Word by Word
it is said
will ask forgiveness
They turn aside
and you see them
it is said
will ask forgiveness
They turn aside
and you see them
And when it is said to them, "Come, the Messenger of Allah will pray for your forgiveness", they turn aside their heads, and thou wouldst see them turning away their faces in arrogance.
And when it is said to them, 'Come, offer apologies, and God's Messenger will ask forgiveness for you', they twist (read lawwaw or lawoo), they turn, their heads, and you see them turning away, rejecting this [offer], disdainful.
Tafsir of Surah Al-Munafiqun
The Case of the Hypocrites and their Behavior
Allah the Exalted states that the hypocrites pretended to be Muslims when they went to the Prophet . In reality, they were not Muslims, but rather the opposite. This is why Allah the Exalted said,
إِذَا جَاءكَ الۡمُنَافِقُونَ قَالُوا نَشۡهَدُ إِنَّكَ لَرَسُولُ اللَّهِ
When the hypocrites come to you, they say:We bear witness that you are indeed the Messenger of Allah.
meaning, `when the hypocrites come to you, they announce this statement and pretend to believe in it.'
Allah informs that there is no substance to their statement, and this is why He said,
وَاللَّهُ يَعۡلَمُ إِنَّكَ لَرَسُولُهُ
Allah knows that you are indeed His Messenger,
وَاللَّهُ يَشۡهَدُ إِنَّ الۡمُنَافِقِينَ لَكَاذِبُونَ
And Allah bears witness that the hypocrites are liars indeed.
meaning, their claims, even though it is true about the Prophet. But they did not believe inwardly in what they declared outwardly, and this is why Allah declared their falsehood about their creed.
اتَّخَذُوا أَيۡمَانَهُمۡ جُنَّةً فَصَدُّوا عَن سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ
They have made their oaths a screen. Thus they hinder (others) from the path of Allah.
meaning, the hypocrites shield themselves from Muslims when they falsely and sinfully swear to be what they are not in reality. Some Muslims were deceived because they did not know their falsehood, and thus, thought that they were Muslims. Some Muslims believed what hypocrites say and even imitated them in their outward behavior. However, inwardly, hypocrites seek the destruction of Islam and its people, and this is why trusting them might bring great harm to many people.
This is why Allah said next,
فَصَدُّوا عَن سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ
إِنَّهُمۡ سَاء مَا كَانُوا يَعۡمَلُونَ
Thus they hinder (others) from the path of Allah. Verily, evil is what they used to do.
ذَلِكَ بِأَنَّهُمۡ امَنُوا ثُمَّ كَفَرُوا فَطُبِعَ عَلَى قُلُوبِهِمۡ فَهُمۡ لَا يَفۡقَهُونَ
That is because they believed, and then disbelieved; therefore their hearts are sealed, so they understand not.
meaning, He has decreed them to be hypocrites because they reverted from faith to disbelief and exchanged guidance for misguidance. Therefore, Allah stamped and sealed their hearts and because of it, they cannot comprehend the guidance, nor any goodness can reach their hearts. Truly, their hearts neither understand, nor attain guidance.
وَإِذَا رَأَيۡتَهُمۡ تُعۡجِبُكَ أَجۡسَامُهُمۡ وَإِن يَقُولُوا تَسۡمَعۡ لِقَوۡلِهِمۡ
And when you look at them, their bodies please you; and when they speak, you listen to their words.
meaning, hypocrites have a graceful outer appearance and are eloquent. When one hears them speak, he will listen to their eloquent words, even though hypocrites are truly weak and feeble, full of fear, fright and cowardice.
كَأَنَّهُمۡ خُشُبٌ مُّسَنَّدَةٌ
They are as blocks of wood propped up.
means, they are shapes that do not have much substance.
