Tuesday 20 April 2021

Surah Al-Munafiqun - The Hypocrites: Tafsir / Exegesis 63rd Chapter of Qur'an

Sūrah Al-Munāfiqūn is the sixty third sürah with 11 āyāt with two rukus, part of the 28th Juzʼ  of the Qur'ān. The Surah takes its name from the sentence Idha jaa kal-munafiquna " اِذَا جَآءَكَ الۡمُنٰفِقُوۡنَ " of verse 1. This is the name of the Surah as well as the title of its subject matter, for in it a review has been made of the conduct and attitude of the hypocrites themselves. Almost all of the chapter is preserved in the Ṣan‘ā’1 lower text.

This Surah was sent down either during the Holy Prophet's return journey from his campaign against Bani al- Mustaliq, or immediately after his arrival back at Madinah, and we have established by argument and research in the Introduction to Surah An-Nur that the campaign against Bani al-Mustaliq had taken place in Sha'ban A. H. 6:Thus, the date of the revelation of this Surah is determined precisely.

For detailed historical background to this surah, click Here.
This is the seventh of the ten short Madinah Surahs dealing with a special feature in the social life of the Brotherhood. The special feature here dealt with is the wiles and mischief of Hypocrite element in any community, and the need of guarding against it against the temptation it throws in the way of the Believers.
The surah has been divided into two Ruku as under:
  • Ruku One:  Verses 1- 8: Hypocrites are such enemies of Islam and Muslims that even Rasool's prayer cannot obtain forgiveness for them from Allah
  • Ruku Two: Verses 9-11: Let not your riches or children divert you from the remembrance of Allah, lest you become a real loser
We have already presented the overview / summary of the sürah. Let us now read the verse by verse translation and exegesis / tafseer in English. 

بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمٰنِ الرَّحِيْمِ 
"In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful"

اِذَا جَآءَكَ الۡمُنٰفِقُوۡنَ قَالُوۡا نَشۡهَدُ اِنَّكَ لَرَسُوۡلُ اللّٰهِ ​ۘ وَاللّٰهُ يَعۡلَمُ اِنَّكَ لَرَسُوۡلُهٗ ؕ وَاللّٰهُ يَشۡهَدُ اِنَّ الۡمُنٰفِقِيۡنَ لَـكٰذِبُوۡنَ​ ۚ‏

Ruku One:  Verses 1- 8
( 1 )   When the hypocrites come to you, [O Muhammad], they say, "We testify that you are the Messenger of Allah." And Allah knows that you are His Messenger, and Allah testifies that the hypocrites are liars.
That is, "Although the thing they. are uttering with the tongue is true by itself, it does not reflect their belief. Therefore they lie when they say that they bear witness that you are a Messenger of Allah." Here, one should clearly understand that an evidence or witness is composed of two things: first, the actual thing to which one bears the witness; second, the concerned person's own belief about the thing to which he bears the witness, Now, if the thing by itself is true and the belief of the bearer of witness also corresponds to what he says, he will be truthful in every respect. And if the thing in itself is false; but the beater of the witness believes it to be right and true, he will be regarded as truthful in one way, for he is truthful in expressing his belief, and liar in another way, for the thing he is bearing witness to is by itself false. Contrary to this, if the thing by itself is true but the belief of the bearer of the witness is opposed to it, he will be regarded as truthful because he is testifying to the right thing, and a liar because his own belief is contrary to what he is saying with the tongue. For instance, if a Believer states that Islam is a taste religion, he is truthful in every respect, but if a Jew, while he is steadfast in his Judaism, states the same thing, he would be stating the right thing but his evidence would be regarded as false, for he is testifying against his faith and belief. And if he calls it a false religion, he would be uttering a false thing but he would be beating a true witness according to his belief. 

Yusuf Ali  Explanation: The hypocrite element, if one exists in any society, is a source of weakness and a danger to its health and its very existence. When the holy Prophet came to Madinah in Hijrat, his arrival was welcome to all the patriotic citizens: it not only united them in common life and healed their old differences, but it brought honour and light to them in the person of the greatest living Prophet. But there were some baser elements filled with envy. Such hopes as they had entertained of attaining power and leadership by playing on the animosities of the factions were now dashed to the ground. They now began to work underground. For fear of the majority they dared not oppose the new growing Brotherhood of Righteousness. They tried to undermine it by intriguing secretly with its enemies and swearing openly its loyalty to the holy Prophet. They were thoroughly unmasked and discredited at the battle of Uhud. 

