Al-Munafiqun is the 63rd surah (chapter) of The Holy Qur’an. It consists of 11 ayat (verses) that were all revealed in Medina.
THE MAIN PART of this surah—most of which was revealed shortly after the battle of Uhud (see Surah Al ‘Imran , 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.
بِسْمِ اللّٰهِ الرَّحْمٰنِ الرَّحِيْمِ
Surah Al-Munafiqun Ayat 1
إِذَا جَاءَكَ الْمُنَافِقُونَ قَالُوا نَشْهَدُ إِنَّكَ لَرَسُولُ اللَّهِ ۗ وَاللَّهُ يَعْلَمُ إِنَّكَ لَرَسُولُهُ وَاللَّهُ يَشْهَدُ إِنَّ الْمُنَافِقِينَ لَكَاذِبُونَ
Izaa jaaa’akal munaafiqoona qaaloo nashhadu innaka la rasoolul laah; wallaahu ya’lamu innaka la rasooluhoo wallaahu yashhadu innal munaafiqeena lakaaziboon
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].
Surah Al-Munafiqun Ayat 2
اتَّخَذُوا أَيْمَانَهُمْ جُنَّةً فَصَدُّوا عَنْ سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ ۚ إِنَّهُمْ سَاءَ مَا كَانُوا يَعْمَلُونَ
Ittakhazoo aymaanahum junnatan fasaddoo ‘an sabeelil laah; innahum saaa’a maa kaanoo ya’maloon
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 Surah Al-Mujadalah : 16.
Surah Al-Munafiqun Ayat 3
ذَٰلِكَ بِأَنَّهُمْ آمَنُوا ثُمَّ كَفَرُوا فَطُبِعَ عَلَىٰ قُلُوبِهِمْ فَهُمْ لَا يَفْقَهُونَ
Zaalika bi annahum aamanoo summa kafaroo fatubi’a ‘alaa quloobihim fahum laa yafqahoon
3. this, because [they profess that] they have attained to faith, whereas2 [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 Al-Baqarah , note 7.
Surah Al-Munafiqun Ayat 4
وَإِذَا رَأَيْتَهُمْ تُعْجِبُكَ أَجْسَامُهُمْ ۖ وَإِنْ يَقُولُوا تَسْمَعْ لِقَوْلِهِمْ ۖ كَأَنَّهُمْ خُشُبٌ مُسَنَّدَةٌ ۖ يَحْسَبُونَ كُلَّ صَيْحَةٍ عَلَيْهِمْ ۚ هُمُ الْعَدُوُّ فَاحْذَرْهُمْ ۚ قَاتَلَهُمُ اللَّهُ ۖ أَنَّىٰ يُؤْفَكُونَ
Wa izaa ra aytahum tu’jibuka ajsaamuhum wa iny yaqooloo tasma’ liqawlihim ka’annahum khushubum musannadah; yahsaboona kulla saihatin ‘alaihim; humul ‘aduwwu fahzarhum; qaatalahumul laahu annaa yu’fakoon
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 Surah At-Taubah : 30.
6 See Surah Al-Ma’idah , note 90.
Surah Al-Munafiqun Ayat 5
وَإِذَا قِيلَ لَهُمْ تَعَالَوْا يَسْتَغْفِرْ لَكُمْ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ لَوَّوْا رُءُوسَهُمْ وَرَأَيْتَهُمْ يَصُدُّونَ وَهُمْ مُسْتَكْبِرُونَ
Wa izaa qeela lahum ta’aalaw yastaghfir lakum rasoolul laahi lawwaw ru’oo sahum wa ra aytahum yasuddoona wa hum mustakbiroon
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.
Surah Al-Munafiqun Ayat 6
سَوَاءٌ عَلَيْهِمْ أَسْتَغْفَرْتَ لَهُمْ أَمْ لَمْ تَسْتَغْفِرْ لَهُمْ لَنْ يَغْفِرَ اللَّهُ لَهُمْ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ لَا يَهْدِي الْقَوْمَ الْفَاسِقِينَ
Sawaaa’un ‘alaihim as taghfarta lahum am lam tastaghfir lahum lany yaghfiral laahu lahum; innal laaha laa yahdil qawmal faasiqeen
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. Surah At-Taubah : 80 and the corresponding note 111.
Surah Al-Munafiqun Ayat 7
هُمُ الَّذِينَ يَقُولُونَ لَا تُنْفِقُوا عَلَىٰ مَنْ عِنْدَ رَسُولِ اللَّهِ حَتَّىٰ يَنْفَضُّوا ۗ وَلِلَّهِ خَزَائِنُ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ وَلَٰكِنَّ الْمُنَافِقِينَ لَا يَفْقَهُونَ
Humul lazeena yaqooloona laa tunfiqoo ‘alaa man inda Rasoolil laahi hatta yanfaddoo; wa lillaahi khazaaa’ inus samaawaati wal ardi wa laakinnal munaafiqeena la yafqahoon
7. It is they who say [to their compatriots8], “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.
Surah Al-Munafiqun Ayat 8
يَقُولُونَ لَئِنْ رَجَعْنَا إِلَى الْمَدِينَةِ لَيُخْرِجَنَّ الْأَعَزُّ مِنْهَا الْأَذَلَّ ۚ وَلِلَّهِ الْعِزَّةُ وَلِرَسُولِهِ وَلِلْمُؤْمِنِينَ وَلَٰكِنَّ الْمُنَافِقِينَ لَا يَعْلَمُونَ
Yaqooloona la’ir raja’naaa ilal madeenati la yukhrijannal a’azzu minhal azall; wa lillaahil ‘izzatu wa li Rasoolihee wa lilmu’mineena wa laakinnal munaafiqeena laa ya’lamoon
8. [And] they say, “Indeed, when we return to the City10 [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 Banu 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.
Surah Al-Munafiqun Ayat 9
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا لَا تُلْهِكُمْ أَمْوَالُكُمْ وَلَا أَوْلَادُكُمْ عَنْ ذِكْرِ اللَّهِ ۚ وَمَنْ يَفْعَلْ ذَٰلِكَ فَأُولَٰئِكَ هُمُ الْخَاسِرُونَ
Yaaa ayyuhal lazeena aamanoo la tulhikum amwaalukum wa laa awlaadukum ‘anzikril laah; wa mai-yaf’al zaalika fa-ulaaa’ika humul khaasiroon
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!
Surah Al-Munafiqun Ayat 10
وَأَنْفِقُوا مِنْ مَا رَزَقْنَاكُمْ مِنْ قَبْلِ أَنْ يَأْتِيَ أَحَدَكُمُ الْمَوْتُ فَيَقُولَ رَبِّ لَوْلَا أَخَّرْتَنِي إِلَىٰ أَجَلٍ قَرِيبٍ فَأَصَّدَّقَ وَأَكُنْ مِنَ الصَّالِحِينَ
Wa anfiqoo mim maa razaqnaakum min qabli any-ya’tiya ahadakumul mawtu fa yaqoola rabbi law laaa akhkhartaneee ilaaa ajalin qareebin fa assaddaqa wa akum minassaaliheen
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 Al-Baqarah , note 4.
13 Lit., “for (ila) a term close-by”.
Surah Al-Munafiqun Ayat 11
وَلَنْ يُؤَخِّرَ اللَّهُ نَفْسًا إِذَا جَاءَ أَجَلُهَا ۚ وَاللَّهُ خَبِيرٌ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ
Wa lany yu ‘akhkhiral laahu nafsan izaa jaaa’a ajaluhaa; wallaahu khabeerum bimaa ta’maloon
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.
Source: The Message of the Quran by Muhammad Asad