Abbas - Tanwîr al-Miqbâs min Tafsîr Ibn ‘Abbâs
(And guard yourselves against a sedition) any sedition that happens (which cannot fall exclusively on those of you who are wrong-doers) but rather befalls on both the wrong-doers and the wronged, (and know that Allah is severe in punishment) when He punishes.
And be afraid of a trial which, if it were to fall upon you, would certainly not fall exclusively upon the evildoers among you, but would encompass them and others, and the way to guard against it is to repudiate that evil which necessarily results in [precipitating] it; and know that God is severe in retribution, against those who oppose Him.
And guard against a trial, an idolatry and a veil, which, trial, would certainly not fall upon those among you who do evil, by eliminating [their] preparedness or diminishing it in order to use it where it does not belong, or to expend it for the sake of something other than the Truth, exclusively, by virtue of their being the evildoers alone. As for the meaning of 'would certainly not fall upon', it is proscriptive, in other words, if it should fall it would fall upon these exclusively, similar to where He says and no burdened soul shall bear the burden of another [Q. 6:164]. It is possible that the meaning might be that it would not fall upon them exclusively but would subsume them and others too by virtue of the evil of keeping company with them and the transfer of their vices to those who mix with them, as in where He says, exalted be He, corruption has appeared in the land and on sea because of what people's hands have perpetrated [Q. 30:41]; and know that God is severe in retribution, by giving mastery to the dark configurations which their hearts have acquired over these [hearts] and veiling them from Him and chastising them therewith.
Allah warns His believing servants of a Fitnah, trial and test, that encompasses the wicked and those around them. Therefore, such Fitnah will not be restricted to the sinners and evildoers. Rather, it will reach the others if the sins are not stopped and prevented. Imam Ahmad recorded that Mutarrif said, "We asked Az-Zubayr, `O Abu `Abdullah! What brought you here (for the battle of Al-Jamal) You abandoned the Khalifah who was assassinated (`Uthman, may Allah be pleased with him) and then came asking for revenge for his blood' He said, `We recited at the time of the Messenger of Allah, and Abu Bakr, `Umar and `Uthman,
(And fear the Fitnah (affliction and trial) which affects not in particular (only) those of you who do wrong,) We did not think that this Ayah was about us too, until it reached us as it did.''' `Ali bin Abi Talhah reported that Ibn `Abbas said that the Ayah,
(And fear the Fitnah (affliction and trial) which affects not in particular (only) those of you who do wrong,) refers to the Companions of the Prophet in particular. In another narration from Ibn `Abbas, he said, "Allah commanded the believers to stop evil from flourishing among them, so that Allah does not encompass them all in the torment (Fitnah). '' This, indeed, is a very good explanation, prompting Mujahid to comment about Allah's statement,
(And fear the Fitnah (affliction and trial) which affects not in particular (only) those of you who do wrong,)
"Is for you too!'' Several said similarly, such as Ad-Dahhak and Yazid bin Abi Habib and several others. Ibn Mas`ud said, "There is none among you but there is something that represents a Fitnah for him, for Allah said,
إِنَّمَآ أَمْوَلُكُمْ وَأَوْلَـدُكُمْ فِتْنَةٌ
(Your wealth and your children are only a trial (Fitnah)...) 64:15. Therefore, when you seek refuge, seek it with Allah from the Fitnah that causes misguidance.'' Ibn Jarir collected this Hadith. The view that the warning in this Ayah addresses the Companions and all others is true, even though the speech in the Ayah was directed at the Companions. There are Hadiths that warn against Fitnah in general, thus providing the correctness of this explanation. Similarly there will be a separate book in which this subject will be discussed, Allah willing, as also is the case with the Imams, there being a number of writings about this. Of the most precise things that have been mentioned under this topic, is what was recorded by Imam Ahmad from Hudhayfah bin Al-Yaman that the Messenger of Allah said,
(By He in Whose Hand is my soul! You will enjoin righteousness and forbid evil, or Allah will send a punishment upon you from Him; you will supplicate then to Him, but He will not answer your supplication.)
Imam Ahmad recorded that Abu Ar-Riqad said, "I heard Hudhayfah saying, `A person used to utter one word during the time of the Messenger of Allah and become a hypocrite on account of it. I now hear such words from one of you four times in the same sitting. Surely, you will enjoin good, forbid evil and encourage each other to do good or Allah will surround you all with torment, or make the wicked among you become your leaders. The righteous among you will then supplicate, but their supplication will not be accepted.''' sImam Ahmad recorded that An-Nu`man bin Bashir said that the Prophet gave a speech in which he said, while pointing to his ears with two of his fingers,
(The parable of the person abiding by Allah's order and restrictions in comparison to those who violate them, or sit idle while they are being violated, is that of those who drew lots for their seats in a boat. Some of them got seats in the lower part, which is the most rough and worst part, and the others in the upper. When the former needed water, they had to go up to bring water and that troubled the others, so they said, `Let us make a hole in our share of the ship and get water, saving those who are above us from troubling them, so, if the people in the upper part let the others do what they suggested, all the people of the ship would be destroyed, but if they prevented them, both parties would be safe.)