See iii. 167, and explanation ( reproduced herein under):
"And the Hypocrites also. These were told: "Come fight in the way of Allah or (at least) drive (the foe from your city)." They say: "had we known how to fight we should certainly have followed you. They were that day nearer to unbelief than to faith saying with their lips what was not in their hearts. But Allah hath full knowledge of all they conceal." (3:167)
The testing of the Hypocrites was the searching out of their motives and exposing them to the sight of their brethren, who might otherwise have been taken in. In the first place they gave counsels of caution: in their minds it was nothing but cowardice. In the second place, what they wished was not the good of the community but its being placed in a contemptible position. When others were for self-sacrifice, they were for ease and fair words. Pretending to be Muslims, they were nearer to Unbelief. Ironically they pretended to know nothing of fighting, and left their devout brethren to defend their faith and ideas. If that devout spirit did not appeal to them, they might at least have defended their city of Madinah when it was threatened,-defended their hearths and homes as good citizens.

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi Explanation: Ie., they try to convince the Prophet (sws) that they are believers by swearing repeatedly. 

Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi writes: The reason that they had to swear was that their continuous errors had made them so untrustworthy that they themselves realized that unless they swore on oath on what they said, no one would believe them. A person who is confident on what he does, never swears needlessly; however, he who is confidant in this regard solely relies on his oath. (Amin Ahsan Islahi, Tadabbur-i Qur’an, vol. 8, 398) 

اِتَّخَذُوۡۤا اَيۡمَانَهُمۡ جُنَّةً فَصَدُّوۡا عَنۡ سَبِيۡلِ اللّٰهِ​ؕ اِنَّهُمۡ سَآءَ مَا كَانُوۡا يَعۡمَلُوۡنَ‏ 
( 2 )   They have taken their oaths as a cover, so they averted [people] from the way of Allah. Indeed, it was evil that they were doing.
That is, they use the oaths that they swear to convince others of their Islam and faith as a shield to save themselves from the wrath of the Muslims so that they do not treat them as they treat their open enemies.

These oaths may imply the oaths which they usually swear to convince others of their faith as well as those which they swore when they were caught committing some hypocritical act, and also those oaths which 'Abdullah bin Ubayy had sworn to contradict the report given by Hadrat Zaid bin Arqam. Besides these, there is another probability that Allah might have regarded this statement of theirs as an oath: "We bear witness that you are Allah's Messenger." This last probability has given rise to a dispute among the jurists, namely: If a person states something with the words: "I bear witness," will it be regarded as an oath or not? Imam Abu Hanifah and his companions (except Imam Zufar), Imam Sufyan Thauri and Imam Auza'i regard it as an oath (Yamin in the Shari'ah terminology). Imam Zufar says that it is not an oath. Two sayings from Imam Malik have been reported in this connection: first" that it is an oath absolutely, and second, that if while saying: "I bear witness," his intention was to say: “My God, I bear witness," or "I bear witness before God," it would he a statement on oath, otherwise not. Imam Shafe'i says: 'Even if the person says the words: "I bear witness before God." it would not be a statement made on oath, unless he uttered these words with the intention of swearing an oath," (AI-Jassas_, Ahkam al-Qur an; Ibn al'.Arabi. Ahkam al-Qur an).

The verb sadd صَدُّ in Arabic is transitive as well as intransitive. Therefore, saddu 'an sabil-Allah " فَصَدُّوۡا عَنۡ سَبِيۡلِ اللّٰهِ " means; "They turn away from the Way of Allah," as well as: 'they turn others away from the Way of Allah." According to the first meaning the verse would 'mean: "By means of these oaths they first plant themselves firmly among the Muslims and then invent ways to escape fulfilling demands of the faith and to avoid obedience to Allah and His Messenger. " According to the second meaning it would mean: "They use their false oaths as a cover for committing evil deeds. Posing as Muslims they weaken the Muslim community from within: find out the secrets of the Muslims and convey these to their enemies, create doubts about Islam among the non-Muslims and use such devices for inspiring the simple Muslims with evil suggestions which a hypocrite in the guise of a Muslim only could do, for an open enemy of Islam cannot use them. 

Yusuf Ali  Explanation: Cf. lviii. 16 and note. When they say that Muhammad is the Prophet of Allah, it is Allah's own truth: but what is in their hearts? Nothing but falsehood.

