Word by Word
we have been promised
and our forefathers
(of) the former (people)
we have been promised
and our forefathers
(of) the former (people)
"Such things have been promised to us and to our fathers before! they are nothing but tales of the ancients!"
Already We and our fathers have been promised this, resurrection after death, before: these are nothing but the fables, the lies, of the ancients', [mere] jokes and strange tales (asaateer, the plural of ustoora).
Refutation and Condemnation of the Idolators
أَفَلَمۡ يَدَّبَّرُوا الۡقَوۡلَ أَمۡ جَاءهُم مَّا لَمۡ يَأۡتِ ابَاءهُمُ الاَۡوَّلِينَ
Have they not pondered over the Word, or has there come to them what had not come to their fathers of old,
Allah denounces the idolators for not understanding the Qur'an or contemplating its meaning, and for turning away from it, even though they had been addressed specifically in this Book which Allah did not reveal to any Messenger more perfect and noble, and especially since no Book or warner had come to their forefathers who had died during the Jahiliyyah.
What these people, upon whom the blessing had been bestowed, should have done, was to accept it and give thanks for it, and try to understand it and act in accordance with it night and day, as was done by the wise ones among them who became Muslim and followed the Messenger, may Allah be pleased with them.
أَفَلَمۡ يَدَّبَّرُوا الۡقَوۡلَ
Have they not pondered over the Word,
Because, by Allah, if the people had pondered the meaning and understood it properly, they would have found in the Qur'an a deterrent to disobeying Allah. But they only paid attention to the Ayat which are not entirely clear, and so they were destroyed because of that.
Then Allah says, denouncing the disbelievers of the Quraysh:
أَمۡ لَمۡ يَعۡرِفُوا رَسُولَهُمۡ فَهُمۡ لَهُ مُنكِرُونَ
Or is it that they did not recognize their Messenger so they deny him,
means, `do they not recognize Muhammad and the honesty, trustworthiness and good character with which he grew up among them! Can they deny that or argue against it!'
Jafar bin Abi Talib said to An-Najashi, the king of Ethiopia:
O King, Allah has sent to us a Messenger whose lineage, honesty and trustworthiness are known to us.
Al-Mughirah bin Shu`bah said something similar to the deputy of Kisra when he wanted to challenge him.
When the Byzantine ruler Heraclius asked Abu Sufyan Sakhr bin Harb and his companions -- who were still disbelievers and had not yet become Muslim -- about the characteristics, lineage, honesty and trustworthiness of the Prophet, they could only tell the truth and admit that he was indeed noble and truthful
أَمۡ يَقُولُونَ بِهِ جِنَّةٌ
Or they say:There is madness in him,
This is a narration of what the Quraysh said about the Prophet.
They said that he was making up the Qur'an by himself, or that he was crazy and did not know what he was saying.
Allah tells us that their hearts did not believe that, they knew that what they were saying about the Qur'an was falsehood, for it had come to them from the Words of Allah and could not be resisted or rejected. So Allah challenged them and all the people of the world to produce something like it if they could -- but they could not and would never be able to do so.
So Allah says:
بَلۡ جَاءهُم بِالۡحَقِّ وَأَكۡثَرُهُمۡ لِلۡحَقِّ كَارِهُونَ
Nay, but he brought them Al-Haqq, but most of them are averse to the truth.
Truth does not follow Whims and Desires
وَلَوِ اتَّبَعَ الۡحَقُّ أَهۡوَاءهُمۡ لَفَسَدَتِ السَّمَاوَاتُ وَالاَۡرۡضُ وَمَن فِيهِنَّ
And if Al-Haqq had followed their desires, verily, the heavens and the earth, and whosoever is therein would have been corrupted!
Mujahid, Abu Salih and As-Suddi said,
Al-Haqq is Allah, may He be glorified.
What is meant by the Ayah is that if Allah had responded to the desires in their hearts and prescribed things accordingly, the heavens and the earth and whosoever is therein, would have been corrupted, i.e., because of their corrupt and inconsistent desires.
