وَ لَقَدۡ اَہۡلَکۡنَا الۡقُرُوۡنَ مِنۡ قَبۡلِکُمۡ لَمَّا ظَلَمُوۡا ۙ وَ جَآءَتۡہُمۡ رُسُلُہُمۡ بِالۡبَیِّنٰتِ وَ مَا کَانُوۡا لِیُؤۡمِنُوۡا ؕ کَذٰلِکَ نَجۡزِی الۡقَوۡمَ الۡمُجۡرِمِیۡنَ ﴿۱۴﴾
وَلَقَدۡ أَهۡلَكۡنَا ٱلۡقُرُونَ مِن قَبۡلِكُمۡ لَمَّا ظَلَمُواْ وَجَآءَتۡهُمۡ رُسُلُهُم بِٱلۡبَيِّنَٰتِ وَمَا كَانُواْ لِيُؤۡمِنُواْۚ كَذَٰلِكَ نَجۡزِي ٱلۡقَوۡمَ ٱلۡمُجۡرِمِينَ
b. 6:7; 20:129; 32:27. (close)
1243. Punishments are of two kinds: (1) Those that are the result of the contravention of the laws of nature, and (2) those that come when the law of the Shari‘ah is flouted. The latter class of punishments overtake a people when they lead wicked lives, or when a Prophet appears among them and they reject him and put all sorts of obstacles in his way. Punishments of this kind are known by certain characteristics. Other class of punishments, such as the rise and fall of nations, come as the result of the contravention of the ordinary laws of nature. (close)
a. 6:7; 20:129; 21:12. (close)
1289. Important Words:
القرون (the generations) is the plural of القرن which gives a number of meanings: (1) part or division of time; (2) people of one time; (3) a generation coming after another; (4) a people that is destroyed so as to leave no remnant behind it; a century (Aqrab and Lane).
This verse brings to light some eternal divine truths. One is that it is always a life of wrongdoing i.e. the contravention of the law of nature or that of Shari‘ah that brings about the downfall and destruction of a people. The entire history of the world bears eloquent testimony to this great truth. The other divine law hinted at in this verse is that Divine punishment does not overtake a people unless a Prophet of God first appears among them to warn them of their evil ways and of the Divine punishment that will come upon them, if they do not follow him and give up their wicked practices. Thus it is the mercy of God and not His punishment that is meant to be emphasized in this verse, because we are told that when God sees that a certain people have made themselves deserving of His punishment on account of their evil lives, He, out of His great mercy, sends to them a Prophet so that they may follow him and, by reforming themselves, escape the impending punishment and become heirs to His favours. It is only when they reject the Divine Messenger and instead of mending their ways, begin to persecute him that God sends down punishment on them.
Punishments again are of two kinds: (1) those that are the result of contravention of the laws of nature, and (2) those that come when the law of Shari‘ah is flouted. The latter class of punishments never occur unless a people begin to lead wicked lives and unless a Prophet is first made to appear among them. Punishments of this kind are known by certain characteristics. For instance, (a) their occurrence is generally foretold by previous announcements based on Divine revelation; (b) they assume the form of an unusual and extraordinary upheaval in nature such as a succession of earthquakes or the widespread outbreak of virulent epidemics; and (c) they occur after a Warner has made his appearance. The other class of punishments, such as the rise and fall of nations from natural causes, are due only to the contravention of the ordinary laws of nature. These must always be distinguished from the first-mentioned class of punishments. (close)
ثُمَّ جَعَلۡنٰکُمۡ خَلٰٓئِفَ فِی الۡاَرۡضِ مِنۡۢ بَعۡدِہِمۡ لِنَنۡظُرَ کَیۡفَ تَعۡمَلُوۡنَ ﴿۱۵﴾
ثُمَّ جَعَلۡنَٰكُمۡ خَلَـٰٓئِفَ فِي ٱلۡأَرۡضِ مِنۢ بَعۡدِهِمۡ لِنَنظُرَ كَيۡفَ تَعۡمَلُونَ
c. 2:31; 7:130. (close)
a. 2:31; 7:130. (close)
1290. Important Words:
خلائف (successors) is the plural of خلیفة which is the active participle from خلف. They say خلفه i.e. he came after, succeeded or remained after him. خلیفة means, a successor; a vicegerent or deputy; one appointed to take the place of another who has been before him (Lane). See also 2:31; 7:70 & 7:170.