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi Explanation: Ie., they have withdrawn from Islam towards which they had come, yet by swearing oaths they would try to deceive the Muslims and try to give them the impression that they were Muslims.

ذٰلِكَ بِاَنَّهُمۡ اٰمَنُوۡا ثُمَّ كَفَرُوۡا فَطُبِعَ عَلٰى قُلُوۡبِهِمۡ فَهُمۡ لَا يَفۡقَهُوۡنَ‏ 
( 3 )   That is because they believed, and then they disbelieved; so their hearts were sealed over, and they do not understand.
In this verse "believing" means professing the faith in order to be counted among Muslims, and 'disbelieving" means not to believe sincerely and to persist in disbelief as usual. The verse means to say that when they, after due thought, decided to adopt this hypocritical attitude instead of adopting either belief or disbelief plainly, Allah caused a seal to be set on their hearts and deprived them of the grace to adopt the attitude and conduct of a true, sincere and noble person. Now, their power of understanding has been lost, their moral sense has become dead, and while following this way they never even feel that their habit of always telling lies, their deceitful behavior and the ever present contradictions between their word and deed is a wretched state in which they have involved themselves.

This is one of those verses in which the meaning of ';causing a seal to be set on the heart of somebody by Allah" has been made clear. These people did not become hypocrites because Allah .had set a seal on their hearts; so faith did not enter them, and they became hypocrites under compulsion. But, in fact, Allah set a seal on their hearts only when they decided to persist in disbelief in spite of professing the faith outwardly. Then, they were deprived of the capacity to believe sincerely and of the grace of the moral attitude resulting from it. and were helped to persist in the hypocrisy and hypocritical morals, which they had chosen to adopt for themselves. 

Muhammad Asad Explanation: The particle thumma  ثُمَّ  ("and then") has often the same function as the simple conjunctive wa ("and"), which in this case may be properly rendered as "whereas".
As Allah say verse 7 Surah 2. Al Baqarah: God has sealed their hearts and their hearing, and over their eyes is a veil;....
That is A reference to the natural law instituted by God, whereby a person who persistently adheres to false beliefs and refuses to listen to the voice of truth gradually loses the ability to perceive the truth, "so that finally, as it were, a seal is set upon his heart" (Raghib). Since it is God who has instituted all laws of nature - which, in their aggregate, are called sunnat Allah ("the way of God") - this "sealing" is attributed to Him: but it is obviously a consequence of man's free choice and not an act of "predestination". Similarly, the suffering which, in the life to come, is in store for those who during their life in this world have willfully remained deaf and blind to the truth, is a natural consequence of their free choice - just as happiness in the life to come is the natural consequence of man's endeavour to attain to righteousness and inner illumination. It is in this sense that the Qur'anic references to God's "reward" and "punishment" must be understood.

Yusuf Ali  Explanation: Cf. ii. 7. Their double-dealing has fogged their understanding. In Arabic the heart is taken to be the seat of understanding as well as of affection. 

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi Explanation: The implication is that they do not realize that the consequence of whatever they were doing will be very destructive for them; they think that they were doing something very wise but did not know that there could not be any greater foolishness that had inflicted them.

This is a reference to the established practice of the Almighty in which a person or a group of persons is deprived of guidance. 

Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi writes: … It is the law and practice of God that if people who are shown the light of Islam by Him value and honour this light, then He increases its glow. On the other hand, if they adopt a contrary attitude, and keep retracting, this light is confiscated from them and their hearts are also sealed. The consequence is that they are deprived of the ability of thinking in the right manner. (Amin Ahsan Islahi, Tadabbur-i Qur’an, vol. 8, 399)

وَاِذَا رَاَيۡتَهُمۡ تُعۡجِبُكَ اَجۡسَامُهُمۡ​ ؕ وَاِنۡ يَّقُوۡلُوۡا تَسۡمَعۡ لِقَوۡلِهِمۡ​ ؕ كَاَنَّهُمۡ خُشُبٌ مُّسَنَّدَةٌ   ​ؕ يَحۡسَبُوۡنَ كُلَّ صَيۡحَةٍ عَلَيۡهِمۡ​ ؕ هُمُ الۡعَدُوُّ فَاحۡذَرۡهُمۡ​ ؕ قَاتَلَهُمُ اللّٰهُ​ اَنّٰى يُـؤۡفَكُوۡنَ‏  
( 4 )   And when you see them, their forms please you, and if they speak, you listen to their speech. [They are] as if they were pieces of wood propped up - they think that every shout is against them. They are the enemy, so beware of them. May Allah destroy them; how are they deluded?
Hadrat 'Abdullah bin 'Abbas has stated that 'Abdullah bin Ubayy was a strongly built, healthy, handsome and smooth-tongued person, and the same was the case with most of his companions. They were all the nobles of Madinah. When they came to sit in the Holy Prophet's assembly, they would sit reclining on cushions against the walls and would 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.

