, not that they believe in such alternative judgment, as they claim. Allah describes these people to us further in His statement,
(Then they will become regretful for what they have been keeping as a secret in themselves). At-Tabarani recorded that Ibn `Abbas said, "Abu Barzah Al-Aslami used to be a soothsayer who judged between the Jews in their disputes. When some Muslims came to him to judge between them, Allah sent down,
(They (hypocrites) are those of whom Allah knows what is in their hearts;) These people are hypocrites, and Allah knows what is in their hearts and will punish them accordingly, for nothing escapes Allah's watch. Consequently, O Muhammad! Let Allah be sufficient for you in this regard, because He has perfect knowledge of their apparent and hidden affairs. This is why Allah said,
(so turn aside from them (do not punish them)) meaning, do not punish them because of what is in their hearts.
(but admonish them) means, advise them against the hypocrisy and evil that reside in their hearts,
وَقُل لَّهُمْ فِى أَنفُسِهِمْ قَوْلاً بَلِيغاً
(and speak to them an effective word to reach their inner selves) advise them, between you and them, using effective words that might benefit them.
Maududi - Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi - Tafhim al-Qur'an
In this verse, Taghut clearly stands for the authority that makes decisions in accordance with laws other than Divine and the system of judiciary which acknowledges neither Allah as the Supreme Sovereign nor His Book as the final authority. Hence, this verse is explained that it is contrary to Faith to take one's case for decision to a law court which by its nature is, that of taghut Belief in Allah and His Book makes it obligatory on the Believer that he should refuse to acknowledge such a court as lawful. According to the Qur'an, belief in Allah and disbelief in taghut are correlatives; therefore to acknowledge both at one and the same time is nothing but hypocrisy itself.
This shows that the hypocrites used to bring only such cases before the Holy Prophet as were likely to be decided in their favor, but would refrain from bringing such cases, which they feared, would be decided against them. The same is true of many hypocrites of today: they are ever ready to submit to the decisions of the Islamic Law if and whenever it goes in their favor; otherwise they resort to any law, any custom, and any law court which, they expect, will ensure their interests.
Probably it means that when their hypocritical deeds are exposed and they fear that action will be taken against them; they take oaths to assure the Believers of their innocence.
It clearly defines the position of the Messenger: the Messenger does not come from Allah so that the people should simply acknowledge him as a Messenger and then continue to obey anyone they like. The Messenger is sent with the sole object that the code of life brought by him only should be followed instead of all other codes, and the commandments brought by him from Allah only should be obeyed instead of all other commandments. If anyone does not acknowledge the Messenger in this sense, his acknowledging him merely as a Messenger would be meaningless.
The commandment contained in verse 65 was not meant to be confined to the lifetime of the Holy Prophet, but it was to hold good up to the Last Day. Whatever the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) brought from Allah and whatever way of life he followed and practiced under His guidance and inspiration, shall remain the final authority among Muslims for ever and the acknowledgment of that authority alone determines whether one is a true Muslim or not. According to a Tradition, the Holy Prophet said: "None of you can claim to be a believer unless he subordinates his desires and lusts to the way that I have brought."
Have you not seen those who claim that they believe in what has been revealed to you and what was revealed before you desiring to take their disputes to a false deity when they have been commanded to renounce himḍ But Satan desires to mislead them far astray. Outwardly they proclaimed sincerity while acting hypocritically in secret. He سبحانه exposed them through the tongue of Gabriel عليه السلام saying “desiring to take their disputes to a false deity when they have been commanded to renounce him yakfurū bihi” that is reject him. Whoever abandons his path and returns to anyone other than his master ustādh becomes deserving of exclusion and condemnation.