This was recorded by Al-Bukhari, but not Muslim, in the Book of Partnerships and the Book of Witnesses. It was also recorded by At-Tirmidhi through a different route of narration.
Imam Ahmad recorded that Umm Salamah, the Prophet's wife, said, "I heard the Messenger of Allah saying,
(Every people among whom sins are being committed, while they are mightier and more numerous than those who do wrong, yet they did nothing to stop them, then Allah will surround them all with punishment.)
Ibn Majah collected this Hadith.
Maududi - Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi - Tafhim al-Qur'an
In vv. 21-23, the Believers were warned to guard against behaving like the hypocrites and here the remedy is being prescribed for it. The most effective antidote against hypocritical behavior is the belief in Allah and the life in the Hereafter. If a person sincerely believes that he has to deal with that Allah Who knows everything-even the intentions, desires, designs, thoughts, etc., hidden in the hearts arc known to Him- and that one has ultimately to return to Him, he will try his best to refrain from such a behavior. That is why the Qur'an mentions these two articles of Faith over and over again as a remedy to cure the evil of hypocrisy.
"That mischief" refers to those collective evils that are not confined to individuals but are so widespread that a large number of persons in a locality become addicted to these at the same time. In such a case, it is not the wrongdoers alone who are seized by the scourge of Allah but also those few people who arc involved in those evils. This is because they put up with life in such evil surroundings.
In order to illustrate this, let us consider the case of a town from the point of view of its sanitary conditions. If filth lies scattered at a few places, its evil effects remain confined to that particular locality or localities and only those people who keep their houses or persons dirty suffer from the consequent diseases. But if filth gets scattered all over the town and there is no one to prevent it and restore sanitary conditions, then the air, the water and the soil will all be contaminated and become so poisonous as to cause the outbreak of an epidemic in the whole town. Obviously it will not discriminate between those who scattered the tilth and those who refrained from it, but will affect all the people who live in those surroundings. The same is the case of moral impurity, corruption and obscenity. If these evils are found in some persons individually but the fear of the good people of the society keeps them under check, the evil effects remain confined to the wrongdoers alone. On the other hand, if the collective conscience of the society becomes so weak that it cannot keep the evil suppressed, and the wrongdoers, the indecent and the unmoral people become so bold that they begin to commit their filthy acts openly, that mischief takes the forth of an epidemic of immorality. Then even those good people who remain content with their own individual goodness and adopt a passive attitude towards the widespread evils, fall victims to the consequent scourge because they did nothing to prevent the spread of the epidemic.
In this way Allah impresses upon the Muslims the importance of the mission of reform and guidance for which the Messenger had risen and to which he was inviting them, as if to say, "There is life for you as individuals and as Community in this work. If you do not sincerely exert for its achievement and for the eradication of evils, an epidemic of evils will break out which will involve in its scourge all of you, even though there may be some among you who might. not have been guilty of either the commission of those evils or of their spread; nay, they might have been leading good lives as individuals". The same thing has already been enunciated in VII :164. And this may be regarded as the fundamental principle of that war which has been permitted by Islam for the reform of the people in general.
The words "...so that you may be grateful" are very significant in the context in which they occur. They require that the Muslims should not merely acknowledge the kindness of Allah that He brought them out of their weak position in Makkah to the security of Al-Madinah and provided them with pure and good things of life. They should also show their gratitude in a practical manner and obey Allah and His Messenger and work sincerely and devotedly for the success of his mission, facing bravely, with trust in God, the dangers, hardships, obstacles and misfortunes that come in the way. They should firmly believe that if they sincerely exert in the way of Allah, He will most surely become their Guardian and Helper as before and bring them out safely from all sorts of dangers. Thus gratitude does not mean mere acknowledgment; it has to be given a practical shape as well. It is not gratitude if one acknowledges the kindness of a benefactor but does nothing to please him or serve him sincerely or entertains doubts about the kindness of the benefactor in future; it is ingratitude.
"Your trusts" is a very comprehensive term and includes all those things that are entrusted to anyone for fulfillment, whether they concern individuals or communities. For instance, one should not violate treaties and agreements or betray secrets of community or misappropriate property and office entrusted to one's care. (For further details, please refer to E.N. 88 of An-Nisa).
Worldly goods and children generally prove to be the greatest temptations that lead a person to the ways of hypocrisy, treachery and dishonesty. That is why Allah has warned the Believers to be on their guard against indulging in too much love of money and children, as if to say, "This world is a big Examination Hall, and Your wealth and Your children are two of its question papers. These have been given to you only to test whether you fulfill their prescribed rights and keep the prescribed limits; whether you walk straight on the Right Way while carrying the burden of responsibilities or swerve from it because of the attractions of allurements and temptations; and whether you control your "self' which is liable to become their slave in a way that it remains the slave of Allah, and at the same time renders their rights in the way He has prescribed.
The Believers have been assured that if they behave in a God-fearing way, Allah will provide them with the criterion (that is, the true knowledge and the right understanding of all affairs), to enable them to discern between right and wrong. Thus, if they so intend, they will be able to do the Will of God and follow the way He approves of. That criterion will serve as a signal at every turning, every crossing, every up and down and show them the Right Way, the Way of God, and warn them of the false ways, the ways of Satan.