(Have they not traveled), `these people who disbelieve in your Message, O Muhammad,'
(in the land and seen what was the end of those who were before them) means, the nations of the past who disbelieved in their Prophets (peace be upon them), for which the punishment came upon them even though they were stronger than Quraysh.
(and in the traces in the land.) means, they left behind traces in the earth, such as structures, buildings and dwellings which these people (i.e., the Quraysh) cannot match. This is like the Ayat:
(And indeed We had firmly established them with that wherewith We have not established you!) (46:26)
(and they tilled the earth and populated it in greater numbers than these have done) (30:9). Yet despite this great strength, Allah punished them for their sin, which was their disbelief in their Messengers.
(And none had they to protect them from Allah.) means, they had no one who could protect them or ward off the punishment from them. Then Allah mentions the reason why He punished them, and the sins which they committed. Allah says:
(That was because there came to them their Messengers with clear evidences) meaning with clear proof and definitive evidence.
(but they disbelieved.) means, despite all these signs, they disbelieved and rejected the Message.
(So Allah seized them.) means, He destroyed them utterly, and a similar fate awaits the disbelievers.
(Verily, He is All-Strong, Severe in punishment) means, He is possessed of great strength and might.
(Severe in punishment,) means, His punishment is severe and agonizing; we seek refuge with Allah, may He be blessed and exalted, from that.
(23. And indeed We sent Musa with Our Ayat, and a manifest authority,) (24. To Fir`awn, Haman and Qarun, but they called (him): "A sorcerer, a liar!'') (25. Then, when he brought them the Truth from Us, they said: "Kill with him the sons of those who believe and let their women live;'' but the plots of disbelievers are nothing but in vain!) (26. Fir`awn said: "Leave me to kill Musa, and let him call his Lord! I fear that he may change your religion, or that he may cause mischief to appear in the land!'') (27. Musa said: "Verily, I seek refuge in my Lord and your Lord from every arrogant who believes not in the Day of Reckoning!'')
Allah consoles His Prophet Muhammad for the disbelief of his people and gives him the glad tidings of good consequences and victory in this world and the Hereafter, as happened to Musa bin `Imran (peace be upon him) whom Allah sent with clear proof and definitive evidence. Allah says:
(with Our Ayat, and a manifest authority). Authority means proof and evidence.
(to Fir`awn), who was the king of the Copts of Egypt.
(Haman) who was his adviser.
(and Qarun) who was the richest trader among the people of his time.
(but they called (him): "A sorcerer, liar!'') means, they rejected him and thought he was a sorcerer, a madman and an illusionist who was telling lies about having been sent by Allah. This is like the Ayah:
(Likewise, no Messenger came to those before them but they said: "A sorcerer or a madman!'' Have they transmitted this saying to these Nay, they are themselves a people transgressing beyond bounds!) (51:52-53)
(Then, when he brought them the Truth from Us,) means, with definite evidence that Allah had sent him to them,
(they said: "Kill with him the sons of those who believe and let their women live;) This was a second command from Fir`awn to kill the males of the Children of Israel. The first command had been as a precaution against the emergence of a man like Musa, or an act intended to humiliate this people or reduce their numbers or both. The second command was for the second reason, to humiliate the people so that they would regard Musa as a bad omen. They said:
("We (Children of Israel) had suffered troubles before you came to us, and since you have come to us.'' He said: "It may be that your Lord will destroy your enemy and make you successors on the earth, so that He may see how you act'') (7:129). Qatadah said, this was one command after another.
(but the plots of disbelievers are nothing but in vain!) means, their schemes and intentions -- to reduce the numbers of the Children of Israel lest they prevail over them -- were doomed to failure.
(Fir`awn said: "Leave me to kill Musa, and let him call his Lord!...'') Fir`awn (may Allah curse him), resolved to kill Musa (peace be upon him), i.e., he said to his people, `let me kill him for you.'
(and let him call his Lord!) means, `I do not care.' This is the utmost in offensive stubbornness.
(I fear that he may change your religion, or that he may cause mischief to appear in the land!) means, Musa; Fir`awn was afraid that Musa would lead his people astray and change their ways and customs. As if Fir`awn would be concerned about what Musa might do to his people! The majority understood this as meaning, `he will change your religion and cause mischief to appear in the land.'
(Musa said: "Verily, I seek refuge in my Lord and your Lord from every arrogant who believes not in the Day of Reckoning!'') means, when he heard that Fir`awn had said,
(Leave me to kill Musa,) Musa (peace be upon him), said, "I seek refuge and protection with Allah from his evil and the evil of those like him.'' So he said:
(Verily, I seek refuge in my Lord and your Lord) -- those who were being addressed here --
(from every arrogant) means, from every evildoer,
(who believes not in the Day of Reckoning!) It was reported in the Hadith narrated from Abu Musa (may Allah be pleased with him) that when the Messenger of Allah was afraid of some people, he would say:
(O Allah, we seek refuge in You from their evil and we seek Your help in repulsing them.)