That is, "Those who sit reclining on cushions against the walls, are not but but pieces of timber. 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."

" they think that every shout is against them " This brief sentence portrays the state of their guilty conscience. Since they fully well knew what game of hypocrisy they were playing tinder the screen of their superficial faith, they always remained in a state of alarm, thinking as to when the secret of their treason might be exposed, or the believers might feel disgusted with their evil deeds and machinations and take them co task for them. 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. 

In other words, these hidden enemies are more dangerous than the open enemies. 

That is, "Do not be deceived by their outward appearances. Beware of them, for they can deceive you at any moment. "

" May Allah destroy them " This is not a curse but a declaration of the verdict about them by Allah that they have become worthy of His punishment and He will certainly inflict His punishment on them. It is also possible that Allah may not have used these words in their literal sense but in the meaning of a curse and condemnation according to Arabic idiom. 

" how are they deluded? " It has not been pointed out as to who perverts them from belief to hypocrisy. This by itself makes it clear that there is not one but many factors responsible for their perversion. There is Satan, there are their evil friends, and there are their own selfish motives. Someone's wife or children become his motive, and someone is driven to perversion by the evil ones in his society, or by jealousy, spite and pride. 

Muhammad Asad Explanation: Lit., "thou dost give ear to them": i.e., hypocrisy has usually a plausible outward aspect inasmuch as it is meant to deceive.

Regarding my interpolation of the phrase "They deserve the imprecation", see note on the identical sentence at the end of 9:30:
",,,, [They deserve the imprecation:] "May God destroy them!" ..:
My interpolation, between brackets, of the words "they deserve the imprecation" is based on Zamakhshari's and Razi's convincing interpretation of this phrase. Originally, the Arabs used the expression "may God destroy him" in the sense of a direct imprecation; but already in pre-Qur'anic Arabic it had assumed the character of an idiomatic device meant to circumscribe anything that is extremely strange or horrifying: and, according to many philologists, "this, rather than its literal meaning, is the purport [of this phrase] here" (Manar X, 399).
" How perverted are their minds! "See surah {5:75}:
"... Behold how clear We make these messages unto them: and then behold how perverted are their minds! ..."
Lit., "how turned away they are [from the truth]". Primarily, the verb afaka signifies "he turned [someone or something] away"; in an abstract sense it often denotes "he uttered a lie" (because it implies a turning away from the truth). The passive form ufika has frequently the meaning of "he was turned away from his opinion" (or "from his judgment") and, thus, "his mind became perverted" or "deluded". (Cf. Qamus and Taj al-'Arus; also Lane I, 69.)

Yusuf Ali  Explanation: Cf. ii. 7. Their double-dealing has fogged their understanding. In Arabic the heart is taken to be the seat of understanding as well as of affection.

Good timber is strong in itself and can support roofs and buildings. Hollow timber is useless, and has to be propped up against other things. The Hypocrites are like rotten timber. They have no firm character themselves, and for others they are unsafe props to rely upon.

Their conscience always troubles them. If any cry is raised, they immediately get alarmed, and think it is against themselves. Such men are worse than open enemies. 

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi Explanation: This is a portrayal of their outward appearance. The implication is that they are wealthy people. The effect of this wealth is on their faces, and sharp are they are tongues as well. When they speak, they lure away the listener because of their sweet talk.

Ie., even though they have attractive faces, their persons are hollow inside. Their hearts are dead and bodies are without souls.

The actual word is: صَیۡحَۃ. Literally, it means “a scream.” However, it also denotes danger. Here it is used in this latter meaning. The implication is that these Hypocrites talk a lot but they are absolute cowards. Whenever they see some danger – whether near or far off, they think that it will strike them.

