(Then, if they turn away,) meaning, after this declaration and reminder, do not worry about them.
(your duty (O Muhammad) is only to convey (the Message) in a clear way), and you have delivered the Message to them.
(They recognize the grace of Allah, yet they deny it) meaning they know that Allah is the One Who grants these blessings to them, and that He is Bountiful towards them, but they still deny this by worshipping others besides Him and thinking that their help and provisions come from others besides Him.
(and most of them are disbelievers.)
(84. And on the Day when We resurrect a witness from each nation, then those who disbelieve will not be given leave, nor will they be allowed (to return to the world) to repent and ask for Allah's forgiveness.) 85. And once those who did wrong see the torment, it will not decrease for them, nor will they be given respite.) (86. And when those who associated partners with Allah see their partners, they will say: "Our Lord! These are our partners whom we used to call upon besides you.'' But they will throw back their statement at them (saying): "You indeed are liars!'') (87. And they will offer (their full) submission to Allah on that Day, and what they falsely invented will wander away from them.) (88. Those who disbelieved and tried to obstruct the path of Allah, for them We will add torment on top of the torment because of the corruption they spread.)
Allah tells us about the predicament of the idolaters on the Day when they will be resurrected in the realm of the Hereafter. He will raise a witness from every nation - that is - their Prophet, to testify about their response to the Message he conveyed from Allah.
(then, those who disbelieved will not be given leave.) meaning, they will not be allowed to offer any excuse, as Allah says:
(That will be a Day when they do not speak. And they will not be permitted to present any excuse) (77:35-36). Hence, Allah says:
(nor will they be allowed (to return to the world) to repent and ask for Allah's forgiveness. And once those who did wrong see) meaning those who associated others in worship with Allah,
(the torment, it will not decrease for them,) meaning it will not be reduced for them even for a moment.
(nor will they be given respite. ) meaning, it will not be delayed for them, rather they will be taken quickly from the place of gathering, with no calling to account. Then Hell will be brought forth, pulled by seventy thousand ropes, each of which is held by seventy thousand angels, and a neck will stretch forth from Hell towards the people, and it will expel a gust of hot air. No one will be left but will fall to his knees. Then it (the neck that is stretched forth) will say, "I have been entrusted to deal with every stubborn, arrogant one who joined another god with Allah,'' and so and so, mentioning different types of people, as was reported in the Hadith. Then it will come down upon them and pick them up from where they are standing as a bird picks up a seed. Allah says:
(When it (Hell) sees them from a far place, they will hear its raging and its roaring. And when they are thrown into a narrow part of it, chained together, they will cry for destruction. Today, do not scream for one destruction, but scream repeatedly for destruction.) (25:12-14)
(And the guilty shall see the Fire and apprehend that they are about to fall into it. And they will find no way to avoid it.) (18:53)
(If only those who disbelieved knew (about the time) when they will not be able to protect their faces nor their backs from the Fire, and they have no help. Nay, it (the Fire) will come upon them all of a sudden and will perplex them, and they will have no power to avert it nor will they have any respite.) (21:39-40)
Then Allah tells us that their gods will disown them when they need them most. He says:
(And when those who associated partners with Allah see their partners) meaning, those whom they used to worship in this world.'
(they will say: "Our Lord! These are our partners whom we used to call upon besides you.'' But they will throw their statements back at them (saying): "You are indeed liars!'') i.e., those gods will say to them, `you are lying. We never commanded you to worship us.' Allah says:
(And who is more astray than one who calls upon others besides Allah, such as will not answer him till the Day of Resurrection, and who are (even) unaware of their invocations to them And when the people are gathered (on the Day of Resurrection), they (false deities) will become their enemies and will deny their worship,) (46:5-6)
(And they have taken gods besides Allah, that they might give them honor, power and glory. Nay, but they will deny their worship, and become their adversaries (on the Day of Resurrection).) (19:81-82) Al-Khalil (Ibrahim) said:
(but on the Day of Resurrection, you will disown each other) (29:25) And Allah says:
(And it will be said (to them): "Call upon your partners'') (28:64) And there are many other similar Ayat.
