and to guard (wa-hifzan is in the accusative because of an implied verb) that is to say, ‘We have guarded it with meteors’, from every (min kulli is semantically connected to the implied verb) any rebellious devil, who is a transgressor, in rebellion against obedience.
The Adornment and Protection of the Heaven comes from Allah
Allah tells us that He has adorned the lowest heaven with the heavenly bodies for those among the people of the earth who look at it. The stars and planets in the sky give light to the people of earth, as Allah says:
(And indeed, We have put the big stars in the heaven and We beautified it for the beholders. And We have guarded it from every outcast Shaytan. Except him who steals the hearing then he is pursued by a clear flaming fire.) (15:16-18). And Allah says here:
(And to guard) meaning, to protect as it should be protected,
مِّن كُلِّ شَيْطَـنٍ مَّارِدٍ
(against every rebellious Shaytan. ) means, every insolent and impudent devil, when he wants to eavesdrop (on news in the heavens), a piercing fire comes and burns him. Allah, may He be glorified, says:
لاَّ يَسَّمَّعُونَ إِلَى الْمَلإِ الاٌّعْلَى
(They cannot listen to the higher group) meaning, they cannot reach the higher group -- which refers to the heavens and the angels in them -- when they speak of what has been revealed by Allah of His Laws and decrees. We have already mentioned this when explaining the Hadiths quoted when we discussed the Ayah,
(when fear is banished from their hearts, they say: "What is it that your Lord has said'' They say: "The truth. And He is the Most High, the Most Great.) (34:23). Allah says:
(for they are pelted) meaning, they are hit,
مِن كُلِّ جَانِبٍ
(from every side.) means, from all directions from which they try to reach the heaven.
(Outcast,) means, they are rejected, and are repelled and prevented from reaching it, and they are pelted.
وَلَهُمْ عَذابٌ وَاصِبٌ
(and theirs is a constant torment.) means, in the Hereafter, they will have an ongoing, everlasting and painful torment, as Allah says:
وَأَعْتَدْنَا لَهُمْ عَذَابَ السَّعِيرِ
(and We have prepared for them the torment of the blazing Fire) (67:5).
إِلاَّ مَنْ خَطِفَ الْخَطْفَةَ
(Except such as snatch away something by stealing,) means, except for the one among the Shayatin who manages to get something, which is a word he has heard from the heaven. Then he throws it down to the one who is beneath him, who in turn throws it down to the one who is beneath him. Perhaps the flaming fire will strike him before he is able to throw it down, or perhaps he will throw it -- by the decree of Allah -- before the flaming fire strikes him and burns him. So the other devil takes it to the soothsayer, as we have seen previously in the Hadith. Allah says:
(Except such as snatch away something by stealing, and they are pursued by a flaming fire of piercing brightness.) meaning, shining brightly. Ibn Jarir recorded that Ibn `Abbas, may Allah be pleased with him, said, "The Shayatin had places where they sat in the heavens listening to what was being revealed by Allah. The stars did not move and the Shayatin were not struck. When they heard the revelation, they would come down to earth and to every word they would add nine of their own. When the Messenger of Allah was sent, if a Shaytan wanted to take his seat in the heavens, the flaming fire would come and would not miss him; it would burn him every time. They complained about this to Iblis, may Allah curse him, and he said, `Something must have happened.' He sent his troops out and they found the Messenger of Allah standing in prayer between the two mountains of Nakhlah.'' -- Waki` said, "This means in the valley of Nakhlah.'' -- "They went back to Iblis and told him about that, and he said, `This is what has happened.'''
Maududi - Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi - Tafhim al-Qur'an
"Lower heaven" : The nearer heaven which can be seen with the naked eye, without the help of a telescope. The worlds beyond which can be seen through the telescopes of different powers, and the worlds which have not so far been observed through any moans, are the distant heavens. In this connection, one should also note that "sama " is not something definite and determined, but man generally has been using this word and its other synonyms for the heavens since the earliest times.
That is, "Heaven is not merely empty space so that anyone who likes may enter it, but it has been fortified strongly, and its different regions have been bounded by such strong barriers that it is impossible for any rebel satan to exceed them. Every star and planet in the universe has its own circle and sphere escaping from which is as difficult as entering it. With the naked eye one can only see empty space, but, in reality, there are countless regions in space which have been even more strongly fortified and protected than they could be by steel walls. One can imagine and estimate the strength of these barriers by the difficulties man is experiencing in the way of reaching the moon, which is our nearest neighbor in space. Similar difficulties prevent the other creation of the earth, the jinns, from ascending towards the heavens.
To understand this one should keep in view the fact that in the time of the Holy Prophet, soothsaying was in great vogue in Arabia. The soothsayers used to make predictions, give news of the unseen, tell the whereabouts of the lost properties and articles, and the people used to visit them to know the events of their past and future lives. These soothsayers claimed that they had some jinns and satans under their control, who brought them all sorts of news. In this environment when the Holy Prophet was appointed to Prophethood, and he began to recite the verses of the Qur'an, which described the past history and contained news of the future, and also stated that an angel brought him these verses, his opponents immediately branded him a soothsayer and started telling others that, like the other soothsayers, he too was associated with a satan, who brought him news from the heavens, which he presented as revelations from Allah. To refute this accusation, Allah says: "The satans have no access to heaven. They have no power to hear the conversations of the angels and bring its news for others; if by chance a little of it enters the ear of a satan, and he tries to bring it down, he is followed by a flashing flame." In other words, it means: "The grand system of the universe, which is functioning under the agency of the angels has been firmly guarded and secured against every interference of the satans. Not to speak of interfering in it, they do not even have the power to obtain any kind of information about it. " (For further explanation, see AI-Hijr: 17-18 and the E.N's thereof).