`Abdur-Razzaq recorded that `Abdullah bin Mas`ud said that Allah's statement,
(And recite to them the story of him to whom We gave Our Ayat, but he threw them away) "Is about Bal`am bin Ba`ura' a man from the Children of Israel.'' Shu`bah and several other narrators narrated this statement from Mansur who got it from Ibn Mas`ud. Sa`id bin Abi `Arubah narrated that Qatadah said that Ibn `Abbas said, "He is Sayfi, son of Ar-Rahib.'' Qatadah commented that Ka`b said, "He was a man from Al-Balqla' (a province of Jordan) who knew Allah's Greatest Name. He used to live in Bayt Al-Maqdis with the tyrants.'' Al-`Awfi reported that Ibn `Abbas said, "He is Bal`am bin Ba`ura', a man from Yemen whom Allah had given the knowledge of His Ayat, but he abandoned them.'' Malik bin Dinar said, "He was one of the scholars of the Children of Israel whose supplication was acceptable. They used to seek his lead in supplication in times of difficulty. Allah's Prophet Musa sent him to the King of Madyan to call him to Allah. That king appeased him and gave him land and gifts, and he reverted from the religion of Musa and followed the king's religion.'' `Imran bin `Uyaynah narrated that `Husayn said that `Imran bin Al-Harith said that Ibn `Abbas said, "He is Bal`am son of Ba`ura'.'' Similar was said by Mujahid and `Ikrimah. Therefore, it is well-known that this honorable Ayah was revealed about a man from the Children of Israel in ancient times, according to Ibn Mas`ud and several others among the Salaf. `Ali bin Abi Talhah reported that Ibn `Abbas said, "He is a man from the city of the tyrants (Jerusalem) whose name was Bal`am and who knew Allah's Greatest Name.'' `Ali bin Abi Talhah also reported that Ibn `Abbas that he said, "When Musa and those with him went to the city of the tyrants (Jerusalem), the cousins of Bal`am and his people came to him and said, `Musa is a strong man, and he has many soldiers. If he gains the upper hand over us, we will be destroyed. Therefore, supplicate to Allah that He prevents Musa and those with him from prevailing over us.' Bal`am said, `If I supplicate to Allah that He turns back Musa and those with him, I will lose in this life and the Hereafter.' They kept luring him until he supplicated against Musa and his people, and Allah took away what he bestowed on him (of knowledge). Hence Allah's statement,
(but he threw them away; so Shaytan followed him up).''' Allah said next,
(And had We willed, We would surely have elevated him therewith but he clung to the earth and followed his own vain desires.) Allah said,
(And had We willed, We would surely have elevated him therewith) from the filth of this earthly life through the Ayat that We gave him knowledge of,
(but he clung to the earth), he became interested in the adornment of this life and its delights. He indulged in the lusts of life and its joys and was deceived by it, just as life deceived others like him, without sound comprehension or a good mind. Muhammad bin Ishaq bin Yasar narrated from Salim, from Abu An-Nadr that when Musa entered the land of Bani Canaan in the area of Ash-Sham (Greater Syria), the people of Bal`am came to him, saying, "This is Musa, son of `Imran with the Children of Israel. He wants to drive us out from our land, kill us and replace us with the Children of Israel. We are your people and have no other dwelling area. You are a person whose supplication is acceptable (to Allah), so go out and supplicate to Allah against them.'' He said, "Woe to you! Here is Allah's Prophet (Musa) with whom the angels and believers are! How can I supplicate against them when I know from Allah what I know'' They said, "We have no other dwelling area.'' So they kept luring and begging him until he was tempted by the trial and went on his donkey towards Mount Husban, which was behind the Israelite military barracks. When he proceeded on the Mount for a while, the donkey sat down and refused to proceed. He got off the donkey and struck it until it stood up again and he rode it. The donkey did the same after a little while, and he struck it again until it stood up... So he proceeded and tried to supplicate against Musa and his people. However, Allah made his tongue mention his people with evil and the Children of Israel with good instead of his people, who protested, "O Bal`am! What are you doing You are supplicating for them and against us!'' He said, "It is against my will. This is a matter that Allah has decided.'' He then said to them, as his tongue was made to loll out of his mouth, "Now I have lost this life and the Hereafter.'' This Ayah was revealed about the story of Bal`am son of Ba`ura'
(And recite to them the story of him to whom We gave Our Ayat, but he threw them away.), until,
(perhaps they may reflect.) Allah said next,
(So his parable is the parable of a dog: if you drive him away, he pants, or if you leave him alone, he (still) pants.) Scholars of Tafsir have conflicting opinions regarding the meaning of this Ayah. Some scholars said that it refers to the end of Bal`am's tongue which flickered out of his mouth, as in the story narrated from Ibn Ishaq, from Salim, from Abu An-Nadr. Therefore, his example is the example of the dog, its tongue pants regardless of whether it is driven away or not. It was also said that the meaning here is a parable of this man -- and his like -- concerning their misguidance, persisting the wrong path and not being able to benefit from faith or comprehend what they are being called to. So his example is that of a dog which pants whether it was driven away or left alone. The person described here does not benefit from the advice or the call to faith, just as if the advice and call never occurred. Allah said in another Ayah,
(It is the same to them (disbelievers) whether you warn them or do not warn them, they will not believe.) (2:6) and,
(Whether you ask forgiveness for them (hypocrites) or ask not forgiveness for them -- (and even) if you ask seventy times for their forgiveness -- Allah will not forgive them.) (9:80) and similar Ayat. It was also said that the meaning here, is that the heart of the disbeliever, the hypocrite and the wicked is weak and devoid of guidance. Therefore, it keeps faltering. Similar was narrated from Al-Hasan Al-Basri.
