فِیۡ قُلُوۡبِہِمۡ مَّرَضٌ ۙ فَزَادَہُمُ اللّٰہُ مَرَضًا ۚ وَ لَہُمۡ عَذَابٌ اَلِیۡمٌۢ ۬ۙ بِمَا کَانُوۡا یَکۡذِبُوۡنَ ﴿۱۱﴾
فِي قُلُوبِهِم مَّرَضٞ فَزَادَهُمُ ٱللَّهُ مَرَضٗاۖ وَلَهُمۡ عَذَابٌ أَلِيمُۢ بِمَا كَانُواْ يَكۡذِبُونَ
c. 5:53; 9:125; 74:32. (close)
30. God has shown so many Signs in support of Islam and it has become gradually so powerful that the hypocrites have become more and more afraid of Muslims and have consequently grown in their hypocrisy. (close)
a. 5:53; 9:125; 74:32. (close)
17. Important Words:
مرض (disease) is derived from مرض i.e. he fell ill; he lost his health. Thus مرض means, anything whereby a man loses his health (physical, moral or spiritual); disease or hypocrisy; doubt or darkness or loss; omission of any kind (Aqrab); any disease or any physical or moral weakness or defect of faith, in fact, anything that hinders man’s physical, moral or spiritual progress (Mufradat).
یكذبون (they lie) is derived from كذب which means, he lied; he said what was untrue while he knew the truth; he gave a wrong account of something, whether intentionally or unintentionally; it (the heart or the eye) felt or perceived wrongly (Aqrab); he said what was true but said it insincerely, i.e. he himself believed the thing to be untrue (the Quran 63:2). كذب(kadhdhaba) is the causative or transitive form from كذب. They say كذبه i.e. he accused him of lying; he attributed falsehood to him in his claim or statement; he pronounced him a liar. كذب به means, he rejected and disbelieved it. كاذبmeans a liar, and كذاب means a great and habitual liar. كذب (kadhib) and كذاب (kidhdhab) mean, falsehood, lie, untruth; also the act of uttering a lie. كذاب also means the act of accusing one of lying (Lane & Aqrab).
God speaks of two diseases of the heart: (1) كفر i.e. disbelief; and (2) نفاق i.e. hypocrisy. The former has already been referred to in verses 7 and 8. The present verse refers to the disease of hypocrisy and points out that those suffering from it do not act as normal healthy persons do.
The Holy Prophet has mentioned the following signs of hypocrisy. Says he: "When a hypocrite speaks, he lies; and when he makes a promise, he does not fulfil it; and when he is entrusted with anything, he acts dishonestly and when he makes a contract, he breaks it; and when he engages in a dispute, he uses foul words" (Bukhari).
In the verse under comment the increase of hypocrisy is attributed to God, not because God increases it but because the increase results from disregard of His commands; also because it is God who finally dispenses the good and evil consequences of human actions. The Quran has only been revealed for healing diseases. Says Allah: O mankind! There has come to you an exhortation from your Lord and a cure for whatever disease there is in the hearts (10:58).
The increasing of disease also means that the expanding power of Islam was naturally increasing the disease of the hypocrites who were all the more forced to remain, against their will, in outward friendliness with the Muslims.
In the case of disbelievers the punishment mentioned is عذاب عظیم (great punishment), whereas in the case of hypocrites it is عذاب الیم(grievous punishment). This is because disbelievers express their disbelief and enmity openly, while hypocrites keep their feelings of hatred and malice concealed in their hearts, thinking that they are thereby deriving twofold pleasure—one of enmity towards Islam and the other, of befooling the Muslims. So the retribution in store for the hypocrites is characterized by special pain and anguish—a fit recompense for their false pleasure. (close)
وَ اِذَا قِیۡلَ لَہُمۡ لَا تُفۡسِدُوۡا فِی الۡاَرۡضِ ۙ قَالُوۡۤا اِنَّمَا نَحۡنُ مُصۡلِحُوۡنَ ﴿۱۲﴾
وَإِذَا قِيلَ لَهُمۡ لَا تُفۡسِدُواْ فِي ٱلۡأَرۡضِ قَالُوٓاْ إِنَّمَا نَحۡنُ مُصۡلِحُونَ
d. 2:28, 221. (close)
a. 2:28, 221. (close)
18. Important Words:
تفسدوا (create disorder) is derived from افسد which is derived from فسد (fasuda) or فسد (fasada), i.e. he or it became corrupt or evil or vitiated or spoiled or tainted or in an altered state or in a disordered or disturbed condition, etc. The word is the opposite of صلح. The transitive form افسد means, he or it made (it or him) bad or corrupt or vitiated or spoiled, or put (it or him) in a disordered or disturbed condition, or simply he created disorder, etc. The word is the opposite of اصلح for which see below (Lane).
