Warning the disbelievers of the Quraysh for rejecting His Messenger Muhammad, Allah says that He destroyed other nations who rejected the Messengers after Nuh. This indicates that during the centuries between Adam and Nuh, humans were following Islam, as Ibn `Abbas said: "Between Adam and Nuh there were ten generations, during all of which humans were following Islam.'' The meaning (of the Ayah) is: "You disbelievers are not more dear to Allah than they were, and you have rejected the most noble of the Messengers and the best of creation, so you are more deserving of punishment.''
(And sufficient is your Lord as All-Knower and Seer of the sins of His servants.) means, He knows everything they do, good and evil, and nothing at all is hidden from Him, may He be glorified and exalted.
(18. Whoever desires the quick-passing (transitory enjoyment of this world), We readily grant him what We will for whom We like. Then, afterwards, We have appointed for him Hell; he will burn therein disgraced and rejected.) (19. And whoever desires the Hereafter and strives for it, with the necessary effort due for it while he is a believer, then such are the ones whose striving shall be appreciated, (rewarded by Allah).)
Allah tells us that not everyone who desires this world and its luxuries gets what he wants. That is attained by those whom Allah wants to have it, and they get what He wills that they should get. This Ayah narrows down the general statements made in other Ayat. Allah says:
(We readily grant him what We will for whom We like. Then, afterwards, We have appointed for him Hell) meaning, in the Hereafter,
(he will burn therein) means, he will enter it until it covers him on all sides,
(disgraced) means, blamed for his bad behaviour and evil deeds, because he chose the transient over the eternal,
(rejected.) means, far away (from Allah's mercy), humiliated and put to shame.
(And whoever desires the Hereafter) wanting the Hereafter and its blessings and delights,
(and strives for it, with the necessary effort due for it) seeking it in the right way, which is following the Messenger .
(while he is a believer,) means, his heart has faith, i.e., he believes in the reward and punishment,
(then such are the ones whose striving shall be appreciated, (rewarded by Allah).)
(20. On each these as well as those We bestow from the bounties of your Lord. And the bounties of your Lord can never be forbidden.) (21. See how We prefer one above another (in this world), and verily, the Hereafter will be greater in degrees and greater in preferment.) Allah says:
On each meaning, on each of the two groups, those who desire this world and those who desire the Hereafter, We bestow what they want
(from the bounties of your Lord.) means, He is the One Who is in control of all things, and He is never unjust. He gives to each what he deserves, whether it is eternal happiness or doom. His decree is unstoppable, no one can withhold what He gives or change what He wants. Allah says:
(And the bounties of your Lord can never be forbidden.) meaning, no one can withhold or prevent them. Qatadah said,
(And the bounties of your Lord can never be forbidden.) "(It means) they can never decrease''.
(And the Bounties of your Lord can never be forbidden) Al-Hasan and others said, "(It means) they can never be prevented.'' Then Allah says:
(See how We prefer one above another,) meaning in this world, so that some are rich and some are poor, and others are in between; some are beautiful, some are ugly and others are in between; some die young while others live to a great age, and some die in between.
(and verily, the Hereafter will be greater in degrees and greater in preferment.) means, the differences between them in the Hereafter will be greater than the differences between them in this world. Some of them will be in varying levels of Hell, in chains and fetters, while others will be in the lofty degrees of Paradise, with its blessings and delights. The people of Hell will vary in their positions and levels, just as the people of Paradise will. In Paradise there are one hundred levels, and the distance between one level and another is like the distance between heaven and earth. It is recorded in the Two Sahihs that the Prophet said:
(The people of the highest levels (of Paradise) will see the people of `Illiyin as if they are looking at distant stars on the horizon.) Allah says:
(and verily, the Hereafter will be greater in degrees and greater in preferment.)
(22. Set not up with Allah any other ilah (god), or you will sit down reproved, forsaken (in the Hellfire).)
Addressing those who are responsible among this Ummah, Allah says, "Do not admit any partner into your worship of your Lord.''
(or you will sit down reproved,) meaning, because of associating others with Him.
(forsaken.) means, because the Lord, may He be exalted, will not help you; He will leave you to the one whom you worshipped, and he has no power either to benefit or to harm, because the Only One Who has the power to benefit or to harm is Allah alone, with no partner or associate. Imam Ahmad reported that `Abdullah bin Mas`ud said: "The Messenger of Allah said:
(Whoever is afflicted with poverty and goes and asks people for help, will never get rid of his poverty, but if he asks Allah for help, then Allah will grant him the means of independence sooner or later.) This was also recorded by Abu Dawud and At-Tirmidhi, who said, "Hasan Sahih Gharib''.
(23. And your Lord has Qada (decreed) that you worship none but Him. And that you be dutiful to your parents. If one of them or both of them attain old age in your life, say not to them a word of disrespect, nor reprimand them but address them in terms of honor.) (24. And lower unto them the wing of submission and humility through mercy, and say: "My Lord! Bestow on them Your mercy as they did bring me up when I was young.'')
