Here Allah refutes those who denied that human Messengers could be sent:
(And We sent not before you but men to whom We revealed.) meaning, all the Messengers who came before you were men, human beings. There were no angels among them. This is like the Ayat:
(And We sent not before you any but men unto whom We revealed, from among the people of townships) (12:109)
(Say: "I am not a new thing among the Messengers...) (46:9) Allah tells us that the previous nations denied that and said:
("Shall mere men guide us'') (64:6). So Allah says here:
(So ask the people of the Reminder if you do not know.) meaning, ask the people of knowledge among the nations such as the Jews and Christians and other groups: `were the Messengers who came to you human beings or angels' Indeed they were human beings. This is a part of the perfect blessing of Allah towards His creation: He sent to them Messengers from among themselves so that they could receive the Message from them and learn from them.
(And We did not place them in bodies that did not eat food...) meaning, rather they had bodies that ate food, as Allah says:
(And We never sent before you any of the Messengers but verily, they ate food and walked in the markets) (25:20) meaning, they were human beings who ate and drank like all other people, and they went to the marketplaces to earn a living and engage in business; that did not affect them adversely or reduce their status in any way, as the idolators imagined.
(And they say: "Why does this Messenger eat food, and walk about in the markets. Why is not an angel sent down to him to be a warner with him Or (why) has not a treasure been granted to him, or why has he not a garden whereof he may eat'') (25:7-8)
(nor were they immortals) meaning, in this world; on the contrary, they lived, then they died.
(And We granted not to any human being immortality before you) (21:34) But what distinguished them from others was that they received revelation from Allah, and the angels brought down to them from Allah His rulings concerning His creation, what He commanded and what He prohibited.
Then We fulfilled to them the promise. the promise that their Lord made to destroy the evildoers. Allah fulfilled His promise and did that. He says:
(So We saved them and those whom We willed,) meaning, their followers among the believers,
(but We destroyed Al-Musrifin.) meaning, those who disbelieved the Message brought by the Messengers.
(10. Indeed, We have sent down for you a Book in which there is Dhikrukum. Will you not then understand) (11. How many a town given to wrongdoing, have We destroyed, and raised up after them another people!) (12. Then, when they sensed Our torment, behold, they (tried to) flee from it.) (13. Flee not, but return to that wherein you lived a luxurious life, and to your homes, in order that you may be questioned.) (14. They cried: "Woe to us! Certainly we have been wrongdoers.'') (15. And that cry of theirs ceased not, till We made them as a field that is reaped, extinct.)
Allah points out the noble status of the Qur'an and urges them to recognize its worth:
(Indeed, We have sent down for you a Book in which there is Dhikrukum). Ibn `Abbas said: "Honor for you.''
(Will you not then understand) means, will you not understand this blessing, and accept it This is like the Ayah:
(And verily, this is indeed a Reminder for you and your people, and you will be questioned.) (43:44)
(How many a town given to wrongdoing, have We destroyed,) meaning, they were very many. This is like the Ayah:
(And how many generations have We destroyed after Nuh!) (17:17)
(And many a township did We destroy while they were given to wrongdoing, so that it lie in ruins) (22:45).
(and raised up after them another people!) means, another nation which came after them.
(Then, when they sensed Our torment,) when they realized that the torment would undoubtedly come upon them, just as their Prophet had warned them,
(behold, they (tried to) flee from it.) they tried to run away.
(Flee not, but return to that wherein you lived a luxurious life, and to your homes,) This is a way of ridiculing them. It will be said to them by way of ridicule: "Do not run away from the coming torment; go back to the delights and luxuries and fine homes in which you were living.'' Qatadah said, "Mocking them.''
(in order that you may be questioned) about whether you gave thanks for what you had.
(They cried: "Woe to us! Certainly we have been wrong- doers.'') They will confess their sins when it will be of no benefit to them.
(And that cry of theirs ceased not, till We made them as a field that is reaped, extinct.) meaning, "they will keep on saying that, admitting their wrong- doing, until We harvest them as it were, and their movements and voices come to a stop.''
(16. We created not the heavens and the earth and all that is between them for play.) (17. Had We intended to take a pastime, We could surely have taken it from Us, if We were going to do (that).) (18. Nay, We fling the truth against the falsehood, so it destroys it, and behold, it disappears. And woe to you for that which you ascribe.) (19. To Him belongs whosoever is in the heavens and on earth. And those who are near Him are not too proud to worship Him, nor are they weary.) (20. They glorify His praises night and day, they never slacken.)
Allah tells us that He created the heavens and the earth in truth, i.e. with justice.
(that He may requite those who do evil with that which they have done, and reward those who do good, with what is best.) (53:31). He did not create all that in vain or for (mere) play:
(And We created not the heaven and the earth and all that is between them without purpose! That is the consideration of those who disbelieve! Then woe to those who disbelieve from the Fire!) (38:27)
(Had We intended to take a pastime, We could surely have taken it from Us, if We were going to do (that).) Ibn Abi Najih said, narrating from Mujahid:
(Had We intended to take a pastime, We could surely have taken it from Us,) "Meaning, `From Ourself,' He is saying, `We would not have created Paradise or Hell or death or the resurrection or the Reckoning.'''