الارض (the earth) means: (1) the earth or the globe; (2) part of the earth, i.e. a land or country; (3) ground or surface of the earth; (4) floor; (5) anything that is spread on the floor; (6) anything that is low; (7) shivering or tremor (Lane).
مصلحون (promoters of peace) is derived from اصلح which is derived from صلح i.e. he or it became good or proper or righteous or in a state of order, etc. They say ھذاالشیء یصلح لك i.e. this thing is suitable or fit or meet for you. اصلح means, he or it made him or it good or proper or righteous, or put him or it in a state of order, etc. اصلح also means, he corrected or reformed or improved; or he promoted or brought about peace, harmony or reconciliation. It also means, he performed a good and right act (Lane).
The hypocrites tried to create disturbance in various ways: (1) they tried to sow discord among the Muslims by instigating the انصار i.e. Medinite helpers against the مھاجرین i.e. Meccan refugees (63:8, 9); (2) sometimes they imputed motives to the Holy Prophet in the distribution of alms (9:58), or his system of gathering information (9:61); (3) sometimes they tried to undermine the spirit of the Muslims (9:50), or to demoralize them by spreading rumours (4:84); (4) sometimes they encouraged non-Muslims to fight against Muslims (59:12).
In the present verse reference is made to the double-dealing of the hypocrites. Confronted with this, the hypocrites invariably pleaded that they were prompted by nothing but sincerity of purpose and that their intention was not to create ill-will but to establish mutual cordiality and peace. This is the typical defence of all mischief-makers.
The presence of hypocrites and malcontents is inevitable in every organised society. In a society, not properly organised, it is easy for disaffected members to leave. But in a well organised community, the malcontents find it difficult to leave. So they remain within and carry on their nefarious activities secretly. The presence of hypocrites is not a sign of weakness but rather of strength in a community. But this should not make a community neglectful about them. On the contrary, it is imperative that malcontents and hypocrites should be closely watched and properly dealt with, as and when circumstances require. The Holy Prophet was ever watchful of this class. (close)
اَلَاۤ اِنَّہُمۡ ہُمُ الۡمُفۡسِدُوۡنَ وَ لٰکِنۡ لَّا یَشۡعُرُوۡنَ ﴿۱۳﴾
أَلَآ إِنَّهُمۡ هُمُ ٱلۡمُفۡسِدُونَ وَلَٰكِن لَّا يَشۡعُرُونَ
19. Important Words:
ولكن (and but) is a combination of two words, و (and) and لكن (but). Ordinarily, only one of these words would have sufficed, but they have been used together to intensify the meaning.
In the last verse the hypocrites insinuated that it was not they but the main body of Muslims who caused disorder. The reply to this insinuation is given in the present verse in the emphatic words, Beware! it is surely they who create disorder.
The last words of the verse signify that the hypocrites lack the faculty of insight. If, instead of fabricating a defence for their duplicity, they had tried only to study their own mind, they could have easily perceived that it was not the desire of peace or reform but cowardice and jealousy that prompted their loathsome conduct. (close)
وَ اِذَا قِیۡلَ لَہُمۡ اٰمِنُوۡا کَمَاۤ اٰمَنَ النَّاسُ قَالُوۡۤا اَنُؤۡمِنُ کَمَاۤ اٰمَنَ السُّفَہَآءُ ؕ اَلَاۤ اِنَّہُمۡ ہُمُ السُّفَہَآءُ وَ لٰکِنۡ لَّا یَعۡلَمُوۡنَ ﴿۱۴﴾
وَإِذَا قِيلَ لَهُمۡ ءَامِنُواْ كَمَآ ءَامَنَ ٱلنَّاسُ قَالُوٓاْ أَنُؤۡمِنُ كَمَآ ءَامَنَ ٱلسُّفَهَآءُۗ أَلَآ إِنَّهُمۡ هُمُ ٱلسُّفَهَآءُ وَلَٰكِن لَّا يَعۡلَمُونَ
31. The hypocrites regarded the Muslims as a pack of fools in that they suffered, as the hypocrites thought, useless sacrifice of life and property for a lost cause. They themselves are fools, says the verse, as the cause of Islam is destined to make progress and to prosper. (close)
20. Important Words:
سفھاء (foolish people) which is the plural of سفیه is derived from سفه i.e. he was or became light-witted or ignorant. The word سفیه means: 1. simple or light-witted or foolish; 2. ignorant; 3. fickle and inconstant; 4. weak in intelligence; 5. one whose opinion is of no consequence; 6. one who squanders away his wealth and property without consideration (Aqrab, Mufradat & Lisan).
یعلمون (they know) is derived from علم i.e. he knew. علمه means: 1. he knew it or became acquainted with it; 2. he knew it thoroughly so as to base his belief on it (Aqrab).
The verse means that when the believers asked the hypocrites to be sincere in their faith, the hypocrites would say that the believers were like fools squandering away their lives and property, a mere handful of men who had taken up the fight against the whole country.
