edge, for [the dissemblers’] hearts have been corrupted by dissembling, and pride and the tendency to corrupt spring from depravity, and because of this they have grown obdurate. By way of mischief-making, they secretly confabulate and plan to lead others astray. And in their pride, they consider fervent religiosity and perfect belief, the cause of independence and contentment, to be ignominy, foolishness, and indigence.
Moreover, because of their duplicity, they dissemble when saying this, also. For outwardly they say: “How should we be like the weak-minded, for we aren’t mad? We are as superior as you could wish.” While inwardly they say: “How could we be like the believers, for most of them are paupers? In our eyes they are the dim-witted rabble of different nations.”
You can now supply the fine points to the two parts of this conditional sentence.
The Qur’an then hurls back at them the stone they flung at the believers, ramming it down their throats: “Oh, verily, it is they, they who are weak-minded (a’ lā innahum hum al-sufahā’).” For whoever is obstinate to this degree and ignorant without realizing it, deserves to be paraded among the people and proclaimed the feeble-minded one, for this is an established fact, and their calling the believers weak-minded is due to their own feeble-mindedness.
Then by saying: “but they know it not (wa lākin lā ya‘lamūn),” it is pointing out that their ignorance is compounded because they are unaware of it. It is therefore useless to offer them advice; they should be shunned entirely, for it is only those who realize that they are ignorant that may benefit from advice.
The positioning of [and relationships between] the phrases’ parts:
“And when they are told, ‘Believe as other people believe;’ (Wa idhā qīla la-hum āminū ka-mā āmana al-nās):”
In this phrase, the certainty expressed by the word “when (idhā)” indicates the necessity of offering guidance [to the people] by ‘enjoining what is lawful.’
“[Being] told (Qīla):” the passive mood infers that offering advice is an obligation [that may be performed by a number of people in the name of the community (‘alā sabīl al-kifāya)], as has been mentioned.
The use of the verb “believe (āminu)” rather than ‘be sincere in your belief’ (akhliṣū fī īmānikum) indicates that insincere belief is not belief.
The phrase “as [others] believe (ka-mā āmana)” is an allusion to the fine