Abbas - Tanwîr al-Miqbâs min Tafsîr Ibn ‘Abbâs
(And when We cause mankind) when We enable the idolaters (to taste of mercy) blessings (after some adversity) hardship (which had afflicted them, behold! they have some plot against) they give the lie to (Our revelations) Muhammad (pbuh) and the Qur'an. (Say: Allah is more swift in plotting) Allah's punishment is more severe. Allah destroyed them on the Day of Badr. (Lo! Our messengers) who record the deeds of mankind (write down that which you plot) the lies you utter and the transgressions you commit.
And when We made people, that is, the disbelievers of Mecca, taste of mercy, [of] rain and fertility, after adversity, misery and drought, that had afflicted them, behold! they have some plot concerning Our signs, in the way of mockery and denial. Say, to them: ‘God is swifter at plotting, at requiting; surely Our, guardian, messengers are writing down that which you are plotting’ (tamkurūn, is also read yamkurūn, ‘they are plotting’).
And when We made people taste of mercy after adversity that had afflicted them: it has already been mentioned how different types of trials in the way of adversities and hardships and all kinds of severe distress [serve to] break the soul's enthusiasm for evil (shirra) and make the heart more tender by removing the veils of the soul's attributes, thinning the densities of nature and lifting of the coverings of vain desire. That is why their hearts incline by nature to their point of origin when in that state [of tasting mercy], since they are then returning to the entailments of their primordial nature, their original luminosity and their primordial faculty, and they are inclining to ascending, something which is rooted in them, once the impediment has been eliminated. Nay to incline to the upper aspect and to the luminous points of origin is a predisposition created in the nature of all spiritual faculties, even the animal soul, if it should cleanse itself of dark corporeal configurations. For to tend to what is low belongs to corporeal accidents. So much so that even beasts and wild animals when in hardship during times of scarcity and days of drought, [you see them] gather in groups with their heads raised towards the heaven as though their spiritual connection senses the coming down of an effusion from the upper aspect so that they might then draw on it [for relief]. Similarly, when outward graces are plentiful for people, the resources of nature in full supply for them and [their] corporeal needs [satisfied], the soul is strengthened [and emboldened] by the reinforcement of the lower aspect and its faculties become arrogant and overbearing towards the heart, the veil becomes denser and harsher, vain desire acquires mastery and becomes victory such that corporeal nature holds sway and dark corporeal configurations pile up. And thus the heart becomes shaped by the configuration of the soul, hardening, becoming harsher and insolent, made recklessly arrogant by [the plentifulness of] grace to the extent that it becomes ungrateful, blind and inclines to the lower aspect remote as it is to luminous configuration in such instances. In the measure that the soul acquires mastery over the heart, so too does the estimative faculty acquire mastery over the intellect, whereupon devilry becomes master, given that the rational faculty is now captive in the shackles of estimation and under its command, exploited by it for its own pursuits and rendering its goals palatable to it as it actualises the pleasures of the soul, reinforcing it [the rational faculty] from the world of abomination and strengthening its attributes with equipment from the world of natural character and tools of the substrata of [worldly] shares through reflection, such that the heart becomes veiled through [the accumulation of] rust to the receptivity of the attributes of the Truth totally.
That is the significance of His words: behold! they have some plot concerning Our signs. Say: 'God is swifter at plotting, by concealing the true vanquishing power within this formal graciousness, while [simultaneously] preparing the chastisement of the fires of privation, the snakes and the black scorpions of the configurations of vices, as well as the garment of boiling pitch within this outward mercy. Surely Our messengers are writing down that which you are plotting': you have already come to know that heavenly spiritual realm is engraved with every event that occurs in this world. Thus every good or vile deed that issues from someone has already been inscribed for him in those Tablets. The spiritual realm for every body has been connected to those spiritual (malakūtiyya) points of origin. Consequently, whenever we aspire to do a good thing or a wicked thing, its form is etched out in the spiritual realm of our bodies as an incoming thought initially whereafter we reflect upon it. Once the engraving is firmly established and resolve issues forth from it so that we live up to the initial thought [itself] with unequivocal will, it becomes imprinted as we embark on that act; except that if it is a good deed it is instantly imprinted in the direction of the heart, which is adjacent to the spirit and the tablet of the inner heart illumined by its light. The practical rational faculty, which is the angel of the right-hand side, from the two [guardian] angels charged [with every human being] - the ones alluded to in His saying: on the right and on the left [there is one] seated [Q. 50:17] - then records this [act]. For the inner heart is the stronger of the two sides. If it is an evil deed, it does not become imprinted immediately because of the remoteness of the dark configuration from the heart and its non-correspondence to it in essence.
