Allah condemns the idolaters for worshipping others instead of Allah with no evidence or proof for doing so.
(Or have We given them any Book before this) means, before their idolatry.
(to which they are holding fast) means, with regard to what they are doing. This is not the case. This is like the Ayah:
(Or have We revealed to them an authority (a Scripture), which speaks of that which they have been associating with Him) (30:35) meaning, that did not happen. Then Allah says:
(Nay! They say: "we found our fathers following a certain way and religion (Ummah), and we guide ourselves by their footsteps.'') meaning, they have no grounds for their belief in idolatry apart from the fact that they are imitating their fathers and forefathers who were following a certain Ummah or way, i.e., religion. The word Ummah is used in a similar manner elsewhere, where Allah says:
(And verily, this your religion (Ummah) is one religion) (23:52), and they said;
(and we by their footsteps) means, behind them
(We guide ourselves) This is their claim with no evidence. Then Allah points out that what these people say was already said by those who were like them among the nations of the past who disbelieved in the Messengers. Their hearts and their words are similar.
(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) And Allah says here:
(And similarly, We sent not a warner before you to any town (people) but the luxurious ones among them said: "We found our fathers following a certain way and religion, and we will indeed follow their footsteps.'') Then He says:
(Say) -- `O Muhammad, to these idolaters --'
("Even if I bring you better guidance than that which you found your fathers following'' They said: "Verily, we disbelieve in that with which you have been sent.'') `Even if they were convinced of the truth of what you have brought to them, they will not follow it, because of their evil intentions and their arrogance towards the truth and its people.'
(So We took revenge on them) means, on the disbelieving nations, by inflicting various kinds of punishments, as Allah has described in the stories of those nations.
(then see what was the end of those who denied) means, see what became of them, how they were destroyed and how Allah saved the believers.
(26. And (remember) when Ibrahim said to his father and his people: "Verily, I am innocent of what you worship,'') (27. "Except Him Who created me; and verily, He will guide me.'') (28. And he made it a word lasting among his offspring, that they may turn back.) (29. Nay, but I gave to these and their fathers to enjoy, till there came to them the truth, and a Messenger making things clear.) (30. And when the truth came to them, they said: "This is magic, and we disbelieve therein.'') (31. And they say: "Why is not this Qur'an sent down to some great man of the two towns'') (32. Is it they who would portion out the mercy of your Lord It is We Who portion out between them their livelihood in this world, and We raised some of them above others in ranks, so that some may employ others in their work. But the mercy of your Lord is better than what they amass.) (33. And were it not that mankind would have become of one community, We would have provided for those who disbelieve in the Most Gracious, silver roofs for their houses, and elevators whereby they ascend,) (34. And for their houses, doors, and thrones on which they could recline,) (35. And adornments of gold. Yet all this would have been nothing but an enjoyment of this world. And the Hereafter with your Lord is for those who have Taqwa.)
Allah tells us about His servant, Messenger and close Friend, the leader of the monotheists and the father of all subsequent Prophets, from whom Quraysh were descended and claimed to have taken their religion. He disowned his father's and his people's worship of idols and said:
("Verily, I am innocent of what you worship, except Him Who created me; and verily, He will guide me.'' And he made it a Word lasting among his offspring,) The Word means the worship of Allah Alone with no partner or associate, and the denunciation of all gods apart from Him, i.e., La ilaha illallah. He left this word as an example to be followed by those of his progeny who were guided by Allah.
(that they may turn back.) means, come back to this word. `Ikrimah, Mujahid, Ad-Dahhak, Qatadah, As-Suddi and others commented on the Ayah:
(And he made it a Word lasting among his offspring,) "This means, La ilaha illallah, and there are still those among his offspring who say it.'' A similar view was narrated from Ibn `Abbas, may Allah be pleased with him. Ibn Zayd said, "The word of Islam,'' which refers to the same thing suggested by the group.
Allah further says:
(Nay, but I gave to these) means, the idolaters,
(and their fathers) means, they lived a long life in their misguidance.
(till there came to them the truth, and a Messenger making things clear.) means, his message is clear and his warning is clear.
(And when the truth came to them, they said: "This is magic, and we disbelieve therein.'') means, they were arrogant and stubborn, and they pushed him away out of disbelief, envy and transgression.
