Here Allah consoles His Prophet Muhammad for the disbelief of those among his people who opposed him.
(And if they deny you, so did deny before them the people of Nuh) until His saying,
(and denied was Musa.) means, despite all the clear signs and evidence that they brought.
(But I granted respite to the disbelievers for a while,) means, `I delayed and postponed.'
(then I seized them, and how (terrible) was My punishment!) means, `how great was My vengeance against them and My punishment of them!' In the Two Sahihs it is reported from Abu Musa that the Prophet said:
(Allah lets the wrongdoer carry on until, when He seizes him, He will never let him go.) Then he recited:
(Such is the punishment of your Lord when He seizes the towns while they are doing wrong. Verily, His punishment is painful (and) severe.) (11:102) Then Allah says:
(And many a township did We destroy)
(while they were given wrongdoing,) meaning, they were rejecting their Messengers.
(so that it lie in ruins,) Ad-Dahhak said, "(Leveled to) their roofs,'' i.e., their houses and cities were destroyed.
(and (many) a deserted well) means, they draw no water from it, and no one comes to it, after it had been frequented often by crowds of people.
(and a castle Mashid!) `Ikrimah said, "This means whitened with plaster.'' Something similar was narrated from `Ali bin Abi Talib, Mujahid, `Ata', Sa`id bin Jubayr, Abu Al-Mulayh and Ad-Dahhak. Others said that it means high and impenetrable fortresses. All of these suggestions are close in meaning and do not contradict one another, for this sturdy construction and great height did not help their occupants or afford them any protection when the punishment of Allah came upon them, as He says:
("Wheresoever you may be, death will overtake you even if you are in Buruj Mushayyadah!'') (4:78)
(Have they not traveled through the land,) means, have they not traveled in the physical sense and also used their minds to ponder That is sufficient, as Ibn Abi Ad-Dunya said in his book At-Tafakkur wal-I`tibar, "Some of the wise people said, `Give life to your heart with lessons, illuminate it with thought, kill it with asceticism, strengthen it with certain faith, remind it of its mortality, make it aware of the calamities of this world, warn it of the disasters that life may bring, show it how things may suddenly change with the passing of days, tell it the stories of the people of the past, and remind it what happened to those who came before.''' Walk through their ruins, see what they did and what became of them, meaning, look at the punishments and divine wrath that struck the nations of the past who belied,
(and have they hearts wherewith to understand and ears wherewith to hear) meaning, let them learn a lesson from that.
(Verily, it is not the eyes that grow blind, but it is the hearts which are in the breasts that grow blind.) means, the blind person is not the one whose eyes cannot see, but rather the one who has no insight. Even if the physical eyes are sound, they still cannot learn the lesson.
(47. And they ask you to hasten on the torment! And Allah fails not His promise. And verily a day with your Lord is as a thousand years of what you reckon.) (48. And many a township did I give respite while it was given to wrongdoing. Then I seized it (with punishment). And to Me is the (final) return (of all).)
Allah tells His Prophet :
(And they ask you to hasten on the torment!) meaning, these disbelievers who disbelieve in Allah and His Book and His Messenger and the Last Day. This is like the Ayat:
(And (remember) when they said: "O Allah! If this is indeed the truth from You, then rain down stones on us from the sky or bring on us a painful torment.'') (8:32)
(They say: "Our Lord! Hasten to us Qittana (our punishment) before the Day of Reckoning!'') (38:16).
(And Allah fails not His promise.) means, His promise to bring about the Hour and wreak vengeance upon His enemies, and to honor His close friends.
(And verily a day with your Lord is as a thousand years of what you reckon. ) means, He does not hasten, for what is counted as a thousand years with His creation is as one day with Him, and He knows that He is able to exact revenge and that He will not miss a thing, even if He delays and waits and postpones. Hence He then says:
(And many a township did I give respite while it was given to wrongdoing. Then I seized it (with punishment). And to Me is the (final) return (of all).) Ibn Abi Hatim recorded from Abu Hurayrah that the Messenger of Allah said:
(The poor among the Muslims will enter Paradise half a day before the rich -- five hundred years.) This was recorded by At-Tirmidhi and An-Nasa'i from the Hadith of Ath-Thawri from Muhammad bin `Amr. At-Tirmidhi said, "Hasan Sahih.'' Abu Dawud recorded at the end of Book of Al-Malahim in his Sunan from Sa`d bin Abi Waqqas that the Prophet said:
(I hope that it will not be too much for my Ummah if Allah delays them for half a day.) It was said to Sa`d, "What does half a day mean'' He said, "Five hundred years.''
(49. Say: "O mankind! I am (sent) to you only as a plain warner.'') (50. So those who believe and do righteous good deeds, for them is forgiveness and Rizq Karim.) (51. But those who strive against Our Ayat to frustrate them, they will be dwellers of the Hellfire.)
Allah said to His Prophet , when the disbelievers asked him to hasten on the punishment for them:
(Say: "O mankind! I am (sent) to you only as a plain warner.'') meaning, `Allah has sent me to you to warn you ahead of the terrible punishment, but I have nothing to do with your reckoning. Your case rests with Allah: if He wills, He will hasten on the punishment for you; and if He wills, He will delay it for you. If He wills he will accept the repentance of those who repent to Him; and if He wills, He will send astray those who are decreed to be doomed. He is the One Who does whatsoever He wills and wants and chooses.
