And do not mix the truth with falsehood or conceal the truth while you know [it].
This ayah came in the middle of a passage about the Children of Israel. The order in this ayah is twofold; not to mix falsehood and truth and not to conceal the truth.
- تَلْبِسُو is from لبَاس
- لبَاس refers to clothing
- The root of the word means to mix one thing with another
- لبَاس in Arabic gives an imagery : when you wear clothes, you are covering up body, covering up the image and shape of your body, you are mixing, distorting the shape and form of your body.
- حَقَّ refers to that which is constant, solid. It is often translated as ‘truth’, but linguistically, it means something whith is solid, fundamentally sound, and constant. Allah is حَقَّ. He is solid, and there are no discrepancies and He is constant in His greatness and might. The حَقَّ here refers to our religion; Islam is حَقَّ. Belief in Allah is حَقَّ. Iman is حَقَّ
- بَاطِلِ is the polar opposite حَقَّ
- بَاطِلِ is that which is shaky, temporary, fleeting, extremely weak.
Do not distort the Haqq (islam) with that which is fleeting and completely false(BaaTtil). All great scholars of tafseer say this means, ‘Do not distort Islam with other religions. Don’t mix these things up. Keep Islam pure.’
There are specific circumstances which brought about the revelation of this ayah but there is a general application of this ayah for the rest of us too. Even though the ayah was revealed about the Yahood (Jews), they had the Torah but they began to distort them to make things easier for themselves. IBn Abbas says this still applies to this ummah as well.
The beginning of deterioration of deen in the lives of ppl especially at the community level is that practices of other religions began to be introduced into our religion. This began to distort the practice of Islam, and grows over time until the complete deterioration takes place. In history, this is how things occurred, even in nations before us.
A practical example is when we begin to incorporate certain superstitions that people believe in, affected by, influenced by, which have no basis in our religion into Islam. For example, when someone passes away in the community, there are so many practices that people do around the death of a person that have no precedence in our deen that the prophet saw, sahabah, and tabi’een never did. Now they are considered the norm, so much so that if you even say something about it, then you are labeled to be the one causing fitnah.
The prophet saw said, “Do not do with me what people did with the prophets of other times.”
We should emulate him and follow him by the footsteps. Practice Islam like it was given to you.
The second part of the ayah talks about hiding the truth. So we should not distort the truth and at the same time, we should not hide the truth altogether. Often times we become so ingrained in our customs and traditions without even asking the question ” Is this really in our deen?” So
we hide the truth and we continue to practice these customs.
Ignorance is not a valid excuse on the Day of Judgment though Allah can forgive, but this in itslef is not a valid excuse. It is one’s responsibilty to learn the religion and know the obligations, but a person who knows the forbidden and continues to do it, this person is a greater criminal than an ignorant person, because Allah has given him understanding.
The purpose of the Quran is to better ourselves. So let’s assess ourselves. How many things do we do in our lives right now that we know them to be wrong but we continue to engage in them, and on top of that we begin to distort, we find excuses for these things? For example in occasions such as weddings, death, day to day celebrations, so called Islamic celebrations.
Ramadan is a perfect example. Laylatul qadr could be any night in the last 10 nights. A hadith tells us that it is an odd night but we insist it to be on the 27th night of Ramadan. We pray only on that night. If we never improve, grow, when will we do it? Eventually we will leave this world and we will have to answer to Allah.
The prophet saw said, ” The feet of a person will not be allowed to move from the place until he answered four questions and one of the questions is ‘How much did you practice the knowledge you had?’ “