(And they will offer (their full) submission to Allah on that Day,) Qatadah and `Ikrimah said: "They will humble themselves and surrender on that Day,'' i.e., they will all surrender to Allah, there will not be anyone who does not hear and obey. As Allah says:
(How clearly will they see and hear, the Day when they will appear before Us!) (19:38) meaning, they will see and hear better than they have ever seen and heard before. And Allah says:
(And if you only could see when the guilty hang their heads before their Lord (saying): "Our Lord! We have now seen and heard.'') (32:12)
(And (all) faces shall be humbled before the Ever Living, the Sustainer.) (20:111) meaning, they will humble and submit themselves.
(And they will offer (their full) submission to Allah on that Day, and what they falsely invented will wander away from them.) The things that they used to worship which were all based on fabrications and lies, will all disappear, and they will have no helper or supporter, and no one to turn to.
Then Allah tells us:
(Those who disbelieved and tried to obstruct the path of Allah, for them We will add torment) meaning one punishment for their disbelief and another punishment for turning others away from following the truth, as Allah says:
(And they prevent others from him and they themselves keep away from him) (6:26) meaning they forbade others to follow him and they themselves shunned him, but:
(they destroyed only themselves, while they do not realize it.) This is evidence that there will be varying levels of punishment for the disbelievers, just as there will be varying degrees of Paradise for the believers, as Allah says:
(For each one there is double (torment), but you know not.) (7:38)
(89. And on the Day when We resurrect a witness from each nation from among themselves, and We bring you (O Muhammad) as a witness against these. And We have revealed the Book (the Qur'an) to you as an explanation of everything, a guidance, a mercy, and good news for the Muslims.)
Allah addressed His servant and Messenger Muhammad , saying:
(And on the Day when We resurrect a witness from each nation from among themselves, and We bring you (O Muhammad) as a witness against these.), meaning, your Ummah. The Ayah means: remember that Day and its terrors, and the great honor and high position that Allah has bestowed upon you. This Ayah is like the Ayah with which `Abdullah bin Mas`ud ended when he recited to the Messenger of Allah from the beginning of Surat An-Nisa'. When he reached the Ayah:
(How (will it be) then, when We bring from each nation a witness and We bring you (O Muhammad) as a witness against these) (4:41) the Messenger of Allah said to him:
(Enough.) Ibn Mas`ud said: "I turned to him and saw his eyes streaming with tears.''
(And We revealed the Book (the Qur'an) to you as an explanation of everything,) Ibn Mas`ud said: "(Allah) made it clear that in this Qur'an there is complete knowledge and about everything.'' The Qur'an contains all kinds of beneficial knowledge, such as reports of what happened in the past, information about what is yet to come, what is lawful and unlawful, and what people need to know about their worldly affairs, their religion, their livelihood in this world, and their destiny in the Hereafter.
(a guidance) means, for their hearts.
(a mercy, and good news for the Muslims.) Al-Awza`i said:
(And We have revealed the Book (the Qur'an) as an explanation of everything,) meaning, with the Sunnah. The is the reason why the phrase,
(And We have revealed the Book to you) is mentioned immediately after the phrase,
(And We shall bring you (O Muhammad) as a witness against these.) the meaning - and Allah knows best - is that the One Who obligated you to convey the Book which He revealed to you, will also ask you about that on the Day of Resurrection.
(Then We shall indeed question those (people) to whom it (the Book) was sent and We shall indeed question the Messengers.) (7:6)
(So by your Lord We question them all about what they did.) (15:92-92)
(On the Day when Allah gathers the Messengers together and says to them: "What was the response you received (to your Message)'' They will say: "We have no knowledge, indeed only You are the Knower of all that is hidden.'') (5:109) And Allah says:
(Verily, He Who obligated the Qur'an upon you (O Muhammad) will surely bring you back to the return.) (28:85) meaning, the One Who gave you the obligation of conveying the Qur'an will bring you back to Him, and your return will be on the Day of Resurrection, and He will question you about you commission of the duty He gave you. This is one of the opinions, and it presents a good understanding of it.
(90. Verily, Allah orders justice and kindness, and giving (help) to the relatives, and He forbids immoral sins, and evil and tyranny. He admonishes you, so that perhaps you may take heed.)
