wa-idhā ‘alima min āyātinā shay’ani-ttakhadhahā huzuwā
And when he learns anything about Our signs, he takes them in mockery
(Sūratul Jāthiya, No.45, Āyat 9)
When people are faced with something that is beyond their comprehension but are unwilling to accept that, an easy resort is mockery. It can be done through words, both verbal and written. Or through actions, gestures such as winking, rolling the eyes, etc. The aim is to show contempt for that being mocked. It can have also other goals such as pleasing oneself or others, compensating for weaknesses, boosting confidence in one party and weakening the morale of the other.
This verse talks about the proud and stubborn person who rejects Islam. He shows contempt and ridicule for its principles. When he becomes aware of certain verses of the Quran, all the verses are ridiculed. Tafsīr al-Mīzān explains that when he learns a part of God’s signs, he is contemptuous of all of them. Only little knowledge of the Quran is acquired but everything is rejected. This shows the danger of little knowledge – when people think they are equipped enough to judge the whole thing although they have barely understood a part.
Mockery can be equated to ignorance. When Prophet Moses (a) tells his people to slaughter a cow to find out who had murdered a man in the community they think he is mocking them. They said: Do you ridicule us? He said: I seek refuge in Allah from being one of the ignorant (Q 2:67). Interestingly the same word huzuwa is used in both verses.
The Quran often talks about mockery. It prohibits mockery of others (Q 49:11) and cautions against mockery even in jest (Q 9:65). Many verses, like the one above, talk about people who ridicule religion. Those who refuse to accept the truth mock religious principles, Quranic injunctions, the Prophets, the believers, the resurrection, and even God Himself. It is the weapon they use in the battle to prevent truth from establishing itself. The Holy Prophet (s) and the early Muslims faced much mockery from the people around them. The disbelievers winked at one another when they saw the believers (Q 83:30), they laughed at them (Q 23:110), shaking and nodding their heads (Q 17:51), and called the Prophet names (Q 15:6).
Sometimes it is not ignorance but obstinacy that is behind mockery of religion. It happens when a person sees the truth but knows that admitting it will result in consequences they do not want to face. This resistance to the truth is so subtle that they may not even realize it themselves.
Many people today continue to mock the religion of God. They use rhetoric and false logic to find faults and demean faith. The mockery gains widespread attention through the sophisticated methods of the modern world. Believers should understand that those who wish for respectful dialogue must be answered. But those who resort to ridicule of what we hold sanctified need no response. Instead, adopt [a policy of] excusing [the faults of people], bid what is right, and turn away from the ignorant (Q 7:199). It is God Himself who will answer such people. He has promised: Indeed We will suffice you against the deriders (Q 15:95).
Recite this verse to understand that there have always been people who mock the religion of God. That has not diminished the sanctity and truth of religion. True believers strive not to be affected by it and only increase in faith and morale. That is the best weapon to fight back with.
Sources: ‘Allāmah Muhammad Husayn Tabātabā’ī, Tafsīr al-Mīzān; Āyatullāh Nāsir Makārim Shirāzī (Ed.), Tafsīr-e Namūneh; http://muslimmatters.org/2012/