وَاِذَا قِيۡلَ لَهُمۡ تَعَالَوۡا يَسۡتَغۡفِرۡ لَـكُمۡ رَسُوۡلُ اللّٰهِ لَـوَّوۡا رُءُوۡسَهُمۡ وَرَاَيۡتَهُمۡ يَصُدُّوۡنَ وَهُمۡ مُّسۡتَكۡبِرُوۡنَ‏ 
( 5 )   And when it is said to them, "Come, the Messenger of Allah will ask forgiveness for you," they turn their heads aside and you see them evading while they are arrogant.
" they turn their heads aside and you see them evading while they are arrogant " That is, they not only refuse to come to the Messenger to seek forgiveness, but also on hearing the invitation they shake their heads with arrogance and pride, and remain adamant, thinking that it would be disgraceful for them to approach the Messenger to seek forgiveness. This is a clear sign that they are not believers. 

Yusuf Ali  Explanation: Even hypocrisy like other sins can be forgiven by repentance and amendment, provided there is a will and earnest desire to turn from evil and seek the Grace of Allah. In this case there was none. 

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi Explanation: The actual words are: لَوَّوۡا رُءُوۡسَہُمۡ وَ رَاَیۡتَہُمۡ یَصُدُّوۡنَ وَ ہُمۡ مُّسۡتَکۡبِرُوۡنَ. In verse 206 of Surah al-Baqarah this has been stated by the words: اَخَذَتۡہُ الۡعِزَّۃُ بِالۡاِثۡمِ. 

Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi writes: The way their arrogant evasion is portrayed from their limbs is expressed by the words: لَوَّوۡا رُءُوۡسَہُمۡ. This is a very eloquent expression. How this evasion effects the inner-self is stated by the words: یَصُدُّوۡنَ وَ ہُمۡ مُّسۡتَکۡبِرُوۡنَ. In other words, both their inner and outer selves are highlighted. It needs to be kept in consideration that people who do not have moral courage do not confess or condemn themselves even after their sins are revealed. They fear that if they confess once, they will lose their credibility forever. This weakness of theirs ties them up with sins. (Amin Ahsan Islahi, Tadabbur-i Qur’an, vol. 8, 402)

سَوَآءٌ عَلَيۡهِمۡ اَسۡتَغۡفَرۡتَ لَهُمۡ اَمۡ لَمۡ تَسۡتَغۡفِرۡ لَهُمۡؕ لَنۡ يَّغۡفِرَ اللّٰهُ لَهُمۡ​ؕ اِنَّ اللّٰهَ لَا يَهۡدِى الۡقَوۡمَ الۡفٰسِقِيۡنَ‏ 
( 6 )   It is all the same for them whether you ask forgiveness for them or do not ask forgiveness for them; never will Allah forgive them. Indeed, Allah does not guide the defiantly disobedient people.
" It is all the same for them whether you ask forgiveness for them or do not ask forgiveness for them " This thing was reiterated in Surah At-Taubah, which was sent down three years after Surah Al-Mtutafiqun, even in stronger words. In that Surah Allah, while addressing the Holy Prophet (upon whom be Allah's peace) said this about the hypocrites: 'O Prophet (it will be all the same) whether you beg forgiveness for them or not, for Allah will not forgive them even if you beg forgiveness for them seventy times. This is because they have disbelieved in Allah and His Messenger, and Allah does not show guidance to the wrongdoers." (At Taubah: 80). A little further on in that Surah it was again said: 'And never perform the funeral prayer for anyone of them who dies nor stand at his grave, for they have denied Allah and His Messenger and died while they were transgressors. " (At-Taubah: 84) 

" Indeed, Allah does not guide the defiantly disobedient people " Two things have been stated in this verse. First, that the prayer of forgiveness can be beneficial only for those who are guided aright. 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. 

Muhammad Asad Explanation: Cf. 9:80 and the corresponding note:
" ... that they be forgiven, God will not forgive them, seeing that they are bent on denying God and His Apostle. And God does not bestow His guidance upon such iniquitous folk"
I.e., "those who are so deeply rooted in their iniquity and in their insolent persistence in evildoing (tamarrud)... [that] they have lost all disposition for repentance and belief" (Manar X, 657).

Yusuf Ali  Explanation: The stiff-necked rejecters of Allah's Truth have made a wide gulf between themselves and Allah's Grace. No prayer for them will help them. In the attitude of rebellion and transgression they cannot obtain Allah's forgiveness.

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi Explanation: The extent of hypocrisy and arrogance of these haughty people can be estimated from this. It is about such people that it is stated in verse 80 of Surah al-Tawbah that even if the Prophet (sws) seeks forgiveness for them seventy times, the Almighty will not forgive them.

