Allah threatens the idolaters who denied and opposed His Messenger Muhammad and He warns them of the punishment and painful torment He sent upon the previous nations who rejected their Messengers. Allah begins by mentioning Musa, upon him be peace, whom He sent along with his brother Harun as a helper -- i.e., as another Prophet who helped and supported him -- but Fir`awn and his chiefs denied them both:
(Allah destroyed them completely, and similar (awaits) the disbelievers) (47:10). And when the people of Nuh denied him, Allah destroyed them likewise, for whoever denies one Messenger denies all the Messengers, because there is no difference between one Messenger and another. If it had so happened that Allah had sent all His Messengers to them, they would have denied them all. Allah says:
(And Nuh's people, when they denied the Messengers,) although Allah sent only Nuh to them, and he stayed among them for 950 years, calling them to Allah and warning them of His punishment,
(And none believed with him, except a few) (11:40). For this reason Allah drowned them all and left no one among the sons of Adam alive on earth apart from those who boarded the boat,
(and We made them a sign for mankind.) meaning a lesson to be learned. This is like the Ayah,
(Verily, when the water rose beyond its limits, We carried you in the boat. That We might make it a remembrance for you, and the keen ear may understand it) (69:11-12), which means: `We left for you ships that you ride upon to travel across the depths of the seas, so that you may remember the blessing of Allah towards you when He saved you from drowning, and made you the descendants of those who believed in Allah and followed His commandments.'
(And (also) `Ad and Thamud, and the Dwellers of Ar-Rass,) We have already discussed their story, which is referred to in more than one Surah, such as Surat Al-A`raf, and there is no need to repeat it here. As for the Dwellers of Ar-Rass, Ibn Jurayj narrated from Ibn `Abbas about the Dwellers of Ar-Rass that they were the people of one of the villages of Thamud. Ath-Thawri narrated from Abu Bukayr from `Ikrimah that Ar-Rass was a well where they buried (Rassu) their Prophet.
(and many generations in between. ) means nations, many more than have been mentioned here, whom We destroyed. Allah said:
(And for each We put forward examples,) meaning, `We showed them the proof and gave them clear evidence,' as Qatadah said, "They had no excuse.''
(and each (of them) We brought to utter ruin.) means, `We destroyed them completely.' This is like the Ayah,
(And how many generations (Qurun) have We destroyed after Nuh!) (17:17). "Generations'' (Qurun) here refers to nations among mankind. This is like the Ayah,
(Then, after them, We created other generations (Qurun).) (23:42) Some defined a generation as being 120 years, or it was said that a generation was one hundred years, or eighty, or forty, etc. The most correct view is that a generation refers to nations who are one another's contemporaries, living at the same time. When they go and others succeed them, this is another generation, as it was recorded in the Two Sahihs:
(The best of generations is my generation, then the one that follows it, then the one that follows that.)
(And indeed they have passed by the town on which was rained the evil rain.) refers to the town of the people of Lut, which was called Sodom, and the way in which Allah dealt with it, when He destroyed it by turning it upside down and by sending upon it the rain of stones of baked clay, as Allah says:
(And We rained on them a rain. And how evil was the rain of those who had been warned!) (26:176),
(Verily, you pass by them in the morning. And at night; will you not then reflect) (37:137-138),
(And verily, they were right on the highroad.) (15:76),
(They are both on an open highway, plain to see) (15:79). Allah says:
(Did they not then see it) meaning, so that they might learn a lesson from what happened to its inhabitants of punishment for denying the Messenger and going against the commands of Allah.
(Nay! But they used not to expect any resurrection.) means, the disbelievers who passed by it did not learn any lesson, because they did not expect any resurrection, i.e., on the Day of Judgment.
(41. And when they see you, they treat you only in mockery (saying): "Is this the one whom Allah has sent as a Messenger'') (42. "He would have nearly misled us from our gods, had it not been that we were patient and constant in their worship!'' And they will know, when they see the torment, who it is that is most astray from the path!) (43. Have you seen him who has taken as his god his own vain desire Would you then be a guardian over him) (44. Or do you think that most of them hear or understand They are only like cattle -- nay, they are even farther astray from the path.)
