A Warning to the Disbelievers and a Reminder of the Story of `Ad and Thamud
Allah says: `Say, O Muhammad, to these idolators who disbelieve in the message of truth that you have brought: If you turn away from that which I have brought to you from Allah, then I warn you of the punishment of Allah like the punishment that the past nations suffered for disbelieving in the Messengers.'
صَـعِقَةً مِّثْلَ صَـعِقَةِ عَادٍ وَثَمُودَ
(a Sa`iqah like the Sa`iqah which overtook `Ad and Thamud.) and other similar nations who did what they did,
إِذْ جَآءَتْهُمُ الرُّسُلُ مِن بَيْنِ أَيْدِيهِمْ وَمِنْ خَلْفِهِمْ
(When the Messengers came to them, from before them and behind them) This is like the Ayah:
وَاذْكُرْ أَخَا عَادٍ إِذْ أَنذَرَ قَوْمَهُ بِالاٌّحْقَافِ وَقَدْ خَلَتِ النُّذُرُ مِن بَيْنِ يَدَيْهِ وَمِنْ خَلْفِهِ
(And remember (Hud) the brother of `Ad, when he warned his people in Al-Ahqaf. And surely, there have passed away warners before him and after him) (46:21). which means that in the neighboring towns and cities, Allah sent Messengers who commanded the people to worship Allah Alone with no partner or associate, and they brought good news as well as warnings. They saw the punishment Allah sent upon His enemies, and the blessings which He bestowed upon His friends, yet despite all of this, they did not believe in them. On the contrary, they denied them and rejected them, and said:
لَوْ شَآءَ رَبُّنَا لاّنزَلَ مَلَـئِكَةً
(If our Lord had so willed, He would surely have sent down the angels.) meaning, if Allah were to send Messengers, they would be angels sent from His presence.
فَإِنَّا بِمَآ أُرْسِلْتُمْ بِهِ كَـفِرُونَ
(So, indeed we disbelieve in that with which you have been sent.) means, `because you are a mere human; we will not follow you because you are just men like us.'
فَأَمَّا عَادٌ فَاسْتَكْبَرُواْ فِى الاٌّرْضِ بِغَيْرِ الْحَقِّ
(As for `Ad, they were arrogant in the land without right.) means, they were arrogant, stubborn and disobedient.
وَقَالُواْ مَنْ أَشَدُّ مِنَّا قُوَّةً
(and they said: "Who is mightier than us in strength'') They boasted of their physical strength, and power; they thought that this would protect them from Allah's punishment.
أَوَلَمْ يَرَوْاْ أَنَّ اللَّهَ الَّذِى خَلَقَهُمْ هُوَ أَشَدُّ مِنْهُمْ قُوَّةً
(See they not that Allah Who created them was mightier in strength than them.) means, do they not realize, when they are showing enmity, that He is the Almighty Who created all things and gave them whatever strength they have, and that His onslaught will be far greater This is like the Ayah:
وَالسَّمَآءَ بَنَيْنَـهَا بِأَيْدٍ وَإِنَّا لَمُوسِعُونَ
(With Hands did We construct the heaven. Verily, We are able to extend the vastness of space thereof.) (51:47) They openly opposed the Almighty and denied His signs and disobeyed His Messenger. Allah said:
فَأَرْسَلْنَا عَلَيْهِمْ رِيحاً صَرْصَراً
(So We sent upon them a Sarsar wind). Some said that this was a strongly blowing wind; others said that it was a cold wind. It was also said that it is the wind that makes a noise. The truth that it was all of these things, for it was a strong wind that was an apt punishment for their being deceived by their physical strength. It was also intensely cold, as Allah says:
بِرِيحٍ صَرْصَرٍ عَاتِيَةٍ
(with a Sarsar wind!) (69:6), meaning a very cold wind. It also made a furious sound. Additionally, there is a famous river in the east which is called Sarsar because of the noise it makes as it flows.
فِى أَيَّامٍ نَّحِسَاتٍ
(in days of calamity) means, consecutive days.
سَبْعَ لَيَالٍ وَثَمَـنِيَةَ أَيَّامٍ حُسُوماً
(seven nights and eight days in succession) (69: 7). This is like the Ayah:
فِى يَوْمِ نَحْسٍ مُّسْتَمِرٍّ
(on a day of calamity, continuous) (54:19) i.e., the punishment began on a day which was of evil omen for them, and this evil omen continued for them,
سَبْعَ لَيَالٍ وَثَمَـنِيَةَ أَيَّامٍ حُسُوماً
(seven nights and eight days in succession) (69:7) until they were destroyed, every last one of them, and their humiliation in this world was joined to their punishment in the Hereafter. Allah says:
لِّنُذِيقَهُمْ عَذَابَ الْخِزْىِ فِى الْحَيَوةِ الدُّنْيَا وَلَعَذَابُ الاٌّخِرَةِ أَخْزَى
(that We might give them a taste of disgracing torment in this present worldly life. But surely the torment of the Hereafter will be more disgracing.) meaning, more humiliating for them.
وَهُمْ لاَ يُنصَرُونَ
(and they will never be helped.) means, in the Hereafter, just as they were never helped in this world, and they had no one who could protect them from Allah or save them from His punishment.
وَأَمَّا ثَمُودُ فَهَدَيْنَـهُمْ
(And as for Thamud, We showed them the path of truth) Ibn `Abbas, may Allah be pleased with him, Abu Al-Aliyah, Sa`id bin Jubayr, Qatadah, As-Suddi and Ibn Zayd said, "We explained to them. '' Ath-Thawri said, "We called them.'' Allah's saying;
فَاسْتَحَبُّواْ الْعَمَى عَلَى الْهُدَى
(but they preferred blindness to guidance;) means, `We showed them the truth and made it clear to them through the words of their Prophet Salih, but they opposed him and rejected him, and they slaughtered the she-camel of Allah which He had made a sign for them of the truth of their Prophet.'
فَأَخَذَتْهُمْ صَـعِقَةُ الْعَذَابِ الْهُونِ
(so the Sa`iqah of disgracing torment seized them) means, Allah sent upon them the Sayhah, earthquake, intense humiliation, punishment and torment.
بِمَا كَانُواْ يَكْسِبُونَ
(because of what they used to earn) means, because of their disbelief and rejection.
وَنَجَّيْنَا الَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ
(And We saved those who believed) means, `We saved them from among them, and no harm came to them;' Allah saved them along with His Prophet Salih, peace be upon him, because of their fear of Allah.