Allah tells us about what happened to past generations when they belied the Messengers and the clear signs and proofs the latter brought to them. Allah then made this nation successors after them. He sent to them a Messenger to test their obedience to Him and following His Messenger. Muslim recorded that Abu Nadrah reported from Abu Sa`id that he said: "Allah's Messenger said:
(The world is indeed sweet and green; and verily Allah is going to install you generations after generations in it in order to see how you act. So safeguard yourselves against the world and avoid (the trial caused by) women. For the first trial of the Children of Israel was due to women…) Ibn Jarir reported from `Abdur-Rahman from Ibn Abi Layla that `Awf bin Malik said to Abu Bakr: "In a dream, I saw a rope hanging from the sky and Allah's Messenger was being raised. The rope was suspended again and Abu Bakr was raised. Then people were given different measurements around the Minbar, and `Umar was favored with three forearm measurements.'' `Umar said: "Keep your dream away from us, we have no need for it.'' When `Umar succeeded, he called for `Awf and said to him, "Tell me about your dream'' `Awf said: "Do you need to hear about my dream now Did you not scold me before'' He then said, "Woe unto you! I hated for you to announce it to the successor of Allah's Messenger himself.'' So `Awf related his dream until he got to the three forearms, he said: "One that he was Khalifah, second he did not -- for the sake of Allah -- fear the blame of blamers, and third he was a martyr.'' Allah said:
(Then We made you successors after them, generations after generations in the land, that We might see how you would work.)(10:14) Then he said: "Son of the mother of `Umar, you have been appointed as Khalifah, so look at what you will do! About not fearing the blame of blamers, that is Allah's will. About becoming a martyr, how can `Umar reach that when the Muslims are in support of him''
(15. And when Our clear Ayat are recited unto them, those who hope not for their meeting with Us, say: "Bring us a Qur'an other than this, or change it.'' Say: "It is not for me to change it on my own accord; I only follow that which is revealed unto me. Verily, I fear the torment of the Great Day (the Day of Resurrection) if I were to disobey my Lord.'') (16. Say: "If Allah had so willed, I should not have recited it to you nor would He have made it known to you. Verily, I have stayed among you a lifetime before this. Have you then no sense'')
Allah tells us about the obstinance of the disbelievers of the Quraysh, who were opposed to the message and denied Allah. When the Messenger read to them from the Book of Allah and His clear evidence they said to him: "Bring a Qur'an other than this.'' They wanted the Prophet to take back this Book and bring them another book of a different style or change it to a different form. So Allah said to His Prophet:
(Say: "It is not for me to change it on my own accord;) This means that it is not up to me to do such a thing. I am but a servant who receives commands. I am a Messenger conveying from Allah.
(I only follow that which is revealed unto me. Verily, I fear the torment of the Great Day (the Day of Resurrection) if I were to disobey my Lord.)
(Say: "If Allah had so willed, I should not have recited it to you nor would He have made it known to you...'') This indicates that he brought this only with the permission and will of Allah for him to do so. The proof of this was that he had not fabricated it himself and that they were incapable of refuting it, and that they should be fully aware of his truthfulness and honesty since he grew up among them, until Allah sent the Message to him. The Prophet was never criticized for anything or held in contempt. So he said,
(Verily, I have stayed among you a lifetime before this. Have you then no sense) Which meant "don't you have brains with which you may distinguish the truth from falsehood'' When Heraclius, the Roman king, asked Abu Sufyan and those who were in his company about the Prophet, he said: "Have you ever accused him of telling lies before his claim'' Abu Sufyan replied: "No.'' Abu Sufyan was then the head of the disbelievers and the leader of the idolaters, but he still admitted the truth. This is a clear and irrefutable testimony since it came from the enemy. Heraclius then said: "I wondered how a person who does not tell a lie about others could ever tell a lie about Allah.'' Ja`far bin Abu Talib said to An-Najashi, the king of Ethiopia: "Allah has sent to us a Messenger that we know his truthfulness, ancestral lineage, and honesty. He stayed among us before the prophethood for forty years.''
(17. So who does more wrong than he who forges a lie against Allah or denies His Ayat Surely, the criminals will never be successful!)
