and eagles it denotes here a subtle instance of eloquence that flashes in the brain and indicates that the lightning races with the eye’s beam to see which can reach things first to capture their images. It overtakes it and cuts it short, and strikes it on the eyelid, extinguishing its light. It is as though when the eye’s light speedily quits its home to capture the images of things, the lightning, which is the beam of the sky’s eye, races against it and seizes the image from it before it can get it home. That is, the lightning swipes the image from the eye.
And by virtue of [the eyes] being the mirror of the heart, “their sight (abṣārahum)” alludes to the dissemblers’ eyes being blind to the decisive proofs of the Qur’an.
Now for the parts of the phrases: “whenever it gives them light, they advance therein, and when darkness falls around them, they stand still (kullamā aḍā’a la-hum mashaw fīhi wa idhā aẓlama ‘alayhim qāmū):”
The fact that this is a fresh start [and not apparently related to what precedes it] (isti´nāf) indicates that it is the answer to the questions the listener asks when he sees all these different calamities and asks about [the dissemblers’] circumstances in both situations.
The fact that “whenever (kullamā)” precedes “it gives them light (aḍā’a)” and the “when (idhā)” precedes “darkness falls (aẓlama)” indicates [the dissemblers’] intense desire for light, seizing on the least light they can. [For the former means ‘whenever’ denoting numerous occasions, and the latter means ‘when and if.’] “Whenever” also comprises an analogous conditional syllogism.
The [preposition] “to (la-)” in “it gives (to) them light (aḍā’a la-hum),” signifies causation (al-ajliyya) and benefit, and is a sign that the terrified calamity-stricken [dissemblers] are plunged in [concern for] their own needs so that they suppose the light that the hand of power is spreading through the world for thousands of general instances of wisdom is meant for them alone, and that the hand of power is sending it for their sake.
Although [the dissemblers] should seize the opportunity [of the light] to travel on quickly, [the word] “they advance (lit. walk) (mashaw)” [is used], indicating that the calamity has held them back and they can only move forward slowly at walking pace.
The [pronominal suffix -hi] in “therein (fīhi),” [referring to the light] indicates that the distance they move forward is [that permitted by the brief instant of] the light, which is the colour of time. Thus it as though limits them as to space.