Abbas - Tanwîr al-Miqbâs min Tafsîr Ibn ‘Abbâs
(The wandering Arabs say: We believe) this was revealed about Banu Asad who had suffered a very hard year and consequently joined Islam and moved with all their families and children to Medina to benefit from the Prophet's donations. But their presence in Medina caused a rise in the price of foodstuffs and the streets of Medina became full of their impurities. In fact, these people were hypocrites who kept reiterating: “O Messenger of Allah! We are true believers, so do feed us and be generous with us”. When Allah mentioned their claim, the wandering Arabs of Banu Asad said: “We are genuine in our faith in Allah and His Messenger”. But Allah said: (Say) to them, O Muhammad: (Ye believe not) you are not genuine in your faith in Allah and His Messenger, (but rather say “We submit”) we submit so that we may be spared from the sword and captivity, (for the faith hath not yet entered into your hearts) for love and sincerity of faith have not entered your hearts. (Yet, if ye obey Allah and His messenger) inwardly as you obey him outwardly and repent of inward disbelief and hypocrisy, (He will not withhold from you aught of (the reward of) your deeds) He will not diminish the reward of your works. (Lo! Allah is Forgiving) He forgives whoever repent of you, (Merciful) towards whoever dies repentant.
The Bedouins — a group of men from among the Banū Asad — say, ‘We believe’, we affirm the truth in our hearts. Say, to them: ‘You do not believe; but rather say, “We have submitted”, we are outwardly compliant; for faith has not yet entered into your hearts’, hitherto; however, it is expected of you. Yet if you obey God and His Messenger, by [embracing] faith and in other ways, He will not diminish for you (read ya’litkum or yalitkum, by making the hamza an alif) anything of your deeds, that is, of the reward for them. God is indeed Forgiving, to believers, Merciful, to them.
(The bedouins say: "We believe.'' Say: "You do not believe, but say, `We have submitted,' for Faith has not yet entered your hearts...'') This honorable Ayah provides proof that Faith is a higher grade than Islam, according to the scholars of the Ahl us-Sunnah wal-Jama`ah. This is also demostrated in the Hadith of Jibril, peace be upon him, when he questioned the Prophet about Islam, then Iman then Ihsan. Thus moving the general matter to one more specific, then even more specific. Imam Ahmad recorded that `Amir bin Sa`d bin Abi Waqqas said, "The Messenger of Allah gave (something to) some men and did not give one of them. Sa`d said, `O Allah's Messenger, you gave to so-and-so and so-and-so. However, you gave nothing to so-and-so, even though he is a believer.' The Prophet said,
(Or say, a Muslim.) Sa`d repeated his statement thrice each time the Prophet answered,
(I might give some men and give nothing to others, even though the latter are dearer to me than the former. I do not give them things for fear that they might be thrown on their faces in the Fire.)'' This Hadith is recorded in the Two Sahihs. Therefore, the Prophet made a distinction between the grade of believer and the grade of Muslim, indicating that Iman is a more exclusive grade than Islam. I mentioned this subject in detail supported by evidence, in the beginning of the explanation of the chapter on Iman in Sahih Al-Bukhari, all praise is due to Allah and all the favors are from Him. So this proves that the bedouins whom the Ayah mentioned were not hypocrites, rather they were Muslims in whose hearts Faith was not yet firmly established. They claimed a higher grade for themselves than the grade that they earned, and they were taught a lesson as a consequence. This meaning agrees with the meaning given by Ibn `Abbas, Ibrahim An-Nakha`i, Qatadah and that preferred by Ibn Jarir. These bedouins were taught a lesson,
(but strive for the cause of Allah with their wealth and their lives) meaning, they gladly gave away their life and the most precious of their wealth in obedience to Allah as a means of seeking His pleasure,
أُوْلَـئِكَ هُمُ الصَّـدِقُونَ