Allah tells us how the disbelievers mocked the Messenger when they saw him. This is like the Ayah,
(And when the disbelievers see you, they take you not except for mockery) (21:36), which means that they tried to find faults and shortcomings in him. Here Allah says:
(And when they see you, they treat you only in mockery (saying): "Is this the one whom Allah has sent as a Messenger'') i.e., they said this by way of belittling and trying to undermine him, so Allah put them in their place, and said:
(And indeed Messengers before you were mocked at) (6:10)
(He would have nearly misled us from our gods,) They meant: `he nearly turned us away from worshipping idols, and he would have done so, had we not been patient and persevered in our ways.' So Allah said, warning and threatening them:
(And they will know, when they see the torment...)
Then Allah tells His Prophet that if Allah decrees that someone will be misguided and wretched, then no one can guide him except Allah, glory be to Him:
(Have you seen him who has taken as his god his own vain desire) meaning, whatever he admires and sees as good in his own desires becomes his religion and his way. As Allah says:
(Is he then, to whom the evil of his deeds is made fair seeming. So that he consider it as good. Verily, Allah sends astray whom he wills.) (35:8)
(Would you then be a guardian over him) Ibn `Abbas said: "During the Jahiliyyah, a man would worship a white rock for a while, then if he saw another that looked better, he would worship that and leave the first.'' Then Allah said:
(Or do you think that most of them hear or understand) meaning, they are worse than grazing cattle. Cattle only do what they were created to do, but these people were created to worship Allah Alone without associating partners with Him, but they worship others with Him, even though evidence has been established against them and Messengers have been sent to them.
(45. Have you not seen how your Lord spread the shadow. If He willed, He could have made it still -- but We have made the sun its guide.) (46. Then We withdraw it towards Ourselves -- a gradual withdrawal.) (47. And it is He Who makes the night a covering for you, and the sleep (as) a repose, and makes the day Nushur.)
Here Allah begins explaining the evidence for His existence and His perfect power to create various things and pairs of opposites. Allah says:
(Have you not seen how your Lord spread the shadow.) Ibn `Abbas, Ibn `Umar, Abu Al-`Aliyah, Abu Malik, Masruq, Mujahid, Sa`id bin Jubayr, An-Nakha`i, Ad-Dahhak, Al-Hasan, Qatadah, As-Suddi and others said, "This refers to the period from the beginning of the dawn until the sun rises.''
(If He willed, He could have made it still) meaning, immobile, never changing. This is like the Ayat:
(Say: "Tell me! If Allah made the night continuous for you...'') (28:71)
(but We have made the sun its guide.) means, were it not for the sun rising, it would not be there, for a thing can only be known in contrast to its opposite. Qatadah and As-Suddi said, "The sun is a guide which follows the shade until the shade disappears. ''
(Then We withdraw it towards Ourselves -- a gradual withdrawal.) This refers to the shade.
(gradual) meaning slowly. As-Suddi said: "A gentle, concealed, withdrawal until there is no shade left on earth except under a roof or a tree, and the sun is shining on whatever is above it.''
(a gradual withdrawal.) Ayyub bin Musa said: "Little by little.
(And it is He Who makes the night a covering for you,) It covers and conceals all things. This is like the Ayah:
(By the night as it envelops) (92:1).
(and the sleep a repose,) means, a halt to movement so that bodies may rest. For the faculties and limbs get tired from their constant movement during the day when one goes out to earn a living. When night comes, and it becomes quiet, they stop moving, and rest; so sleep provides a rejuvenation for both the body and the soul.
(and makes the day Nushur) meaning, people get up and go out to earn a living and attend to their business. This is like the Ayah:
(It is out of His mercy that He has made for you the night and the day that you may rest therein and that you may seek of His bounty...) (28:73)
(48. And it is He Who sends the winds as heralds of glad tidings, going before His mercy; and We send down pure water from the sky,) (49. That We may give life thereby to a dead land, and We give to drink thereof many of the cattle and men that We have created.) (50. And indeed We have distributed it among them in order that they may remember the grace of Allah, but most men refuse (out of) gratitude.)
