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Ibn Kathir - English
GUIDANCE AND SUCCESS ARE AWARDED TO THE BELIEVERS
﴿ أُوْلَـٰٓٮِٕكَ ﴾
(They are) refers to those who believe in the Unseen, establish the prayer, spend from what Allah has granted them, believe in what Allah has revealed to the Messenger and the Messengers before him, believe in the Hereafter with certainty, and prepare the necessary requirements for the Hereafter by performing good deeds and avoiding the prohibitions. Allah then said,
﴿ عَلَىٰ هُدً۬ى ﴾
(On guidance) meaning, they are (following) a light, guidance, and have insight from Allah,
﴿ وَأُوْلَـٰٓٮِٕكَ هُمُ ٱلۡمُفۡلِحُونَ ﴾
(And they are the successful) meaning, in this world and the Hereafter. They shall have what they seek and be saved from the evil that they tried to avoid. Therefore, they will have rewards, eternal life in Paradise, and safety from the torment that Allah has prepared for His enemies.
(6. Verily, those who disbelieve, it is the same to them whether you warn them or do not warn them, they will not believe.)
﴿ إِنَّ ٱلَّذِينَ كَفَرُواْ ﴾
(Verily, those who disbelieve) meaning, covered the truth and hid it. Since Allah has written that they would do so, it does not matter if you (O Muhammad) warn them or not, they would still have disbelieved in what you were sent with. Similarly, Allah said,
(And even if you were to bring to the People of the Book (Jews and Christians) all the Ayat, they would not follow your Qiblah (prayer direction)) (2:5).
These Ayat indicate that whomever Allah has written to be miserable, they shall never find anyone to guide them to happiness, and whomever Allah directs to misguidance, he shall never find anyone to guide him. So do not pity them - O Muhammad - deliver the Message to them. Certainly, whoever among them accepts the Message, then he shall gain the best rewards. As for those who turn away in rejection, do not feel sad for them or concerned about them, for
(Verily, those who disbelieve, it is the same to them whether you (O Muhammad) warn them or do not warn them, they will not believe) "That the Messenger of Allah was eager for all the people to believe and follow the guidance he was sent with. Allah informed him that none would believe except for those whom He decreed happiness for in the first place, and none would stray except those who Allah has decreed to do so in the first place.''
(7. Allah has set a seal on their hearts and on their hearing, and on their eyes there is a covering. Theirs will be a great torment).
MEANING OF KHATAMA
As-Suddi said that,
﴿ خَتَمَ ٱللَّهُ ﴾
(Khatama Allah) means, "Allah has sealed.'' Qatadah said that this Ayah means, "Shaytan controlled them when they obeyed him. Therefore, Allah sealed their hearts, hearing and sight, and they could neither see the guidance nor hear, comprehend or understand.'' Ibn Jurayj said that Mujahid said,
﴿ خَتَمَ ٱللَّهُ عَلَىٰ قُلُوبِهِمۡ ﴾
(Allah has set a seal on their hearts), "A stamp. It occurs when sin resides in the heart and surrounds it from all sides, and this submersion of the heart in sin constitutes a stamp, meaning a seal.'' Ibn Jurayj also said that the seal is placed on the heart and the hearing. In addition, Ibn Jurayj said, that `Abdullah bin Kathir narrated that Mujahid said, "The stain is not as bad as the stamp, the stamp is not as bad as the lock which is the worst type.'' Al-A`mash said, "Mujahid demonstrated with his hand while saying, `They used to say that the heart is just like this - meaning the open palm. When the servant commits a sin, a part of the heart will be rolled up - and he rolled up his index finger. When the servant commits another sin, a part of the heart will be rolled up' - and he rolled up another finger, until he rolled up all of his fingers. Then he said, `Then, the heart will be sealed.' Mujahid also said that this is the description of the Ran (refer to 83:14).''
Al-Qurtubi said, "The Ummah has agreed that Allah has described Himself with sealing and closing the hearts of the disbelievers, as a punishment for their disbelief. Similarly, Allah said,
﴿ بَلۡ طَبَعَ ٱللَّهُ عَلَيۡہَا بِكُفۡرِهِمۡ ﴾
(Nay, Allah has set a seal upon their hearts because of their disbelief) (4:155).''