The verse gives rise to a natural question, viz. when a people is made to succeed another people only when the former is superior to the latter who have met with a merited downfall, what is the significance of the words, that We might see how you would act? The answer to this question is that good works are of two kinds: (1) those that bring about and lead to the glory of a people; and (2) those that are needed to maintain that glory. There are people who acquit themselves excellently in the acquisition of greatness but, once they have attained it they fail to maintain a high standard of national morality and fall victim to sloth and lack of discipline. Moreover, the works of a people are further divided into two more categories. Some actions are virtuous by themselves, while others serve only as a basis for, and help to maintain, good deeds. By adding the clause, that We might see how you would act, the Quran means to say that God made you heirs to His favours on account of such of your initial good deeds as were needed to merit greatness, and now He will see how you do those deeds which guard and perpetuate your good actions. The truth is that the latter kind of good deeds are far more difficult to perform than the former. One of the principal causes of the decline of nations is that, while they are ready to undergo all sorts of sacrifices in order to attain honour and greatness, they do not make similar efforts to preserve and perpetuate the same willingness for sacrifice and the same love for righteousness among their posterity. The result is that with the passing of one or more deserving generations the process of decay and degeneration sets in, till at last the doomed nation falls into the abyss of ruin and destruction.
If Muslims had borne this great truth in mind, they would not have sunk to their present degradation. If even now they hearken to the voice of God and His Messenger and act upon the great truth embodied in this verse, they may yet regain their lost glory. (close)
وَ اِذَا تُتۡلٰی عَلَیۡہِمۡ اٰیَاتُنَا بَیِّنٰتٍ ۙ قَالَ الَّذِیۡنَ لَا یَرۡجُوۡنَ لِقَآءَنَا ائۡتِ بِقُرۡاٰنٍ غَیۡرِ ہٰذَاۤ اَوۡ بَدِّلۡہُ ؕ قُلۡ مَا یَکُوۡنُ لِیۡۤ اَنۡ اُبَدِّلَہٗ مِنۡ تِلۡقَآیِٔ نَفۡسِیۡ ۚ اِنۡ اَتَّبِعُ اِلَّا مَا یُوۡحٰۤی اِلَیَّ ۚ اِنِّیۡۤ اَخَافُ اِنۡ عَصَیۡتُ رَبِّیۡ عَذَابَ یَوۡمٍ عَظِیۡمٍ ﴿۱۶﴾
وَإِذَا تُتۡلَىٰ عَلَيۡهِمۡ ءَايَاتُنَا بَيِّنَٰتٖ قَالَ ٱلَّذِينَ لَا يَرۡجُونَ لِقَآءَنَا ٱئۡتِ بِقُرۡءَانٍ غَيۡرِ هَٰذَآ أَوۡ بَدِّلۡهُۚ قُلۡ مَا يَكُونُ لِيٓ أَنۡ أُبَدِّلَهُۥ مِن تِلۡقَآيِٕ نَفۡسِيٓۖ إِنۡ أَتَّبِعُ إِلَّا مَا يُوحَىٰٓ إِلَيَّۖ إِنِّيٓ أَخَافُ إِنۡ عَصَيۡتُ رَبِّي عَذَابَ يَوۡمٍ عَظِيمٖ
a. See 10:8. (close)
b. 17:74. (close)
c. 6:51; 7:204; 46:10. (close)
1244. 'Punishment of an awful day' signifies a national disaster. (close)
b. 17:74. (close)
c. 6:51; 7:204; 46:10. (close)
1291. Important Words:
تلقاء (accord) is derived from لقی. They say لقیه i.e. he came face to face with him; he found or met him. توجه تلقاء النار means, he went in the direction of the fire, or towards the fire. جلس تلقاء فلان means, he sat facing him or opposite to him. فعله من تلقاء نفسه means, he did it himself; he did it of his own accord, i.e. without being led to it by someone else or without being forced to do it (Aqrab).
Signs (آیات) are of two kinds: (1) simple signs, and (2) clear or manifest signs. To the first class belong all things, even the smallest atom of the universe, because every one of these things points to the existence of a Creator, though it is our own faculty of reasoning that draws the inference that every created thing must have a Creator. But the signs shown at the hands of Prophets speak for themselves. They are shown to establish the truth of things hidden from our eyes, viz. the existence of God, the Day of Resurrection, the truth of the Prophets, and the nature of Divine attributes. As these signs serve as evidence for matters that concern belief, they have been spoken of as آیات بینات (clear signs), while the Signs from nature are spoken of simply as آیات (signs). All pestilences, for example, are آیات while a pestilence predicted by a Prophet of God to prove the truth of his claim is آیة بینة i.e. a clear and manifest sign, for such a pestilence serves its purpose much more clearly and definitely than a general one.
