Allah describes the hypocrites' stupidity and limited understanding. They used to sit before Allah's Messenger and listen to his words without understanding anything. Then when they left from his presence,
(they say to those who have received knowledge) from the Companions
("What is it that he has said just now'') meaning, at this moment. They did not understand what he said, nor did they care about it. Allah says,
(Such are the men whose hearts Allah has sealed because they followed their lusts.) which means that they had neither sound understanding nor correct intentions. Allah then says,
(And as for those who accept guidance, He increases them in guidance) which means that those who seek guidance, Allah facilitates it for them; He guides them to it, makes them firm on it, and gives them more of it.
(and bestows on them their Taqwa. ) meaning, He inspires them to their righteous guidance. Allah then says,
(Do they then await except that the Hour should come upon them suddenly) meaning, while they are unaware of it.
(But already there have come (some of) its portents;) meaning, the signs of its approach. This is similar to Allah's saying,
(This is a warner of the warners of old. The approaching Day has drawn near.) (53:56-57) And His saying,
(The Hour has drawn near, and the moon has split.) (54:1) And His saying,
(The command of Allah is coming, so do not be impatient for it.) (16:1) And His saying,
(The people's Day of Reckoning has approached while they turn away in heedlessness.) (21:1) Thus, the Messenger's advent is one of the signs of the Hour, because he is the Finality of the Messengers. With him, Allah has completed the religion and established the evidence against all people in a way that was never done by a previous Prophet. Allah's Messenger has most clearly informed about the signs and indications of the Hour, as we have discussed elsewhere. Al-Bukhari recorded from Sahl bin Sa`d (may Allah be pleased with him) that he saw Allah's Messenger bring his index and middle fingers together while he said,
(I have been sent before the Hour as these two (fingers).) Allah continues,
(and when it (actually) is on them, how can they benefit then by their reminder) meaning, how would remembering benefit the disbelievers when the Hour comes upon them This is similar to Allah's saying,
(On that Day will the human being remember, but what would that remembrance avail him then) (89:23) And His saying,
(They will say (in the Hereafter): "Now we believe in it!'' But how could they claim belief from such a far place) (34:52) Allah then says,
(So know that La ilaha illallah) This is a declaration that there is no true God except Allah. It is not something that is easy for him to command the people to have knowledge of. That is why Allah connected it with,
(and ask forgiveness for your sin and for the believing men and women.) In the Sahih, it is recorded that Allah's Messenger used to say,
(O Allah, forgive my sin, my ignorance, my immoderation in my affairs, and all that You know better about my (faults) than myself. O Allah, forgive for me my joking, my seriousness, my unintended error, and my deliberate (mistakes) -- and I have done of all that.) It is also reported in the Sahih that he used to say at the end of the prayer,
(O Allah, forgive for me what I have previously done, what I may commit in future, what I have committed secretly, what I have committed openly, what I have done excessively, and all sins that You know better than me. You are my God. There is no (true) God except You.) It is also recorded in the Sahih that he used to say,
(O people! Repent to your Lord! Verily, I ask Allah for forgiveness and repent to Him more than seventy times every day.) Allah then says,
(And Allah knows well your moving about, and your place of rest.) means, He knows how you behave during the day, and where you settle at night. This is similar to His saying,
(It is He Who takes your souls by night and knows all that you do by day.)(6:60) And He says,
(And there is no moving creature on earth but its provision is up to Allah, and He knows its dwelling place and its deposit (before birth and after death) -- all is in a clear register.) (11:6)
(20. Those who believe say: "Why is not a Surah sent down (for us)'' But now that a decisive Surah is sent down mentioning fighting, you can see those in whose hearts is disease (of hypocrisy) looking at you with the look of one who is about to faint for fear of death. But it was better for them.) (21. Obedience and good words. And when the matter is resolved, then if they had been true to Allah, it would have been better for them.) (22. So would you perhaps, if you turned away, spread corruption on earth, and sever your ties of kinship) (23. Such are the ones whom Allah has cursed, so that He has made them deaf and blinded their vision.)
