While delivering the good news to His believing servants that victory and dominance will be theirs against the disbelieving, atheistic People of the Scriptures, Allah then said,
(They will do you no harm, barring a trifling annoyance; and if they fight against you, they will show you their backs, and they will not be helped.) (3:111)
This is what occurred, for at the battle of Khaybar, Allah brought humiliation and disgrace to the Jews. Before that, the Jews in Al-Madinah, the tribes of Qaynuqa`, Nadir and Qurayzah, were also humiliated by Allah. Such was the case with the Christians in the area of Ash-Sham later on, when the Companions defeated them in many battles and took over the leadership of Ash-Sham forever. There shall always be a group of Muslims in Ash-Sham area until `Isa, son of Maryam, descends while they are like this (on the truth, apparent and victorious). `Isa will at that time rule according to the Law of Muhammad, break the cross, kill the swine, banish the Jizyah and only accept Islam from the people.
Allah said next,
(Indignity is put over them wherever they may be, except when under a covenant (of protection) from Allah, and a covenant from men;) meaning, Allah has placed humiliation and disgrace on them wherever they may be, and they will never be safe,
(except when under a covenant from Allah,) under the Dhimmah (covenant of protection) from Allah that requires them to pay the Jizyah (tax, to Muslims,) and makes them subservient to Islamic Law.
(and a covenant from men;) meaning, covenant from men, such as pledges of protection and safety offered to them by Muslim men and women, and even a slave, according to one of the sayings of the scholars. Ibn `Abbas said that,
(except when under a covenant from Allah, and a covenant from men;) refers to a covenant of protection from Allah and a pledge of safety from people. Similar was said by Mujahid, `Ikrimah, `Ata', Ad-Dahhak, Al-Hasan, Qatadah, As-Suddi and Ar-Rabi` bin Anas. Allah's statement,
(they have drawn on themselves the wrath of Allah,) means, they earned Allah's anger, which they deserved,
(and destitution is put over them), meaning they deserve it by decree and legislatively.
Allah said next,
(This is because they disbelieved in the Ayat of Allah and killed the Prophets without right.) meaning, what drove them to this was their arrogance, transgression and envy, earning them humiliation, degradation and disgrace throughout this life and the Hereafter. Allah said,
(This is because they disobeyed and used to transgress (the limits set by Allah).) meaning, what lured them to disbelieve in Allah's Ayat and kill His Messengers, is the fact that they often disobeyed Allah's commands, committed His prohibitions and transgressed His set limits. We seek refuge from this behavior, and Allah Alone is sought for each and every type of help.
(113. Not all of them are alike; a party of the People of the Scripture stand for the right, they recite the verses of Allah during the hours of the night, prostrating themselves in prayer.) (114. They believe in Allah and the Last Day; they enjoin Al-Ma`ruf and forbid Al-Munkar; and they hasten in (all) good works; and they are among the righteous.) (115. And whatever good they do, nothing will be rejected of them; for Allah knows well the Muttaqin (the pious).) (116. Surely, those who disbelieve, neither their properties nor their offspring will avail them against Allah. They are the dwellers of the Fire, therein they will abide.) (117. The parable of what they spend in this world is that of a wind of Sir; it struck the harvest of a people who did wrong against themselves and destroyed it. Allah wronged them not, but they wronged themselves.)
Muhammad bin Ishaq and others, including Al-`Awfi who reported it from Ibn `Abbas, said; "These Ayat were revealed about the clergy of the People of the Scriptures who embraced the faith. For instance, there is `Abdullah bin Salam, Asad bin `Ubayd, Tha`labah bin Sa`yah, Usayd bin Sa`yah, and so forth. This Ayah means that those among the People of the Book whom Allah rebuked earlier are not at all the same as those among them who embraced Islam. Hence Allah's statement,
(Not all of them are alike) [3:113].
Therefore, these two types of people are not equal, and indeed, there are believers and also criminals among the People of the Book, just as Allah said,
(a party of the People of the Scripture stand for the right) for they implement the Book of Allah, adhere to His Law and follow His Prophet Muhammad . Therefore, this type is on the straight path,
(they recite the verses of Allah during the hours of the night, prostrating themselves in prayer.)
