Abbas - Tanwîr al-Miqbâs min Tafsîr Ibn ‘Abbâs
(Then we destroyed men mightier than these) mightier than the people of Mecca (in prowess) in strength and power; (and the example of the men of old hath gone (before them)) i.e. they were destroyed when they disbelieved in their messengers.
So We destroyed those stronger than they in seizing, and the example of the first ones passed away.
“They have taken Our prophets as liars, ridiculed them, and did not accept their advice. Hence We showed them Our harshness and severity. We overthrew them and pulled them up by the roots. If anyone contends with Us, Our severity will overcome him. We exact justice from the arrogant, We take vengeance on the apostates, and We show the answer to the enemies.”
So We destroyed those who were mightier than them — than your people — in prowess, strength, and [already] there passed, there has been mentioned in previous verses, the example of the ancients, the description of how they were destroyed, and thus the sequel for your people will be the same.
(Ha-Mim. By the manifest Book.) means, plain and clear in both wording and meaning, because it was revealed in the language of the Arabs, which is the most eloquent language for communication among people. Allah says:
(Verily, We have made it) meaning, revealed it,
(a Qur'an in Arabic) meaning, in the language of the Arabs, eloquent and clear;
(that you may be able to understand.) means, that you may understand it and ponder its meanings. This is like the Ayah:
(And verily, it is in the Mother of the Book with Us, indeed exalted, full of wisdom.) This explains the high status of the Qur'an among the hosts on high (the angels), so that the people of earth will respect it, venerate it and obey it.
(And verily, it) means, the Qur'an,
فِى أُمِّ الْكِتَـبِ
(is in the Mother of the Book) meaning, Al-Lawh Al-Mahfuz (the Preserved Tablet). This was the view of Ibn `Abbas and Mujahid.
(with Us,) means, in Our presence. This was the view of Qatadah and others.
(indeed exalted) means, occupying a position of honor and virtue. This was the view of Qatadah.
(full of wisdom.) means, clear, with no confusion or deviation. All of this indicates its noble status and virtue, as Allah says elsewhere:
(Nay, indeed it is an admonition. So whoever wills, let him pay attention to it. (It is) in Records held (greatly) in honor, exalted, purified, in the hands of scribes (angels), honorable and obedient.) (80:11-16)
(Shall We then take away the Reminder (this Qur'an) from you, because you are a people excessive.) means, `do you think that We will forgive you and not punish you, when you do not do as you have been commanded' This was the view of Ibn `Abbas, may Allah be pleased with him, Abu Salih, Mujahid and As-Suddi, and was the view favored by Ibn Jarir.
أَفَنَضْرِبُ عَنكُمُ الذِّكْرَ صَفْحاً
(Shall We then take away the Reminder (this Qur'an) from you,) Qatadah said, "By Allah, if this Qur'an had been taken away when the first generations of this Ummah rejected it, they would have been doomed, but Allah by His mercy persisted in sending it and calling them to it for twenty years, or for as long as He willed.'' What Qatadah said is very good, and his point is that Allah, by His grace and mercy towards His creation, did not stop calling them to the truth and to the wise Reminder, i.e., the Qur'an, even though they were heedless and turned away from it. Indeed, He sent it so that those who were decreed to be guided might be guided by it, and so that proof might be established against those who were decreed to be.
(In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.
Consolation to the Prophet for the Disbelief of Quraysh
Then Allah consoles His Prophet for the disbelief of his people, and commands him to bear it with patience.
وَكَمْ أَرْسَلْنَا مِن نَّبِيٍّ فِى الاٌّوَّلِينَ
(And how many a Prophet have We sent amongst the men of old.) meaning, among the sects (communities) of old.
(And never came there a Prophet to them but they used to mock at him.) means, they disbelieved him and mock at him.
فَأَهْلَكْنَآ أَشَدَّ مِنْهُم بَطْشاً
(Then We destroyed men stronger than these) means, `We destroyed those who disbelieved in the Messengers, and they were stronger in power than these who disbelieve in you, O Muhammad.' This is like the Ayah:
(Have they not traveled through the earth and seen what was the end of those before them They were more in number than them and mightier in strength) (40:82). And there are many similar Ayat.
وَمَضَى مَثَلُ الاٌّوَّلِينَ
(and the example of the ancients has passed away. ) Mujahid said, "The way of their life.'' Qatadah said, "Their punishment.'' Others said, "Their lesson,'' i.e., `We made them a lesson for those disbelievers who came after them, that they would suffer the same end as them,' as in the Ayah at the end of this Surah:
فَجَعَلْنَـهُمْ سَلَفاً وَمَثَلاً لِّلاٌّخِرِينَ
(And We made them a precedent, and an example to later generations.) (43:56);
سُنَّةَ اللَّهِ الَّتِى قَدْ خَلَتْ فِى عِبَادِهِ
(this has been the way of Allah in dealing with His servants) (40:85).
وَلَن تَجِدَ لِسُنَّةِ اللَّهِ تَبْدِيلاً
(and you will not find any change in the way of Allah.) (33:62)
Maududi - Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi - Tafhim al-Qur'an
In this one sentence the whole history that had taken place since the time the Holy Prophet Muhammad (upon whom be Allah's peace) had proclaimed to be a Prophet till the revelation of these verses during the past few years has been compressed. This sentence depicts the following picture: A nation has been involved in ignorance, backwardness and depravity for centuries. Suddenly, Allah looks at it with favor. He raises in it an illustrious guide and sends down His own Word to take it out of the darkness of ignorance so that it is aroused from slumber, it gives up superstitions of ignorance and it becomes aware of the truth and adopts the right way of life. But the ignorant people of the nation and the tribal chiefs turn hostile to the guide, and try their utmost to defeat him and his mission. With the passage of time their hostility and mischief go on increasing; so much so that they make up their mind to kill him. At this, it is being said: "Should We stop making any efforts to reform you because you are proving to be un-worthy people? Should We withhold sending down this Admonition, and leave you lying in the same wretched state in which you have been lying since centuries ? Do you really think that should be the demand of Our Mercy ? Have you ever considered what doom you would meet when you have turned down the bounty of Allah and persisted in falsehood after the truth has come before you?"
That is, if such absurdity and senselessness had barred the sending of a Prophet or a Book, no Prophet would ever have come to any nation nor a Book sent to it.
That is, the result of the senselessness of some particular people could not be that the entire mankind should be deprived of the guidance of the Prophethood and the Book, but its result always has been that the worshippers of falsehood who, being drunk with the pride of power, did not desist from mocking the Prophets, were ultimately destroyed. When Allah's wrath descended even the people, who possessed thousands of times greater power than that possessed by the puny chiefs of the Quraish, were crushed to annihilation like mosquitoes and fleas.