As Allah says of them elsewhere:
لَوۡلَا نُزِّلَ هَـذَا الۡقُرۡءَانُ عَلَى رَجُلٍ مِّنَ الۡقَرۡيَتَيۡنِ عَظِيمٍ
Why is not this Qur'an sent down to some great man of the two towns! (43:31)
Then He says:
أَهُمۡ يَقۡسِمُونَ رَحۡمَةَ رَبِّكَ
Is it they who would portion out the mercy of your Lord! (43:32)
And Allah says:
قُل لَّوۡ أَنتُمۡ تَمۡلِكُونَ خَزَايِنَ رَحۡمَةِ رَبِّى إِذًا لامۡسَكۡتُمۡ خَشۡيَةَ الاِنفَاقِ
Say:If you possessed the treasure of the mercy of my Lord, then you would surely hold back for fear of spending it. (17:100)
أَمۡ لَهُمۡ نَصِيبٌ مِّنَ الۡمُلۡكِ فَإِذاً لاَّ يُوۡتُونَ النَّاسَ نَقِيراً
Or have they a share in the dominion! Then in that case they would not give mankind even a Naqir. (4:53)
All of this goes to show how incapable mankind is and how divergent and inconsistent their ideas and desires are. Only Allah, may He be glorified, is Perfect in all His attributes, words, actions, laws, power and control of His creation, may He be exalted and sanctified. There is no God but He and no Lord besides Him.
Then He says:
بَلۡ أَتَيۡنَاهُم بِذِكۡرِهِمۡ
Nay, We have brought them their reminder,
meaning the Qur'an,
فَهُمۡ عَن ذِكۡرِهِم مُّعۡرِضُونَ
but they turn away from their reminder.
The Prophet does not ask for any payment, and he calls to the straight path
أَمۡ تَسۡأَلُهُمۡ خَرۡجًا
Or is it that you ask them for some Kharj,
فَخَرَاجُ رَبِّكَ خَيۡرٌ
But the recompense of your Lord is better,
means, you are not asking for any wages or payment or anything for calling them to right guidance, rather you are hoping for a great reward from Allah, as He says:
قُلۡ مَا سَأَلۡتُكُم مِّن أَجۡرٍ فَهُوَ لَكُمۡ إِنۡ أَجۡرِىَ إِلاَّ عَلَى اللَّهِ
Say:Whatever wage I might have asked of you is yours. My wage is from Allah only. (34:47)
قُلۡ مَأ أَسۡـَلُكُمۡ عَلَيۡهِ مِنۡ أَجۡرٍ وَمَأ أَنَأ مِنَ الۡمُتَكَلِّفِينَ
Say:No wage do I ask of you for this, nor am I one of the pretenders. (38:86)
قُل لاَّ أَسۡـَلُكُمۡ عَلَيۡهِ أَجۡراً إِلاَّ الۡمَوَدَّةَ فِى الۡقُرۡبَى
Say:No reward do I ask of you for this except to be kind to me for my kinship with you. (42:23)
وَجَأءَ مِنۡ أَقۡصَى الۡمَدِينَةِ رَجُلٌ يَسۡعَى قَالَ يقَوۡمِ اتَّبِعُواۡ الۡمُرۡسَلِينَ اتَّبِعُواۡ مَن لاَّ يَسۡـَلُكُمۡ أَجۡراً
And there came a man running from the farthest part of the town. He said:O my people! Obey the Messengers. Obey those who ask no wages of you, and who are rightly guided. (35:20-21)
وَهُوَ خَيۡرُ الرَّازِقِينَ
and He is the Best of those who give sustenance.
وَإِنَّكَ لَتَدۡعُوهُمۡ إِلَى صِرَاطٍ مُّسۡتَقِيمٍ
And certainly, you call them to the straight path.
وَإِنَّ الَّذِينَ لَاإ يُوۡمِنُونَ بِالاۡإخِرَةِ عَنِ الصِّرَاطِ لَنَاكِبُونَ
And verily, those who believe not in the Hereafter are indeed deviating far astray from the path.
meaning, they have gone astray and deviated.
The Situation of the Disbelievers
وَلَوۡ رَحِمۡنَاهُمۡ وَكَشَفۡنَا مَا بِهِم مِّن ضُرٍّ لَّلَجُّوا فِي طُغۡيَانِهِمۡ يَعۡمَهُونَ
And though We had mercy on them and removed the distress which is on them, still they would obstinately persist in their transgression, wandering blindly.
Here Allah tells of their stubbornness in their disbelief, in that even if He had removed the calamity from them and made them understand the Qur'an, they still would not follow it; they would still persist in their disbelief and stubborn transgression.