Allah commands us to worship Him alone, with no partner or associate. The word Qada ﴿normally having the meaning of decree﴾ here means "commanded''. Mujahid said that
(And He has Qada) means enjoined. This is also how Ubayy bin Ka`b, Ibn Mas`ud and Ad-Dahhak bin Muzahim recited the Ayah as:
"And your Lord has Wassa (enjoined) that you worship none but Him.'' The idea of worshipping Allah is connected to the idea of honoring one's parents. Allah says:
(And that you be dutiful to your parents.) Here He commands good treatment of parents, as He says elsewhere:
(give thanks to Me and to your parents. Unto Me is the final destination) (31:14)
(If one of them or both of them attain old age in your life, say not to them a word of disrespect,) means, do not let them hear anything offensive from you, not even say "Uff!'' which is the mildest word of disrespect,
(and do not reprimand them) means, do not do anything horrible to them.
(and do not reprimand them) `Ata' bin Rabah said that it meant, "Do not raise your hand against them.'' When Allah forbids speaking and behaving in an obnoxious manner, He commands speaking and behaving in a good manner, so He says:
(but address them in terms of honor.) meaning gently, kindly, politely, and with respect and appreciation.
(And lower unto them the wing of submission and humility through mercy,) means, be humble towards them in your actions.
(and say: "My Lord! Bestow on them Your Mercy as they did bring me up when I was young.'') means, say this when they grow old and when they die. Ibn `Abbas said: "But then Allah revealed:
(It is not (proper) for the Prophet and those who believe to ask Allah's forgiveness for the idolaters...)'' (9:13) There are many Hadiths which speak about honoring one's parents, such as the Hadith narrated through a number of chains of narration from Anas and others, which states that the Prophet climbed up on the Minbar, and then said, ((Amin, Amin, Amin.)) It was said, "O Messenger of Allah, why did you say Amin'' He said:
(Jibril came to me and said, "O Muhammad, he is doomed who hears you mentioned and does not say Salla upon you.'' He said, "Say Amin,'' so I said Amin. Then he said, "He is doomed who sees the month of Ramadan come and go, and he has not been forgiven.'' He said, "Say Amin,'' so I said Amin. Then he said, "He is doomed who grows up and both his parents or one of them are still alive, and they do not cause him to enter Paradise.'' He said, "Say Amin,'' so I said Amin.)
(He is doomed, he is doomed, he is doomed, the man whose parents, one or both of them, reach old age while he is alive and he does not enter Paradise.) This version is Sahih although no one recorded it other than Muslim.
Imam Ahmad recorded Mu`awiyah bin Jahimah As-Salami saying that Jahimah came to the Prophet and said: "O Messenger of Allah, I want to go out to fight and I have come to seek your advice.'' He said,
(Do you have a mother) He said, "Yes.'' The Prophet said,
(Then stay with her, for Paradise is at her feet.) Similar incidents were also recorded by others. This was recorded by An-Nasa'i and Ibn Majah.
Imam Ahmad recorded that Al-Miqdam bin Ma`dikarib said that the Prophet said:
(Allah enjoins you concerning your fathers, Allah enjoins you concerning your mothers, Allah enjoins you concerning your mothers, Allah enjoins you concerning your mothers, Allah enjoins you concerning your close relatives then the next in closeness.) This was recorded by Ibn Majah from the Hadith of `Abdullah bin `Ayyash.
Ahmad recorded that a man from Banu Yarbu` said: "I came to the Prophet while he was talking to the people, and I heard him saying,
(The hand of the one who gives is superior. (Give to) your mother and your father, your sister and your brother, then the closest and next closest.)''
(25. Your Lord knows best what is in your souls. If you are righteous, then, verily, He is Ever Most Forgiving to those who turn to Him in repentance.)
Sa`id bin Jubayr said: "This refers to a man who said something that he did not think would be offensive to his parents.'' According to another report: "He did not mean anything bad by that.'' So Allah said:
(Your Lord knows best what is in your souls. If you are righteous,)
(He is Ever Most Forgiving to those who turn to Him in repentance.) Qatadah said: "To the obedient who pray.''
(He is Ever Most Forgiving to those who turn to Him in repentance.) Shu`bah narrated from Yahya bin Sa`id from Sa`id bin Al-Musayyib; "This refers to those who commit sin then repent, and commit sin then repent.'' `Ata' bin Yasar, Sa`id bin Jubayr and Mujahid said: "They are the ones who return to goodness.'' Mujahid narrated from `Ubayd bin `Umayr, concerning this Ayah: "This is the one who, when he remembers his sin when he is alone, he seeks the forgiveness of Allah.'' Mujahid agreed with him on that. Ibn Jarir said: "The best view on this matter is of those who said that it refers to the one who repents after committing sin, who comes back from disobedience to obedience and who leaves that which Allah hates for that which He loves and is pleased with. '' What he said is correct, for Allah says,
(Verily, to Us will be their return) (88:25). And according to a Sahih Hadith, the Messenger of Allah would say when he returned from a journey,
(We have returned repenting, worshipping and praising our Lord.)
(26. And give to the kinsman his due, and to the Miskin (poor), and to the wayfarer. But spend not wastefully (your wealth) in the manner of a spendthrift.) (27. Verily, the spendthrifts are brothers of the Shayatin (devils), and the Shaytan is ever ungrateful to his Lord.) (28. And if you turn away from them and you are awaiting a mercy from your Lord for which you hope, then, speak unto them a soft, kind word.)