The words, those who look not for the meeting with Us say, Bring a Quran other than this or change it, show that when the leaders of disbelief saw that the hearts of their followers were becoming gradually inclined towards the truth and they were beginning to accept the new faith, they became anxious and, in order to incite their followers against the Prophet, assumed the garb of peacemakers. As men naturally love peace, the leaders of disbelief exploit this natural human desire and suggest a compromise, viz. that the Prophet should introduce no new teaching but should only assume the leadership of the people which would maintain the homogeneity of the community and save it from discord or dissension. If, however, this proposal should not meet with the Prophet’s acceptance, he should at least omit from his teachings such portions as offend against the cherished ideas of the people. When making these proposals, the ringleaders know full well that the Prophet would never accede to these unreasonable demands, which cut at the very root of his divine mission, and that in this way the people would come to think that he was too narrow-minded to give up even some of his ideas for the sake of national unity and concord. Thus they think they would succeed in making the people ignore the important fact that truth and the acceptance of a Divine Call were much more precious than mere patched-up unity and that the decline of nations was always due to the denial of divine truth. In reply to these demands of his opponents the Holy Prophet is commanded to say in this verse that he could not change a teaching which was revealed by God and which was the only means of their regeneration, for such change, instead of proving useful, was sure to prove ruinous.
The expression "of my own accord" occurring in the words, It is not for me to change it of my own accord. I only follow what is revealed to me, contains a subtle hint that Divine teachings are always in accordance with the condition of the people for whom they are sent, and hence nobody can change them of his own accord. If the Holy Prophet should himself change the teachings revealed to him, it would lead to the ruin of the people because Divine teachings, being in fitness of prevailing circumstances, can alone bring about a real spiritual and moral reformation among people and any change in these teachings would certainly be not to their good. The words, Bring a Quran other than this or change it, may also refer to the prophecies of punishment and destruction contained in the Quran. Disbelievers naturally did not like these prophecies and wanted them to be changed. The verse tells them that they could have these warnings changed only if they changed their own condition, because if a change takes place in them, the nature of the warnings would automatically change.
The words, I only follow what is revealed to me, may also mean, "In respect of the Quran I follow nothing but what is revealed to me" i.e. not only are all the words of the Quran divine but its divisions into verses and Surahs as well as the arrangement thereof are also divine. Incidentally this also does away with the objection raised by certain critics of Islam that the opening verse of each Surah, viz. بسم الله was not of Divine origin but was placed there by the Prophet himself.
Some Christian writers pretend to see this verse as an effort by the Holy Prophet to justify the alleged abrogation of certain verses of the Quran. By the words, It is not for me to change it of my own accord. I only follow what is revealed to me, the Holy Prophet is supposed by these writers to have disclaimed all responsibility for abrogation in the Quran. But this assumption is absurd. Far from justifying abrogation, the verse shows that not a single verse of the Quran has ever been abrogated. When disbelievers demanded that the Holy Prophet should make some alteration in the Quran, they did not mean that they would accept it after the demanded changes had been made. Their object in making such a demand was that, if the Holy Prophet agreed to make any change in the Quran, in compliance with their demand, they would at once say that it was not the word of God but his own composition which he altered at will to meet their wishes. But if he refused to accede to their demand, they would get a ready tool to incite the masses against him, condemning him as one who had no regard for national peace and harmony. Christian writers seem to forget the fact that if, as alleged by them, certain verses of the Quran had already been replaced by others, disbelievers had no need to resort to the above device, but could justify their objection on the basis of the abrogation that had already taken place in the Quran and could seize on it as evidence of the Quran not being the word of God. Thus the verse under comment incidentally furnishes evidence that there has been no abrogation in the Quran.
