Abbas - Tanwîr al-Miqbâs min Tafsîr Ibn ‘Abbâs
(And those who were but followers) i.e. the lowly (will say: If a return) to this world (were possible for us, we would disown them) disown the leaders in this world (even as they have disowned us) in the Hereafter. (Thus will Allah show them their own deeds as anguish) as regrets (for them) in the Hereafter, (and they) the leaders and those who followed them (will not emerge from the Fire).
And those who followed say, ‘O, if only we might return again, to the world, and disown them, the ones who had been followed, as they have disowned us!’, on this day (the particle law, ‘if only’, is an optative, and its response is natabarra’a, ‘we disown’). So, just as He showed them the severity of His chastisement and their disowning of one another, so too, God shall show them their, evil, works, as, anguish (hasarāt is a circumstantial qualifier), regrets, for them! Never shall they exit from the Fire, once they have entered it.
And those who followed say, 'O, if only we might return again, in other words, O for a return!
[and disown them, as they have disowned us!']
So, God shall show them their works, anguish for them!: in other words, their loves and the deeds that are based on them are turned into anguish for them. Such is the predicament of the spiritual faculties that befriend the ego-centric faculties which are subordinate to them and disposed to them for the actualisation of their pleasures.
The Condition of the Polytheists in this Life and the Hereafter
In these Ayat, Allah mentions the condition of the polytheists in this life and their destination in the Hereafter. They appointed equals and rivals with Allah, worshipping them along with Allah and loving them, just as they love Allah. However, Allah is the only deity worthy of worship, Who has neither rival nor opponent nor partner. It is reported in the Sahihayn that `Abdullah bin Mas`ud said: I said, "O Messenger of Allah! What is the greatest sin'' He said:
«أَنْ تَجْعَلَ للهِ نِدًّا وَهُوَ خَلَقَك»
(To appoint a rival to Allah while He Alone has created you.)
وَالَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ أَشَدُّ حُبًّا لِلَّهِ
(But those who believe, love Allah more (than anything else))
Because these believers love Allah, know His greatness, revere Him, believe in His Oneness, then they do not associate anything or anyone with Him in the worship. Rather, they worship Him Alone, depend on Him and they seek help from Him for each and every need.
(If only, those who do wrong could see, when they will see the torment, that all power belongs to Allah.) if these people knew what they will face and the terrible punishment they are to suffer because of their disbelief and Shirk (polytheism), then they would shun the deviation that they live by.
Allah mentions their false beliefs in their idols, and that those they followed will declare their innocence of them. Allah said:
(When those who were followed disown (declare themselves innocent of) those who followed (them).) the angels, whom they used to claim that they worshipped, declare their innocence of them in the Hereafter, saying:
(And who is more astray than one who calls on (invokes) besides Allah, such as will not answer him till the Day of Resurrection, and who are (even) unaware of their calls (invocations) to them And when mankind are gathered (on the Day of Resurrection), they (false deities) will become their enemies and will deny their worshipping.) (46:5, 6) Allah said:
(And they have taken (for worship) alihah (gods) besides Allah, that they might give them honor, power and glory (and also protect them from Allah' punishment). Nay, but they (the so-called gods) will deny their worship of them, and become opponents to them (on the Day of Resurrection).) (19:81, 82) Prophet Ibrahim said to his people:
(You have taken (for worship) idols instead of Allah. The love between you is only in the life of this world, but on the Day of Resurrection, you shall disown each other, and curse each other, and your abode will be the Fire, and you shall have no helper.) (29:25) Allah said:
(But if you could see when the Zalimun (polytheists and wrongdoers) will be made to stand before their Lord,how they will cast the (blaming) word one to another! Those who were deemed weak will say to those who were arrogant: "Had it not been for you, we should certainly have been believers!'' And those who were arrogant will say to those who were deemed weak: "Did we keep you back from guidance after it had come to you Nay, but you were Mujrimin (polytheists, sinners, disbelievers, criminals).'' Those who were deemed weak will say to those who were arrogant: "Nay, but it was your plotting by night and day, when you ordered us to disbelieve in Allah and set up rivals to Him!'' And each of them (parties) will conceal their own regrets (for disobeying Allah during this worldly life), when they behold the torment. And We shall put iron collars round the necks of those who disbelieved. Are they requited aught except what they used to do) (34:31-33) Allah said:
(And Shaytan (Satan) will say when the matter has been decided: "Verily, Allah promised you a promise of truth. And I too promised you, but I betrayed you. I had no authority over you except that I called you, and you responded to me. So blame me not, but blame yourselves. I cannot help you, nor can you help me. I deny your former act in associating me (Satan) as a partner with Allah (by obeying me in the life of the world). Verily, there is a painful torment for the Zalimin (polytheists and wrongdoers).) (14:22)
(...and they see the torment, then all their relations will be cut off from them.) meaning, when they see Allah's torment, their power and means of salvation are all cut off, and they will have no way of making amends, nor will they find a way of escape from the Fire. `Ata' reported that Ibn `Abbas said about:
وَتَقَطَّعَتْ بِهِمُ الاٌّسْبَابُ
(then all their relations will be cut off from them.) "meaning the friendship.'' Mujahid reported a similar statement in another narration by Ibn Abu Najih.