Allah tells us that He commands His servant to be just, i.e., fair and moderate, and that He encourages kindness and good treatment. As He says:
(And if you punish them, then punish them with the like of that with which you were afflicted. But if you have patience with them, then it is better for those who are patient.) (16:126)
(The recompense for an offense is an offense the like thereof; but whoever forgives and makes reconciliation, his reward is with Allah.) (42:40)
(and wounds equal for equal. But if anyone remits the retaliation by way of charity, it shall count as atonement for him.) (5:45) And there are other Ayat which support the institution of justice in Islam, as well as encouraging a fair and generous attitude.
(and giving (help) to relatives,) meaning that Allah is commanding us to uphold the ties of kinship, as He says:
(And give the relative his due and to the poor and to the wayfarer. But do not spend wastefully in the manner of a spendthrift.) (17:26)
(and He forbids immoral sins, and evil) Fahsha' refers to all things that are forbidden, and Munkar refers to those forbidden deeds that are committed openly by the one who does them. Hence Allah says elsewhere:
(Say (O Muhammad): "(But) the things that my Lord has indeed forbidden are the indecencies, whether committed openly or secretly) (7:33) Baghy refers to aggression towards people. In a Hadith, the Prophet said:
(There is no sin more deserving of having its punishment hastened in this world, as well as what is reserved in the Hereafter for the one who does it, than tyrannical aggression and cutting the ties of kinship.)
(He admonishes you,) meaning, He commands what He commands you of good and He forbids what He forbids you of evil;
(so that perhaps you may take heed) Ash-Sha`bi reported that Shatiyr bin Shakl said: "I heard Ibn Mas`ud say: `The most comprehensive Ayah in the Qur'an is in Surat An-Nahl:
(Verily, Allah enjoins justice and kindness...)''' It was reported by Ibn Jarir.
Concerning the revelation of this Ayah, Imam Ahmad reported a Hasan Hadith from `Abdullah bin `Abbas who said: "While the Messenger of Allah was sitting in the courtyard of his house, `Uthman bin Maz`un passed by and smiled at the Messenger of Allah . The Messenger of Allah said to him,
(Won't you sit down) He said, `Certainly.' So the Messenger of Allah sat facing him, and while they were talking, the Messenger of Allah began looking up at the sky, looking at it for a while, then he brought his gaze down until he was looking at the ground to his right. Then the Messenger of Allah turned slightly away from his companion `Uthman to where he was looking. Then he began to tilt his head as if trying to understand something, and Ibn Maz`un was looking on. When the matter was finished and he had understood what had been said to him, the Messenger of Allah stared at the sky again as he had the first time, looking at whatever he could see until it disappeared. Then he turned back to face `Uthman again. `Uthman said, `O Muhammad, I have never seen you do anything like you did today while I was sitting with you.' The Messenger of Allah said:
(What did you see me do) `Uthman said: `I saw you staring at the sky, then you lowered your gaze until you were looking to your right, then you turned to him and left me. Then you tilted your head as if you were trying to understand something that was being said to you.' The Messenger of Allah said,
(Did you notice that) `Uthman said, `Yes'. The Messenger of Allah said:
(A messenger from Allah came to me just now, when you were sitting here.) `Uthman said, `A messenger from Allah' The Messenger of Allah said,
(Yes.) `Uthman said, `And what did he say to you' The Messenger of Allah said:
(Verily, Allah orders justice and kindness...) `Uthman said: `That was when faith was established in my heart and I began to love Muhammad.'' It is a Hasan Hadith having a good connected chain of narrators in which their hearing it from each other is clear.
(91. And fulfill the covenants (taken in the Name of) Allah when you have taken them, and do not break the oaths after you have confirmed them - and indeed you have appointed Allah as your guarantor. Verily, Allah knows what you do.) (92. And do not be like the one who undoes the thread which she has spun, after it has become strong, by taking your oaths as a means of deception among yourselves when one group is more numerous than another group. Allah only tests you by this, and on the Day of Resurrection, He will certainly clarify that which used to differ over.)
