In the previous Ayat, Allah mentions the dutiful offspring who supplicate for their parents and treat them with kindness. He describes the success and salvation He has prepared for them. Here He connects to that discussion the situation of the wretched offspring who are undutiful toward their parents. Allah says,
(But he who says to his parents: "Uff to you! ...'') As for the saying "Uff'' in this Ayah, it is a general description applying to anyone who says it to his parents. Some people claim that it was revealed about `Abdur-Rahman bin Abi Bakr. But this claim is weak and rejected, because `Abdur-Rahman bin Abi Bakr embraced Islam after this was revealed. His adherence to Islam was excellent, and he was among the best of his contemporaries. Al-Bukhari recorded from Yusuf bin Mahak that Marwan (bin Al-Hakam) was governor of Hijaz (Western Arabia), appointed by Mu`awiyah bin Abi Sufyan. He (Marwan) delivered a speech in which he mentioned Yazid bin Mu`awiyah and urged the people to give a pledge of allegiance after his father. `Abdur-Rahman bin Abi Bakr said something to him in response to that, upon which Marwan commanded his men: "Arrest him!'' But he entered `Aishah's house, and they were not able to capture him. Marwan then said: "This is the one about whom Allah revealed:
(But he who says to his parents: "Uff to you! Do you promise me that I will be raised -- when generations before me have passed'')'' From behind the curtain, `Aishah responded: "Allah did not reveal any Qur'an in our regard (i.e. the children of Abu Bakr), except for the declaration of my innocence.'' In another report recorded by An-Nasa'i, Muhammad bin Ziyad reported that when Mu`awiyah was soliciting people to pledge allegiance to his son, and Marwan declared: "This follows the tradition of Abu Bakr and `Umar.'' On hearing this, `Abdur-Rahman bin Abi Bakr said: "Rather, this is the tradition of Heraclius and Caesar.'' Marwan responded: "This is the one about whom Allah revealed,
(But he who says to his parents: "Uff to you!'')'' When that was conveyed to `A'ishah, she said: "Marwan is lying! By Allah, that was not revealed about him. If I wish to name the person meant by it, I could. On the other hand, Allah's Messenger placed a curse on Marwan's father (Al- Hakam bin Abi Al-`As when Marwan was still in his loins, so Marwan (bin Al-Hakam) is an outcome of Allah's curse.'' As for Allah's statement:
(Do you promise me that I will be raised) meaning, resurrected.
(when generations before me have passed) meaning, generations of people have already passed away, and none of them has ever returned to tell (what happened to them)
(While they invoke Allah for help) meaning, they ask Allah to guide him, and they say to their son,
("Woe to you! Believe! Verily, the promise of Allah is true.'' But he says: "This is nothing but the legends of the ancient.'') Allah then says,
(They are those against whom the Word (of torment) has justified among the previous generations of Jinn and mankind that have passed away. Verily, they are ever the losers.) This indicates that all such people will be among their likes and their peers among the disbelievers, who will lose themselves and their families on the Day of Resurrection. Allah's saying,
(Those are) after He said,
(But he who says) confirms what we have mentioned above that the latter is a general description of a type of people including all those who fall under that description. Al-Hasan and Qatadah both said, "This applies to the disbelieving, sinful person who is undutiful to his parents and who denies resurrection.'' Allah then says,
(And for all, there will be degrees according to that which they did,) meaning that there will be degrees of punishment for each of them according to what they did.
(so that He might fully recompense them for their deeds, and they will not be wronged.) which means Allah will not be unjust to them even in the amount of a speck of dust or less. `Abdur-Rahman bin Zayd bin Aslam said: "The levels of the Fire descend, and those of Paradise ascend.'' Allah then says,
(On the Day when those who disbelieve will be exposed to the Fire (it will be said): "You received your good things in the life of the world, and you took your pleasure therein...'') which means that this will be said to them by way of blame and reprimand. The Commander of the faithful, `Umar bin Al-Khattab (may Allah be pleased with him) gave up many of the joys of food and drink and refrained from them while saying, "I am afraid of being like those whom Allah has reproached and condemned by saying,
(You received your good things in the life of the world, and you took your pleasure therein).'' Abu Mijlaz said: "Some people will lose good deeds that they had in the worldly life, and they will be told,
(You received your good things in the life of the world).'' Then Allah says,
(Today, you will be recompensed with the torment of extreme humiliation, because you were arrogant upon the earth without a right, and because you used to rebel against Allah's command.) which indicates that their punishment will be of a type comparable to their deeds. They enjoyed themselves, were arrogant in their denial of the truth, and were involved in sinning and disobedience. Thus, Allah punishes them with extreme humiliation, disgrace, severe pains, continued sorrow, and positions in the terrible depths of Hell -- may Allah protect us from all of that.
