Surah An-Nahl Ayat 26-44

{26. Those before them indeed plotted, but Allah struck at the foundation of their building, the roof fell down upon them from above them, and the torment overtook them from directions they did not perceive. 

27. Then, on the Day of Resurrection, He will disgrace them and will say: “Where are My (so-called) partners, those over which you caused so much discord?” Those who have been given the knowledge will say: “Indeed it is a Day of disgrace and misery for the disbelievers.”}

Discussion about what the previous Peoples did, and what was done to Them

“Those before them indeed plotted” Al-Awfi reported that Ibn Abbas said: “This refers to Namrud (Nimrod), who built the tower.” (At-Tabari 17:193) Others said that it refers to Bukhtanassar (Nebuchadnezzar). The correct view is that this is said by way of example, to refute what was done by those who disbelieved in Allah and associated others in worship with Him. As Nuh said, “And they have hatched a mighty scheme.” (71:22) meaning, they used all sorts of ploys to misguide their people, and tempted them to join them in their Shirk via all possible means. On the Day of Resurrection their followers will say to them: “Nay, but it was your plotting by night and day, when you ordered us to disbelieve in Allah and set up rivals to Him!” (34:33) “but Allah struck at the foundation of their building.” meaning, He uprooted it and brought their efforts to naught. This is like the Ayah: “Every time they kindled the fire of war, Allah extinguished it.” (5:64) and “But Allah’s (torment) reached them from a place where they were not expecting it, and He cast terror into their hearts so that they destroyed their own dwellings with their own hands and the hands of the believers. So then take admonition, O you with eyes (to see).” (59:2) Allah says here: “but Allah struck at the foundation of their building, and then the roof fell down upon them, from above them, and the torment overtook them from directions they did not perceive. Then, on the Day of Resurrection, He will disgrace them” (16:26-27) meaning, He will expose their scandalous deeds and what they used to hide in their hearts, and He will bring it out in the open. As He says, “The Day when all the secrets will be (exposed and) examined.” (86:9)

They will be displayed and made known, as found in the Two Sahihs, where Ibn Umar reported that the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said:

“On the Day of Resurrection a banner will be set up by his backside for every deceitful person, (whose size is) in accordance with the amount of his deceit. It be said, “This is the one who deceived so-and-so, the son of so-and-so.” (Fath Al-Bari 10:578)

Thus, what they used to plot in secret will be made public. Allah will humiliate them before all of His creation, and the Lord will say to them, in rebuke and reprimand; “Where are My (so-called) partners, those over which you caused so much discord?” meaning, you fought and made enemies for their sake, so where are they now to help and save you “Can they help you or (even) help themselves?” (26:93) “Then will (man) have no power, nor any helper.” (86:10) When evidence and proof is established against them, and the Word (of Allah) is justified against them, and they will be unable to give any excuse, realizing that escape is impossible, then “Those who have been given the knowledge will say” who are the leaders in this world and the Hereafter and who know about the truth in this world and the Hereafter – will say, “Indeed it is a Day of disgrace and misery for the disbelievers.” meaning, today those who disbelieved in Allah and worshipped others who have no power either to benefit or to harm them are now surrounded by disgrace and punishment.

{28. Those whose lives the angels take while they are doing wrong to themselves. Then, they will (falsely) submit (saying): “We did not do any evil.” (The angels will reply): “Yes! Truly, Allah is Most Knowing of what you did.” 