(Those! They are the truthful. ) `in their statement if they say that they are believers, unlike some bedouins who are faithful only by words outwardly!' Allah said,
قُلْ أَتُعَلِّمُونَ اللَّهَ بِدِينِكُمْ
(Say: "Will you inform Allah of your religion...'') `will you inform Allah of what is in your hearts,'
(while Allah knows all that is in the heavens and all that is on the earth,) Nothing in the heavens and earth, even the weight of a speck of dust, all that is bigger or smaller, ever escapes His observation,
وَاللَّهُ بِكُلِّ شَيْءٍ عَلِيمٌ
(and Allah is All-Aware of everything.) Allah said,
(They regard as a favor to you that they have embraced Islam. Say: "Do not count your Islam as a favor to me...'') meaning the bedouins who considered embracing Islam, following and supporting the Messenger as a favor to him. Allah the Exalted refuted their false statement,
قُل لاَّ تَمُنُّواْ عَلَىَّ إِسْلَـمَكُمْ
(Say: "Do not count your Islam as a favor to me...'') `for the benefit of your Islam will only be yours, and this is a favor from Allah to you,'
(Nay, but Allah has conferred a favor upon you that He has guided you to the Faith if you indeed are true.) `in your claim that you are believers.' The Prophet said to the Ansar on the day of the battle of Hunayn,
(O Ansar! Have I not found you astray and Allah guided you through me Were you not divided and Allah united you around me Were you not poor and Allah gave you riches through me) Whenever the Prophet asked them any of these questions, they would reply, "Allah and His Messenger have most favored us.'' Al-Hafiz Abu Bakr Al-Bazzar recorded that Ibn `Abbas said, "Banu Asad came to the Messenger of Allah and said, `O Allah's Messenger! We embraced Islam, and before that, the Arabs fought against you, yet we did not fight against you.' The Messenger of Allah said,
(They regard as a favor to you that they have embraced Islam. Say: "Do not count your Islam as a favor to me.'' Nay, but Allah has conferred a favor upon you that He has guided you to the Faith if you indeed are true.'')''' Then Allah reminds that He has complete knowledge of all creations and that He sees them all;
(Verily, Allah knows the Unseen of the heavens and the earth. And Allah is the All-Seer of what you do.) This is the end of the Tafsir of Surat Al-Hujurat. Verily, all praise is due to Allah, all the favors are from Him, and from Him comes the success and protection from error.
Maududi - Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi - Tafhim al-Qur'an
This does not imply all the desert Arabs but only a few particular groups of the Bedouins who had become Muslims, seeing the increasing power of Islam, thinking that they would not only remain safe from any attack by the Muslims but would also gain materially from the Islamic conquests. These people had not embraced Islam sincerely but had professed faith only verbally in order to be counted among the Muslims, and their this inner state became exposed whenever they would come before the Holy Prophet with different sorts of demands and would enumerate and mention their rights as if they had done him a great favor by accepting Islam. Traditions mention several of such tribal groups, e.g. Muzainah, Juhainah, Aslam, Ashja', Ghifar, etc. About the Bani Asad bin Khuzaimah in particular, Ibn 'Abbas and Said bin Jubair have stated that once during a drought they came to Madinah and making a demand for financial help they said to the Holy Prophet again and again: "We became Muslims without any conflict: we did not fight against you as have such and such other tribes fought." By this they clearly meant to point out that their refraining from fighting against the Messenger of Allah and their accepting Islam was a favour for which they must be rewarded by the Messenger and the Muslims. It was this same attitude and conduct of the Bedouin group living around Madinah, which has been commented upon in these verses. One can understand this appraisal better if one reads it together with vv. 90-110 of At-Taubah and vv. 11-17 of AI-Fat-h.