يَحۡسَبُونَ كُلَّ صَيۡحَةٍ عَلَيۡهِمۡ
They think that every cry is against them.
means, every time an incident occurs or something frightening happens, they think that it is headed their way. This is indicative of their cowardice, just as Allah said about them,
أَشِحَّةً عَلَيۡكُمۡ فَإِذَا جَأءَ الۡخَوۡفُ رَأَيۡتَهُمۡ يَنظُرُونَ إِلَيۡكَ تَدورُ أَعۡيُنُهُمۡ كَالَّذِى يُغۡشَى عَلَيۡهِ مِنَ الۡمَوۡتِ فَإِذَا ذَهَبَ الۡخَوۡفُ سَلَقُوكُم بِأَلۡسِنَةٍ حِدَادٍ أَشِحَّةً عَلَى الۡخَيۡرِ أوۡلَـيِكَ لَمۡ يُوۡمِنُواۡ فَأَحۡبَطَ اللَّهُ أَعۡمَـلَهُمۡ وَكَانَ ذَلِكَ عَلَى اللَّهِ يَسِيراً
Being miserly towards you then when fear comes, you will see them looking to you, their eyes revolving like (those of) one over whom hovers death; but when the fear departs, they will smite you with sharp tongues, miserly towards good. Such have not believed. Therefore Allah makes their deeds fruitless and that is ever easy for Allah. (33:19)
and this is why Allah said,
هُمُ الۡعَدُوُّ فَاحۡذَرۡهُمۡ
قَاتَلَهُمُ اللَّهُ أَنَّى يُوۡفَكُونَ
They are the enemies, so beware of them. May Allah curse them! How are they denying the right path?
means, how they are being led astray to the misguidance, away from the guidance.
Imam Ahmad recorded that Abu Hurayrah said that the Prophet said,
إِنَّ لِلۡمُنَافِقِينَ عَلَمَاتٍ يُعۡرَفُونَ بِهَا تَحِيَّتُهُمۡ لَعۡنَةٌ وَطَعَامُهُمۡ نُهۡبَةٌ وَغَنِيمَتُهُمۡ غُلُولٌ لَا يَقۡرَبُونَ الۡمَسَاجِدَ إِلاَّ هَجۡرًا وَلَا يَأۡتُونَ الصَّلَةَ إِلاَّ دَبۡرًا مُسۡتَكۡبِرِينَ لَا يَأۡلَفُونَ وَلَا يُوۡلَفُونَ خُشُبٌ بِاللَّيۡلِ صُخُبٌ بِالنَّهَارِ وفِي رِوَايَةٍ سُخُبٌ بِالنَّهَار
Hypocrites have certain signs that they are known by.
- Their greeting is really a curse,
- their food is from stealing and the war booty they collect is from theft.
- They shun the Masjid and they do not come to the prayer but at its end.
- They are arrogant;
- it is neither easy for them to blend in, nor it is easy for people to blend with them.
They are like pieces of wood by night and are noisy by day.
Hypocrites are not interested to ask the prophet to ask Allah to forgive Them
Allah the Exalted states about the hypocrites, may Allah curse them,
وَإِذَا قِيلَ لَهُمۡ تَعَالَوۡا يَسۡتَغۡفِرۡ لَكُمۡ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ
And when it is said to them:Come, so that the Messenger of Allah may ask forgiveness from Allah for you, they twist their heads,
meaning, they turn away, ignoring this call in arrogance, belittling what they are invited to.
This is why Allah the Exalted said,
وَرَأَيۡتَهُمۡ يَصُدُّونَ وَهُم مُّسۡتَكۡبِرُونَ
and you would see them turning away their faces in pride.
Allah punished them for this behavior, saying,
سَوَاء عَلَيۡهِمۡ أَسۡتَغۡفَرۡتَ لَهُمۡ أَمۡ لَمۡ تَسۡتَغۡفِرۡ لَهُمۡ لَن يَغۡفِرَ اللَّهُ لَهُمۡ
إِنَّ اللَّهَ لَا يَهۡدِي الۡقَوۡمَ الۡفَاسِقِينَ
It is equal to them whether you ask forgiveness or ask not forgiveness for them, Allah will never forgive them. Verily, Allah guides not the people who are the rebellious.
As Allah said in Surah Bara'ah, and a discussion preceded there, and here we will present some of the Hadiths reported that are related to it.
Several of the Salaf mentioned that this entire passage was revealed in the case of Abdullah bin Ubay bin Salul, as we will soon mention, Allah willing and our trust and reliance are on Him.
هُمُ الَّذِينَ يَقُولُونَ لَا تُنفِقُوا عَلَى مَنۡ عِندَ رَسُولِ اللَّهِ حَتَّى يَنفَضُّوا
وَلِلَّهِ خَزَايِنُ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالاَۡرۡضِ وَلَكِنَّ الۡمُنَافِقِينَ لَا يَفۡقَهُونَ
They are the ones who say:
Spend not on those who are with Allah's Messenger, until they desert him.