29. “So enter the gates of Hell, to abide therein, and indeed, what an evil abode there is for the arrogant.”}

The Condition of the Disbeliever during and after Death

Allah informs us of the state of the idolators who are doing wrong to themselves when death approaches and the angels come to seize their evil souls. “Then, they will (falsely) submit” meaning, they will make it appear as if they used to listen and obey by saying, “We did not do any evil.” Similarly, on the Day of Resurrection, they will say, “By Allah, our Lord, we were not idolators.” (6:23) “On the Day when Allah will resurrect them all together; then they will swear to Him as they swear to you.” (58:18) Allah says, rejecting what they say, “Yes! Truly, Allah is Most Knowing of what you did. So enter the gates of Hell, to abide therein, and indeed, what an evil abode there is for the arrogant.” (16:28-29), meaning, a miserable position in the abode of humiliation for those who were too arrogant to pay attention to the signs of Allah and follow His Messengers. They will enter Hell from the day they die with their souls, and their bodies will feel the heat and hot winds of their graves. When the Day of Resurrection comes, their souls will be reunited with their bodies, to abide forever in the fire of Hell, and “It will not be complete enough to kill them nor shall its torment be lightened for them.” (35:36) As Allah says, “The Fire, they are exposed to it morning and afternoon. And on the Day when the Hour will be established (it will be said to the angels): “Cause Fir’awn’s people to enter the severest torment!” (40:46).

{30. And (when) it is said to those who had Taqwa (piety and righteousness), ”What is it that your Lord has revealed?” They say: “That which is good.” For those who do good in this world, there is good, and the home of the Hereafter will be better. And excellent indeed will be the home (i.e. Paradise) of those who have Taqwa. 

31. Adn (Eden) Paradise (Gardens of Eternity) which they will enter, under which rivers flow, in it they will have all that they wish. Thus Allah rewards those who have Taqwa. 

32. Those whose lives the angels take while they are in a pious state saying (to them) “Salamun Alaikum (peace be on you!). Enter Paradise because of what (good) you used to do (in the world).”}

What the Pious say about the Revelation, their Reward and their Condition during and after Death

Here we are told about the blessed, as opposed to the doomed, who, when they are asked, “What is it that your Lord has revealed?” they will reluctantly answer, “He did not reveal anything, these are just the fables of old.” But the blessed, on the other hand, will say, “That which is good,” meaning – He revealed something good, meaning mercy and blessings for those who followed it and believed in it. Then we are told about Allah’s promise to His servants which He revealed to His Messengers. He says: “For those who do good in this world, there is good” This is like the Ayah, “Whoever works righteousness – whether male or female – while being a true believer verily, to him We will give a good life, and We shall certainly reward them in proportion to the best of what they used to do.” (16:97), which means that whoever does good in this world, Allah will reward him for his good deeds in this world and in the next. Then we are told that the home of the Hereafter will be better, i.e., better than the life of this world, and that the reward in the Hereafter will be more complete than the reward in this life, as Allah says, “But those who were given (religious) knowledge said: “Woe to you! The reward of Allah (in the Hereafter) is better” (28:80) and, “and what is with Allah for the righteous is better.” (3:198) and: “Although the Hereafter is better and enduring” (87:17). Allah said to His Messenger: “And indeed the Hereafter is better for you than the present” (93:4). Then Allah describes the abode of the Hereafter, saying, “And excellent indeed will be the home (i.e. Paradise) of those who have Taqwa.” “Adn (Eden) Paradise (Gardens of Eternity)”  refers to the home of the Muttaqun, i.e., in the Hereafter they will have Gardens of Eternity in which they will dwell forever. “under which rivers flow” meaning, between its trees and palaces. “in it they will have all that they wish” this is like the Ayah: “in it (there will be) all that souls could desire, and all that eyes could delight in, and in it you will live forever.” (43:71) “Thus Allah rewards those who have Taqwa.” meaning, this is how Allah rewards everyone who believes in Him, fears Him, and does good deeds.