They often stand in prayer at night for Tahajjud, and recite the Qur'an in their prayer,
(They believe in Allah and the Last Day; they enjoin Al-Ma`ruf and forbid Al-Munkar; and they hasten in (all) good works; and they are among the righteous) [3:114].
This is the same type of people mentioned at the end of the Surah;
(And there are, certainly, among the People of the Scripture (Jews and Christians), those who believe in Allah and in that which has been revealed to you, and in that which has been revealed to them, humbling themselves before Allah.) [3:199].
Allah said here,
(And whatever good they do, nothing will be rejected of them;) [3:115] meaning, their good deeds will not be lost with Allah. Rather, He will award them the best rewards,
(for Allah knows well the Muttaqin (the pious).) for no deed performed by any person ever escapes His knowledge, nor is any reward for those who do good deeds ever lost with Him. Allah mentions the disbelieving polytheists:
(neither their properties nor their offspring will avail them against Allah) [3:116]. meaning, nothing can avert Allah's torment and punishment from striking them,
(They are the dwellers of the Fire, therein they will abide.)
Allah gave a parable for what the disbelievers spend in this life, as Mujahid, Al-Hasan and As-Suddi said.
(The likeness of what they spend in this world is the likeness of a wind of Sir;) a frigid wind, as Ibn `Abbas, `Ikrimah, Sa`id bin Jubayr, Al-Hasan, Qatadah, Ad-Dahhak, Ar-Rabi` bin Anas and others have said. `Ata' said that Sir, means, `cold and snow.' Ibn `Abbas and Mujahid are also reported to have said that Sir means, `fire'. This latter meaning does not contradict the meanings we mentioned above, because extreme cold weather, especially when accompanied by snow, burns plants and produce, and has the same effect fire has on such growth.
(It struck the harvest of a people who did wrong against themselves and destroyed it) (3:117), by burning. This Ayah mentions a calamity that strikes produce that is ready to harvest, destroying it by burning and depriving its owner of it when he needs it the most. Such is the case with the disbelievers, for Allah destroys the rewards for their good deeds in this life, just as He destroyed the produce of the sinner because of his sins. Both types did not build their work on firm foundations,
(And Allah wronged them not, but they wronged themselves.)
(118. O you who believe! Take not as (your) Bitanah (advisors, helpers) those other than your own, since they will not fail to do their best to corrupt you. They desire to harm you severely. Hatred has already appeared from their mouths, but what their breasts conceal is far worse. Indeed We have made plain to you the Ayat if you understand.) (119. Lo! You are the ones who love them but they love you not, and you believe in all the Scriptures. And when they meet you, they say, "We believe.'' But when they are alone, they bite their Anamil at you in rage. Say: "Perish in your rage. Certainly, Allah knows what is in the breasts (all the secrets). '') (120. If a good befalls you, it grieves them, but if some evil overtakes you, they rejoice at it. But if you remain patient and have Taqwa, not the least harm will their cunning do to you. Surely, Allah surrounds all that they do.)
Allah forbids His believing servants from taking the hypocrites as allies, so that the hypocrites do not have the opportunity to expose the secrets of the believers and their plans against their enemies. The hypocrites try their very best to confuse, oppose and harm the believers any way they can, and by using any wicked, evil means at their disposal. They wish the very worst and difficult conditions for the believers. Allah said,
(Take not as (your) Bitanah those other than your own) (3:118), in reference to taking followers of other religions as consultants and allies, for advisors of a certain person have access to his most secret affairs. Al-Bukhari and An-Nasa'i recorded that, Abu Sa`id said that the Messenger of Allah said,
(Allah has not sent any Prophet nor was there any Khalifah but they have two types of allies, one that commands him with righteousness and advises it, and another that commands him with evil and advises him with it. Only those whom Allah gives immunity are immune.)
