— which in the case of the disbelievers none can avert: this was al-nadr b. al-hārith who said, ‘o god, if this be indeed the truth from you … [then rain down upon us stones from the heaven’ [q. 8:32],
(a questioner asked concerning a torment about to befall) this ayah contains an assumed meaning that is alluded to by the letter "ba''. it is as though it is saying, a questioner requested to hasten on the torment that is about to fall. it is similar to allah's statement,
(and they ask you to hasten on the torment! and allah fails not his promise.) (22:47) meaning, that its torment will occur and there is no avoiding it. al-`awfi reported from ibn `abbas concerning the ayah,
سَأَلَ سَآئِلٌ بِعَذَابٍ وَاقِعٍ
(a questioner asked concerning a torment about to befall) "that is the questioning of the disbelievers about the torment of allah and it will occur to them.'' ibn abi najih reported from mujahid that he said concerning allah's statement
(a questioner asked), "a person called out (requesting) for the torment that will occur in the hereafter to happen.'' then he said, "this is their saying,
(o allah! if this is indeed the truth from you, then rain down stones on us from the sky or bring on us a painful torment.)'' (8:32) allah's statement,
(about to befall (waqi`) upon the disbelievers,) means, it is waiting in preparation for the disbelievers. ibn `abbas said, "waqi` means coming.''
لَيْسَ لَهُ دَافِعٌ
(which non can avert) meaning, there is no one who can repel it if allah wants it to happen. thus, allah says,
مِّنَ اللَّهِ ذِي الْمَعَارِجِ
(from allah, the lord of the ways of ascent (al-ma`arij).)
the tafsir of "lord of the ways of ascent
`ali bin abi talhah reported from ibn `abbas, "lord of the ways of ascent means loftiness and abundance.'' mujahid said, "lord of the ways of ascent means the ways of ascension into the heavens.'' concerning allah's statement,
تَعْرُجُ الْمَلَـئِكَةُ وَالرُّوحُ إِلَيْهِ
(the angels and the ruh ta`ruju to him) `abdur-razzaq reported from ma`mar from qatadah that ta`ruju means to ascend. in reference to the ruh, abu salih said, "they are creatures from the creation of allah that resemble humans but they are not humans.'' it could be that here it means jibril, and this is a way of connecting the specific to the general (other angels). it could also be referring to the name of the souls (arwah) of the children of adam (humans). for verily, when they (the human souls) are taken at death, they are lifted up to the heavens just as the hadith of al-bara' proves.
the meaning of "a day the measure whereof is fifty thousand years
(in a day the measure whereof is fifty thousand years.) "it is the day of judgement.'' the chain of narration of this report (to ibn `abbas) is authentic. ath-thawri reported from simak bin harb from `ikrimah that he said concerning this verse, "it is the day of judgement.'' ad-dahhak and ibn zayd both said the same. `ali bin abi talhah reported from ibn `abbas concerning the ayah,
(the angels and the ruh ascend to him in a day the measure whereof is fifty thousand years.) "it is the day of judgement that allah has made to be the measure of fifty thousand years for the disbelievers. '' many hadiths have been reported with this same meaning. imam ahmad recorded from abu `umar al-ghudani that he said, "i was with abu hurayrah when a man from bani `amir bin sa`sa`ah passed and it was said: `this man is the wealthiest man of bani `amir.' so abu hurayrah said, `bring him back to me.' so they brought the man back to abu hurayrah. then abu hurayrah said, `i have been informed that you are a man of great wealth.' the man from bani `amir replied, `yes, by allah. i have one hundred red-colored camels, one hundred brown-colored camels...' and so on he counted numerous colored camels, the races of the slaves and the types of fetters for his horses that he owned. so abu hurayrah said, `beware of the hooves of the camels and the cloven hooves of the cattle.' he continued repeating that to him until the color of the man began to change. then the man said, `o abu hurayrah what is this' abu hurayrah replied, `i heard the messenger of allah say,
(it is their difficulty and their ease, for verily, they will come on the day of resurrection healthier than before. they will be more in number, fatter and more lively and unruly. then a soft, level plain will be spread out for them and they will trample him with their hooves. when the last of them has passed over him, the first of them will return to trample him again during a day whose measure will be fifty thousand years. this will continue until the case of all the people is decided between them. then he (the withholder of zakah) will see his path (i.e., either to paradise or hell). if he had cows that he did not pay the zakah in their ease and their difficult times, then they will come on the day of judgement healthier than they were before. they will be more in number, fatter and more lively and unruly. then a soft, level plain will be spread out for them and they will trample him. every one of them that has cloven hooves will trample him with its hooves, and every one