fix “-nā – we” hints that they say: “We are a community and have ésprit de corps; we aren’t like an individual who may lie or be deceived.”
“In Allah and in the Last Day (bi’llāhi wa bi’l-yawm al-ākhir)”
Consider this: the Revelation either takes exactly what others have said, or taking its substance, puts in another form, or summarizes it. According to the first of these, by mentioning the first and last of the pillars of belief [the dissemblers] are demonstrating their firmness [of belief]. For in their view, these pillars are the most acceptable. And by repeating [the preposition] “in (bā’)” despite the proximity [of the two words], they are alluding to the other pillars. Then according to the second [possibility], if it is the Most High’s word, by mentioning only these two poles of belief, it is indicating that what they claim to believe in most powerfully even is not belief, for their belief in them is not as it should be. And the repetition of the preposition “in (bā’)” indicates difference. For belief in Allah is belief in His existence and unity, and belief in the Last Day is belief in its reality and that it will come, as was discussed above. [That is, belief in both is multifaceted and not only in one respect.]
“But they do not really believe (wa mā hum bi-mu’minīn)”
• If you were to ask: Why does the verse not say ‘and they do (lit. did) not believe (wa mā āmanū), which would be similar [in tense and form] to “we believe (āmannā)”?
You would be told: Lest it should be supposed that there is any inconsistency, if only in form, and so that the negation should not refer to “we believe (āmannā),” which [despite being a verb in the perfect tense] is an exclamatory clause (jumla inshā’iyya). Thus its explicitness disallows its denial. Rather, the negation and denial refer to the sentence implicit in “we believe (āmannā),” which is ‘for we are believers’ (fa-naḥnu mu’minūn). Furthermore, because this negative sentence is a nominal one, it infers that their unbelief is continuous.
• If you were to ask: Why doesn’t it indicate its non-continuance, since the negating particle mā comes at the beginning of the clause?
You would be told: Negation is what is signified by the dense [visible] letter (al-ḥarf al-kathīf), whereas continuance is signified by the light structure (al-hey’at al-khafīfa) [of the nominal clause]. So the negation is closer to what is being expressed.
• If you were to ask: What is the subtlety in [the preposition] “bā’” of “(bi-mu’minīn)” being used in the predicate of the negating particle “mā”?