No one is more of a criminal or has committed greater wrong than such a person. Liars cannot be confused with Prophets. Anyone who claims such a thing, whether lying or telling the truth, will necessarily be supported by Allah with proofs and signs of his falsehood or truthfulness. The difference between Muhammad and Musaylamah the liar, was clearer to those who met both of them than the difference between forenoon and midnight when it is extremely dark. Those who are clear-sighted can distinguish via signs and proofs between the truthfulness of Muhammad and the falsehood of Musaylamah the liar, Sajah and Al-Aswad Al-`Ansi. Abdullah bin Salam said: "When Allah's Messenger arrived at Al-Madinah, people were scared away and I was one of them. But when I saw him, I realized that his face could never be the face of a liar. The first thing I heard from him was his statement:
(O people, spread the greetings of peace, feed others, be dutiful to your relatives and offer prayers in the night when others are asleep so that you will enter Paradise in peace.)'' When Dimam bin Tha`labah came to Allah's Messenger and asked him in the presence of his people -- Banu Sa`d bin Bakr: "Who raised this heaven'' He replied, ا. (Allah). He asked: "And who erected these mountains'' He replied, ا. (Allah). He asked: "Who spread out this earth'' He replied, ا. (Allah). Then he asked: "I ask you in the name of the One, Who raised the heavens, erected the mountains, and spread out this earth, has Allah sent you as a Messenger to all mankind'' He said,
(By Allah, Yes!) Then Dimam asked him about Salah, Zakah, Hajj and fasting. With every question he swore by Allah and with every response the Prophet swore also. Dimam then said: "You indeed are telling the truth. By the One Who sent you with the truth I will not increase or decrease from what you have told me.'' This man was content with the few responses of the Prophet. He was convinced of the Prophet's truthfulness by the signs that he saw and witnessed. It was narrated that `Amr bin Al-`As went to Musaylamah. `Amr was not a Muslim at that time and he was a friend of Musaylamah. Musaylamah said: "Woe unto you `Amr. What was revealed unto your friend -- meaning Allah's Messenger -- during this period'' `Amr replied: "I heard his companions reading a short but great Surah.'' He asked, "And what was that'' He recited:
(By Al-`Asr (the time). Verily, man is in loss.) [103:1-2] until the end of the Surah. Musaylamah thought for a while and then said: "Something similar to that was also revealed to me.'' `Amr asked: "And what is it'' He then recited: "O Wabr, O Wabr! You are only two ears and a breast. The rest of you is hollow.' What do you think, `Amr'' `Amr then said: "By Allah, you know that I know that you are a liar.'' This was a statement made by an idolater in judgment of Musaylamah. He knew Muhammad and his truthfulness. He also knew Musaylamah and his tendency toward falsehood and lying. People who think and have insight know even better. Allah said:
(And who does more aggression and wrong than he who invents a lie against Allah or rejects His Ayat.) [6:21]
(So who does more wrong than he who forges a lie against Allah or denies His Ayat Surely, the criminals will never be successful!) [10:17] No one is more unjust than he who belies the truth which the Messengers have brought supported with evidence and proof.
(18. And they worship besides Allah things that harm them not, nor profit them, and they say: "These are our intercessors with Allah.'' Say: "Do you inform Allah of that which He knows not in the heavens and on the earth'' Glorified and Exalted is He above all that which they associate as partners (with Him)!) (19. Mankind were but one community, then they differed (later); and had not it been for a Word that went forth before from your Lord, it would have been settled between them regarding what they differed.)
Allah reproaches the idolaters that worshipped others beside Allah, thinking that those gods would intercede for them before Allah. Allah states that these gods do not harm or benefit. They don't have any authority over anything, nor do they own anything. These gods can never do what the idolaters had claimed about them. That is why Allah said:
(Say: `Do you inform Allah of that which He knows not in the heavens and on the earth') Ibn Jarir said: "This means, `Are you telling Allah about what may not happen in the heavens and earth' Allah then announced that His Glorious Self is far above their Shirk and Kufr by saying:
(Glorified and Exalted is He above all that which they associate as partners (with Him)!)
Allah then tells us that Shirk was new among mankind. It was not in existence in the beginning. He tells us that people were believers in one religion and that religion was Islam. Ibn `Abbas said: "There were ten centuries between Adam and Nuh. They were all on Islam. Then differences among people took place. They worshipped idols and rivals. So Allah sent extensive evidence and irrefutable proof with His Messengers.''
(So that those who were to be destroyed (for rejecting the faith) might be destroyed after a clear evidence, and those who were to live might live after a clear evidence. (8:42) Allah's statement:
(And had not it been for a Word that went forth before from your Lord...) means that if Allah had not decreed He would not punish anyone until the evidence is established against them. And also that if He had not given creatures a respite until a defined term had passed, He would have judged among them in what they disputed. Then He would have caused the believers to be happy and delighted and the disbelievers to be miserable and wretched.
(20. And they say: "How is it that not a sign is sent down on him from his Lord'' Say: "The Unseen belongs only to Allah, so wait you, verily, I am with you among those who wait.'')