(if We were going to do (that). ) Qatadah, As-Suddi, Ibrahim An-Nakha`i and Mughirah bin Miqsam said: "This means, `We will not do that.''' Mujahid said, every time the word
(if) is used in the Qur'an, it is a negation.
(Nay, We fling the truth against the falsehood,) means, `We explain the truth and thus defeat falsehood.' Allah says:
(so it destroys it, and behold, it disappears.) it is fading and vanishing.
(And woe to you) O you who say that Allah has offspring.
(for that which you ascribe.) that which you say and fabricate. Then Allah informs of the servitude of the angels, and how they persevere in worship night and day:
(To Him belongs whosoever is in the heavens and on earth. And those who are near Him) i.e., the angels,
(are not too proud to worship Him,) they do not feel proud and do not refuse to worship Him. This is like the Ayah:
(Al-Masih will never be proud to reject being a servant of Allah, nor the angels who are the near. And whosoever rejects His worship and is proud, then He will gather them all together unto Himself.) (4:172)
(nor are they weary.) means, they do not get tired or feel bored.
(They glorify His praises night and day, they never slacken.) They persist in their worship night and day, obeying Allah to the utmost, and they are able to do this, as Allah says:
(Who do not disobey Allah in what He commands them, but do what they are commanded) (66:6)
(21. Or have they taken (for worship) gods from the earth who raise the dead) (22. Had there been therein (in the heavens and the earth) gods besides Allah, then verily, both would have been ruined. Glorified be Allah, the Lord of the Throne, (High is He) above all that (evil) they associate with Him!) (23. He cannot be questioned as to what He does, while they will be questioned.)
Allah denounces those who take other gods instead of Him:
(Or have they taken gods from the earth who raise the dead) meaning, can they bring the dead back to life and bring them forth from the earth They cannot do any of that, so how can they make them rivals to Allah and worship them alongside Him Then Allah tells us that if there were another god besides Him, the heavens and the earth would be ruined:
(Had there been therein gods) means, in the heavens and the earth,
(then verily, both would have been ruined.) This is like the Ayah:
(No son did Allah beget, nor is there any god along with Him. Then each god would have taken away what he had created, and some would have tried to overcome others! Glorified be Allah above all that they attribute to Him!) (23:91). And Allah says here:
(Glorified be Allah, the Lord of the Throne, above all that they associate with Him!) meaning, glorified be He above what they say about Him having offspring or partners; glorified and exalted and sanctified be He far above all the lies that they fabricate.
(He cannot be questioned about what He does, while they will be questioned.) He is the Ruler Whose rule cannot be overturned and none can object to it, because of His might, majesty, pride, knowledge, wisdom, justice and subtlety.
(while they will be questioned.) means, He is the One Who will ask His creation about what they did. This is like the Ayah:
(So, by your Lord, We shall certainly call all of them to account. For all that they used to do.) (15:92-93)
(And He protects (all), while against Whom there is no protector) (23:88)
(24. Or have they taken for worship gods besides Him Say: "Bring your proof. This is the Reminder for those with me and the Reminder for those before me.'' But most of them know not the Truth, so they are averse.) (25. And We did not send any Messenger before you but We revealed to him (saying): "There is no God but I, so worship Me.'')
(Or have they taken for worship gods besides Him Say:) -- O Muhammad --
(Bring your proof.) your evidence for what you are saying.
(This is the Reminder for those with me) means, the Qur'an.
(and the Reminder for those before me) means, the previous Books, unlike what you claim. Each Book was revealed to each Prophet who was sent with the message that there is no god except Allah, but you idolators do not recognize the truth, so you turn away from it. Allah says:
(And We did not send any Messenger before you but We revealed to him (saying): "There is no god but I. ..'') This is like the Ayat:
(And ask those of Our Messengers whom We sent before you: "Did We ever appoint gods to be worshipped besides the Most Gracious'') (43:45)
(And verily, We have sent among every Ummah a Messenger (proclaiming): "Worship Allah, and avoid Taghut (all false deities).'') (16:36) Every Prophet who was sent by Allah called people to worship Allah Alone, with no partner or associate. The natural inclination of man (Al-Fitrah) also bears witness to that. The idolators have no proof and their dispute is of no use before their Lord; on them is wrath, and for them will be a severe torment.
(26. And they say: "The Most Gracious has begotten children.'' Glory to Him! They are but honored servants.) (27. They speak not until He has spoken, and they act on His command.) (28. He knows what is before them, and what is behind them, and they cannot intercede except for him with whom He is pleased. And they stand in awe for fear of Him.) (29. And if any of them should say: "Verily, I am a god besides Him,'' such We should recompense with Hell. Thus We recompense the wrongdoers.)