These stubborn, lying disbelievers said, "Why would not a sign be revealed to Muhammad from his Lord.'' They meant a sign such as given to Salih. Allah sent the she-camel to Thamud. They wanted Allah to change the mount of As-Safa into gold or remove the mountains of Makkah and replace them with gardens and rivers. Allah is capable of doing all of that, but He is All-Wise in His actions and statements. Allah said:
(Blessed be He Who, if He wills, will assign you better than (all) that -- Gardens under which rivers flow (Paradise) and will assign you palaces (in Paradise). Nay, they deny the Hour, and for those who deny the Hour, We have prepared a flaming Fire.) (25:10-11) He also said:
(And nothing stops Us from sending the Ayat but that the people of old denied them.) (17:59) Allah's way of dealing with His creatures is that He would give to them if they asked things from Him. But if they then didn't believe He would expedite punishment for them. When Allah's Messenger was given the choice of Allah giving the people what they requested but if they didn't believe they would be punished, or that their request would not be answered immediately, Allah's Messenger chose the latter. Allah guided His Prophet to answer their question by saying:
(Say: "The Unseen belongs only to Allah...'') This Ayah means that the matter in its entirety is for Allah. He is well aware of the outcome of all matters.
("...so wait you, verily, I am with you among those who wait.'') If you would not believe unless you witness that which you asked for, then wait for Allah's judgment for me, as well as for yourselves. Nonetheless, they had witnessed some of the signs and miracles of the Prophet, which were even greater than what they had asked for. In their presence, the Prophet pointed to the moon when it was full and it split into two parts, one part behind the mountain and the other before them. If they were seeking the guidance and firm knowledge by asking for signs, Allah would have known that and would have granted them what had been requested. But Allah knew that it was their obstinacy that was behind their request. Therefore Allah left them to suffer in their suspicion and doubt. Allah knew that none of them would believe. This is similar to Allah's statements:
(Truly, those, against whom the Word (Wrath) of your Lord has been justified, will not believe. Even if every sign should come to them. (10:96-97) and;
(And even if We had sent down unto them angels, and the dead had spoken unto them, and We had gathered together all things before their very eyes, they would not have believed, unless Allah willed.)(6:111) This was in addition to their arrogance. As Allah said in another Ayah:
(And even if We opened to them a gate from the heaven.) (15:14) And He said:
(And if they were to see a piece of the heaven falling down.) (52:44) He also said:
(And even if We had sent down unto you (O Muhammad) a Message written on paper so that they could touch it with their hands, the disbelievers would have said: `This is nothing but obvious magic!') (6:7) Such people don't deserve to have their requests answered, for there is no benefit in answering them. These people are obstinate and stubborn as a result of their corruption and immorality. Therefore Allah told His Messenger to say:
(So wait you, verily, I am with you among those who wait.)
(21. And when We let mankind taste mercy after some adversity has afflicted them, behold! They take to plotting against Our Ayat! Say: "Allah is more swift in planning!'' Certainly, Our messengers (angels) record all of that which you plot.) (22. He it is Who enables you to travel through land and sea, till when you are in the ships, and they sail with them with a favorable wind, and they are glad therein, then comes a stormy wind and the waves come to them from all sides, and they think that they are encircled therein. Then they invoke Allah, making their faith pure for Him (alone), (saying): "If You (Allah) deliver us from this, we shall truly, be of the grateful.'') (23. But when He delivers them, behold! They rebel (disobey Allah) in the earth wrongfully. O mankind! Your rebellion is only against yourselves, -- a brief enjoyment of this worldly life, then (in the end) unto Us is your return, and We shall inform you of that which you used to do.)
Allah tells us that when He makes men feel His mercy after being afflicted with distress,
(They take to plotting against Our Ayat.) The coming of mercy after distress is like the coming of ease after hardship, fertility after aridity, and rain after drought. Mujahid said that man's attitude indicates a mockery and belying of blessings. The meaning here is similar to Allah's statement:
(And when harm touches man, he invokes Us, lying on his side, or sitting or standing.)(10:12) Al-Bukhari recorded that Allah's Messenger led the Subh (Dawn) prayer after it had rained during the night, then he said:
(Do you know what your Lord has said last night) They replied, "Allah and His Messenger know better.'' He said:
(Allah said; "This morning, some of My servants have become believers and some disbelievers in Me. He who said: `We have had this rainfall due to the grace and mercy of Allah' is a believer in Me and a disbeliever in the stars. And he who said `we have had this rainfall due to the rising of such and such star' is a disbeliever in Me and a believer in the stars.) The Ayah:
(Say: "Allah is more swift in planning!'') means that Allah is more capable of gradually seizing them with punishment, while granting them concession of a delay until the criminals think that they would not be punished. But in reality they are in periods of respite, then they will be taken suddenly. The noble writers (meaning the angels who write the deeds) will write everything that they do and keep count of their deeds. Then they will present it before the All-Knowing of the seen and unseen worlds. The Lord will then reward them for the significant deeds and even the seemingly insignificant that may be as tiny as a spot on a date pit. Allah further states:
(He it is Who enables you to travel through land and sea...) which means that He preserves you and maintains you with His care and watching.
(Till when you are in the ships, and they sail with them with a favorable wind, and they are glad therein...) meaning smoothly and calmly;
(then comes (these ships))
(a stormy wind)
(and the waves come to them from all sides, )
(and they think that they are encircled therein) meaning that are going to be destroyed.
(Then they invoke Allah, making their faith pure for Him (alone)) meaning that in this situation they would not invoke an idol or statue besides Allah. They would single Him out alone for their supplications and prayers. This is similar to Allah's statement:
(And when harm touches you upon the sea, those that you call upon vanish from you except Him (Allah alone). But when He brings you safe to land, you turn away (from Him). And man is ever ungrateful.) (17:67) And in this Surah, He says:
(They invoke Allah, making their faith pure for Him (saying): "If You (Allah) deliver us from this (situation).'')
("We shall truly, be of the grateful.'') This means that we will not ascribe others as partners with You. We will later worship You alone as we are praying to You here and now. Allah states;
(But when He delivers them) from that distress,
(behold! They rebel (disobey Allah) in the earth wrongfully...) meaning: they returned as if they had never experienced any difficulties and had never promised Him anything. So Allah said:
(He passes on as if he had never invoked Us for a harm that touched him!)(10:12) Allah then said:
(O mankind! Your rebellion (disobedience to Allah) is only against yourselves,) it is you yourselves that will taste the evil consequence of this transgression. You will not harm anyone else with it, as comes in the Hadith,
(There is no sin that is more worthy that Allah hasten punishment for in this world -- on top of the punishment that Allah has in store for it in the Hereafter -- than oppression and cutting the ties of the womb.) Allah's statement:
(a brief enjoyment of this worldly life...) means that you only have a short enjoyment in this low and abased worldly life.
(then (in the end) unto Us is your return...) meaning your goal and final destination.
(and We shall inform you) of all your deeds. Then we shall recompense you for them. So let him who finds good (in his record) praise Allah, and let him who finds other than that blame no one but himself.
(24. Verily, the parable of the life of the world is as the water which We send down from the sky; so by it arises the intermingled produce of the earth of which men and cattle eat: until when the earth is clad in its adornments and is beautified, and its people think that they have all the powers of disposal over it, Our command reaches it by night or by day and We make it like a clean-mown harvest, as if it had not flourished yesterday! Thus do We explain the Ayat in detail for the people who reflect.) (25. Allah calls to the Abode of Peace (Paradise) and guides whom He wills to the straight path.)