With regard to this clause corroborating the previous one, and its being a substitute for it, which is closer to it, it signifies contempt for the truth and the people of truth, so exalts falsehood and its followers; this is the meaning of: “We are really with you.”
And with regard to its being the answer to an implied question, it is as though their satans are saying to them: “If you are with us and on our way, why are you in agreement with the believers? Either you subscribe to their beliefs, or you have no belief.” Apologetically they reply: “We were only jesting,” thus stating explicitly that they are not in any way Muslims. By using the restrictive “only (innamā),” they also infer that they are not hesitant or without beliefs or convictions, and by using the active participle “mocking, jesting (mustahzi’ūn),” they hint that to mock is one of their permanent characteristics. Thus, they are not serious in this action of theirs, [their belief].
“Allah will throw back their mockery on them (Allāh yastahziyyu’ bi-him)”
This clause is not joined to those preceding it; indeed, it is disjoined and separate from them. For if it had been attached by a conjunction to “we [were] only jesting (innamā naḥnu mustahzi’ūn),” it would also have had to corroborate “we are really with you (innā ma‘kum).” And if it had been attached to “they say (qālū),” it would also have had to have been confined to when they were alone, whereas Allah mocks them continually. And if it had been attached to “when they are alone (idhā khalaw),” it would have had to have been the complement of their vacillation. And if it had been attached to “when they meet (idhā laqū),” both clauses would have had to have been intending the same thing, whereas the first describes what they have done, and the second, their punishment. Thus, since all the possibilities demanding a conjunction are invalid, it would not be correct for this clause to be attached to those preceding it. So it can only be unconnected to the previous phrase (musta‘nifa), and in reply to an implied question. This hints and implies that their wickedness and loathsomeness have reached such a degree that they induce the spirits of all those aware of them to ask: “How will people who behave like that be punished?”
The clause’s beginning with the word “Allah,” although the listener expects to see the believers facing up to them, indicates that He is honouring the believers and being beneficent to them, for He confronts the dissemblers in their stead. It is also a hint restraining the dissemblers, for those supported by the One All-Knowing of the Unseen cannot be mocked. Also, the fact that this clause is detached and unconcerned with their