Abbas - Tanwîr al-Miqbâs min Tafsîr Ibn ‘Abbâs
(Those are the people) a group of people (who have passed away) perished. (Theirs is that which they earned) of goodness (and yours is that which ye earn) of goodness. (And ye will not be asked) on the Day of Judgement (of what they used to do) or say.
That (tilka, is the subject of this sentence and denotes Abraham, Jacob and his sons, and is feminine because it agrees with the gender of its predicate) is a community that has passed away, has gone before; theirs is what they have earned, the reward for their deeds (lahā mā kasabat, theirs is what they have earned’, constitutes the commencement of a new sentence) and yours (the Jews are being addressed here) is what you have earned; you shall not be asked about what they did, in the same way that they will not be asked about what you did, this latter statement being an affirmation of the former.
That is a community that has passed away: in other words, do not be followers of authority (muqallid) and do not be satisfied purely with following authority in terms of religion, for there can be no reliance on transmission since no one possesses but what he has acquired of knowledge, of deeds, of beliefs and behaviour; [theirs is what they have earned, and yours is what you have earned; you shall not be asked about what they did]: no one is requited for the beliefs of another nor for another's deeds. So exercise your insight and ask for certainty and act in that way.
Ya`qub's Will and Testament to His Children upon His Death
This Ayah contains Allah's criticism of the Arab pagans among the offspring of Isma`il as well as the disbelievers among the Children of Israel Jacob the son of Isaac, the son of Ibrahim. When death came to Jacob, he advised his children to worship Allah alone without partners. He said to them,
("What will you worship after me'' They said, "We shall worship your Ilah (God ـ Allah) the Ilah of your fathers, Ibrahim, Isma`il, Ishaq,'')
Mentioning Isma`il here is a figure of speech, because Isma`il is Jacob's uncle. An-Nahas said that the Arabs call the uncle a father, as Al-Qurtubi mentioned).
This Ayah is used as evidence that the grandfather is called a father and inherits, rather than the brothers (i.e. when his son dies), as Abu Bakr asserted, according to Al-Bukhari who narrated Abu Bakr's statement from Ibn `Abbas and Ibn Az-Zubayr. Al-Bukhari then commented that there are no opposing opinions regarding this subject. This is also the opinion of `A'ishah the Mother of the believers, Al-Hasan Al-Basri, Tawus and `Ata', Malik, Ash-Shaf`i and Ahmad said that the inheritance is divided between the grandfather and the brothers. It was reported that this was also the opinion of `Umar, `Uthman, `Ali, bin Mas`ud, Zayd bin Thabit and several scholars among the Salaf and later generations.
(One Ilah (God)) means, "We single Him out in divinity and do not associate anything or anyone with Him.''
وَنَحْنُ لَهُ مُسْلِمُونَ
(And to Him we submit), in obedience meaning, obedient and submissiveness. Similarly, Allah said,
(And We did not send any Messenger before you (O Muhammad ) but We revealed to him (saying): La ilaha illa Ana none has the right to be worshipped but I (Allah), so worship Me (alone and none else)) (21:25).
There are many other Ayat - and Hadiths - on this subject. For instance, the Prophet said,
(We, the Prophets, are brothers with different mothers, but the same religion.)
تِلْكَ أُمَّةٌ قَدْ خَلَتْ
(That was a nation who has passed away) meaning, existed before your time,
لَهَا مَا كَسَبَتْ وَلَكُم مَّا كَسَبْتُم
(They shall receive the reward of what they earned and you of what you earn).
This Ayah proclaims, Your relationship to the Prophets or righteous people among your ancestors will not benefit you, unless you perform good deeds that bring about you religious benefit. They have their deeds and you have yours,
وَلاَ تُسْـَلُونَ عَمَّا كَانُوا يَعْمَلُونَ
(And you will not be asked of what they used to do).''
(Whoever was slowed on account of his deeds will not get any faster on account of his family lineage.)'
Maududi - Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi - Tafhim al-Qur'an
That is, "Though you are their descendants, you have no real connection with them; nor have you any right to claim relationship with them, when you have swerved from their way. Allah will not ask you what your forefathers did but He will ask you what you yourselves did " What we call our "actions and deeds" are, according to the Qur'an, our earnings, because every action and every deed either produces a good result or a bad consequence. If it is good, Allah will be pleased with us and give us its due reward. If it is bad, He will inflict due punishment upon us. The Qur'an refers to actions and deeds as earnings in order to focus attention on the serious results produced by them.
That is a community that has passed away; theirs is what they have earned and yours is what you have earned; you will not be asked about what they did. The Real سبحانه sent down to each [community] its place and singled out for each one its status according to His decree ḥukm. There is no news about their outward forms and no trace remaining of what distinguished each group from the others. Each is a king in his own region and each has a celestial sphere revolving in felicity.