Surah Al-Munafiqun (Arabic: سورة المنافقون) is the 63rd Surah of the Qur’an with 18 ayats. It is classified as a Medinan Surah and in English is titled “Friday”.

The Surah encourages believers to be sincere in faith and to practice zakat (charity) which is one of the five pillars of Islam. It also criticizes and condemns the hypocrites.

One of the goals of the My Islam site is to make it easy to read and understand of the Quran. Below every ayat we’ve included transliteration to help with pronunciation of Arabic text and below that you can read Sahih International English translation for understanding. At the end of the Surah we’ve added different Tafseer to provide commentary for those looking to learn in detail about Surah Munafiqun.

Notable Quote:

“O you who have believed, let not your wealth and your children divert you from remembrance of Allah . And whoever does that – then those are the losers.”
Surah Al Munafiqun Ayat 9 

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Read Surah Munafiqun with English Translation and Transliteration

Bismillah Hir Rahman Nir Raheem
In the name of Allah, The Most Gracious and The Most Merciful

إِذَا جَآءَكَ ٱلْمُنَـٰفِقُونَ قَالُوا۟ نَشْهَدُ إِنَّكَ لَرَسُولُ ٱللَّهِ ۗ وَٱللَّهُ يَعْلَمُ إِنَّكَ لَرَسُولُهُۥ وَٱللَّهُ يَشْهَدُ إِنَّ ٱلْمُنَـٰفِقِينَ لَكَـٰذِبُونَ

Izaa jaaa’akal munaafiqoona qaaloo nashhadu innaka la rasoolul laah; wallaahu ya’lamu innaka la rasooluhoo wallaahu yashhadu innal munaafiqeena lakaaziboon
1. When the hypocrites come to you, [O Muhammad], they say, “We testify that you are the Messenger of Allah .” And Allah knows that you are His Messenger, and Allah testifies that the hypocrites are liars.

ٱتَّخَذُوٓا۟ أَيْمَـٰنَهُمْ جُنَّةًۭ فَصَدُّوا۟ عَن سَبِيلِ ٱللَّهِ ۚ إِنَّهُمْ سَآءَ مَا كَانُوا۟ يَعْمَلُونَ

Ittakhazoo aymaanahum junnatan fasaddoo ‘an sabeelil laah; innahum saaa’a maa kaanoo ya’maloon
2. They have taken their oaths as a cover, so they averted [people] from the way of Allah . Indeed, it was evil that they were doing.

ذَ‌ٰلِكَ بِأَنَّهُمْ ءَامَنُوا۟ ثُمَّ كَفَرُوا۟ فَطُبِعَ عَلَىٰ قُلُوبِهِمْ فَهُمْ لَا يَفْقَهُونَ

Zaalika bi annahum aamanoo summa kafaroo fatubi’a ‘alaa quloobihim fahum laa yafqahoon
3. That is because they believed, and then they disbelieved; so their hearts were sealed over, and they do not understand.

۞ وَإِذَا رَأَيْتَهُمْ تُعْجِبُكَ أَجْسَامُهُمْ ۖ وَإِن يَقُولُوا۟ تَسْمَعْ لِقَوْلِهِمْ ۖ كَأَنَّهُمْ خُشُبٌۭ مُّسَنَّدَةٌۭ ۖ يَحْسَبُونَ كُلَّ صَيْحَةٍ عَلَيْهِمْ ۚ هُمُ ٱلْعَدُوُّ فَٱحْذَرْهُمْ ۚ قَـٰتَلَهُمُ ٱللَّهُ ۖ أَنَّىٰ يُؤْفَكُونَ

Wa izaa ra aytahum tu’jibuka ajsaamuhum wa iny yaqooloo tasma’ liqawlihim kaannahum khushubum musannadah; yahsaboona kulla saihatin ‘alaihim; humul ‘aduwwu fahzarhum; qaatalahumul laahu annaa yu’fakoon
4. And when you see them, their forms please you, and if they speak, you listen to their speech. [They are] as if they were pieces of wood propped up – they think that every shout is against them. They are the enemy, so beware of them. May Allah destroy them; how are they deluded?

وَإِذَا قِيلَ لَهُمْ تَعَالَوْا۟ يَسْتَغْفِرْ لَكُمْ رَسُولُ ٱللَّهِ لَوَّوْا۟ رُءُوسَهُمْ وَرَأَيْتَهُمْ يَصُدُّونَ وَهُم مُّسْتَكْبِرُونَ

Wa izaa qeela lahum ta’aalaw yastaghfir lakum rasoolul laahi lawwaw ru’oo sahum wa ra aytahum yasuddoona wa hum mustakbiroon
5. And when it is said to them, “Come, the Messenger of Allah will ask forgiveness for you,” they turn their heads aside and you see them evading while they are arrogant.

سَوَآءٌ عَلَيْهِمْ أَسْتَغْفَرْتَ لَهُمْ أَمْ لَمْ تَسْتَغْفِرْ لَهُمْ لَن يَغْفِرَ ٱللَّهُ لَهُمْ ۚ إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ لَا يَهْدِى ٱلْقَوْمَ ٱلْفَـٰسِقِينَ

Sawaaa’un ‘alaihim as taghfarta lahum am lam tastaghfir lahum lany yaghfiral laahu lahum; innal laaha laa yahdil qawmal faasiqeen
6. It is all the same for them whether you ask forgiveness for them or do not ask forgiveness for them; never will Allah forgive them. Indeed, Allah does not guide the defiantly disobedient people.

هُمُ ٱلَّذِينَ يَقُولُونَ لَا تُنفِقُوا۟ عَلَىٰ مَنْ عِندَ رَسُولِ ٱللَّهِ حَتَّىٰ يَنفَضُّوا۟ ۗ وَلِلَّهِ خَزَآئِنُ ٱلسَّمَـٰوَ‌ٰتِ وَٱلْأَرْضِ وَلَـٰكِنَّ ٱلْمُنَـٰفِقِينَ لَا يَفْقَهُونَ

Humul lazeena yaqooloona laa tunfiqoo ‘alaa man inda Rasoolil laahi hatta yanfaddoo; wa lillaahi khazaaa’ inus samaawaati wal ardi wa laakinnal munaafiqeena la yafqahoon
7. They are the ones who say, “Do not spend on those who are with the Messenger of Allah until they disband.” And to Allah belongs the depositories of the heavens and the earth, but the hypocrites do not understand.

يَقُولُونَ لَئِن رَّجَعْنَآ إِلَى ٱلْمَدِينَةِ لَيُخْرِجَنَّ ٱلْأَعَزُّ مِنْهَا ٱلْأَذَلَّ ۚ وَلِلَّهِ ٱلْعِزَّةُ وَلِرَسُولِهِۦ وَلِلْمُؤْمِنِينَ وَلَـٰكِنَّ ٱلْمُنَـٰفِقِينَ لَا يَعْلَمُونَ

Yaqooloona la’ir raja’naaa ilal madeenati la yukhrijanal a’azzu minhal azall; wa lillaahil ‘izzatu wa li Rasoolihee wa lilmu’mineena wa laakinnal munaafiqeena laa ya’lamoon
8. They say, “If we return to al-Madinah, the more honored [for power] will surely expel therefrom the more humble.” And to Allah belongs [all] honor, and to His Messenger, and to the believers, but the hypocrites do not know.

يَـٰٓأَيُّهَا ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُوا۟ لَا تُلْهِكُمْ أَمْوَ‌ٰلُكُمْ وَلَآ أَوْلَـٰدُكُمْ عَن ذِكْرِ ٱللَّهِ ۚ وَمَن يَفْعَلْ ذَ‌ٰلِكَ فَأُو۟لَـٰٓئِكَ هُمُ ٱلْخَـٰسِرُونَ

Yaaa ayyuhal lazeena aamanoo la tulhikum amwaalukum wa laa awlaadukum ‘anzikril laah; wa mai-yaf’al zaalika fa-ulaaa’ika humul khaasiroon
9. O you who have believed, let not your wealth and your children divert you from remembrance of Allah . And whoever does that – then those are the losers.

وَأَنفِقُوا۟ مِن مَّا رَزَقْنَـٰكُم مِّن قَبْلِ أَن يَأْتِىَ أَحَدَكُمُ ٱلْمَوْتُ فَيَقُولَ رَبِّ لَوْلَآ أَخَّرْتَنِىٓ إِلَىٰٓ أَجَلٍۢ قَرِيبٍۢ فَأَصَّدَّقَ وَأَكُن مِّنَ ٱلصَّـٰلِحِينَ

Wa anifqoo mim maa razaqnaakum min qabli any-yaatiya ahadakumul mawtu fa yaqoola rabbi law laaa akhkhartaneee ilaaa ajalin qareebin fa assaddaqa wa akum minassaaliheen
10. And spend [in the way of Allah ] from what We have provided you before death approaches one of you and he says, “My Lord, if only You would delay me for a brief term so I would give charity and be among the righteous.”

وَلَن يُؤَخِّرَ ٱللَّهُ نَفْسًا إِذَا جَآءَ أَجَلُهَا ۚ وَٱللَّهُ خَبِيرٌۢ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ

Wa lany yu ‘akhkhiral laahu nafsan izaa jaaa’a ajaluhaa; wallaahu khabeerum bimaa ta’maloon
11. But never will Allah delay a soul when its time has come. And Allah is Acquainted with what you do.