(Hast thou not seen those who pretend that they believe in that which is revealed unto thee and that which was revealed before thee, how they would go for judgment (in their disputes) to false deities when they have been ordered to abjure them?) [4:60]. Sa'id ibn Muhammad al-'Adl informed us> Abu 'Amr ibn Hamdan> al-Hasan ibn Sufyan> Ibrahim ibn Sa'd al-Jawhari> Abu'l-Yaman> Safwan ibn 'Amr>> 'Ikrimah> Ibn 'Abbas who said: “Abu Burdah al-Aslami was a soothsayer who used to settle the disputes that the Jews had amongst themselves. When a group of people from Aslam took their dispute to him, Allah, exalted is He, revealed (Hast thou not seen those who pretend…) up to his saying (… were seeking naught but harmony and kindness) [4:62]”. Ahmad ibn Muhammad ibn Ibrahim> Abu Salih Shu'ayb ibn Muhammad> Abu Hatim al-Tamimi> Abu'l-Azhar> Ruwaym> Sa'id ibn Qatadah who said: “We were told that this verse was revealed about a dispute regarding a certain property in which were involved a man from the Helpers called Qays and a Jewish man. They took their dispute to a soothsayer in Medina to judge between them while leaving the Prophet of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace. Allah, exalted is He, rebuked them for doing so. In fact the Jew was urging the Muslim to take their dispute to the Prophet of Allah, because he knew he will not wrong him. But the Helper refused to, even though he was a Muslim, and insisted to go to the soothsayer. And so Allah, exalted is He, revealed this verse censoring the person who was pretending to be Muslim as well as the Jew who belonged to the people of the Book, saying (Hast thou not seen those who pretend that they believe in that which is revealed unto thee…) up to His words (… thou seest the hypocrites turn from thee with aversion) [4:61]”. Muhammad ibn 'Abd al-'Aziz al-Marwazi informed us in writing> Muhammad ibn al-Husayn> Muhammad ibn Yahya> Ishaq al-Hanzali> al-Mu'ammil> Yazid ibn Zuray'> Dawud> al-Sha'bi who said: “One certain hypocrite had a dispute with a Jewish man. The Jew invited the hypocrite to take their dispute to the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, because he knew that he did not accept bribery. The hypocrite, on the other hand, called the Jewish man to take their dispute to their own arbiters because he knew that they took bribery for the judgments they issued. When they both rejected each other's choice, they made a compromise and decided to take their dispute to a soothsayer in Juhaynah. And so Allah, exalted is He, revealed about this (Hast thou not seen those who pretend that they believe in that which is revealed unto thee) referring to the hypocrite (and that which was revealed before thee) in reference to the Jew (how they would go for judgment (in their disputes) to false deities) up to his saying (… and submit with full submission) [4:65]”. Al-Kalbi reported from Abu Salih that Ibn 'Abbas reported that this verse was revealed about a hypocrite who had a dispute with a Jewish man. The Jew said to him: “Let us go to Muhammad [to settle our dispute]”. The hypocrite said: “Rather, let us go to Ka'b ibn al-Ashraf (whom Allah described as a false deity) to settle our dispute”. The Jew insisted that their dispute should be settled by the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace. When the hypocrite saw his insistence, he went with him to the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, and his judgement was in favour of the Jew. When they left, the hypocrite stuck to the Jew and said to him: “Let us go to 'Umar ibn al-Khattab”, and they went to him. The Jew said to him: “I and this man took our dispute to Muhammad and his judgement was in my favour, but this man is not happy with his judgement and claimed that he wants you to judge between us. And since he did not let me go, I came with him”. 'Umar said to the hypocrite: “Is this the case?” “Yes!” replied the hypocrite. 'Umar said: “Wait for me a moment until I come back”. 'Umar then entered his house, got his sword went back to the hypocrite and killed him. He said: “This is how I judge for he who does not accept Allah's judgement and the judgement of His Messenger”. The Jew ran away. This verse was then revealed. Gabriel, peace be upon him, said: “'Umar has differentiated between the truth and falsehood”, and so he was named al-Faruq [the distinguisher]. Said al-Suddi: “Some Jewish people had embraced Islam while others were mere hypocrites. In the pre-Islamic period the custom between the clans of Qurayzah and al-Nadir was that if a man from Banu Qurayzah killed another from Banu'l-Nadir, the killer was killed in retaliation and a hundred wasq [pl. Awsuq; one wasq = 60 sa'] of dates were paid in surplus as blood money. But when a man from Banu'l-Nadir killed another from Banu Qurayzah, the killer was not killed in retaliation and only sixty wasq of dates were paid as blood money. Banu'l-Nadir were the allies of the Aws. They were larger and their pedigree nobler than that of Banu Qurayzah who were the allies of the Khazraj. Then it happened that a man from the Banu'l-Nadir killed another from Banu Qurayzah and a dispute ensued because of this. Banu'l-Nadir said: 'We had an agreement in the pre-Islamic period that retaliation is exacted from you but not from us and that your blood money is sixty wasq while the blood money due to us is one hundred wasq. And so we will give you your due'. The Khazraj said: 'This is something you did in the pre-Islamic period because you were greater in number and we were few. Today, we are brothers and our religion is the same as yours. You do not have any merit over us'. The hypocrites said: ''Let us go to Abu Burdah al-Aslami, the soothsayer, to judge between us. The Muslims said: 'No, but rather let us go to the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace'. The hypocrites refused and went instead to Abu Burdah to judge between them. Abu Burdah said to them: 'Increase the bribe!' They said: 'We will give you ten awsuq!' He said: 'I will take a hundred as my blood money, for I fear if I judge in favour of the man from Banu'l-Nadir, Banu Qurayzah will kill me; and if I judge in favour of the man from Banu Qurayzah, Banu'l-Nadir will kill me'. When they refused to give him more than ten awsuq, he refused to judge between them. Allah, exalted is He, then revealed this verse and the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, called the soothsayer of Aslam to embrace Islam. He refused to do so and left. The Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, said to the two sons of the soothsayer: 'Go after your father, for if he goes beyond such-and-such limit he will never accept Islam'. They caught up with him and kept persuading him until he went back and embraced Islam. The Prophet, Allah, bless him and give him peace, commanded a crier to go round and cry: 'The soothsayer of Aslam has embraced Islam' ”.