The hypocrites called true Muslims "fools" because they thought they (the hypocrites) could protect their own lives and property by maintaining friendly relations with the disbelievers; while the true Muslims, on account of their complete estrangement from disbelievers, were exposing their lives and possessions to constant danger. Muslims were also given to spending recklessly on religion. Such allegations are contained in 5:59; 8:50; 9:79 & 63:8. God replies to them by saying: Their possessions and their children should not excite thy wonder; Allah only intends to punish them therewith in this world, that their souls may depart while they are disbelievers (9:85). The verse means that soon the hypocrites would witness the ruin of their possessions, while Muslims would prosper. Success and prosperity come, not of cowardice and stinginess, but of courage and sacrifice, and the hypocrites were hopelessly lacking in both these qualities.
In fulfilment of this prophecy ‘Abdullah bin Ubayy, the hypocrite leader, lived to see the frustration of his designs against Islam and his only son became a true and zealous Muslim. (close)
وَ اِذَا لَقُوا الَّذِیۡنَ اٰمَنُوۡا قَالُوۡۤا اٰمَنَّا ۚۖ وَ اِذَا خَلَوۡا اِلٰی شَیٰطِیۡنِہِمۡ ۙ قَالُوۡۤا اِنَّا مَعَکُمۡ ۙ اِنَّمَا نَحۡنُ مُسۡتَہۡزِءُوۡنَ ﴿۱۵﴾
وَإِذَا لَقُواْ ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ قَالُوٓاْ ءَامَنَّا وَإِذَا خَلَوۡاْ إِلَىٰ شَيَٰطِينِهِمۡ قَالُوٓاْ إِنَّا مَعَكُمۡ إِنَّمَا نَحۡنُ مُسۡتَهۡزِءُونَ
a. 2:77; 3:120; 5:62. (close)
32. Shayatin means, ring-leaders (Ibn-e-‘Abbas, Ibn-e-Mas‘ud, Qatadah and Mujahid). The Holy Prophet is reported to have said: 'A single rider is a Shaitan, a pair of riders is also a pair of Shaitans, but three riders are a body of riders (Dawud). The tradition lends support to the view that Shaitan does not necessarily mean a devil. (close)
b. 9:64-65. (close)
a. 2:77; 3:120; 5:62. (close)
b. 9:64, 65. (close)
21. Important Words:
خلوا (they are alone) is derived from خلا i.e. he was alone. They say خلا الرجل i.e. the man was alone in a place. خلا المكانmeans, the house became empty and untenanted. خلا الشیء means, the thing passed away. خلا الیه or خلا به or خلا معه means, he was alone with him; he met him in private (Aqrab). خلا فلان means, he died (Lisan).
شیاطین (ringleaders) is the plural of شیطان (satan) which is either derived from (1) شطن or (2) شاط (Mufradat). شطن عنه means, he was or became distant or remote from him or it. شطن صاحبه means, he opposed his comrade and turned him from his intention or course (Aqrab). Derived from this root the word شیطان would mean, the being who is not only himself far from truth but also turns others away from it.
The other derivation is from شاط which means, he burnt: he perished. Derived from this root the word شیطان would mean, the being who burns with hate and anger and is lost.
In common usage the word شیطان means: (1) the wicked or Evil Spirit, i.e. Satan; (2) anybody who greatly transgresses the proper limits and is excessively proud and rebellious; (3) serpent (Aqrab); (4) any blamable power or faculty or propensity like anger, etc. (Mufradat); (5) any painful condition like excessive thirst, etc. (Lane). In its wider sense, the word has also come to be used about anything which is harmful and injurious and is likely to cause suffering.
مستهزءُون (mocking) is derived from استهزاء which again is derived from ھزأ, both having the same meaning. ھزء به and استهزأ به mean, he laughed at, or mocked or scoffed at, or derided him; he made light of him. ھزأ also means, he died suddenly; he put it (camel, etc.) in motion. ھزأ and ھزوا are infinitive nouns from ھزأ and mean: (1) mocking or scoffing or jesting, etc.; (2) object of mocking, etc. (Aqrab & Kashshaf).
The context of the verse makes it clear that by شیاطین here is meant not evil spirits but rebellious ringleaders among the disbelievers and the hypocrites who were proud and haughty and ready to transgress all limits. Reference to such leaders has been made in 33:68 where God says, And they (the people of Hell) will say, 'Our Lord, we obeyed our chiefs and our great ones and they led us astray from the way.' These were the men who egged on the hypocrites to mischief and who were ever burning with jealousy and hate at seeing the Muslims prosper and who had gone far astray from truth.