Then Allah tells us about their condition when death approaches them in a good state, i.e., free from Shirk, impurity and all evil. The angels greet them and give them the good news of Paradise, as Allah says: “Verily, those who say: “Our Lord is Allah (alone),” and then behave righteously, on them the angels will descend (at the time of their death) (saying): “Fear not, nor grieve! But receive the good news of Paradise as you have been promised! We have been your friends in the life of this world and are (so) in the Hereafter. In it you shall have (all) that your souls desire, and in it you shall have (all) that you ask for. An entertainment from (Allah), the Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” (41:30:32)

We have already referred to the Hadiths that have been reported on the taking of the soul of the believer and the soul of the disbeliever, when we discussed the Ayah, “Allah will keep firm those who believe, with the word that stands firm in this world (i.e. they will keep on worshipping Allah Alone and none else), and in the Hereafter. And Allah will cause the wrongdoers to stray, and Allah does as He wills.” (14:27)

{33. Are they but waiting for the angels to come to them, or there comes the command of your Lord? Thus did those before them. And Allah did not wrong them, but they were wronging themselves. 

34.Then, they were afflicted by their evil deeds, and they were surrounded by that which they used to mock.}

The Disbelievers’ Refrain from Faith means that They were simple awaiting Punishment

Threatening the idolators for their persistence in falsehood and their conceited delusions about this world, Allah says: Are these people waiting only for the angels to come and take their souls? Qatadah (At-Tabari 17:199) said: “Or there comes the command of your Lord?” means the Day of Resurrection and the terror that they will go through.” “Thus did those before them.” means, thus did their predecessors and those who were like them among the idolators persist in their Shirk, until they tasted the wrath of Allah and experienced the punishment and torment that they suffered. “And Allah did not wrong them.” because by sending His Messengers and revealing His Books He gave them enough warning and clearly demonstrated His proofs to them. “but they were wronging themselves.” meaning, by opposing the Messengers and denying what they brought. For this reason Allah’s punishment tormented them. “they were surrounded” meaning, they were overwhelmed by the painful torment. “by that which they used to mock.” meaning, they used to make fun of the Messengers when they warned them Allah’s punishment, and for this it will be said to them on the Day of Resurrection: “This is the Fire which you used to belie.” (52:14).

{35. And those who worshipped others with Allah said: “If Allah had so willed, neither we nor our fathers would have worshipped any but Him nor would we have forbidden anything without (a command from) Him.” Those before them did the same. Then! Are the Messengers charged with anything but to clearly convey the Message? 

36. And We have indeed sent a Messenger to every Ummah (community, nation) (saying): “Worship Allah (Alone), and shun the Taghut (all false deities). ” Then among them were some whom Allah guided, and among them were some who deserved to be left to stray. So travel through the land and see the end of those who denied (the truth). 

37. (Even) if you desire that they be guided, then verily, Allah does not guide those whom He allowed to stray, and they will have no helpers.}

The Idolaters Argument that their Shirk was Divinely decreed, and the Refutation of this Claim

Allah tells us about the idolators delusion over their Shirk, and the excuse they claimed for it based on the idea that it is ordained by divine decree. He says: “(They say:) “If Allah had so willed, neither we nor our fathers would have worshipped any but Him, nor would we have forbidden anything without (a command from) Him.” They had superstitious customs dealing with certain animals, e.g. the Bahirah [See Tafsir of Surah Yunus no. 59-60] the Sa’ibah and the Wasilah and other things that they had invented and innovated by themselves, with no revealed authority. The essence of what they said was: “If Allah hated what we did, He would have stopped by punishing us, and He would not have enabled us to do it.” Rejecting their confusing ideas, Allah says: “Are the Messengers charged with anything but to clearly convey the Message?” meaning, the matter is not as you claim. It is not the case that Allah did not rebuke your behavior; rather, He did rebuke you, and in the strongest possible terms, and He emphatically forbade you from such behavior. To every nation – that is, to every generation, to every community of people – He sent a Messenger. All of the Messengers called their people to worship Allah (Alone) as well as forbidding them from worshipping anything or anybody except for Him. “Worship Allah (Alone), and shun the Taghut (all false deities).”