Allah sends the winds as heralds of glad tidings, i.e., they bring the clouds behind them. The winds are of many different types, depending on the purpose for which they are sent. Some of them form the clouds, others carry the clouds or drive them, and others come ahead of the clouds as heralds announcing their coming. Some of them come before that to stir up the earth, and some of them fertilize or "seed'' the clouds to make it rain. Allah says:
(and We send down pure water from the sky), meaning, as a means of purifying it. Abu Sa`id said, "It was said: "O Messenger of Allah, can we perform Wudu' with the water of the well of Buda`ah For it is a well in which rubbish and the flesh of dogs are thrown. He said:
(Water is pure and nothing makes it impure.) This was recorded by Ash-Shafi`i and Ahmad, who graded it Sahih, and also by Abu Dawud and At-Tirmidhi, who graded it Hasan, and by An-Nasa'i. His saying:
(That We may give life thereby to a dead land,) means, a land that waited a long time for rain. It is devoid of vegetation or anything at all. When the rain comes to it, it becomes alive and its hills are covered with all kinds of colorful flowers, as Allah says:
(but when We send down water to it, it is stirred to life and growth...) (41:39). His saying:
(and We give to drink thereof many of the cattle and men that We had created. ) means, so that animals such as cattle can drink from it, and people who are in desperate need of water can drink from it and water their crops and fruits. This is like the Ayah:
(And He it is Who sends down the rain after they have despaired,) (42:28)
(Look then at the effects of Allah's mercy, how He revives the earth after its death.) (30:50) His saying:
(And indeed We have distributed it among them in order that they may remember) means, `We cause rain to fall on this land and not on that, and We cause the clouds to pass over one land and go to another, where We cause sufficient rain to fall so that its people have plenty, but not one drop falls on the first land.' There is a reason and great wisdom behind this. Ibn `Abbas and Ibn Mas`ud (may Allah be pleased with them) said: "One year does not have more rain than another, but Allah distributes the rain as He wills. Then he recited this Ayah:
(And indeed We have distributed it (rain or water) amongst them in order that they may remember the grace of Allah, but most men refuse (out of) ingratitude. )'' meaning, so that they may be reminded, when Allah brings the dead earth back to life, that He is able to bring the dead and dry bones back to life, or that those from whom rain is withheld are suffering this because of some sin they have committed, so that they may give it up.
(but most men refuse (out of) ingratitude.) `Ikrimah said, "This refers to those who say that rain comes because of such and such a star.'' This view of `Ikrimah is similar to the authentic Hadith recorded in Sahih Muslim; one day after a night's rain, the Messenger of Allah said to his Companions:
(Do you know what your Lord says) They said: "Allah and His Messenger know best.'' He said:
(He says: "This morning some of My servants became believers in Me, and some became disbelievers. As for the one who said, `We have been given rain by the mercy and grace of Allah,' he is a believer in Me and a disbeliever in the stars. As for the one who said, `We have been given rain by such and such a star,' he is a disbeliever in Me and a believer in the stars.'')
(51. And had We willed, We would have raised a warner in every town.) (52. So obey not the disbelievers, but strive against them with the utmost endeavor with it.) (53. And it is He Who has let free the two seas, this is palatable and sweet, and that is salty and bitter; and He has set a barrier and a complete partition between them.) (54. And it is He Who has created man from water, and has appointed for him kindred by blood, and kindred by marriage. And your Lord is Ever All-Powerful to do what He wills.)
(And had We willed, We would have raised a warner in every town.) `Calling them to Allah, but We have singled you out, O Muhammad, to be sent to all the people of earth, and We have commanded you to convey the Qur'an,'
(that I may therewith warn you and whomsoever it may reach) (6:19).
(but those of the sects that reject it, the Fire will be their promised meeting place) (11:17).
(that you may warn the Mother of the Towns and all around it) (42:7).
