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The Miserable Do Not Benefit from the Qur'an

Allah's statement,

﴿ وَمِنۡہُم مَّن يَسۡتَمِعُ إِلَيۡكَ‌ۖ وَجَعَلۡنَا عَلَىٰ قُلُوبِہِمۡ أَكِنَّةً أَن يَفۡقَهُوهُ وَفِىٓ ءَاذَانِہِمۡ وَقۡرً۬ا‌ۚ وَإِن يَرَوۡاْ ڪُلَّ ءَايَةٍ۬ لَّا يُؤۡمِنُواْ بِہَا‌ۚ

(And of them there are some who listen to you; but We have set veils on their hearts, so they understand it not, and deafness in their ears; if they see every one of the Ayat they will not believe therein;) means, they come to you, (O Muhammad ), so that they hear you recite the Qur'an, but its recitation does not benefit them, because Allah has set veils on their hearts, and so they do not understand the Qur'an,

﴿ وَفِىٓ ءَاذَانِہِمۡ وَقۡرً۬ا‌ۚ

(and (set) deafness in their ears;) that prevents them from hearing what benefits them. In another Ayah, Allah said;

﴿ وَمَثَلُ ٱلَّذِينَ ڪَفَرُواْ كَمَثَلِ ٱلَّذِى يَنۡعِقُ بِمَا لَا يَسۡمَعُ إِلَّا دُعَآءً۬ وَنِدَآءً۬‌ۚ

(And the example of those who disbelieve, is as that of him who shouts at one who hears nothing but calls and cries.) (2:171) Allah said next,

﴿ وَإِن يَرَوۡاْ ڪُلَّ ءَايَةٍ۬ لَّا يُؤۡمِنُواْ بِہَا‌ۚ

(if they see every one of the Ayat they will not believe therein;) meaning, they will not believe in any of the Ayat, proofs, clear evidences and signs they witness because they do not have sound comprehension or fair judgment. In another Ayah, Allah said,

﴿ وَلَوۡ عَلِمَ ٱللَّهُ فِيہِمۡ خَيۡرً۬ا لَّأَسۡمَعَهُمۡ‌ۖ

(Had Allah known of any good in them, He would indeed have made them listen.) (8:23) Allah said,

﴿ حَتَّىٰٓ إِذَا جَآءُوكَ يُجَـٰدِلُونَكَ

(to the point that when they come to you to argue with you...) using falsehood against truth,

﴿ يَقُولُ ٱلَّذِينَ كَفَرُوٓاْ إِنۡ هَـٰذَآ إِلَّآ أَسَـٰطِيرُ ٱلۡأَوَّلِينَ

(those who disbelieve say: "These are nothing but tales of the men of old.'') The disbelievers say, what you (O Muhammad ) brought us was taken from the books of those who were before us, meaning plagiarized,

﴿ وَهُمۡ يَنۡهَوۡنَ عَنۡهُ وَيَنۡـَٔوۡنَ عَنۡهُ‌ۖ

(And they prevent others from him and they themselves keep away from him,) They discourage people from following the truth, believing in Muhammad and obeying the Qur'an,

﴿ وَيَنۡـَٔوۡنَ عَنۡهُ‌ۖ

(and they themselves keep away from him,) They thus combine both evil acts, for they neither benefit themselves, nor let others benefit from the Prophet . `Ali bin Abi Talhah said that Ibn `Abbas said that the Ayah,

﴿ وَهُمۡ يَنۡهَوۡنَ عَنۡهُ

(And they prevent others from him.) means, they hinder people from believing in Muhammad . Muhammad bin Al-Hanafiyyah said, "The disbelievers of Quraysh used to refrain from meeting Muhammad and they discouraged people from coming to him.'' Similar was reported from Qatadah, Mujahid and Ad-Dahhak and several others.

﴿ وَإِن يُهۡلِكُونَ إِلَّآ أَنفُسَہُمۡ وَمَا يَشۡعُرُونَ

(and (by doing so) they destroy not but themselves, yet they perceive (it) not.) They destroy themselves by committing this evil action, and its harm will only touch them. Yet, they do not perceive this fact!