Some Christian writers have rendered the word شیاطین in this verse as "satans" or "devils", and then charged the Quran with reviling idolaters, Jews and Christians. The charge is groundless; for, as already explained, the word شیاطین does not here mean "satans" but simply proud and mischievous ringleaders. In fact, as shown above, the word شیطان has a very wide significance in Arabic. The Holy Prophet once said to his Companions, "A single rider is a shaitan, a pair of riders also is a pair of shaitans, but three riders are a body of riders" (Dawud). The meaning here is that one rider is exposed to mischief and danger and so are two riders, but three riders travelling together form a safe company. Christian critics, ever keen on finding fault with the Quran, forget the New Testament passages (Mark 8:33; 8:38 & Matt. 3:7; 23:33) where Jesus calls a disciple satan and his opponents serpents and a generation of vipers, etc.
This meaning of the word شیاطین i.e. ringleaders from among disbelievers and hypocrites, is supported by eminent Muslim scholars like Ibn ‘Abbas, Qatadah, Mujahid, and ‘Abdullah bin Mas‘ud (Jarir). (close)
اَللّٰہُ یَسۡتَہۡزِئُ بِہِمۡ وَ یَمُدُّہُمۡ فِیۡ طُغۡیَانِہِمۡ یَعۡمَہُوۡنَ ﴿۱۶﴾
ٱللَّهُ يَسۡتَهۡزِئُ بِهِمۡ وَيَمُدُّهُمۡ فِي طُغۡيَٰنِهِمۡ يَعۡمَهُونَ
d. 6:111; 7:187; 10:12. (close)
33A. The words do not mean that God grants the hypocrites respite to let them increase in their transgression. Such a meaning is contradicted by (35:38), where it is stated that God grants disbelievers respite that they should reform themselves. (close)
34. ‘Umyun is the plural of A‘ma which is derived from al-‘Ama. Al-‘Amah means, mental blindness and al-‘Ama means, both mental and physical blindness (Aqrab). (close)
a. 9:79; 11:9; 21:42. (close)
b. 6:111; 7:187; 10:12. (close)
22. Important Words:
یستهزئ (will punish mockery). See 2:15 and also commentary below.
یمدھم (He will let them continue) is derived from مد. They say مدہ meaning, he let him continue in a course, or he granted him a delay or respite. Literally مد means, he spread, or he stretched, or he made a thing extend (Aqrab).
طغیان (transgression) is derived from طغی which means, he exceeded the proper limits. طغی فلان means, he was excessive in sin and transgression. طغی الماء means, the water was in flood (Aqrab).
یعمھون (wandering blindly) is derived from عمه which means, he was or became confounded or perplexed and was unable to see his way, and went to and fro in confusion (Aqrab). عمه is like عمی; but whereas عمی is wider in its significance, being used for blindness both physical and mental, عمه is confined to mental blindness only (Kashshaf). عمه also means, it (the place) lost all marks or signs helpful for identification or for finding a way through it (Aqrab).
In this verse the word یستھزئ (lit. will mock) has been used for God, and this has occasioned the criticism that the God of the Quran is given to mocking. The criticism is due to the utter ignorance of Arabic idiom and usage. In Arabic, punishment for an evil is sometimes denoted by the term used for the evil itself. For instance, in 42:41 we read وجزاء سیئة سیئة مثلھا i.e. the penalty for an evil is an evil the like thereof, whereas the penalty of an evil is not an evil. Again in 2:195 the word اعتداء (transgression) is used for the punishment of transgression. Similarly, the well-known pre-Islamic Christian poet, ‘Amr bin Kulthum says:
الا لایجھلن احد علینا
فنجھل فوق جھل الجاھلینا
"Beware! Nobody should employ ignorance against us; or we will show greater ignorance in return;" i.e. we will severely avenge such ignorance (Mu‘allaqat).
Thus the expression الله یستھزئ بھم does not mean, Allah shall mock at them, but that Allah will punish them for their mocking. The former meaning, followed by some translators, is absolutely inconsistent with the spirit of the Quran which condemns jest and ridicule as marks of ignorance (2:68). How, then, can God attribute to Himself what He declares to be a practice of the ignorant?
The clause, Allah will let them continue in their transgression, should not be understood to mean that God grants the hypocrites respite to let them increase in transgression. Such a meaning is contradicted by verses 6:111 and 35:38, where it is clearly stated that God grants the disbelievers respite with the sole object of reforming them but they unfortunately only increase in transgression.
