Some scholars have stated that the hypocrites and those who had a disease in their hearts were actually the same one group of people who were termed as ‘Munafiqoon’ (hypocrites). As for ‘those who spread rumours in Madina’, this is another group of people. (Tafseer Al Qurtubi vol.14 pg. 219 Maktaba Rasheediya Queta Pakistan)
Those who spread rumours were doing so for the sake of creating mischief (fitna). It is narrated from Qatada and others that when the Muslims went out to meet the enemies, the mischief makers would spread false rumours and would say to the Muslims in Madina that the Muslim army was defeated or killed, and the enemies were marching towards them (in Madina). (Tafseer Al Qurtubi vol.14 pg. 219 Maktaba Rasheediya Queta Pakistan)
On account of the mischief they created, Allah sent a threat to them and said to the Prophet (S.A), “If the hypocrites, and those in whose hearts is a disease, and those who spread false news among the people in Al-Madinah, cease not, We shall certainly let you overpower them, then they will not be able to stay in it as your neighbours but a little while”.
It means that if the hypocrites as well as the other mischief makers did not stop their mischief, then Allah will entrust the Prophet (S.A) over them. He will order to attack them and destroy them. At that time, they will not be able to live in Madina except for a short while. (Tafseer Al Qurtubi vol.14 pg. 219)
Allah then says in verse 61:
61. Accursed, wherever found, they shall be seized and killed with a (terrible) slaughter.
It means that if the hypocrites and the mischief makers did not desist from their evils, they will be cursed in this world and the hereafter. If they remained upon their path, the Prophet (S.A) was commanded to seize them and kill them wherever they were caught. The reason for this command is that through the actions of these people, it became clear that they were open hypocrites who wanted to harm the Prophet (S.A) and the believers. Their actions clearly showed their enmity to Allah and His Messenger and were thus treated in the same manner as others who fought against the Prophet (S.A) and the religion of Allah.
As stated in the Holy Quran, this form of retaliation was always given to such people in the past and so, it was given to them also. It is about this, Allah says in verse 62:
62. That was the Way of Allah in the case of those who passed away of old, and you will not find any change in the Way of Allah.
It means that this was the way of Allah in dealing with the hypocrites and the manner in which he dealt with others in the past. While explaining this, Imam Qurtubi said, ‘Allah has made it a practice for those who make mischief with the prophets and show their hypocrisy that they be seized and killed’. (Tafseer Al Qurtubi vol.14 pg. 221 Maktaba Rasheediya Queta Pakistan)
The verse further makes it clear that no change will come to the way established by Allah. It means that the way established by Allah will continue to exist and will not come to an end. While commenting on this verse, the great scholar Allama As Saawi writes, ‘In this verse, there is consolation for the Prophet (S.A) that he should not be worried and concerned about the presence of the hypocrites. This is something from old, just as among the nation of Moosa (A.S), there were Samiri and his followers and also Qaroon and his followers’. (Hashiya As Saawi vol.3 pg. 288)
Allah says that ‘this was a practice of those who passed before’. It means that in the previous nations, at the time of each prophet, there were hypocrites and mischief makers.
Sura Al Ahzab continues in verse 63 and states:
63. People ask you concerning the Hour, say: “The knowledge of it is with Allah only. What do you know? It may be that the Hour is near!”
It is related that when the polytheists (Mushrikeen) heard about the punishment of Allah and about the Judgment day, they used to mockingly ask the Prophet (S.A) as to when it will come. Their purpose of questioning was to show their denial for it and to show him that they did not believe that a Day of Judgment will occur. It is about this conduct of the polytheists, the verse stated: ‘The people ask you about the Judgment day (Qiyamah). Say, ‘Its knowledge is only with Allah’ (Tafseer Al Qurtubi vol.14 pg. 221; Sawatut Tafseer vol.12 pg. 73).
Here, the Prophet (S.A) was ordered to inform them that he does not possess such knowledge and only Allah, the Knower of the Unseen has this knowledge. Allah, out of His wisdom, has kept this knowledge hidden, and has not informed even the closest angel nor a beloved prophet of its time. The message of the Prophet (S.A) also informed them that this knowledge being concealed from him did not make his prophethood ineffective, nor was it a condition for any Prophet to have knowledge of the Unseen without it being given by Allah. (Tafseer Al Qurtubi vol.14 pg. 221)
Further in the verse, Allah has asked the Prophet (S.A) to say to the unbelievers/polytheists, ‘What do you know? It may be that the hour is near’. It means that they should ponder for a little while and think that it is possible that the hour of Judgment can be very close to them but they are ignorant of this. This hour is unknown to man and it can occur at any moment, but many people are unaware of this. The Quran itself has indicated to the fact that it is close although many people think it is far. In one verse, Allah says, ‘Draws near for mankind their reckoning, while they turn away in heedlessness’. (Sura Ambiya (21) verse 1). In another verse, Allah says, ‘The Hour has drawn near, and the moon has been cleft asunder’. (Sura Al Qamar (54) verse 1).
In an authentic hadith, the Prophet (S.A) is reported to have said, ‘The hour of Judgment and I, are like these two fingers’, he then pointed to the index finger and the middle finger. (Bukhari, Muslim) The verse thus informs the polytheists that the hour of Judgment may be close to them. They should therefore prepare themselves for that day, instead of wasting their time in asking about its occurrence.
Verse 64 goes further to tell them that they should not feel happy that all is well with them in this life, while they disbelieve in the Judgment day which is yet to come. The verse states:
64. Verily, Allah has cursed the disbelievers, and has prepared for them a flaming Fire (Hell).
The verse tells them that although they seemed to be enjoying the worldly life in spite of their disbelief in Allah, in reality, they were living under the curse of Allah. On account of their actions, Allah had cast them away from His mercy and love, and has turned away from them. Thus, they continue to live under His displeasure and anger. As for the hereafter, they will suffer in an everlasting punishment which Allah has prepared for them.
About this, the verse says: ‘and (Allah) has prepared for them a blazing fire’. This will be the flames of fire, extremely hot and rising high in Hell. The unbelievers and polytheists will be thrown in this flaming fire and will be made to remain there forever. Regarding this, verse 65 of Sura Ahzab states:
65. Wherein they will abide forever, and they will find neither a Wali (a protector) nor a helper.
The verse tells us that while in the blazing fire, the unbelievers will have no one to help them nor protect them from the terrible punishment.