Surah Baqarah >> Currently viewing Surah Baqarah Ayat 16 (2:16)

Surah Baqarah 16th Ayah in Arabic:

أُو۟لَٰٓئِكَ ٱلَّذِينَ ٱشْتَرَوُا۟ ٱلضَّلَٰلَةَ بِٱلْهُدَىٰ فَمَا رَبِحَت تِّجَٰرَتُهُمْ وَمَا كَانُوا۟ مُهْتَدِينَ

Transliteration:

Ulaaa’ikal lazeenash tara wud dalaalata bilhudaa famaa rabihat tijaaratuhum wa maa kaanoo muhtadeen

English Translation:

DR. GHALI Those are they who have traded errancy (at the price of) guidance; so, in no way has their commerce gained (anything) and in no way have they been rightly-guided.

MUHSIN KHAN These are they who have purchased error for guidance, so their commerce was profitless. And they were not guided.

PICKTHALL These are they who purchase error at the price of guidance, so their commerce doth not prosper, neither are they guided.

SAHIH INTERNATIONAL Those are the ones who have purchased error [in exchange] for guidance, so their transaction has brought no profit, nor were they guided.

YUSUF ALI These are they who have bartered Guidance for error: But their traffic is profitless, and they have lost true direction,

MUFTI TAQI USMANI These are the people who have bought error at the price of guidance; so their trade has brought no gain, nor have they reached the right Path.

ABDUL HALEEM They have bought error in exchange for guidance, so their trade reaps no profit, and they are not rightly guided.

ABUL ALA MAUDUDI These are the ones who have purchased error in exchange for guidance. This bargain has brought them no profit and certainly they are not on the Right Way.

Surah Baqarah Ayat 16 Tafseer

Here we’ve provided different sources of commentary to help with learning and understanding the sixteenth ayat of Surah Baqarah.

Tafsir by Ibn Kathir [2:16]

In his Tafsir, As-Suddi reported that Ibn `Abbas and Ibn Mas`ud commented on;

﴿أُوْلَـئِكَ الَّذِينَ اشْتَرَوُاْ الضَّلَـلَةَ بِالْهُدَى﴾

 

(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,

﴿وَأَمَّا ثَمُودُ فَهَدَيْنَـهُمْ فَاسْتَحَبُّواْ الْعَمَى عَلَى الْهُدَى﴾

 

(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,

﴿أُوْلَـئِكَ الَّذِينَ اشْتَرَوُاْ الضَّلَـلَةَ بِالْهُدَى﴾

 

(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,

﴿ذَلِكَ بِأَنَّهُمْ ءَامَنُواّ ثُمَّ كَفَرُوا فَطُبِعَ عَلَى قُلُوبِهِمْ﴾

 

(That is because they believed, and then disbelieved; therefore their hearts are sealed) (63:3).

The Ayah also includes those who preferred deviation over guidance. The hypocrites fall into several categories. This is why Allah said,

﴿فَمَا رَبِحَت تِّجَـرَتُهُمْ وَمَا كَانُواْ مُهْتَدِينَ﴾

 

(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,

﴿فَمَا رَبِحَت تِّجَـرَتُهُمْ وَمَا كَانُواْ مُهْتَدِينَ﴾

 

(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.

Then comes a final statement to sum up:“These are the ones who barter away guidance for error. Their transaction is profitless and they will receive no guidance.” (Verse 16) They spurned the opportunity to be rightly guided, and forfeited their right to it. They are left miserable and totally lost on all counts.

These are the people who have bought error at the price of guidance; so their trade has brought no gain, nor have they found guidance.


The ninth verse shows the basic denseness of the hypocrites – how they failed to make use of the ordinary sense of discrimination. They had grown up in a pagan society, and knew very well what the way of the infidels was. Now they had become familiar enough with Islam too, and could easily see the difference. But, in their greed, and for the sake of petty worldly profit, they still chose disbelief as against Islam, and bartered away something as invaluable as Iman ایمان (faith) for something as worthless, and even harmful as kufr کفر (infidelity). In giving the name of ‘trade’ or ‘commerce’ to this action, the Holy Qur’an suggests that these worldly-wise men had no understanding even of the art of trading.

(2:16) These are the ones who have purchased error in exchange for guidance. This bargain has brought them no profit and certainly they are not on the Right Way.16


16. This means that two opposite effects emerged when a true servant of God radiated the light which made it possible to distinguish true from false and right from wrong, and made the straight way distinct from the ways of error. To those endowed with true perception, all truths became evident. But those who were almost blinded by the worship of their animal desires perceived nothing. The expression, ‘Allah took away the light of their perception’ should not create the impression that these people were not responsible for their stumbling into darkness. Only those who do not seek the Truth, who prefer error to guidance and who are adamantly disinclined to pursue the Truth despite its luminosity, are deprived, by God, of the light of their perception. God simply enables such people to do what they wish.