هُمُ الَّذِيۡنَ يَقُوۡلُوۡنَ لَا تُنۡفِقُوۡا عَلٰى مَنۡ عِنۡدَ رَسُوۡلِ اللّٰهِ حَتّٰى يَنۡفَضُّوۡا​ؕ وَلِلّٰهِ خَزَآئِنُ السَّمٰوٰتِ وَالۡاَرۡضِ وَلٰـكِنَّ الۡمُنٰفِقِيۡنَ لَا يَفۡقَهُوۡنَ‏ 
( 7 )   They are the ones who say, "Do not spend on those who are with the Messenger of Allah until they disband." And to Allah belongs the depositories of the heavens and the earth, but the hypocrites do not understand.

Muhammad Asad Explanation:
"It is they who say [to their compatriots" I.e., to the people of Medina in general, and to the ansar in particular (see next note).

" "Do not spend anything on those who are with God's Apostle, so that they [may be forced to] leave." " The leader of the hypocrites of Medina, 'Abd Allah ibn Ubayy, never forgave the Prophet for having overshadowed him who previously had been unquestioningly recognized by the people of Medina as their most outstanding leader. Since the Prophet's political strength depended mainly on the Meccan Muslims who followed him in his hijrah to Medina, Ibn Ubayy tried to persuade his compatriots - many of whom were supporting the newcomers with all the means at their disposal - to withdraw this material support and thereby force the muhajirun, most of whom were very poor, to leave Medina: a stratagem which, if successful, would have greatly weakened the Prophet's position. This suggestion of the leader of the hypocrites was, of course, rejected by the ansar.

Yusuf Ali  Explanation: The Muhajirun, who had come to be with the holy Prophet in Madinah in exile, were received, helped, entertained by the Ansar (Helpers). The Hypocrites in Madinah did not like this, and tried in underhand ways to dissuade the good folk of Madinah from doing all they could for the exiles. But their tricks did not succeed. The small Muslim community grew from strength to strength until they were able to stand on their own resources and greatly to augment the resources of their hosts as well. It is goodness that produces strength and prosperity, and Allah holds the keys of the treasures of man's well-being. It is not for Allah's enemies to dole out or withhold the unbounded treasures of Allah.

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi Explanation: This is an answer to the statement given by ‘Abdullah ibn Ubayy that if God has blessed the people of Madinah with this favour, then this is His graciousness otherwise the treasures of these heavens and the earth belong to God; He can bestow them upon anyone at any time.

يَقُوۡلُوۡنَ لَـئِنۡ رَّجَعۡنَاۤ اِلَى الۡمَدِيۡنَةِ لَيُخۡرِجَنَّ الۡاَعَزُّ مِنۡهَا الۡاَذَلَّ ​ؕ وَلِلّٰهِ الۡعِزَّةُ وَلِرَسُوۡلِهٖ وَلِلۡمُؤۡمِنِيۡنَ وَلٰـكِنَّ الۡمُنٰفِقِيۡنَ لَا يَعۡلَمُوۡنَ
( 8 )   They say, "If we return to al-Madinah, the more honored [for power] will surely expel therefrom the more humble." And to Allah belongs [all] honor, and to His Messenger, and to the believers, but the hypocrites do not know.
Hadrat Zaid bin Arqam says: "When I reported these words of Abdullah bin Ubayy to the Holy Prophet, and 'Abdullah bin Ubayy came and disowned them on oath, the elderly people of the Ansar, and even my own uncle, reproved me for this; so much so that I felt that the Holy Prophet also had mistaken me for a liar and 'Abdullah bin Ubayy for a truthful person. This caused me great anguish and grief. Then, when these verses were revealed, the Holy Prophet call-d me, and taking hold of my car, said: "The boy's ear was truthful Allah has himself testified to what it had heard." (Ibn Jarir. In Tirmidhi also there is a tradition on the same subject). 

That is, "All honor belongs to Allah in virtue of His essence, to the Prophet in virtue of his Prophethood, and to the Believers in virtue of their faith. As for the disbelievers and the wicked people and the hypocrites, they have no share whatever in the real, true honor. " 

Muhammad Asad Explanation:
" [And] they say, "Indeed, when we return to the City, " I.e., Medina, the "City of the Prophet" (Madinat an-Nabi), as the town previously called Yathrib began to be known after the hijrah. Since - as it is established through several ahadith - the subsequent saying was uttered by 'Abd Allah ibn Ubayy during the campaign against the tribe of Banu Mustaliq in 5 H., it is obvious that verses {7} and {8} were revealed at the same date or a little later.

