Abbas - Tanwîr al-Miqbâs min Tafsîr Ibn ‘Abbâs
(And if ye do it not-and you can never do it-) this you can never do and if you try you will never succeed (then guard yourselves against the Fire) if you are bent on not believing, for you should fear hell (whose fuel is men) the unbelievers, (and stones) of sulphur, (prepared) created, prepared and preordained (for disbelievers).
And if you do not, do what was mentioned because you are incapable, and you will not (a parenthetical statement), that is, never [will you be able to], because of its inimitability, then fear, through belief in God and [belief] that this is not the words of a human, the Fire, whose fuel is men, disbelievers, and stones, like their very idols, indicating that its heat is extreme, since it burns with the [stones] mentioned, unlike the fires of this world that burn with wood and similar materials; prepared, and made ready, for disbelievers, so that they are punished in it (this [phrase, u‘iddat li’l-kāfirīna, ‘prepared for disbelievers’] is either a new sentence or a sustained circumstantial qualifier).
And if you do not, then be pliant, submit, believe and abandon obstinacy that will eventually lead you to the Fire. The requisite, that is either faith or submission, has been omitted, while the concomitant, which is to guard against the Fire, has replaced it, so that the proof that denial necessarily leads to entering the Fire and the eventuality of chastisement for them is stronger. As for His saying and you will not, is a parenthetical statement informing [them] of the unseen in the knowledge that the intellects of those who are veiled are barred from such [knowledge]; [then fear the Fire] what is meant by the Fire is their being consumed by the upheaval of their souls and the evil of their natures, [natures] which are turned away from the spiritual holy spirit and the breeze of the tasting of the Compassionate, and deprived from the pleasure of the coolness of certainty and the safety of the abode of permanence, severed [as their natures are] by the habits of the senses and corporeal pleasures, prohibited by what they have become addicted and accustomed to, while there remain [within them] the yearning for that [spirit] and the rapture [felt for it], [but] the deeply rooted conditions of attachment to the lower affairs in them and their love of earthly bodies are the causes of the igniting of their fires, which is why He says: whose fuel is men, and stones, that is, the silent sensory lower matters to which they are attached out of love so that the forms of these [matters] have become deeply-rooted in their souls while their souls have become imprisoned by having inclined to these very [forms]. As the Messenger, peace and blessings be upon him, said: 'Every person is gathered [at the resurrection] with the one that he loves, so that if one of you loved a stone he will be gathered with it'. How can it be otherwise when his own form has fixed itself within him through love so that the form of his heart has become his own form. Know that the [intensity of the] heat of the fire follows from its [arche-]typal form that constitutes its spirituality and its kingdom, for otherwise it would be equal in its specific qualities to all bodies; that spirituality are sparks of the fire of God's overwhelming supra-sensory power after its descent into several ranks, such as its descent into the rank of the soul upon the upheaval of rage, for the upheaval of rage might have the effect of consuming the character traits in a way that not even fire might have on firewood.
Hence it can be known that not every thing that receives heat has to be hot. For if physical fire results from spiritual fire, then its pain must undoubtedly be stronger and longer lasting from the other fire. How can it be otherwise when every physical capacity which is finite is lesser than any spiritual capacity. Because of this signification it is said that the fire of Hell was washed with water 70 times before it was sent down to this world so that it can be made use of; prepared for the disbelievers, who are veiled from religion severed as they are from their wants.
(And if you (Arab pagans, Jews, and Christians) are in doubt concerning that which We have sent down (i.e. the Qur'an) to Our servant) meaning, Muhammad,
(then produce a Surah (chapter)) meaning, similar to what he brought to you. Hence, if you claim that what he was sent with did not come from Allah, then produce something similar to what he has brought to you, using the help of anyone you wish instead of Allah. However, you will not be able to succeed in this quest. Ibn `Abbas said that,
(your witnesses) means "Aids.'' Also, As-Suddi reported that Abu Malik said the Ayah means, "Your partners, meaning, some other people to help you in that. Meaning then go and seek the help of your deities to support and aid you.'' Also, Mujahid said that,
(and call your witnesses) means, "People, meaning, wise and eloquent men who will provide the testimony that you seek.''