If that the divine granting of success overtakes that person and one of the lights of spiritual guidance shines over him and he is remorseful and seeks forgiveness, that [evil thought] will be erased and he will be pardoned; but if it does not reach him, that [thought] will keep repeating itself until the soul reinforces it by the darkness of its attributes whereupon it will be come to reside in the tablet of the breast which is that aspect of the heart that is adjacent to the soul and which is dark because of the darkness of the soul that overwhelmed it when that act issued forth from it. The imaginative faculty, which is the angel of the left, since this is the weaker of the two sides, will record that [deed]. This is what they mean when they say that the angel on the left does not record an evil deed until six hours have passed: if during this that person seeks forgiveness it is not recorded, but if he persists it is recorded. From this statement one is able to understand the [meaning of the] bringing of the book to the Muslim by his right hand and to the unbeliever by his left. As for the [actual] form of this bringing and its modality, this will be mentioned in the relevant place, God willing.
Man changes when He receives Mercy after Times of Distress
Allah tells us that when He makes men feel His mercy after being afflicted with distress,
إِذَا لَهُمْ مَّكْرٌ فِى ءايَـتِنَا
(They take to plotting against Our Ayat.) The coming of mercy after distress is like the coming of ease after hardship, fertility after aridity, and rain after drought. Mujahid said that man's attitude indicates a mockery and belying of blessings. The meaning here is similar to Allah's statement:
(And when harm touches man, he invokes Us, lying on his side, or sitting or standing.)(10:12) Al-Bukhari recorded that Allah's Messenger led the Subh (Dawn) prayer after it had rained during the night, then he said:
(Allah said; "This morning, some of My servants have become believers and some disbelievers in Me. He who said: `We have had this rainfall due to the grace and mercy of Allah' is a believer in Me and a disbeliever in the stars. And he who said `we have had this rainfall due to the rising of such and such star' is a disbeliever in Me and a believer in the stars.) The Ayah:
قُلِ اللَّهُ أَسْرَعُ مَكْرًا
(Say: "Allah is more swift in planning!'') means that Allah is more capable of gradually seizing them with punishment, while granting them concession of a delay until the criminals think that they would not be punished. But in reality they are in periods of respite, then they will be taken suddenly. The noble writers (meaning the angels who write the deeds) will write everything that they do and keep count of their deeds. Then they will present it before the All-Knowing of the seen and unseen worlds. The Lord will then reward them for the significant deeds and even the seemingly insignificant that may be as tiny as a spot on a date pit. Allah further states:
(Till when you are in the ships, and they sail with them with a favorable wind, and they are glad therein...) meaning smoothly and calmly;
(then comes (these ships))
(a stormy wind)
وَجَآءَهُمُ الْمَوْجُ مِن كُلِّ مَكَانٍ
o(and the waves come to them from all sides, )
وَظَنُّواْ أَنَّهُمْ أُحِيطَ بِهِمْ
(and they think that they are encircled therein) meaning that are going to be destroyed.
دَعَوُاْ اللَّهَ مُخْلِصِينَ لَهُ الدِّينَ
(Then they invoke Allah, making their faith pure for Him (alone)) meaning that in this situation they would not invoke an idol or statue besides Allah. They would single Him out alone for their supplications and prayers. This is similar to Allah's statement:
(And when harm touches you upon the sea, those that you call upon vanish from you except Him (Allah alone). But when He brings you safe to land, you turn away (from Him). And man is ever ungrateful.) 17:67 And in this Surah, He says:
(O mankind! Your rebellion (disobedience to Allah) is only against yourselves,) it is you yourselves that will taste the evil consequence of this transgression. You will not harm anyone else with it, as comes in the Hadith,
(There is no sin that is more worthy that Allah hasten punishment for in this world -- on top of the punishment that Allah has in store for it in the Hereafter -- than oppression and cutting the ties of the womb.) Allah's statement:
مَّتَاعَ الْحَيَوةِ الدُّنْيَا
(a brief enjoyment of this worldly life...) means that you only have a short enjoyment in this low and abased worldly life.