He then mentioned the Hadith about changing the hearts, (in which the Prophet supplicated),
(The Fitan (trials, tests) are offered to the hearts, just as the straws that are sewn into a woven mat, one after another. Any heart that accepts the Fitan, then a black dot will be engraved on it. Any heart that rejects the Fitan, then a white dot will be engraved on it. The hearts will therefore become two categories: white, just like the barren rock; no Fitnah shall ever harm this category as long as the heavens and earth still exist. Another category is black, just as the cup that is turned upside down, for this heart does not recognize righteousness or renounce evil. )
Ibn Jarir said, "The truth regarding this subject is what the authentic Hadith from the Messenger of Allah stated. Abu Hurayrah narrated that the Messenger of Allah said,
(When the believer commits a sin, a black dot will be engraved on his heart. If he repents, refrains and regrets, his heart will be polished again. If he commits more errors, the dots will increase until they cover his heart. This is the Ran (stain) that Allah described,
(Allah has set a seal on their hearts and on their hearing), then pausing, then continuing with,
﴿ وَعَلَىٰٓ أَبۡصَـٰرِهِمۡ غِشَـٰوَةٌ۬ۖ ﴾
(And on their eyes there is a Ghishawah (covering)) is accurate, for the stamp is placed on the heart and the hearing while the Ghishawah, the covering, is appropriately placed on the eyes. In his Tafsir, As-Suddi said that Ibn `Abbas and Ibn Mas`ud said about Allah's statement,
(Allah has set a seal on their hearts and on their hearing), "So that they neither understand nor hear. Allah also said that He placed a covering on their sight, meaning eyes, and so, they do not see.''
We mentioned that four Ayat in the beginning of Surat Al-Baqarah described the believers. The two last Ayat (2:6-7) describe the disbelievers. Afterwards, Allah begins to describe the hypocrites who show belief and hide disbelief. Since the matter of the hypocrites is vague and many people do not realize their true reality, Allah mentioned their description in detail. Each of the characteristics that Allah used to described them with is a type of hypocrisy itself. Allah revealed Surat Bara'ah (chapter 9) and Surat Al-Munafiqun (chapter 63) about the hypocrites. He also mentioned the hypocrites in Surat An-Nur (24) and other Surahs, so that their description would be known and their ways and errors could be avoided. Allah said,
(8. And of mankind, there are some who say: "We believe in Allah and the Last Day'' while in fact they do not believe). (9. They try to deceive Allah and those who believe, while they only deceive themselves, and perceive (it) not!)
MEANING OF NIFAQ
Nifaq means to show conformity - or agreement - and to conceal evil. Nifaq has several types: Nifaq in the creed that causes its people to reside in Hell for eternity, and Nifaq in deed, which is one of the major sins, as we will explain soon, Allah willing. Ibn Jurayj said of the hypocrite that, "His actual deeds are different from what he publicizes, what he conceals is different from what he utters, his entrance and presence are not the same as his exit and absence.''
THE BEGINNING OF HYPOCRISY
The revelations about the characteristics of the hypocrites were revealed in Al-Madinah, this is because there were no hypocrites in Makkah. Rather the opposite was the situation in Makkah, since some people were forced to pretend that they were disbelievers, while their hearts concealed their faith. Afterwards, the Messenger of Allah migrated to Al-Madinah, where the Ansar from the tribes of Aws and Khazraj resided. They used to worship idols during the pre-Islamic period of ignorance, just as the rest of the Arab idolaters. Three Jewish tribes resided in Al-Madinah, Banu Qaynuqa`-allies of Al-Khazraj, Banu An-Nadir and Banu Qurayzah-allies of the Aws. Many members of the Aws and Khazraj tribes embraced Islam. However, only a few Jews embraced Islam, such as `Abdullah bin Salam. During the early stage in Al-Madinah, there weren't any hypocrites because the Muslims were not strong enough to be feared yet. On the contrary, the Messenger of Allah conducted peace treaties with the Jews and several other Arab tribes around Al-Madinah. Soon after, the battle of Badr occurred and Allah gave victory to Islam and its people. `Abdullah bin Ubayy bin Salul was a leader in Al-Madinah. He was Al-Khazraj's chief, and during the period of Jahiliyyah he was the master of both tribes - Aws and Khazraj. They were about to appoint him their king when the Message reached Al-Madinah, and many in Al-Madinah embraced Islam. Ibn Salul's heart was filled with hatred against Islam and its people. When the battle of Badr took place, he said, "Allah's religion has become apparent.'' So he pretended to be Muslim, along with many of those who were just like him, as well as many among the People of the Book. It was then that hypocrisy began in Al-Madinah and among the surrounding nomad tribes. As for the Emigrants, none of them were hypocrites, since they emigrated willingly (seeking the pleasure of Allah). Rather, when a Muslim would emigrate from Makkah, he would be forced to abandon all of his wealth, offspring and land; he would do so seeking Allah's reward in the Hereafter.