(So relate the stories, perhaps they may reflect) Allah said next to His Prophet Muhammad ,
(So relate the stories, perhaps they may) the Children of Israel, who have knowledge or the story of Bal`am and what happened to him when Allah allowed him to stray and expelled him from His mercy. Allah favored him by teaching him His Greatest Name, by which, if He is asked, He will grant, and if He is called upon, He answers. But Bal`am used it in disobedience to Allah and invoked Him against His own party of the people of faith, followers of His servant and Messenger during that time, Musa, the son of `Imran, peace be upon him, whom Allah spoke to directly,
(perhaps they may reflect.) and avoid Bal`am's behavior, for Allah has given the Jews knowledge and made them superior to the bedouins surrounding them. He gave them the description of Muhammad which would allow them to recognize him, as they recognize their own children. They, among people, have the most right to follow, aid and support Muhammad , in obedience to their Prophets who informed them of him and commanded them to follow him. Therefore, whoever among them defies the knowledge in their Books or hides it from the servants, Allah will place disgrace on him in this life, followed by humiliation in the Hereafter. Allah said,
(Evil is the parable of the people who rejected Our Ayat.) Allah says, evil is the example of the people who deny Our Ayat in that they are equated with dogs that have no interest but to collect food and satisfy lusts.' Therefore, whoever goes out of the area of knowledge and guidance, and seeks satisfaction for his lusts and vain desires, is just like a dog; what an evil example. The Sahih recorded that the Messenger of Allah said,
(The evil example is not suitable for us: he who goes back on his gift is just like the dog that eats its vomit.) Allah's statement,
(and they used to wrong themselves.) means, Allah did not wrong them, but they wronged themselves by rejecting guidance, not obeying the Lord, being content with this life that will soon end, all the while seeking to fulfill desires and obey lusts.
(178. Whomsoever Allah guides, he is the guided one, and whomsoever He sends astray, -- then those! They are the losers.) Allah says, whomever He leads aright, then none can lead him to misguidance, and whomever He leads astray, will have acquired failure, loss and sure misguidance. Verily, whatever Allah wills occurs; and whatever He does not will, does not occur. A Hadith narrated from `Abdullah bin Mas`ud reads,
(All praise is due to Allah, Whom we praise and seek help, guidance and forgiveness from. We seek refuge with Allah from the evils within ourselves and from the burden of our evil deeds. He whom Allah guides, will never be misled; and he whom He misguides, will never have one who will guide him. I bear witness that there is no deity worthy of worship except Allah without partners and that Muhammad is His servant and Messenger.) The complete Hadith was collected by Imam Ahmad and the collectors of Sunan and others.
(179. And surely, We have created many of the Jinn and mankind for Hell. They have hearts wherewith they understand not, and they have eyes wherewith they see not, and they have ears wherewith they hear not (the truth). They are like cattle, nay even more astray; those! They are the heedless ones.)
