The Hypocrites and the Believers
"The hypocrites, both men and women, are all of a kind: they enjoin the doing of what is wrong and forbid the doing of what is right, and withhold their hands (from doing good). They are oblivious of Allah, and so He is oblivious of them. Verily, the hypocrites it is they, they who are truly iniquitous evil-doers. Allah has promised the hypocrites, both men and women as well as the (outright) deniers of the truth the fire of hell, therein to abide: this shall be their alloted portion. For Allah has rejected them, and long-lasting suffering awaits them."
"And (as for) the believers, both men and women they are close unto one another: they all enjoin the doing of what is right and forbid the doing of what is wrong, and are constant in prayer, and render the purifying dues, and pay heed unto Allah and His Apostle. It is they upon whom Allah will bestow His grace: verily Allah is Almighty, Wise. Allah has promised the believers, both men and women, gardens through whcih running waters flow, therein to abide, and goodly dwellings in gardens of perpetual bliss: But the goodly acceptance of Allah is the greatest (bliss of all) for this, this is the triumph supreme."
The surah At-Taubah (Chapter 9: Repentance) is not started with the invocation of Bismillah (In the name of Allah...). This deliberated omission points out that this surah is a continuation of the preceding sural Al-Anfal, thus constituting one single surah inspite of having an interval of seven years between their revelations.
Both are largely devoted to the problems of war between the believers and the deniers of the truth, dwelling mostly on the moral distinction between the believers, on the one hand, and their enemies and ill-wishers, on the other.
The above verses have been taken from surah At-Taubah connected with the conditions prevailing at Madinah in the year 9AH, just before the expedition of the Prophet (s) to Tabuk continued during and after the campaign (long march from Madinah to Tabuk).
Ever since the hijrah (migration) from Makkah to Madinah, the Prophet (s) was violently opposed by Abu 'Amir, a prominent member of the Khazraj trribe. He had embraced Christianity many years earlier and enjoyed a considerable reputation among his compatriots and among the Christians of Syria. He allied himself with the enemies of Islam, the Makkan Quraysh and took part on their side in the battle of Uhud (3 AH). Shortly thereafter he migrated to Syria and induced the Emperor of Byzantine, Heraclius, to invade Madinah and crush the Muslim community. The Prophet (s) was informed that the Byzantines were assembling large forces on the borders of Arabia for marching against Madinah and overthrowing the Muslims. The Prophet (s) assembled the strongest force of Muslims and set out in the month of Rajab 9AH towards the frontier. On reaching Tabuk (half way between Madinah and Damascus), the Prophet (s) found out that the Byzantines had given up the idea of attack. Since according to the Islamic principle that war be waged only in self-defence, the Prophet (s) returned with his followers to Madinah without any confrontation.
At the time of the preparation for the expedition, the hypocrites (munafiqeen) and a minority among the believers displayed an extreme reluctance about the war with Byzantium. Hypocrisy is th root cause of the downfall of a rising community. It was one of the severe obstruction in the path of Islamic movement in the days of the Prophet (s) and it is now as well. Allah many times, through the verses of the Quran, alerted the Prophet (s) about the hypocrites. This surah exposes the hypocrites and the above verses clearly demarcate between the hypocrites and the believers.
Comparing the two similar style of verses: one pair about the hypocrites (67,68) and the other about the believers (71,72), it is clear that the behaviour of the hypocrites is in its effect the exact opposite of that expected of the believers. Following are the behavoiurs of the believers.
"And that there might grow out of you a community (of people) who invite with all that is good, and enjoining the doing of all what is right and forbid the doing of what is wrong: and it is they, they who shall attain to a happy state."
"You are indeed the best community that has ever been brought forth for the good of mankind. You enjoin the doing of what is right and forbid th doing of what is wrong, and you believe in Allah."
(Quran, 3: 110)
"They believe in Allah and the Last Day, and enjoin the doing of what is right and forbid the doing of what is wrong, and vie with one another in doing good works and these are among the righteous."
"(Allah is well aware of ) those who, (even) if We firmly establish them on earth, remain constant in prayer, and give in charity, and enjoin in doing what is right and forbid the doing of what is wrong: but with Allah rests the final outcome of all events."
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