Allah mentions that the believers were hoping that Jihad would be legislated. But when Allah ordained it, many of the people turned back, as Allah says,
(Have you not seen those who were told: "Restrain your hands (from fighting), establish the Salah, and give Zakah.'' But then when fighting was ordained for them, you find a party of them fearing the people as they fear Allah or more. They said: "Our Lord! Why have You decreed fighting upon us If only You have postponed us for a short period.'' Say: "The enjoyment of this world is little. The Hereafter is far better for him who had Taqwa of (Allah), and you will not be dealt with unjustly, even as much as a thin thread (inside a date's pit).'')(4:77) Similarly, Allah says here,
(Those who believe say: "Why is not a Surah sent down (for us)'') means, a Surah containing an order to fight. Then He says,
(But now that a decisive Surah is sent down mentioning fighting, you can see those in whose hearts is disease looking at you with the look of one who is about to faint for fear of death.) meaning, due to their fear, terror, and cowardice concerning meeting the enemies. Allah then encourages them by saying,
(But it was better for them, obedience and good words.) which means that it would have been better for them to listen and obey in that present situation.
(When the matter (of fighting) is resolved.) which means when the situation becomes serious and the time of fighting truly arrives.
(if they had been true to Allah,) meaning, by making their intentions sincerely for Him.
(it would have been better for them) Allah then says,
(So would you perhaps, if you turned away) meaning, from Jihad and you withdrew from it.
(spread corruption on earth, and sever your ties of kinship) which means, would you then go back to your old practices of the time of ignorance: shedding blood and severing kinship ties Allah then says,
(Such are the ones whom Allah has cursed, so He has made them deaf and blinded their vision.) This involves a general prohibition of spreading corruption on earth, and a specific prohibition of severing the ties of kinship. In fact, Allah has commanded the people to establish righteousness on earth, as well as to join the ties of kinship by treating the relatives well in speech, actions, and spending wealth in charity. Many authentic and sound Hadiths have been reported through numerous routes of transmission from Allah's Messenger in this regard. Al-Bukhari recorded from Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) that Allah's Messenger said,
(After Allah completed creating the creation, the womb stood up and pulled at the lower garment of the Most Merciful. He said, 'Stop that!' It replied, 'My stand here is the stand of one seeking refuge in you from severance of ties.' Allah said, 'Would it not please you that I join whoever joins you and sever whoever severs you' It replied, 'Yes indeed!' He said, 'You are granted that!') Abu Hurayrah then added, "Read if you wish:
(So would you perhaps, if you turned away, spread corruption on earth, and sever your ties of kinship)'' Then Al-Bukhari recorded it with another wording which states that the Messenger of Allah said,
(Read if you wish: (So would you perhaps, if you turned away, spread corruption on earth, and sever your ties of kinship)) Muslim also recorded it. Imam Ahmad recorded from Abu Bakrah (may Allah be pleased with him) that Allah's Messenger said:
(No sin deserves that Allah hasten its punishment in the worldly life, in addition to what He reserves in the Hereafter for those who commit it, more than injustice and severance of the ties of kinship.) This was also recorded by Abu Dawud, At-Tirmidhi, and Ibn Majah. At-Tirmidhi said, "This Hadith is Sahih.'' Imam Ahmad recorded from Thawban (may Allah be pleased with him) that Allah's Messenger said,
(Whoever likes for his life to be extended, and his provision increased, let him connect his ties of kinship.) Ahmad was alone in recording this narration, but it has a supporting narration in the Sahih. Imam Ahmad recorded from `Abdullah bin `Amr (may Allah be pleased with him) that Allah's Messenger said,
(Verily, the womb is attached to the Throne. And connecting its ties does not mean dealing evenly (with the kinsfolk), but it rather means that if one's kinsfolk sever the ties, he connects them.) This Hadith was also recorded by Al-Bukhari. Ahmad also recorded from `Abdullah bin `Amr (may Allah be pleased with him) that Allah's Messenger said,
(The womb will be placed on the Day of Resurrection, curved like a spinning wheel, speaking with an eloquent fluent tongue, calling to severing whoever had severed it, and joining whoever had joined it.) Imam Ahmad recorded from `Abdullah bin `Amr (may Allah be pleased with him) that Allah's Messenger said,
(The merciful ones will be granted mercy from the Most Merciful. Have mercy on those on earth -- the One above the heavens will then have mercy on you. And Ar-Rahim (the womb) is from Ar-Rahman, so whoever joins it, it joins him; and whoever severs it, it severs him.) Abu Dawud and At-Tirmidhi both recorded this Hadith and it has been reported with continuous chains of transmission. At-Trimidhi said, "Hasan Sahih.'' There are numerous other Hadiths in this regard.