Ibn Abi Hatim reported that Ibn Abi Ad-Dahqanah said, "`Umar bin Al-Khattab was told, `There is young man here from the people of Hirah (in Iraq, who were Christians) who is a proficient scribe. Why do you not appoint him as a scribe' `Umar said, `I would then be taking advisors from among the disbelievers.''' This Ayah and the story about `Umar testify to the fact that Muslims are not allowed to use Ahl Adh-Dhimmah to be scribes in matters that affect the affairs of Muslims and expose their secrets, for they might convey these secrets to combatant disbelievers. This is why Allah said,
(since they will not fail to do their best to corrupt you. They desire to harm you severely.)
Allah then said,
(Hatred has already appeared from their mouths, but what their breasts conceal is far worse.) meaning, enmity appears on their faces and in what they sometimes utter, as well as, the enmity they have against Islam and its people in their hearts. Since this fact is apparent to every person who has sound comprehension, therefore,
(Indeed We have made plain to you the Ayat if you understand.)
Allah said next,
(O! You are the ones who love them but they love you not), meaning, O believers! You like the hypocrites because you think they are believers, for they pretend to be so, but they do not like you publicly or secretly.
(And you believe in all the Scriptures) meaning, you have no doubt in any part of Allah's Book, while the hypocrites have deep doubts, confusion and reservations about it.
Muhammad bin Ishaq reported that Ibn `Abbas said that,
(and you believe in all the Scriptures,) means, you believe in your Book, their Book, and the previous Books, while the hypocrites disbelieve in your Book, and this is why they deserve that you dislike them instead of them disliking you. Ibn Jarir collected this statement.
(And when they meet you, they say, "We believe.'' But when they are alone, they bite their Anamil at you in rage.)
The word Anamil, means the tips of the fingers, as Qatadah stated. This is the behavior of the hypocrites who pretend to be believers and kind when they are with the believers, all the while concealing the opposite in their hearts in every respect. This is the exact situation that Allah describes,
(But when they are alone, they bite their Anamil at you in rage) and rage is extreme anger and fury. Allah said to them,
(Say: "Perish in your rage. Certainly, Allah knows what is in the breasts (all the secrets).'') for no matter how much you envy the believers and feel rage towards them, know that Allah shall perfect His favor on His believing servants, complete His religion, raise high His Word and give dominance to His religion. Therefore, O hypocrites, die in rage,
(Allah knows what is in the breasts.)
Allah has perfect knowledge of what you conceal in your hearts and chests and in the rage, envy and hatred you have against the believers. Allah will punish you for all this in this life, and they will have the good that you dislike for them. In the Hereafter, you will suffer severe torment in the Fire where you will remain for eternity.
Thereafter, Allah said,
(If a good befalls you, it grieves them, but if some evil overtakes you, they rejoice at it) (3:120). This only emphasizes the severity of the enmity that the hypocrites feel against the believers. If the believers enjoy fertile years, victories, support and their numbers and following increase, the hypocrites become displeased. When the Muslims suffer a drought or their enemies gain the upper hand against them, by Allah's decree, just as occurred during the battle of Uhud, the hypocrites become pleased. Allah said to His believing servants,
(But if you remain patient and have Taqwa, not the least harm will their cunning do to you.)
Allah directs the believers to safety from the wickedness of evil people and the plots of the sinners, by recommending them to revert to patience and by having fear of Allah and trusting Him. Allah encompasses the enemies of the believers, all the while the believers have no power or strength except from Him. Whatever Allah wills, occurs, and whatever He does not will, does not occur. Nothing happens in His Kingdom except with His decision and according to His decrees. Verily, whoever relies on Allah, Allah shall suffice for him.
Allah then mentions the story of Uhud, the defeat that He tested the believers with, His distinguishing the believers from the hypocrites and their patience.
(121. And (remember) when you left your household in the morning to post the believers at their stations for the battle (of Uhud). And Allah is All-Hearer, All-Knower.) (122. When two parties from among you were about to lose heart, but Allah was their Wali (Supporter and Protector). And in Allah should the believers put their trust.) (123. And Allah has already made you victorious at Badr, when you were a weak little force. So have Taqwa of Allah that you may be grateful.)