The words, the punishment of an awful day, signify a national disaster. The words mean that the teachings which are revealed by God are for the good of the people themselves and it is on acting upon them that all progress depends. So, if any change is made in these teachings, it is sure to prove detrimental to the best interests of the entire people. (close)
قُلۡ لَّوۡ شَآءَ اللّٰہُ مَا تَلَوۡتُہٗ عَلَیۡکُمۡ وَ لَاۤ اَدۡرٰٮکُمۡ بِہٖ ۫ۖ فَقَدۡ لَبِثۡتُ فِیۡکُمۡ عُمُرًا مِّنۡ قَبۡلِہٖ ؕ اَفَلَا تَعۡقِلُوۡنَ ﴿۱۷﴾
قُل لَّوۡ شَآءَ ٱللَّهُ مَا تَلَوۡتُهُۥ عَلَيۡكُمۡ وَلَآ أَدۡرَىٰكُم بِهِۦۖ فَقَدۡ لَبِثۡتُ فِيكُمۡ عُمُرٗا مِّن قَبۡلِهِۦٓۚ أَفَلَا تَعۡقِلُونَ
1245. The verse embodies an infallible criterion to test the truth of a claimant to Prophethood. If the life of a Prophet before he lays claim to Prophethood presents an extraordinarily high standard of truthfulness and integrity and between that period and his claim to Prophethood there is no interval during which it might be supposed that he has fallen from that high standard of moral excellence, then his claim to Prophethood must be accepted as that of a highly moral and truthful man. Naturally, a person confirmed in a certain course of conduct through habit or temperament takes a long time to develop in himself a major change for either good or evil. How then could the Prophet of Islam suddenly turn into an impostor when all his lifetime before his claim to Prophethood he had been a singularly upright man? (close)
The argument against the abrogation theory which was begun in the previous verse is continued in the present one. Such commandments may be abrogated as are needed only for a particular time, the commandments changing with the change of circumstances. But, if any commandments were to be changed without any change having taken place in the circumstances of men, then it would be a proof of the fact that such commandments were misplaced and their promulgation quite useless.
It is regarding this fact that the Holy Prophet is made to say to the disbelievers "If the teachings given by me had not been useful and some other teachings had been more adapted to bring about a change in you, then I would not have delivered these teachings to you, neither would God have revealed them to me."
The words, I have indeed lived among you a whole lifetime before this. Will you not then understand?, embody a great criterion to test the truth of a claimant to prophethood. The Holy Prophet is here asked to refer disbelievers to the period of life he had already passed among them as proof of his sincerity and the truth of his claims. If the period of his life before he claimed to be a Prophet had presented an extraordinarily high standard of truthfulness and integrity and between that period and his claim to prophethood there was no interval during which it might be supposed that he had fallen from that high standard of moral excellence, his claim to prophethood must be accepted as coming from a highly moral and truthful man. When even the Prophet’s opponents admitted that all his lifetime he had been a singularly upright man and had even won from them the title of al-Amin (the Trustworthy) on account of his unimpeachable integrity, he could not suddenly turn an impostor. How was it possible that one who was the most upright and righteous of men a day before should have become a hardened liar the next day (for there is no greater liar than he who forges lies about God). Naturally a person confirmed in a certain course of conduct through habit or temperament takes a long time to develop in himself a major change for either good or evil. How then could the Prophet of Islam suddenly turn into an impostor? There never was a time when the Prophet’s life was hidden from the gaze of his compatriots. He was a resident of Mecca, belonged to a well-known Meccan tribe, and was popularly known in the city as الامین (the Truthful). In view of these established historical facts, the Quran, as it were, says to the disbelievers, "You ascribe to Our Messenger the most heinous of all lies, viz. forging lies against God, but you cannot produce any evidence to show when this change for the worse developed in him. On the contrary, you admit that right up to the time when he claimed to be a Prophet, he continued to live among you day and night; and you looked upon him as an exceptionally righteous and truthful man. How then can you now say that all of a sudden he has begun to forge lies against God?"
The words, before this, are intended to point to the great psychological fact that the objections of the Holy Prophet’senemies after he laid claim to prophethood should carry no weight with right-thinking people, because it always happens that after a person has announced himself to be a Messenger of God, people naturally turn against him and begin to impute to him all sorts of evil things. The fact that the Emperor Heraclius asked of Abu Sufyan, when the latter was brought before him at Jerusalem, what his people thought of the Prophet before he laid claim to prophethood, also shows that he too had realized the force of this great argument.
The words, Will you not then understand?, draw our attention to the established psychological truth that a sudden change does not come upon a man except either (1) through some physical injury, etc. (for instance when a man happens to receive a blow on the head causing loss of memory or change in manners, etc.) or (2) through some great spiritual influence. History provides instances when a great shock or calamity has made a person give way to despair and thereby inclined him to evil or when the discovery of some great truth has created a sudden change in him for good. A study of the life history of the Holy Prophet shows that he had never been subject to either of these two influences. Before his exaltation to prophethood, he led a life of retirement, giving himself up to prayer and meditation. At the same time he had not despaired of his countrymen but, like a true well-wisher, earnestly worked for their good. In such circumstances it is an insult to human reason and to all known laws of human psychology to say that though before he claimed to be a Messenger of God the Prophet of Islam was a model of piety and righteousness, yet the very day he made that claim he became the greatest of liars.