Tafsir of Surah Munafiqun

The Qur’an was revealed as a book of proof that Islam is the one true religion and to be a book of guidance. We’ve added this section on the commentary of Surah Munafiqun for those looking to learn and study the Qur’an to understand its timeless teachings. We have included three different tafseer including one by Ibn Kathir.

Tafsir of Surah Munafiqun by Ibn Kathir

Which was revealed in Al-Madinah


﴿بِسْمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحْمَـنِ الرَّحِيمِ ﴾


In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.

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 جَآءَكَ الْمُنَـفِقُونَ قَالُواْ نَشْهَدُ 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 يَعْلَمُ إِنَّكَ لَرَسُولُهُ﴾


(Allah knows that you are indeed His Messenger,) then said,

﴿وَاللَّهُ يَشْهَدُ إِنَّ الْمُنَـفِقِينَ لَكَـذِبُونَ﴾


(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. Allah’s statement,

﴿اتَّخَذْواْ أَيْمَـنَهُمْ جُنَّةً فَصَدُّواْ 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,

﴿فَصَدُّواْ عَن سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ إِنَّهُمْ سَآءَ مَا كَانُواْ يَعْمَلُونَ﴾


(Thus they hinder (others) from the path of Allah. Verily, evil is what they used to do.) Allah said,

﴿ذَلِكَ بِأَنَّهُمْ ءَامَنُواّ ثُمَّ كَفَرُوا فَطُبِعَ عَلَى قُلُوبِهِمْ فَهُمْ لاَ يَفْقَهُونَ ﴾


(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. Allah said,

﴿وَإِذَا رَأَيْتَهُمْ تُعْجِبُكَ أَجْسَـمُهُمْ وَإِن يَقُولُواْ تَسْمَعْ لِقَوْلِهِمْ﴾


(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. Allah’s statement,

﴿يَحْسَبُونَ كُلَّ صَيْحَةٍ عَلَيْهِمْ﴾


(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 عَلَيْكُمْ فَإِذَا جَآءَ الْخَوْفُ رَأَيْتَهُمْ يَنظُرُونَ إِلَيْكَ تَدورُ أَعْيُنُهُمْ كَالَّذِى يُغْشَى عَلَيْهِ مِنَ الْمَوْتِ فَإِذَا ذَهَبَ الْخَوْفُ سَلَقُوكُم بِأَلْسِنَةٍ حِدَادٍ أَشِحَّةً عَلَى الْخَيْرِ أوْلَـئِكَ لَمْ يُؤْمِنُواْ فَأَحْبَطَ اللَّهُ أَعْمَـلَهُمْ 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) They are shapes that do not have much substance, and this is why Allah said,

﴿هُمُ الْعَدُوُّ فَاحْذَرْهُمْ قَاتَلَهُمُ اللَّهُ أَنَّى يُؤْفَكُونَ﴾


(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 لِلْمُنَافِقِينَ عَلَامَاتٍ يُعْرَفُونَ بِهَا: تَحِيَّتُهُمْ لَعْنَةٌ وَطَعَامُهُمْ نُهْبَةٌ وَغَنِيمَتُهُمْ غُلُولٌ لَا يَقْرَبُونَ الْمَسَاجِدَ إِلَّا هَجْرًا، وَلَا يَأْتُونَ الصَّلَاةَ إِلَّا دَبْرًا، مُسْتَكْبِرِينَ لَا يَأْلَفُونَ وَلَا يُؤْلَفُونَ، خُشُبٌ بِاللَّيْلِ 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 لَهُمْ تَعَالَوْاْ يَسْتَغْفِرْ لَكُمْ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ لَوَّوْاْ رُءُوسَهُمْ﴾


(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, belitt- ling what they are invited to. This is why Allah the Exalted said,

﴿وَرَأَيْتَهُمْ يَصُدُّونَ وَهُم مُّسْتَكْبِرُونَ﴾


(and you would see them turning away their faces in pride.) Allah punished them for this behavior, saying,

﴿سَوَآءٌ عَلَيْهِمْ أَسْتَغْفَرْتَ لَهُمْ أَمْ لَمْ تَسْتَغْفِرْ لَهُمْ لَن يَغْفِرَ اللَّهُ لَهُمْ إِنَّ اللَّهَ لاَ يَهْدِى الْقَوْمَ الْفَـسِقِينَ ﴾


(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 Surat 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. 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,

«فَكَيْفَ إِذَا تَحَدَّثَ النَّاسُ يَا عُمَرُ أَنَّ مُحَمَّدًا يَقْتُلُ أَصْحَابَهُ، لَا، وَلَكِنْ 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 ابْنُ أُبَيَ؟ زَعَمَ أَنَّهُ إِذَا قَدِمَ الْمَدِينَةَ سَيُخْرِجُ الْأَعَزُّ مِنْهَا الْأَذَل»


(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.” Usayd said, “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 Surat 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 دَعْوَى الْجَاهِلِيَّةِ؟ دَعُوهَا فَإِنَّهَا مُنْتِنَة»


(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 imcreased 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:

«دَعْهُ، لَا يَتَحَدَّثُ النَّاسُ أَنَّ مُحَمَّدًا يَقْتُلُ أَصْحَابَه»


(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.”

The Importance of not being too concerned with the Matters of the Worldly Life, and being Charitable

Allah the Exalted orders His faithful servants to remember Him frequently and to refrain from being distracted from His remembrance by indulging in their properties and children excessively. Allah informs them that those who engage in this life, its delights and attributes and were busied from the obedience and remembrance of Allah, for which they were created, will be among the losers. They will lose themselves and their families on the Day of Resurrection. Allah encourages the believers to spend in His cause,

﴿وَأَنفِقُواْ مِن مَّا رَزَقْنَـكُمْ مِّن قَبْلِ أَن يَأْتِىَ أَحَدَكُمُ الْمَوْتُ فَيَقُولُ رَبِّ لَوْلا أَخَّرْتَنِى إِلَى أَجَلٍ قَرِيبٍ فَأَصَّدَّقَ وَأَكُن مِّنَ الصَّـلِحِينَ ﴾


(And spend of that with which We have provided you before death comes to one of you, and he says: “My Lord! If only You would give me respite for a little while, then I should give Sadaqah from my wealth, and be among the righteous.) Surely, every person who fell into shortcomings will regret it by the time of his death and will ask for respite, even a short period, so that he does better and attains what he missed. No, rather what occurred, has occurred and what is coming, shall indeed come. Each will be held accountable for his mistakes. As for the disbelievers, they will be as Allah said about them,

﴿وَأَنذِرِ النَّاسَ يَوْمَ يَأْتِيهِمُ الْعَذَابُ فَيَقُولُ الَّذِينَ ظَلَمُواْ رَبَّنَآ أَخِّرْنَآ إِلَى أَجَلٍ قَرِيبٍ نُّجِبْ دَعْوَتَكَ وَنَتَّبِعِ الرُّسُلَ أَوَلَمْ تَكُونُواْ أَقْسَمْتُمْ مِّن قَبْلُ مَا لَكُمْ مِّن زَوَالٍ ﴾


(And warn mankind of the Day when the torment will come unto them; then the wrongdoers will say:”Our Lord! Respite us for a little while, we will answer Your call and follow the Messengers!” (It will be said): “Had you not sworn aforetime that you would not leave.”) (14:44), and,

﴿حَتَّى إِذَا جَآءَ أَحَدَهُمُ الْمَوْتُ قَالَ رَبِّ ارْجِعُونِ – لَعَلِّى أَعْمَلُ صَـلِحاً فِيمَا تَرَكْتُ كَلاَّ إِنَّهَا كَلِمَةٌ هُوَ قَآئِلُهَا وَمِن وَرَآئِهِمْ بَرْزَخٌ إِلَى يَوْمِ يُبْعَثُونَ ﴾


(Until, when death comes to one of them, he says: “My Lord! send me back. So that I may do good in that which I have left behind!” No! It is but a word that he speaks; and behind them is Barzakh (a barrier) until the Day when they will be resurrected.) (23:99-100) Then Allah said;

﴿وَلَن يُؤَخِّرَ اللَّهُ نَفْساً إِذَا جَآءَ أَجَلُهَآ وَاللَّهُ خَبِيرٌ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ ﴾


(And Allah grants respite to none when his appointed time comes. And Allah is All-Aware of what you do.) meaning, when the time of death comes, no one will be granted respite. Surely, HSe is the Most Knowledgeable and t an what they did before. Allah said,

﴿وَاللَّهُ خَبِيرٌ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ﴾


(And Allah is All-Aware of what you do.)


This is the end of the Tafsir of Surat Al-Munafiqun. All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and all success and immunity from error come from Him.

[63:1] When the hypocrites come to you, they say, “ We bear witness that you are indeed the Messenger of Allah.” And Allah knows that you are really His Messenger. And Allah bears witness that the hypocrites are actually liars.


Background of Revelation
The incident, in which this Surah was revealed, took place in the campaign against Banul-Mustaliq which happened, according to Muhammad Ibn Ishaq in Sha’ ban 6AH and according to Qatadah and ‘Urwah, in Sha’ ban 5AH. [ Mazhari ] According to Muhammad Ibn Ishaq and most historians, the details of the incident is as follows: The Messenger of Allah received the news that the leader of Banul-Mustaliq, name, Harith Ibn Dirar, is preparing for a campaign against him Harith Ibn Dirar was the father of Sayyidna Juwairiah ؓ who later on embraced Islam and became one of the Holy wives of the Holy Prophet ﷺ . Harith Ibn Dirar ؓ himself later on embraced Islam.