(28. And a believing man of Fir`awn's family, who hid his Faith said: "Would you kill a man because he says: `My Lord is Allah,' and he has come to you with clear signs from your Lord And if he is a liar, upon him will be (the sin of) his lie; but if he is telling the truth, then some of that (calamity) wherewith he threatens you will befall on you.'' Verily, Allah guides not one who is a transgressor, a liar!) (29. "O my people! Yours is the kingdom today, you being dominant in the land. But who will save us from the torment of Allah, should it befall us'' Fir`awn said: "I show you only that which I see, and I guide you only to the path of right policy!'')
The well-known view is that this believing man was a Coptic (Egyptian) from the family of Fir`awn. As-Suddi said, he was a cousin (son of the paternal uncle) of Fir`awn. And it was said that he was the one who was saved along with Musa (peace be upon him). Ibn Jurayj reported that Ibn `Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him) said "No one from among the family of Fir`awn believed apart from this man, the wife of Fir`awn, and the one who said,
("O Musa! Verily, the chiefs are taking counsel together about you, to kill you.'')'' (28:20) This was narrated by Ibn Abi Hatim. This man concealed his Faith from his people, the Egyptians, and did not reveal it except on this day when Fir`awn said,
(Leave me to kill Musa,) The man was seized with anger for the sake of Allah, and the best of Jihad is to speak a just word before an unjust ruler, as is stated in the Hadith. There is no greater example of this than the words that this man said to Fir`awn:
(Would you kill a man because he says: `My Lord is Allah,) Al-Bukhari narrated a similar story in his Sahih from `Urwah bin Az-Zubayr (may Allah be pleased with him) who said: "I said to `Abdullah bin `Amr bin Al-`As (may Allah be pleased with him): `Tell me, what was the worst thing the idolaters did to the Messenger of Allah ' He said, `While the Messenger of Allah was praying in the courtyard of the Ka`bah, `Uqbah bin Abi Mu`it came and grabbed the shoulder of the Messenger of Allah and started twisting his garment so that it strangled him. Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him) came and grabbed (`Uqbah's) shoulder and pushed him away from the Prophet , then he said,
(Would you kill a man because he says: `My Lord is Allah,' and he has come to you with clear signs from your Lord).''' This was recorded by Al-Bukhari. Allah's saying;
(and he has come to you with clear signs from your Lord) means, "how can you kill a man just because he says, `My Lord is Allah,' and he brings proof that what he is saying is the truth'' Then, for the sake of argument, he went along with them and said,
(And if he is a liar, upon him will be (the sin of) his lie; but if he is telling the truth, then some of that (calamity) wherewith he threatens you will befall on you.) meaning, `if you do not believe in what he is saying, then it is only common sense to leave him alone and not harm him; if he is lying, then Allah will punish him for his lies in this world and in the Hereafter. If he is telling the truth and you harm him, then some of what he is warning about will happen to you too, because he is threatening you with punishment in this world and in the Hereafter if you go against him. It is possible that he is telling the truth in your case, so you should leave him and his people alone, and not harm them.' Allah tells us that Musa asked Fir`awn and his people to leave them in peace, as Allah says:
(And indeed We tried before them Fir`awn's people, when there came to them a noble Messenger, saying: "Deliver to me the servants of Allah. Verily, I am to you a Messenger worthy of all trust. And exalt not yourselves against Allah. Truly, I have come to you with a manifest authority. And truly, I seek refuge with my Lord and your Lord, lest you should stone me. But if you believe me not, then keep away from me and leave me alone.'') (44:17-21). Similarly, the Messenger of Allah told the Quraysh to leave him alone and let him call the servants of Allah to Allah; he asked them not to harm him, and to uphold the ties of kinship that existed between him and them, by not harming him. Allah says:
(Say: "No reward do I ask of you for this except to be kind to me for my kinship with you.'') (42:23), meaning, `do not harm me, because of the ties of kinship that exist between me and you; so do not harm me, and let me address my call to the people.' This was the basis of the truce agreed upon on the day of Al-Hudaybiyah, which was a manifest victory.
(Verily, Allah guides not one who is a transgressor, a liar!) means, `if the one who claims to have been sent by Allah is a liar, as you say, this would be obvious to everyone from his words and deeds, for they would be inconsistent and self-contradictory. But we can see that this man is upright and what he says is consistent. If he was a sinner and a liar, Allah would not have guided him and made his words and actions rational and consistent as you see them.' Then this believer warned his people that they would lose the blessings Allah bestowed upon them and that the vengeance of Allah would befall them:
(O my people! Yours is the kingdom today, you being dominant in the land.) means, `Allah has blessed you with this kingdom, dominance in the land, power and authority, so take care of this blessing by giving thanks to Allah and believing in his Messenger, and beware of the punishment of Allah if you reject His Messenger.'
(But who will save us from the torment of Allah, should it befall us) means, `these soldiers and troops will not avail you anything and will not ward off the punishment of Allah, if He decides to punish us.' Fir`awn said to his people, in response to the advice of this righteous man who was more deserving of kingship than Fir`awn:
(I show you only that which I see,) meaning, `I only tell you and advise you to do that which I think is good for myself, too.' But Fir`awn lied, because he knew that Musa was telling the truth concerning the Message which he brought.
