“And do not be like those who say, ‘We have heard,’ while they do not hear”: Tafsir al-Qurtubi

In surah al-Anfal, Allah commands the believers by saying:

وَلَا تَكُونُوا كَالَّذِينَ قَالُوا سَمِعْنَا وَهُمْ لَا يَسْمَعُونَ

And do not be like those who say, “We have heard,” while they do not hear. [8:21]

Commenting on this ayah in his book of tafsir, Imam al-Qurtubi wrote:

قوله تعالى : ولا تكونوا كالذين قالوا سمعنا أي كاليهود أو المنافقين أو المشركين . وهو من سماع الأذن . وهم لا يسمعون أي لا يتدبرون ما سمعوا ، ولا يفكرون فيه ، فهم بمنزلة من لم يسمع وأعرض عن الحق . نهى المؤمنين أن يكونوا مثلهم . ـ

Allah’s statement:

وَلَا تَكُونُوا كَالَّذِينَ قَالُوا سَمِعْنَا

And do not be like those who say, “We have heard…” [8:21]

such as the Jews, the Munaafiqoon [hypocrites], and the Mushrikoon [polytheists]. And this is referring to the literal hearing of one’s ears. They are those who do not hear – meaning: they do not consider or reflect on what they have heard. So these ones are just like those who did not hear (at all) and who turn away from the truth. Allah prohibited the believer from being like them.

  فدلت الآية على أن قول المؤمن : سمعت وأطعت ، لا فائدة فيه ما لم يظهر أثر ذلك عليه بامتثال فعله . فإذا قصر في الأوامر فلم يأتها ، واعتمد النواهي فاقتحمها فأي سمع عنده وأي طاعة ! وإنما يكون حينئذ بمنزلة المنافق الذي يظهر الإيمان ، ويسر الكفر ; وذلك هو المراد بقوله : ولا تكونوا كالذين قالوا سمعنا وهم لا يسمعون . يعني بذلك المنافقين ، أي اليهود أو المشركين ، على ما تقدم . ثم أخبر تعالى أن الكفار شر ما دب على الأرض . ـ

So this ayah indicates that there is no benefit to the believer saying, “I hear and obey” if he does not manifest the effect of that in himself by making his actions match his words.

So if he falls short in performing the commands, then he has not enacted this statement, and if he engaged in the prohibited acts, then he has broken all bounds – so where is his hearing and where is his obeying?! In this case, he is just like the munaafiq, who outwardly presents eemaan but conceals kufr. That is the meaning of Allah’s statement:

وَلَا تَكُونُوا كَالَّذِينَ قَالُوا سَمِعْنَا وَهُمْ لَا يَسْمَعُونَ

And do not be like those who say, “We have heard,” while they do not hear.

by which He means the Munaafiqoon – meaning those were, (in reality), Jews and the Mushrikoon, according to what was previously mentioned. Then next Allah informs us that the disbelievers are the worst of creatures upon the earth.

[Jaami’ li-Ahkaam al-Qur’an 7/348]

See also: “Wavering between them, belonging neither to these nor to those”: Imams al-Qurtubi and al-Sa’di on 4:143

See also: Those who come to Allah with a Pure Heart: Tafsir al-Qurtubi

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One thought on ““And do not be like those who say, ‘We have heard,’ while they do not hear”: Tafsir al-Qurtubi

  1. Pingback: “Wavering between them, belonging neither to these nor to those”: Imams al-Qurtubi and al-Sa’di on 4:143 | Tulayhah

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