And to Allah belong the treasures of the heavens and the earth, but the hypocrites comprehend not.
يَقُولُونَ لَيِن رَّجَعۡنَا إِلَى الۡمَدِينَةِ لَيُخۡرِجَنَّ الاَۡعَزُّ مِنۡهَا الاَۡذَلَّ
وَلِلَّهِ الۡعِزَّةُ وَلِرَسُولِهِ وَلِلۡمُوۡمِنِينَ وَلَكِنَّ الۡمُنَافِقِينَ لَا يَعۡلَمُونَ
They say:If we return to Al-Madinah, indeed the more honorable will expel therefrom the weaker.
But Al-`Izzah belongs to Allah, and to His Messenger, and to the believers, but the hypocrites know not.
In his book, As-Sirah, Muhammad bin Ishaq said,
After the battle of Uhud ended, the Prophet returned to Al-Madinah. Abdullah bin Ubay bin Salul -- as Ibn Shihab narrated to me -- would stand up every Friday, without objection from anyone because he was a chief of his people, when the Prophet would sit on the Minbar, just before he delivered the Jumu`ah Khutbah to the people. Abdullah bin Ubay would say,
`O people! This is the Messenger of Allah with you. Allah has honored us by sending him and gave you might through him. Support him, honor him and listen to and obey him.'
He would then sit down. So after the battle of Uhud, even after he did what he did, that is, returning to Al-Madinah with a third of the army, he stood up to say the same words. But the Muslims held on to his clothes and said to him,
`Sit down, O enemy of Allah! You are not worthy to stand after you did what you did.'
Abdullah went out of the Masjid crossing people's lines and saying,
`By Allah, it is as if I said something awful when I wanted to support him.'
Some men from Al-Ansar met him at the gate of the Masjid and asked him what happened. He said,
`I just stood up to support him and some men, his Companions, jumped at me, pulled me back and admonished me, as if what I said was an awful thing; I merely wanted to support him.'
They said to him, `Woe to you! Go back so that Allah's Messenger asks Allah to forgive you.'
He said, `By Allah, I do not wish that he ask Allah to forgive me.'
Qatadah and As-Suddi said, This Ayah was revealed about Abdullah bin Ubay.
A young relative of his went to Allah's Messenger and conveyed to him an awful statement that Abdullah said.
The Messenger called Abdullah, who swore by Allah that he did not say anything.
The Ansar went to that boy and admonished him. However, Allah sent down what you hear about Abdullah's case and Allah's enemy was told,
`Go to Allah's Messenger,' but he turned his head away, saying that he will not do it.
Muhammad bin Ishaq said that Muhammad bin Yahya bin Hibban, Abdullah bin Abi Bakr and Asim bin Umar bin Qatadah narrated to him the story of Bani Al-Mustaliq.
They said that while the Messenger of Allah was in that area, Jahjah bin Sa`id Al-Ghifari, a hired hand for Umar, and Sinan bin Wabr fought over the water source.
Sinan called out, O Ansar,
while Al-Jahjah called, O Muhajirin!
Zayd bin Arqam and several Ansar men were sitting with Abdullah bin Ubay bin Salul at that time. When Abdullah heard what happened, he said,
They are bothering us in our land. By Allah, the parable of us and these foolish Quraysh men, is the parable that goes, `Feed your dog until it becomes strong, and it will eat you.' By Allah, when we go back to Al-Madinah, the most mighty will expel the weak from it.
He then addressed his people who were sitting with him, saying to them,
What have you done to yourselves You let them settle in your land and shared your wealth with them. By Allah, if you abandon them, they will have to move to another area other than yours.
Zayd bin Arqam heard these words and conveyed them to Allah's Messenger. Zayd was a young boy then. Umar bin Al-Khattab was with the Messenger and he said,
O Allah's Messenger! Order Abbad bin Bishr to cut off his head at his neck.
The Prophet replied,
فَكَيۡفَ إِذَا تَحَدَّثَ النَّاسُ يَا عُمَرُ أَنَّ مُحَمَّدًا يَقۡتُلُ أَصۡحَابَهُ لَا وَلَكِنۡ نَادِ يَا عُمَرُ الرَّحِيل
What if people started saying that Muhammad kills his companions, O Umar, No. However, order the people to start the journey (back to Al-Madinah).