THE TAFSIR OF AYAH 2:8
Muhammad bin Ishaq narrated that Ibn `Abbas said that,
(And of mankind, there are some who say: "We believe in Allah and the Last Day'' while in fact they do not believe) "This refers to the hypocrites among the Aws and Khazraj and those who behaved as they did.''
This is how Abu Al-`Aliyah, Al-Hasan, Qatadah and As-Suddi explained this Ayah. Allah revealed the characteristics of the hypocrites, so that the believers would not be deceived by their outer appearance, thus saving the believers from a great evil. Otherwise, the believers might think that the hypocrites were believers, when in reality they are disbelievers. To consider the sinners as righteous people is extremely dangerous, Allah said,
(And of mankind, there are some who say: "We believe in Allah and the Last Day'' while in fact they do not believe) meaning, they utter these false statements only with their tongues, just as Allah said,
(When the hypocrites come to you (O Muhammad) , they say: "We bear witness that you are indeed the Messenger of Allah.'' Allah knows that you are indeed His Messenger) (63:1).
This Ayah means that the hypocrites utter these statements only when they meet you, not because they actually believe what they are saying. The hypocrites emphasize their belief in Allah and the Last Day with their words, when that is not the case in reality. Therefore, Allah stated that the hypocrites lie in their testimony of creed, when He said,
(And Allah bears witness that the hypocrites are indeed liars.) (63:1), and,
﴿ وَمَا هُم بِمُؤۡمِنِينَ ﴾
(while in fact they believe not)
﴿ يُخَـٰدِعُونَ ٱللَّهَ وَٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ ﴾
(They try to deceive Allah and those who believe). The hypocrites show belief outwardly while concealing disbelief. They think that by doing this, they will mislead Allah, or that the statements they utter will help them with Allah, and this is an indication of their total ignorance. They think that such behavior will deceive Allah, just as it might deceive some of the believers. Similarly, Allah said,
(On the Day when Allah will resurrect them all together; then they will swear to Him as they swear to you. And they think that they have something (to stand upon). Verily, they are liars!) (58:18). Hence, Allah refuted their way by saying,
(Verily, the hypocrites seek to deceive Allah, but it is He Who deceives them), "The hypocrites pronounce, `There is no deity worthy of worship except Allah' seeking to ensure the sanctity of their blood and money, all the while concealing disbelief.''Sa`id said that Qatadah said,
(And of mankind, there are some who say: "We believe in Allah and the Last Day'' while in fact they believe not. They try to deceive Allah and those who believe, while they only deceive themselves, and perceive (it) not!) "This is the description of a hypocrite. He is devious, he says the truth with his tongue and defies it with his heart and deeds. He wakes up in a condition other than the one he goes to sleep in, and goes to sleep in a different condition than the one he wakes up in. He changes his mind just like a ship that moves about whenever a wind blows.''
(10. In their hearts is a disease and Allah has increased their disease. A painful torment is theirs because they used to tell lies.)
