This verse also places before the hypocrites a criterion of true faith (Iman ایمان) آمِنُوا كَمَا آمَنَ النَّاسُ :"Believe as people have believed". According to the consensus of commentators, the Arabic word Na-s النَّاسُ : (people) in this verse refers to the blessed Companions of the Holy Prophet ﷺ because it is just these 'people' who had embraced the Faith and had accepted the Holy Qur'an as the word of Allah while it was being revealed. So, the verse indicates that the only kind of Iman ایمان (faith) acceptable to Allah is the one which should be similar to that of the blessed Companions, and that the Iman ایمان of others would be worthy of the name only when they believe in the same things in the same way as the Companions did. In other words, the Iman ایمان of the Companions is a touchstone for testing the Iman ایمان of all the other Muslims; any belief. or deed which departs from their faith and practice, however pleasing in its looks or good in its intention, is not valid according to the Shari` ah. There is a consensus of commentators on this position. One should also notice that the hypocrites used to call the blessed Companions 'fools' (Sufaha-' السُّفَهَاء). This has always been the way of those who go astray - anyone who tries to show them the right path is, in their eyes, ignorant and stupid. But who could, the Holy Qur'an points out, be more stupid than the man who refuses to see clear signs?
In the seventh verse, we see the double-facedness and trickery of the hypocrites. In the company of the Muslims, they would vociferously declare their faith in Islam; but, going back to their own people, would reassure them that they had never left the way of their ancestors, and had been meeting the Muslims only to make fun of them.
Injunctions and related considerations
(1) It has sometimes been debated as to whether the distinction between Kufr کفر (infidelity or disbelief) and Nifaq نفاق (hypocrisy) still holds good even after the days of the Holy Prophet ﷺ The correct position with regard to this question is this. At that time, there were two ways of identifying a hypocrite and declaring him to be one -either Allah Himself informed the Holy Prophet ﷺ through revelation that such and such a man was not a Muslim at heart but a hypocrite, or a man through some word or deed overtly repugnant to the Islamic creed or practice showed himself up as a hypocrite, thus providing a clear evidence against himself. Divine revelation having ceased with the departure of the Holy Prophet ﷺ from this world, the first way of identifying a hypocrite is no longer available, but the second way is still valid. That is to say, if a man is found, on certain evidence, to be guilty, in word or deed, of rejecting or opposing or distorting or holding in scorn the basic doctrines of Islam undeniably established by the Holy Qur'an, the Hadith and ` ijma اجمع (consensus), he would be regarded as a Munafiq منافق (hypocrite) in spite of his claim to be a true Muslim. The Holy Qur'an Ives such a hypocrite the name of a mulhid مُلحد or heretic- لَّذِينَ يُلْحِدُونَ فِي آيَاتِنَا : "Those who distort Our verses", 41:40), and the Hadith calls them a zindiq ماکهن . One must also add that since the kufr کفر (infidelity) of such a man has been proved by clear and definite evidence, the Shari'ah will not put him in a separate category, but deal with him as it would deal with any other kafir کافر (infidel). That is why the authentic scholars are unanimous in concluding that after the departure of the Holy Prophet ﷺ the question of hypocrites ceased to be a relevant one - now anyone who is not a genuine Muslim will be regarded as kafir کافر . The famous author, Al-` Aini, in his commentary on Al-Bukhari, reports from Imam Malik that after the days of the Holy Prophet ﷺ this is the only available means of identifying 'hypocrisy', and that a man who carries this mark could be called a hypocrite.