Allah (swt) metaphorically describes the state of a hypocrite- the person who only pretends to be a Muslim, the person who gets a thrill from sparking fights under-cover, who thinks believing in the Unseen is one harebrained idea… This is what Allah says about him-
مَثَلُهُمۡ كَمَثَلِ الَّذِى اسۡتَوۡقَدَ نَارًا ۚ فَلَمَّاۤ اَضَآءَتۡ مَا حَوۡلَهٗ ذَهَبَ اللّٰهُ بِنُوۡرِهِمۡ وَتَرَكَهُمۡ فِىۡ ظُلُمٰتٍ لَّا يُبۡصِرُوۡنَ ﴿۱۷﴾ صُمٌّۢ بُكۡمٌ عُمۡىٌ فَهُمۡ لَا يَرۡجِعُوۡنَ ۙ ﴿۱۸
Their (hypocrites’) likeness is as the likeness of one who kindled a fire; then, when it illuminated all around him, Allah removed their light and left them in darkness. (So) they could not see). They are deaf, dumb, and blind, so they return not (to the right path). [02:16]
Allah likened the hypocrites when they bought deviation with guidance, thus acquiring utter blindness, to the example of a person who started a fire. When the fire was lit, and illumnitated the surrounding area, the person benefited from it and felt safe. Then the fire was suddenly extinguished. Therefore, total darkness covered this person, and he became unable to see anything or find his way out of it. Further, this person could not hear or speak and became so blind that even if there were light, he would not be able to see. This is why he cannot return to the state that he was in before this happened to him. Such is the case with the hypocrites who preferred misguidance over guidance, deviation over righteousness. This parable indicates that the hypocrites first believed, then disbelieved, just as Allah stated in other parts of the Qur’an. Let’s now dive into the depths of this parable. We’ll handle one phrase at a time to make it easier- Allah’s statement,
﴿ذَهَبَ اللَّهُ بِنُورِهِمْ﴾
(Allah removed their light) means, Allah removed what benefits them, and this is the light, and He left them with what harms them, that is, the darkness and smoke. Allah said,
﴿وَتَرَكَهُمْ فِي ظُلُمَـتٍ﴾
(And left them in darkness), that is their doubts, disbelief and hypocrisy.
((So) they could not see) meaning, they are unable to find the correct path or find its direction. In addition, they are,
(deaf) and thus cannot hear the guidance,
(dumb) and cannot utter the words that might benefit them,
(and blind) in total darkness and deviation. Similarly, Allah said,
Verily, it is not the eyes that grow blind, but it is the hearts which are in the breasts that grow blind (22:46),
and this why they cannot get back to the state of guidance that they were in, since they sold it for misguidance.  And it wasn’t a mistake. They chose it. Chose to go back to living their lives ignorantly when the truth was clear and flashing.
Back in my Quran class, when I had realized what these verses meant, my heart filled with dread. I had been afraid to put myself here and find out if the scenario fitted me. Afraid that I could be this person who got blessed with faith, but he toyed with it, flung it aside lusting after the world, then Allah (swt) turned His back leaving him to grope in the dark… Imagine not being able to see reason or to hear the truth calling or the heart to feel the bliss that radiates every time you right a wrong… The very thought of it had made me shudder and I’d sent out a silent prayer. Thankfully then, I was reminded of the second verse of Al-Baqarah.
The solution was right there in front of me. If I want to mend my ways and truly want to mend my ways, I’ve got to stick to this Book. I had smiled then. Funny how you always get the right answers when you contemplate the Divine verses. It was then when I’d resolved that I wouldn’t let go of this amazing Book no matter what. 🙂
1. Tafsir ibn Kathir