Nevertheless, when the Messenger of Allah ﷺ received the news about the campaign against him, he gathered a group of Muslims and went out to face them. Many hypocrites joined the Muslims to fight the jihad in the hope that they will receive a share in the spoils of war, because they, despite having disbelief in their hearts, were sure that Divine help will be on the Prophet’ s side, and he will attain victory.

When the Messenger of Allah ﷺ reached Banul-Mustaliq’ s settlement, he faced Harith Ibn Dirar’ s army near a well that was known as Muraisi’. Therefore, the campaign is also known as the battle of Muraisi’. The combatants arrayed themselves and shot arrows at each other. Many of Banul-Mustaliq’ s men were killed and others fled; and some men and women were captured as prisoners of war. Some of their belongings fell into Muslim hands as spoils of war. Allah granted victory to the Holy Prophet ﷺ and the jihad came to an end.

Co-operation on the basis of Tribal, Racial, National or Regional Bias is the Slogan of Pre-Islamic Paganism
Whilst the Muslim army was still at the well of Muraisi’, an unpleasant scene broke out between a Muhajir (emigrant) and an Ansari (helper). They quarreled over the same water where the battle was fought. The Emigrant called their fellow-Emigrants for help, and the Helpers called the fellow-Helpers for help. Some individuals came forward to help their respective sides, and the dispute might have led to a fight between the Emigrants and the Helpers. When the Holy Prophet ﷺ came to know about this, he immediately went to the scene of dispute, and expressed his indignation, saying مَا بَالُ دَعوَی الجَاھِلِیَّۃِ “ What is this slogan of paganism [ that you call for defence on the basis of regional, racial and national bias ]?” دَعُوھَا فَاِنَّھَا مُنتِنَۃٌ “ Give up the slogan. It stinks.” He said that every Muslim should help another Muslim brother, whether oppressor or oppressed. Helping the oppressed is quite obvious, but helping the oppressor implies to stop him from oppression. In all matters it is necessary to find out who is the oppressed and help him and who is the oppressor and stop him from oppressing, even though he may be his own brother or father. The racial, lineal, regional or national pride and prejudice is a filthy slogan, and it gives out nothing but bad odour.

The speech of the Messenger of Allah ﷺ brought the quarrel to an end, and the dispute was thus quelled. The two people involved in this dispute were Jahjah, the Emigrant, and Sinan Ibn Wabrah al-Juhani, the Helper. In this matter, the former was more on the wrong, and the latter was wounded. Sayyidna ‘Ubadah Ibn Samit ؓ explained to Sinan Jahjah ؓ . The oppressor and the oppressed thus became brothers.

The hypocrites had joined the Muslims for greed of receiving a share from the spoils. Their leader was ‘Abdullah Ibn Ubayy. Like other hypocrites, he called himself a Muslim for mundane benefits, but concealed enmity in his heart against the Messenger of Allah ﷺ and the Muslims. When he came to know about the clash between the Muhajirs (Emigrants) and Ansar (the Helpers), he found this an ideal opportunity to cause friction among the Muslims. So he addressed an assembly in which there were hypocrites and a Muslim Zaid Ibn Arqam ؓ where he strongly provoked the Helpers with his fiery speech against the Emigrants, saying: “ You have brought all this on yourselves. You have let them settle in your land and share your wealth and property. They are fed on your breads until they became strong and now they rival you. If you do not realize the consequences of your helping them, they will make your life miserable. Therefore, in future you should abandon them and stop helping them with your property, and they would themselves disperse to other areas. By Allah, when we go back to Madinah the most honourable of the inhabitants of Madinah shall drive out the meanest of them from there.“ He termed his own group and the Ansar as ‘the honourable ones’, and [ God forbid!] the Holy Prophet ﷺ along with the muhajirin as ‘the meanest ones’. When Sayyidna Zaid Ibn Arqam ؓ heard his speech, he retorted instantly: “ By Allah, you are mean, low and despicable. The Messenger of Allah is successful by God-given honour, and by the love of the Muslims.

Since ‘Abdullah Ibn Ubayy wanted to keep his hypocrisy under a veil, he concealed his intention under the cover of the vague expression of ‘the most honoured and meanest’. When Sayyidna Zaid Ibn Arqam ؓ made a sharp retort, he realized that his disbelief would be uncovered, he apologized to Sayyidna Zaid Ibn Arqam ؓ that he was merely joking and did not mean to do anything against the Messenger of Allah ﷺ .

Sayyidna Zaid Ibn Arqam ؓ left the assembly and went to the Messenger of Allah ﷺ and reported to him the whole story about ‘Abdullah Ibn Ubayy. This news was very disturbing and trying for the Holy Prophet ﷺ . The colour of his blessed countenance changed. Sayyidna Zaid Ibn Arqam ؓ was a young Companion at the time. The Holy Prophet ﷺ asked him: “ Boy! Are you not perhaps lying?” Sayyidna Zaid Ibn Arqam ؓ made the same reply. After that, the news of Ibn Ubayy’ s fiery speech spread throughout the Muslim army. No one spoke anything but about this speech. On the other hand, the Helpers reproached Sayyidna Zaid Ibn Arqam ؓ . They said that he has accused the venerable leader of the nation (that is, Ibn Ubayy) and severed kinship ties with him. Sayyidna Zaid Ibn Arqam ؓ swore by Allah and said that in the entire tribe of Khazraj, Ibn Ubayy was the dearest person to him, but when he uttered the unpleasant words against the Messenger of Allah ﷺ ، he could not hold himself. “ Even if that were my father,” he went on, “ I would have certainly reported his speech to the Messenger of Allah ﷺ .”

When Sayyidna ‘Umar ؓ heard the story, he said: “ O Allah’ s Messenger! Permit me to behead this hypocrite.” According to another narration, Sayyidna ‘Umar ؓ said: “ Permit ‘Abbad Ibn Bishr to cut off his head and present it to you.” The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said that if he were to permit them to do that, the news will spread among people that Muhammad ﷺ kills his own Comrades. As a result, he did not allow Ibn Ubayy to be killed. When this news about Sayyidna ‘Umar ؓ reached ‘Abdullah Ibn Ubayy’ s son who also bore the same name as his father’ s, ‘Abdullah, but he was a sincere Muslim, he immediately went up to the Messenger of Allah ﷺ and said: “ If you wish my father to be killed because of his speech, then allow me to kill him and bring his head to you before you arise from your assembly. The entire tribe of Khazraj is a witness to the fact that no one is more serving and obedient to my parents than myself. But I will not tolerate any of their mischief against Allah and His Messenger ﷺ . If you allow anyone else to kill my father and he kills him, then, I am afraid, when I see my father’ s killer walking freely, my tribal jealously may overcome me and I may be tempted to kill him, and that might be the cause of my punishment.” The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said: “ I do not have the intention of killing him, nor have I instructed anyone else to kill him.”

After this incident, the Messenger of Allah ﷺ announced, at an unusual time against his normal habit, that he would immediately set out on his journey back to Madinah. So he mounted his she-camel Quswa’ and started his journey at an unusual time. When the general body of the blessed Companions had set out on the journey, the Holy Prophet ﷺ called ‘Abdullah Ibn Ubayy and asked him: “ Did you say this?” He took oath and denied everything that was imputed to him, and claimed that the boy, Zaid Ibn Arqam, was liar. ‘Abdullah Ibn Ubayy was the respectable chief of his people. All the people felt that may be Zaid Ibn Arqam ؓ was under some misconception, and Ibn Ubayy did not say it as was conveyed.

In any case, the Messenger of Allah ﷺ accepted Ibn Ubayy’ s oath and explanation. The reproach of the people against Zaid Ibn Arqam ؓ was further aggravated. This embarrassed him and he hid himself from the people. Then the Messenger of Allah ﷺ travelled with the entire Muslim army the whole day and night and the next morning, until the bright sun was out. Then he, together with the army, halted in a place. They were all exhausted on account of the long and strenuous journey. As soon as they touched the ground, they fell into deep sleep.

The narrator reports that the purpose of this unusually immediate and long journey was to close the chapter of the story of Ibn Ubayy, which had by and by spread among the entire Muslim community, and they talked about it all the time.

After that, the Messenger of Allah ﷺ started the journey, in the course of which Sayyidna ‘Ubadah Ibn Samit ؓ suggested to Ibn Ubayy to approach the Holy Prophet ﷺ and admit his guilt before him who would pray Allah for his pardon and he would attain salvation. When he heard this suggestion, he turned his head away. No Qur’ anic verses pertaining to Ibn Ubayy were revealed until then, but when he turned himself away in haughty arrogance, Sayyidna ‘Ubadah Ibn Samit ؓ said: “ Certainly, the Qur’ an will reveal verses pertaining to your turning down the advice.”

