In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.
(1. Alif-Lam-Ra. These are Ayat of the Book and a plain Qur'an.) (2. How much would those who disbelieved wish that they had been Muslims.) (3. Leave them to eat and enjoy, and let them be preoccupied with (false) hope. They will come to know!)
We have already discussed the letters which appear at the beginning of some Surahs. Allah said:
(How much would those who disbelieved wish) Here Allah tells us that they will regret having lived in disbelief, and will wish that they had been Muslims in this world. Regarding Allah's saying,
(How much would those who disbelieved wish that they had been Muslims.) Sufyan Ath-Thawri reported from Salamah bin Kuhayl, who reported from Abi Az-Za`ra', from `Abdullah, who said: "This is about the Jahannamiyyun (the sinners among the believers who will stay in Hell for some time), when they (the disbelievers) see them being brought out of Hell.''
(How much would those who disbelieved wish that they had been Muslims.) Ibn Jarir reported that Ibn `Abbas and Anas bin Malik explained that this Ayah refers to the Day when Allah will detain the sinful Muslims in Hell along with the idolaters. He said: "The idolaters will say to them, `What you used to worship on earth has not helped you.' Then by virtue of His mercy, Allah will be angry for their sake, and He will remove them (from it). That is when
(How much would those who disbelieved wish that they had been Muslims).''
(Leave them to eat and enjoy) this is a stern and definitive threat for them, like His saying,
(Say: "Enjoy your brief life! But certainly, your destination is the Fire!'') (14:30)
((O disbelievers!) Eat and enjoy yourselves (in this worldly life) for a little while. Verily, you are the guilty.)(77:46) Allah says:
(let them be preoccupied with false hope.) i.e., distracted from repentance and turning to Allah, for
(They will soon come to know!) that is, their punishment.
(4. And never did We destroy a township but there was a known decree for it.) (5. No nation can advance its term, nor delay it.)
Allah is informing us that He never destroys a township until He has established evidences for it and its allotted time has ended. When the time for a nation's destruction has come, He never delays it, and He never moves its appointed time forward. This was a message and a warning to the people of Makkah, telling them to give up their Shirk, their stubbornness and disbelief for which they deserved to be destroyed.
(6. And they say: "O you (Muhammad) to whom the Dhikr (the Qur'an) has been revealed! Verily, you are a madman!) (7. "Why do you not bring angels to us if you are of the truthful'') (8. We do not send the angels down except with the truth, and in that case, they (the disbelievers) would have no respite!) (9. Verily, We, it is We Who revealed the Dhikr (i.e. the Qur'an) and surely We will guard it (from corruption).)
Allah tells us about the disbelief, arrogance and stubbornness of the disbelievers as reflected in their words:
(O you (Muhammad) to whom the Dhikr (the Qur'an) has been revealed!) i.e., the one who claims to receive it.
(Verily, you are a mad man!) i.e., by your invitation to us to follow you and leave the way of our forefathers.
(Why do you not bring angels to us) i.e., to bear witness to the accuracy of what you have brought to us is true, if you are really telling the truth This is similar to what Pharaoh said:
(Why then are not golden bracelets bestowed on him, or angels sent along with him)(43:53). And Allah said:
(And those who do not expect a meeting with Us (i.e., those who deny the Day of Resurrection and the life of the Hereafter), say: "Why are not the angels sent down to us, or why do we not see our Lord'' Indeed they think too highly of themselves, and are scornful with great pride. On the Day that they do see the angels - there will be no good news given on that day to the guilty. And they (angels) will say: "All kinds of glad tidings are forbidden for you.'') (25:21-22) For this reason Allah said:
(We do not send the angels down except with the truth, and in that case, they (the disbelievers) would have no respite!) Mujahid said in this Ayah:
(We do not send the angels down except with the truth) "﴿i.e.,﴾ with the Message and the punishment.'' Then Allah, may He be exalted, stated that He is the One Who revealed the Dhikr to him, which is the Qur'an, and He is protecting it from being changed or altered.
(10. Indeed, We sent (Messengers) before you (O Muhammad) amongst the earlier communities.) (11. And there never came a Messenger to them but that they mocked him.) (12. Thus We allow it to enter the hearts of the guilty.) (13. They would not believe in it (the Qur'an); and already the example of the ancients has gone forth.)
Consoling His Messenger for the rejection of the disbelieving Quraysh, Allah says that He has sent Messengers before him to the nations of the past, and no Messenger came to a nation but they rejected him and mocked him. Then He tells him that He lets disbelief enter the hearts of those sinners who are too stubborn and too arrogant to follow His guidance.
(Thus We allow it to enter the hearts of the guilty.) Anas and Al-Hasan Al-Basri said that this referred to Shirk.
(and already the example of the ancients has gone forth.) meaning the destruction wrought by Allah on those who rejected His Messengers, and how He saved His Prophets and their followers in this world and in the Hereafter, is well known.
(14. And even if We opened to them a gate to the heavens and they were to continue ascending through it (all day long).) (15. They would surely say (in the evening): "Our eyes have been (as if) dazzled (we have not seen any angel or heaven). Nay, we are a people bewitched.'')