Al-Baqarah · Juz 2 · Qur'an Tafseer

The Characteristics of Hypocrites


In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful
Tafseer Al-Baqarah Ayaat 204 – 207 (Part 1)

In the previous ayaat, it was said that there are two kinds of people who make prayers. Some wish to have everything right here in this world whereas others pray for the good of both the worlds. In the present ayaat, we read about the two kinds of believers: the hypocrite and the sincere.

Ayaat 204-206 refer to a hypocrite, Akhnas ibn Shariq Ath-Thaqafi known for his eloquence. He would come to the Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam and try to impress him with his sworn allegiance to Islam, but no sooner did he walk out of his company, he would get busy with his anti-Muslim mischief-making. Any effort to make such a person fear Allah takes him to the other extreme when he pleases his pride through sin. So, ‘the Hell is enough for him’.

On the other hand ayah 207 portrays the true and sincere Muslim who would stake his life to achieve the good pleasure of Allah Almighty. This ayah was revealed to honor the sincere Companions who offered unmatched sacrifices in the way of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala.


The word yu’jeebuka [يُعْجِبُكَ] is from the root ayn-jeem-ba and it means to wonder, marvel, be amazed or to admire.

Ibn ‘Abbas radhiAllahu ‘anhu narrated that these ayaat were revealed about some of the hypocrites who criticized Khubayb and his companions who were killed during the Raji’ incident. Thereafter, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala sent down His condemnation of the hypocrites and His praise for Khubayb and his companions: And of the people is he who sells himself, seeking means to the approval of Allah.” (2: 207)

It was also said that they refer to the hypocrites and the believers in general. This is the opinion of Qatadah, Mujahid, Ar-Rabi` bin Anas and several others, and it is correct.

Ibn Jarir related that Al-Qurazi said that Nawf Al-Bikali, who used to read (previous Divine) Books said, “I find the description of some members of this Ummah in the previously revealed Books of Allah: they (hypocrites) are people who use the religion to gain material benefit. Their tongues are sweeter than honey, but their hearts are bitter than Sabir [a bitter plant, aloe]. They show the people the appearance of sheep while their hearts hide the viciousness of wolves. Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala said, ‘They dare challenge Me, but they are deceived by Me. I swear by Myself that I will send a Fitnah [trial/calamity] on them that will make the wise man bewildered.’ I contemplated about these statements and found them in the Qur’an describing the hypocrites: ‘And of the people is he whose speech pleases you in this worldly life, and he calls Allah to witness as to what is in his heart.’

“…and he calls Allah to witness as to that which is in his heart,” meaning that such people pretend to be Muslims, but defy Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala by the disbelief and hypocrisy that their hearts conceal.

[The Traits of the Hypocrites]

In Surah An-Nisa ayah 108, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says,

يَسْتَخْفُونَ مِنَ النَّاسِ وَلاَ يَسْتَخْفُونَ مِنَ اللَّهِ

“They may hide (their crimes) from men, but they cannot hide (them) from Allah.” (4:108)

[Tafseer Surah An-Nisa Ayah 108]


From this ayah we learn that a person should watch his heart and speech. There should be no contradiction between one’s words and actions. Making verbal declarations of faith and not proving the same from one’s actions is nothing but deception. No matter how much we pose ourselves to be religious or righteous, if it is not evident from our actions then it is futile.

It also teaches us that we should not get impressed by people’s words or outer appearance but also see their actions and character. A person can be eloquent in speech but his character can be disgusting. Remember that speech can be a deception. Do not be deceived.

It was also said that the ayah means that when such people announce their Islam, they swear by Allah that what is in their hearts is the same as to what their tongues are pronouncing. Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala responds, “yet he is the fiercest of opponents.”

The word aladdu [أَلَدُّ] is from the root laam-dal-dal and it means to hold an alteration with anyone, quarrel or hinder. In the ayah it means wicked or opponent. The word khisam [خِصَام] is from the root kha-saad-meem and it means to contend in an altercation, to dispute in a sound or valid manner or to plea.

A hypocrite lies, alters the truth when he quarrels and does not care for the truth. Rather, he deviates from the truth, deceives and becomes most quarrelsome. The Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said,

آيَةُ الْمُنَافِقِ ثَلاثٌ: إِذَا حَدَّثَ كَذَبَ، وَإذَا عَاهَدَ غَدَرَ، وَإِذَا خَاصَمَ فَجَر

“The signs of a hypocrite are three: Whenever he speaks, he tells a lie. Whenever he promises, he always breaks it (his promise). If you have a dispute with him, he is most quarrelsome.”