While the Holy Prophet ﷺ was on his journey, Sayyidna Zaid Ibn Arqam came near him again and again, and he was firm that since this hypocrite has called him a liar and embarrassed him in front of the entire nation. Allah would surely reveal verses to clear him and give the lie to the hypocrite. Suddenly Sayyidna Zaid Ibn Arqam ؓ noticed that the Holy Prophet ﷺ entered into the state that he experienced when he received revelation. He stared breathing heavily, his forehead dripped with perspiration and his mount, the she-camel, began to feel the weight of the revelation. Sayyidna Zaid Ibn Arqam ؓ sensed that some revelation was coming down regarding that matter. When that state of revelation was over, and, because his own mount was closer to the mount of the Holy Prophet ﷺ ، he held the ear of Zaid ؓ and said یا غُلَامُ صَدَّقَ اللہُ حَدِیثَکَ وَ نَزَلَت سُورَۃُ المُنافِقِینَ فِی اِبنِ اُبیٍّ مِن اَوَّلِھَا اِلٰی آخِرِھَا “ O Boy, Allah has confirmed the veracity of your statement, and the entire Surah Al-Munafiqun – from the beginning to the end – has been revealed in connection with Ibn Ubayy’ s incident.”

This shows that Surah Al-Munafiqun was revealed in the course of the journey. According to Baghawi’ s narration, however, the Holy Prophet ﷺ had reached Madinah and Sayyidna Zaid Ibn Arqam ؓ was hiding himself in the house for fear of reprisal, when this Surah was revealed. And Allah knows best!

According to another narration, when the Messenger of Allah ﷺ approached Madinah at the valley of Aqiq, ‘Abdullah, the son of the hypocrite ‘Abdullah Ibn Ubayy, who was faithful believe, went forward and searched through the throng of mounts and, finding his father’ s mount, made it sit. He placed his foot on its knees and said to his father: “ By Allah! You cannot enter Madinah unless the Messenger of Allah ﷺ permits you, and unless you clarify who are the most honourable inhabitants of Madinah that expel the meanest ones. Tell me who is the most hounourable one, the Messenger of Allah or you?” Passer-by were reproaching ‘Abdullah as to how unkindly he was treating his father. By then the mount of Allah’ s Messenger ﷺ came near. He inquired what was happening. People said that ‘Abdullah has barred his father’ s entry into Madinah unless Allah’ s Messenger ﷺ permits him. The Holy Prophet ﷺ saw that the hypocritical Ibn Ubbay declared to his son that he himself was the meanest of the citizens of Madinah, even meaner than children and women, and the Holy Prophet ﷺ the most honourable of them. At this, the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said to the son: Leave his way; let him enter.” The son then let him enter.

Only this much is the story of the revelation of Surah Al-Munafiqun. At the beginning of the story, a concise reference was made to the campaign of Banul-Mustaliq where it was shown that the real person responsible for the campaign was Harith Ibn Dirar who at that time was not a Muslim but embraced Islam later. He was the father of Sayyidah Juwairiyah ؓ who too was not a Muslim but embraced Islam later, and became one of the noble wives of the Holy Prophet ﷺ .

Musnad Ahmad, Abu Dawud and others record that when Banul-Mustaliq were defeated, spoils of war, together with prisoners of war, fell into Muslim hands. According to Islamic Law, all prisoners and spoils of war were distributed among the Mujahidin. Among the prisoners of war was Juwairiyah ؓ the daughter of Harith Ibn Dirar. She fell to the lot of Sayyidna Thabit Ibn Qais Ibn Shammas. He entered into the contract of kitabah to set her free in lieu of a specified sum of money.1
(1) For fuller explanation of the contract of kitabah, see volume 6, pp.426-427 of this book under the commentary of Surah 24:33. (Muhammad Taqi Usmani)
According to Sayyidah Juwairiyah’ s ؓ contract of kitabah, the sum specified was very large and she could not pay off the large sum of money to purchase her freedom. She came to the Holy Prophet ﷺ and said: “ I have embraced Islam and I bear witness that there is only One Allah and He has no partners, and that you are Allah’ s Messenger.” Then she went on to narrate her story: “ I fell to the lot of Thabit Ibn Qais Ibn Shammas, but we entered into the contract of kitabah and the sum specified in the contract is so large that I cannot manage. Please do help me.” The Holy Prophet ﷺ acceded to her request. In addition, he expressed his intention to emancipate her and marry her. For Sayyidah Juwairiyah ؓ ، this was a great boon. How could she refuse to accept this offer? She accepted the offer whole-heartedly and thus became one of the noble wives of the Holy Prophet ﷺ . The mother of the Faithful, Sayyidah Juwairiyah ؓ says that three days before the Holy Prophet ﷺ came for the campaign of Banul-Mustaliq ‘I saw in my dream that the moon arose in Yathrib and it came and fell in my lap. I did not narrate this dream to anyone at that time. Now I have seen its interpretation with my own eyes.’

She was the daughter of the leader of her nation. When she became one of the wives of the Holy Prophet ﷺ ، it exerted a great influence on the entire tribe. One advantage that accrued to all women captured with her was that all of them were emancipated. They were relatives of the Mother of the Faithful. The Muslims set free all slave-girls related to her when they came to know of her joining the rank of the Mother of Faithful. About one hundred of them were emancipated with her. Her father saw a miracle of the Holy Prophet ﷺ and embraced Islam.

The above story imparts guiding principles on important issues
The circumstances, under which Surah Al-Munafiqun was revealed, indeed help us understand the basic interpretation of the Surah. Additionally, they bring out some important guiding principles related to moral or ethical, political and social issues. That is why the full story has been fully recounted here. The guiding principles derived from this story are given below:

The foundation Stone of Islamic Polity: Establishment of Islamic Brotherhood which aims at Ending Colour, Racial and Linguistic Discriminations, and Indigenous-Alien Prejudices.

The episode of the dispute that broke out between an Emigrant and a Helper, and each side calling their fellow-Emigrants and their fellow-Helpers respectively for help was the icon of paganism which the Holy Prophet ﷺ destroyed. He established the principle that all believers are brothers, regardless of their race, colour, language, or nationality. The bond of brotherhood the Holy Prophet ﷺ established between the Refugees and the Helpers had made them like real brothers. It is, however the ancient Shaitanic network to get people involved in mutual co-operation and help on this basis alone. This necessarily results in blocking out the Islamic concept of mutual co-operation based on race and nationalism taken place. In this way, the Shaitan causes friction among Muslims. In this instance also a similar situation would have developed if the Holy Prophet ﷺ did not arrive on the scene in time and quell the dispute and said to them that it was the stinking slogan of paganism and that they should give it up. He re-established them on the Qur’ anic principle of mutual co-operation وَتَعَاوَنُوا عَلَى الْبِرِّ‌ وَالتَّقْوَىٰ ۖ وَلَا تَعَاوَنُوا عَلَى الْإِثْمِ وَالْعُدْوَانِ (And help each other in righteousness and piety, and do not help each other in sin and aggression…5:2). In other words, the standard for Muslims to help others or to receive help from others is good will, justice, fair play and equity. They should co-operate mutually on this basis, even though the others may belong to another race, ethnic group, or to another region. They should not unite in one conjoint to co-operate in sin and injustice, even though he may be father or brother. This is the just and rational foundation which Islam has laid, and the Messenger of Allah ﷺ himself took care of this every step of the way and commanded everyone to follow the principle. In his Farewell Address, he said that all customs of paganism are trampled under his feet. The idols of discrimination of Arab-non-Arab, white-black and indigenous-aliens have been broken. Islamic principle of mutual help and co-operation is Truth and Justice. All should apply it.

Another lesson that stems from this story is that the enemies of Islam since time immemorial use nationalism and regionalism to cause friction, and break up the Muslim Community. Whenever the opportunity arises, they split them up.

Alas, the Muslims have long forgotten this lesson, and the enemies have once more set up the same Shaitanic network to break up Islamic unity. The Muslims all over the world have put the religion and the religious principles into oblivion. As a result, they have become victims of civil wars. Their united front to fight disbelief has been smashed. The Muslim world is divided not only into Arabs and non-Arabs, but further divided into Egyptian, Syrian, Hijazi and Yemeni. In the Indo-Pak subcontinent, the Punjabis, Bengalis, Sindhis, Hindis, Pathans and Balochis are victims of mutual differences. To Allah we direct our complaint! The enemies of Islam are toying with our differences. As a result, they are overcoming us in all fields, and we are defeated everywhere. We have developed a slavish mentality and are forced to take refuge in them. Even today we can see with our open eyes Divine help and assistance coming to us, provided we adopt the Qur’ anic principles and the guidance of Allah’ s Messenger ﷺ ; provided we adhere to a strong Islamic brotherhood instead of showing a slavish devotion to the lifestyle of others; and provided we break down the idols of colour, race, language and region.

The Noble Companions’ Unparalleled Adherence to Islamic Principles and their Lofty Station
This incident further shows that though the Shaitan made some people raise the slogan of paganism temporarily, the ‘Iman was so engrossed in their hearts that the slightest admonition was sufficient to jolt them into repenting. They had such a high degree of love and reverence for Allah and His Messenger ﷺ that no relationship and sense of nationality could act as a barrier against it. An eloquent testimony of that is contained in the statement of Zaid Ibn Arqam ؓ . He himself was a member of the tribe of Khazraj and Ibn Ubayy was the leader of that tribe, and the former loved and venerated the latter most dearly, but he could not tolerate the provocative words uttered against the Refugee Muslims and Allah’ s Messenger ﷺ and complained to him about the hypocrites. The tribal-worshippers of the present age would never have dared to take the complaint of their leaders to the Holy Prophet ﷺ .