THE MEANING OF "DISEASE" IN THIS AYAH
As-Suddi narrated from Abu Malik and (also) from Abu Salih, from Ibn `Abbas, and (also) Murrah Al-Hamdani from Ibn Mas`ud and other Companions that this Ayah,
﴿ فِى قُلُوبِهِم مَّرَضٌ۬ ﴾
(In their hearts is a disease) means, `doubt', and,
﴿ فَزَادَهُمُ ٱللَّهُ مَرَضً۬اۖ ﴾
(And Allah has increased their disease) also means `doubt'. Mujahid, `Ikrimah, Al-Hasan Al-Basri, Abu Al-`Aliyah, Ar-Rabi` bin Anas and Qatadah also said similarly. `Abdur-Rahman bin Zayd bin Aslam commented on,
﴿ فِى قُلُوبِهِم مَّرَضٌ۬ ﴾
(In their hearts is a disease), "A disease in the religion, not a physical disease. They are the hypocrites and the disease is the doubt that they brought to Islam.
﴿ فَزَادَهُمُ ٱللَّهُ مَرَضً۬اۖ ﴾
(And Allah has increased their disease) meaning, increased them in shameful behavior.'' He also recited,
(As for those who believe, it has increased their faith, and they rejoice. But as for those in whose hearts is a disease, it will add disgrace to their disgrace.) (9:124-125) and commented, "Evil to their evil and deviation to their deviation.'' This statement by `Abdur-Rahman is true, and it constitutes a punishment that is compatible to the sin, just as the earlier scholars stated. Similarly, Allah said,
(While as for those who accept guidance, He increases their guidance and grants them their piety) (47:17).
Allah said next,
﴿ بِمَا كَانُواْ يَكۡذِبُونَ ﴾
(Because they used to tell lies). The hypocrites have two characteristics, they lie and they deny the Unseen.
The scholars who stated that the Prophet knew the hypocrites of his time have only the Hadith of Hudhayfah bin Al-Yaman as evidence. In it the Prophet gave him the names of fourteen hypocrites during the battle of Tabuk. These hypocrites plotted to assassinate the Prophet during the night on a hill in that area. They planned to excite the Prophet's camel, so that she would throw him down the hill. Allah informed the Prophet about their plot, and the Prophet told Hudhayfah their names.
As for the other hypocrites, Allah said about them,
(If the hypocrites, and those in whose hearts is a disease, and those who spread false news among the people in Al-Madinah do not cease, We shall certainly let you overpower them, then they will not be able to stay in it as your neighbors but a little while. Accursed, they shall be seized wherever found, and killed with a (terrible) slaughter) (33:60-61).
These Ayat prove that the Prophet was not informed about each and everyone among the hypocrites of his time. Rather, the Prophet was only informed about their characteristics, and he used to assume that some people possessed these characteristics. Similarly, Allah said,
(Had We willed, We could have shown them to you, and you should have known them by their marks; but surely, you will know them by the tone of their speech!) (47:30).
The most notorious hypocrite at that time was `Abdullah bin Ubayy bin Salul; Zayd bin Arqam - the Companion - gave truthful testimony to that effect. In addition, `Umar bin Al-Khattab once mentioned the matter of Ibn Salul to the Prophet, who said,
(And when it is said to them: "Do not make mischief on the earth,''), means, "Do not commit acts of disobedience on the earth. Their mischief is disobeying Allah, because whoever disobeys Allah on the earth, or commands that Allah be disobeyed, he has committed mischief on the earth. Peace on both the earth and in the heavens is ensured (and earned) through obedience (to Allah).'' Ar-Rabi` bin Anas and Qatadah said similarly.
TYPES OF MISCHIEF THAT THE HYPOCRITES COMMIT
Ibn Jarir said, "The hypocrites commit mischief on earth by disobeying their Lord on it and continuing in the prohibited acts. They also abandon what Allah made obligatory and doubt His religion, even though He does not accept a deed from anyone except with faith in His religion and certainty of its truth. The hypocrites also lie to the believers by saying contrary to the doubt and hesitation their hearts harbor. They give as much aid as they can, against Allah's loyal friends, and support those who deny Allah, His Books and His Messengers. This is how the hypocrites commit mischief on earth, while thinking that they are doing righteous work on earth.''