Imam Bukhari reported that ‘A’ishah radhiAllahu ‘anha narrated that the Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said,

إِنَّ أَبْغَضَ الرِّجَالِ إلَى اللهِ الْألَدُّ الْخَصِم

“The most hated person to Allah is he who is the most quarrelsome.”


A person who has to swear to make people believe him is a liar. An honest person does not have to find cunning ways to be understood. Reflect on your life: Do you utter lies frequently? On what occasions do you lie and why? Swearing or lying is not from the characteristics of a Muslim.

We also learn that Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala does not like those who usurp the rights of others, set up schemes to deceive others or those who quarrel. Quarreling is not from the characteristics of a Muslim. One should consciously avoid heated arguments and blame games. Should a dispute arise then one must remain silent or leave the gathering. Do not commit the sins of the tongues by slandering others or uttering lies.Specially when it comes to religious arguments aswell,if they are leading to no mutual grounds,one should be very consious and leave the argument as soon as possible.

[A Muslim does not Harm Other Muslims]

Today we see that the Muslims are busy fighting among themselves. Just look at your home, is it a peaceful place to live in? What are your usual fights about? We are not fighting over real issues but on whims. Remember when people live together disagreements are bound to occur. We should learn how to agree to disagree and conflict management instead of giving fuel to the fire.

People often complain of lack of barakah in their lives. Remember that if a group of people living or working together are hostile to one another then Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala will take away barakah from their lives. So, before we complain to Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala of our meager means and constricted life, we need to reflect on our behavior. What are we doing in our lives? How do we treat the elders and the young? How do the spouses treat one another? Does the woman get as much respect as the man? Is there physical, financial or emotional abuse in our homes?

[Disunity – A Sign of Allah’s Punishment]

From a hadeeth we learn that he who gives up on arguing will get a house in Jannah for his virtuous act. We need to learn to forgive people and keep our hearts free from rancor.

For some people their favorite topic is disagreements and for others it is mutual interests. What category are we from? Do We talk more about differences or similarities? Do we leave such gatherings where differences are being discussed or do we remain seated and abuse the other party? We need to see where we spend our time and in what company we sit.

[Handling Disagreements and Criticism]

Ayah 205 – Spreading Corruption on Earth

Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala then said, “And when he goes away, he strives throughout the land to cause corruption therein and destroy crops and animals. And Allah does not like corruption.” Such people are deviant in the tongue, evil in the deeds, their words are fabricated, their belief is wicked and their works are immoral.

The word sa’a [سَعَىٰ] is from the root seen-ayn-ya and it means to strive or exert, be active. From the same root we have the ritual of sa’ee where the pilgrims run (women walk) between the mountains of Safa and Marwah. The word ‘izatu [عِزَّةُ] is from the root ayn-zaa-zaa and it means honor, arrogance or esteem. The word mihad [مِهَادُ] is from the root meem-ha-dal and it means to diligently make or prepare a place for one’s resting or stay. The same word is also used for dunya.

The hypocrite has no motive in this life but to cause mischief and to destroy the crops and the offspring, including what the animals produce and what the people depend on for their livelihood. Mujahid said, “If the hypocrite strives for mischief in the land, Allah prevents the rain from falling and thus the crops and the offspring perish.”

Genetically modified food is an example of destroying crops and animals. Look at the increase in diseases in this generation. In the name of surplus growth and high profits, we are playing with people’s lives. It is not just the GMO foods but also products that are harmful in their nature such as tobacco and fizzy drinks. Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala commands us to eat halal and tayyab. What is the benefit of smoking, fizzy drinks, alcohol or processed food? People who work for these companies and the advertising agencies should see what they are promoting.

We are commanded to eat pure and lawful, we cannot put just  anything in our bodies.

[The Command to Eat Pure Things]

The ayah continues:

وَاللَّهُ لاَ يُحِبُّ الْفَسَادَ

“…and Allah does not like corruption,” meaning Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala does not like those who possess these characteristics, or those who act like this.

We ask Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala to make us honest in our words and deeds, and to save us from hypocrisy, aameen.

رَبَّنَا تَقَبَّلْ مِنَّا ۖ إِنَّكَ أَنتَ السَّمِيعُ الْعَلِيم
“Our Lord, accept [this] from us. Indeed You are the All-Hearing, the All-Knowing.” [Al-Baqarah 2: 127]

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