This is like the Ayat:
وَلَوۡ عَلِمَ اللَّهُ فِيهِمۡ خَيۡرًا لَاسۡمَعَهُمۡ وَلَوۡ أَسۡمَعَهُمۡ لَتَوَلَّواۡ وَّهُم مُّعۡرِضُونَ
Had Allah known of any good in them, He would indeed have made them listen; and even if He had made them listen, they would but have turned away with aversion. (8:23)
وَلَوۡ تَرَى إِذۡ وُقِفُواۡ عَلَى النَّارِ فَقَالُواۡ يلَيۡتَنَا نُرَدُّ وَلَا نُكَذِّبَ بِـَايَـتِ رَبِّنَا وَنَكُونَ مِنَ الۡمُوۡمِنِينَ بَلۡ بَدَا لَهُمۡ مَّا كَانُواۡ يُخۡفُونَ مِن قَبۡلُ وَلَوۡ رُدُّواۡ لَعَـدُواۡ لِمَا نُهُواۡ عَنۡهُ
And if (Lauw) you could but see when they will be held over the (Hell) Fire! They will say:Would that we were but sent back (to the world)! Then we would not deny the Ayat of our Lord, and we would be of the believers!
Nay, it has become manifest to them what they had been concealing before. But if they were returned (to the world), they would certainly revert to that which they were forbidden. Until His statement:
(be resurrected). (6:27-29)
This has to do with the knowledge of Allah. He knows about some- thing that will not happen, but if it were to happen, He knows how it would be.
Ad-Dahhak reported from Ibn Abbas:
Every- thing that is implied in the word:
(If (Lauw)) is something that will never happen.
وَلَقَدۡ أَخَذۡنَاهُم بِالۡعَذَابِ
And indeed We seized them with punishment,
means, `We tried and tested them with difficulties and calamities.'
فَمَا اسۡتَكَانُوا لِرَبِّهِمۡ وَمَا يَتَضَرَّعُونَ
but they humbled not themselves to their Lord, nor did they invoke with submission to Him.
means, that did not deter them from their disbelief and resistance, rather they persisted in their sin and misguidance,
(but they humbled not themselves),
(nor did they invoke (Allah) with submission to Him).
they did not call on Him.
This is like the Ayah:
فَلَوۡلا إِذۡ جَأءَهُمۡ بَأۡسُنَا تَضَرَّعُواۡ وَلَـكِن قَسَتۡ قُلُوبُهُمۡ
When Our torment reached them, why then did they not humble themselves! But their hearts became hardened, (6:43)
Ibn Abi Hatim recorded that Ibn Abbas said,
Abu Sufyan came to the Messenger of Allah and said, `O Muhammad, I ask you by Allah and by the ties of kinship between us, we have been reduced to eating camel hair and blood.'
Then Allah revealed,
وَلَقَدۡ أَخَذۡنَاهُم بِالۡعَذَابِ فَمَا اسۡتَكَانُوا
(And indeed We seized them with punishment, but they humbled not themselves).
This was also recorded by An-Nasa'i.
The basis of this Hadith is in the Two Sahihs, where it says that the Messenger of Allah prayed against the Quraysh when he could not make any headway with them, and he said,
اللَّهُمَّ أَعِنِّي عَلَيۡهِمۡ بِسَبۡعٍ كَسَبۡعِ يُوسُف
O Allah, help me against them sending on them seven years (of famine) like the seven (years of drought) of Yusuf.
حَتَّى إِذَا فَتَحۡنَا عَلَيۡهِم بَابًا ذَا عَذَابٍ شَدِيدٍ إِذَا هُمۡ فِيهِ مُبۡلِسُونَ
Until, when We open for them the gate of severe punishment, then lo! they will be plunged in despair.
When the command of Allah reaches them and the Hour comes to them suddenly, and they are overtaken by the punishment of Allah which they were not expecting, then they will despair of any ease and goodness, and all their hopes will disappear.
A reminder of the Blessings of Allah and His immense Power
وَهُوَ الَّذِي أَنشَأَ لَكُمُ السَّمۡعَ وَالاَۡبۡصَارَ وَالاَۡفۡيِدَةَ
It is He Who has created for you hearing, eyes, and hearts.
Allah mentions His blessings to His servants, in that He has given them hearing, sight and understanding through which they come to know things and draw lessons from them, the signs which attest to the Oneness of Allah and indicate that He is the One Who does what He wills and chooses what He wants.
