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With the Name of Allah, the All-Merciful, the Most Merciful

All praise is due to Allah alone, the Lord of the Worlds, and may peace and blessings be upon the best of Creation, Muhammad and his Family and Companions altogether.

The Hypocrites described in the Book of Allah

Our Shaykh (Ibn Taymiyyah), may Allah have mercy upon him, said: Several parables and examples have been utilised in the Qur’an, which cannot be comprehended except by those who have knowledge. These examples have been expressed by drawing similarities between one thing and another in relation to the ruing; and by closing the gaps between abstracted mental ideas and tangible objects by means of an example that can be perceived by the senses, or a sensory example by means of another – so that the first one may be regarded in terms of the second. the example of this is noted in the Qur’an when Allah, the Most High, says about the hypocrites:

“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. Deaf, dumb and blind – so they will not return [to the right path]. Or [it is] like a rainstorm from the sky within which is darkness, thunder and lightning. They put their fingers in their ears against the thunderclaps in dread of death. But Allah is encompassing of the disbelievers… Indeed, Allah is over all things competent.”

(Surah al-Baqarah:17-20)

In these ayat, Allah draws two examples of the condition of the hypocrites: An example with fire, and another with water, because of what is present in water and fire in terms of qualities of illumination, beaming and life-giving, as fire is an element providing light, and water is an element of life. Allah, the Glorious, has contained within the Revelation (Qur’an) that descended from Heaven, life for the hearts and their illumination; this is why he has called it ‘Ruh‘ (spirit) and ‘Nur‘ (light). Whoever accepts it, shall enjoy living in the light and whoever does not take heed of it, are (spiritually) dead in darkness. He, the Most High, has informed of the condition of the hypocrites – concerning their gain from the revelation; that they are like the one who tries to light a fire so that it may light up his surroundings and that he may benefit from it (due) to their entering into Islam, so they enjoyed and benefitted from its illumination and they believed in it and they mixed with the believers, but when their association (with believers) lacked the ‘light of Islam‘, which is the essence of their hearts, Allah took away their light. The reason for using the words ‘their light’ instead of ‘their fire’ in this example is because fire provides burning and illumination, therefore, Allah took away the feature of illumination from it and left them with the attribute of burning and darkness. This resembles those who were blessed with the sense of seeing then became blind, and those who recognised (the truth) then denied it, and those who embraced Islam and then abandoned it in their heart.

Allah then mentions their condition in relation to the water parable, as the companions of the sayyib, which is the rain that pours down or descends from the sky in darkness, accompanied by thunder and lightning – due to the weakness of their vision and minds, the warnings, admonitions, commandments, prohibitions, the dire consequences of evil and threats expressed in it; and mode of address that resembles lightening bolts – become too intense for them. Thus, their condition is the condition of one who is struck by rain in the darkness with thunder and lightening, and due to his weakness and fearfulness, puts his fingers in his ears out of fear lest a bolt of lightening should strike him. And we and others have observed many times how many confused immature students of the Jahmiyyah and the innovators – if they hear anything of the seat and Prophetic hadith of the Divine Attributes opposing their belief – turn away from them as if they are frightened asses, fleeing from a lion. Then they say, ‘close this door upon us and read us something other than this’. You see their hearts repelled as they rush away obstinately due to the heaviness and difficulty of knowing the Rabb, Most Glorious and Most High, and His Names and Attributes upon their minds and heart.

Likewise, such are the mushrikin (polytheists) of different types when pure Tawhid(monotheism) is presented to them and the at that completely invalidate their beliefs are recited to them.

The Water by Which One Survives and Lives:

Due to their polytheistic associations, their (i.e. the hypocrites) hearts become full of loathing and abhorrence and the call to Tawhid lies heavy upon them. If they could find a way to block their ears from hearing (the truth) they would do so. This was the situation of the enemies of the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, who found the call of Tawhid very heavy and burdensome, therefore their hearts denied it. In all this, there is an obvious similarity and an established example from their brethren from among the hypocrites in relation to the water example cited by Allah; this is because when their hearts became alike (in doubt) so did their deeds.

Worldly Life and the Hereafter:

From these examples, is Allah’s Statement:

“Verily the example of (this) worldly life is but like water (rain) which We have sent down from the sky that the plants of the earth absorb – (those) from which men and livestock eat – until, when the earth has taken on its adornment and is beautified and its people think that they have capability over it, there comes to it Our command by night or by day, and We make it as a (clean mown) harvest, as if it had not flourished yesterday. Thus do We explain in detail the signs for a people who give thought.” (Surah Yunus:24)

Allah the Most Glorious, draws a comparison of the worldly life in that it appears beautified in the eye of the beholder, so he becomes amazed and dazzled with its splendour, so that he becomes inclined to it and desires it and becomes misled by it – until he reaches the stage where he thinks he possesses it and has free reign over it, (then) all of a sudden it is snatched away from him when he needs it the most and a barrier is cast between him and it. Thus, Allah, Most High, compares this situation with the land on which rain falls causing it to sprout vegetation and its plants attain perfection and its visual beauty attracts the onlooker, deceiving him and making him think that he has power over it and has complete ownership of it. Then all of a sudden, Allah’s Command comes down upon it, and sudden disaster overtakes its vegetation, causing it to become as if previously it had amounted to nothing. He therefore becomes dejected and his hands retain nothing of it. Similar is the condition of the world and the one who puts all reliance on it.

This form of likening is from the most profound of similitude and analogy, because as this world is subject to these misfortunes, while paradise is safe from it (as) Allah, Most High Says: “And Allah invites to the Home of Peace and guides whom He wills to a Straight path” – so here Allah has called it “home of peace” due to it being safe from the worldly disasters. Allah called to this guidance universally and chooses in particular whoever He wills for accepting this call to guidance – the former is from His Justice and the latter is His Favour.

Sight and Hearing:

From these examples is the ayah,

“The example of the two parties is like the blind and deaf, and the seeing and hearing. Are they equal in comparison? Then, will you not remember?” (Sarah Hud:24)

Wherein Allah, the Most Glorious and High, mentions the disbelievers and characterises them as being unable to hear or see and then mentions the believers and describes them with faith (man) and good deeds and humility to their Lord – thus characterising them with the outward mode of worship. Then in reference to characterising humankind with inward mode of worship, He made one of the two groups like the blind and the deaf in the way that his heart was blind from seeing the truth and his hearing deaf from listening to the truth, and these were resembled with the one who is blind in terms of seeing even the most manifest of things, and his hearing is deaf from being able to hear any sound – and the other group as having a seeing and hearing heart, like the one who is able to see with his eyes and hear with his ears. Thus the ayah includes two analogies and likenesses, followed by a negation of the equivalence of these two groups by asking “Are they equal in comparison?”