(2:8) There are some who say: “We believe in Allah and in the Last Day,” while in fact they do not believe. (2:9) They are trying to deceive Allah and those who believe, but they do not realize that in truth they are only deceiving themselves.11 (2:10) There is a disease in their hearts and Allah has intensified this disease.12 A painful chastisement awaits them for their lying. (2:11) Whenever they are told: “Do not spread mischief on earth,” they say: “Why! We indeed are the ones who set things right.” (2:12) They are the mischief makers, but they do not realize it. (2:13) Whenever they are told: “Believe as others believe,”13 they answer: “Shall we believe as the fools have believed?”14 Indeed it is they who are the fools, but they are not aware of it. (2:14) When they meet the believers, they say: “We believe,” but when they meet their evil companions (in privacy),15 they say: “Surely we are with you; we were merely jesting.” (2:15) Allah jests with them, leaving them to wander blindly on in their rebellion. (2:16) These are the ones who have purchased error in exchange for guidance. This bargain has brought them no profit and certainly they are not on the Right Way.16 (2:17) They are like him who kindled a fire, and when it lit up all around him, Allah took away the light (of their perception) and left them in utter darkness where they can see nothing. (2:18) They are deaf, they are dumb, they are blind;17 they will never return (to the Right Way). (2:19) Or they are like those who encounter a violent rainstorm from the sky, accompanied by pitch-dark clouds, thunder-claps and flashes of lightning: on hearing thunder-claps they thrust their fingers into their ears in fear of death. Allah encompasses these deniers of the Truth.18(2:20) It is as if the lightning would snatch their sight; whenever it gleams a while for them they walk a little, and when darkness covers them they halt.19 If Allah so willed, He could indeed take away their hearing and their sight.20 Surely Allah is All-Powerful.
- These people delude themselves that their hypocritical behaviour will profit them when in fact it will prove harmful both in this world and the Next. A hypocrite may be able to fool people for a while, but it does not last long; his hypocrisy is ultimately seen through. As for the Next Life, it is obvious that his claim to be a true believer is contradicted by his own actions and is thus quite worthless.
- ' Disease' here refers to the disease of hypocrisy. The statement that 'Allah has intensified this disease' means that He does not punish the hypocrites immediately but allows them to indulge in their hypocrisy and exult in the success of their ruses. This feeling of success intensifies their hypocrisy.
- They are being asked to become Muslims in the same manner as others of their community became Muslims
- They think that those people who sincerely embraced Islam and thereby exposed themselves to all kinds of trials and persecutions, and confronted risks and dangers, were merely fools. To them it seems sheer folly to invite the hostility of the entire land merely for the sake of Truth and righteousness. In their view, wisdom consists not in bothering oneself with the distinction between truth and falsehood, but in remaining concerned only with one's own interests.
- 'Satan' in Arabic means refractory, rebellious and headstrong, and is used for both human beings and jinn. Although this word is generally used in the Qur'an for the satans amongst the jinn, it is also used occasionally for human beings possessing satanic characteristics. The context generally explains whether the word 'satan' refers to jinn or to human beings. In this particular case the word 'satans' refers to those influential leaders of the time who were in the vanguard of opposition and hostility to Islam
- This means that two opposite effects emerged when a true servant of God radiated the light which made it possible to distinguish true from false and right from wrong, and made the straight way distinct from the ways of error. To those endowed with true perception, all truths became evident. But those who were almost blinded by the worship of their animal desires perceived nothing.
The expression, 'Allah took away the light of their perception' should not create the impression that these people were not responsible for their stumbling into darkness. Only those who do not seek the Truth, who prefer error to guidance and who are adamantly disinclined to pursue the Truth despite its luminosity, are deprived, by God, of the light of their perception. God simply enables such people to do what they wish.
- They have become deaf to hear, dumb to utter and blind to perceive the truth.
- By thrusting their fingers into their ears they temporarily deceive themselves into believing that they can escape the catastrophic end that awaits them. However, they cannot escape that end since God with all His might, encompasses them.
- The first parable refers to those hypocrites who disbelieved completely but had become Muslims merely, to further their worldly interests. The second parable refers to those who were prone to doubt and hesitation or whose faith was weak; who believed in the Truth but not to the extent of exposing themselves to hardships for its sake. The 'violent rainstorm' here alludes to Islam, which came to the world as a blessing. 'Pitch-dark clouds, thunder and lightning' refer to trials, tribulations and difficulties which confronted the Islamic movement, owing to the violent opposition and resistance of those committed to Ignorance. The last part of the parable portrays the state of mind of the hypocrites. They move a little ahead when circumstances seem favourable, but when either difficulties cloud the horizon, or when they are given directives which run counter to their desires or inherited prejudices, they are seized with alarm and come to a halt.
- Just as God has completely deprived the first category of hypocrites of their 'light of perception', He could have rendered these other hypocrites totally blind and deaf. But it is not God's way to deprive anyone of sight and hearing while he is willing to see and hear. Hence, God allowed them to retain their sight and hearing to the extent they were prepared to see and hear the Truth.