﴿ وَلَوۡ تَرَىٰٓ إِذۡ وُقِفُواْ عَلَى ٱلنَّارِ فَقَالُواْ يَـٰلَيۡتَنَا نُرَدُّ وَلَا نُكَذِّبَ بِـَٔايَـٰتِ رَبِّنَا وَنَكُونَ مِنَ ٱلۡمُؤۡمِنِينَ بَلۡ بَدَا لَهُم مَّا كَانُواْ يُخۡفُونَ مِن قَبۡلُ‌ۖ وَلَوۡ رُدُّواْ لَعَادُواْ لِمَا نُہُواْ عَنۡهُ وَإِنَّہُمۡ لَكَـٰذِبُونَ وَقَالُوٓاْ إِنۡ هِىَ إِلَّا حَيَاتُنَا ٱلدُّنۡيَا وَمَا نَحۡنُ بِمَبۡعُوثِينَ وَلَوۡ تَرَىٰٓ إِذۡ وُقِفُواْ عَلَىٰ رَبِّہِمۡ‌ۚ قَالَ أَلَيۡسَ هَـٰذَا بِٱلۡحَقِّ‌ۚ قَالُواْ بَلَىٰ وَرَبِّنَا‌ۚ قَالَ فَذُوقُواْ ٱلۡعَذَابَ بِمَا كُنتُمۡ تَكۡفُرُونَ

(27. If 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!'') (28. Nay, what they had been concealing before has become manifest to them. But if they were returned (to the world), they would certainly revert to that which they were forbidden. And indeed they are liars.) (29. And they said: "There is no (other life) but our (present) life of this world, and never shall we be resurrected.'') (30. If you could but see when they will stand before their Lord! He will say: "Is not this the truth'' They will say: "Yes, by our Lord!'' He will then say: "So taste you the torment because you used not to believe.'')

Wishes and Hopes Do Not Help One When He Sees the Torment

Allah mentions the condition of the disbelievers when they are made to stand before the Fire on the Day of Resurrection and witness its chains and restraints, along with seeing the horrible, momentous conditions in the Fire with their own eyes. This is when the disbelievers will say,

﴿ يَـٰلَيۡتَنَا نُرَدُّ وَلَا نُكَذِّبَ بِـَٔايَـٰتِ رَبِّنَا وَنَكُونَ مِنَ ٱلۡمُؤۡمِنِينَ

("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!'') They wish that they would be sent back to the life of the world so that they could perform righteous deeds, refrain from disbelieving in the Ayat of their Lord and be among the believers. Allah said,

﴿ بَلۡ بَدَا لَهُم مَّا كَانُواْ يُخۡفُونَ مِن قَبۡلُ‌ۖ

(Nay, what they had been concealing before has become manifest to them.) meaning, the disbelief, denial and rebellion that they used to hide in their hearts will then be uncovered, even though they will try to hide this fact in this life and the Hereafter. Earlier, Allah said,

﴿ ثُمَّ لَمۡ تَكُن فِتۡنَتُہُمۡ إِلَّآ أَن قَالُواْ وَٱللَّهِ رَبِّنَا مَا كُنَّا مُشۡرِكِينَ ٱنظُرۡ كَيۡفَ كَذَبُواْ عَلَىٰٓ أَنفُسِہِمۡ‌ۚ وَضَلَّ عَنۡہُم مَّا كَانُواْ يَفۡتَرُونَ

(There will then be (left) no trial for them but to say: "By Allah, our Lord, we were not those who joined others in worship with Allah.'' Look! How they lie against themselves! But the (lie) which they invented will disappear from them.) It is also possible that the meaning here is that the disbelievers will realize the truth that they knew all along in their hearts, that is, that what the Messengers brought them in this life is true, although they used to deny his Message before their followers. Allah said that Musa said to Fir`awn,

﴿ لَقَدۡ عَلِمۡتَ مَآ أَنزَلَ هَـٰٓؤُلَآءِ إِلَّا رَبُّ ٱلسَّمَـٰوَٲتِ وَٱلۡأَرۡضِ بَصَآٮِٕرَ

("Verily, you know that these signs have clearly been sent down by none but the Lord of the heavens and the earth as eye-opening evidence.'') (17:102) Allah said about Fir`awn and his people,

﴿ وَجَحَدُواْ بِہَا وَٱسۡتَيۡقَنَتۡهَآ أَنفُسُہُمۡ ظُلۡمً۬ا وَعُلُوًّ۬ا‌ۚ

(And they belied them (those Ayat) wrongfully and arrogantly, though they were themselves convinced thereof.) (27:14)

﴿ بَلۡ بَدَا لَهُم مَّا كَانُواْ يُخۡفُونَ مِن قَبۡلُ‌ۖ

(Nay, it has become manifest to them what they had been concealing before.) (6:28) When this occurs, and the disbelievers ask to be returned to this life, they will not do so because they truly wish to embrace the faith. Rather, they ask to be returned to this life for fear of the torment that they are witnessing before them, as punishment for the disbelief they committed, and to try and avoid the Fire that they see before their eyes.

﴿ وَلَوۡ رُدُّواْ لَعَادُواْ لِمَا نُہُواْ عَنۡهُ وَإِنَّہُمۡ لَكَـٰذِبُونَ

(But if they were returned, they would certainly revert to that which they were forbidden. And indeed they are liars.) meaning, they lie when they say they wish to go back to this life so that they can embrace the faith. Allah states that even if they were sent back to the life of this world, they will again commit the disbelief and defiance that they were prohibited.