(And those who followed will say: "If only we had one more chance to return (to the worldly life), we would disown (declare ourselves as innocent from) them as they have disowned (declared themselves as innocent from) us.'')
This Ayah means: `If we only had a chance to go back to the life so that we could disown them (their idols, leaders, etc.) shun their worship, ignore them and worship Allah Alone instead.' But they utter a lie in this regard, because if they were given the chance to go back, they would only return to what they were prohibited from doing, just as Allah said. This is why Allah said:
(As for those who disbelieved, their deeds are like a mirage in a desert. The thirsty one thinks it to be water.) (24:39)
This is why Allah said ـ at the end of the Ayah 2:167 above
وَمَا هُم بِخَـرِجِينَ مِنَ النَّارِ
(And they will never get out of the Fire.)
Maududi - Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi - Tafhim al-Qur'an
Anyone who does not look around like an animal but makes an intelligent observation of the great system of the universe that is working day and night before his very eyes, and is not blinded by prejudice or obduracy, can see many a sign pointing to the Reality. He will certainly see that it is being ruled only by the All-Powerful, All-Wise Sovereign. He can also understand that Allah alone is the God of the whole universe and that there is absolutely no room for any kind of interference or partnership, for no one else has any quality or power or authority to entitle him to the claim of Godhead.
They set up equals......": they ascribe some of the exclusive qualities and powers of Allah to others and render all or some of His exclusive rights to false gods. For instance, though Allah alone has control over all the forces of nature and has the power to fulfil all the needs of His creatures and to hear their prayers and requests, and although He alone knows all that is open or hidden, yet they invoke others for help or attribute all or some of these powers and qualities to others than Allah and thus set up compeers to rank with Him.
Again it is the exclusive right of Allah that His subjects should acknowledge Him as the Supreme Authority, bow down their heads before Him and fear Him alone in open and secret. But as they render all or some rights to others than Allah, they set up compeers with Him. Then, Allah alone is entitled to prescribe what is lawful and what is unlawful, what is clean and what is unclean. He alone has the authority to define the rights and duties of His subjects, lay down commands and prohibitions for them, etc. Therefore those who arrogate to themselves any of these rights shall be guilty of shirk. Again, He alone deserves to be acknowledged as the Sovereign and, as His subjects, the people should consider His Commandments to be final and turn to Him for guidance; therefore those who ascribe any of these rights to others than Allah, set up compeers with Him; likewise those institutions or persons who claim to possess any of these qualities or rights or assume to themselves any of these qualities or rights or demand that others should accede these to them, set themselves as compeers with Allah, whether or not they put forward formal claims to Godhead.
Belief in Allah demands that one should prefer His Will to one's own will or to that of others, and cherish His love so dearly as to be ready to sacrifice all other affections for its sake.
This helpless end of the ring-leaders and misguiders and their followers has been specially mentioned here to warn the Muslims to be very careful in selecting and electing their leaders and guides. The former communities weal astray because they followed wrong leaders and evil guides. The Muslims should, therefore, learn a lesson from their end and discriminate between leaders and misleaders and should not follow the latter.
And those who followed say “O if only we might return again and disown them as they have disowned us!” So God shall show them their works anguish for them! Never shall they exit from the Fire. At that time they will know the bitter taste of the companionship of created things but they will not be able to attain anything but anguish.