When Abdullah bin Ubay bin Salul was told that his statement reached Allah's Prophet, he went to him and denied saying it. He swore by Allah that he did not utter the statement that Zayd bin Arqam conveyed. Abdullah bin Ubay was a chief of his people and they said,
O Allah's Messenger! May be the young boy merely guessed and did not hear what was said correctly.
Allah's Messenger started the journey at an unusual hour of the day and was met by Usayd bin Al-Hudayr, who greeted him acknowledging his Prophethood. Usayd said,
By Allah! You are about to begin the journey at an unusual time.
The Prophet said,
أَمَا بَلَغَكَ مَا قَالَ صَاحِبُكَ ابۡنُ أُبَيَ زَعَمَ أَنَّهُ إِذَا قَدِمَ الۡمَدِينَةَ سَيُخۡرِجُ الاَۡعَزُّ مِنۡهَا الاَۡذَل
Did not the statement of your friend, Ibn Ubay reach you He claimed that when he returns to Al-Madinah, the mighty one will expel the weak one out of it.
Usayd said, Indeed, you are the mighty one, O Allah's Messenger, and he is the disgraced one.
Take it easy with him, O Allah's Messenger! By Allah, when Allah brought you to us, we were about to gather the pearls (of a crown) so that we appoint him king over us. He thinks that you have rid him of his kingship.
The Messenger of Allah traveled with the people until the night fell, then the rest of the night until the beginning of the next day and then set camp with the people. He wanted to busy them from talking about what had happened. The minute people felt the ground under their feet, they went to sleep and Surah Al-Munafiqin was revealed.
Al-Hafiz Abu Bakr Al-Bayhaqi recorded that Jabir bin Abdullah said,
We were in a battle with Allah's Messenger and a man from the Emigrants kicked an Ansari man. The Ansari man called out,
`O Ansar!' and the Emigrant called out, `O Emigrants!'
Allah's Messenger heard that and said,
مَا بَالُ دَعۡوَى الۡجَاهِلِيَّةِ دَعُوهَا فَإِنَّهَا مُنۡتِنَة
What is this call of Jahiliyyah? Abandon it because it is offensive.
Abdullah bin Ubay heard that and said,
`Have they (the Emigrants) done so By Allah, if we return to Al-Madinah, surely, the more honorable will expel therefrom the meaner.'
The Ansar at that time, were more numerous that the Emigrants when the Messenger of Allah came to Al-Madinah, but later on the Emigrants increased in number. When this statement reached the Prophet, Umar got up and said,
`O Allah's Messenger! Let me chop off the head of this hypocrite!'
The Prophet said:
دَعۡهُ لَا يَتَحَدَّثُ النَّاسُ أَنَّ مُحَمَّدًا يَقۡتُلُ أَصۡحَابَه
Leave him, lest the people say that Muhammad kills his companions.
Imam Ahmad, Al-Bukhari and Muslim collected this Hadith.
Ikrimah and Ibn Zayd and others said that
when the Prophet and his Companions went back to Al-Madinah, Abdullah, the son of Abdullah bin Ubay bin Salul, remained by the gate of Al-Madinah holding his sword. People passed by him as they returned to Al-Madinah, and then his father came. Abdullah, son of Abdullah, said to his father,
Stay where you are,
and his father asked what the matter was His son said,
By Allah! You will enter through here until the Messenger of Allah allows you to do so, for he is the honorable one and you are the disgraced.
When the Messenger of Allah came by, and he used to be in the last lines, Abdullah bin Ubay complained to him about his son and his son said,
By Allah, O Allah's Messenger! He will not enter it until you say so.
The Messenger gave his permission to Abdullah bin Ubay and his son said,
Enter, now that the Messenger of Allah gave you his permission.
In his Musnad, Abu Bakr Abdullah bin Az-Zubayr Al-Humaydi recorded from Abu Harun Al-Madani that
Abdullah, the son of `Abdullah bin Ubay bin Salul, said to his father,
You will never enter Al-Madinah unless and until you say, `Allah's Messenger is the honorable one and I am the disgraced.
When the Prophet came, Abdullah, son of Abdullah bin Ubay bin Salul said to him, O Allah's Messenger! I was told that you have decided to have my father executed. By He Who has sent you with Truth, I never looked straight to his face out of respect for him. But if you wish, I will bring you his head, because I would hate to see the killer of my father.
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