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.)
Here Allah tells us about His servant and Messenger Musa (peace be upon him) and how He sent him to Fir`awn and his chiefs. That is, his governors, ministers, leaders and followers among the Egyptians and the Children of Israel. Allah sent him to call them to worship Allah alone, with no partner or associate, and to forbid them from worshipping anything other than Him. He sent him with mighty signs, such as his hand and his staff, other signs such as the flood, locusts, Qummal, frogs and blood, and the loss of their crops and lives. Yet despite all that they remained arrogant and stubbornly refused to follow him; they rejected his message and made fun of it, and laughed at the one who had brought it.
(And not an Ayah We showed them but it was greater than its fellow preceding it,) but despite that they would not give up their sin, misguidance, ignorance and confusion. Every time one of these signs came to them, they would go and implore Musa, saying,
("O you sorcerer!...'') meaning, expert or knowledgeable one -- this was the view of Ibn Jarir. The scholars of that time were the sorcerers or magicians, and magic was not regarded as something reprehensible by them at that time, so this was not a slight on their part. They were in a state of need, so it would not have been appropriate for them to insult him. This was a way of honoring him, as they thought. On each occasion, they promised Musa that if the torment was lifted from them, they would believe in him and let the Children of Israel go with him, but on each occasion they went back on their word. This is like the Ayat:
(So We sent on them: the flood, the locusts, the Qummal, the frogs, and the blood; manifest signs, yet they remained arrogant, and they were of those people who were criminals. And when the punishment struck them, they said: "O Musa! Invoke your Lord for us because of His promise to you. If you remove the punishment from us, we indeed shall believe in you, and we shall let the Children of Israel go with you.'' But when We removed the punishment from them to a fixed term, which they had to reach, behold! they broke their word!) (7:133-135)
(51. And Fir`awn proclaimed among his people (saying): "O my people! Is not mine the dominion of Egypt, and these rivers flowing underneath me. See you not then'') (52. "Am I not better than this one (Musa) who is despicable and can scarcely express himself clearly'') (53. Why then are not golden bracelets bestowed on him, or angels sent along with him'') (54. Thus he fooled his people, and they obeyed him. Verily, they were ever a people who were rebellious.) (55. So when they angered Us, We punished them, and drowned them all.) (56. And We made them a precedent, and an example to later generations.)
Allah tells us how Fir`awn stubbornly persisted in his rebellion and disbelief. He assembled his people and addressed them in a vainglorious fashion, boasting of his dominion over Egypt.
(Is not mine the dominion of Egypt, and these rivers flowing underneath me) Qatadah said, "They had gardens and rivers of flowing water.''
(See you not then) means, `do you not see my position of might and power' -- implying that Musa and his followers were poor and weak. This is like the Ayah:
(Then he gathered (his people) and cried aloud, saying: "I am your lord, most high.'' So Allah seized him with punishment for his last and first transgression.) (79:23-25)
(Am I not better than this one who is despicable) As-Suddi said, "He was saying, `indeed I am better than this one, who is despicable'.'' Some of the grammarians of Basrah said that Fir`awn -- may the curse of Allah be upon him -- was saying that he was better than Musa, peace be upon him. But this is an obvious lie, may continued curses be upon him until the Day of Resurrection. By describing Musa as despicable he meant -- as Sufyan said -- insignificant. Qatadah and As-Suddi said, "He meant, weak.'' Ibn Jarir said, "He meant, he had no power, authority or wealth.''
(and can scarcely express himself clearly) means, he cannot speak clearly, he stammers and cannot speak well. Fir`awn's description of Musa as "despicable'' is a lie; rather it is he who was despicable and insignificant, lacking in physical, moral and religious terms, and it is Musa who was noble, truthful, righteous and upright.
(and can scarcely express himself clearly). This was also a lie. Although something happened to Musa's tongue when he was a child, when it was burnt by a coal. He asked Allah to loosen the knot from his tongue (i.e., to correct his speech defect) so that they could understand what he said, and Allah had answered his prayer and said:
(You are granted your request, O Musa) (20:36). It may be the case that some problem remained which he had not asked to be relieved of, as Al-Hasan Al-Basri suggested, and that he had asked only to be relieved of that which stood in the way of his conveying the Message. A person cannot be blamed for physical matters over which he has no control. Even though Fir`awn had the intelligence to understand that, he wanted to confuse and mislead his people, who were ignorant and stupid. So he said:
(Why then are not golden bracelets bestowed on him...) meaning, adornments which are placed on the arms. This was the view of Ibn `Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him) Qatadah and others.
(or angels sent along with him) meaning, to serve him and to testify that he is telling the truth. He looked only at outward appearances and did not understand the true inner matters that are clearer than what he focused on, if only he had understood that. Allah says:
(Thus he fooled his people, and they obeyed him.) meaning, he confused them and invited them to misguidance, and they responded to him.
(Verily, they were ever a people who were rebellious.) Then Allah says:
(So when they angered Us, We punished them, and drowned them all.) `Ali bin Abi Talhah reported that Ibn `Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him) said it means: "When they angered Us means, they provoked Our wrath.'' Ad-Dahhak said, it means "They made Us angry.'' This was also the view of Ibn `Abbas, Mujahid, `Ikrimah, Sa`id bin Jubayr, Muhammad bin Ka`b Al-Qurazi, Qatadah, As-Suddi and other scholars of Tafsir. Ibn Abi Hatim recorded that `Uqbah bin `Amir (may Allah be pleased with him) said that the Messenger of Allah said:
(When you see that Allah gives a person what he wants even though he is persisting in sin, that means that Allah is enticing him into destruction.) Then he recited:
(So when they angered Us, We punished them, and drowned them all.) It was reported that Tariq bin Shihab said, "I was with `Abdullah (may Allah be pleased with him) and the issue of sudden death was mentioned. He said, `It is a relief for the believer and a source of regret for the disbeliever.' Then he recited the Ayah:
(So when they angered Us, We punished them, and drowned them all). '' `Umar bin `Abdul-`Aziz (may Allah be pleased with him) said, "I found that punishment comes with negligence, meaning the Ayah:
(So when they angered Us, We punished them, and drowned them all).''
(And We made them a precedent, and an example to later generations.) Abu Mijlaz said, "Precedent for others who do the same as they did.'' He and Mujahid said, "An example, i.e., a lesson to those who come after them.'' Allah is the One Who guides to the straight path, and unto Him is the final return.
(57. And when the son of Maryam is quoted as an example, behold, your people cry aloud thereat.) (58. And say: "Are our gods better or is he'' They quoted not the above example except for argument. Nay! But they are a quarrelsome people.) (59. He was not more than a servant. We granted Our favor to him, and We made him an example for the Children of Israel.) (60. And if it were Our will, We would have made angels to replace you on the earth.) (61. And he shall be a known sign for (the coming of) the Hour. Therefore have no doubt concerning it. And follow Me! This is the straight path.) (62. And let not Shaytan hinder you. Verily, he (Shaytan) to you is a plain enemy.) (63. And when `Isa came with clear proofs, he said: "I have come to you with Al-Hikmah, and in order to make clear to you some of that in which you differ. Therefore have Taqwa of Allah and obey me.'') (64. "Verily, Allah! He is my Lord and your Lord. So worship Him. This is the straight path.'') (65. But the sects from among themselves differed. So woe to those who do wrong from the torment of a painful Day!)