• If you were to ask: Why is this [relative pronoun] singular when [the dissemblers] are plural?
You would be told: If the part and the whole, and the individual and the collectivity are equal and membership [of the collectivity] neither increases nor diminishes the individual’s attributes, it is permissible [to use it for both the singular and plural] in two respects, as in “[their similitude (mathal) is] that (mathal) of a donkey.” The use of the singular indicates that each individual independently represents the consternation and abhorrence of all of them. Or it may be that “alladhī” is an abbreviated form of “alladhīna” [the plural form].
The sīn of “istawqada – kindle” [that is, the verb being in the Xth form] alludes to [their] seeking and taking trouble, while its being in the singular although the subsequent “their light (nūrihim)” has the plural pronominal suffix is a subtle sign that the person kindles it for the group. It is indeed subtle that the singular is used for the kindling and the plural is used for the being illumined.
The use of “a fire (nāran)” instead of ‘the lamp’ or something else alludes to the hardship [involved] in the light of God’s commands [and trials], and indicates that they were kindling the fire of dissension under the guise of a light. “A fire” being indefinite indicates that their need for fire was so intense they did not mind what form it took.
Now cast an eye over the phrase “but as soon as it has illumined all around them, Allah takes away their light (fa-lammā aḍā’at mā ḥawlahu dhahaba Allāh bi-nūrihim),” and see how its words light up the darkness of their bewilderment, which is their main aim. You heard [read] in the Fourth Matter above that the power of speech lies in the mutual response of its parts.
The “but” (“fa-” in “fa-lammā”) hints at the immediate onset of absolute despair after being full of hope.
“As soon as (lammā)” comprises a proportionate conditional syllogism which, by demonstrating the certainty of the first [proposition], infers the certainty and realization of the subsequent one; [that is, their being overwhelmed by darkness] and losing their source of consolation.
“It has illumined (aḍā’at)” indicates that they kindled the fire for light, not for warmth. And this hints at their terrible dismay, for its illumination only served to see the perils [besetting them] and to learn of their existence. Had it not been for [the light], they could have deceived themselves and felt reassured.
While “all around them (mā ḥawlahu)” indicates that they were encompass-