The attitude of Ibn Ubayy’ s son ‘Abdullah in this incident makes it crystal clear that his real love and veneration was dedicated to Allah and His Messenger ﷺ . When he heard him utter words against them, he went to Allah’ s Messenger ﷺ and sought his consent to cut off his father’ s head. When the Holy Prophet ﷺ did not permit him, he made his father’ s mount sit, when he approached Madinah, blocked his way and forced him to admit that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ is ‘the most honourable’ and that he himself is ‘the meanest one’. He did not open the way for his father before the Holy Prophet’ s ﷺ permission.

Besides, the idols of nation-worship and land-worship were broken to pieces in the battles of Badr, Uhud and Ahzab, which proved that all Muslims are brothers, no matter which nationality, country, colour or language group they belong to. Anyone who does not believe in Allah and his Messenger ﷺ is an enemy, even though he may be his own real brother or father.

ھزار خویش کہ بیگا انہ از خدا باشد فدایٔے یک تنِ بیگانہ کآشنا باشد
Thousand of relatives who are alien to Allah
May be sacrificed to an alien who is faithful to Allah.

Taking care of General Welfare of Muslims: Protecting them from misunderstanding
Another point illustrated by this incident is that an act which is permissible in itself should be avoided if it may create a misunderstanding in the mind of a Muslim, or may provide an opportunity for the enemies to spread misunderstanding among them. Thus, despite the fact that Ibn Ubayy’ s hypocrisy was exposed openly, the Messenger of Allah ﷺ did not permit Sayyidna ‘Umer ﷺ to behead him when he sought his permission, because the enemies could create misunderstanding in the public minds that Muhammad ﷺ killed his own Comrades. But it should be noted that, as other traditions prove, such acts may be abandoned only when they are not from the basis objectives of Shariah, they cannot be abandoned for such an apprehension. Instead, attempts must be made to remove the danger and do the work dictated by the objectives of Shari’ ah.

[63:2] They have made their oaths a shield, and thus they have prevented (others) from the way of Allah. Surely evil is what they have been doing.

[63:3] That is because they declared their faith (apparently), then disbelieved (secretly). Therefore, a seal has been set on their hearts, and thus they do not understand.

[63:4] And if you see them, their bodies would attract you, and if they speak, you would listen to their speech. (Yet, being devoid of substance,) it is as if they were propped up pieces of wood. They deem every shout (they hear) to be against them (out of cowardice). They are the enemy; so beware of them. May Allah destroy them. How perverted are they!

[63:5] And when it is said to them, “ Come on, Allah’ s Messenger will pray for your forgiveness” they twist their heads, and you see them turning away in arrogance.

Let us now study some specific sentences of the Surah:

وَإِذَا قِيلَ لَهُمْ تَعَالَوْا يَسْتَغْفِرْ‌ لَكُمْ رَ‌سُولُ اللَّـهِ (And when it is said to them, “ Come on, and Allah’ s Messenger will pray for your forgiveness”…63:5). When this Surah exposed the false oaths of ‘Abdullah Ibn Ubayy, the leader of the hypocrites, people went up to him to advise him to approach the Holy Prophet ﷺ and admit his guilt. They said that he has still time to request the Holy Prophet ﷺ to pray to Allah to forgive him. To this, the responded by turning his head around and saying arrogantly. “ I believed when you asked me to believe; I paid Zakah when you asked to; and now the only thing left is for you to ask me to prostrate to Muhammad ﷺ . The above verses were revealed on this occasion, which make plain that he has no faith, and therefore asking forgiveness for him cannot benefit him in any way.

Ibn Ubayy, after this incident, returned to Madinah, lived for a few days, and died soon thereafter. [ Mazhari ]

[63:6] It is equal in their case, whether you pray for their forgiveness or do not pray, Allah will not forgive them. Indeed Allah does not guide the sinning people.

[63:7] They are the ones who say, “ Do not spend on those who are with Allah’ s Messenger so that they disperse.” And to Allah belong the treasures of the heavens and the earth, but the hypocrites do not understand.

هُمُ الَّذِينَ يَقُولُونَ لَا تُنفِقُوا عَلَىٰ مَنْ عِندَ رَ‌سُولِ اللَّـهِ حَتَّىٰ يَنفَضُّوا (They are the ones who say, “ Do not spend on those who are with Allah’ s Messenger, so that they disperse…63:7). This verse points out to the foolish statement that Ibn Ubayy had made at the time of the dispute between Jahjah, the Emigrant, and Sinan, the Helper. Allah Ta’ ala has responded to it that these foolish people have presumed that the Emigrants need their donations and they are their sustainers, while all treasures of heavens and the earth belong to Allah. If He will, He can provide to them everything without any contribution from their side. Since the statement made by Ibn Ubayy was an evidence of his foolishness, the Holy Qur’ an states لَا یَفقَھونَ “…but the hypocrites do not understand [ 7].”

[63:8] They say, “ If we return to Madinah, the more honourable ones will drive out the meaner ones from there.” And to Allah belongs the honour, and to His Messenger, and to the believers, but the hypocrites do not know.

يَقُولُونَ لَئِن رَّ‌جَعْنَا إِلَى الْمَدِينَةِ لَيُخْرِ‌جَنَّ الْأَعَزُّ مِنْهَا الْأَذَلَّ (They say, “ If we return to Madinah, the more honourable ones will drive out the meaner ones from there.”…63:8). This too is the statement of Ibn Ubayy, the hypocrite. Although the words used by him were ambiguous, the intention was clear. He termed himself and the natives of Madinah as ‘honourable’ and the Holy Prophet ﷺ and the Emigrant Companions as (God forbid! ) the ‘meanest’. He thus provoked the Helpers of Madinah against the Emigrants that the former should drive out the latter from their city. In answer to this, Allah recoiled his boastful statement against himself by pointing out that if those who are really ‘honourable’ drive out those who are really the ‘meanest’ it will go against themselves, because all honour belongs to Him, His Messenger and the believers. The hypocrites, however, are unaware of this because of their ignorance. The concluding phrase of this verse is لَا يَعْلَمُونَ ‘…but the hypocrites do not know. [ 8]’ This may be contrasted with the concluding phrase of verse لَا یَفقَھونَ ‘ but they do not understand’. The reason for the distinction between ‘do not understand’ and ‘do not know’ is as follows: If a person thinks that he is the provider of others, this is completely irrational. This is the sign of his foolishness. Honour and dishonour, on the other hand, can fall to anyone’ s lot. Therefore, if he errs in his judgment, this is ignorance of facts or true state of affairs. Thus we have here لَا يَعْلَمُونَ ‘…but the hypocrites do not know. [ 8]

[63:9] O those who believe, your riches and your children must not divert you from the remembrance of Allah. And those who do that are the losers.


Linkage between Sections [ 1] and [ 2]
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا لَا تُلْهِكُمْ أَمْوَالُكُمْ وَلَا أَوْلَادُكُمْ عَن ذِكْرِ‌ اللَّـهِ
O those who believe, your riches and your children must not divert you from the remembrance of Allah. (63:9)

The preceding section dealt with the hypocrites, their false oaths and their conspiracies. In sum, their nefarious activities were based on their excessive love for the worldly gains. They outwardly claimed to be Muslims, and might share the spoils of war with them. One of the consequences of this mentality was their design to stop spending on the Emigrant Companions. Now, this second section addresses the sincere and faithful believers, and warns them against being intoxicated with the love of this world, as the hypocrites foolishly did. There are two major objects in this world that divert a person from the remembrance of Allah: [ 1] wealth; [ 2] children. Therefore, these two things have been named in particular. Otherwise, it refers to all the means of enjoyments in the world. The import of the verse is that love of wealth and children to some extend is not bad. Being engaged with them to a certain degree is not only permissible but also obligatory. But there is a dividing line between permissible and impermissible love that must always be borne in mind. This criterion is that this love must not deviate one from Allah’ s remembrance. The word dhikr (remembrance) in this context has been variously interpreted by different commentators. Some say it refers to the five daily prayers, while others say it refers to Zakah or Hajj. Some refer it to the Qur’ an. Hasan Basri (رح) expresses the view that the word dhikr here refers to all forms of obedience and worship. This is the most comprehensive interpretation. [ Qurtubi ]

In short, we are permitted to be involved in the material wealth up to the degree that it does not divert us from Allah’ s obedience. If one becomes engrossed in the material wealth or become absorbed in the forbidden or abominable things, which divert him from our duties and obligations towards Allah, the sentence أُولَـٰئِكَ هُمُ الْخَاسِرُ‌ونَ “…they are the losers” will apply, because he has sold the great and eternal reward of the Hereafter for the petty and perishable enjoyment of this world. What loss could be greater than this!

[63:10] And spend out of what We have given to you before death overtakes one of you and he says, “ My Lord, would you not respite me to a near term, and I will pay sadaqah (alms) and will become one of the righteous.”

وَأَنفِقُوا مِن مَّا رَ‌زَقْنَاكُم مِّن قَبْلِ أَن يَأْتِيَ أَحَدَكُمُ الْمَوْتُ (And spend out of what We have given to you before death comes to one of you…63:10) ‘Coming of death’ in this verse refers to ‘witnessing the signs of death’. The verse exhorts the believers to make the best of their opportunities to spend in the way of Allah, in the state of good health and strength, before the signs of death appear, and thus they should have their degrees of rank elevated in the Hereafter. Once death overtakes them the opportunity to spend will be lost, and the wealth will be of no use. Earlier on it was learned that the word dhikr (remembrance of Allah) refers to all forms of obedience and following the dictates of Shari’ ah, which include spending wealth as due. Despite that, spending wealth as due. Despite that, spending wealth on this occasion has been mentioned separately. There may be two reasons for it: Firstly, one of the major objects that divert man from acting upon the sacred laws of shari’ ah is wealth. Therefore, spending wealth, in the form of Zakah, ‘Ushr, Hajj and so on, is specifically mentioned. Secondly, when a person sees the signs of death, it is not in his power to perform his missed prayers, or his missed Hajj, Ramadhan fasts. However, the wealth is in front of him, and he is sure that soon it will slip out of his hand. So he may spend the wealth to compensate his shortfalls in worship and so attain salvation from such shortcomings. Furthermore, charity [ sadaqah ] is efficacious in averting calamities and punishment.

