Chapter Two: The Cow (Al Baqara)

Verses 13 & 14

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Session 34

Chapter 2, Verses 13 and 14

And when they are told: “Believe as the people believe”, they say: “You are asking us to believe like those fools?” In fact it is they who are fools, but they do not realize it. (2:13)

The hypocrites have a superficial and materialistic view of the world, so in general, when they refer to 'The fools', they are referring to the poor.  They looked down at the believers because most of the believers came from the ranks of the poor and those victimized by the unjust social system in Mecca at the time.  Similarly, they looked up to the leaders of Quraysh, and were awed by their wealth and power.  So, when the Prophet and the companions invited them to faith, they responded by describing them as fools.  In their view, the poor chose faith out of stupidity and ignorance, while the elites chose disbelief.  

But what does foolishness mean? Literally, it refers to stupidity and recklessness in carrying out actions.  Does this quality apply to those who believe in God and adhere to the truth? Or does it apply to those who disbelieve, deal in corruption and throw away their lives?

Moreover, if the hypocrites consider the believers to be stupid, then why do they pretend to be believers……do they want to be amongst the foolish? Undoubtedly, there is a clear contradiction in their actions. 

If you examine the behavior of the hypocrites, you will note that their actions embody the very essence of stupidity and foolishness.  When they describe the believers as foolish, they in fact are condemning themselves because they spend their days pretending to be among them.  More importantly, the show of faith they put up daily does not earn them any reward, rather, it burdens them with punishment in the hereafter.  Thus, God's description of them as fools is very accurate. 

Let's continues to the next verse of 'The Cow'.  Allah says: 

And when they meet those who believe, they say, We believe; and when they are alone with their devils, they say: Surely we are with you, we were only mocking. (2:14)

Life can be good and enjoyable only when all its aspects are in harmony.  The hypocrites, on the other hand, lead two conflicting lives.  Their daily life is like that of a performer in a theater who plays the role of another person's character.  Thus, the only place where they can be themselves is when they leave the company of the believers and go home at night.  God Says:  when they are alone with their devils, they say: Surely we are with you.

Here the precision of the Quran can be noted.  Satan is invisible, always lurking in the shadows, while the truth is apparent and clear.  Similarly, corruption and sin are shameful and always done in the shadows, while honest and charitable actions are proud and have nothing to hide. 

Take the example of a man cheating on his wife.  How many lies does he have to tell in order to get away from work, give excuses to his wife, and arrange for the illicit meeting? ........What happens if there is a sudden knock on the door? Surely, There will be extreme panic……he will rush to look for a place to hide, or for a back door so the woman can leave.  He might even turn all the lights off and stay still until the person at the door leaves.  And when the unlawful meeting is over, he opens the door carefully, looks right and left to make sure that no one is around, and then drive away quickly.  All this time, and all this energy is expended in order to disassociate himself from the sin he is engaged in.  Now compare that to a married couple having relations at their house.  If, suddenly, someone knocks the door, the man would dress up and go to open the door comfortably.  If the visitor is a friend or a relative he will welcome the guest, insist on having him or her come inside.  Similarly, the wife will prepare food and drink to serve the guest and enjoy the rest of the evening.  This is the difference between God's path and Satan's path. 

Note how people, regardless of their faith, deal with what is lawful in the light and deal with sin in the shadows.  When it comes to Satan's path, actions are hidden to insure they are not seen by others.  From here the precise expression of the Quran "when they are alone with their devils" can be understood.

Satan's path demands seclusion, a place where no one can see or hear, so there would be no public disgrace.  Hence, the person who indulges in wrongdoings will spare no effort in concealing his or her actions.  In fact, if you find yourself working hard to hide your actions and feel ashamed even at the idea of someone finding out, then you should take time to reflect on your action.  Most likely you are committing sin and leaving God’s path.  

Keep in mind that, as the previous example showed, virtuous values are recognized and cherished even in the sight of the sinners or criminals who violate them.  The hypocrites have no problem saying "We believe" in public.  However, when it comes to disbelief, they only say it in private.  Moreover, they feel the need to explain themselves by adding “indeed we are we were only mocking”.