Allah continued sending Messengers to mankind with this Message, from the first incidence of Shirk that appeared among the Children of Adam, in the people to whom Nuh was sent – the first Messenger sent by Allah to the people of this earth – until He sent the final Messenger, Muhammad, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, whose call was addressed to both men and Jinn, in the east and in the west. All of the Messengers brought the same Message, as Allah says: “And We did not send any Messenger before you (O Muhammad) but We revealed to him (saying): None has the right to be worshipped but I (Allah), so worship Me (alone and none else).” (21:25) “And ask (O Muhammad) those Messengers of Ours whom We sent before you: “Did We ever appointed to be worshipped besides the Most Gracious (Allah)?” (43:45) And in this Ayah, Allah says: “And We have indeed sent a Messenger to every Ummah (community, nation) (saying): “Worship Allah (alone), and shun the Taghut (all false deities).” So how could any of the idolators say, “If Allah had so willed, we would not have worshipped any but Him”

The legislative will of Allah is clear and cannot be taken as an excuse by them, because He had forbidden them to do that upon the tongue of His Messengers, but by His universal will [i.e., by which He allows things to occur even though they do not please Him] He allowed them to do that as it was decreed for them. So there is no argument in that for them. Allah created Hell and its people both the Shayatin (devils) and disbelievers, but He does not like His servants to disbelieve. And this point constitutes the strongest proof and the most unquestionable wisdom.

Then Allah informs us that He rebuked them with punishment in this world, after the Messengers issued their warning, thus He says: “Then among them were some whom Allah guided, and among them were some who deserved to be left to stray. So travel through the land and see the end of those who denied (the truth).”

This means: ask about what happened to those who went against the Messengers and rejected the truth, see how: “Allah destroyed them completely, and a similar (end awaits) the disbelievers.” (47:10) and, “And indeed those before them belied (the Messengers of Allah), so then how terrible was My denial (punishment)” (67:18) Then Allah told His Messenger that His eagerness to guide them will be of no benefit to them if Allah wills that they should be misguided, as He says: “And for whoever Allah wills to try with error, you can do nothing for him against Allah” (5:41). Nuh said to his people: “And my advice will not profit you, even if I wish to give you good counsel, if Allah’s will is to keep you astray.” (11:34). In this Ayah, Allah says: “(Even) if you desire that they be guided, then verily, Allah does not guide those whom He allowed to stray” As Allah says: “Whomsoever Allah allows to stray, then there is no guide for him; and He lets them wander blindly in their transgressions.” (7:186) “Truly! Those deserving the Word (wrath) of your Lord will not believe, even if every sign should come to them – until they see the painful torment” (10:96-97). “then verily, Allah” meaning, this is the way in which Allah does things. If He wills a thing, then it happens, and if He does not will a thing, then it does not happen. For this reason Allah says: “Allah does not guide those whom He allowed to stray” meaning the one whom He has caused to go astray, so who can guide him apart from Allah No one. “And they will have no helpers.” means, they will have no one to save them from the punishment of Allah, “Surely, His is the creation and commandment. Blessed is Allah, the Lord of all that exists!” (7:54).

{38. And they swear by Allah with their strongest oaths, that Allah will not raise up one who dies. Yes, (He will raise them up), a promise (binding) upon Him in truth, but most of mankind know not. 

39. In order that He may make clear to them what they differed over, and so that those who disbelieved may know that they were liars. 