Sahih of Bukahri and Muslim record on the authority of Sayyidna Abu Hurairah ؓ that a person asked the Messenger of Allah ﷺ : “ Which sadaqah attracts most reward?” The Messenger of Allah replied: “ To spend in Allah’ s way when a person is in a state of good health, and yet he fears, in view of future needs, that if he spends the wealth he may become poor.” Then he continued: “ Do not delay spending in Allah’ s way until such time when your death reaches your throat, and at that moment you instruct (your heirs), ‘Give this much to so-and-so and give this much for such and such work.”’

فَيَقُولَ رَ‌بِّ لَوْلَا أَخَّرْ‌تَنِي إِلَىٰ أَجَلٍ قَرِ‌يبٍ (…and he says, “ My Lord, would you not respite me to a near term, and I will pay sadaqah (alms) and will become one of the righteous…63:10). Sayyidna Ibn ‘Abbas ؓ says, in the interpretation of this verse, that if Zakah was due on a person and he failed to pay it, and Hajj was obligatory and he failed to perform it, he will express this desire when death approaches him. He will want a little more time so that he can give sadaqah and أَكُن مِّنَ الصَّالِحِينَ ‘become one of the righteous’ [ 10] In other words, he will also desire that he is given a little more time so that he may act righteously by fulfilling his obligations that he has missed out and repent and ask pardon for the forbidden and abominable acts he might have indulged in. but Allah makes it clear in the next verse that once his time has come, He (Allah) will not give any more time to anyone. This desire at that stage is futile.

[63:11] And Allah will never respite anyone, once his appointed time will come. And Allah is All-Aware of what you do.

The commentary on
Surah Al-Munafiqun
Ends here

Tafseer by Abul A’la Maududi

63. Surah Al Munafiqoon (The Hypocrites)

The Surah takes its name from the sentence Idha jaa kal-munafiquna of verse 1. This is the name of the Surah as well as the title of its subject matter, for in it a review has been made of the conduct and attitude of the hypocrites themselves.

Period of Revelation
As we shall explain below this Surah was sent down either during the Holy Prophet’s return journey from his campaign against Bani al- Mustaliq, or immediately after his arrival back at Madinah, and we have established by argument and research in the Introduction to Surah An-Nur that the campaign against Bani al-Mustaliq had taken place in Sha’ban A. H. 6:Thus, the date of the revelation of this Surah is determined precisely.

Historical Background
Before we mention the particular incident about which this Surah was sent down, it is necessary to have a look at the history of the hypocrites of Madinah, for the incident that occurred on this occasion was not a chance happening but had a whole series of events behind it, which ultimately led up to it.

Before the Holy Prophet’s emigration to Madinah the tribes of the Aus and the Khazraj, fed up with their mutual rivalries and civil wars, had almost agreed on the leadership of one man and were making preparations to crown him their king. This was Abdullah bin Ubayy bin Salul, the chief of the Khazraj. Muhammad bin Ishaq has stated that among the people of Khazraj his authority was never contested and never had the Aus and the Khazraj rallied to one man before this. (Ibn Hisham, vol. II, p. 234)

Such were the conditions when the voice of Islam reached Madinah and the influential people of both the tribes started becoming Muslims. When before the Emigration, invitation was being extended to the Holy Prophet (upon whom be Allah’> peace) to come to Madinah, Hadarat Abbas bin Ubadah bin Nadlah Ansari wanted to defer this invitation for the reason that Abdullah bin Ubayy also might join in the declaration of allegiance and invitation to the Holy Prophet, so that Madinah might become the center of Islam by common consent. But the delegation that arrived in Makkah to declare their allegiance did not give any importance to the proposal of Abbas bin Ubadah, and a11 its members, who included 75 men from both the tribes, became ready to invite the Holy Prophet in the face of every danger.(lbn Hisham, vol. II, P. 89). We have given the details of this event in the Introduction to Surah Al-Anfal.

Then, when the Holy Prophet arrived in Madinah, Islam had so deeply penetrated every house of the Ansar that Abdullah bin Ubayy became helpless and did not see any other way to save his leadership than to become a Muslim himself. So, he entered Islam along with many of his followers from among the chiefs and leaders of both the tribes although their hearts were burning with rage from within. Ibn Ubayy in particular was filled with grief, for the Holy Prophet (upon whom be Allah’s peace) had deprived him of his kingship. For several years his hypocritical faith and grief of being deprived of his kingdom manifested itself in different ways. On the one hand, when on Fridays the Holy Prophet (upon whom be Allah’s peace) took his seat to deliver the Sermon, Abdullah bin Ubayy would stand up and say “O people, the Messenger of Allah is present among you, by whom Allah has honored you; therefore, you should support him and listen to what he says and obey him.” (Ibn Hisham, vol. III, p. 111). On the other, his hypocrisy was being exposed day by day and the true Muslims were realizing that he and his followers bore great malice against Islam, the Holy Prophet and the Muslims.

Once when the Holy Prophet was passing on the way Abdullah bin Ubayy spoke to him in harsh words. When the Holy Prophet complained of it to Hadrat Sa’d bin Ubadah; he said:”O Messenger of Allah, don’t be hard on him, for when Allah sent you to us we were making a diadem to crown him, and, by God, he thinks that you have robbed him of his kingdom.” (Ibn Hisham vol: II, pp. 237-238).

After the Battle of Badr when the Holy Prophet (upon whom be Allah’s peace) invaded the Jewish tribe of Bani Qainuqa on their breaking the agreement and un provoked revolt, this man stood up in support of them, and holding the Holy Prophet by his armor, said:”These 700 fighters have been helping and protecting me against every enemy; would you cut them down in one morning?By God, I will not leave you until you pardon my clients.” (Ibn Hisham, vol. III, pp. 5l- 52).

On the occasion of the Battle of Uhud this man committed open treachery and withdrew from the battlefield with 300 of his companions. One should note that at this critical moment when he so acted, the Quraish had marched upon Madinah with 3,000 troops and the Holy Prophet had marched out with only 1,000 men to resist them. Of these 1,000 this hypocrite broke away with 300 men and the Holy Prophet was left with only 700 men to meet 3,000 troops of the enemy in the field.

After this incident the common Muslims of Madinah came to realize fully that he was certainly a hypocrite and his those Companions also were found who were his associates in hypocrisy. That is why when on the very first Friday, after the Battle of Uhud, this man stood up as usual to make a speech before the Holy Prophet’s Sermon, the people pulled at his garment, saying “Sit down you are not worthy to say such things.” That was the first occasion in Madinah when this man was publicly disgraced. Thereupon he was so filled with rage that he left the mosque jumping over the heads of the people. At the door of the Mosque some of the Ansar said to him, “What are you doing?Go back and ask the Holy Prophet (upon whom be Allah’s peace) to pray for your forgiveness.” He retorted “I do not, want him to pray for my forgiveness.” (Ibn Hisham, vol. III, p. 111).

Then in A. H. 4 the Battle of Bani an-Nadir took place. On this occasion he and his companions supported the enemies of Islam even more openly. On the one side, the Holy Prophet (upon whom be Allah’s peace) and his devoted Companions were preparing for war against their enemy, the Jews, and on the other, these hypocrites were secretly sending messages to the Jews to the effect: “Stand firm we are with you: if you are attacked, we will help you, and if you are driven out, we too will go out with you.” The secret of this intrigue was exposed by Allah Himself, as has been explained in Surah Al-Hashr: 11-17 above.

But in spite of being so exposed the reason why the Holy Prophet (upon whom be Allah’s peace) was still treating him kindly was that he had a large band of the hypocrites behind him. Many of the chiefs of both the Aus and the Khazraj were his supporters. At least a third of the population of Madinah consisted of his companions, as became manifest on the occasion of the Battle of Uhud. Under such conditions it was not prudent to wage a war with these internal enemies combined with the external enemies. On this very account, in spite of being fully aware of their hypocrisy the Holy Prophet continued to deal with them according to their apparent profession of faith for a long time. On the other hand, these people too neither possessed the power nor the courage to fight the believers openly as disbelievers, or to join hands with an invader and face them in the battlefield. Apparently they were a strong hand but inwardly they had the weakness which Allah has vividly portrayed in Surah Al-Hashr: 12-14. Therefore; they thought their well being lay only in posing as Muslims. They came to the mosque, offered the prayers gave away the zakat, and would make tall oral claims to the faith, which the true Muslims never felt the need to do. They would offer a thousand justifications for each of their hypocritical acts by which they would try to deceive their compatriots, the Ansar, into believing that they were with them. By these designs they were not only saving themselves from the disadvantages which could naturally accrue if they separated themselves from the Ansar brotherhood, but also taking advantage of the opportunities to make mischief which were available to them as members of the Muslim brotherhood.