The word یعمھون (wandering blindly) is derived from the root عمه which, as explained above, signifies, besides other meanings, the absence of signs or marks; The meaning here would, therefore, be that the hypocrites persist in their wickedness without care or consideration, as if the way they are travelling has lost all signs, leaving the traveller without any sense of distance or direction. (close)
اُولٰٓئِکَ الَّذِیۡنَ اشۡتَرَوُا الضَّلٰلَۃَ بِالۡہُدٰی ۪ فَمَا رَبِحَتۡ تِّجَارَتُہُمۡ وَ مَا کَانُوۡا مُہۡتَدِیۡنَ ﴿۱۷﴾
أُوْلَـٰٓئِكَ ٱلَّذِينَ ٱشۡتَرَوُاْ ٱلضَّلَٰلَةَ بِٱلۡهُدَىٰ فَمَا رَبِحَت تِّجَٰرَتُهُمۡ وَمَا كَانُواْ مُهۡتَدِينَ
a. 2:87, 176; 3:178; 14:4; 16:108. (close)
35. (1) They have given up guidance and taken error instead; (2) both guidance and error were offered to them but they preferred error and refused guidance. (close)
23. Important Words:
اشتروا (have taken in exchange) is derived from اشتری which again is derived from شری both having the same meaning, i.e. he purchased a thing or became owner of a thing by purchase. The word also sometimes gives the meaning of باع i.e. he sold a thing. The word اشتری is also used of a person who gives up one thing and lays hold on another (Aqrab).
The expression, who have taken error in exchange for guidance, means (1) that they have given up guidance and taken error instead; or (2) that both guidance and error were offered to them but they preferred error and refused guidance. Both these meanings apply here. According to the first, the verse would mean that originally everybody is endowed with a pure nature and the best of capacities (30:31; 95:5), but, owing to wrong training or wrongdoing, the original nature and capacities become lost. In this case "guidance" would mean the nature or capacities with which every man is endowed by God, and "exchange" would mean that, through improper use, people lose the God-given guidance, landing themselves in error instead. According to the second meaning, the verse would signify that through His Messengers, God communicates to man only truth and guidance, whereas Satan presents to him his own evil teaching. Wrong choice by man results in hisacceptance of error instead of guidance.
This traffic, however, brings the hypocrites no gain. They believe that by preferring the promptings of Satan to the guidance of God, they would reap a good profit in this life. But, says God, they will reap no such profit. On the contrary, they will be the losers and will suffer humiliation through their own wrong choice.
The words, nor are they rightly guided, point to yet another consequence of the wrong choice of hypocrites. They will not only suffer loss and humiliation in this life, but will also suffer punishment in the life to come, for being deprived of guidance they will not reach the goal. Thus the words, their traffic has brought them no gain, refer to the benefits that accrue to one in this life, and the words, nor are they rightly guided, refer to the end they will meet in the life to come.
The verse teaches an important truth. Every action of man is attended by two kinds of results, one immediate and the other deferred. A person who is detected in theft suffers punishment and humiliation in this life. This is the immediate consequence of his action. The deferred consequence is that, by the same action, he reduces his ability to find and accept the truth and guidance. Similarly, when a person does a good deed, the immediate result is that he is pleased with himself and rises in the estimation of others. The deferred consequence is that he increases his power of finding and accepting truth and guidance. It is the deferred consequences that are referred to in the expression, nor are they rightly guided. (close)
مَثَلُہُمۡ کَمَثَلِ الَّذِی اسۡتَوۡقَدَ نَارًا ۚ فَلَمَّاۤ اَضَآءَتۡ مَا حَوۡلَہٗ ذَہَبَ اللّٰہُ بِنُوۡرِہِمۡ وَ تَرَکَہُمۡ فِیۡ ظُلُمٰتٍ لَّا یُبۡصِرُوۡنَ ﴿۱۸﴾
مَثَلُهُمۡ كَمَثَلِ ٱلَّذِي ٱسۡتَوۡقَدَ نَارٗا فَلَمَّآ أَضَآءَتۡ مَا حَوۡلَهُۥ ذَهَبَ ٱللَّهُ بِنُورِهِمۡ وَتَرَكَهُمۡ فِي ظُلُمَٰتٖ لَّا يُبۡصِرُونَ
36. The word "fire" is sometimes used for war. "The kindler of fire" in the verse may signify either the hypocrites who conspired with disbelievers to wage war against Islam, or the Holy Prophet who under God’s command kindled a Divine light. He is reported to have said: 'My example is like that of a person who kindles a fire' (Bukhari). (close)
b. 6:40, 123; 24:41. (close)
37. The expression signifies that the hypocrites fomented wars in order to re-establish their lost influence but the actual result of these wars was the exposure of their hypocrisy and their consequent confusion and perplexity. The word Zulumat has always been used in the Qur’an in the plural, signifying moral and spiritual darkness. Sin and vice never exist in isolation. One vice attracts another and one misfortune draws another. The meaning is that the hypocrites are overtaken by manifold dangers and calamities. (close)
a. 6:40, 123; 24:41. (close)
24. Important Words:
مثل (case) gives a number of meanings: (1) likeness or similitude; (2) state or condition; (3) reason or argument; (4) proverb, etc (Aqrab)..