(21. And remember the brother of `Ad, when he warned his people in Al-Ahqaf. And surely, warners had already passed on before him and after him (saying): "Worship none but Allah; truly, I fear for you the torment of a mighty Day.'') (22. They said: "Have you come to delude us from our gods Then bring us that with which you threaten us, if you are one of the truthful!'') (23. He said: "The knowledge (of that) is only with Allah. And I convey to you that wherewith I have been sent, but I see that you are a people given to ignorance!'') (24. Then, when they saw it as a dense cloud approaching their valleys, they said: "This is a cloud bringing us rain!'' Nay, but it is that which you were asking to be hastened - a wind wherein is a painful torment!) (25. Destroying everything by the command of its Lord! So they became such that nothing could be seen except their dwellings! Thus do We recompense the criminal people!)
Allah says, consoling His Prophet in regard to the rejection of those who opposed him among his people,
(And remember the brother of `Ad,) This refers to Hud, peace be upon in him. Allah sent him to the first people of `Ad who inhabited Al-Ahqaf. Ahqaf is plural of Haqf. According to Ibn Zayd, it means a sand dune; and according to `Ikrimah, it means a mountain or a cave. Qatadah said: "We were informed that `Ad was a tribe in Yemen. They dwelt among sand (hills), and overlooked the sea in a land called Ash-Shihr.'' Under the chapter, "He Who supplicates should first mention Himself,'' Ibn Majah recorded that Ibn `Abbas narrated that the Prophet said:
(May Allah have mercy on us and the Brother of `Ad.) Allah then says,
(And surely, warners had already passed on before him and after him.) meaning, Allah had sent Messengers and warners to the towns surrounding the land of `Ad. This is similar to Allah's saying,
(And We made it a deterrent punishment for those who were present and those who succeeded them.) (2:66) And it is also similar to Allah's saying,
(But if they turn away, then say: "I have warned you of a thunderbolt like the thunderbolt that struck `Ad and Thamud. (That occurred) when the Messengers had come to them from before them and after them (saying): "Worship none but Allah.'') (41:13-14) Allah then says,
(truly, I fear for you the torment of a mighty Day.) meaning, Hud said this to them (his people), and they responded to him saying,
(Have you come to delude us from our gods) meaning, to prevent us.
(from our gods)
(Then bring us that with which you threaten us, if you are one of the truthful!) They sought to hasten Allah's torment and punishment, believing that it will not happen. This is similar to Allah's saying,
(Those who do not believe in it (the Last Hour) seek to hasten it) (42:18). Hud's response was,
(He said: "The knowledge (of that) is only with Allah.'') which means, `Allah knows best about you. If you deserve the punishment to be hastened, He will do that to you. As for me, my duty is to deliver my message to you.'
(But I see that you are a people given to ignorance!) which means, `you have no comprehension or understanding.' Allah then says,
(Then, when they saw it as a dense cloud approaching their valleys,) meaning, when they saw the punishment coming towards them, they thought it to be clouds full of rain. That made them happy and joyful, because they had a drought and needed rain. Allah then said,
(Nay, but it is that which you were asking to be hastened -- a wind wherein is a painful torment!) meaning, this is the torment that you called for saying, "Bring to us what you promise us if you should be of the truthful.''
(Destroying every thing) meaning, destroying every part of their land that could normally be destroyed.
