63. Al-Munafiqun (The Hypocrites)
Revealed in Madīnah, most probably in the sixth year after the Hijrah, this sūrah has 11 verses, and it takes its name from the word Al-Munafiqun or Al-Munafiqoon (The Hypocrites) in the first verse. It reveals the inner world of the hypocrites and their plots against Islam. It orders the believers not to cling to the passing delights of the world and to remain free of hypocrisy.
In the Name of God, the All-Merciful, the All-Compassionate.
1. When the hypocrites come to you, they say: “We bear witness that you are indeed God’s Messenger.” God knows that you are indeed His Messenger, and God bears witness that the hypocrites are certainly lying (they do not believe in the truth of what they say).1
2. They make their oaths a shelter (to hide their inner unbelief and protect themselves in the Muslim community), and so divert themselves (and seek to bar others) from God’s way. Evil indeed is what they habitually do:
3. That is because they declared faith but thereafter (inwardly) disbelieved, so a seal has been set on their hearts so that they do not grasp the truth (and cannot recover the ability to reach it).
4. When you see them, their outward form pleases you, and (their posture and speech are attractive and effective, so that) you give ear to their words when they speak. (In reality) they are like blocks of wood propped up and (draped over) in striped cloaks.2 They think (being themselves treacherous) every shout (they hear) to be against them. They are the enemies themselves, so beware of them. May God destroy them (they are liable to destruction by God)! How they are turned away from the truth (and pursue evil purposes)!
5. When it is said to them, “Come, and let the Messenger of God ask forgiveness for you (from God),” they turn away their faces, and you see them drawing back in arrogance.3
6. It is alike for them whether you ask forgiveness for them or do not ask forgiveness for them: God will never forgive them (so that they might return to guidance and hope for happiness in both worlds). God surely does not guide transgressors (whose hearts are infected with irremediable hypocrisy).
7. It is they who say (to their comrades): “Do not spend on those (impoverished Muslims) who are with God’s Messenger, so that they may disperse (from around him).” But the treasures of the heavens and the earth belong to God (Who provides for whom He wills as He wills, so the hypocrites have no power to withhold anything from those impoverished Muslims). But the hypocrites do not grasp this (being incapable of truth).
8. They say: “For certain, if we return to Madīnah, those with more status and power will drive out from it the weaker and lowlier ones.” But all glory and might belong to God, and (by His leave) to His Messenger and the believers. But (being incapable of knowledge of the truth) the hypocrites do not know this.4
9. O you who believe! Let not your wealth nor your children (distract and) divert you from the remembrance of God. Those who do so, they are the losers.
10. And spend (in God’s cause and for the needy) out of whatever We provide for you, before death comes to any of you and he says: “My Lord! If only You would grant me respite for a short while, so that I may give alms, and be one of the righteous!”
11. But never will God grant respite to a soul when its appointed term has come. God is fully aware of all that you do.
1. The hypocrites who emphatically bore witness to the Messengership of God’s Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, in his presence, upon him be peace and blessings, were lying, saying what they did not believe in or what was contrary to their hearts. They did so in order to hide their hypocrisy and the unbelief in their hearts. One who declares something true to be true frequently, emphatically, and without any reason, incurs doubt and should be doubted.
2. This description also implies the hypocrites’ manner of sitting. Due to the inferiority complex that they had developed through constant hypocrisy, they sat reclining on cushions in a manner as if they were extremely important persons. The verse also draws attention to their manner of dressing, and hints at the secret organizations of hypocrisy. Hypocrisy is always the same, and hypocrites are of the same character in different ages.
3. In fact, the hypocrites were expected to come to the Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, to beg his pardon and ask for God’s forgiveness because of their continuous scheming, and their plots that were revealed each time. Not only did they not do this, they even arrogantly refused the call to approach the Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, so that he might pray to God for their forgiveness.
4. When God’s Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, emigrated to Madīnah, the Arab peoples of al-Aws and al-Khazraj of Madīnah were preparing to crown ‘Abdullāh ibn Ubayy ibn Salūl as their king. So Ibn Ubayy never forgave the Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings; and, though he accepted Islam outwardly, he was always a fierce enemy of the Prophet, upon him be peace and blessings, and Islam. He collaborated with the Makkan polytheists and Madīnan Jews, and tried to bring about dissension among the Muslims. The events described in these verses happened during the return from the military expedition against the Banū Mustaliq, in the fifth year of Hijrah. Availing himself of a quarrel that had broken out between two Muslims, one from Madīnah and the other from Makkah (an emigrant), when the army had halted halfway for a rest, he tried to instigate the Ansār (Helpers) against the Muhājirūn (Emigrants). But the sagacity of the Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, who ordered the army to march without halting until they reached Madīnah, was enough to extinguish the fire of dissension before it was kindled.
Verse 8 emphasizes that all glory and real power rest first with God, then with the Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, and then with the believers because of their faith in, and submission to, God. So the believers must always seek these with God and by being good, sincere Muslims.