“Allah has set a seal on their hearts and on their hearing, and on their eyes there is a covering (Ghishaawah). Theirs will be a great torment”. In this verse Allah Ta’ala brings to our attention the wretched and miserable plight and lot of those who choose to not believe. The punishment meted out to them is that He has stamped a seal on their hearts and on their ears which prevents and hinders them from hearing the truth and allowing their hearts to take in the truth. In addition to this and as another greater punishment, Allah Ta’ala has placed a covering over their eyes (Ghishaawah) which blinds them.
The ultimate result of these punishments is that they neither understand, hear nor see the truth of the existence of Allah Ta’ala. This is simply because of the faculties of understanding, hearing and seeing has been closed upon them. This is their punishment in this worldly life. That which awaits them in the hereafter that which awaits them is a great punishment.

And of mankind, there are some who say: "We believe in Allah and the Last Day'' while in fact they do not believe”. We mentioned earlier that four verses in the beginning of Surat Al-Baqarah described the believers. Verses 6 and 7 describe the disbelievers and thereafter Allah Ta’ala moves to describing and showing another worse kind of disbelief in verses 8 and 9. This kind of disbelief is the one displayed by the hypocrites who show belief but cleverly and in a sinister way, hide disbelief. Since the matter of the hypocrites is vague and many people do not realize their true reality, Allah Ta’ala mentioned their description in detail. Each of the characteristics that Allah Ta’ala used to describe them with is a type of hypocrisy itself. So grave and heinous is this crime of hypocrisy in the sight of Allah Ta’ala that He has chosen to reveal two surahs i.e. Surat Bara'ah (chapter 9) and Surat Al-Munafiqun (chapter 63) detailing the acts and practices of the hypocrites. He also mentioned the hypocrites in Surat An-Nur (24) and other Surahs, so that their description would be known and their ways and errors could be avoided.

Nifaaq means to show conformity - or agreement - and to conceal evil. Nifaaq has several types: Nifaaq is that creed that causes its people to gain admission into Hell for eternity. Not just admittance into hell fire but admittance into the deepest pits of hell-fire and Nifaaq in deed, which is one of the major sins, as we will explain soon, Allah willing. A scholar once very beautifully and aptly defined a hypocrite by saying, "His actual deeds are different from what he publicizes, what he conceals is different from what he utters, his entrance and presence are not the same as his exit and absence.'' In our times what we call ‘double standards’ can be also classified as a type of hypocrisy considering the fact is that many of us don’t do what we say.

Before the revelations of the Qur’aan nothing was known of these people. They mixed and mingled with the believers as normal. It was Allah Ta’ala Who exposed them by revealing their true characteristics in the Qur’aan and informing His beloved Prophet (S.A.W.) their crafty and conniving ways. This all took place in Madeenatul-Munawwarah only because there were no hypocrites in Makkah. Rather the opposite was the situation in Makkah. The believers on account of escaping torture and humiliation had to hide their faith and belief in Allah Ta’ala and profess disbelief. This is because they were forced to pretend that they were disbelievers, while their hearts concealed their faith. Afterwards, the Messenger of Allah migrated to Madeenah, where the Ansaar from the tribes of Aws and Khazraj resided. They used to worship idols during the pre-Islamic period of ignorance, just as the rest of the Arab idolaters used to do. Three Jewish tribes resided in Madeenah when the Messenger of Allah Ta’ala first settled there. They were the Banu Qaynuqa`-allies of Al-Khazraj, Banu An-Nadir and Banu Qurayzah-allies of the Aws. Many members of the Aws and Khazraj tribes embraced Islam. However, only a few Jews embraced Islam, such as `Abdullah bin Salam. During the early stages in Madeenah, there weren't any hypocrites because the Muslims were not strong enough to be feared yet. On the contrary, the Messenger of Allah (S.A.W.) conducted peace treaties with the Jews and several other Arab tribes around Madeenah. Soon after, the battle of Badr took place and Allah Ta’ala gave victory to Islam and its people. `Abdullah bin Ubayy bin Salul was a leader in Madeenah at that time. He was Al-Khazraj's chief, and during the period of Jahiliyyah he was the master of both tribes - Aws and Khazraj. They were about to appoint him their king when the news of the victory of the Muslims at Badr reached Madeenah. This resulted in many people in Madeenah accepting Islam. Abdullah bin Ubayy bin Salul's heart was filled with hatred against Islam and its people. When the battle of Badr took place, he said, "Allah's religion has become apparent.'' So he pretended to be Muslim, along with many of those who were just like him, as well as many among the People of the Book. It was then that hypocrisy began in Madeenah and among the surrounding nomad tribes. As for the Muhaajireen (those who migrated from Makkah, none of them were hypocrites, since they emigrated willingly (seeking the pleasure of Allah Ta’ala). Rather, when a Muslim would emigrate from Makkah, he would be forced to abandon all of his wealth, offspring and land; he would do so seeking Allah's reward in the Hereafter.

This refers to the hypocrites among the Aws and Khazraj and those who behaved as they did.
The above is how scholars have explained the verse. Allah Ta’ala revealed the characteristics of the hypocrites, so that the believers would not be deceived by their outer appearances and stages of devotedness and commitment to the course of Allah Ta’ala and His Messenger, thus saving the believers from a great evil. Otherwise, the believers might think that the hypocrites were believers, when in reality they are disbelievers. To consider the sinners as righteous people is extremely dangerous and an enemy that you don’t know is worse than an enemy that is known.
The hypocrites used to openly and very convincingly say “We believe in Allah and the Last Day'' while in fact they did not believe. All that came from them was lip service and nothing more. Allah Ta’ala attests to this deceit of theirs in the verse:
“When the hypocrites come to you (O Muhammad), they say: "We bear witness that you are indeed the Messenger of Allah.'' Allah knows that you are indeed His Messenger. (Surah 63, verse 1).
This verse exposed them by a confirmation of Allah Ta’ala Who knows all. They used to attest to the Shahaadah when they came before the Messenger of Allah not because they actually believed in what they were saying but only to hide what was in their hearts i.e. disbelief. This they knew very well.

They try to deceive Allah and those who believe, while they only deceive themselves, and perceive (it) not!)
In this verse Allah Ta’ala exposes the folly and foolishness of the hypocrites when they try to deceive Allah Ta’ala. They forget that Allah Ta’ala knows and sees everything and that absolutely nothing is hidden from Him.
They openly pronounce that there is no deity worthy of worship except Allah. This they do to merely secure the sanctity of their blood and money, all the while concealing disbelief.
"This is the description of a hypocrite. He is devious; he says the truth with his tongue and defies it with his heart and deeds. He wakes up in a condition other than the one he goes to sleep in, and goes to sleep in a different condition than the one he wakes up in. He changes his mind just like a ship that moves about whenever a wind blows.''


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