Allah challenged the disbelievers in various parts of the Qur'an. For instance, Allah said in Surat Al-Qasas (28:49),
(Say (to them, O Muhammad ): "Then bring a Book from Allah, which is a better guide than these two (the Tawrah (Torah) and the Qur'an), that I may follow it, if you are truthful''). Also, Allah said in Surat Al-Isra' (17:88),
(Or they say, "He (Prophet Muhammad ) forged it (the Qur'an).'' Say: "Bring you then ten forged Surahs (chapters) like it, and call whomsoever you can, other than Allah (to your help), if you speak the truth!''), and in Surat Yunus (10:37-38),
(And this Qur'an is not such as could ever be produced by other than Allah (Lord of the heavens and the earth), but it is a confirmation of (the revelation) which was before it (i.e. the Tawrah, and the Injil), and a full explanation of the Book (i.e. Laws decreed for mankind) ـ wherein there is no doubt ـ from the Lord of all that exists.) (Or do they say: "He (Muhammad ) has forged it'' Say: "Bring then a Surah (chapter) like it, and call upon whomsoever you can besides Allah, if you are truthful!''). All of these Ayat were revealed in Makkah.
Allah also challenged the disbelievers in the Ayat that were revealed in Al-Madinah. In this Ayah, Allah said,
وَإِن كُنتُمْ فِى رَيْبٍ
(And if you (Arab pagans, Jews, and Christians) are in Rayb) meaning, doubt.
مِّمَّا نَزَّلْنَا عَلَى عَبْدِنَا
(Concerning that which We have sent down (i.e. the Qur'an) to Our servant) meaning, Muhammad,
فَأْتُواْ بِسُورَةٍ مِّن مِّثْلِهِ
(then produce a Surah (chapter) the like thereof) meaning, similar to the Qur'an. This is the Tafsir of Mujahid, Qatadah, Ibn Jarir At-Tabari, Az-Zamakhshari and Ar-Razi. Ar-Razi said that this is the Tafsir of `Umar, Ibn Mas`ud, Ibn `Abbas, Al-Hasan Al-Basri and the majority of the scholars. And he gave preference to this view and mentioned the fact that Allah has challenged the disbelievers as individuals and as groups, whether literate or illiterate, thus making the challenge truly complete. This type of challenge is more daring than simply challenging the disbelievers who might not be literate or knowledgeable. This is why Allah said,
فَأْتُواْ بِعَشْرِ سُوَرٍ مِّثْلِهِ
(Bring you then ten forged Surahs (chapters) like it) (11:13), and,
لاَ يَأْتُونَ بِمِثْلِهِ
(They could not produce the like thereof) (17:88).
Therefore, this is a general challenge to the Arab disbelievers, the most eloquent among all nations. Allah challenged the Arab disbelievers both in Makkah and Al-Madinah several times, especially since they had tremendous hatred and enmity for the Prophet and his religion. Yet, they were unable to succeed in answering the challenge, and this is why Allah said,
فَإِن لَّمْ تَفْعَلُواْ وَلَن تَفْعَلُواْ
(But if you do it not, and you can never do it), indicating that they will never be able to answer the challenge. This is another miracle, in that, Allah clearly stated without doubt that the Qur'an will never be opposed or challenged by anything similar to it, for eternity. This is a true statement that has not been changed until the present and shall never change. How can anyone be able to produce something like the Qur'an, when the Qur'an is the Word of Allah Who created everything How can the words of the created ever be similar to the Words of the Creator
Examples of the Miracle of the Qur'an
Whoever reads through the Qur'an will realize that it contains various levels of superiority through both the apparent and hidden meanings that it mentions. Allah said,
(Alif Lam Ra. (This is) a Book, the verses whereof are perfect (in every sphere of knowledge, etc.), and then explained in detail from One (Allah), Who is Wise and well-acquainted (with all things)) (11:1)
So the expressions in the Qur'an are perfect and its meanings are explained. Further, every word and meaning in the Qur'an is eloquent and cannot be surpassed. The Qur'an also mentioned the stories of the people of the past; and these accounts and stories occurred exactly as the Qur'an stated. Also, the Qur'an commanded every type of righteousness and forbade every type of evil, just as Allah stated,
وَتَمَّتْ كَلِمَةُ رَبِّكَ صِدْقاً وَعَدْلاً
(And the Word of your Lord has been fulfilled in truth and in justice) (6:115). meaning, true in the stories it narrates and just in its Laws. The Qur'an is true, just and full of guidance. It does not contain exaggerations, lies or falsehood, unlike Arabic and other types of poems that contained lies. These poems, conform with the popular statement, "The most eloquent speech is the one that contains the most lies!'' Sometimes, one would find a long poem that mainly contains descriptions of women, horses or alcohol. Or, the poem might contain praise or the description of a certain person, horse, camel, war, incident, fear, lion, or other types of items and objects. Such praise or descriptions do not bring any benefit, except shed light on the poet's ability to clearly and eloquently describe such items. Yet, one will only be able to find one or two sentences in many long poems that elaborate on the main theme of the poem, while the rest of the poem contains insignificant descriptions and repetitions.