" However, all honour belongs to God, and [thus] to His Apostle and those who believe [in God]: but of this the hypocrites are not aware. "  It is in these two Qur'anic statements - "unto God belong the treasures...", etc., and "all honour belongs to God...", etc. - that the real, lasting purport of the above historical allusions is to be found.

Yusuf Ali  Explanation: Words of this import were spoken by 'Abdullah ibn Ubai, the leader of the Madinah Hypocrites, to or about the Exiles, in the course of the expedition against the Banu Mustaliq in the fourth or fifth year of the Hijra. He had hopes of leadership which were disappointed by the coming to Madinah of a man far greater than he. So he arrogated to himself and his clique the title of "the more honourable (element)" and slightingly spoke of the Emigrants as the "meaner" element that had intruded from outside.

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi Explanation: This also forms part of the above answer that power belongs to God and His Messenger and their followers, and as per the established practice of God, the time of its manifestation has arrived. They should wait. It has been ordained by the Almighty that those who oppose Him and His Messenger will certainly be humiliated, and He will grant the Messenger and his followers dominance in the land. This is God’s verdict which shall be implemented come what may. Verses 20-21 of Surah al-Mujadalah state this established practice in these very words.

Ruku Two: Verses 9-11:

يٰۤاَيُّهَا الَّذِيۡنَ اٰمَنُوۡا لَا تُلۡهِكُمۡ اَمۡوَالُكُمۡ وَلَاۤ اَوۡلَادُكُمۡ عَنۡ ذِكۡرِ اللّٰهِ​ۚ وَمَنۡ يَّفۡعَلۡ ذٰلِكَ فَاُولٰٓـئِكَ هُمُ الۡخٰسِرُوۡنَ‏  
( 9 ) O you who have believed, let not your wealth and your children divert you from remembrance of Allah. And whoever does that - then those are the losers.
Now a word of admonition is being addressed to all those people, who have entered Islam, whether they are true and sincere believers, or those who profess the faith merely verbally. As we have explained at several places above. the words alladhina amanu in the Qur'an are sometimes used to address the true believers and sometimes to address the hypocrites, for they profess the faith only with the tongue, and sometimes to address the Muslims of all kinds in general The context itself shows which group is the audience at a particular place. 

The 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 involved in hypocrisy, weakness of faith, or wickedness and 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. 

Yusuf Ali  Explanation: Riches and human resources of all kinds are but fleeting sources of enjoyment. They should not turn away the good man from his devotion to Allah. "Remembrance of Allah" includes every act of service and goodness, every kind thought and kind deed, for this is the service and sacrifice which Allah requires of us. If we fail in this, the loss is our own, not any one else's: for it stunts our own spiritual growth.

وَاَنۡفِقُوۡا مِنۡ مَّا رَزَقۡنٰكُمۡ مِّنۡ قَبۡلِ اَنۡ يَّاۡتِىَ اَحَدَكُمُ الۡمَوۡتُ فَيَقُوۡلَ رَبِّ لَوۡلَاۤ اَخَّرۡتَنِىۡۤ اِلٰٓى اَجَلٍ قَرِيۡبٍۙ فَاَصَّدَّقَ وَاَكُنۡ مِّنَ الصّٰلِحِيۡنَ‏ 
( 10 )   And spend [in the way of Allah] from what We have provided you before death approaches one of you and he says, "My Lord, if only You would delay me for a brief term so I would give charity and be among the righteous."

Muhammad Asad Explanation:
" And spend on others out of what We have provided for you as sustenance, " See surah {2:3} and note:
"who believe in [the existence of] that which is beyond the reach of human perception,3 and are constant in prayer, and spend on others out of what We provide for them as sustenance;"
Ar-rizq ("provision of sustenance") applies to all that may be of benefit to man, whether it be concrete (like food, property, offspring, etc.) or abstract (like knowledge, piety, etc.). The "spending on others" is mentioned here in one breath with God-consciousness and prayer because it is precisely in such selfless acts that true piety comes to its full fruition. It should be borne in mind that the verb anfaqa (lit., "he spent") is always used in the Qur'an to denote spending freely on, or as a gift to, others, whatever the motive may be.