Another translation of the words qulu aslamna can be; "Say: we have become Muslims. " From these words some people have concluded that in the language of the Qur'an, "Mu 'min" and "Muslim" are two opposite terms. A "Mu'min" is he who has believed sincerely and a "Muslim" he who might have accepted Islam only verbally without true faith. But, in fact, this is an absolutely wrong idea. No doubt the word iman here has been used for sincere affirmation by the heart and the word Islam for only outward and external submission but to understand them as two independent and mutually contradictory terms of the Qur'an is not correct. A study of the Qur'anic verses in which the words Islam and Muslim have been used, shows that in the Qur'anic terminology "Islam " is the name of the the Faith, which Allah has sent down for mankind; it comprehends the faith and obedience both, and a ¦MuslIm " is he who believes with a sincere heart and obeys the Commands practically. This is borne out by the following verses:
"Indeed, Islam is the only right way of life in the sight of Allah." (Al 'Imran: 19)
"And whoever adopts any other than this way of submission (Islam), that way shall not be accepted from him," (Al-'Imran: 85)
And I have approved Islam as the way of life for you." (Al-Ma'idah: 3)
`Whomever Allah wills to guide aright, He makes his breast wide open to Islam." (Al-An'am: 125)
Obviously, in these verses Islam " does not imply obedience without the Faith. Here are some other verses:
'Say (O Prophet): I have been enjoined to be the first one to affirm (faith in) Islam. "(AI-An'am: 14) '
"If they have surrendered (to Islam), they are rightly guided." (AI-'Imran: 20)
All the Prophets, who were Muslims, judged the cases according to the Torah." (AI-Ma'idah: 44)
Here, and at scores of other places, acceptance of Islam cannot mean adopting obedience without the the faith. Likewise, here are a few verses in which the word "Muslim" has occurred signifying the meaning in which it has been used repeatedly in the Qur'an:
"O you who have believed, fear Allah as He should truly be feared and see that you do not die save as true Muslim. " (AI-`Imran: 102)
`Allah had called you "Muslims" before this and has called you (by the same name) in this Qur'an, too." (AI-Hajj: 78)
"Abraham was neither a Jew nor a Christian, but he was a Muslim, sound in the faith." (AI-i-'Imran: 67)
`And remember that when Abraham and Ishmael were raising the walls of this House, they prayed:... Lord, make us Thy Muslims and also raise from our offspring a community which should be Muslim. " (AI-Baqarah: 128)
(The Prophet Jacob's will for his children:) "O my children, Allah has chosen the same way of life for you Hence remain Muslims up to your last breath. (AI-Baqarah: 132)
After a study of these verses who can say that in these the word "Muslim" implies a person who does not believe sincerely but has accepted Islam only outwardly? Therefore, to make the claim that in the Qur'anic terminology "Islam" implies obedience without the faith and the "Muslim" in the language of the Qur'an is he who accepts Islam only outwardly is absolutely wrong. Likewise, this claim also is wrong that the words iman and mu'min have been used in the Qur'an necessarily in the sense of believing sincerely. No doubt, at most places these words have occurred to express the same meaning, but there are many places where these words have also been used for outward affirmation of the faith, and all those who might have entered the Muslim Community with verbal profession have been addressed with. "O you who have believed", no matter whether they arc the true believers, or people with a weak faith, or mere hypocrites. For a few instances of this, see Al-i-`Imran: 156, An-Nisa' :13t5, AI-Ma'idah: 54, Al-Anfal: 20-27, At-Taubah: 38, Al-Hadid: 28, As-Saff: 2.
…Say, ‘You do not have faith; rather say, “We have submitted”…’ He said:This means [they should admit], ‘We [only] affirmed [the faith] from fear of being taken captive or killed; for faith (īmān) is in the truthful affirmation of the tongue (iqrār al-lisān ṣidqan), and certainty within the heart as a binding pact [with God] (īqān fī’l-qalb ʿaqdan), along with the realisation (taḥqīq) of these through the bodily members with sincerity (ikhlāṣ). Faith (īmān) has nothing to do with affiliations (ansāb); rather affiliations are only a part of Islam. The Muslim is beloved of people but the believer is in no need (ghanī) of people. His words:
(The wandering Arabs say: We believe…) [49:14]. This was revealed about some desert Arabs from Banu Asad ibn Khuzaymah. They went to the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, in Medina because there was drought in that year. They declared themselves to be believers outwardly but disbelievers inwardly. They sullied the streets of Medina with excrement and caused a rise in its prices. They used to say to the Messenger, Allah bless him and give him peace: “We have come to you with loads and dependents and refrained to fight against you unlike such-and-such a tribe, so give us alms”. They kept mentioning to him the favours they thought they had done. Allah, exalted is He, revealed this verse about them.