As for the Qur'an, it is entirely eloquent in the most perfect manner, as those who have knowledge in such matters and understand Arabic methods of speech and expressions concur. When one reads through the stories in the Qur'an, he will find them fruitful, whether they were in extended or short forms, repeated or not. The more these stories are repeated, the more fruitful and beautiful they become. The Qur'an does not become old when one repeats reciting it, nor do the scholars ever get bored with it. When the Qur'an mentions the subject of warning and promises, it presents truths that would make solid, firm mountains shake, so what about the comprehending, understanding hearts When the Qur'an promises, it opens the hearts and the ears, making them eager to attain the abode of peace - Paradise - and to be the neighbors of the Throne of the Most Beneficent. For instance, on the subject of promises and encouragement, the Qur'an said,
(Do you feel secure that He, Who is over the heaven (Allah), will not cause the earth to sink with you, and then it should quake Or do you feel secure that He, Who is over the heaven (Allah), will not send against you a violent whirlwind Then you shall know how (terrible) has been My warning) (67:16-17).
On the subject of threats, the Qur'an said,
فَكُلاًّ أَخَذْنَا بِذَنبِهِ
(So We punished each (of them) for his sins) (29:40). Also, on the subject of soft advice, the Qur'an said,
(Tell Me, (even) if We do let them enjoy for years. And afterwards comes to them that (punishment) which they had been promised. All that with which they used to enjoy shall not avail them) (26:205-207).
There are many other examples of the eloquence, beauty, and benefits of the Qur'an.
When the Qur'an is discussing Laws, commandments and prohibitions, it commands every type of righteous, good, pleasing and beneficial act. It also forbids every type of evil, disliked and amoral act. Ibn Mas`ud and other scholars of the Salaf said, "When you hear what Allah said in the Qur'an, such as,
يَـأَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ
(O you who believe!), then listen with full attention, for it either contains a type of righteousness that Allah is enjoining, or an evil that He is forbidding.'' For instance, Allah said,
(He (Muhammad ) commands them for Al-Ma`ruf (i.e. Islamic Monotheism and all that Islam has ordained); and forbids them from Al-Munkar (i.e. disbelief, polytheism of all kinds, and all that Islam has forbidden); he allows them as lawful At-Tayyibat(i.e. all good and lawful things), and prohibits them as unlawful Al-Khaba'ith (i.e. all evil and unlawful things), he releases them from their heavy burdens and from the fetters (bindings) that were upon them) (7:157).
When the Ayat mention Resurrection and the horrors that will occur on that Day, and Paradise and the Fire and the joys and safe refuge that Allah prepared for His loyal friends, or torment and Hell for His enemies, these Ayat contain glad tidings or warnings. The Ayat then call to perform good deeds and avoid evil deeds, making the life of this world less favorable and the Hereafter more favorable. They also establish the correct methods and guide to Allah's straight path and just legislation, all the while ridding the hearts of the evil of the cursed devil.
The Qur'an is the Greatest Miracle given to the Prophet
The Two Sahihs record that Abu Hurayrah said that the Prophet said,
(Every Prophet was given a miracle, the type of which brings mankind to faith. What I was given is a revelation that Allah sent down to me. Yet, I hope that I will have the most following on the Day of Resurrection.)
This is the wording narrated by Muslim. The Prophet stated that among the Prophets he was given a revelation, meaning, he was especially entrusted with the miraculous Qur'an that challenged mankind to produce something similar to it. As for the rest of the divinely revealed Books, they were not miraculous according to many scholars. Allah knows best. The Prophet was also aided with innumerable signs and indications that testify to the truth of his prophethood and what he was sent with, all thanks and praise is due to Allah.
(Certainly you (disbelievers) and that which you are worshipping now besides Allah, are (but) fuel for Hell! (Surely) you enter it. Had these (idols) been alihah (gods), they would not have entered there (Hell), and all of them will abide therein) (21:98-99).
The stones mentioned here are the giant, rotten, black, sulfuric stones that become the hottest when heated, may Allah save us from this evil end. It was also reported that the stones mentioned here are the idols and rivals that were worshipped instead of Allah, just as Allah said,
(Certainly you (disbelievers) and that which you are worshipping now besides Allah,are (but) fuel for Hell!) (21:28).