(And they say) means, objecting to that which Allah has revealed to him,
(Why is not this Qur'an sent down to some great man of the two towns) meaning, why was this Qur'an not revealed to some man who was great and prominent in their eyes, from the two towns, i.e., Makkah and At-Ta'if This was the view of Ibn `Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him) `Ikrimah, Muhammad bin Ka`b Al-Qurazi, Qatadah, As-Suddi and Ibn Zayd. Several scholars of Tafsir stated that by this, the Quraysh meant Al-Walid bin Al-Mughirah and `Urwah bin Mas`ud Ath-Thaqafi. The apparent meaning is that what they meant was a great man from either of the two towns. Allah responded to their rejection by saying:
(Is it they who would portion out the mercy of your Lord) meaning, the matter has nothing to do with them; it is for Allah to decide. Allah knows best where to direct His Message, and He does not reveal it except to the one who is the purest in heart and soul, and of the noblest descent. Then Allah points out that He differentiates among His creation in terms of what He gives them of wealth, provision, intellect, understanding and other visible and hidden strengths:
(It is We Who portion out between them their livelihood in this world,)
(so that some may employ others in their work.) It was said that this means that some employ others in their work, because one needs the other, and vice versa. This was the view of As-Suddi and others.
(But the mercy of your Lord is better than which they amass.) means, the mercy of Allah towards His creation is better for them than the wealth and conveniences of this world which they possess.
(And were it not that mankind would have become of one community,) means, `were it not for the fact that many ignorant people would think that Our giving them wealth was a sign that We love the person to whom We give it, and thus they would have agreed upon disbelief for the sake of wealth.' This is the view of Ibn `Abbas, Al-Hasan, Qatadah, As-Suddi and others.
(We would have provided for those who disbelieve in the Most Gracious, silver roofs for their houses, and elevators) means, ladders and staircases of silver. This was the view of Ibn `Abbas, Mujahid, Qatadah, As-Suddi, Ibn Zayd and others.
(whereby they ascend,) means, go up. And their houses would have doors, i.e., locks on their doors,
(and thrones on which they could recline,) means, all of that would be made of silver.
(And adornments) means, and gold. This was the view of Ibn `Abbas, Qatadah, As-Suddi and Ibn Zayd.
(Yet all this would have been nothing but an enjoyment of this world.) means, all that belongs to this transient world which is insignificant before Allah. He hastens their reward for good deeds in the form of luxuries in this world, so that when they reach the Hereafter, they will have no good merits with Allah for which they may be rewarded, as was reported in the Sahih Hadith. It was reported in another Hadith:
(If this world were worth a gnat's wing before Allah, He would not give a disbeliever a drink of water.) Al-Baghawi narrated its chain of narration.
(And the Hereafter with your Lord is (only) for those who have Taqwa.) means, it is exclusively for them, and no one else will share it with them. When `Umar bin Al-Khattab (may Allah be pleased with him) visited the Messenger of Allah in seclusion, when he was keeping away from his wives, and he saw him resting on a rough mat which had left marks on his side, his eyes filled with tears and he said, "O Messenger of Allah, look at this Chosroes and this Caesar with all that they have, and you are the best of Allah's creation. '' The Messenger of Allah was reclining, but he sat up and said:
(Are you in doubt, O son of Al-Khattab) Then he said:
(Those are people for whom the enjoyments are hastened in this world.) According to another report:
(Does it not please you that this world is for them and the Hereafter is for us) In as the Two Sahihs and elsewhere, it is reported that the Messenger of Allah said:
(Do not drink from vessels of gold and silver, and do not eat from plates of the same, for these things are for them in this world and for us in the Hereafter.) Allah has granted these things to them in this world because it is insignificant, as was reported by At-Tirmidhi and Ibn Majah via Abu Hazim from Sahl bin Sa`d, who said, "The Messenger of Allah said:
(If this world were worth a gnat's wing before Allah, He would never give a disbeliever a drink of water.)'' At-Tirmidhi said: "Hasan Sahih.''
(36. And whosoever Ya`shu (turns away blindly) from the remembrance of the Most Gracious, We appoint for him Shaytan to be a Qarin (a companion) to him.) (37. And verily, they hinder them from the path, but they think that they are guided aright!) (38. Till, when (such a one) comes to Us, he says, "Would that between me and you were the distance of the two easts (or the east and west) a worst companion (indeed)!'') (39. It will profit you not this Day as you did wrong, (and) that you will be sharers in the punishment.) (40. Can you make the deaf to hear, or can you guide the blind or him who is in manifest error) (41. And even if We take you away, We shall indeed take vengeance on them.) (42. Or (if) We show you that wherewith We threaten them, then verily, We have perfect command over them.) (43. So hold you fast to that which is revealed to you. Verily, you are on the straight path.) (44. And verily, this is indeed a Dhikr for you and your people, and you will be questioned.) (45. And ask whom We sent before you of Our Messengers: "Did We ever appoint gods to be worshipped besides the Most Gracious'')
(And whosoever Ya`shu (turns away blindly)) means, whoever willfully ignores and turns away
(from the remembrance of the Most Gracious,) Al-`Asha (the root of Ya`sh) refers to weakness of vision; what is meant here is weakness of insight.