(by the command of its Lord!) meaning, it had Allah's permission to do that. This is similar to Allah's saying,
(It spared nothing that it reached, but blew it into broken spreads of rotten ruins.) (51:42) meaning, like something dilapidated (or decrepit). Because of this, Allah says,
(So they became such that nothing could be seen except their dwellings!) means, all of them were destroyed, and none of them were spared. Allah then says:
(Thus do We recompense the criminal people!) which means that this is Our Judgment regarding those who reject Our Messengers and disobey Our commands. Imam Ahmad recorded from `A'ishah, may Allah be pleased with her, that she said, "I never saw Allah's Messenger fully laughing so that I would see his uvula. He would only smile.'' She added that when Allah's Messenger saw clouds or wind, that would reflect on his face (as discomfort). She asked him: "O Allah's Messenger! When the people see clouds, they become happy, hoping that they bring them rain. But I notice that when you see them, displeasure appears on your face.'' Allah's Messenger replied,
(O `A'ishah! What would guarantee to me that they do not bring punishment Some nations had been punished with wind. On seeing the punishment approaching them, a nation once said: "This is a cloud bringing us rain.'') This is also recorded by Al-Bukhari and Muslim. Imam Ahmad recorded that `A'ishah, may Allah be pleased with her, said that when Allah's Messenger saw clouds on any of the horizons, he would leave whatever he was doing -- even if he was in prayer -- and say:
(O Allah! I seek refuge with you from any harm that it (the cloud) contains.) If Allah removed those clouds, the Prophet would praise Allah, and if rain fell, he would say:
(O Allah! Make it pouring and beneficent.) Muslim also recorded in his Sahih from `A'ishah, may Allah be pleased with her, that when the wind blew, Allah's Messenger would say,
(O Allah! I ask You of its good, the good that it contains, and the good with which it has been sent. And I seek refuge in You from its evil, the evil that it contains, and the evil with which it has been sent.) She added that if the sky became cloudy, his color would change; he would exit, enter, come, and go. When it rained, his anxiety would be relieved. When `A'ishah, may Allah be pleased with her, noticed that, she asked him about it and he said:
(O `A'ishah! It could be like what the people of `Ad said, (Then, when they saw it as a dense cloud approaching their valleys, they said: "This is a cloud bringing us rain!'')) We have previously mentioned the story of the destruction of the people of `Ad in both Surat Al-A`raf and Surah Hud. Thus, there is no need to repeat it here; and verily Allah is worthy of all praise and gratitude.
(26. And indeed We had firmly established them with that wherewith We have not established you! We also gave them hearing, vision, and hearts. But their hearing, vision, and hearts availed them nothing since they used to deny the Ayat of Allah, and they were completely encircled by that which they used to ridicule!) (27. And indeed We have destroyed towns round about you, and We have shown (them) the signs in various ways so that they might return.) (28. As for those whom they had taken for gods besides Allah, as the means of approach to Him, why then did they not aid them Nay, but they vanished completely from them. And that was their falsehood, and what they were fabricating.) Allah says, `We have granted the earlier nations wealth and offspring in the worldly life. That which We granted them, we did not give you anything similar or close to it.' Furthermore,
(We also gave them hearing, vision, and hearts. But their hearing, vision, and hearts availed them nothing when they used to deny Allah's signs, and they were completely encircled by that which they used to ridicule!) meaning, they were encircled by the torment and exemplary punishment that they denied and whose occurrence they doubted. This means, you listeners must beware of being like them lest a punishment similar to theirs strikes you in this life and the Hereafter. Allah then says,
(And indeed We have destroyed towns round about you,) This is addressed to the people of Makkah. Allah destroyed the nations who disbelieved in the Messengers who lived around Makkah, such as `Ad who were at Al-Ahqaf in Hadramawt near Yemen, Thamud whose dwellings were between Makkah and Ash-Sham (Greater Syria), Saba' who were in Yemen, the people of Madyan who were on the route and passage to Ghazzah (Western Palestine), and the people of Lut who dwelt by the lake (the Dead Sea) which they used to pass by (on the way to Jordan) as well. Allah then says,
(and We have shown (them) the signs in various ways) meaning, `We explained and clarified them.'
(so that perhaps they might return. As for those whom they had taken for gods besides Allah, as the means of approach to Him, why then did they not aid them) meaning, did they help them when they were in the greatest need for them
(but they vanished completely from them.) Rather, they completely left them alone when they needed them the most.
(And that was their falsehood,) meaning, their lie.
(and what they were fabricating.) which means that they fabricated lies by taking them as gods, and they lost and failed in their worship of them and their reliance upon them -- and Allah knows best.
(29. And (remember) when We sent toward you a group of the Jinn, to listen to the Qur'an. When they attended it, they said: "Listen quietly!'' And when it was concluded, they returned to their people, as warners.) (30. They said: "O our people! Verily, we have heard a Book sent down after Musa, confirming what came before it, it guides to the truth and to the straight path.'') (31. "O our people! Respond to Allah's Caller, and believe in him. He (Allah) will forgive you some of your sins, and protect you from a painful torment.'') (32. "And whosoever does not respond to Allah's Caller, he cannot escape on earth, and he will not have besides Allah any protectors. Those are in manifest error.'')