For a discussion of the "illiteracy" of the Holy Prophet see under 7:158. (close)
فَمَنۡ اَظۡلَمُ مِمَّنِ افۡتَرٰی عَلَی اللّٰہِ کَذِبًا اَوۡ کَذَّبَ بِاٰیٰتِہٖ ؕ اِنَّہٗ لَا یُفۡلِحُ الۡمُجۡرِمُوۡنَ ﴿۱۸﴾
فَمَنۡ أَظۡلَمُ مِمَّنِ ٱفۡتَرَىٰ عَلَى ٱللَّهِ كَذِبًا أَوۡ كَذَّبَ بِـَٔايَٰتِهِۦٓۚ إِنَّهُۥ لَا يُفۡلِحُ ٱلۡمُجۡرِمُونَ
d. 6:22; 11:19; 61:8. (close)
1246. The verse brings to light two eternal truths: (a) Those persons who invent lies about God and those who reject and oppose His Messengers can never escape God’s punishment. (b) Impostors and false prophets cannot succeed in their mission. (close)
a. 6:22; 11:19; 61:8. (close)
This verse brings to light two eternal truths. The first of these is that both those who fabricate lies against God and those who reject and oppose His Messengers are highly unjust and can never escape God’s punishment. The second is that impostors and false prophets cannot succeed in fulfilling the object of their mission. It is indeed possible that a false prophet may temporarily succeed in securing a number of followers or in amassing wealth. But even in this case he will not be regarded as having succeeded in fulfilling his mission, because the amassing of wealth or the securing of a number of followers has never been the mission of a Prophet of God. The true mission of a Divine Messenger is either to introduce and establish a new Law or to strengthen the old one, and unless he succeeds in achieving this object, he cannot be said to have been successful in his mission. This is a criterion the truth of which cannot legitimately be disputed or denied. The apparent failure of a true Prophet like John the Baptist or the apparent success of a claimant like Baha’ullah can be fully explained with the help of this touchstone. John came with the mission of announcing the coming of the Messiah, which was in the nature of strengthening the old Law, and he was successful in that mission. On the other hand, Baha’ullah, even if he be taken to have come only as a Divine Messenger and not as God’s incarnation as he declared himself to be, claimed to have brought a new law that was to replace the Quranic Dispensation and therein he utterly failed, for his law has not been truly established even in a single household, not to speak of a whole people or country. (close)
وَ یَعۡبُدُوۡنَ مِنۡ دُوۡنِ اللّٰہِ مَا لَا یَضُرُّہُمۡ وَ لَا یَنۡفَعُہُمۡ وَ یَقُوۡلُوۡنَ ہٰۤؤُلَآءِ شُفَعَآؤُنَا عِنۡدَ اللّٰہِ ؕ قُلۡ اَتُنَبِّـُٔوۡنَ اللّٰہَ بِمَا لَا یَعۡلَمُ فِی السَّمٰوٰتِ وَ لَا فِی الۡاَرۡضِ ؕ سُبۡحٰنَہٗ وَ تَعٰلٰی عَمَّا یُشۡرِکُوۡنَ ﴿۱۹﴾
وَيَعۡبُدُونَ مِن دُونِ ٱللَّهِ مَا لَا يَضُرُّهُمۡ وَلَا يَنفَعُهُمۡ وَيَقُولُونَ هَـٰٓؤُلَآءِ شُفَعَـٰٓؤُنَا عِندَ ٱللَّهِۚ قُلۡ أَتُنَبِّـُٔونَ ٱللَّهَ بِمَا لَا يَعۡلَمُ فِي ٱلسَّمَٰوَٰتِ وَلَا فِي ٱلۡأَرۡضِۚ سُبۡحَٰنَهُۥ وَتَعَٰلَىٰ عَمَّا يُشۡرِكُونَ
a. 16:74; 22:72; 29:18. (close)
1247. The real cause of Shirk (idolatry) lies in failure on the part of idolaters to understand the object and purpose of their creation. A Mushrik (idolater) has a false conception of the person and attributes of God and also of his own great inborn God-given capacities and capabilities. He entertains the foolish belief that he cannot have access to God without the aid of an intermediary, and also that God cannot condescend to come to him except through the medium of those who have already attained His nearness. Islam is emphatically opposed to both these views. (close)
b. 49:17. (close)
a. 16:74; 22:72; 29:18. (close)
b. 49:17. (close)
The real cause of shirk (idolatry) lies in failure on the part of men to understand the object and purpose of their creation. A mushrik (idolater) has a false conception of the person and attributes of God and of his own great inborn capacities and capabilities. He entertains the foolish belief that he cannot have access to God without the aid of an intermediary, and also that God cannot condescend to come to him except through the medium of those who have already attained His nearness. Islam is opposed to both these views. It does not allow us to entertain any such suspicion about God, nor does it permit us to underrate our own natural powers. God has created man that he may attain His nearness and He does not tolerate that anyone should intervene between Him and His creatures. Even the Prophets of God are not intermediaries. They are only Divine Messengers and Warners, and their intercession is also based on Divine sanction. See also 2:49.
