Abbas - Tanwîr al-Miqbâs min Tafsîr Ibn ‘Abbâs
(How many a township) how many population of townships (have We destroyed) with chastisement (while it was sinful) while their populations were idolaters and disbelievers, (so that it lieth (to this day) in) so they remain demolished until today, (and (how many) a deserted well) and how many wells have been destroyed by their owners such that no one uses them anymore (and lofty tower!) and how many massive towers which exist but which are uninhabited!
How many a town I have destroyed (ahlaktuhā, a variant reading has ahlaknāhā, ‘We have destroyed’), while it was doing wrong, that is, while its inhabitants were [doing wrong] by being disbelievers, but now it lies fallen down, collapsed, on its roofs and, how many, a neglected well, abandoned because of the death of its owners, and a lofty palace, stands empty because of the death of its residents.
(And if they deny you, so did deny before them the people of Nuh) until His saying,
(and denied was Musa.) means, despite all the clear signs and evidence that they brought.
(But I granted respite to the disbelievers for a while,) means, `I delayed and postponed.'
ثُمَّ أَخَذْتُهُمْ فَكَيْفَ كَانَ نَكِيرِ
(then I seized them, and how (terrible) was My punishment!) means, `how great was My vengeance against them and My punishment of them!' In the Two Sahihs it is reported from Abu Musa that the Prophet said:
(Such is the punishment of your Lord when He seizes the towns while they are doing wrong. Verily, His punishment is painful (and) severe.) 11:102 Then Allah says:
فَكَأَيِّن مِّن قَرْيَةٍ أَهْلَكْنَـهَا
(And many a township did We destroy)
(while they were given wrongdoing,) meaning, they were rejecting their Messengers.
فَهِىَ خَاوِيَةٌ عَلَى عُرُوشِهَا
(so that it lie in ruins,) Ad-Dahhak said, "Leveled to their roofs,'' i.e., their houses and cities were destroyed.
(and (many) a deserted well) means, they draw no water from it, and no one comes to it, after it had been frequented often by crowds of people.
(and a castle Mashid!) `Ikrimah said, "This means whitened with plaster.'' Something similar was narrated from `Ali bin Abi Talib, Mujahid, `Ata', Sa`id bin Jubayr, Abu Al-Mulayh and Ad-Dahhak. Others said that it means high and impenetrable fortresses. All of these suggestions are close in meaning and do not contradict one another, for this sturdy construction and great height did not help their occupants or afford them any protection when the punishment of Allah came upon them, as He says:
("Wheresoever you may be, death will overtake you even if you are in Buruj Mushayyadah!'') 4:78
أَفَلَمْ يَسِيرُواْ فِى الاٌّرْضِ
(Have they not traveled through the land,) means, have they not traveled in the physical sense and also used their minds to ponder That is sufficient, as Ibn Abi Ad-Dunya said in his book At-Tafakkur wal-I`tibar, "Some of the wise people said, `Give life to your heart with lessons, illuminate it with thought, kill it with asceticism, strengthen it with certain faith, remind it of its mortality, make it aware of the calamities of this world, warn it of the disasters that life may bring, show it how things may suddenly change with the passing of days, tell it the stories of the people of the past, and remind it what happened to those who came before.''' Walk through their ruins, see what they did and what became of them, meaning, look at the punishments and divine wrath that struck the nations of the past who belied,
(Verily, it is not the eyes that grow blind, but it is the hearts which are in the breasts that grow blind.) means, the blind person is not the one whose eyes cannot see, but rather the one who has no insight. Even if the physical eyes are sound, they still cannot learn the lesson.
Maududi - Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi - Tafhim al-Qur'an
"The disbelievers of Makkah."
The instances of some peoples who rejected their Prophets have been cited to impress that they were given respite to reform themselves before they were punished. Therefore, "O people of Makkah, you should not be deluded by the delay in your punishment. When the term of respite comes to an end, you shall also be punished like the former people, if you do not mend your ways in the meantime".
The Arabic word Nakir is very comprehensive and implies two meanings:
(1) Displeasure at the evil conduct of the other, and
(2) a terrible punishment which disfigures the culprit so badly that he cannot even be recognized. The sentence therefore will mean: "Just see when I seized them for this evil conduct, how terrible was My chastisement".
In Arabic a "well" is synonymous with a "habitation". Thus "many a well.... useless" means "many a habitation has been destroyed".
The words ".... the hearts.... blind" have been used in the metaphorical and not in the literal sense. Since the heart is regarded as the center of emotions, feelings and of mental and moral qualities, these words have been used to imply that their obduracy has inhibited them from feeling and acting rationally.