اضاء (it lighted up) is derived from ضاء i.e. it or he became bright or lit up. اضاء is used both transitively and intransitively. Used transitively it means, it lit up or lighted up (the surroundings, etc.), and used intransitively it means, it became bright or lit up. الضیاء or الضوء means, light (Aqrab). In the verse under comment the word has been used transitively.
ظلمات (darkness or lit. darknesses), which is the plural of ظلمة i.e. darkness or absence of light, is derived from ظلم i.e. it became dark. The word ظلمة is also used figuratively to signify ضلالة i.e. error or ignorance, just as the word نور i.e. light is sometimes used to signify ھدایة i.e. guidance (Aqrab). ظلمة also means, affliction, hardship and danger. In the verse the word ظلمات has been used in the plural form in order to signify that the position or place spoken of is not only wanting in light, but is also ful1 of various dangers. In the Quran the word is always used in the plural and denotes different kinds of darkness, physical, moral or spiritual. In the moral and spiritual sense the plural form also signifies that sins and evil deeds do not stand alone, but grow and multiply, one stumbling leading to another.
The verse speaks of hypocrites who were unbelievers at heart but outwardly formed part of the Muslim community. The light of the Holy Prophet or the light of Islam touched their outside, but owing to the diseased condition of their hearts it could not penetrate their inside, which is essential for true religious conversion; so they remained virtually deprived of that light. "The kindler of fire" in the verse can mean either: (1) the class of hypocrites who kindled a fire for themselves, i.e. they accepted the light of Islam but when the light grew in intensity and lit up the surroundings, their hidden disease got the better of them and they lost the light and were left in utter darkness. In this case the Arabic text would read somewhat like this: مثلھم كمثل الذین استوقدوا نارا فلما اضاءت ماحولھم۔الخ i.e. their condition is like the condition of those who kindle a fire, etc. This reading would be quite correct according to Arabic idiom and the style of the Quran itself. Or, (2) it may mean the Holy Prophet of Islam who, under God’s command, kindled a fire or a light but then the class of hypocrites came into being, whom the light touched but did not penetrate. Though apparently in light, they were really deprived of it, and owing to the disease of their heart their deprivation grew as the light increased. In this case the Arabic text would read somewhat like this: مثلھم كمثل بعض اصحاب الذی استوقد نارا فلما اضاءت ماحوله۔الخ i.e. their condition is like the condition of some of those surrounding a person who kindles a fire, etc. This reading is also correct according to the Arabic idiom. In either case the people deprived of light are the hypocrites.
By 'a fire' is meant, the light of divine teaching and heavenly signs. This is corroborated by other passages in the Quran. In 28:30, 31, it is said that Moses saw a fire near Mount Sinai and, approaching it, he heard a voice, saying, O Moses, verily I, even I, am Allah, the Lord of the worlds. Elsewhere in the Quran divine revelation is compared to "fire" and it is stated that some human beings possessing extraordinary spiritual potency are near to being lit up even without divine revelation (24:36). Thus, according to the Quran, the word "fire" sometimes signifies the light of divine teaching and heavenly signs, and in the present verse the word has been used in this very sense.
According to Arab usage, the word "fire" is sometimes also used for war. In 5:65 the Jews are said to have lighted the fire of war. In this sense, the verse would mean that hypocrites conspired with disbelievers to wage war against Islam. But the war only served to increase the power of Islam, leaving the hypocrites utterly confounded.
The words, Allah took away their light, may mean that the wars tore away from the hypocrites the bright mantle of Islam with which they had disguised themselves. The wars not only failed to bring the expected victory to the disbelievers, but also helped to expose the hypocrites who betrayed themselves by failing to join up with the Muslims and share the perils of the wars with them. The gradual extension and elaboration of the teachings of Islam also helped the exposure. The more commands there were to obey, the more burdensome did obedience prove to the hypocrites.
The expression, left them in thick darkness; they see not, means that the hypocrites had fomented the wars in order to re-establish their influence but the actual result of these wars was the exposure of their hypocrisy and their consequent confusion and perplexity.
If the word "fire" means the light of Islam, the verse would signify that though the light of Islam touched the hypocrites on the outside, yet their hearts remained unaffected by it. God deprived them not only of the light of revelation with all its blessings but also of the light of conscience which He has implanted in the nature of man. (close)
صُمٌّۢ بُکۡمٌ عُمۡیٌ فَہُمۡ لَا یَرۡجِعُوۡنَ ﴿ۙ۱۹﴾
صُمُّۢ بُكۡمٌ عُمۡيٞ فَهُمۡ لَا يَرۡجِعُونَ
c. 2:172; 6:40; 7:180; 8:23; 10:43; 11:25; 17:98; 21:46; 27:81; 30:53-54; 43:41. (close)
38. As they turned a deaf ear to the Prophet’s admonition and did not express their doubts to have them dispelled and had become insensitive to the progress that Islam was making before their very eyes, they are spoken of as deaf, dumb and blind. (close)
a. 2:172; 6:40; 7:180; 8:23; 10:43; 11:25; 17:98; 21:46; 27:81; 30:53, 54; 43:41. (close)
25. Important Words:
صم (deaf persons) which is the plural of اصم (a deaf man) is derived from صم. They say صم القارورة i.e. he put a stopper into the mouth of the bottle. صم means, his ear became closed up, or he became deaf, or he had a heaviness of hearing. اصمmeans, one who has a stoppage of the ear and heaviness of hearing. رجل اصم also means, a man whom one does not hope to win over and who will not be turned back from the object of his desire. The word also signifies one who persists in his evil course (Aqrab).
