Abbas - Tanwîr al-Miqbâs min Tafsîr Ibn ‘Abbâs
(Be not) in transgression; it is also said that this means: be not in obedience, (as those who say, We hear) we obey, the reference here being to the Banu 'Abd al-Dar, al-Nadr Ibn al-Harith and his host, (and they hear not) they obey not.
And do not be as those who, claim to listen but are not in fact [listening] at all, veiled as they are from understanding and acceptance, like beasts, nay, the worst of beasts in the eyes of God given what is mentioned [in Q. 8:22].
(And be not like those who say: "We have heard,'' but they hear not.)
Ibn Ishaq said that this Ayah refers to the hypocrites, who pretend to hear and obey, while in fact they do neither. Allah declares that these are the most wicked creatures among the Children of Adam,
إِنَّ شَرَّ الدَّوَابِّ عِندَ اللَّهِ الصُّمُّ
(Verily, the worst of living creatures with Allah are the deaf) who do not hear the truth,
(and the dumb) who cannot comprehend it,
الَّذِينَ لاَ يَعْقِلُونَ
(who understand not. ) These indeed are the most wicked creatures, for every creature except them abide by the way that Allah created in them. These people were created to worship Allah, but instead disbelieved. This is why Allah equated them to animals, when He said,
(They are like cattle, nay even more astray; those! They are the heedless ones.) 7:179
It was also said that the Ayah (8:22) refers to some of the pagans of Quraysh from the tribe of Bani `Abd Ad-Dar, according to Ibn `Abbas, Mujahid and Ibn Jarir. Muhammad bin Ishaq said that this Ayah refers to hypocrites, as we stated. There is no contradiction here, because both disbelievers and hypocrites are devoid of sound comprehension, in addition to having lost the intention to do good. Allah states here that such are those who neither have sound understanding nor good intentions, even if they have some type of reason,
(Had Allah known of any good in them, He would indeed have made them listen.)
He would have helped them understand. However, this did not happen because there is no goodness in such people, for Allah knows that,
(even if He had made them listen...) and allowed them to understand,
(they would but have turned...), intentionally and out of stubbornness, even after they comprehend,
(with aversion.), to the truth.
Maududi - Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi - Tafhim al-Qur'an
This exposes the attitude of the hypocrites, who heard the Truth with their ears, yet did not accept and believe in it: they professed to believe but did not obey the Commands.
That is, "Those who do not listen to the Truth and do not utter it with their tongues, are deaf and dumb concerning the Truth."
As those hypocrites had no love for the Truth and no desire to work in its cause, they would have turned their backs from the Battle at the first critical juncture, even if Allah had helped them to obey the Command and march to the battlefield. Thus their company would have proved to be harmful rather than useful.