This is one of the commands of Allah, to fulfill covenants, keep promises and to fulfill oaths after confirming them. Thus Allah says:
(and do not break the oaths after you have confirmed them) There is no conflict between this and the Ayat:
(And do not use Allah as an excuse in your oaths) (2:224)
(That is the expiation for oaths when you have sworn. And protect your oaths.) (5:89) meaning, do not forgo your oaths without offering the penance. There is also no conflict between this Ayah (16:91) and the Hadith reported in the Two Sahihs according to which the Prophet said:
(By Allah, if Allah wills, I will not swear an oath and then realize that something else is better, but I do that which is better and find a way to free myself from the oath. According to another report he said: "and I offer penance for my oath. '') There is no contradiction at all between all of these texts and the Ayah under discussion here, which is:
(and do not break the oaths after you have confirmed them) because these are the kinds of oaths that have to do with covenants and promises, not the kind that have to do with urging oneself to do something or preventing him from doing something. Therefore Mujahid said concerning this Ayah:
(and do not break the oaths after you have confirmed them) "The oath here refers to oaths made during Jahiliyyah.'' This supports the Hadith recorded by Imam Ahmad from Jubayr bin Mut`im, who said that the Messenger of Allah said:
(There is no oath in Islam, and any oath made during the Jahiliyyah is only reinforced by Islam.) This was also reported by Muslim. The meaning is that Islam does not need oaths as they were used by the people of the Jahiliyyah; adherence to Islam is sufficient to do away with any need for what they used to customarily give oaths for. In the Two Sahihs it was reported that Anas said: "The Messenger of Allah swore the treaty of allegiance between the Muhajirin (emigrants) and the Ansar (helpers) in our house. '' This means that he established brotherhood between them, and they used to inherit from one another, until Allah abrogated that. And Allah knows best.
(Verily, Allah knows what you do.) This is a warning and a threat to those who break their oaths after confirming them.
(And do not be like the one who undoes the thread which she has spun, after it has become strong,) `Abdullah bin Kathir and As-Suddi said: "This was a foolish woman in Makkah. Every time she spun thread and made it strong, she would undo it again.'' Mujahid, Qatadah and Ibn Zayd said: "This is like the one who breaks a covenant after confirming it.'' This view is more correct and more apparent, whether or not there was a woman in Makkah who undid her thread after spinning it. The word Ankathan could be referring back to the word translated as "undoes'', reinforcing the meaning, or it could be the predicate of the verb "to be'', meaning, do not be Ankathan, the plural of Nakth (breach, violation), from the word Nakith (perfidious). Hence after this, Allah says:
(by taking your oaths as a means of deception among yourselves) meaning for the purposes of cheating and tricking one another.
(when one group is more numerous than another group. ) meaning, you swear an oath with some people if they are more in number than you, so that they can trust you, but when you are able to betray them you do so. Allah forbids that, by showing a case where treachery might be expected or excused, but He forbids it. If treachery is forbidden in such a case, then in cases where one is in a position of strength it is forbidden more emphatically. Mujahid said: "They used to enter into alliances and covenants, then find other parties who were more powerful and more numerous, so they would cancel the alliance with the first group and make an alliance with the second who were more powerful and more numerous. This is what they were forbidden to do.'' Ad-Dahhak, Qatadah and Ibn Zayd said something similar.
(Allah only tests you by this) Sa`id bin Jubayr said: "This means (you are tested) by the large numbers.'' This was reported by Ibn Abi Hatim. Ibn Jarir said: "It means (you are being tested) by His command to you to adhere to your covenants.''
(And on the Day of Resurrection, He will certainly clarify that which you differed over.) Everyone will be rewarded or punished in accordance with his deeds, good or evil.
(93. And had Allah willed, He would have made you (all) one nation, but He allows whom He wills to stray and He guides whom He wills. But you shall certainly be called to account for what you used to do.) (94. And do not make your oaths a means of deception among yourselves, resulting in the slip of a foot after it was firmly planted, and you taste the evil of having hindered from the path of Allah, and you will suffer a terrible punishment.) (95. And do not use an oath by Allah for the purchase of little value, what is with Allah is better for you if you only knew.) (96. Whatever you have will be exhausted, and what is with Allah will remain. And to those who are patient, We will certainly grant them their rewards in proportion to the best of what they used to do.)