Ayah

Word by Word
وَإِذۡ
And when
قَالَتۡ
said
أُمَّةٞ
a community
مِّنۡهُمۡ
among them
لِمَ
Why
تَعِظُونَ
(do) you preach
قَوۡمًا
a people
ٱللَّهُ
(whom) Allah
مُهۡلِكُهُمۡ
(is going to) destroy them
أَوۡ
or
مُعَذِّبُهُمۡ
punish them
عَذَابٗا
(with) a punishment
شَدِيدٗاۖ
severe
قَالُواْ
They said
مَعۡذِرَةً
To be absolved
إِلَىٰ
before
رَبِّكُمۡ
your Lord
وَلَعَلَّهُمۡ
and that they may
يَتَّقُونَ
become righteous
وَإِذۡ
And when
قَالَتۡ
said
أُمَّةٞ
a community
مِّنۡهُمۡ
among them
لِمَ
Why
تَعِظُونَ
(do) you preach
قَوۡمًا
a people
ٱللَّهُ
(whom) Allah
مُهۡلِكُهُمۡ
(is going to) destroy them
أَوۡ
or
مُعَذِّبُهُمۡ
punish them
عَذَابٗا
(with) a punishment
شَدِيدٗاۖ
severe
قَالُواْ
They said
مَعۡذِرَةً
To be absolved
إِلَىٰ
before
رَبِّكُمۡ
your Lord
وَلَعَلَّهُمۡ
and that they may
يَتَّقُونَ
become righteous

Translation

When some of them said: "Why do ye preach to a people whom Allah will destroy or visit with a terrible punishment?"- said the preachers:" To discharge our duty to your Lord, and perchance they may fear Him."

Tafsir

And when (wa-idh is a supplement to the preceding idh, 'how') a community among them, who neither fished nor prohibited it, said, to those who prohibited it: 'Why do you preach [admonition] to a folk whom God is about to destroy or chastise with a severe chastisement?' They said, our admonishing [them] is, 'As an exculpation, by which we excuse ourselves, before your Lord, lest we are reproached for failing to prohibit [them] in any way; and so that they might be wary, of fishing'.

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