40. Verily, Our Word to a thing when We intend it, is only that We say unto it: “Be!” – and it is.}

The Resurrection after Death is true, there is Wisdom behind it, and it easy for Allah

Allah tells us that the idolators swore by Allah their strongest oaths, meaning that they made oaths swore fervently that Allah would not resurrect the one who died. They considered that to be improbable, and did not believe the Messengers when they told them about that, swearing that it could not happen. Allah said, refuting them: “Yes”, meaning it will indeed happen, “a promise (binding) upon Him in truth” – meaning it is inevitable, “but most of mankind know not.” means, because of their ignorance they oppose the Messengers and fall into disbelief. Then Allah mentions His wisdom and the reason why He will resurrect mankind physically on the Day of Calling (between the people of Fire and of Paradise). He says, “In order that He may make clear to them” means, to mankind, “what they differed over” means, every dispute. “that He may requite those who do evil with that which they have done (i. e. punish them in Hell), and reward those who do good, with what is best (i.e. Paradise).” (53:31) “and so that those who disbelieved may know that they were liars.” meaning that they lied in their oaths and their swearing that Allah would not resurrect those who die. Thus they will be pushed down by force to the Fire with horrible force on the Day of Resurrection, and the guards of Hell will say to them: “This is the Fire which you used to belie. Is this magic or do you not see? Taste its heat, and whether you are tolerant of it or intolerant of it – it is all the same. You are only being requited for what you have done.” (52:14-16). Then Allah tells us about His ability to do whatever He wills, and that nothing is impossible for Him on earth or in heaven. When He wants a thing, all He has to do is say to it “Be!” and it is. The Resurrection is one such thing, when He wants it to happen, all He will have to do is issue the command once, and it will happen as He wills, as He says: “And Our commandment is but one as the twinkling of an eye” (54:50) and, “The creation of you all and the resurrection of you all are only as (the creation and resurrection of) a single person.” (31:28)

And in this Ayah, Allah says: “Verily, Our Word to a thing when We intend it, is only that We say to it: “Be!” – and it is.” meaning, We issue the command once, and then it happens.

Allah does not need to repeat or confirm whatever He commands, because there is nothing that can stop Him or oppose Him. He is the One, the Compelling, the Almighty, whose power, might and dominion have subjected all things. None has the right to be worshipped except Him, and there is no Lord other than Him.

{41. And as for those who emigrated for the cause of Allah, after they had been wronged, We will certainly give them good residence in this world, but indeed the reward of the Hereafter will be greater; if they but knew! 

42. (They are) those who remained patient, and put their trust in their Lord.}

The Reward of the Muhajirin

Allah tells us about the reward of those who migrated for His sake, seeking His pleasure, those who left their homeland behind, brothers and friends, hoping for the reward of Allah. This may have been revealed concerning those who migrated to Ethiopia, those whose persecution at the hands of their own people in Makkah was so extreme that they left them and went to Ethiopia so that they would be able to worship their Lord. Among the most prominent of these migrants were Uthman bin Affan and his wife Ruqayyah, the daughter of the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, Jafar bin Abi Talib, the cousin of the Messenger, and Abu Salamah bin Abdul-Asad, among a group of almost eighty sincere and faithful men and women, may Allah be pleased with them. Allah promised them a great reward in this world and the next. Allah said: “We will certainly give them good residence in this world,”

Ibn Abbas, Ash-Shabi and Qatadah said: (this means) “Al-Madinah.” (At-Tabari 17:205, 206) It was also said that it meant “good provision”. This was the opinion of Mujahid. (At-Tabari 17:206) There is no contradiction between these two opinions, for they left their homes and wealth, but Allah compensated them with something better in this world. Whoever gives up something for the sake of Allah, Allah compensates him with something that is better for him than that, and this is what happened. He gave them power throughout the land and caused them to rule over the people, so they became governors and rulers, and each of them became a leader of the pious. Allah tells us that His reward for the Muhajirin in the Hereafter is greater than that which He gave them in this world, as He says: “but indeed the reward of the Hereafter will be greater” meaning, greater than that which We have given you in this world. “if they but knew!” means, if those who stayed behind and did not migrate with them only knew what Allah prepared for those who obeyed Him and followed His Messenger . Then Allah describes them as: “those who remained patient, and put their trust in their Lord.” (16:42), meaning, they bore their people’s persecution with patience, putting their trust in Allah Who made their end good in this world and the Hereafter.