" "O my Sustainer! If only Thou wouldst grant me a delay for a short while " - Lit., "for (ila) a term close by".64_1 The above construction, pointing to man's acceptance or denial of the truth of God's creative activity, is in accord with Tabari's interpretation of this passage, as well as with that of Az-Zajjaj (quoted by Razi). According to Zamakhshari, those who deny this truth are mentioned first because they are more numerous and possess greater influence than those who consciously believe in God. A further implication appears to be this: Since all human beings are endowed with the instinctive ability to perceive the existence of the Creator (cf. 7:172), one man's denial of this truth and another's belief in it is, in the last resort, an outcome of free choice:

"AND WHENEVER thy Sustainer brings forth their offspring from the loins of the children of Adam, He [thus] calls upon them to bear witness about themselves: "Am I not your Sustainer?" - to which they answer: "Yea, indeed, we do bear witness thereto!"" (7:172)

In the original, this passage is in the past tense ("He brought forth", "He asked them", etc.) thus stressing the continuous recurrence of the above metaphorical "question" and "answer": a continuity which is more clearly brought out in translation by the use of the present tense. According to the Qur'an, the ability to perceive the existence of the Supreme Power is inborn in human nature (fitrah); and it is this instinctive cognition - which may or may not be subsequently blurred by self-indulgence or adverse environmental influences - that makes every sane human being "bear witness about himself" before God. As so often in the Qur'an, God's "speaking" and man's "answering" is a metonym for the creative act of God and of man's existential response to it.

Yusuf Ali  Explanation: "Substance" or "Sustenance". Whatever good we enjoy comes from Allah, and it is our duty to use some of it in the service of others, for that is Charity and the service of Allah. Every unselfish act is Charity. And we must not postpone our good resolutions to the future. Death may come suddenly on us, and we cannot then be allowed to plead for more time. Every present moment calls urgently for its good deed.

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi Explanation: There is complexity in the syntactical analysis of this sentence.

 Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi has explained it He writes: In this verse, the word وَاَکُنۡ is in the form of an indefinite vowelless (muḍari sakin) verb and is apparently co-ordinated to فَاَصَّدَّقَ which itself is in the accusative. However, in my opinion, the expression وَاَکُنۡ مِّنَ الصّٰلِحِیۡنَ is the answer to a suppressed condition. If this suppression is revealed, then the discourse would be something to the effect: “If I had spent in charity, I would have been among the righteous.” Since the textual indication of this condition in the form of فَاَصَّدَّقَ is evident, it is suppressed. (Amin Ahsan Islahi, Tadabbur-i Qur’an, vol. 8, 406)

وَلَنۡ يُّؤَخِّرَ اللّٰهُ نَفۡسًا اِذَا جَآءَ اَجَلُهَا​ؕ وَاللّٰهُ خَبِيۡرٌۢ بِمَا تَعۡمَلُوۡنَ‏ 
( 11 )   But never will Allah delay a soul when its time has come. And Allah is Acquainted with what you do.

Yusuf Ali  Explanation: When our limited period of probation is over, we cannot justly ask for more time, nor will more time be given to us then. Procrastination is itself a fault, and Allah knows every hidden thought and motive in our minds.

You may now like to listen to eminent scholar Nouman Ali Khan who is speaking on getting to know Surah Al-Munāfiqūn:

Please refer to our Reference Page "114 Chapters (Sūrahs) of the Holy Qur'an" for translation, explanation and exegesis of all other chapters of the Qur'an. You may also refer to our Reference Pages for knowing more about Islam and Quran.
Reading the Holy Quran should be a daily obligation of a Muslim - Reading it with translation will make it meaningful. But reading its Exegesis / Tafsir will make you understand it fully. An effort has been made to gather explanation / exegesis of the surahs of the Holy Qur'an from authentic sources and then present a least possible condensed explanation of the surah. In that:
  • The plain translation and explanation has been taken from the Holy Quran officially published by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. [1]
  • The exegesis of the chapters of the Holy Quran is mainly based on the "Tafhim al-Qur'an - The Meaning of the Qur'an" by one of the most enlightened scholars of the Muslim World Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi.  [2]
In order to augment and add more explanation as already provided by [2], additional input has been interjected from following sources (links to Reference Pages given below):  
  • Towards Understanding the Quran
  • Tafsir Ibn Khatir
  • Muhammad Asad Translation
  • Al-Quran, Yusuf Ali Translation
  • Javed Ahmad Ghamidi / Al Mawrid
  • Verse by Verse Qur'an Study Circle
  • Tafsir Nouman Ali Khan
In addition the references of  other sources which have been explored have also been given below. Those desirous of detailed explanations and tafsir (exegesis), may refer to these sites:

Photo | References: | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5  | 67 | 

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