﴿ وَإِنَّهُمۡ لَكَـٰذِبُونَ

(And indeed they are liars.) in their statement that,

﴿ وَلَوۡ تَرَىٰٓ إِذۡ وُقِفُواْ عَلَى ٱلنَّارِ فَقَالُواْ يَـٰلَيۡتَنَا نُرَدُّ وَلَا نُكَذِّبَ بِـَٔايَـٰتِ رَبِّنَا وَنَكُونَ مِنَ ٱلۡمُؤۡمِنِينَ بَلۡ بَدَا لَهُم مَّا كَانُواْ يُخۡفُونَ مِن قَبۡلُ‌ۖ وَلَوۡ رُدُّواْ لَعَادُواْ لِمَا نُہُواْ عَنۡهُ وَإِنَّہُمۡ لَكَـٰذِبُونَ وَقَالُوٓاْ إِنۡ هِىَ إِلَّا حَيَاتُنَا ٱلدُّنۡيَا وَمَا نَحۡنُ بِمَبۡعُوثِينَ

("Would that we were but sent back! Then we would not deny the Ayat of our Lord, and we would be of the believers!'' Nay, what they had been concealing before has become manifest to them. But if they were returned, they would certainly revert to that which they were forbidden. And indeed they are liars. And they said: "There is no (other life) but our (present) life of this world, and never shall we be resurrected.'') Therefore, they will revert to their old behavior and say,

﴿ إِنۡ هِىَ إِلَّا حَيَاتُنَا ٱلدُّنۡيَا

(There is no life but our life of this world) and there is no Hereafter,

﴿ وَمَا نَحۡنُ بِمَبۡعُوثِينَ

(and never shall we be resurrected.) Allah said,

﴿ وَلَوۡ تَرَىٰٓ إِذۡ وُقِفُواْ عَلَىٰ رَبِّہِمۡ‌ۚ

(If you could but see when they will stand before their Lord!) in front of Him,

﴿ أَلَيۡسَ هَـٰذَا بِٱلۡحَقِّ‌ۚ

("Is not this the truth'') meaning, is not Resurrection true, contrary to what you thought,

﴿ قَالُواْ بَلَىٰ وَرَبِّنَا‌ۚ قَالَ فَذُوقُواْ ٱلۡعَذَابَ بِمَا كُنتُمۡ تَكۡفُرُونَ

(They will say: "Yes, by our Lord!'' He will then say: "So taste you the torment because you used not to believe.'') and because you today denied Resurrection. Therefore, taste the torment,

﴿ أَفَسِحۡرٌ هَـٰذَآ أَمۡ أَنتُمۡ لَا تُبۡصِرُونَ

("Is this magic, or do you not see'') (52:15)

﴿ قَدۡ خَسِرَ ٱلَّذِينَ كَذَّبُواْ بِلِقَآءِ ٱللَّهِ‌ۖ حَتَّىٰٓ إِذَا جَآءَتۡہُمُ ٱلسَّاعَةُ بَغۡتَةً۬ قَالُواْ يَـٰحَسۡرَتَنَا عَلَىٰ مَا فَرَّطۡنَا فِيہَا وَهُمۡ يَحۡمِلُونَ أَوۡزَارَهُمۡ عَلَىٰ ظُهُورِهِمۡ‌ۚ أَلَا سَآءَ مَا يَزِرُونَ وَمَا ٱلۡحَيَوٰةُ ٱلدُّنۡيَآ إِلَّا لَعِبٌ۬ وَلَهۡوٌ۬‌ۖ وَلَلدَّارُ ٱلۡأَخِرَةُ خَيۡرٌ۬ لِّلَّذِينَ يَتَّقُونَ‌ۗ أَفَلَا تَعۡقِلُونَ

(31. They indeed are losers who denied their meeting with Allah, until all of a sudden, the Hour (signs of death) is upon them, and they say: "Alas for us that we gave no thought to it,'' while they will bear their burdens on their backs; and evil indeed are the burdens that they will bear!) (32. And the life of this world is nothing but play and amusement. But far better is the abode of the Hereafter for those have Taqwa. Will you not then understand)

Allah describes the regret of the disbelievers when facing Him, and their disappointment at the commencement, along with their sorrow for not performing good deeds and for their evil deeds.