of them that has a horn will butt him with its horn. there will not be any hornless or bent horned animals among them. when the last of them has passed over him, the first of them will return to trample him again during a day whose measure will be fifty thousand years. this will continue until the case of all the people is decided between them. then he (the withholder of zakah) will see his path (i.e., either to paradise or hell). if he has any sheep that he does not pay the due zakah in their difficulty and their ease, then they will come on the day of judgement healthier than they were before. they will be more (in number) fatter and more lively and unruly. then a soft, level plain will be spread out for them and they will trample him. every one of them that has a cloven hoof will trample him with its hooves, and every one of them that has a horn will butt him with its horn. there will not be any hornless or bent horned animals among them. when the last of them has passed over him, the first of them will return to trample him again during a day whose measure will be fifty thousand years. this will continue until the case of all the people is decided between them. then he (the withholder of zakah) will see his path (i.e., either to paradise or hell).) then, the man from bani `amir said, `what is the due of the camel, o abu hurayrah' abu hurayrah said, `it is that you give (in your zakah payment) from your most valuable camels, that you lend a milking she-camel, that you lend your mount for riding, that you give the milk (to the people) for drinking, and you lend the male camel for breeding.''' this hadith was also recorded by abu dawud and an-nasa'i.
a different version of this hadith
imam ahmad recorded from abu hurayrah that the messenger of allah said,
(there is not any owner of treasure who does not pay its due except that it will be made into heated metal plates and branded upon him in the fire of hell. his forehead, side and back will be scorched with these metal plates. this will continue until allah judges between his servants on a day whose measure is fifty thousand years of what you count. then he will see his path, either to paradise or to the fire.) then he (abu hurayrah) mentions the rest of the hadith about the sheep and camels just as mentioned before. in this narration (of ahmad) the prophet also added,
(the horse is for three (on the day of judgement): for one man it is a reward, for another man it is a shield (protection), and upon another man it is a burden.) and the hadith continues. muslim also recorded this hadith in its entirety even though al-bukhari did not mention it. the intent behind mentioning this here is the prophet's statement,
(until allah judges between his servants on a day whose measurement is fifty thousand years.)
instructing the prophet to have patience then
فَاصْبِرْ صَبْراً جَمِيلاً
(so be patient, with a good patience.) meaning, `be patient, o muhammad, with your people's rejection and their seeking to hasten the torment since they think it will not occur.' allah says in another ayah,
(those who believe not therein seek to hasten it, while those believe are fearful of it, and know that it is the very truth.) (42:18) thus, allah says,
إِنَّهُمْ يَرَوْنَهُ بَعِيداً
(verily, they see it (the torment) afar off.) meaning, the happening of the torment and the establishment of the hour (day of judgement). the disbelievers see this as something that is farfetched. the word "ba`id'' here means that which is impossible to occur.
(but we see it (quite) near.) meaning, the believers believe that its occurrence is near, even though its time of occurrence is unknown and no one knows when it will be except allah. all of what is approaching then it is near and it will definitely happen.
Maududi - Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi - Tafhim al-Qur'an
some commentators have taken the verb sa'ala in the text in the meaning of asking, and have interpreted the verse to mean: "the asker has asked: whom will the torment with which we are being threatened befall'" and allah has answered it, saying: "it will befall the disbelievers." but most of the commentators have taken sa'ala here in the meaning of demanding. nasa'i and other traditionists have related a tradition from ibn 'abbas, and hakim hold it as authentic, that nadr bin al-harith kaladah had said "o god, if it is really the truth sent dawn by you, then rain down stones on us from the heavens, or send down any other painful torment on us." (ai-anfal: 32). apart from this, at several places in the qur'an the disbelievers' this challenge has been related: "why don't you bring down on us the torment that you threaten us with?" for instance, see yunus: 4b-48, al-anbiya': 36-41, an-naml; 67-72, saba: 26-30, ya sin: 45-52, al-mink: 24-27.
ma'arij is plural of mi'raj, which means a stairway, or a ladder, or something by which one may go up. to call allah dhil-ma'aij (owner of the steps of ascent) means that he is most high and in order to go up into his presence the angels have to ascend many heights, one above the other, as has been stated in the following verses.