The expression, Would you inform Allah of something He knows not, contains an excellent refutation of shirk (idolatry). It purports to say that if God had appointed anyone as intercessor either in the heavens or in the earth, a declaration would have been made by Him to that effect. But no such announcement has ever been made by God. It is the people themselves who declare that such and such a person has been appointed as an intercessor, and so they, as it were, inform God of something which He does not know.
The words, Holy is He, are meant to point out that it is incompatible with the perfection of God that He should first create man for a certain purpose and then should Himself place obstacles in his way, or should reveal no guidance to warn him of those obstacles. (close)
وَ مَا کَانَ النَّاسُ اِلَّاۤ اُمَّۃً وَّاحِدَۃً فَاخۡتَلَفُوۡا ؕ وَ لَوۡ لَا کَلِمَۃٌ سَبَقَتۡ مِنۡ رَّبِّکَ لَقُضِیَ بَیۡنَہُمۡ فِیۡمَا فِیۡہِ یَخۡتَلِفُوۡنَ ﴿۲۰﴾
وَمَا كَانَ ٱلنَّاسُ إِلَّآ أُمَّةٗ وَٰحِدَةٗ فَٱخۡتَلَفُواْۚ وَلَوۡلَا كَلِمَةٞ سَبَقَتۡ مِن رَّبِّكَ لَقُضِيَ بَيۡنَهُمۡ فِيمَا فِيهِ يَخۡتَلِفُونَ
c. 2:214. (close)
1247A. They were united in wickedness and opposition to Divine Prophets. See also 254. (close)
1248. The words may have one and all of the following meanings: (a) God endowed men with the capacity to find the right path and also directed them to it through revealed guidance, but they forsook that path and fell into error. (b) They are always shown the right path through Divine Messengers, but they continue to differ among themselves. (c) In their opposition to the Divine Messengers the disbelievers always take the same course and thus form one community. All through the ages they have opposed the Divine Prophets and differed with them. See 255. (close)
a. 11:111; 20:130; 41:46. (close)
1248A. The reference is to 'My Mercy encompasses all things' (7:157). (close)
a. 2:214. (close)
b. 11:111; 20:130; 41:46. (close)
The expression, And mankind were but one community, then they differed among themselves has three meanings: (1) That God caused men to follow the one true path in the beginning of creation but then they deviated from it. God not only endowed man with the capacity to find the right path but also directed him to it through revealed guidance; but man forsook that path and fell into error. (2) That they are being always and continuously shown the right path through Divine Messengers but then differences arise among them. God sends someone as His Messenger among them and, through him brings them to the path of truth but again they begin to differ. (3) That in their opposition to the Divine Messenger disbelievers always take the same course and thus form one community. All through the ages people have opposed the Prophets and have differed and disagreed with them.
