(Allah is He Who created you, then provided food for you,) means, He is the Creator and Provider. He brings man forth from his mother's womb naked and knowing nothing, not able to see or hear, and having no strength. Then He provides him with all these things, giving him household effects, clothing, wealth, possessions and earnings.
(then will cause you to die,) means, after this life.
(then (again) He will give you life.) means, on the Day of Resurrection.
(Is there any of your partners) means, those whom you worship instead of Allah,
(that do anything of that) meaning, none of them are able to do any of that. But Allah is the One Who is Independent in His powers of creation, provision, and giving life and death. Then He will resurrect His creation on the Day of Resurrection. This is why, after all this He says:
(Glory be to Him! And Exalted be He above all that they associate. ) meaning, exalted and sanctified and glorified be He far above having any partner, peer, equal, son or father, for He is the One, the Unique, the Self-Sufficient Master, Who begets not nor was He begotten, and there is none comparable unto Him.
(41. Evil has appeared in Al-Barr and Al-Bahr because of what the hands of men have earned, that He may make them taste a part of that which they have done, in order that they may return.) (42. Say: "Travel in the land and see what was the end of those before (you)! Most of them were idolaters.'')
Ibn `Abbas, `Ikrimah, Ad-Dahhak, As-Suddi and others said: "What is meant by Al-Barr here is the empty land or wilderness, and by Al-Bahr is towns and cities.'' According to a report narrated from Ibn `Abbas and `Ikrimah, Al-Bahr refers to towns and cities which are on the banks of rivers. Others said that what was meant was the usual meaning of the words, i.e., land and sea. Zayd bin Rafi` said:
(Evil has appeared) "The rain is withheld from the land and this is followed by famine, and it is withheld from the sea, adversely affecting the animals which live in it.'' This was recorded by Ibn Abi Hatim, who said: "Muhammad bin `Abdullah bin Yazid Al-Muqri' told us, from Sufyan from Humayd bin Qays Al-A`raj from Mujahid:
(Evil has appeared on land and sea) "Evil on land means the killing of the son of Adam, and evil on the sea means piracy.'' According to the first opinion, the phrase,
(Evil has appeared on land and sea because of what the hands of men have earned,) means the shortfall in the crops and fruits is because of sins. Abu Al-`Aliyah said: "Whoever disobeys Allah in the earth has corrupted it, because the good condition of the earth and the heavens depends on obedience to Allah.'' Hence it says in the Hadith which was recorded by Abu Dawud:
(Any prescribed punishment which is carried out in the land is better for its people than if it were to rain for forty days.) The reason for that is that if the prescribed punishments are carried out, this will deter the people -- most or many of them -- from violating the prohibitions of Allah. If they give up sin, this will be a cause of blessings in the skies and on the earth. So, when `Isa bin Maryam, peace be upon him, comes down at the end of time, he will judge according to this Shari`ah at that time, and will kill the pigs and break the cross and abolish the Jizyah. He will accept nothing except Islam or the sword. When Allah destroys the Dajjal and his followers, and Ya'juj and Ma'juj during his time, it will be said to the earth, bring forth your blessing. Then groups of people will eat from one pomegranate, and will seek shade beneath its skin, and the milk of one pregnant camel will be sufficient for a group of people. This will only be because of the blessings that will result from application of the Shari`ah of Muhammad. The more justice is established, the more the blessings and good things will increase. It was reported in the Sahih:
(When the evildoer dies, it is a relief for the people, the land, the trees and the animals.) Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal recorded that Abu Qahdham said: "At the time of Ziyad or Ibn Ziyad, a man found a cloth in which were wrapped grains of wheat which were as big as date stones; on it was written: `This grew at a time when justice prevailed.'''
(that He may make them taste a part of that which they have done,) means, He tries them with the loss of wealth, souls and fruits as a test and as a punishment for what they have done.
(in order that they may return.) means, from disobedience. This is like the Ayah,
(And We tried them with good and evil in order that they might turn.) (7:168). Then Allah says:
(Say: "Travel in the land and see what was the end of those before (you)!'') meaning, those who came before you.
(Most of them were idolaters.) means, so see what happened to them when they rejected the Messengers and were ungrateful for the blessings.
(43. So, set you your face to the straight and right religion, before there comes from Allah a Day which none can avert. On that Day men shall be divided.) (44. Whosoever disbelieves will suffer from his disbelief, and whosoever does righteous good deeds, then such will prepare a good place for themselves.) (45. That He may reward those who believe and do righteous good deeds, out of His bounty. Verily, He likes not the disbelievers.)
Here Allah commands His servants to hasten to obedience to Him and to hasten to do good deeds.
(So, set you your face to the straight and right religion, before there comes from Allah a Day which none can avert.) The Day of Resurrection, for when Allah wants it to happen, no one will be able to avert it.
(On that Day men shall be divided.) means, they will be separated, with one group in Paradise and another in Hell. Allah says:
(Whosoever disbelieves will suffer from his disbelief, and whosoever does righteous good deeds, then such will prepare a good place for themselves. That He may reward those who believe. and do righteous good deeds, out of His bounty.) meaning that He may reward them from His bounty, in return for one good deed, he will get the reward for ten, up to seven hundred like it, as much as Allah wills.
(Verily, He likes not the disbelievers.) yet He is still just with them and does not oppress them.
(46. And among His signs is this that He sends the winds as glad tidings, giving you a taste of His mercy, and that the ships may sail at His command, and that you may seek of His bounty, in order that you may be thankful.) (47. And indeed We did send Messengers before you to their own peoples. They came to them with clear proofs, then, We took vengeance on those who committed crimes; and it was incumbent upon Us to help the believers.)
Here Allah mentions the favor He does for His creatures by sending winds to them, as harbingers of His mercy, meaning that they will be followed by rain. Allah says:
(giving you a taste of His mercy,) that is, the rain which will come down and revive people and the land.
(and that the ships may sail at His command,) means, on the sea, for they are driven by the wind.
(and that you may seek of His bounty,) means, by trading, earning a living and traveling from one country to another, one region to another.
(in order that you may be thankful.) means, that you may give thanks to Allah for the innumerable favors He has done for you, both visible and hidden. Then Allah says:
(And indeed We did send Messengers before you to their own peoples. They came to them with clear proofs, then, We took vengeance on those who committed crimes;) These are words of consolation from Allah to His servant and Messenger Muhammad. They tell him that if many of his people and of mankind disbelieve in him, the previous Messengers were also rejected, despite the clear signs that they brought, but Allah punished those who rejected and opposed them, and saved those who believed in them.
(and it was incumbent upon Us to help the believers.) This is a duty which Allah took upon Himself as a blessing and a favor to them. This is like the Ayah,
(your Lord has prescribed mercy for Himself) (6:54). Ibn Abi Hatim recorded that Abu Ad-Darda' (may Allah be pleased with him) said: "I heard Allah's Messenger saying:
(No Muslim man defends the honor of his brother except that there would be a right upon Allah to defend him from the fire of Hell on the Day of Resurrection.) Then he recited this Ayah:
(and it was incumbent upon Us to help the believers.)''
(48. Allah is He Who sends the winds, so that they raise clouds and spread them along the sky as He wills, and then break them into fragments until you see rain drops come forth from their midst! Then when He has made them fall on whom of His servants as He wills, lo, they rejoice!) (49. And verily, before that -- just before it was sent down upon them -- they were in despair!) (50. Look then at the effects of Allah's mercy, how He revives the earth after its death. Verily, that shall indeed raise the dead, and He is able to do all things.) (51. And if We send a wind, and they see it turn yellow -- behold, they then would become unthankful (disbelievers).)