ثُمَّ إِلَينَا مَرْجِعُكُمْ
(then (in the end) unto Us is your return...) meaning your goal and final destination.
(and We shall inform you) of all your deeds. Then we shall recompense you for them. So let him who finds good (in his record) praise Allah, and let him who finds other than that blame no one but himself.
Maududi - Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi - Tafhim al-Qur'an
They practiced deceptions regarding "the Sign of the famine" that had been inflicted on them (vv. 11, 12). This verse alludes to the same, as if to say, "How dart you demand a Sign again, whereas recently the Sign of the famine has been shown to you ? At that time you invoked the help of your deities but in vain, though you had set them up as intercessors with Allah and believed that offerings to their shrines would prove very effective in removing the famine. But you yourselves learned by first hand experience that those so-called gods possessed no power at all. Therefore when you were convinced that all power belongs to Allah alone, you turned to Him and began to invoke His help. This experience ought to have convinced you of the Truth of the Message of Muhammad (Allah's peace be upon him) for this was the very fundamental thing which he was teaching. Instead of learning a lesson from this Sign, you began to practice deceptions to explain it away, as soon as the famine was over and there had come the blessed rainfall. You invented many explanations (deceptions) concerning the causes of the famine and its subsequent end in order to 'escape' from the doctrine of Tauhid and stick to your shirk. The verse is meant to declare that no Sign would convince such people as those who had not benefited from the great Sign of the famine. Therefore there was no use of showing any sign to them.
"Allah is more swift in His plans than you......" means this: "If you practice deceptions in order to explain away the Sign of the famine so that you might find excuses to evade the implications of its acceptance, in order to continue your rebellious attitudes, Allah is more swift in carrying out His plans to out-do your deceptive methods. He will leave you free to move in your wrong ways: He will even bestow upon you the worldly prosperity, which will so delude you that you will forget that you were being closely watched and will, therefore, commit evil deeds with apparent immunity and enjoy yourselves to your heart's content. But His angels will go on keeping a full and complete record of your deeds, which will be presented for your prosecution after your death."
The fact that even the most obdurate mushriks and the most hardened atheists who forget Allah when things go well with them, begin to invoke Allah's help when they are pressed hard from all sides and despair of help froth any other quarter, is a clear evidence that there is the All-Powerful Allah Who is controlling each and every thing in the universe. (Please refer to E.N. 29, Al An 'am. )
The parable is meant to warn those who are utterly neglectful of the Life-after-death because of their apparent "success" in this worldly life. They have been likened to the owners of the land who were happy to presume that the crop was ripe and luxuriant and it was within their power to reap it and enjoy the produce of their harvest. They were so sure of this that they began to enjoy the fore-taste of the ripened crops, unaware of the Decree of Allah which destroyed their crops and all their great expectations also. Like-wise those who neglect to make preparations for the life-after-death will find to their sorrow that all they did to earn for the enjoyments of this world was, in relation to the Next World, like the ripe crop that was destroyed all of a sudden.
That is, "Allah invites to the Way that leads to the Abode of Peace in the Hereafter."
"The Abode of Peace" here means Paradise, where there will be no fear whatsoever of any loss, calamity, sorrow, pain and trouble.
That is, "Allah by His grace will give to those who did good deeds more than their due reward. "
That is, "In contrast to the additional rewards to the good people, those who earned evil deeds, shall be punished only in proportion to their crimes." (For further explanation see E.N. 109a of XXVII).
It shall be that kind of gloom that overspreads the faces of the criminals when they are caught, and they despair all hope of escape.
Some commentators are of the opinion that the original words of the text mean this: "We will cut off every kind of connection and relation between them so that they are not able to show any concern for one another. " But these meanings are opposed to the Arabic usage, according to which they mean: "We will distinguish them from one another" or "We will cause a distinction among them." That is why these have been translated into English like this: "We will remove the state of strangeness from among them. " That is, the mushriks and their deities shall stand in front of each other and recognize their mutual and respective positions. The mushriks shall come to know the whole truth about those whom they worshiped and their deities will learn everything about their worshipers.