Similarly, the opposite of belief, that is, dissembling, has three characteristics, the reverse of those of belief: obsequiousness, the desire to corrupt, and arrogance leading to contempt of others.
If you have recognized these, then know that dissembling causes a person to be obsequious, which results in his abasement; in this he is hypocritical, which means he is sycophantic, which is lying. This is indicated by “When they meet those who believe, they say: ‘We believe’ (Wa idhā laqū alladhīna āmanū qālū āmannā).”
Moreover, dissembling corrupts the heart, and this makes the spirit feel orphanlike; that is, its being without owner, protector, or lord; and this gives rise to fear, which makes such people resort to hiding themselves away. This is indicated by “but when they are alone (wa idhā khalaw).”
Also, dissembling causes a person to sever relations with his relatives, and this extinguishes his compassion, and its extinction leads the person to mischief-making, which leads to dissension, and this to treachery, and this to weakness, which compels him to seek a supporter and helper. And this is indicated by the phrase “with their evil ones (ilā shayāṭīnihim).”
Then, because dissembling is wavering ignorance, it causes [the dissemblers] to vacillate, which leads to their instability, and then to their having no outlook, and then to their not being trusted, and this compels them to continually renew their agreements. This sequence of events is indicated by “they say: we are really with you (qālū innā ma‘kum).”
Then, feeling the need to make excuses, out of their fickleness they attach no importance to the truth. Because of their own worthlessness, they depreciate its high value. Due to their own abasement, they disdain elevated things. And in their weakness, they are carried away by pride. The Qur’an alludes to this with the words: “we were only jesting (innamā naḥnu mustahzi’ūn).”
While expecting from this line of reasoning that the believers will reply to [the dissemblers], the listener sees that Allah the Most High replies to them in their stead. This indicates Allah’s honouring the believers and implies that their mocking the believers is nothing compared with Allah the Most High’s punishment of them. It indicates too their stupidity and that they deserve to be rejected and turned away. For how can the person who has Allah as his protector be mocked? So the Most High says: “Allah will throw back their mockery on them (Allāh yastahziyyu’ bi-him).” That is, He will punish them severely for their mockery by causing them to be continuously derided and scorned in this world and the next.