(And surely, We have created for Hell) We made a share in the Fire for,
(many of the Jinn and mankind) We prepared them for it by their performance of the deeds of its people. When Allah intended to create the creation, He knew what their work will be before they existed. He wrote all this in a Book, kept with Him, fifty thousand years before He created the heavens and earth. Muslim recorded that `Abdullah bin `Amr narrated that the Messenger of Allah said,
(Verily, Allah decided the destination and due measurement of the creation fifty thousand years before He created the heavens and earth, and His Throne was over the water.) There are many Hadiths on this subject, and certainly, the matter of Al-Qadar is of utmost importance, yet this is not where we should discuss it. Allah said,
(They have hearts wherewith they understand not, and they have eyes wherewith they see not, and they have ears wherewith they hear not.) meaning, they do not benefit from these senses that Allah made for them as a means of gaining guidance. Similarly, Allah said,
(And We had assigned them the (faculties of) hearing, seeing, and hearts; but their hearing, seeing, and their hearts availed them nothing since they used to deny the Ayat.) (46:26). Allah also said about the hypocrites,
((They are) deaf, dumb, and blind, so they return not (to the right path)) (2:18), and about the disbelievers,
((They are) deaf, dumb and blind. So they do not understand.) (2:171) However, they are not deaf, dumb or blind, except relation to the guidance. Allah said;
(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 (to the truth).) (8:23),
(Verily, it is not the eyes that grow blind, but it is the hearts which are in the breasts that grow blind.) (22:46), and,
(And whosoever turns away blindly from the remembrance of the Most Gracious (Allah), We appoint for him Shaytan to be an intimate companion to him. And verily, they hinder them from the path, but they think that they are guided aright!) ( 43:36-37) Allah's statement,
(They are like cattle), means, those who neither hear the truth, nor understand it, nor see the guidance, are just like grazing cattle that do not benefit from these senses, except for what sustains their life in this world. Allah said in a similar Ayah,
(And the example of those who disbelieve is as that of one who shouts to those who hear nothing but calls and cries.) (2:171) meaning, their example, when they are called to the faith, is the example of cattle that hear only the voice of their shepherd, but cannot understand what he is saying. Allah further described them
(nay even more astray), than cattle, because cattle still respond to the call of their shepherd, even though they do not understand what he is saying. As for the people described here, they are unlike cattle, which fulfill the purpose and service they were created for. The disbeliever was created to worship Allah alone in Tawhid, but he disbelieved in Allah and associated others in His worship. Therefore, those people who obey Allah are more honorable than some angels, while cattle are better than those who disbelieve in Him. So Allah said;
(They are like cattle, nay even more astray; those! They are the heedless ones.)
(180. And (all) the Most Beautiful Names belong to Allah, so call on Him by them, and leave the company of those who belie His Names. They will be requited for what they used to do.)
Abu Hurayrah narrated that the Messenger of Allah said,
(Verily, Allah has ninety-nine Names, a hundred less one; whoever counts (and preserves) them, will enter Paradise. Allah is Witr (One) and loves Al-Witr (the odd numbered things),) The Two Sahihs collected this Hadith. We should state that Allah's Names are not restricted to only ninety-nine. For instance, in his Musnad, Imam Ahmad recorded that `Abdullah bin Mas`ud said that the Messenger of Allah said;
(Any person who is overcome by sadness or grief and supplicates, `O Allah! I am Your servant, son of Your female servant. My forelock is in Your Hand. Your decision concerning me shall certainly come to pass. Just is Your Judgement about me. I invoke You by every Name that You have and that You called Yourself by, sent down in Your Book, taught to any of Your creatures, or kept with You in the knowledge of the Unseen that is with You. Make the Glorious Qur'an the spring of my heart, the light of my chest, the remover of my grief and the dissipater of my concern.' Surely, Allah will remove his grief and sadness and exchange them for delight.) The Prophet was asked "O Messenger of Allah! Should we learn these words'' He said,
(Yes. It is an obligation on all those who hear this supplication to learn it.) Al-`Awfi said that Ibn `Abbas said about Allah's statement,
(and leave the company of those who belie His Names) "To belie Allah's Names includes saying that Al-Lat (an idol) derived from Allah's Name.'' Ibn Jurayj narrated from Mujahid that he commented,
(and leave the company of those who belie His Names) "They derived Al-Lat (an idol's name) from Allah, and Al-`Uzza (another idol) from Al-`Aziz (the All-Mighty).'' Qatadah stated that Ilhad refers to associating others with Allah in His Names (such as calling an idol Al-`Uzza). The word Ilhad ﴿used in the Ayah in another from﴾ means deviation, wickedness, injustice and straying. The hole in the grave is called Lahd, because it is a hole within a hole, that is turned towards the Qiblah (the direction of the prayer).