{43. And We sent not (as Our Messengers) before you (O Muhammad) any but men, whom We sent revelation. So ask Ahl Adh-Dhikr, if you know not. 

44. With clear signs and Books (We sent the Messengers). And We have also revealed the Dhikr to you so that you may clearly explain to men what was revealed to them, and that perhaps they may reflect.}

Only Human Messengers have been Sent

Ad-Dahhak said, reporting from Ibn Abbas: “When Allah sent Muhammad as a Messenger, the Arabs, or some of them, denied him and said, Allah is too great to send a human being as a Messenger.’ Then Allah revealed: “Is it a wonder to people that We have sent Our Inspiration to a man from among themselves (saying): “Warn mankind…” and He said, “And We sent not (as Our Messengers) before you (O Muhammad) any but men, whom We sent Revelation. So ask Ahl Adh-Dhikr, if you know not.”. meaning, (ask) the people of the previous Books, were the Messengers that were sent to them humans or angels? If they were angels, then you have the right to find this strange, but if they were human, then you have no grounds to deny that Muhammad is a Messenger.

Allah says: “And We sent not before you (as Messengers) any but men to whom We revealed, from among the people of townships.” (12:109) and not from among the people of heaven as you say.” (At-Tabari 17:208) It was reported by Mujahid from Ibn Abbas that what is meant by Ahl Adh-Dhikr is the People of the Book. (At-Tabari 17:208) This is as Allah says: “Say: “Glorified be my Lord! Am I anything but a man, sent as a Messenger” And nothing prevented men from believing when the guidance came to them, except that they said: “Has Allah sent a man as (His) Messenger?” (17:93-94) “And We never sent before you (O Muhammad) any of the Messengers but verily, they ate food and walked in the markets.” (25:20) “And We did not create them (the Messengers, with) bodies that did not eat food, nor were they immortals.” (21:8) “Say (O Muhammad): “I am not a new thing among the Messengers. ” (46:9), “Say (O Muhammad): “I am only a man like you. It has been revealed to me.” (18:110) Then Allah informs those who doubt that a Messenger can be a human to ask those who have knowledge of the previous Scriptures about the Prophets who came before: were their Prophets humans or angels? Then Allah mentions that He has sent them, “with clear signs”, meaning proof and evidence, and “and Books [Zubur]”, meaning Scriptures. Ibn Abbas, Mujahid, Ad-Dahhak and others (At-Tabari 17:211) said: Zubur is the plural of Zabur, and the Arabs say, Zaburtul-Kitab meaning, “I wrote the book.” Allah says: “And everything they have done is noted in (their) Records (of deeds) [Zubur]” (54:52) “And indeed We have written in Az-Zabur* after the Dhikr^ that My righteous servant shall inherit the land (i.e. the land of Paradise).” (21:105) [*Here the meaning includes all the revealed Holy Books the Tawrah (Torah), the Injil (Gospel), the Zabur (Psalms), the Qur’an, as it is interpreted by the scholars of Tafsir. See explanation of Surat Al-Anbiya, no. 105 for details.] [^In this Ayah, Adh-Dhikr is explained by the scholars with the same meaning as Al-Lawl Al-Mahfuz, the Preserved tablet upon which all of the divine decree has been recorded. See the previous reference.]

Then Allah says: “And We have also revealed the Dhikr to you”, meaning the Qur’an, “so that you may clearly explain to men what was revealed to them” meaning, sent down from their Lord, because you know the meaning of what Allah has revealed to you, and because of your understanding and adherence to it, and because We know that you are the best of creation and the leader of the Children of Adam. So that you may explain in detail what has been mentioned in brief, and explain what is not clear. “so that perhaps they may reflect.” meaning, they should examine themselves and be guided by it, so that they may attain the victory of salvation in this world and the next.

Tafsir Ibn Kathir (Abridged) Vol 5 Pages 450-471

 

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