Abbas - Tanwîr al-Miqbâs min Tafsîr Ibn ‘Abbâs
(How would it be) what shall they do (if a misfortune) a punishment (smote them because of that which their own hands have sent before (them)) because of turning away (they come unto you) after that, (swearing by Allah) i.e. Hatib swearing by Allah (that they were seeking naught) when they turned away (but harmony) in speech (and kindness) correctness.
How would it be, [what] would they do, when an affliction, a punishment, befalls them for what their own hands have sent before them, of unbelief and acts of disobedience, that is to say, would they then be able to turn away and escape it? No! They then come to you (thumma jā’ūka, a supplement to yasuddūn, ‘they turn away’ [of the previous verse]), swearing by God that, in turning to other than you for arbitration, ‘We sought only virtue, settlement, and harmony’, reconciliation between the disputing parties by [any] approximate judgement without regard for the painful truth.
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."
How would it be when an affliction befalls them for what their own hands have sent before them! They then come to you swearing by God that “We sought only virtue and harmony.” The beseeching of the insincere at the attacks of misfortune is without foundation. It deserves no consideration because it only lasts until the tribulation has passed. The greater affliction is being indifferent to the affliction [brought on by what their own hands have sent before them]. It is said that part of the affliction is being deprived [of the blessing] in the present moment by that which is of no use to you.