“But when they are alone with their evil ones, they say: ‘We are really with you‘ (Wa idhā khalaw ilā shayāṭīnihim qālū innā ma‘kum)”
The comprehensive “wāw – and” in “but (lit. and) when (wa idhā)” denotes that these words are so placed to make it clear that the dissemblers adhere to no particular way, and to describe their vacillation, [as set forth] in detail in the two conditional clauses [this phrase and the last one].
The definiteness expressed by “when (idhā)” indicates that driven by their depravity and spreading of corruption, they deem it their bounden duty to have recourse [to their evil ones].
The verb “they are alone (khalaw)” infers that because of their perfidy they are scared, and because of their fear they conceal themselves.
The use of “ilā (lit. to)” instead of ma‘ (with), which is [properly] used with the verb khalaw, indicates that because of their weakness and impotence they [have to] seek refuge [with others], and because of their corruption and intrigues, they hand over the believers’ secrets to the unbelievers.
The term “evil ones (al-shayāṭīn)” indicates that their chiefs are like satans, hidden and making diabolical suggestions, and that they cause harm like satans, and that they are on a satanic path, and can conceive of nothing but evil.
The phrase “they say: we are really with you (qālū innā ma‘kum)” is to express their meeting their obligations and renewing their agreements, and their constancy in their way. For here, it is confirmative although no denial is made, while in the previous phrase it is not confirmative although there is denial, which is evidence for the lack of compelling eagerness in the speaker’s heart in the previous phrase, and its being found in this one. Moreover, the fact that this phrase is a nominal clause and the previous one is a verbal clause indicates that the purpose here is to demonstrate their constancy in dissembling and their inconstancy in belief.
“We were only jesting (Innamā naḥnu mustahzi’ūn)”
This phrase is not joined to the preceding one with a conjunction, for conjunctions are not used to join sentences that are either so similar as to be one with each other or are totally unconnected, but only [with sentences that] are between the two. This phrase in one respect is a substitute (badal) for the previous one, and in another respect corroborates it; the two are therefore closely interlinked. Then in another way it is the answer to an implicit question and so is totally unconnected, for usually, replies are declarative (ikhbāriyya) sentences or clauses, and questions express wishes, requests, or conditions (inshā’iyya).