(There is none to put back His judgement and He is swift at reckoning.) (13:41)
(I am (sent) to you only as a plain warner. So those who believe and do righteous good deeds,) means, whose hearts believe and whose actions confirm their faith.
(for them is forgiveness and Rizq Karim.) means, forgiveness for their previous bad deeds, and a great reward in return for a few good deeds. Muhammad bin Ka`b Al-Qurazi said, "When you hear Allah's saying:
(Rizq Karim) this means Paradise.''
(But those who strive against Our Ayat to frustrate them,) Mujahid said, "To discourage people from following the Prophet .'' This was also the view of `Abdullah bin Az-Zubayr, "to discourage.'' Ibn `Abbas said, "To frustrate them means to resist the believers stubbornly.''
(they will be dwellers of the Hellfire.) This refers to the agonizingly hot Fire with its severe punish- ment, may Allah save us from it. Allah says:
(Those who disbelieved and hinder (men) from the path of Allah, for them We will add torment to the torment because they used to spread corruption) (16:88)
(52. Never did We send a Messenger or a Prophet before you but when he did recite (the revelation or narrated or spoke), Shaytan threw (some falsehood) in his recitation (of the revelation). But Yansakh Allah that which Shaytan throws in. Then Allah establishes His revelations. And Allah is All-Knower, All-Wise:) (53. That He (Allah) may make what is thrown in by Shaytan a trial for those in whose hearts is a disease and whose hearts are hardened. And certainly, the wrongdoers are in an opposition far-off (from the truth).) (54. And that those who have been given knowledge may know that it (this Qur'an) is the truth from your Lord, so that they may believe therein, and their hearts may submit to it with humility. And verily, Allah is the Guide of those who believe, to the straight path.)
At this point many of the scholars of Tafsir mentioned the story of the Gharaniq and how many of those who had migrated to Ethiopia came back when they thought that the idolators of the Quraysh had become Muslims, but these reports all come through Mursal chains of narration and I do not think that any of them may be regarded as Sahih. And Allah knows best. Al-Bukhari said, "Ibn `Abbas said,
(in his recitation (of the revelation).) "When he spoke, the Shaytan threw (some falsehood) into his speech, but Allah abolished that which the Shaytan threw in.''
(Then Allah establishes His revelations.) `Ali bin Abi Talhah reported that Ibn `Abbas said,
(when he did recite (the revelation), Shaytan threw (some falsehood) in it) "When he spoke, the Shaytan threw (some falsehood) into his speech.'' Mujahid said:
(when he did recite) "When he spoke.'' It was said that it refers to his recitation, whereas,
(but they trust upon Amani) means they speak but they do not write. Al-Baghawi and the majority of the scholars of Tafsir said:
(he did recite) "Reciting the Book of Allah.''
(Shaytan threw (some falsehood) in it) "In his recitation.'' Ad-Dahhak said:
(when he did recite) "When he recited.'' Ibn Jarir said, "This comment is more akin to interpretation.''
(But Yansakh Allah that which Shaytan throws in.) The meaning of the word Naskh in Arabic is to remove or lift away. `Ali bin Abi Talhah reported that Ibn `Abbas said, "This means, Allah cancels out that which the Shaytan throws in.''
(And Allah is All-Knower,) means, He knows all matters and events that will happen, and nothing whatsoever is hidden from Him.
(All-Wise.) means, in His decree, creation and command, He has perfect wisdom and absolute proof, hence He says:
(That He (Allah) may make what is thrown in by Shaytan a trial for those in whose hearts is a disease) meaning, doubt, Shirk, disbelief and hypocrisy. Ibn Jurayj said:
(those in whose hearts is a disease) "The hypocrites, and
(and whose hearts are hardened.) means the idolators.''
(And certainly, the wrongdoers are in an opposition far-off.) means, far away in misguidance, resistance and stubbornness, i.e., far from the truth and the correct way.
(And that those who have been given knowledge may know that it is the truth from your Lord, so that they may believe therein,) means, `so that those who have been given beneficial knowledge with which they may differentiate between truth and falsehood, those who believe in Allah and His Messenger, may know that what We have revealed to you is the truth from your Lord, Who has revealed it by His knowledge and under His protection, and He will guard it from being mixed with anything else.' Indeed, it is the Wise Book which,
(Falsehood cannot come to it from before it or behind it, (it is) sent down by the All-Wise, Worthy of all praise (Allah).) (41:42)
(so that they may believe therein,) means, that they may believe that it is true and act upon it.
(and their hearts may submit to it with humility.) means, that their hearts may humble themselves and accept it.
(And verily, Allah is the Guide of those who believe, to the straight path.) means, in this world and in the Hereafter. In this world, He guides them to the truth and helps them to follow it and to resist and avoid falsehood; in the Hereafter, He will guide them to the straight path which leads to the degrees of Paradise, and He will save them from the painful torment and the dismal levels of Hell.
(55. And those who disbelieved, will not cease to be in doubt about it until the Hour comes suddenly upon them, or there comes to them the torment of Yawm `Aqim.) (56. The sovereignty on that Day will be that of Allah. He will judge between them. So those who believed and did righteous good deeds will be in Gardens of Delight.) (57. And those who disbelieved and denied Our Ayat, for them will be a humiliating torment (in Hell).)