Welcome Friends: Ahlan wa sahlan!
This Chapter is about Liars and Escape-artists, a.k.a…: Hypocrites!
Yusuf Ali’s explanation of this Chapter.
Muhammad Asad’s explanation of this Chapter.
Their commentaries can be read in ‘verse by verse’ view.
From Introduction of Yusuf Ali:
“The special feature here deal with is the wiles and mischief of the Hypocrite element in any community, and the need of guarding against it and against the temptation it throws in the way of the Believers.
The battle of Uhud (Shawal A.H.3) unmasked the Hypocrites in Madinah: This Surah may be referred to some time after that event…”
From Introduction of Muhammad Asad:
“THE MAIN PART of this surah - most of which was revealed shortly after the battle of Uhud, that is to say, towards the end of the year 3 or the beginning of 4 H. - is devoted to the problem of hypocrisy as it faced the Prophet and his followers during the early years after their exodus from Mecca to Medina. Nevertheless, the Qur'anic treatment of this problem renders its lessons applicable to all times and circumstances.”
Regular Readers may remember that ‘munaafiq’ comes from the root-verb ‘nafaqa’ which mainly denotes an ‘exit,’ or bringing something to an end. ‘Anfaqa’ means to spend, while ‘nafaqa’ means to die. The noun ‘nafaq’ is an outlet or tunnel, AND listen to this:
‘Nafqaa-نفقاء ’ is the hidden exit to a rodent’s burrow, camouflaged from the outside! When escaping, the rodent hits against it with its head, and exits.
All these connotations combine to describe the Hypocrites. They have exited the state of Faith and Reverence to God. Their true beliefs burrow deep inside them, where no one can hold them accountable. They are masters of quick escape from duty and responsibility, having camouflaged ‘exits’ everywhere.
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1. The first part of this chapter is addressed to the Messenger Muhammad, peace upon him.
Verse 1 informs him that when the ‘Hypocrites’ come to him declaring that they bear witness that he is God’s Messenger -and God KNOWS that he is indeed God’s Messenger- God Himself bears witness that they are lying (because what they say is certainly NOT what they believe!).
2. Verses 2-3 describe how they use their oaths as a hideaway (junnah) from where they can be in a position to impede others from God’s ‘Way,’ and how, having themselves wavered between belief and denial, they eventually came to settle in Denial/ Kufr.
The three verse-endings are quite descriptive of them, as to:
o Intention: Lying.
o Actions: Wrongdoing.
o Hearts/ Minds: Not comprehending. [i]
Note, dear Reader, the word ‘junnah,’ of the same root-verb as ‘jinn’ and ‘janna,’ and remember what we frequently spoke of before: Whenever you come across any of these words just think ‘hidden!’
Verse 4 shows us that the appearance of Hypocrites can be quite deceiving. Their looks may be pleasing and their speech may be interesting, but they are as unstable as propped-up logs! Furthermore, they are paranoid, and perceive every ‘cry/ loud sound’ as a personal threat.
The verse ends by announcing that:
“…They are THE enemy, so be wary of them, God shall assail them, how
deluded/ deceived/ are they!”
This verse is VERY important, dear Reader.
First, it informs us WHO our (most dangerous) enemy is. The Hypocrites. Why?
They are in our midst and know everything about us.
They pretend to care for our wellbeing while they work towards our downfall. Plus the fact that we have to bear their presence simply because we cannot bring them down without proof of wrongdoing!
That is the reason why (as we mentioned earlier) when we have ideological differences with someone and there is no proven aggression on their part, their matter is left entirely to God. God will bring upon such persons the consequences of their beliefs (no one else has the right to do that).
‘Qaatalahumul-Lah’ قاتلهم الله means ‘…by God are they assailed….’
Knowing this, does any ‘Muslim’ have the right to call anyone a ‘Kaafir?’
(‘Qaatalahumul-Lah’ is explained by Ali as ‘God’s curse be on them’ and by Asad as ‘may God destroy them.’ Such a translation sounds like ‘wishful thinking’ whereas the Qur’an states actual fact.)
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3. Verses 5-6 show their Arrogance:
They do not seek God’s forgiveness themselves and would not go to the Messenger so that he would ask God to forgive them. Indeed, even if the Messenger were to beseech God on their behalf, God would never forgive them, for God does not guide The Deserting People/ Breachers of Faith (Faasiq).
4. Verses 7-8 report their conversation which took place while they were on a mission with the Messenger, discussing a strategy and desired result: Their strategy was NOT to spend on the Messenger’s Companions (so as to weaken the Emigrants financially, and have them break away). The desired result was that once everyone returned to Medina, those who were ‘superior/ most honorable/ most invulnerable’ would EXPEL from it those who were ‘inferior/ most dishonorable…’..! But he verse continues, asserting that, belonging to God is all Superiority/ Invulnerability, and to His Messenger, and to the Faithful (note the label), but the Hypocrites know (this) not.
5. We now arrive at the ending to this Chapter where the Qur’an directly addresses Those who Have attained Faith, in Verse 9, with a warning:
‘O you who Have Attained Faith!
Do not let your wealth and your offspring distract you
from the Remembrance of God, and anyone who does that,
indeed it is they who are the Losers!
Remember the ending to the previous Chapter ‘The Gathering, which also cautioned us not to get distracted.
This verse identifies the ‘Losers’ (it’s the last of nine times in Qur’an).
Verses 10 ([ii]) and 11 give direct instruction to ‘Those who Have attained Faith,’ with a SCENARIO for us to ponder:
You’ve been given many gifts as a Cognizant Human, some obvious and others hidden: Talents, capabilities, health, wealth, progeny, support. But you’ve lived a life in which you had NOT used these gifts to genuinely help others. Death seizes you, and you realize how little you’d done. You beg for something you’d been throwing away earlier; the one thing you had NOT recognized as THE most important gift of all: Time.
You beg your Lord to grant you a brief postponement, a little time to compensate, promising that you would then extend ‘genuine, heart-felt gifts’ to others and make amends. But God never extends a person’s ‘term’ once it has arrived, and God is Fully-Acquainted with what everyone is doing.
When I read this I thought:
Oh my God. These verses are addressed to ‘Those who had Attained Faith,’ speaking to each of us who would like to be counted among them, and NOT to Hypocrites or Deniers! This means that:
o ‘Attaining Faith’ is NOT enough.
We have to put our God-given gifts to good use.
o We HAVE to do so ‘genuinely,’ giving our gifts from our hearts without any reluctance (put ‘Sadaqa’ in ‘Search’).
o We HAVE TO STRIVE to be of the ‘SaaliHeen/ Beneficent ([iii])
Peace unto all!
فقه: يدل على إدراك الشيء والعلم به. [i]
“And spend of what We have provided for you
before Death approaches any of you, and he says:
‘My Lord! If You would defer/ postpone me, to a term close at hand,
I should give genuinely (aSSadaq) and be of the Beneficent.”
(صلح) يدلُّ على خِلاف الفَساد. يقال صلُحَ الشَّيءُ يصلُحُ صلاحاً. ويقال صَلَح بفتح اللام.