((Musa) said: "Verily, you know that these signs have been sent down by none but the Lord of the heavens and the earth.'') (17:102)
(And they belied them (those Ayat) wrongfully and arrogantly, though they were themselves convinced thereof) (27:14)
(I show you only that which I see,) -- Fir`awn uttered a lie and a fabrication; he betrayed Allah and His Messenger, and cheated his people by not advising them sincerely.
(and I guide you only to the path of right policy!) means, `and I am only calling you to the path of truth, sincerity and guidance.' This was also a lie, but his people obeyed him and followed him. Allah says:
(they followed the command of Fir`awn, and the command of Fir`awn was no right guide) (11:97).
(And Fir`awn led his people astray, and he did not guide them.) (20:79) According to a Hadith:
(There is no leader who dies having cheated his people, but he will never smell the fragrance of Paradise, and its fragrance can be detected from a distance of a five-hundred year journey.)'' And Allah is the Guide to the straight path.
(30. And he who believed said: "O my people! Verily, I fear for you an end like that day (of disaster) of the groups (of old)!'') (31. "Like the end of the people of Nuh, and `Ad, and Thamud and those who came after them. And Allah wills no injustice for (His) servants.'') (32. "And, O my people! Verily, I fear for you the Day when there will be mutual calling.'') (33. A Day when you will turn your backs and flee having no protector from Allah. And whomsoever Allah sends astray, for him there is no guide.) (34. And indeed Yusuf did come to you, in times gone by, with clear signs, but you ceased not to doubt in that which he did bring to you, till when he died, you said: "No Messenger will Allah send after him.'' Thus Allah leaves astray him who is a transgressor and a skeptic.) (35. Those who dispute about the Ayat of Allah, without any authority that has come to them, it is greatly hateful and disgusting to Allah and to those who believe. Thus does Allah seal up the heart of every arrogant, tyrant.) Here Allah tells us that this righteous man, the believer from among the family of Fir`awn, warned his people of the punishment of Allah in this world and the Hereafter, saying,
(O my people! Verily, I fear for you an end like that day (of disaster) of the groups (of old)!) meaning, those of the earlier nations who disbelieved the Messengers of Allah, such as the people of Nuh, `Ad, Thamud and the disbelieving nations who came after them, how the punishment of Allah came upon them and they had no one to protect them or ward off that punishment.
(And Allah wills no injustice for (His) servants.) means, Allah destroyed them for their sins and for their disbelief in and rejection of His Messengers; this was His command and His decree concerning them that was fulfilled. Then he said:
(And, O my people! Verily, I fear for you the Day when there will be mutual calling.) meaning, the Day of Resurrection.
(A Day when you will turn your backs and flee) means, running away.
(No! There is no refuge! Unto your Lord will be the place of rest that Day.) (75:11-12) Allah says:
(having no protector from Allah.) meaning, `you will have no one to protect you from the punishment and torment of Allah.'
(And whomsoever Allah sends astray, for him there is no guide.) means, whomever Allah sends astray will have no other guide except Him. Allah's saying:
(And indeed Yusuf came to you, in times gone by, with clear signs,) refers to the people of Egypt. Allah sent a Messenger to them before the time of Musa (peace be upon him) in the person of Yusuf (peace be upon him) who attained a high position in the government of the people of Egypt. He was a Messenger who called his people to Allah with justice, but they did not obey him in matters of worshipping Allah, they only obeyed him in worldly matters that pertained to his position in the government. Allah says:
(but you ceased not to doubt in that which he brought to you, till when he died, you said: "No Messenger will Allah send after him.'') means, `you despaired, and said by way of wishful thinking,'
(No Messenger will Allah send after him.) This was because of their disbelief and rejection (of the Messengers).
(Thus Allah leaves astray him who is a transgressor and a skeptic.) means, this is the state of the one whom Allah sends astray because of his sinful actions and the doubts in his heart.
(Those who dispute about the Ayat of Allah, without any authority that has come to them,) means, those who attempt to refute truth with falsehood and who dispute the proof without evidence or proof from Allah, Allah will hate them with the utmost loathing. Allah says:
(it is greatly hateful and disgusting to Allah and to those who believe.) meaning, the believers too will despise those who are like this, and whoever is like this, Allah will put a seal on his heart so that after that he will not acknowledge anything good or denounce anything evil. Allah says:
(Thus does Allah seal up the heart of every arrogant.) meaning, so that they cannot follow the truth.
(36. And Fir`awn said: "O Haman! Build me a lofty tower that I may arrive at the ways) (37. The ways of the heavens, and I may look upon the God of Musa, but verily, I think him to be a liar.'' Thus it was made fair seeming, in Fir`awn's eyes, the evil of his deeds, and he was hindered from the path; and the plot of Fir`awn led to nothing but loss and destruction.)