21 - Al Anbiya (The prophets)

4 Tafsir(s) related to verse 21.1


Nigh has drawn for mankind, the people of Mecca, the deniers of the Resurrection, their reckoning, [on] the Day of Resurrection, yet they are heedless, of it, disregardful, of the preparation [required] for it by way of [embracing] faith.

Ibn Al Kathir

The Hour is at hand but People are heedless

This is a warning from Allah of the approach of the Hour, and that people are heedless of it, i.e., they are not working for it or preparing for it. An-Nasa'i recorded that Abu Sa`id reported from the Prophet :

فِى غَفْلَةٍ مُّعْرِضُونَ

(while they turn away in heedlessness), he said,

«فِي الدُّنْيَا»

(in this world.) Allah says:

أَتَى أَمْرُ اللَّهِ فَلاَ تَسْتَعْجِلُوهُ

(The Event ordained by Allah will come to pass, so seek not to hasten it)

اقْتَرَبَتِ السَّاعَةُ وَانشَقَّ الْقَمَرُ وَإِن يَرَوْاْ ءَايَةً يُعْرِضُواْ

(The Hour has drawn near, and the moon has been cleft asunder. And if they see a sign, they turn away.) 54:1,2. Then Allah states that they do not listen to the revelation (Wahy) that He sends down to His Messenger, which is addressed to the Quraysh and all disbelievers like them.

مَا يَأْتِيهِمْ مِّن ذِكْرٍ مِّن رَّبِّهِمْ مُّحْدَثٍ

(Comes not unto them an admonition from their Lord as a recent revelation) meaning, newly-revealed,

إِلاَّ اسْتَمَعُوهُ وَهُمْ يَلْعَبُونَ

(but they listen to it while they play. ) This is like what Ibn `Abbas said, "Why do you ask the People of the Book about what they have, which has been altered and distorted, and they have added things and taken things away, when your Book is the most recently revealed from Allah, and you read it pure and unadulterated'' Al-Bukhari recorded something similar to this.

وَأَسَرُّواْ النَّجْوَى الَّذِينَ ظَلَمُواْ

(Those who do wrong, conceal their private counsels) meaning, what they say to one another in secret.

هَلْ هَـذَآ إِلاَّ بَشَرٌ مِّثْلُكُمْ

(Is this more than a human being like you) meaning, the Messenger of Allah. They did not believe that he could be a Prophet because he was a human being like them, so how could he have been singled out to receive revelation, and not them They said:

أَفَتَأْتُونَ السِّحْرَ وَأَنتُمْ تُبْصِرُونَ

(Will you submit to magic while you see it) meaning, will you follow him and be like one who submits to magic when he knows that it is magic Allah said in response to their fabrications and lies:

قَالَ رَبِّى يَعْلَمُ الْقَوْلَ فِى السَّمَآءِ وَالاٌّرْضِ

(He said: "My Lord knows what is said in the heavens and on earth...'') Nothing at all is hidden from the One Who knows that, and He is the One Who reveals this Qur'an which contains news of the earliest and last generations. No one can produce the like of this except the One Who knows all the secrets of the heavens and the earth.

وَهُوَ السَّمِيعُ الْعَلِيمُ

(And He is the All-Hearer, the All-Knower.) means, He hears all that they say and He knows all their circumstances. This is a warning and a threat to them.

The Disbelievers' Ideas about the Qur'an and the Messenger ; their demand for a Sign and the Refutation of that

بَلْ قَالُواْ أَضْغَـثُ أَحْلاَمٍ بَلِ افْتَرَاهُ

(Nay, they say: "These are mixed up false dreams! Nay, he has invented it!...'') Here Allah tells us of the stubbornness and heresy of the disblievers, and the various things they said about the Qur'an, and how they were confused and misguided about it. Sometimes they described it as magic, and sometimes they described it as poetry, or mixed up false dreams, or a fabrication. As Allah says:

انْظُرْ كَيْفَ ضَرَبُواْ لَكَ الاٌّمْثَالَ فَضَلُّواْ فَلاَ يَسْتَطِيعْونَ سَبِيلاً

(See what examples they have put forward for you. So they have gone astray, and never can they find a way) 17:48

فَلْيَأْتِنَا بِـَايَةٍ كَمَآ أُرْسِلَ الاٌّوَّلُونَ

(Let him then bring us an Ayah like the ones that were sent before!) They were referring to the she-camel of Salih, and the signs of Musa and `Isa. And Allah says,

وَمَا مَنَعَنَآ أَن نُّرْسِلَ بِالاٌّيَـتِ إِلاَّ أَن كَذَّبَ بِهَا الاٌّوَّلُونَ

(And nothing stops Us from sending the Ayat but that the people of old denied them.) 17:59. So Allah said here:

مَآ ءَامَنَتْ قَبْلَهُمْ مِّن قَرْيَةٍ أَهْلَكْنَـهَآ أَفَهُمْ يُؤْمِنُونَ

(Not one of the towns of those which We destroyed, believed before them; will they then believe) None of the peoples to whom Messengers were sent were given a sign at the hands of their Prophet and believed. On the contrary, they disbelieved and We destroyed them as a result. Would these people believe in a sign if they saw it Not at all! In fact,

إِنَّ الَّذِينَ حَقَّتْ عَلَيْهِمْ كَلِمَةُ رَبِّكَ لاَ يُؤْمِنُونَ - وَلَوْ جَآءَتْهُمْ كُلُّ ءايَةٍ حَتَّى يَرَوُاْ الْعَذَابَ الاٌّلِيمَ

(Truly, those, against whom the Word of your Lord has been justified, will not believe. Even if every sign should come to them, until they see the painful torment.) 10:96-97. Indeed, they witnes- sed clear signs and definitive proof at the hands of the Messen- ger of Allah, signs which were far clearer and more overwhel- ming than any that had been witnessed in the case of any other Prophet, may the blessings and peace of Allah be upon them all.

Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi - Tafhim al-Qur'an

"The time....near": the time of Resurrection. This is to warn the people that the time of Resurrection when they will have to appear before their Lord to render their accounts is not far. This was because the coming of the Holy Prophet was a sign and a clear evidence of the fact that mankind had entered the last stage of its history. The Holy Prophet himself explained it by holding out two of his adjoining fingers and said, "I have been sent at a time which joins to the time of Resurrection just as these two fingers adjoin". By this he meant to say, "No other Prophet is coming between me and the Resurrection. Therefore mend your ways now, for after me no guide is coming with good news and warning."

That is, "They do not pay heed to any warning nor reflect on their end nor listen to the admonition of the Messenger."

"New Revelation": A new Surah of the Qur'an.

The words of the original Text may also be interpreted as: "They do not take life seriously but treat it as a sport and a joke".

Tanwîr al-Miqbâs min Tafsîr Ibn ‘Abbâs

And from his narration on the authority of Ibn 'Abbas who said regarding the meaning of Allah, Exalted is He, saying: (Their reckoning draweth nigh for mankind): He says: the chastisement that the people of Mecca were promised in the Book has drawn near, (while they turn away in heedlessness) while they are oblivious to it; they have disbelieved in and discarded it.