The statement by Ibn Jarir is true, taking the disbelievers as friends is one of the categories of mischief on the earth. Allah said,
(And those who disbelieve are allies of one another, if you do not do this (help each other), there will be turmoil and oppression on the earth, and great mischief.) (8:73), In this way Allah severed the loyalty between the believers and the disbelievers. Similarly, Allah said,
(Verily, the hypocrites will be in the lowest depth of the Fire; no helper will you find for them) (4:145).
Since the outward appearance of the hypocrite displays belief, he confuses the true believers. Hence, the deceitful behavior of the hypocrites is an act of mischief, because they deceive the believers by claiming what they do not believe in, and because they give support and loyalty to the disbelievers against the believers.
If the hypocrite remains a disbeliever (rather than pretending to be Muslim), the evil that results from him would be less. Even better, if the hypocrite becomes sincere with Allah and makes the statements that he utters conform to his deeds, he will gain success. Allah said,
(And when it is said to them: "Do not make mischief on the earth,'' they say: "We are only peacemakers.'') meaning, "We seek to be friends with both parties, the believers and the disbelievers, and to have peace with both parties.'' Similarly, Muhammad bin Ishaq reported that Ibn `Abbas said,
(And when it is said to them: "Do not make mischief on the earth,'' they say: "We are only peacemakers.'') means, "We seek to make amends between the believers and the People of the Book. '' Allah said,
(Verily, they are the ones who make mischief, but they perceive not.). This Ayah means that the hypocrites' behavior, and their claim that it is for peace, is itself mischief, although in their ignorance, they do not see it to be mischief.
(13. And when it is said to them: Believe as the people believe,'' They say: "Shall we believe as the fools have believed'' Verily, they are the fools, but they do not know.)
Allah said that if the hypocrites are told,
﴿ ءَامِنُواْ كَمَآ ءَامَنَ ٱلنَّاسُ ﴾
("Believe as the people believe,''), meaning, `Believe just as the believers believe in Allah, His angels, His Books, His Messengers, Resurrection after death, Paradise and Hellfire, etc. And obey Allah and His Messenger by heeding the commandments and avoiding the prohibitions.' Yet the hypocrites answer by saying,
("Shall we believe as the fools have believed'') they meant (may Allah curse the hypocrites) the Companions of the Messenger of Allah. This is the same Tafsir given by Abu Al-`Aliyah and As-Suddi in his Tafsir, with a chain of narration to Ibn `Abbas, Ibn Mas`ud and other Companions. This is also the Tafsir of Ar-Rabi` bin Anas and `Abdur-Rahman bin Zayd bin Aslam. The hypocrites said, "Us and them having the same status, following the same path, while they are fools!'' `The fool' is the ignorant, simple-minded person who has little knowledge in areas of benefit and harm. This is why, according to the majority of the scholars, Allah used the term foolish to include children, when He said,
(And do not give your property, which Allah has made a means of support for you, to the foolish) (4:5).
Allah answered the hypocrites in all of these instances. For instance, Allah said here,
﴿ أَلَآ إِنَّهُمۡ هُمُ ٱلسُّفَهَآءُ ﴾
(Verily, they are the fools). Allah thus affirmed that the hypocrites are indeed the fools, yet,
﴿ وَلَـٰكِن لَّا يَعۡلَمُونَ ﴾
(But they know not). Since they are so thoroughly ignorant, the hypocrites are unaware of their degree of deviation and ignorance, and such situation is more dangerous, a severer case of blindness, and further from the truth than one who is aware.
(14. And when they meet those who believe, they say: "We believe,'' but when they are alone with their Shayatin (devils), they say: "Truly, we are with you; verily, we were but mocking.'') (15. Allah mocks at them and leaves them increasing in their deviation to wander blindly.)
THE HYPOCRITES' CUNNING AND DECEIT
Allah said that when the hypocrites meet the believers, they proclaim their faith and pretend to be believers, loyalists and friends. They do this to misdirect, mislead and deceive the believers. The hypocrites also want to have a share of the benefits and gains that the believers might possibly acquire. Yet,
﴿ وَإِذَا خَلَوۡاْ إِلَىٰ شَيَـٰطِينِهِمۡ ﴾
(But when they are alone with their Shayatin), meaning, if they are alone with their devils, such as their leaders and masters among the rabbis of the Jews, hypocrites and idolaters.