(prepared for the disbelievers)
It appears most obvious that it refers to the Fire that is fueled by men and stones, and it also may refer to the stones themselves. There is no contradiction between these two views, because they are dependent upon each other. `Prepared' means, it is `kept' and will surely touch those who disbelieve in Allah and His Messenger. Ibn Ishaq narrated that Muhammad said that `Ikrimah or Sa`id bin Jubayr said that Ibn `Abbas said,
(prepared for the disbelievers),
"For those who embrace the disbelief that you (disbelievers) have embraced.''
Jahannam (Hellfire) exists now
Many of the Imams of the Sunnah used this Ayah to prove that the Fire exists now. This is because Allah said,
(prepared) meaning, prepared and kept. There are many Hadiths on this subject. For instance, the Prophet said,
(This is a stone that was thrown from the top of Jahannam seventy years ago, but only now reached its bottom.) This Hadith is in Sahih Muslim.
There are many Hadiths that are Mutawatir (narrated by many different chains of narrations) on this subject, such as the Hadiths about the eclipse prayer, the night of Isra' etc.
فَأْتُواْ بِسُورَةٍ مِّن مِّثْلِهِ
(Then produce a Surah (chapter) of the like thereof) (2:23), and,
(A Surah (chapter) like it) (10:38) this includes the short and long Surahs of the Qur'an. Therefore, the challenge to creation stands with regards to both the long and short Surahs, and there is no disagreement that I know of on this fact between the scholars of old and new. Before he became Muslim, `Amr bin Al-`As met Musaylimah the Liar who asked him, "What has recently been revealed to your fellow (meaning Muhammad ) in Makkah'' `Amr said, "A short, yet eloquent Surah.'' He asked, "What is it'' He said,
وَالْعَصْرِ - إِنَّ الإِنسَـنَ لَفِى خُسْرٍ
(By Al-`Asr (the time). Verily, man is in loss,) (103:1-2)
Musaylimah thought for a while and said, "A similar Surah was also revealed to me.'' `Amr asked, "What is it'' He said, "O Wabr, O Wabr (i.e. a wild cat), you are but two ears and a chest, and the rest of you is unworthy and thin.'' `Amr said, "By Allah! You know that I know that you are lying.''
Maududi - Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi - Tafhim al-Qur'an
This challenge had been given several times in the Qur'an at Makkah. It was meant to convince the opponents that the Qur'an is Divine Word and could not be produced by human mind. Now it was reiterated at Madinah. (See Yunus, X: 38-39, Hud XI: 13-14).Bani Israel XVII: 88, At Tur LII:33-34).
The allusion means: "You alone will not become fuel for Hell, but the idols of stone which you worship as deities in the world, will also be there with you to show that they had no share whatever in Godhead."
And if you are in doubt concerning what We have revealed to Our servant then bring a sūra like it; and call your witnesses besides God if you are truthful. And if you do not and you will not then fear the fire whose fuel is men and stones prepared for disbelievers. He covered the eyes of outsiders so that they did not see His beloved ﷺ and they wandered in the wadis of conjecture because they had lost the light of solicitude. When the Messenger brought signs to them and made miracles appear it only increased their doubts and suspicions. This is the way of those who have turned away from the Real سبحانه. The illumination of proofs only increases their blindness to the truth. God most high said But signs and warners do not avail a folk who will not believe [10:101]. In order to bring them to admit the proof He informed them of their inability to compete with the miracle He gave them in the QurÌān [a miracle] which was triumphant over humankind from the first to the last. He made them acknowledge that even if they were to make common cause among themselves and strengthen themselves with others like them and exert their utmost efforts and stratagems they would not be able to bring a sūra like any sūra of the QurÌān. He said “If you do not” and then stated that they could not and would not do it for He said “and you will not.” It is as if He said “Look to yourselves and be wary of the idolatry that leads to the punishment of the fire whose fuel is men and stones.” If stones with all their hardness cannot withstand this fire how can men with their weakness bear itḍ When the hearts of the believers became terribly concerned from hearing mention of the fire He strengthened them and said “prepared for disbelievers.” In that is good news for the believers. This is the way of the Real سبحانه. When He causes fear in His enemies he brings glad tidings to His friends. Just as the deception of the disbelievers vanishes when it encounters the miracles of the prophets ḍ similarly the claims of the confused disappear when the lights of the truthful appear. The mark of the one who makes false claims is the return of driving cries rujūʿ al-zajr to the heart. The mark of the one with truthful intent is the occurrence of the [divine] subjugation wuqūʿ al-qahr of the heart. It is a rare individual who can separate and distinguish between [these two types of occurrences in the heart].