Meal Seç / Sure Seç

In the name of god, the most gracious, The dispenser of grace: (1)

1 - According to most of the authorities, this invocation (which occurs at the beginning of every surah with the exception of surah 9) constitutes an integral part of "The Opening" and is, therefore, numbered as verse I. In all other instances, the invocation "in the name of God" precedes the surah as such, and is not counted among its verses. - Both the divine epithets rahman and rahrm are derived from the noun rahmah, which signifies "mercy", "compassion", "loving tenderness" and, more comprehensively, "grace". From the very earliest times, Islamic scholars have endeavoured to define the exact shades of meaning which differentiate the two terms. The best and simplest of these explanations is undoubtedly the one advanced by Ibn al-Qayyim (as quoted in Mandr I, 48): the term rahman circumscribes the quality of abounding grace inherent in, and inseparable from, the concept of God's Being, whereas rahrm expresses the manifestation of that grace in, and its effect upon, His creation-in other words, an aspect of His activity.

THE MAIN PART of this surah - most of which was revealed shortly after the battle of Uhud (see surah 3, note 90), that is to say, towards the end of the year 3 or the beginning of 4 H. - is devoted to the problem of hypocrisy as it faced the Prophet and his followers during the early years after their exodus from Mecca to Medina. Nevertheless, the Qur'anic treatment of this problem renders its lessons applicable to all times and circumstances.
1. WHEN THE HYPOCRITES come unto thee, they say, "We bear witness that thou art indeed God's Apostle!" But God knows that thou art truly His Apostle; and He bears witness that the hypocrites are indeed false [in their declaration of faith].
2. They have made their oaths a cover [for their falseness], and thus they turn others away from the Path of God. (1) Evil indeed is all that they are wont to do:

1 - See note 26 on the identical sentence in 58:16.

3. this, because [they profess that] they have attained to faith, whereas (2) [inwardly] they deny the truth - and so, a seal has been set on their hearts so that they can no longer understand [what is true and what false]. (3)

2 - The particle thumma ("and then") has often the same function as the simple conjunctive wa ("and"), which in this case may be properly rendered as "whereas".

3 - See surah 2, note 7.

4. Now when thou seest them, their outward appearance may please thee; and when they speak, thou art inclined to lend ear to what they say. (4) [But though they may seem as sure of themselves] as if they were timbers [firmly] propped up, they think that every shout is [directed] against them. They are the [real] enemies [of all faith], so beware of them. [They deserve the imprecation,] "May God destroy them!" (5) How perverted are their minds! (6)

4 - Lit., "thou dost give ear to them": i.e., hypocrisy has usually a plausible outward aspect inasmuch as it is meant to deceive.

5 - Regarding my interpolation of the phrase "They deserve the imprecation", see note 45 on the identical sentence at the end of 9:30.

6 - See surah 5. note 90.

5. for, when they are told, "Come, the Apostle of God will pray [unto God] that you be forgiven", they turn their heads away, and thou canst see how they draw back in their false pride.
6. As for them it is all the same whether thou dost pray that they be forgiven or dost not pray for them: God will nor forgive them - for, behold, God does not bestow His guidance upon such iniquitous folk. (7)

7 - Cf 9:80 and the corresponding note 111.

7. It is they who say [to their compatriots (8) ], "Do not spend anything on those who are with God's Apostle, so that they [may be forced to] leave." (9) However, unto God belong the treasures of the heavens and the earth: but this truth the hypocrites cannot grasp.

8 - I.e., to the people of Medina in general, and to the ansar in particular (see next note).

9 - The leader of the hypocrites of Medina, Abd Allah ibn Ubayy, never forgave the Prophet for having overshadowed him who previously had been unquestioningly recognized by the people of Medina as their most outstanding leader. Since the Prophet's political strength depended mainly on the Meccan Muslims who followed him in his hijrah to Medina, Ibn Ubayy tried to persuade his compatriots - many of whom were supporting the newcomers with all the means at their disposal - to withdraw this material support and thereby force the muhajirun, most of whom were very poor, to leave Medina: a stratagem which, if successful would have greatly weakened the Prophet's position. This suggestion of the leader of the hypocrites was, of course, rejected by the ansar.

8. [And] they say, "Indeed, when we return to the City (10) [we,] the ones most worthy of honour will surely drive out therefrom those most contemptible ones!" However, all honour belongs to God, and [thus] to His Apostle and those who believe [in God]: but of this the hypocrites are not aware. (11)

10 - I.e., Medina, the "City of the Prophet" (Madinat an.Nabi), as the town previously called Yathrib began to be known after the hijrah. Since - as is established through several ahadith - the subsequent saying was uttered by Abd Allah ibn Ubayy during the campaign against the tribe of Banti Mustaliq in 5 H., it is obvious that verses 7 and 8 were revealed at the same date or a little later.

11 - It is in these two Qur'anic statements - "unto God belong the treasures. . .", etc., and "all honour belongs to God .. .", etc. - that the real, lasting purport of the above historical allusions is to be found.

9. O YOU who have attained to faith! Let not your worldly goods or your children make you oblivious of the remembrance of God: for If any behave thus - it is they, they who are the losers!
10. And spend on others out of what We have provided for you as sustenance, (12) ere there come a time when death approaches any of you, and he then says, "O my Sustainer! If only Thou wouldst grant me a delay for a short while, (13) so that I could give in charity and be among the righteous!"

12 - See surah 2, note 4.

13 - Lit., "for (ila) a term close-by".

11. But never does God grant a delay to a human being when his term has come; and God is fully aware of all that you do.