(Say: "O mankind! Verily, I am sent to you all as the Messenger of Allah...'') (7:158). In the Two Sahihs (it is reported that the Prophet said:)
(I have been sent to the red and the black.) And:
(...A Prophet would be sent to his own people, but I have been sent to all of mankind.) Allah says:
(So obey not the disbelievers, but strive hard against them with it.) meaning, with the Qur'an. This was the view of Ibn `Abbas.
(with the utmost endeavour.) This is like the Ayah,
(O Prophet! Strive hard against the disbelievers and the hypocrites,) (9:73)
(And it is He Who has let free the two seas, this is palatable and sweet, and that is salty and bitter;) means, He has created the two kinds of water, sweet and salty. The sweet water is like that in rivers, springs and wells, which is fresh, sweet, palatable water. This was the view of Ibn Jurayj and of Ibn Jarir, and this is the meaning without a doubt, for nowhere in creation is there a sea which is fresh and sweet. Allah has told us about reality so that His servants may realize His blessings to them and give thanks to Him. The sweet water is that which flows amidst people. Allah has portioned it out among His creatures according to their needs; rivers and springs in every land, according to what they need for themselves and their lands.
(and that is salty and bitter;) meaning that it is salty, bitter and not easy to swallow. This is like the seas that are known in the east and the west, the Atlantic Ocean and the Straits that lead to it, the Red Sea, the Arabian Sea, the Persian Gulf, the China Sea, the Indian Ocean, the Mediterranean Sea, the Black Sea and so on, all the seas that are stable and do not flow, but they swell and surge in the winter and when the winds are strong, and they have tides that ebb and flow. At the beginning of each month the tides ebb and flood, and when the month starts to wane they retreat until they go back to where they started. When the crescent of the following month appears, the tide begins to ebb again until the fourteenth of the month, then it decreases. Allah, may He be glorified, the One Whose power is absolute, has set these laws in motion, so all of these seas are stationary, and He has made their water salty lest the air turn putrid because of them and the whole earth turn rotten as a result, and lest the earth spoil because of the animals dying on it. Because its water is salty, its air is healthy and its dead are good (to eat), hence when the Messenger of Allah was asked whether sea water can be used for Wudu', he said:
(Its water is pure and its dead are lawful.) This was recorded by Malik, Ash-Shafi`i and Ahmad, and by the scholars of Sunan with a good (Jayyid) chain of narration.
(and He has set a barrier and a complete partition between them. ) meaning, between the sweet water and the saltwater.
(a barrier) means a partition, which is dry land.
(and a complete partition) means, a barrier, to prevent one of them from reaching the other. This is like the Ayat:
(He has let loose the two seas meeting together. Between them is a barrier which none of them can transgress. Then which of the blessings of your Lord will you both deny) (55:19-21)
(Is not He Who has made the earth as a fixed abode, and has placed rivers in its midst, and placed firm mountains therein, and set a barrier between the two seas Is there any god with Allah Nay, but most of them know not!) (27:61)
(And it is He Who has created man from water,) means, He created man from a weak Nutfah, then gave him shape and formed him, and completed his form, male and female, as He willed.
(and has appointed for him kindred by blood, and kindred by marriage.) in the beginning, he is someone's child, then he gets married and becomes a son-in-law, then he himself has sons-in-law and other relatives through marriage. All of this comes from a despised liquid, Allah says:
(And your Lord is Ever All-Powerful to do what He wills.)
(55. And they worship besides Allah, that which can neither profit them nor harm them; and the disbeliever is ever a helper against his Lord.) (56. And We have sent you only as a bearer of good news and a warner.) (57. Say: "No reward do I ask of you for this, save that whosoever wills may take a path to his Lord.'') (58. And put your trust in the Ever Living One Who dies not, and glorify His praises, and sufficient is He as the All-Knower of the sins of His servants,) (59. Who created the heavens and the earth and all that is between them in six Days. Then He rose over (Istawa) the Throne. The Most Gracious! Ask Him, as He is the All-Knower.) (60. And when it is said to them: "Prostrate yourselves to Ar-Rahman!'' They say: "And what is Ar-Rahman Shall we fall down in prostration to that which you command us'' And it increases in them only aversion.)