The latter part of the verse points out that if God had not laid it down as a law that He always sends a Prophet before punishing the wicked, or that He has created mankind for guidance and spiritual progress, He would have quickly punished evildoers and destroyed all of them. (close)
وَ یَقُوۡلُوۡنَ لَوۡ لَاۤ اُنۡزِلَ عَلَیۡہِ اٰیَۃٌ مِّنۡ رَّبِّہٖ ۚ فَقُلۡ اِنَّمَا الۡغَیۡبُ لِلّٰہِ فَانۡتَظِرُوۡا ۚ اِنِّیۡ مَعَکُمۡ مِّنَ الۡمُنۡتَظِرِیۡنَ ﴿٪۲۱﴾
وَيَقُولُونَ لَوۡلَآ أُنزِلَ عَلَيۡهِ ءَايَةٞ مِّن رَّبِّهِۦۖ فَقُلۡ إِنَّمَا ٱلۡغَيۡبُ لِلَّهِ فَٱنتَظِرُوٓاْ إِنِّي مَعَكُم مِّنَ ٱلۡمُنتَظِرِينَ
b. 6:38. (close)
1249. The verse contains an effective reply to the disbelievers’ demand for the coming of a speedy punishment. The Holy Prophet is told to say to them that it is he and not they who should have been impatient at the delay in the coming of the threatened punishment; for it is he who is being subjected to mocking for this delay; and when he is patiently waiting for God’s decree, why should not they? (close)
a. 6:38. (close)
It is the invariable practice of the opponents of the Prophets of God to accuse them of having brought no sign. In spite of the fact that this Surah opens with the words, These are the verses (lit. signs) of the Book that is full of wisdom, the Holy Prophet’s opponents charged him with having shown no sign. This shows that it is not given to everybody to see and realize heavenly signs. Only those who possess spiritual eyes can see them.
It should be remembered that whenever disbelievers demand a sign, they mean a sign in the form of "Divine punishment," except when the words used by them clearly refer to something else. In the verse under comment too the word means Divine punishment.
Another important point that emerges from this verse is that it is not necessary that the time of the fulfilment of a prophecy should be defined and announced beforehand. If it had been necessary to do so, the Quran would not have said that God alone knew the time when Divine punishment would come and that people should wait for it even as the Prophet does.
The words, I am with you among those who wait, contain a beautiful reply to the disbelievers’ demand for the coming of a speedy punishment. The Holy Prophet is made to say to disbelievers that it is he and not they who should have been impatient at the delay in the coming of the threatened punishment; for it is he who is being subjected to mocking for this delay and when he is patiently waiting for God’s decree, why should not they? (close)
وَ اِذَاۤ اَذَقۡنَا النَّاسَ رَحۡمَۃً مِّنۡۢ بَعۡدِ ضَرَّآءَ مَسَّتۡہُمۡ اِذَا لَہُمۡ مَّکۡرٌ فِیۡۤ اٰیَاتِنَا ؕ قُلِ اللّٰہُ اَسۡرَعُ مَکۡرًا ؕ اِنَّ رُسُلَنَا یَکۡتُبُوۡنَ مَا تَمۡکُرُوۡنَ ﴿۲۲﴾
وَإِذَآ أَذَقۡنَا ٱلنَّاسَ رَحۡمَةٗ مِّنۢ بَعۡدِ ضَرَّآءَ مَسَّتۡهُمۡ إِذَا لَهُم مَّكۡرٞ فِيٓ ءَايَاتِنَاۚ قُلِ ٱللَّهُ أَسۡرَعُ مَكۡرًاۚ إِنَّ رُسُلَنَا يَكۡتُبُونَ مَا تَمۡكُرُونَ
c. 30:37; 41:51, 52; 42:49. (close)
d. 8:31; 35:44. (close)
1250. Mercy comes from God, but adversity is the result of man’s own evil deeds. (close)
a. 30:37; 41:51, 52; 42:49. (close)
b. 8:31; 35:44. (close)
1297. Important Words:
مکر (plan) is the infinitive noun from the verb مکر (makara) which means, he practised deceit, guile or circumvention secretly; he practised an evasion, an artifice, a trick, an expedient or device; he planned or plotted. مکربه means, he did him harm or mischief clandestinely. مکرہ الله means, God requited him for his practising deceit, etc. مکر is praise-worthy or otherwise according to its object (Lane).
In v. 20 it was said that as God had created men that He might show them mercy, so He was merciful to them. In v. 21 it was said that people demanded punishment, but God deferred and delayed the sending down of punishment that they might have time to repent. The present verse says that not only does God always delay His punishment, but when at last He sends it, He does so intermittently and piecemeal in order that the disbelievers may realize that the punishment was due to their opposing His Prophet and may desist from their evil course and thus save themselves. But the wicked take no warning and do not benefit by it. They only show some fear when they are being actually visited with punishment but, as soon as there is an abatement or remission, they revert to their evil course. The verse points out that God’s decree can come into operation at once, even before the evil machinations of the disbelievers take effect but out of His boundless mercy He purposely delays His punishment because, being All-Powerful, He knows He can punish them whenever He likes and, being All-Knowing, there is no likelihood of His forgetting the evil deeds of disbelievers.
