Abbas - Tanwîr al-Miqbâs min Tafsîr Ibn ‘Abbâs
(Who doeth greater wrong) who is more insolent and daring vis-à-vis Allah (than he who inventeth a lie concerning Allah and denieth His revelations) Muhammad (pbuh) and the Qur'an? (Lo! the guilty) the idolaters (never are successful) they will never be saved or safe from Allah's chastisement.
And who, that is, no one, does greater evil than he who invents a lie against God, by ascribing a partner to Him, or denies His signs?, [denies] the Qur’ān. Surely, it is that, the sinners, the idolaters, shall not prosper, they shall [never] find happiness.
Maududi - Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi - Tafhim al-Qur'an
They implied two things when they said these words. First, they meant that what Muhammad (Allah's peace be upon him) was presenting as Divine Revelation was really the product of his own mind but he was ascribing it to Allah merely to make his claim weighty. Secondly, they implied this: "If you want to be the leader of your people, present something that may make them prosperous in the world and give up the doctrines of Tauhid and the Hereafter and the moral restrictions you are prescribing in yow teaching. And if it be not possible, make some amendments in the Qur'an so that a compromise may be effected between you and us on the principle of give and take so that there should be some scope for ow shirk in yow Tauhid and for our self-worship and for our salvation in the Hereafter, irrespective of what we do in this world. You should also note it well that we cannot accept yow absolute morality: therefore you should make an allowance for ow prejudices, ow rites and customs, ow personal and national interests and ow lusts. We propose that with mutual agreement we should make a list of those religious demands which should be obligatory on us for the fulfillment of Allah's rights, and beyond that we should be free to conduct ow worldly affairs in any way we like. This compromise is necessary because we cannot accept yow demand that human life in all its aspects should entirely be led in accordance with the implications of the doctrines of Tauhid and the Hereafter and the regulations of the Islamic Code of life. "
This is the answer to the two about-mentioned demands: "I have no authority of making any alterations in this Book for I am not its author but Allah is the One Who is sending it down to me. Therefore there is no question of any compromise about it. If you want to accept its Way, you will have to accept it as it is; otherwise you are free to reject it. "
This is a very strong argument against their accusation that Muhammad (Allah's peace be upon him) was himself the author of the Qur'an but was ascribing it to Allah, and in support of the Holy Prophet's claim that it was being sent down to him by Allah, Who was its Author. The argument is this: "You yourselves have witnessed the forty years of his life before his appointment to Prophethood. He was born in yow own city and passed his boyhood, youth and middle age before yow very eyes. He lived among you and had all kinds of relations-social, marital, economic, etc. with you. So much so that no aspect of his life was hidden from you. Did you notice anything in his whole life that might show that he could be the author of this Book? Do you not use your commonsense?"
The question posed in the Qur'an implied two things which were well known to everyone in Makkah about the Holy Prophet:
First, during the forty years of his life before Prophethood, he had neither received any education nor training nor sat in any company that should have enabled him to become the author of such a Book as was full of unique things that were unknown to the people around him. No one had ever heard from him anything about the problems that had been dealt with in different Surahs of the Qur'an. So much so that not even a relative or close friend of his had ever noticed anything in his talk or in anything about him that might have shown any signs of gradual development towards it, before he made his great claim to Prophethood when he reached the age of forty. This was a clear proof of the fact that the Qur'an was not the invention of his own brain and that it must have been sent down to him from outside. For it is impossible for a human being to produce anything like this, all of a sudden and without ever manifesting any signs of its evolution and development in his earlier life. That is why when some intelligent people of Makkah felt the absurdity of this accusation, they began to say that it was some other person who taught these things to him. But this was even more absurd than the first thing because they could not point out specifically a single person in the whole of Arabia, not to say of Makkah, who had the ability of producing such unique things as were contained in the Qur'an. They also knew that a person of his high caliber could not have remained obscure in some unknown corner for forty years.
The second thing, that had distinguished him during those forty years of his life, was his noble character both from the negative and from the positive aspects. He was never known to have told a single lie or practiced any kind of deceit, forgery, cunning, craftiness and the like in any way whatsoever, On the other hand, all those people with whom he had come into contact in any capacity bore witness to the fact that he had been truthful, honest, and trustworthy without any blemish whatsoever. As an instance, a most well-known historical fact may be cited. Only five years before his Prophethood, the Ka`abah was damaged by rains. When they were re-building it, a quarrel arose among the different clans of the Quraish as to who should have the honor of setting Hajr-I-Aswad (the Black Stone) in its proper place. Therefore it was agreed that the one who would be the first to enter into the Haram next morning should arbitrate in the quarrel. Next morning the first person who entered the Haram was Muhammad (Allah's peace be upon him). At this all the people cried out with joy, "He is an absolutely trust- worthy man, and we are fully satisfied with him; he is Muhammad. " This is how Allah had made that large gathering of the Quraish bear witness to the fact that he was "The Trustworthy", before appointing him as His Messenger. Therefore there was no justification for anyone to accuse the man who had never told a lie nor ever practiced forgery nor craftiness in his whole life, of ascribing falsely to Allah his own literary creation, and claiming categorically and persistently that it was of ' Divine Origin.