(We appoint for him Shaytan to be a Qarin (a companion) to him.) This is like the Ayat:
(And whoever contradicts and opposes the Messenger after the right path has been shown clearly to him) (4:115),
(So when they turned away, Allah turned their hearts away) (61:5), and
(And We have assigned for them intimate companions, who have made fair seeming to them, what was before them and what was behind them) (41:25). Allah says here:
(And verily, they hinder them from the path, but they think that they are guided aright! Until, when he comes to Us,) meaning, for this person who willfully neglects true guidance, We send to him a Shaytan to lead him astray and show him the path to Hell. When he comes before Allah on the Day of Resurrection, he will complain about the Shaytan who was appointed to accompany him.
(he says, "Would that between me and you were the distance of the two easts -- a worst companion (indeed)!'') Some of them recited it; (حَتْى إِذَا جَاءَانَا) (Till, when they both come to Us.) referring to the companion Shaytan and the one whom he accompanies. Then Allah says:
(It will profit you not this Day as you did wrong, (and) that you will be sharers in the punishment.) means, `your being together in the Fire will not help you in the slightest, and you will both partake of the painful punishment.' Allah says:
Can you make the deaf to hear, or can you guide the blind or him who is in manifest error؟ means, `that is not up to you. All you have to do is convey the Message, but you do not have to guide them. Allah guides whomsoever He wills and sends astray whomsoever He wills, and He is Wise and Just in doing so.'
Allah further says:
(And even if We take you away, We shall indeed take vengeance on them.) means, `We will inevitably wreak vengeance upon them and punish them, even if you pass away.'
(Or (if) We show you that wherewith We threaten them, then verily, We have perfect command over them.) means, `We are able to do both,' but Allah will not take His Messenger (in death) until He gives him the joy of seeing his enemies brought low and gives him power and authority over them and their wealth. This was the view of As-Suddi and was the opinion favored by Ibn Jarir.
Allah then says;
(So hold you fast to that which is revealed to you. Verily, you are on the straight path.) means, hold fast to the Qur'an which has been sent down to your heart, for it is truth and what it leads to is truth that shows the way to the straight path that leads to Gardens of Delight and eternal, everlasting goodness.
(And verily, this is a Dhikr for you and your people,) It was said that this means, `it is an honor for you and your people;' this was the view of Ibn `Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him) Mujahid, Qatadah, As-Suddi and Ibn Zayd. This means that it is an honor for them in that it was revealed in their language, so they are the people who have the best understanding of it among mankind and hence are obliged to be the most steadfast in adhering to its commandments. This is how the best of them were, the first immigrants and those who emulated them and followed them. It was also said that the meaning of the phrase;
(And verily, this is indeed a Dhikr for you and your people,) was that `it was sent to remind you and your people.' The fact that they are singled out does not exclude others. This is like the Ayat:
(Indeed, We have sent down for you (O mankind) a Book in which there is Dhikrukum (your Reminder). Will you not then understand) (21:10)
(And warn your tribe of near kindred) (26:214)
(and you will be questioned.) means, `about this Qur'an, and how you acted upon it and what your response to it was.'
(And ask whom We sent before you of Our Messengers: "Did We ever appoint gods to be worshipped besides the Most Gracious'') means, `all the Messengers called their people to the same as that to which you are calling mankind, namely the worship of Allah Alone with no partner or associate, and they forbade the worship of idols and false gods.' This is like the Ayah:
(And verily, We have sent among every Ummah (nation) a Messenger (proclaiming): "Worship Allah, and avoid all false deities.'') (16:36) Mujahid said that `Abdullah bin Mas`ud recited it: (وَاسْأَلِ الَّذِينَ أَرْسَلْنَا إِلَيْهِمْ قَبْلَكَ (مِنْ) رُسُلِنَا) (And ask those whom We sent before you of Our Messengers.) This was narrated by Qatadah, Ad-Dahhak and As-Suddi from Ibn Mas`ud, may Allah be pleased with him. Yet this appears to be an explanation rather than an alternate version of recitation. And Allah knows best.
(46. And indeed We did send Musa with Our Ayat to Fir`awn and his chiefs. He said: "Verily, I am a Messenger of the Lord of all that exists.'') (47. But when he came to them with Our Ayat, behold, they laughed at them). (48. And not an Ayah We showed them but it was greater than its fellow preceding it, and We seized them with torment, in order that they might turn.) (49. And they said (to Musa): "O you sorcerer! Invoke your Lord for us according to what He has made a pact with you. Verily, We shall guide ourselves.'') (50. But when We removed the torment from them, behold, they broke their covenant.)