بكم (dumb persons) which is the plural of ابكم (a dumb man) is derived from بكم (bakima), i.e. he became dumb. بكم(bakuma) means, he kept silent intentionally. ابكم means, one who is dumb either by natural conformation or from inability to express himself; or, one not having ability to find words, though possessing the faculty of speech (Taj).
عمی (blind persons) which is the plural of اعمی (a blind person) is derived from عمی i.e. he became totally blind. اعمی means, one physically blind of both eyes; or one blind in respect of mental vision (Aqrab). See also 2:16.
The verse aptly describes the mental condition of the class of hypocrites mentioned in the previous verse. The first cause of their going astray was that they had turned a deaf ear to the admonitions of the Prophet. Secondly, they did not give straightforward expression to their doubts to have them dispelled. Exaggerated pride and self-esteem prevented them from asking questions. Lastly, they had become insensitive to the progress Islam was making and the change it had effected in its followers. As they made no use of their ears, their tongues and their eyes, they are spoken of as deaf, dumb and blind.
The words, they will not return, point to an important truth. Man is born with a pure nature—the nature of Islam—and it is only by his evil deeds that he corrupts himself. So the words, they will not return, allude to the fact that these men have strayed away from their original good nature, and though God is calling them back to the pristine purity of their nature, they will not return. (close)
اَوۡ کَصَیِّبٍ مِّنَ السَّمَآءِ فِیۡہِ ظُلُمٰتٌ وَّ رَعۡدٌ وَّ بَرۡقٌ ۚ یَجۡعَلُوۡنَ اَصَابِعَہُمۡ فِیۡۤ اٰذَانِہِمۡ مِّنَ الصَّوَاعِقِ حَذَرَ الۡمَوۡتِ ؕ وَ اللّٰہُ مُحِیۡطٌۢ بِالۡکٰفِرِیۡنَ ﴿۲۰﴾
أَوۡ كَصَيِّبٖ مِّنَ ٱلسَّمَآءِ فِيهِ ظُلُمَٰتٞ وَرَعۡدٞ وَبَرۡقٞ يَجۡعَلُونَ أَصَٰبِعَهُمۡ فِيٓ ءَاذَانِهِم مِّنَ ٱلصَّوَٰعِقِ حَذَرَ ٱلۡمَوۡتِۚ وَٱللَّهُ مُحِيطُۢ بِٱلۡكَٰفِرِينَ
39. Sama’ means, anything which hangs overhead and gives shade; the sky or the heaven; a cloud or clouds (Lane). (close)
b. 13:13; 24:44; 30:25. (close)
40. This and the preceding verses refer to two classes of hypocrites: (1) Disbelievers who posed as Muslims; and (2) believers, bad in faith and worse in works, with leaning towards disbelief. The purport of the verse seems to be that the condition of the latter class of hypocrites is like that of those timorous people who, at a mere shower of rain with thunder and lightning, become alarmed and fail to benefit by it. (close)
c. 13:13; 24:44; 30:25. (close)
26. Important Words:
او (or) is a conjunction signifying several meanings. Here it is used in the sense of "or". It does not, however, denote doubt but simply indicates the presentation of an alternative similitude.
صیب (heavy rain) is derived from صاب which means, it came down; it descended; or it poured forth. The word صیبmeans, clouds pouring down heavy rain; or heavy rain itself (Lane).
السماء (the clouds) is derived from سما i.e. he or it became high or towering. Thus السماء means, anything that hangs high over your head and covers you in its shade; the sky; any canopy, ceiling or roof; a cloud (Aqrab).
رعد (thunder). رعدالسحاب means, the cloud thundered. رعد لی فلان means, he threatened me. رعد therefore means, thunder of clouds; or thunder of war, etc. In the present verse it is used figuratively, meaning, weighty commands; or prophecies relating to coming disasters; or injunctions relating to war, etc.
البرق (lightning) is derived from برق i.e. it shone or gave out light. برق السماء means, the sky shone with lightning. برق الشیءmeans, the thing shone with light. البرق therefore means, lightning or gleaming in the clouds (Aqrab). In this verse it is used figuratively, meaning, victories in wars; or spoils of war; or clear signs of truth, etc.
