In this ayah too the main address is to the hypocrites. When they are told not to cause mischief on the earth they say, “We are peacemakers”. Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala, confirms in this ayah, that indeed they are the ones who cause corruption, but they do not have this realization.
أَلا إِنَّهُمْ هُمُ الْمُفْسِدُونَ وَلَـكِن لاَّ يَشْعُرُونَ
Ala innahum humu almufsidoona walakinla yashAAuroon
“Unquestionably, it is they who are the corrupters, but they perceive [it] not.”
Hypocrites (munafiqeen) think that they are reformers but as they have lost the ability to perceive so Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala is explaining in that Quran that actually these are the people who are creating corruption. But they do not realize it. Much mischief is caused by those people, who call themselves peacemakers while they do not even have a true perception of right and wrong. By their blind arrogance, they supress the good and encourage the evil. Ibn Jarir said, “The hypocrites commit mischief on earth by disobeying their Lord on it and continuing in the prohibited acts. They also abandon what Allah made obligatory and doubt His religion, even though He does not accept a deed from anyone except with faith in His religion and certainty of its truth. The hypocrites also lie to the believers by saying contrary to the doubt and hesitation their hearts harbor. They give as much aid as they can, against Allah’s loyal friends, and support those who deny Allah, His Books and His Messengers. This is how the hypocrites commit mischief on earth, while thinking that they are doing righteous work on earth.” Allah has opened their reality by calling them mischievous.
وَإِذَا قِيلَ لَهُمْ ءَامِنُواْ كَمَآ ءَامَنَ النَّاسُ قَالُواْ أَنُؤْمِنُ كَمَآ آمَنَ السُّفَهَآءُ أَلاَ إِنَّهُمْ هُمُ السُّفَهَآءُ وَلَـكِن لاَّ يَعْلَمُونَ
Wa-itha qeela lahum aminoo kamaamana annasu qaloo anu/minu kamaamana assufahao ala innahum humu assufahaowalakin la yaAAlamoon
“And when it is said to them, ’Believe as the people have believed,’ they say, ‘Should we believe as the foolish have believed?’ Unquestionably, it is they who are the foolish, but they know [it] not.”
ءَامِنُواْ كَمَآ ءَامَنَ النَّاسُ
“Believe as the people believe,”, means, ‘Believing just as the believers believe in Allah, His angels, His Books, His Messengers, Resurrection after death, Paradise and Hellfire, etc. And obey Allah and His Messenger by heeding the commandments and avoiding the prohibitions.’ Yet the hypocrites answer by saying,
قَالُواْ أَنُؤْمِنُ كَمَآ آمَنَ السُّفَهَآءُ
“Shall we believe as the fools have believed?’) By fools they meant (may Allah curse the hypocrites) the Companions of the Messenger of Allah radhiAllahu ‘anhum. This is the same Tafsir given by Abu Al-`Aliyah and As-Suddi in his Tafsir, with a chain of narration to Ibn `Abbas, Ibn Mas`ud and other Companions. This is also the Tafsir of Ar-Rabi` bin Anas and `Abdur-Rahman bin Zayd bin Aslam. The hypocrites said, “Us and them having the same status, following the same path, while they are fools!” `The fool’ is the ignorant, simple-minded person who has little knowledge in areas of benefit and harm.
Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala answered the hypocrites in all of these instances. For instance, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala said here,
أَلاَ إِنَّهُمْ هُمُ السُّفَهَآءُ
“Verily, they are the fools.” Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala thus affirmed that the hypocrites are indeed the fools, yet,
وَلَـكِن لاَّ يَعْلَمُونَ
“But they know not.” Since they are so thoroughly ignorant, the hypocrites are unaware of their degree of deviation and ignorance, and such situation is more dangerous, a severer case of blindness, and far from truth than one who is aware.
They do this to misdirect, mislead and deceive the believers. The hypocrites also want to have a share of the benefits and gains that the believers might possibly acquire.
They are degrading the believers by rejecting emaan, hypocrite‘s (munafiq) heart is always full of desires of worldly benefit, For his desires and wishes, he accepts the religion (deen) and only perform those tasks for which he has nothing much to do. Zakaat, Sadqah (charity), Salah (prayer) and also other good deeds are foolishness near to them. Replying to hypocrites’ comment Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says it’s actually them who are being foolish. They are in great ignorance. They can work from 9-5 or even more for worldly gains but when they have to perform their duties to Allah, they feel it a big burden. It’s really unintelligent to work hard for temporary advantages and leave the things that can give permanent happiness and benefits. They are daaleen (went astray) who have no ilmi and amali hidayah, but they are putting effort in darkness of ignorance.
Arrogance hides the reality and one cannot realize the actual truth, this is what happened with hypocrites of Madina. Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala is the Aleem and the Khabeer, He knows what is in our hearts and what is our true intentions. If someone tries to mislead His supporters, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala will help believers by showing them the reality of hypocrites.
May Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala include us in His true believers and we never lie in the category of munafiqeen. Ameen Ya Rab ul Alaameen.