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Surah al-Baqarah (8-16)
Qur'anic Exegesis
Javed Ahmad Ghamidi
(Tr. by:Dr. Shehzad Saleem)

وَمِنْ النَّاسِ مَنْ يَقُولُ آمَنَّا بِاللَّهِ وَبِالْيَوْمِ الْآخِرِ وَمَا هُمْ بِمُؤْمِنِينَ يُخَادِعُونَ اللَّهَ وَالَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَمَا يَخْدَعُونَ إِلَّا أَنفُسَهُمْ وَمَا يَشْعُرُونَ  فِي قُلُوبِهِمْ مَرَضٌ فَزَادَهُمْ اللَّهُ مَرَضًا وَلَهُمْ عَذَابٌ أَلِيمٌ بِمَا كَانُوا يَكْذِبُونَ وَإِذَا قِيلَ لَهُمْ لَا تُفْسِدُوا فِي الْأَرْضِ قَالُوا إِنَّمَا نَحْنُ مُصْلِحُونَ  أَلَا إِنَّهُمْ هُمْ الْمُفْسِدُونَ وَلَكِنْ لَا يَشْعُرُونَ  وَإِذَا قِيلَ لَهُمْ آمِنُوا كَمَا آمَنَ النَّاسُ قَالُوا أَنُؤْمِنُ كَمَا آمَنَ السُّفَهَاءُ أَلَا إِنَّهُمْ هُمْ السُّفَهَاءُ وَلَكِنْ لَا يَعْلَمُونَ  وَ إِذَا لَقُوا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا قَالُوا آمَنَّا وَإِذَا خَلَوْا إِلَى شَيَاطِينِهِمْ قَالُوا إِنَّا مَعَكُمْ إِنَّمَا نَحْنُ مُسْتَهْزِئُونَ  اللَّهُ يَسْتَهْزِئُ بِهِمْ وَيَمُدُّهُمْ فِي طُغْيَانِهِمْ يَعْمَهُونَ  أُوْلَئِكَ الَّذِينَ اشْتَرَوْا الضَّلَالَةَ بِالْهُدَى فَمَا رَبِحَتْ تِجَارَتُهُمْ وَمَا كَانُوا مُهْتَدِينَ (٢: ٨-١٦)

And among these people1 are [the Hypocrites from the Jews]2 who say: ‘We have professed faith in Allah and in the Last day’3, but in reality they do not have faith in anything4. They want to deceive both Allah and the believers5, but indeed they only deceive themselves, and realize it not6! In their hearts was the disease [of jealousy], and Allah [now] has increased their disease7 further. And because they have been lying, there is a grievous penalty for them. When it is said to them: ‘make not mischief in the earth [by adopting this attitude]’8 they say: ‘Why, we are only reformers!’9 Of a surety, they are the ones who make mischief, but they realize it not. When it is said to them: ‘Accept faith as these people10 [before you] have accepted faith’, they [vainly] say: ‘Shall we accept faith as these fools accepted faith?’ – Listen, they themselves are fools, but they do not know. And when they meet the Muslims, they say: ‘We have accepted’11 but when they are alone with their evil ones12, they say: ‘We are with you, we were only jesting’. Allah jests with them and [according to His law] gives them respite13 in their arrogance such that they are wandering about. It is these who have given prerference14 to error over guidance so their deal has yielded absolutely no profit for them, and neither have they been able to find a way out15. (2:8-16)





1. That is from among these rejecters.

2. This refers to those hypocrites among the Jews who instead of openly opposing Islam wanted to strike a compromise between Islam and Judaism. Their animosity was hidden beneath this veil of compromising and conciliatory behavior. Like their leaders, they did not condone the policy of open animosity and rejection of Islam. Their stance was to comprise with Islam by standing as firmly as possible on their ancestral religion. Consequently they would acknowledge before the Muslims, their faith in the Almighty and in the Hereafter, but would desire from the Muslims that they acknowledge Muhammad (sws) as their specific Prophet, not a Prophet for the Jews. They thought that in this way they would bring an end to the great tussle that existed between Islam and Kufr in Madīnah and both groups would be able to dwell in peace and harmony. On these very grounds, they contended that they were undertaking an effort of reformation.

3. The implication being that since they profess faith in Allah and in the Hereafter, they should not be asked to profess faith in any other thing.

4. The implication being that if they really believed in Allah and in the Hereafter, they would never have adopted such a hypocritical attitude about the truth.

5. The Arabic words used are ‘يُخَادِعُوْنَ اللَّهَ’. The verbal noun ‘مُخَادَعَة’ means ‘to try to deceive someone’. A little deliberation shows that this word is very aptly used in relation to the Almighty, because a person may be naïve enough to try to deceive the Almighty but this is in vain: he can never deceive Him. On the other hand, the word ‘خَدْعٌ’ (to deceive) is used in relation to the Jewish group under discussion, which is an apt usage for them.

6. The implication being that since they have yet to witness the result of their endeavors, they fail to realize that in their frenzy to deceive God, they are actually deceiving themselves.

7. They were jealous of the fact that the Almighty had blessed the Ismaelites with guidance. When they saw the success achieved by Islam and the way its blessings pervaded the society, their jealousy increased. Such was the extent of this evil sentiment that they invoked severe wrath of the Almighty.

8. The implication being that they should bear witness to the truth and not create disorder in the land through obstructing people to accept faith by causing ambiguity between truth and falsehood.

9. The Jews contended that whereas the Muslims were dubbing their reformatory efforts as anarchy and disorder, if there ever was a way to reform matters it was through the way they had adopted.

10. That is these Ansār and Mahājirūn.

11. 11. By these words, the Jews would try to give the impression to the Muslims that they were accepting the Prophethood of Muhammad (sws), whereas in their heart they thought that even if they were accepting him as a Prophet, they were actually acknowledging him as a Prophet for the Ismaelites. As far as they themselves were concerned, for them their own Book and Prophets suffice; they were not responsible for professing faith in anything else.

It needs to be appreciated that in the present times also, those among the Jews and Christians who accept the Prophethood of Muhammad (sws) do so on similar lines.

12. The Arabic words used are ‘إِلَى خَلَوْا’. The preposition ‘إِلَى’ after the verb ‘خَلَوْا’ shows that there is another verb encompassed in this verb which collocates with this preposition. It is evident that the word ‘شَيَاطِينِهِمْ’ is used for the leaders of the Jews. Such usage is found in other languages also.

13. The Arabic words used are ‘وَيَمُدُّهُمْ فِي طُغْيَانِهِمْ يَعْمَهُونَ’. The word ‘يَعْمَهُونَ’ is an accusative of state (حال). The words ‘فِي طُغْيَانِهِمْ’ are related to ‘يَمُدُّهُمْ’ because in Arabic the expression ‘مَدّه فِيهِ’ is widely used. Now the whole expression is actually an explanation of ‘Allah makes fun of them’ referred to in the preceding verses: the more they increase in their arrogance, the more respite they are given by Allah so that when He ultimately catches them they have no remaining excuse to present before Him.

14. The Arabic word used is ‘اشْتَرَوْا’, ‘اِشْتَرىَ’ meaning ‘to buy’. By buying something a person actually gives preference to the purchased item over the money he is spending. The meaning of ‘to give preference to something’ has thus been incorporated in the word and is used with this meaning in the Qur’ān at many places.

15. The implication being that the Almighty has completely exposed their hypocrisy. Thus, even though they adopt a compromising attitude, they have not succeeded in evading the consequences of deliberately denying the Prophet (sws).

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