It may be asked why it is that sometimes when the punishment of God occurs, some righteous people also suffer along with the wicked. The answer to this question is that man is a social animal and he influences and is in turn influenced by his environment. As such, he is bound to partake of the joys and sorrows of those among whom he lives. This is the reason why the righteous sometimes suffer along with the wicked, and also why Divine punishment is often deferred so that the few good of heart may benefit from that postponement.
It will be noted that whereas in the verse God ascribes the bestowal of "mercy" to Himself, no such mention is made with regard to "adversity." This is to point out that whereas mercy comes from God, adversity is the result of man’s own evil actions. (close)
ہُوَ الَّذِیۡ یُسَیِّرُکُمۡ فِی الۡبَرِّ وَ الۡبَحۡرِ ؕ حَتّٰۤی اِذَا کُنۡتُمۡ فِی الۡفُلۡکِ ۚ وَ جَرَیۡنَ بِہِمۡ بِرِیۡحٍ طَیِّبَۃٍ وَّ فَرِحُوۡا بِہَا جَآءَتۡہَا رِیۡحٌ عَاصِفٌ وَّ جَآءَہُمُ الۡمَوۡجُ مِنۡ کُلِّ مَکَانٍ وَّ ظَنُّوۡۤا اَنَّہُمۡ اُحِیۡطَ بِہِمۡ ۙ دَعَوُا اللّٰہَ مُخۡلِصِیۡنَ لَہُ الدِّیۡنَ ۬ۚ لَئِنۡ اَنۡجَیۡتَنَا مِنۡ ہٰذِہٖ لَنَکُوۡنَنَّ مِنَ الشّٰکِرِیۡنَ ﴿۲۳﴾
هُوَ ٱلَّذِي يُسَيِّرُكُمۡ فِي ٱلۡبَرِّ وَٱلۡبَحۡرِۖ حَتَّىٰٓ إِذَا كُنتُمۡ فِي ٱلۡفُلۡكِ وَجَرَيۡنَ بِهِم بِرِيحٖ طَيِّبَةٖ وَفَرِحُواْ بِهَا جَآءَتۡهَا رِيحٌ عَاصِفٞ وَجَآءَهُمُ ٱلۡمَوۡجُ مِن كُلِّ مَكَانٖ وَظَنُّوٓاْ أَنَّهُمۡ أُحِيطَ بِهِمۡ دَعَوُاْ ٱللَّهَ مُخۡلِصِينَ لَهُ ٱلدِّينَ لَئِنۡ أَنجَيۡتَنَا مِنۡ هَٰذِهِۦ لَنَكُونَنَّ مِنَ ٱلشَّـٰكِرِينَ
e. 17:67; 29:66; 31:33. (close)
1251. As a pleasant breeze sometimes develops into a violent gale and causes widespread destruction, similarly, the respite that is granted to disbelievers may prove the prelude to their destruction. To bring home to disbelievers this patent truth, their attention is drawn to the comforts and perils of a sea-voyage. (close)
a. 17:67; 29:66; 31:33. (close)
1298. Important Words:
عاصف (violent) is the active participle from عصف. They say عصفت الریح i.e. the wind blew violently or vehemently. عصفت الناقة براکبھا means, the she-camel went quickly with her rider, as if she were the wind. عصف الدھربھم means, the time destroyed them. عصف الزرع means, he cut the corn before its attaining maturity. ریح عاصف means, wind blowing violently or vehemently. یوم عاصف means, a day violent in respect of wind and storm (Lane & Aqrab).
The verse purports to say that on the part of God the system of punishing and showing mercy goes hand in hand, as does on the part of disbelievers the habit of acting wickedly in time of ease and repenting temporarily when punishment overtakes them. But disbelievers always ignore the fact that, just as a pleasant breeze sometimes develops into a violent gale and causes widespread destruction, similarly, the remission that is granted to them may prove the prelude to their destruction. To bring home to disbelievers this patent truth, their attention is drawn to the comforts and perils of a sea-voyage.
It is worthy of note that whereas the verse uses the pronoun "you" in the second person in the first two clauses, it suddenly changes to a pronoun of the third person (them, they) in the third and the following clauses. This is not without purpose. The first two clauses referred to both believers and disbelievers, for it is both for believers and disbelievers that God has provided the means of travel by land and sea. Hence the pronoun "you" has been used in the first two clauses. But as in the following clauses it has been pointed out that a section of the people become ungrateful, therefore here the second person has been changed into the third person, in order to show that it is only disbelievers that become ungrateful. (close)