hunter and his prey: the prey senses the hunter on emerging from its hole so scurries back into it.
The positioning [and relationships] of the words and phrases from “Fain would they deceive (yukhādi‘ūna),” which looks to their first crime, to “because they are false [to themselves] (bi-mā kānū yakdhibūn).” Consider the consecutive consequences inferred by these seven phrases, as follows:
Firstly: They are shown to be stupid for attempting something impossible like deceiving Allah.
Secondly: They are deemed foolish for harming themselves while seeking their own benefits.
Thirdly: They are accused of ignorance for failing to distinguish between benefit and harm.
Fourthly: They are scorned for their malignant characters, and their sick sources of health and moribund springs of life.
Fifthly: They are despised for increasing their sickness while seeking a cure.
Sixthly: They are threatened with pure suffering, and nothing but further pain.
Seventhly: They are paraded before the people [as the perpetrators of] the ugliest of vices; that is, lying.
The sequence of these seven phrases, and how each bears on the next may be illustrated as follows:
If you want to hold someone back from doing something and advise him against it, you say to him firstly: “Hey you! You’re an intelligent person, you can see that this is impossible! And you’re fond of youself, so you can understand how harmful it is! And you’re sensible too, so why can’t you tell the difference between what’s harmful and what’s beneficial? Maybe you have no will, but at least admit that your character is corrupted. It is sick and distorts the truth and makes you think that what’s sweet is bitter. You’re searching for a cure, but it only increases your sickness and is no remedy. What you’re afflicted with resembles insomnia; you try to sleep, but it only upsets you and banishes your sleepiness. Or you resemble someone whose heart is assailed by worries and this excessive anxiety only compounds his ailment. Then you seek pleasure but it yields severe pain and leads to more terrible suffering, and that contains no pleasure at all. If you don’t come to your senses immediately and give up all this, nothing remains but to brand you on the snout with an ugly mark! Then everyone will know you and your corruption won’t spread among them!