(181. And of those whom We have created, there is a community who guides (others) with the truth, and establishes justice therewith.) Allah said,
(And of those whom We have created), in reference to some nations,
(a community), that stands in truth, in words and action,
(who guides (others) with the truth), they proclaim it and call to it,
(and establishes justice therewith), adhere to it themselves and judge by it. It was reported that this Ayah refers to the Ummah of Muhammad . In the Two Sahihs, it is recorded that Mu`awiyah bin Abi Sufyan said that the Messenger of Allah said,
(There will always be a group of my Ummah who are apparent on the Truth, unabated by those who fail or oppose them, until the (Last) Hour commences.) In another narration, the Messenger said,
(Until Allah's command (the Last Hour) comes while they are still like this. ) and in yet another narration,
(And they will dwell in Ash-Sham (Greater Syria).)
(182. Those who reject Our Ayat, We shall gradually seize them with punishment in ways they perceive not.) (183. And I respite them; certainly My plan is strong.) Allah said,
(Those who reject Our Ayat, We shall gradually seize them in ways they perceive not) meaning, the doors of provisions will be opened for them and also the means of livelihood, in this life. They will be deceived by all this and think that they are on the correct path. Allah said in another instance,
(So, when they forgot (the warning) with which they had been reminded, We opened for them the gates of every (pleasant) thing, until in the midst of their enjoyment in that which they were given, all of a sudden, We took them (in punishment), and lo! They were plunged into destruction with deep regrets and sorrow. So the root of the people who did wrong was cut off. And all the praises and thanks are to Allah, the Lord of all that exists.) (6:44-45). Allah said here,
(And I respite them) prolong what they are in,
(certainly My plan is strong) and perfect.
(184. Do they not reflect There is no madness in their companion. He is but a plain warner.) Allah said,
(Do they not reflect) `those who deny Our Ayat,'
(there is not in their companion), Muhammad ,
(madness) Muhammad is not mad, rather, he is truly the Messenger of Allah, calling to Truth,
(but he is a plain warner), and this is clear for those who have a mind and a heart by which they understand and comprehend. Allah said in another Ayah,
(And (O people) your companion is not a madman.) (81:22) Allah also said,
(Say: "I exhort you to one (thing) only, that you stand up for Allah's sake in pairs and singly, and reflect, there is no madness in your companion. He is only a warner to you in face of a severe torment.'') (34:46) meaning, `I ask you to stand for Allah in sincerity without stubbornness or bias,'
(in pairs and singly) (34:46) individuals and in groups,
(and reflect) (34:46), about this man who brought the Message from Allah, is he mad If you do this, it will become clear to you that he is the Messenger of Allah in truth and justice. Qatadah bin Di'amah said, "We were informed that the Prophet of Allah once was on (Mount) As-Safa and called the Quraysh, subtribe by subtribe, proclaiming,
(O Children of so-and-so, O Children of so-and-so! He warned them against Allah's might and what He has done (such as revenge from His enemies).) Some of them commented, `This companion of yours (Prophet Muhammad) is mad; he kept shouting until the morning' Allah sent down this Ayah,
(Do they not reflect There is no madness in their companion. He is but a plain warner) (7:184).'''
(185. Do they not look in the dominion of the heavens and the earth and all things that Allah has created; and that it may be that the end of their lives is near. In what message after this will they then believe) Allah asks, those who denied faith, did they not contemplate about Our Ayat in the kingdom of the heavens and earth and what was created in them Do they not contemplate about all this and learn lessons from it, so that they are certain that He Who has all this, has no equal or rival All this was made by He Who Alone deserves the worship and sincere religion, so that they might have faith in Him and believe in His Messenger, all the while turning to Allah's obedience, rejecting any rivals to Him, and rejecting idols. They should be warned that their lives may have reached their end, and they, thus, face their demise while disbelievers, ending up in Allah's torment and severe punishment. Allah said,
(In what message after this will they then believe) Allah says, what more warnings, and discouragements should compel them to believe, if the warnings and threats that Muhammad brought them from Allah in His Book do not compel them to do so Allah said next,
(186. Whomsoever Allah sends astray, none can guide him; and He lets them wander blindly in their transgressions.) Allah says, those who were destined to be misguided, then none can lead them to guidance, and even if they try their best effort to gain such guidance, this will not avail them,
(And whomsoever Allah wants to put in Fitnah (error, because of his rejecting of Faith, or trial), you can do nothing for him against Allah) (5:41), and,
(Say: "Behold all that is in the heavens and the earth,'' but neither Ayat nor warners benefit those who believe not) (10:101).
(187. They ask you about the Hour (Day of Resurrection): "When will be its appointed time'' Say: "The knowledge thereof is with my Lord (Alone). None can reveal its time but He. Heavy is its burden through the heavens and the earth. It shall not come upon you except all of a sudden.'' They ask you as if you have a good knowledge of it. Say: "The knowledge thereof is with Allah (Alone), but most of mankind know not.'')