Al-Baqarah · Juz 1 · Qur'an Tafseer

Tafseer Al-Baqarah Ayaat 16 – 18

 Ayat 16:

أُوْلَـئِكَ الَّذِينَ اشْتَرَوُاْ الضَّلَـلَةَ بِالْهُدَى فَمَا رَبِحَت تِّجَـرَتُهُمْ وَمَا كَانُواْ مُهْتَدِينَ 

Ola-ika allatheena ishtarawooaddalalata bilhuda famarabihat tijaratuhum wama kanoomuhtadeen

Those are the ones who have purchased error [in exchange] for guidance, so their commerce has brought no profit, nor were they guided.”

أُوْلَـئِكَ الَّذِينَ اشْتَرَوُاْ الضَّلَـلَةَ بِالْهُدَى

“These are they who have purchased error with guidance,” means they pursued misguidance and abandoned guidance. This meaning includes those who first believed, then later disbelieved, whom Allah described hypocrites. 

Here Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala clearly tells that hypocrites have exchanged error with the guidance. So Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala has made their commerce profitless. Munafiq tries to get benefits of the world, but eventually he loses all those because he has given priority to the world on hidayah. They are not interested in emaan. Some of them think if we read and understand Quran then it will be obligatory to act on it. They like to live in darkness, fooling themselves. Hard work and effort is required in the way of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala, but munafiq (hypocrite) can’t do that. They realize that they are wrong but give logics for their wrong deeds. Finally they refuse to accept guidance. It is their weakness of faith. Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala makes every work of munafiq profit less.

Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala explained that the hypocrites bought misguidance in exchange for guidance, so they lost the world with their losing trade, and they lost the next life with their losing of the guidance, and that is the clear loss.

 Ayat 17:

 مَثَلُهُمْ كَمَثَلِ الَّذِى اسْتَوْقَدَ نَاراً فَلَمَّآ أَضَاءَتْ مَا حَوْلَهُ ذَهَبَ اللَّهُ بِنُورِهِمْ وَتَرَكَهُمْ فِي ظُلُمَـتٍ لاَّ               


Mathaluhum kamathali allatheeistawqada naran falamma adaat ma hawlahuthahaba Allahu binoorihim watarakahum fee thulumatinla yubsiroon

“Their example is that of one who kindled a fire, but when it illuminated what was around him, Allah took away their light and left them in darkness [so] they could not see.”

 The hypocrites when they bought deviation in exchange for guidance, thus acquiried utter blindness. Their example is like that of a person who started a fire when the fire was lit, and illuminated the surrounding area, the person benefited from it and felt safe. Then the fire was suddenly extinguished. Therefore, total darkness covered this person, and he became unable to see anything or find his way out of it. Further, this person could not hear or speak and became so blind that even if there was light, he would not be able to see. This is why he cannot return to the state that he was in before this happened to him. Such is the case with the hypocrites who preferred misguidance over the guidance, deviation over righteousness.

 This parable indicates that the hypocrites first believed, then disbelieved, just as Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala stated in other parts of the Qur’an.

ذَهَبَ اللَّهُ بِنُورِهِمْ

“Allah removed their light” means, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala removed what benefits them, and this is the light, and He left them with what harms them, that is, the darkness and smoke.

 It is hypocrisy in the emaan that they accepted Islam but not from heart. It is like they kindled the fire by accepting Islam, but as they refused they were back to the darkness, as their light was taken away from hearts. Fire illuminates everything in the surrounding but who loses his vision, cannot see anything, for him there is no difference whether light is there or not. He still remains in darkness.

وَتَرَكَهُمْ فِي ظُلُمَـتٍ

“And left them in darkness”, that is their doubts, disbelief and hypocrisy.

Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala is pointing here towards the darkness of the heart. When does a person lose his vision and noor (light) of heart? This happens when his heart is filled with worldly wishes, shirk, and hypocrisy. Those who don’t want help Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala also doesn’t help them.

لاَّ يُبْصِرُونَ

“So, they could not see” meaning, they are unable to find the correct path or find its direction. 

The very first thing after believing is to kill your ego. Those who have envy and ego, can’t see the truth, they become self-centered. World’s love cannot allow to see the Haq (truth). So a hypocrite that pretends Islam and conceals kufr, will not benefit since he does not truly believe in Islam. Rather he is increased in his misguidance wandering around blindly, because misguidance is what runs in his blood and fills his hearts. 

 Ayat 18:

صُمٌّ بُكْمٌ عُمْىٌ فَهُمْ لاَ يَرْجِعُونَ

Summun bukmun AAumyun fahum layarjiAAoon

“Deaf, dumb and blind – so they will not return [to the right path].”

 Some additional  characteristics of the hypocrites are that they are deaf, dumb and blind; they are unaware of the right direction.


“Deaf” and thus cannot hear the guidance,


”Dumb” and hence cannot utter the words that might benefit them,


“and blind” in total darkness and deviation. 

The hypocrites are deaf, dumb and blind near to Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala because they do not have emaan and they do not give attention towards right path that is Deen-e-Haq (true religion). They do not want to listen; if they listen they do not accept it. They can’t see truth. The only thing visible to them is the difficulties in the way of Islam, but they cannot observe the permanent benefits out of these difficulties. They cannot return to guidance as they do not wish to. They had prophets, but they did not listen to them. In Surah Anfal, Ayah 29, it is said:

“O you who have believed, if you fear Allah, He will grant you a criterion (furqan) and will remove from you your misdeeds and forgive you. And Allah is the possessor of great bounty.”

Criterion (furqan) means difference of right and wrong. He will open their eyes so that they can differentiate between right and wrong. When one loses the fear of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala, he also loses his vision. That’s why this verse is calling them deaf, dumb and blind, despite the existence of their senses, yet they do not benefit from them, as they neglected them to leave the guidance and chose sclear misguidance.


Allah has described the kinds of Hidayat in the start of Surah. Then tell us how to make dua, requirements of hidayat. Also, explained the behaviour of hypocrite, their lusty wishes, disbelief (shirk), and their misguidance. Here in these ayaah, we understand hypocrisy with more examples. Allah has described everything with examples in Quran.

The lessons we learnt from these ayaahs are:

1)    No one can guide or help a person, who does not seek help from Allah.

2)    A hypocrite cannot imitate others in guidance due to being blind to the truth.

3)    They are a lost cause and are blocked off from guidance in every way

May we remain sincere to Allah’s guidance always, ameen.


4 thoughts on “Tafseer Al-Baqarah Ayaat 16 – 18

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