That is why Allah has asked His Messenger to refute their absurd charge by saying, as it were, only this: "O my people, use your commonsense before making this absurd accusation, for I am not a stranger or a foreigner among you. I have lived a life-time of forty years among you before making a claim that I have received Revelation from Allah. How can you expect from my past that I would present the Qur'an to you as Allah's Book, without gaining knowledge from Him and without His Command?" (For further details sec Surah Al-Qasas, E.N. 109).
That is, "If these Revelations are not from Allah and I myself compose them and present them as Revelations from Him, there can be no greater sinner than I. On the other hand, if these Revelations are truly from Allah and you are falsifying these, then there can be no greater sinner than you. "
Some foolish people draw wrong and misleading conclusions from this verse, by a fallacious reasoning. They confine the meanings of (falah) to "long lift" or "worldly prosperity" or "worldly success" and argue like this: This verse declares categorically that "criminals can never attain success." The converse of this proposition, that is, "anyone who is successful cannot be a criminal" must also be true. Hence, if a claimant should live a long life after his claim to Prophethood or prosper in the world or his claim receives a good response in the world from the people, he should be acknowledged as a true prophet. For they argue, if he had been a false prophet he could not have "prospered," but would have been killed or starved to death or rendered unsuccessful in his mission, as soon as he had claimed to be a prophet. But even a little thinking will show that this "argument" is fallacious on the face of it. Firstly, the converse of every proposition is not always true. Secondly, the Qur'an does not use the word falah in this limited sense. Thirdly, Allah deals with the criminals according to His Divine Law of respite.
Now let us consider the matter in detail. The words "Indeed the criminals cannot attain success", have not been used, in the context they occur, to prescribe a criterion for judging a true Prophet from a false one, so that if a claimant is "successful", he should be accepted, and if he is not, he should be rejected. As a matter of fact, these words have been put in the mouth of the Messenger to make a declaration like this: "I know it for certain that the criminals cannot attain (true) success: therefore I cannot commit the crime of making a false claim to Prophethood. But as regards you, I am absolutely sure that you cannot attain true success because you are guilty of falsifying me who is a true Prophet of Allah."
The other thing is that the word falah is not used in the limited sense of "worldly success", but it has been used to denote the permanent 'success' which never suffers any loss whatsoever irrespective of the fact whether the claimant gains or does not gain any worldly success in the initial stage. Nay, it is just possible that a false "claimant" who invites people to misguidance should attain great worldly "success" and his misguidance might also prosper. This is, however, not success in the terminology of the Qur'an, but this would be an utter failure. On the other hand, it is also possible that the inviter to the Truth should suffer untold afflictions or fall a prey to the persecutions of the transgressors, and leave this world without winning over anyone to the side of the Truth, but this will be, in the terminology of the Qur'an, true success and not a failure.
The other thing that refutes the fallacy of these foolish people is that they do not take into consideration the "Divine Law of Respite", according to which the mere fact that a false prophet enjoyed a long "prosperous" life is not a proof that he was a true prophet. The Qur'an has made it clear at many places that Allah does not expedite the matter of the punishment of the criminals, but gives them respite to mend their ways; nay, He also lets them loose in their deviation if they abuse that respite and become more corrupt. Sometimes He makes them even more "prosperous" so that they should fully manifest all the evils they had hidden in their hearts and incur full punishment which they really deserve for their evil deeds. The "Divine Law of Respite" takes its due course in the case of false prophets as it does in the case of other criminals. And there is no reason why they should be an exception to this. Satan, the greatest of all criminals, has been allowed to practice every kind of deception up to the Day of Judgment, and there is no mention of any exception to this effect that he will not be allowed to set up a false prophet.
As a last resort, such perverse interpreters of the Qur'an turn to vv. 44-47 of Surah Al-Haqqah: "If Muhammad had fabricated something himself and ascribed that to Us, We would have seized his hand and cut off his heart's vein." But these cannot serve their purpose, for what they imply is only this: "If the true Prophet appointed by Allah were to ascribe any false thing to Allah, he would be seized forthwith". Therefore it is no more than a fallacy to argue from this to the erroneous conclusion that the impostor who is not seized is a true prophet, for this Divine principle applies only to a true Prophet and not to an impostor. In order to grasp this point, let us take the instance of the government servants. It is obvious that the rules and regulations which are prescribed for government servants apply only to those who are actually government servants and not to impostors. Those who pretend to be government servants are dealt with according to the criminal code like other criminals and villains and not according to the code of employment. Besides this, the context in which these verses occur clearly shows that these are not laying down any criterion of judging whether a claimant is a true Prophet or an impostor. For, in continuation of the preceding verse (43), the passage will, so to say, read like this: "This is the Revelation sent down from the Lord of the universe. If Muhammad had himself fabricated this and ascribed that to Us, We would have........" Moreover, a true Prophet can easily be distinguished from an impostor by his high character, his noble mission and the unique Message he presents. Hence there was no need of setting up such an irrational and unnatural standard of distinguishing a true Prophet from an impostor. "