(24. Will they not then reflect upon the Qur'an, or are there locks upon their hearts) (25. Verily, those who have turned back as disbelievers after guidance had become clear to them -- Shaytan has enticed them and filled them with false hopes.) (26. That is because they said to those who hate what Allah has sent down: "We will obey you in part of the matter.'' And Allah knows their secrets.) (27. Then how (will it be) when the angels will take their souls at death, striking their faces and their backs) (28. That is because they followed that which angered Allah and hated what earns His pleasure, so He rendered their deeds worthless.)
Commanding the people to reflect and ponder upon the Qur'an, and prohibiting them from turning away from it, Allah says,
(Will they not then reflect upon the Qur'an, or are there locks upon their hearts) means, there indeed are locks upon some hearts, firmly closing them so that none of its meanings can reach them. Ibn Jarir recorded from Hisham bin `Urwah, from his father (may Allah be pleased with him) that Allah's Messenger once recited this Ayah,
(Will they not then reflect upon the Qur'an, or are there locks upon their hearts) and a young man from Yemen said, "Indeed, there are locks upon them -- until Allah opens them totally or slightly.'' After that `Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) always liked that young man, and kept that to himself until he became in charge, upon which he utilized him (as a consultant).
Allah then says,
(Verily, those who have turned back) meaning, they departed from the faith and returned to disbelief.
(... after guidance had become clear to them -- Shaytan has enticed them) meaning he adorned and beautified that (apostasy) for them.
(and filled them with false hopes.) meaning, he tempted them, and deceived them.
(That is because they said to those who hate what Allah sent down: "We will obey your in part of the matter.'') means, they plotted secretly with them and gave them evil advice -- as is the common practice of the hypocrites who declare the opposite of what they conceal. Because of this, Allah says,
(And Allah knows their secrets. ) whatever they hide and conceal, Allah is well-acquainted with it and He knows it. This is similar to His saying,
(...And Allah records all that they plot by night.) (4:81) Allah then says,
(How (will it be) when the angels will take their souls at death, striking their faces and their backs) That is, how their situation will be when the angels come to take their lives, and their souls cling to their bodies, causing the angels to extract them by force, harshness, and beating. This is similar to Allah's saying,
(If you could but see when the angels take away the lives of the disbelievers, striking their faces and their backs.) (8:50) And His saying,
(If you could but see when the wrongdoers are in the agonies of death, while the angels extend their hands) (6:93). meaning, to beat them.
((saying): "Deliver your souls! This day you will be recompensed with the torment of degradation because of what you used to utter against Allah other than the truth, and because you used to arrogantly reject His signs.'') (6:93) Because of the above, Allah says,
(That is because they pursued what angered Allah and disliked what earns His pleasure, so He rendered their deeds worthless.)
(29. Or do those in whose hearts is a disease, think that Allah will not expose their ill--wills) (30. Had We so willed, We could have shown them clearly to you, so that you would know them by their marks; but you will know them by the tone of their speech! And Allah knows (all) your deeds.) (31. And We will surely, try you until We know those who strive among you and the patient, and We will put to a test all your affairs.)