Abbas - Tanwîr al-Miqbâs min Tafsîr Ibn ‘Abbâs
(And (it was a warning) when We told thee: Lo! thy Lord encompasseth mankind) He is aware of the people of Mecca: those who will believe and those who will not, (and We appointed the vision) We did not show you the vision (which We showed thee) in your nocturnal ascension (as an ordeal for mankind) as a misfortune for the people of Mecca, (and (likewise) the Accursed Tree in the Qur'an) and the same applies to the mention of the Zaqqum tree in the Qur'an. (We warn them) by the Zaqqum tree, (but it) the warning (increaseth them in naught save gross impiety) save further engagement in transgression.
And, remember, when We said to you, ‘Truly your Lord encompasses mankind’, in knowledge and power [over them], such that they are within His grasp: so deliver the Message to them and do not fear anyone, because God will protect you from them. And We did not appoint the vision that We showed you, before your very eyes, during the Night Journey, except as a test for people, [for] the people of Mecca — since they denied it and some of them [even] apostatised when he [the Prophet] informed them of it — and [likewise] the tree cursed in the Qur’ān, namely, the [tree called] Zaqqūm [Q.37:62] that issues from the very root of the Blazing Fire [of Hell]; We made it a test for them, because they said, ‘Fire consumes trees, so how can it cause it [the Zaqqūm tree] to issue forth?’. And We [seek to] deter them, with it, but it, Our deterrence, only increases them in gross insolence.
Allah has encompassed Mankind and made the Vision of His Prophet a Trial for Them
Allah says to His Messenger, encouraging him to convey the Message and informing him that He is protecting him from the people, that He is able to deal with them and that they are in His grasp and under His domination and control.
(And We made not the vision which We showed you but a trial for mankind,) "This is the vision which the Messenger of Allah saw with his own eyes on the night when he was taken on the Night Journey (Al-Isra').
وَالشَّجَرَةَ الْمَلْعُونَةَ فِى القُرْءَانِ
and (likewise) the accursed tree in the Qur a0n. refers to the Tree of Zaqqum.'' This was also recorded by Ahmad, `Abdur-Razzaq and others. It was also reported by Al-`Awfi from Ibn `Abbas. It was also interpreted as referring to the Night of the Isra' by Mujahid, Sa`id bin Jubayr, Al-Hasan, Masruq, Ibrahim, Qatadah, `Abdur-Rahman bin Zayd and several others. We have already quoted at length a comprehensive collection of Hadith about the Isra' at the beginning of this Surah, praise be to Allah. We have also already stated that some people gave up their Islam after they had been following the truth, because their hearts and minds could not comprehend that, and they denied what their knowledge could not grasp, but Allah caused it to increase and strengthen the faith of others, and so He says:
(but a trial), meaning a test. As for the cursed tree, this is the Tree of Zaqqum. When the Messenger of Allah told them that he had seen Paradise and Hell, and seen the Tree of Zaqqum, they did not believe that, and Abu Jahl, upon whom be the curses of Allah, even said, "Bring us some dates and butter,'' and he started eating them and saying, "Let us have some Zaqqum, we don't know any other Zaqqum but this.'' This was narrated by Ibn `Abbas, Masruq, Abu Malik, Al-Hasan Al-Basri and others. Everyone who interpreted the Ayah to refer to the Night of the Isra', also interpreted it to refer to the Tree of Zaqqum.
(We make them afraid) meaning, `We make the disbelievers afraid with Our warnings and punishments and torment.'
فَمَا يَزِيدُهُمْ إِلاَّ طُغْيَانًا كَبِيرًا
(but it only increases them in naught save great disbelief, oppression and disobedience to Allah.) means, it only pushes them further into their disbelief and misguidance, and this is because Allah has forsaken them.
Maududi - Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi - Tafhim al-Qur'an
Here "Signs" mean those visible miracles which are presented as a proof of Prophethood. The disbelievers from among the Quraish were demanding such Signs over and over again.
This is to warn the disbelievers, as if to say, "It is the mercy of Allah that He is not showing such a Sign so that you might mend your ways but in your folly you presume that such a Sign cannot be presented. You should know that a Sign is not being sent because its denial inevitably brings chastisement and the community is annihilated. You can learn from the past History that those communities which disbelieved in the open Signs were utterly destroyed, such as the people of Thamud.
That is, "Miracles are not shown for fun. These are meant to warn the people that the Prophet is being helped by the Almighty and that they should realize the terrible consequences of disobedience."
That is, "At the very beginning of your Prophethood, when the disbelievers of the Quraish had started opposition to your message, We declared that We are encircling them. They might try their worst to obstruct your Message, but they will inevitably fail in this and your Mission will succeed in the teeth of opposition. Can't they see that this declaration has come out true as a miracle, for their opposition has failed to hinder your Message, and they have not been able to do any harm to you at all ? This was a clear Sign of the fact that the Mission of the Holy Prophet was being supported by the Almighty God."
As regards the declaration that Allah is encircling the disbelievers and helping he mission of the Prophet, it occurs in several Surahs of the first stage of Prophethood at Makkah. For instance, in vv. 17-20 of LXXV, Allah says, "These disbelievers do not learn a lesson from the stories of the people of the Pharaoh and Thamud but are rejecting the Message here as Allah is encircling them on all sides."
This refers to Mi`raj (Ascension) for here word "ru'ya " does not mean "seeing things in a dream" but seeing things actually with physical eyes. It is quite obvious that if it had been a mere "dream" and the Holy Prophet had presented it as a dream to the disbelievers, there was no reason why it should have become a trial for them. Everyday people see strange dreams and relate them to the people but these dreams never become such a curious thing as to make people scoff at the dreamer and accuse him of making a false claim or of being a mad person.
This cursed tree, Az-Zaqqum " which has been mentioned in vv 43-4 of Surah XLIV, grows at the bottom of Hell and its dwellers shall have to eat it. This has been called a cursed tree because it is not given to people to eat as a mercy from Allah but as a symbol of His curse so that the accursed people should eat it and get more sore, for this will, so to speak, burn in their bellies like the boiling water.
That is, We showed you such things during the Mi'raj so that they should have the first hand knowledge of the Reality from a truthful and honest man like you and be warned by it to the Right Way. They, however, began to make fun of you, though We had already warned them through you that their evil ways would force them to eat of the Az-Zaqqum. Instead of this they began to scoff at you, saying, Just consider the logic of this man: on the one hand, he says that there an awful fire burning in Hell and, on the other, he says that trees are growing in it."
(…and (likewise) the Accursed Tree in the Qur’an…) [17:60]. Isma‘il ibn ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn Ahmad al-Wa‘iz informed us> Muhammad ibn Muhammad al-Faqih> Muhammad ibn al-Husayn al-Qattan> Ishaq ibn ‘Abd Allah ibn Zurayr> Hafs ibn ‘Abd al-Rahman> Muhammad ibn Ishaq> Hakim ibn ‘Abbad ibn Hunayf> ‘Ikrimah> Ibn ‘Abbas that he said: “When the tree of al-Zaqqum was mentioned in the Qur’an [37:62; 44:43 and 56:52], the Quraysh were threatened with it. Abu Jahl said: ‘Do you know what this Zaqqum, with which Muhammad threatens you, is?’ They said: ‘No!’ He said: ‘Meat and broth with cream. By Allah, if he let us put our hands on it we will devour it!’ Allah, glorious and exalted is He, revealed (…and (likewise) the Accursed Tree in the Qur’an…) saying: this tree is repulsive (We warn them, but it increaseth them in naught save gross impiety)”.