This is why Allah said,

﴿ حَتَّىٰٓ إِذَا جَآءَتۡہُمُ ٱلسَّاعَةُ بَغۡتَةً۬ قَالُواْ يَـٰحَسۡرَتَنَا عَلَىٰ مَا فَرَّطۡنَا فِيہَا

(until all of a sudden, the Hour (signs of death) is upon them, and they say: "Alas for us that we gave no thought to it.'') `It' here refers to either the life of this world, or the affairs of the Hereafter. Allah's statement,

﴿ وَهُمۡ يَحۡمِلُونَ أَوۡزَارَهُمۡ عَلَىٰ ظُهُورِهِمۡ‌ۚ أَلَا سَآءَ مَا يَزِرُونَ

(while they will bear their burdens on their backs; and evil indeed are the burdens that they will bear!) Asbat said that As-Suddi said, "Upon entering his grave, every unjust person will meet a man with an ugly face, dark skin, awful odor, wearing dirty clothes, who will enter his grave with him. When the unjust person sees him, he will say, `How ugly is your face!' He will reply, `So was your work, it was ugly.' The unjust person will say, `How foul is the odor coming from you!' He will reply, `Such was the case with your work, it stunk.' The unjust person will say, `How dirty are your clothes!' He will reply, `And your work too was dirty.' The unjust person will ask, `Who are you' He will reply, `I am your deeds.' So he will remain with the unjust person in his grave, and when he is resurrected on the Day of Resurrection, his companion will say to him, `In the life of the world, I used to carry you because you followed desire and lust. Today, you carry me.' So he will ride on the unjust person's back and lead him until he enters the Fire. So Allah said,

﴿ وَهُمۡ يَحۡمِلُونَ أَوۡزَارَهُمۡ عَلَىٰ ظُهُورِهِمۡ‌ۚ أَلَا سَآءَ مَا يَزِرُونَ

(while they will bear their burdens on their backs; and evil indeed are the burdens that they will bear!) (6:31)'' Allah's statement,

﴿ وَمَا ٱلۡحَيَوٰةُ ٱلدُّنۡيَآ إِلَّا لَعِبٌ۬ وَلَهۡوٌ۬‌ۖ

(And the life of this world is nothing but play and amusement.) means, most of it is play and amusement,

﴿ وَلَلدَّارُ ٱلۡأَخِرَةُ خَيۡرٌ۬ لِّلَّذِينَ يَتَّقُونَ‌ۗ أَفَلَا تَعۡقِلُونَ

(But far better is the abode of the Hereafter for those who have Taqwa. Will you not then understand)

﴿ قَدۡ نَعۡلَمُ إِنَّهُ ۥ لَيَحۡزُنُكَ ٱلَّذِى يَقُولُونَ‌ۖ فَإِنَّہُمۡ لَا يُكَذِّبُونَكَ وَلَـٰكِنَّ ٱلظَّـٰلِمِينَ بِـَٔايَـٰتِ ٱللَّهِ يَجۡحَدُونَ وَلَقَدۡ كُذِّبَتۡ رُسُلٌ۬ مِّن قَبۡلِكَ فَصَبَرُواْ عَلَىٰ مَا كُذِّبُواْ وَأُوذُواْ حَتَّىٰٓ أَتَٮٰهُمۡ نَصۡرُنَا‌ۚ وَلَا مُبَدِّلَ لِكَلِمَـٰتِ ٱللَّهِ‌ۚ وَلَقَدۡ جَآءَكَ مِن نَّبَإِىْ ٱلۡمُرۡسَلِينَ وَإِن كَانَ كَبُرَ عَلَيۡكَ إِعۡرَاضُہُمۡ فَإِنِ ٱسۡتَطَعۡتَ أَن تَبۡتَغِىَ نَفَقً۬ا فِى ٱلۡأَرۡضِ أَوۡ سُلَّمً۬ا فِى ٱلسَّمَآءِ فَتَأۡتِيَہُم بِـَٔايَةٍ۬‌ۚ وَلَوۡ شَآءَ ٱللَّهُ لَجَمَعَهُمۡ عَلَى ٱلۡهُدَىٰ‌ۚ فَلَا تَكُونَنَّ مِنَ ٱلۡجَـٰهِلِينَ إِنَّمَا يَسۡتَجِيبُ ٱلَّذِينَ يَسۡمَعُونَ‌ۘ وَٱلۡمَوۡتَىٰ يَبۡعَثُہُمُ ٱللَّهُ ثُمَّ إِلَيۡهِ يُرۡجَعُونَ

(33. We know indeed the grief which their words cause you; it is not you that they deny, but it is the verses of Allah that the wrongdoers deny.) (34. Verily, (many) Messengers were denied before you, but with patience they bore the denial, and they were hurt, till Our help reached them, and none can alter the Words of Allah. Surely, there has reached you the information about the Messengers (before you).) (35. If their aversion is hard on you, then if you were able to seek a tunnel in the ground or a ladder to the sky, so that you may bring them a sign. And had Allah willed, He could have gathered them together upon true guidance, so be not you one of the ignorant.) (36. It is only those who listen, that will respond, but as for the dead, Allah will raise them up, then to Him they will be returned.)