"the spirit": the angel gabriel (peace be on him), who has been mentioned separately from the angels in order to impress his unique glory and greatness. in surah ash-shu'ara' it has been said: "the trustworthy spirit has came down with this qur'an upon your heart", (v. 193), and in surah ai-baqarah "say to them: whoever is an enemy to gabriel, should understand that he has, by.allah's command. revealed upon your heart this qur'an." (v. 97). these verses when read together show that ar-ruh (the spirit) implies the angel gabriel.
this is an ambiguous theme the meaning of which cannot be determined precisely. we neither have any knowledge of the reality of the angels, nor can understand the nature of their ascent, nor can conceive the stairways on which they ascend. besides, about allah also it cannot be imagined that he lives in a particular place, for he is exalted and free froth the restrictions of space and time.
in al-hajj: 47, it has been said: "these people are demanding of you to hasten the torment; allah will never tail to fulfill his threat, but a day with your lord is equal to a thousand years as you reckon." in surah as-sajdah: 5, it has been said: "he administers the affairs of the world from the heavens to the earth, and the report of this administration ascends (to be presented) before him in a day whose length, according to your reckoning, is a thousand years". and here, in response to the demand for the torment, the measure of allah's one day has been stated to be fifty thousand years. then the holy prophet (upon whom be peace) has been consoled, saying: "have patience at the demand for the torment which the people make out of jest and fun," and then it is said: "they think it is far off, but we see it as near at hand." when all these verses are read together, what becomes obvious is: "the people, because of their narrow and restricted outlook, measure the time of allah's decrees by their own scales of time and, therefore, consider a hundred years or so to be a very lengthy period, whereas in the divine conduct of affairs there are schemes spreading over a thousand years each, or fifty thousand years each, as you reckon, and this measure also is only by way of example; otherwise schemes in the universe may extend over millions and billions of years as well. of these one is the scheme under which mankind has been created on the earth, and a time limit has been set during which it has been allowed to function here. no man can know when this scheme began, what time-limit has been decreed for its completion, what hour has been appointed for bringing it to an end, when resurrection will take place, and what time has been fixed for raising all men, born since the beginning of creation till resurrection, from death simultaneously and calling them to account for their deeds. we only know to some extent that part of the scheme which is passing before us, or a partial history of the past ages which exists with us. as for its beginning and end, to say nothing of knowing it, we do not even have the power to understand it, not to speak of understanding the wisdom which works behind and underlies it. now the people who demand that the scheme be cut short and its conclusion be brought immediately before them, and if this is not done. they use it for an argument to prove that the universe has no end and conclusion, in fact, present a proof of their own ignorance and folly. (for further explanation, see e.n.'s 92, 93 of surah al-hajj, e.n. 9 of as-sajdah).
"a goodly patience": "a kind of patience that behooves a magnanimous person like you."
this can have two meanings:
(1) "that these people think it cannot possibly take place, and in our view it is going to take place very soon"; and
(2) "that these people think resurrection is yet remote and far off, and in our sight it is close at hand and may occur any moment. "
a section of the commentators regard this sentence as related to "a day whose measure is fifty thousand years"; they say that the day whose measure has been stated to be fifty thousand years is the day of resurrection. in musnad ahmad and in the tafsir by ibn jarir, a tradition has been related on the authority of hadrat abu sa'id khudri, saying: "when wonder and amazement was expressed before the holy prophet (upon whom be peace) about the length of this day with reference to this verse, he replied: 'by him in whose hand is my life, the believer will find the day even lighter (of shorter duration) than the time he takes in performing an obligatory prayer in the world". " had this tradition been reported through authentic channels, this verse could not be interpreted in any other way, but two of its transmitters, darraj and his teacher abul haytham, are both weak and untrustworthy.
that is, it will change its color over and over again.
as the colors of the mountains are different, when they are uprooted and they drift about weight less, they will appear like flakes of carded wool of different colors.
not so that they will not see each other, therefore they will not ask after each other's welfare, but each will be seeing the other in agony and distress, yet will ignore him, being wholly preoccupied with his own torment.
here also, as in al-haaqqah: 33-34, two causes have been mentioned of a person's evil end in the hereafter:
(1) his repudiation of the truth and refusal to affirm faith; and
(2) his worship of the world and stinginess because of which he amasses wealth and refuses to spend it on any good cause.