قَلِيلً مَّا تَشۡكُرُونَ
Little thanks you give.
means, how little you thank Allah for the blessings He has given you.
This is like the Ayah:
وَمَأ أَكۡثَرُ النَّاسِ وَلَوۡ حَرَصۡتَ بِمُوۡمِنِينَ
And most of mankind will not believe even if you desire it eagerly. (12:103)
وَهُوَ الَّذِي ذَرَأَكُمۡ فِي الاَۡرۡضِ وَإِلَيۡهِ تُحۡشَرُونَ
And it is He Who has created you on the earth, and to Him you shall be gathered back.
Allah tells us about His great power and overwhelming authority, for He is the One Who originated creation and put people in all parts of the earth, with their different nations, languages and characteristics, then on the Day of Resurrection He will gather them all together, the first of them and the last, at a fixed time on a day appointed, and none will be left out, young or old, male or female, noble or insignificant, but all will be brought back as they were originally created.
وَهُوَ الَّذِي يُحۡيِي وَيُمِيتُ
And it is He Who gives life and causes death,
meaning, He will bring the scattered bones back to life and cause the death of the nations,
وَلَهُ اخۡتِلَفُ اللَّيۡلِ وَالنَّهَارِ
and His is the alternation of night and day.
meaning, by His command night and day are subjugated, each of them following the other and never departing from that pattern, as Allah says:
لَا الشَّمۡسُ يَنبَغِى لَهَأ أَن تدۡرِكَ القَمَرَ وَلَا الَّيۡلُ سَابِقُ النَّهَارِ
It is not for the sun to overtake the moon, nor does the night outstrip the day. (36:40)
Will you not then understand!
means, do you not have minds that tell you of the Almighty, All-Knowing to Whom all things are subjugated, Who has power over all things and to Whom all things submit!
The Idolators thought that Resurrection after Death was very unlikely
Then Allah tells us about those who denied the resurrection, who were like the disbelievers who came before them:
بَلۡ قَالُوا مِثۡلَ مَا قَالَ الاَۡوَّلُونَ
قَالُوا أَيِذَا مِتۡنَا وَكُنَّا تُرَابًا وَعِظَامًا أَيِنَّا لَمَبۡعُوثُونَ
Nay, but they say the like of what the men of old said. They said:
When we are dead and have become dust and bones, shall we be resurrected indeed!
They thought it very unlikely that this would happen after they had disintegrated into nothing.
لَقَدۡ وُعِدۡنَا نَحۡنُ وَابَاوُنَا هَذَا مِن قَبۡلُ إِنۡ هَذَا إِلاَّ أَسَاطِيرُ الاَۡوَّلِينَ
Verily, this we have been promised -- we and our fathers before (us)! This is only the tales of the ancients!
It is impossible that we could be brought back. This was said by those who learned it from the books and disputes of the ancients.
This denial and rejection on their part is like the Ayah where Allah tells us about them:
أَءِذَا كُنَّا عِظَـماً نَّخِرَةً
قَالُواۡ تِلۡكَ إِذاً كَرَّةٌ خَـسِرَةٌ
فَإِنَّمَا هِىَ زَجۡرَةٌ وَحِدَةٌ
فَإِذَا هُم بِالسَّاهِرَةِ
Even after we are crumbled bones,
They say:It would in that case, be a return with loss!
But it will be only a single Zajrah, When behold, they find themselves on the surface of the earth alive after their death. (79:11-14)
أَوَلَمۡ يَرَ الاِنسَـنُ أَنَّا خَلَقۡنَـهُ مِن نُّطۡفَةٍ فَإِذَا هُوَ خَصِيمٌ مٌّبِينٌ
وَضَرَبَ لَنَا مَثَلً وَنَسِىَ خَلۡقَهُ قَالَ مَن يُحىِ الۡعِظَـمَ وَهِىَ رَمِيمٌ
قُلۡ يُحۡيِيهَا الَّذِى أَنشَأَهَأ أَوَّلَ مَرَّةٍ وَهُوَ بِكُلِّ خَلۡقٍ عَلِيمٌ
Does not man see that We have created him from Nutfah. Yet behold he (stands forth) as an open opponent. And he puts forth for Us a parable, and forgets his own creation.
He says:Who will give life to these bones after they are rotten and have become dust!
Say:He will give life to them Who created them for the first time! And He is the All-Knower of every creation! (36:77-79)
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