HUMAN AND JINN DEVILS
Ibn Jarir said, "The devils of every creation are the mischievous among them. There are both human devils and Jinn devils. Allah said,
(Allah mocks at them and leaves them increasing in their deviation to wander blindly) answers the hypocrites and punishes them for their behavior. Ibn Jarir commented, "Allah mentioned what He will do to them on the Day of Resurrection, when He said,
(On the Day when the hypocrites ـ men and women ـ will say to the believers: "Wait for us! Let us get something from your light!'' It will be said: "Go back to your rear! Then seek a light!'' So a wall will be put up between them, with a gate therein. Inside it will be mercy, and outside it will be torment.) (57:13), and,
(Then whoever transgresses (the prohibition) against you, transgress likewise against him) (2:194).
The first act is an act of injustice, while the second act is an act of justice. So both actions carry the same name, while being different in reality. This is how the scholars explain deceit, cunning and mocking when attributed to Allah in the Qur'an. Surely, Allah exacts revenge for certain evil acts with a punishment that is similar in nature to the act itself. We should affirm here that Allah does not do these things out of joyful play, according to the consensus of the scholars, but as a just form of punishment for certain evil acts.
MEANING OF "LEAVES THEM INCREASING IN THEIR DEVIATION TO WANDER BLINDLY"
﴿ وَيَمُدُّهُمۡ فِى طُغۡيَـٰنِهِمۡ يَعۡمَهُونَ ﴾
(Allah mocks at them and leaves them increasing in their deviation to wander blindly). As-Suddi reported that Ibn `Abbas, Ibn Mas`ud and several other Companions of the Messenger of Allah said that,
﴿ وَيَمُدُّهُمۡ ﴾
(and leaves them increasing) means, He gives them respite. Also, Mujahid said, "He (causes their deviation) to increase.'' Allah said;
(Verily, when the water Tagha (rose) beyond its limits, We carried you in the ship) (69:11).
Also, Ibn Jarir said that the term `Amah, in the Ayah means, `deviation'. He also said about Allah's statement,
﴿ فِى طُغۡيَـٰنِهِمۡ يَعۡمَهُونَ ﴾
(in their deviation to wander), "In the misguidance and disbelief that has encompassed them, causing them to be confused and unable to find a way out of it. This is because Allah has stamped their hearts, sealed them, and blinded their vision. Therefore, they do not recognize guidance or find the way out of their deviation.''
(These are they who have purchased error with guidance) saying it means, "They pursued misguidance and abandoned guidance. '' Mujahid said, "They believed and then disbelieved,'' while Qatadah said, "They preferred deviation to guidance.'' Qatadah's statement is similar in meaning to Allah's statement about Thamud,
(And as for Thamud, We granted them guidance, but they preferred blindness to guidance) (41:17).
In summary, the statements that we have mentioned from the scholars of Tafsir indicate that the hypocrites deviate from the true guidance and prefer misguidance, substituting wickedness in place of righteousness. This meaning explains Allah's statement,
(These are they who have purchased error with guidance), meaning, they exchanged guidance to buy misguidance. This meaning includes those who first believed, then later disbelieved, whom Allah described,
(So their commerce was profitless. And they were not guided), meaning their trade did not succeed nor were they righteous or rightly guided throughout all this. In addition, Ibn Jarir narrated that Qatadah commented on the Ayah,
(So their commerce was profitless. And they were not guided), "By Allah! I have seen them leaving guidance for deviation, leaving the Jama`ah (the community of the believers) for the sects, leaving safety for fear, and the Sunnah for innovation.'' Ibn Abi Hatim also reported other similar statements.
(17. Their likeness is as the likeness of one who kindled a fire; then, when it illuminated all around him, Allah removed their light and left them in darkness. (So) they could not see). (18. They are deaf, dumb, and blind, so they return not (to the right path).)