son who throws a stone at a wall and it bounces back and cracks his skull. For they let fly arrows at the believers but hit themselves, as though it were only themselves they had deceived.
And the replacement of ‘they harm’ (yaḍarrūna) by “they deceive (yakhda‘ūna)” implies their utter foolishness, for among reasonable people one may be found who intentionally harms himself, but none that deliberately deceives himself, unless he is a complete donkey.
And in the word “themselves (anfusahum)” is a concealed sign that since their dissembling and artifice are to gratify their instinctual souls and for selfish reasons, they result in the reverse of what is being sought.
• If you were to ask: The restriction [to the dissemblers] here implies that their deceptions cause no harm to Islam and the Muslims, but Islam has been harmed by nothing to the extent it has been harmed by the various sorts of dissembling and their offshoots, which have spread like poison among the peoples of the Islamic world?
You would be told: The aggressive harm you see and that contagious poison have spread like an infectious disease from their prurient characters, corrupted natures, and putrid consciences; it is not the result of the deceptions and tricks they have perpetrated through their wills. For they want to deceive Allah and the Prophet and the community of believers, but Allah has knowledge of all things and the Prophet is the recipient of revelation, and it is not possible for the deception to be hidden from the community of believers for any length of time, and they are not deceived. So it is established that it is only themselves that they deceive.
The third phrase: “and realize it not (wa mā yash‘urūn);” that is, they do not perceive or are not sensible of: this succinct phrase ascribes ignorance to them, for it gives to understand that if they are intelligent beings, this is not characteristic of intelligence, and if they are animals and act on the impulses of the instinctual soul, they should sense and be aware of this palpable harm. Hence it is established that they have come to resemble inanimate beings, devoid of will.
The fourth phrase: “In their hearts is a disease (fī qulūbihim maraḍ̣un);” this phrase being positioned here states that since they do not act as required by the reasoning of the intellect and awareness of the senses, it is clear that they are suffering from a sickness of the spirit. For at least they should know it is a sickness and avoid its attendant problems and not judge according to them. For such sickness alters the truth, distorts beauty, and shows what is bitter to be sweet, as has been described.