الصواعق (thunderclaps) is the plural of الصاعقة (a thunderclap) which is derived from صعق (sa‘iqa) or صعق (sa‘aqa). They say صعقت السماء القوم i.e. the sky hit the people with lightning. صعق الرعد means, the thunder grew louder. صعق الرجل means, the man fell down in a swoon; he died; he lost the power of thinking owing to some great and sudden noise accompanying a calamity. الصاعقة means: (1) lightning that descends from the thundering clouds and burns what it smites; (2) any destructive calamity or punishment; (3) death and destruction; (4) noise or report accompanying a divine punishment like an earthquake, etc.; (5) swoon and unconsciousness (Aqrab & Lane).
الموت (death) is from مات i.e. he died (in various senses); he became as if dead; he slept. موت is the opposite of حیاة (life) and means death or lifelessness. Like life, death is also of several kinds: (1) Stoppage of the power of growth (50:12). (2) Deprivation of sensation or consciousness (19:24). (3) Depri-vation of the faculty of intellect and understanding (6:123). (4) To be, as though, dead with grief or sorrow or fear (14:18). (5) Spiritual death (3:170). (6) Sleep, which the Arabs call a light sort of death (Mufradat). (7) Stillness or motionlessness. (8) Being reduced to poverty. (9) Becoming worn out. (10) Becoming base, abject, vile and despicable. (11) Becoming destitute of cultivation or of inhabitants (Lane). According to Lisan موت (death) also signifies any painful condition such as poverty, humiliation, dotage, sinfulness, etc.
This verse refers to the second class of hypocrites, viz. those who, though not quite insincere in their belief, were yet weak in their faith and practice and became upset whenever there was a threat of attack by the enemy or whenever a situation arose demanding some sacrifice. These people feared the oppression of men more than the punishment of God, and tried to maintain good relations with disbelievers by secret correspondence and by supplying information about the believers. They consoled themselves with the thought that as Islam was a true religion from God, its victory was assured in spite of anything they might do, and hence it was not proper for them to expose themselves to unnecessary danger.
Islam has no place for such weaklings. It is a religion of action and sacrifice. That is why, in the very beginning of the Quran, such people have been plainly told that God reckons them among the hypocrites and will deal with them accordingly. Islam teaches us not to spare any sacrifice to win the pleasure of God and one who is not prepared for such a complete sacrifice will not deserve the reward promised to Islam and Muslims.
This and the preceding verses refer to two classes of hypocrites: (1) disbelievers who posed as Muslims, and (2) believers bad in faith and worse in works––with leanings towards disbelievers. This is proved by the following considerations: (a) In verse 18 it is said that the hypocrites kindled a fire, but in the present verse there is no mention of the hypocrites kindling a fire. On the contrary, mention is made of signs or trials coming from heaven; (b) In the first simile it was said that when the fire illuminated its surroundings, the hypocrites were bereft of their sight. In the second simile embodied in vv. 20 & 21 it is said that when there is light, the people take advantage of it and begin to move;(c) In the first simile it was said that the people referred to were not believers. They were deaf, dumb and blind. But in the second simile it is only said that if God willed He would make these people deaf and blind, implying that they were not so already but would become so, if they continued to pursue the course they had adopted; and (d) The men in the first simile were said to be plotting against Islam and Muslims, whereas those in the second simile are not spoken of as plotting against Muslims, but simply as leaving them alone in times of danger. All these facts indicate that these verses refer to two separate classes of hypocrites and this is why the word او (or) has been placed between the two verses. They are two separate classes and not the same class.
The purport of the present verse is that the condition of the latter class of hypocrites is like that of those timorous people who, at a mere shower of rain with thunder and lightning, become timid and fail to benefit from the rain. Similarly, the coming of Islam is accompanied by trials and hardships. The true believer knows that these too have a purpose and is not upset. The trials serve only to increase his zeal.
Objection is sometimes taken against Prophets on the ground that their advent produces disorder and disunion in the earth. The verse provides an answer to this objection by pointing out that just as rain, which gives life to the earth, is accompanied by darkness and thunder and a temporary screening of the sun, even so the trials which accompany the advent of Prophets only presage the dawning of a new era in even greater splendour and effulgence.
The word صاعقة (thunderclap) is spoken of in the verse as making the hypocrites fearful of death. The verse suggests that such a fear is unreasonable because the thunder-clap which makes these people afraid comes after the lightning has actually struck. To slip one’s fingers into one’s ears can therefore serve no purpose. A state of war already exists between believers and disbelievers and this must entail some suffering and hardship. It is of no use to the hypocrites to try to escape the implications and consequences of war.
The words, Allah encompasses the disbelievers, at the end of the verse point to the unreasonableness of the fear entertained by the hypocrites. Since God has already decreed the defeat and destruction of the disbelievers, the hypocrites need have no fear of any serious harm from them. (close)