These were the causes which enabled Abdullah bin Ubayy and like minded hypocrites to get an opportunity to accompany the Holy Prophet (upon whom be Allah’s peace) in his campaign against the Bani al-Mustaliq, and they simultaneously engineered two great mischiefs which could shatter the Muslim unity to pieces. However, by virtue of the wonderful training in discipline that the Muslim; had received through the pure teaching of the Quran and the companionship of the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) both mischiefs were stopped in time, and the hypocrites themselves were disgraced instead. One of these was the mischief that has been mentioned in Surah An-Nur above, and the other which has been mentioned in this Surah.

This incident has been related by Bukhari, Muslim, Ahmad, Nasai, Tirmidhi, Baihaqi, Tabari, Ibn Marduyah, Abdur Razzaq, lbn Jarir Tabari, Ibn Sa’d and Muhammad bin Ishaq through many reliable channels. In some traditions the expedition in which it took place has not been named, and in others it has been connected with the Battle of Tabuk. But the authorities on the battles fought by the Holy Prophet and history are agreed that this incident took place on the occasion of the campaign against the Bani al- Mustaliq. The following seems to he the real story when all the traditions are read together.

When after crushing down the power of Bani al- Mustaliq the Islamic army had made a halt in the settlement at the well of al Muraisi. Suddenly a dispute arose between two men on taking water from the well; One of them was Jehjah bin Masud Ghifari, a servant of Hadrat Umar appointed to lead his horse. The other was Sinan bin Wabar al-Juhani, whose tribe was an ally of a clan of the Khazraj. Harsh words between them led to fighting and Jehjah kicked Sinan, which the Ansar, on account of their ancient Yamanite tradition, took as a great insult and disgrace. At this Sinan called out the men of Ansar and Jehjah the Emigrants for help. Hearing about the quarrel Ibn Ubayy started inciting and calling the men of the Aus and the Khazraj to come out and help their ally. From the other side some Emigrants also came out. The dispute might have led to a fight between the Ansar and the Muhajirin themselves at the very place where they had just fought an enemy tribe jointly and crushing it had halted in its own territory. But hearing the noise the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) emerged and said :”what is this call of paganism? What have you to do with such a call? Leave it, it is a dirty thing.” Thereupon the leading men of the two sides met and settled the dispute; Sinan pardoned Jehjah and peace was restored.

After this every person whose heart was disaffected came to Abdullah bin Ubayy and they all said to him, “Until now we had our hopes attached to you and you were protecting us, but now it seems you have become a helper of these paupers against us. Ibn Ubayy was already enraged: These words made him burst out, thus: “This is what you have done to yourselves. You have given these people shelter in your country, and have divided your property among them. So much so that they have now become our rivals. Nothing so fits us and the paupers of Quraish(or the Companions of Muhammad) as the ancient saying ‘Feed your dog to fatten it and it will devour you.’ If you hold back your property from them, they would go elsewhere. By God, when we return to Madinah, the honorable ones will drive out from it the mean ones.”

Zaid bin Arqam, a young boy, also happened to be present in the assembly at that time. He heard this and mentioned it before his uncle, and his uncle who was one of the Ansar chiefs went to the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) and told him the whole story. The Holy Prophet called Zaid and asked him what had happened and he repeated every word of what he had heard. The Holy Prophet said, “Zaid, you are perhaps displeased with Ibn Ubayy; you might have been mistaken in hearing; you. might have imagined Ibn Ubayy said this.” But Zaid was sure and firm. He said, “No, I swear by God I have heard him say this and that.” Thereupon the Holy Prophet called Ibn Ubayy, and he came and swore that he had not said any such thing. The people of the Ansar also said “Sir, a boy says this: he might have been mistaken in what he heard lbn Ubayy is a venerable old man and our chief. Do not believe what a boy says against him.” The elderly people of the tribe reproved Zaid also, who became depressed and held his peace. But the Holy Prophet knew Zaid as well as Abdullah bin Ubayy. Therefore, he fully understood what had actually happened.

When Hadrat Umar came to know of this, he came to the Holy Prophet and said:”Please allow me to put this hypocrite to the sword. Or, if you do not think it is fit to give me the permission you may tell Muadh bin Jabal, or Abbad bin Bishr, or Sad bin Mu’adh, or Muhammad bin Maslamah from among the Ansar, to go and kill him.”But the Holy Prophet said: “No, the people will say Muhammad kills his own Companions.” After this he ordered the people to set off immediately, although it was at a time when the Holy Prophet was not accustomed to travel. The forced march continued for 30 hours at a stretch so that the people became exhausted. Then he halted, and as soon as they touched the ground they fell asleep. This he did to distract their minds from what had happened at the well of al-Muraisi. On the way, Hadrat Usaid bin Hudair, an Ansar chief, met the Holy Prophet, and said:”O Messenger of Allah, today you ordered the people to set off at a time which was disagreeable for traveling, a thing you have never done before.”The Holy Prophet replied: “Have you. not heard of what your friend said?” When he asked who he meant, the Holy Prophet replied:Abdullah bin Ubayy. He asked what he had said. The Holy Prophet answered: “He has asserted that when he returns to Madinah the honorable ones will drive out from it the mean ones. He answered : “By God, O Messenger of Allah, you are the honorable one and he is the mean one; you will drive him out whenever you want to.”

By and by the news spread among the Ansar soldiers and it enraged them against Ibn Ubayy. The people advised him to go to the Holy Prophet (upon whom be Allah’s peace) and request for his forgiveness, but he retorted : “You asked me to believe in him, and I believed in him; you asked me to pay the zakat on my property, and I paid the zakat too; now the only thing left is that I should bow down to Muhammad.”This further enraged the believing Ansar and everyone’ started reproaching and cursing him roughly. When the caravan was about to enter Madinah, Abullah, the son of Abdullah bin Ubayy, stood before his father with a drawn out sword, and said: “You had said that when you reached Madinah, the honorable ones would drive out the mean ones. Now, you will know who is honorable you or Allah and His Messenger. By God, you cannot enter Madinah until the Messenger of Allah (upon whom be Allah’s peace) permits you to enter.” At this Ibn Ubayy cried out: “O people of Khazraj, look, my own son is preventing me from entering Madinah.” The people conveyed this news to the Holy Prophet, and he said : “Tell Abdullah to let his father come home.”Abdullah said, “If this is the Holy Prophet’s order, then you may enter.”Thereupon the Holy Prophet said to Hadrat Umar: “Now what do you think, Umar? Had you killed him on the day when you asked my permission to kill him, many people would have trembled with rage. Today if I order them to kill him, they will kill him immediately.”Hadrat Umar replied “By God, I realize there was greater wisdom behind what the Apostle of Allah said than what I said.”‘

These were the circumstances under which this Surah was sent down most probably after the Holy Prophet’s return to Madinah.

In the name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful.

1-8 Hypocrites are such enemies of Islam and Muslims that even Rasool’s prayer cannot obtain forgiveness for them from Allah

(63:1) (O Prophet), when the hypocrites come to you, they say: “We bear witness that you are certainly Allah’s Messenger.” Allah certainly knows that you are His Messenger. But Allah also bears witness that the hypocrites are utter liars!1 (63:2) They shelter behind their oath,2 and thus hinder their own selves and others from the Path of Allah.3 Evil indeed is what they do. (63:3) All that is because they first believed and then disbelieved, and therefore a seal was set on their hearts; as a result they understand nothing.4 (63:4) When you look at them, their persons are pleasing, and when they speak, you pay heed to what they say.5 But in truth they are (merely) beams of timber propped-up (against a wall).6 They consider every shout they hear to be directed against them.7 They are your utter enemies;8 guard against them.9 May Allah do away with them!10 How are they being turned away (from the Truth)?11 (63:5) When it is said to them: “Come, Allah’s Messenger will seek forgiveness for you,” they (contemptuously) shake their heads and you see them holding back in pride.12 (63:6) It is all the same for them whether you ask forgiveness for them or not; for Allah shall never forgive them.13 Surely Allah does not direct the transgressing folk to the Right Way.14 (63:7) It is they who say: “Give nothing to those who are with the Messenger of Allah so that they may disperse.” (They say so although) the treasures of the heavens and the earth belong to Allah. But the hypocrites do not understand. (63:8) They say: “When we return to Madinah, the honourable ones will drive out from it those that are abject.”15 In truth, all honour belongs to Allah, and to His Messenger, and to the believers.16 But the hypocrites do not know.

1. That is, Although the thing they are uttering with the tongue is true by itself, it does not reflect their belief. Therefore they lie when they say that they bear witness that you are a Messenger (peace be upon him) of Allah. Here, one should clearly understand that an evidence or witness is composed of two things: first, the actual thing to which one bears the witness; second, the concerned person’s own belief about the thing to which he bears the witness, Now, if the thing by itself is true and the belief of the bearer of witness also corresponds to what he says, he will be truthful in every respect. And if the thing in itself is false; but the bearer of the witness believes it to be right and true, he will be regarded as truthful in one way, for he is truthful in expressing his belief, and liar in another way, for the thing he is bearing witness to is by itself false. Contrary to this, if the thing by itself is true but the belief of the bearer of the witness is opposed to it, he will be regarded as truthful because he is testifying to the right thing, and a liar because his own belief is contrary to what he is saying with the tongue. For instance, if a believer states that Islam is a true religion, he is truthful in every respect, but if a Jew, while he is steadfast in his Judaism, states the same thing, he would be stating the right thing but his evidence would be regarded as false, for he is testifying against his faith and belief. And if he calls it a false religion, he would be uttering a false thing but he would be bearing a true witness according to his belief.

