Saturday 22 September 2018

Surah Al-Munafiqoon: The Hypocrites (Summary of 63rd Chapter of the Holy Quran)

Hypocrisy is the contrivance of a false appearance of virtue or goodness, while concealing real character or inclinations, especially with respect to religious and moral beliefs. Thus In moral psychology, it is the failure to follow one's own expressed moral rules and principles. [1]

The world has never been short of the hypocrites since time immemorial. Some say Brutus was a hypocrite of all times. But he wasn't alone in line to have worn the crown of hypocrisy. Even prophets were often surrounded by such duel faced people who did more harm to them than any pleasure. And Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was not exception. And when we talk of early history of Islam, one name is strikingly comes to forth: Abdullah bin Ubayy bin Salul of the Banu Kazraj. And because of his hypocrisy, this surah was revealed to warn the Prophet of Allah of such like hypocrites lest he was harmed.

About 300 men in Madinah were hypocrites, who didn't want to become Muslim but accepted Islam to go by the majority so as not to be singled out and assumed that it would be in their interests to be part of the majority. Interestingly, there are no reported cases of hypocrites in Makkah for pagans of Makkah powerful and could assert their enmity to Islam and the Prophet of Allah openly. On the contrary, the popularity of Islam and a large number of Medina embracing Islam put the non Muslims in odds. So they outwardly accepted Islam, but inwardly they collaborated with the pagans of Makkah and other non believers to harm cause of Islam as much as possible.

Sūrat al-Munāfiqoon, 63rd Chapter of the Holy Quran contains eleven verses and was revealed in Medina. Please read Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi's "Tafhim al-Qur'an - The Meaning of the Qur'an" which explains in detail the why of revelation of this surah, the main subject being the hypocrites of Madinah under Abdullah bin Ubayy. [2]

Herein under is the translation of the surah with notes here and there to better understand each verse and the reasons of so saying by Allah:
بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمٰنِ الرَّحِيْمِ 
"In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful"
1. When the hypocrites come to you, they say: We bear witness that you are most surely Allah's Messenger; and Allah knows that you are most surely His Messenger, and Allah bears witness that the hypocrites are surely liars.
2. They make their oaths a shelter, and thus turn away from Allah's way; surely evil is that which they do.
3. That is because they believe, then disbelieve, so a seal is set upon their hearts so that they do not understand.
4. And when you see them, their persons will please you, and If they speak, you will listen to their speech; (they are) as if they were big pieces of wood clad with garments; they think every cry to be against them. They are the enemy, therefore beware of them; may Allah destroy them, whence are they turned back?
Here the hypocrites of Madinah have been referred to as "pieces of wood clad with garments." Whenever they came to sit in the Holy Prophet's assembly, they would sit reclining on cushions against the walls and would seemingly talk agreeably and convincingly. From their outward appearance and manner of speech no one could imagine that those honorable people of the city would be so wretched and degraded in their character.

Comparing them to timber is meant to imply that they are devoid of the moral sense which is the essence of humanity Then by comparing them to blocks of timber propped up against the wall, it has also been pointed out that they are absolutely worthless, for the timber would be useful only when it has been utilized in making of a ceiling, or a door frame, or a piece of furniture. A block of timber that has just been placed against a wall serves no useful purpose at all.

The verse "they think every cry to be against them"  portrays the state of their guilty conscience. Since they fully well knew what game of hypocrisy they were playing, they always remained in a state of alarm, afraid of secret of their treason might be exposed. If ever a cry was raised anywhere in the city, or a noise was heard; they immediately grew alarmed and thought it was directed against themselves. 
5. And when it is said to them: Come, the Messenger of Allah will ask forgiveness for you, they turn back their heads and you may see them turning away while they are big with pride.
6. It is alike to them whether you beg forgiveness for them or do not beg forgiveness for them; Allah will never forgive them; surely Allah does not guide the transgressing people.
In verse 6, two things have been stated. First, that the prayer of forgiveness can be beneficial only for those who are guided. Let alone a common man, even if Allah's Messenger himself prays for the forgiveness of the person, who has turned away from guidance and adopted the way of sin and transgression instead of obedience, he cannot be forgiven. Second, that it is not Allah's way to bless with guidance those who do not seek His guidance. If a person himself turns away from Allah's guidance, rather shakes his head with arrogance and rejects the invitation when he is called towards guidance, Allah has no need that He should go after him with His guidance and implore him to come to the right path. [2]
7. They it is who say: Do not spend upon those who are with the Messenger of Allah until they break up. And Allah's are the treasures of the heavens and the earth, but the hypocrites do not understand.
8. They say: If we return to Medina, the mighty will surely drive out the meaner therefrom; and to Allah belongs the might and to His Messenger and to the believers, but the hypocrites do not know.
9. O you who believe! let not your wealth, or your children, divert you from the remembrance of Allah; and whoever does that, these are the losers.
10. And spend out of what We have given you before death comes to one of you, so that he should say: My Lord! why didst Thou not respite me to a near term, so that I should have given alms and been of the doers of good deeds?
In above verses,  mention of the possessions and the children, in particular, has been made, for man mostly turns away from the demands of the faith for the sake of their well-being and interests and becomes weak in faith, or disobedience; otherwise it implies everything of the world that allures and absorbs man so completely that he becomes heedless of the remembrance of God. This heedlessness in respect of the remembrance of God is indeed the root cause of all evil. If man only remembers that he is not free but the servant of One God, and that God is fully aware of all his actions and deeds, and he will by held accountable one day before Him for all his actions and deeds, he would never be involved in any deviation and wickedness, and if ever he commits an error due to a human weakness, he will immediately rectify it as soon as he comes to realize his wrongdoing and repent. [2]
11. But never will Allah delay a soul when its time has come. And Allah is Acquainted with what you do.
And this is the last caution: When a person's term comes to an end, Allah never grants any respite. Allah is well aware of all that you do. So do not wait that time to come when even the wealthiest with all the might and wealth, power and status will never be able to resist the angel of death. Don't men ponder over this - ever ??

You may now like to listen to the recitation of Surah Al-Munafiqoon in Arabic along with English subtitles:
You may refer to our post "114 Chapters (Sūrahs) of the Holy Qur'an" for translation, meaning and summary of other chapters (Though not complete but building up from 30th Part backwards for chapters in 30th Part are shorter and easier to understand)

Photo | References: | 1 | 2 | 3 |
An effort has been made to gather explanation of the surahs of the Holy Qur'an from authentic souses and then present a least possible condensed explanation of the surah. However, those wanting detailed explanations and tafsir (exegesis), may refer to sites the references of which are given above.

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Dear Jalal Thanks for sharing UltimateDecision blog. Translation n further explanation is simple n easy to understand. May Almighty Allah guide us n give us toufeeq to follow Qurran n sunnah in true spirit. JazakAllah

Many thanks Jamil - look forward to seeing your friends joining in and getting enlightened

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