2. That is, they use the oaths that they swear to convince others of their Islam and faith as a shield to save themselves from the wrath of the Muslims so that they do not treat them as they treat their open enemies.

These oaths may imply the oaths which they usually swear to convince others of their faith as well as those which they swore when they were caught committing some hypocritical act, and also those oaths which Abdullah bin Ubayy had sworn to contradict the report given by Zaid bin Arqam. Besides these, there is another probability that Allah might have regarded this statement of theirs as an oath: We bear witness that you are Allah’s Messenger. This last probability has given rise to a dispute among the jurists, namely: If a person states something with the words: I bear witness, will it be regarded as an oath or not? Imam Abu Hanifah and his companions (except Imam Zufar), Imam Sufyan Thauri and Imam Auzai regard it as an oath (Yamin in the Shariah terminology). Imam Zufar says that it is not an oath. Two sayings from Imam Malik have been reported in this connection: First, that it is an oath absolutely, and second, that if while saying: I bear witness, his intention was to say: My God, I bear witness, or I bear witness before God, it would be a statement on oath, otherwise not. Imam Shafei says: Even if the person says the words: I bear witness before God. it would not be a statement made on oath, unless he uttered these words with the intention of swearing an oath, (AI-Jassas, Ahkam al- Quran; Ibn alArabi, Ahkam al-Quran).

3. The verb sadd in Arabic is transitive as well as intransitive. Therefore, saddu-un sabil-Allah means; They turn away from the way of Allah, as well as: they turn others away from the way of Allah. According to the first meaning the verse would mean: By means of these oaths, they first plant themselves firmly among the Muslims and then invent ways to escape fulfilling demands of the faith and to avoid obedience to Allah and His Messenger. According to the second meaning it would mean: They use their false oaths as a cover for committing evil deeds. Posing as Muslims they weaken the Muslim community from within: find out the secrets of the Muslims and convey these to their enemies: create doubts about Islam among the non-Muslims and use such devices for inspiring the simple Muslims with evil suggestions which only a hypocrite in the guise of a Muslim could do, for an open enemy of Islam cannot use them.

4. In this verse believing means professing the faith in order to be counted among Muslims, and disbelieving means not to believe sincerely and to persist in disbelief as usual. The verse means to say that when they, after due thought, decided to adopt this hypocritical attitude instead of adopting either belief or disbelief plainly, Allah caused a seal to be set on their hearts and deprived them of the grace to adopt the attitude and conduct of a true, sincere and noble person. Now, their power of understanding has been lost, their moral sense has become dead, and while following this way they never even feel that their habit of always telling lies, their deceitful behavior and the ever present contradictions between their word and deed is a wretched state in which they have involved themselves.

This is one of those verses in which the meaning of “causing a seal to be set on the heart of somebody by Allah” has been made clear. These people did not become hypocrites because Allah had set a seal on their hearts; so faith did not enter them, and they became hypocrites under compulsion. But, in fact, Allah set a seal on their hearts only when they decided to persist in disbelief in spite of professing the faith outwardly. Then, they were deprived of the capacity to believe sincerely and of the grace of the moral attitude resulting from it, and were helped to persist in the hypocrisy and hypocritical morals, which they had chosen to adopt for themselves.

5. Abdullah bin Abbas has stated that Abdullah bin Ubayy was a strongly built, healthy, handsome and smoothtongued person, and the same was the case with most of his companions. They were all the nobles of Al-Madinah. When they came to sit in the Prophet’s (peace be upon him) assembly, they would sit reclining on cushions against the walls and would talk agreeably and convincingly. From their outward appearance and manner of speech no one could imagine that those honorable people of the city would be so wretched and degraded in their character.

6. That is, those who sit reclining on cushions against the walls, are not but but pieces of timber. Comparing them to timber is meant to imply that they are devoid of the moral sense which is the essence of humanity. Then by comparing them to blocks of timber propped up against the wall, it has also been pointed out that they are absolutely worthless, for the timber would be useful only when it has been utilized in making of a ceiling, or a door frame, or a piece of furniture. A block of timber that has just been placed against a wall serves no useful purpose at all.

7. This brief sentence portrays the state of their guilty conscience. Since they fully knew what game of hypocrisy they were playing under the screen of their superficial faith, they always remained in a state of alarm, thinking as to when the secret of their treason might be exposed, or the believers might feel disgusted with their evil deeds and machinations and take them to task for them. If ever a cry was raised anywhere in the city, or a noise was heard; they immediately grew alarmed and thought it was directed against themselves.

8. In other words, these hidden enemies are more dangerous than the open enemies.

9. That is, do not be deceived by their outward appearances. Beware of them, for they can deceive you at any moment.

10. This is not a curse but a declaration of the verdict about them by Allah that they have become worthy of His punishment and He will certainly inflict His punishment on them. It is also possible that Allah may not have used these words in their literal sense but in the meaning of a curse and condemnation according to Arabic idiom.

11. It has not been pointed out as to who perverts them from belief to hypocrisy. This by itself makes it clear that there is not one but many factors responsible for their perversion. There is Satan, there are their evil friends, and there are their own selfish motives. Someone’s wife or children become his motive, and someone is driven to perversion by the evil ones in his society, or by jealousy, spite and pride.

12. That is, they not only refuse to come to the Messenger to seek forgiveness, but also on hearing the invitation they shake their heads with arrogance and pride, and remain adamant, thinking that it would be disgraceful for them to approach the Messenger (peace be upon him) to seek forgiveness. This is a clear sign that they are not believers.

13. This thing was reiterated in Surah At-Taubah, which was revealed three years after Surah Al-Munafiqoon, even in stronger words. In that Surah, Allah, while addressing the Prophet (peace be upon him) said this about the hypocrites: O Prophet (it will be all the same) whether you beg forgiveness for them or not, for Allah will not forgive them even if you beg forgiveness for them seventy times. This is because they have disbelieved in Allah and His Messenger, and Allah does not show guidance to the wrongdoers. (Surah At-Taubah, Ayat 80). A little further on in that Surah it was again said: And never perform the funeral prayer for anyone of them who dies nor stand at his grave, for they have denied Allah and His Messenger (peace be upon him) and died while they were transgressors. (Surah At-Taubah Ayat 84).

14. Two things have been stated in this verse. First, that the prayer of forgiveness can be beneficial only for those who are guided aright. Let alone a common man, even if Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) himself prays for the forgiveness of the person, who has turned away from guidance and adopted the way of sin and transgression instead of obedience, he cannot be forgiven. Second, that it is not Allah’s way to bless with guidance those who do not seek His guidance. If a person himself turns away from Allah’s guidance, rather shakes his head with arrogance and rejects the invitation when he is called towards guidance, Allah has no need that He should go after him with His guidance and implore him to come to the right path.

15. Zaid bin Arqam says: When I reported these words of Abdullah bin Ubayy to the Prophet (peace be upon him), and Abdullah bin Ubayy came and disowned them on oath, the elderly people of the Ansar, and even my own uncle, reproved me for this; so much so that I felt that the Prophet (peace be upon him) had also mistaken me for a liar and Abdullah bin Ubayy for a truthful person. This caused me great anguish and grief. Then, when these verses were revealed, the Prophet (peace be upon him) called me, and taking hold of my ear, said: The boy’s ear was truthful Allah has himself testified to what it had heard. (Ibn Jarir. In Tirmidhi also there is a tradition on the same subject).

16. That is, all honor belongs to Allah in virtue of His essence, to the Prophet (peace be upon him) in virtue of his prophethood, and to the believers in virtue of their faith. As for the disbelievers, the wicked people and the hypocrites, they have no share whatsoever in the real true honor.

9-11 Let not your riches or children divert you from the remembrance of Allah, lest you become a real loser

(63:9) Believers,17 let your possessions and your offspring not make you negligent of Allah’s remembrance.18 For whoso does that, they will be the losers. (63:10) And spend of what Allah has granted you by way of sustenance before death should come to any of you and he should say: “Lord, why did You not defer my return for a while so that I might give alms and be among the righteous?” (63:11) But when a person’s term comes to an end, Allah never grants any respite. Allah is well aware of all that you do.

17. Now a word of admonition is being addressed to all those people who have entered Islam, whether they are true and sincere believers, or those who profess the faith merely verbally. As we have explained at several places above. the words alla-dhina amanu in the Quran are sometimes used to address the true believers and sometimes to address the hypocrites, for they profess the faith only with the tongue, and sometimes to address the Muslims of all kinds in general. The context itself shows which group is the audience at a particular place.

18. The mention of the possessions and the children, in particular, has been made for man mostly turns away from the demands of the faith for the sake of their well being and interests and becomes involved in hypocrisy, weakness of faith, or wickedness and disobedience; otherwise it implies everything of the world that allures and absorbs man so completely that he becomes heedless of the remembrance of God. This heedlessness in respect of the remembrance of God is indeed the root cause of all evil. If man only remembers that he is not free but the servant of One God, and that God is fully aware of all his actions and deeds, and he will be held accountable one day before Him for all his actions and deeds, he would never be involved in any deviation and wickedness, and if ever he commits an error due to a human weakness, he will immediately rectify it as soon as he comes to realize his wrongdoing and repent.