Abbas - Tanwîr al-Miqbâs min Tafsîr Ibn ‘Abbâs
Then Allah mentioned the state of their hearts when they were in the life of the world, saying: (Is not the time ripe for the hearts of those who believe) outwardly (to submit) to soften, abase itself and be sincere (to Allah's reminder) to Allah's promises and threats; it is also said this means: to Allah's divine Oneness (and to the Truth which is revealed) to the commands and prohibitions, the lawful and unlawful contained in the Qur'an, (that they become not as those who received the Scripture) that they became like those who were given the knowledge of the Torah (of old) before the advent of Muhammad (pbuh) and so they are the folk of the Torah (but the term was prolonged for them and so their hearts were hardened) regarding faith; these are the ones who went against the religion of Moses, (and many of them) of the folk of the Torah (are evil-livers) disbelievers who do not believe in Allah as it is in Allah's foreknowledge.
Is it not time for those who believe — this was revealed concerning the matter of the Companions [of the Prophet] who had been overindulging in jest, that their hearts should be humbled to the remembrance of God and [to] what has been revealed (read as nuzzila; or read nazala, ‘[what] has come down’) of the truth, the Qur’ān, and that they should not be (lā yakūnū is a supplement to takhsha‘a, ‘be humbled’) like those who were given the Scripture before?, namely, the Jews and the Christians. For the stretch of time, the interval [extending] from them [back] to [the time of the sending of the last of] their prophets, was too long for them and so their hearts became hardened, unyielding to the remembrance of God, and many of them are immoral.
meaning, it is the worthy shelter for you rather than any other residence, because of your disbelief and doubt, and how evil is the Fire for Final Destination.
Encouraging Khushu` and the Prohibition of imitating the People of the Scriptures
Allah asks, `Has not the time come for the believers to feel humility in their hearts by the remembrance of Allah and hearing subtle advice and the recitation of the Qur'an, so that they may comprehend the Qur'an, abide by it, and hear and obey Muslim recorded that `Abdullah bin Mas`ud said, "Only four years separated our acceptance of Islam and the revelation of this Ayah, in which Allah subtly admonished us,
(Has not the time yet come for the believers that their hearts should be humble for the remembrance of Allah)'' This is the narration Muslim collected, just before the end of his book. An-Nasa'i also collected this Hadith in the Tafsir of this Ayah. Allah's statement,
(Lest they become as those who received the Scripture before, and the term was prolonged for them and so their hearts were hardened) Allah is prohibiting the believers from imitating those who were given the Scriptures before them, the Jews and Christians. As time passed, they changed the Book of Allah that they had, and sold it for a small, miserable price. They also abandoned Allah's Book behind their back and were impressed and consumed by various opinions and false creeds. They imitated the way others behaved with the religion of Allah, making their rabbis and priests into gods beside Allah. Consequently, their hearts became hard and they would not accept advice; their hearts did not feel humbled by Allah's promises or threats,
وَكَثِيرٌ مِّنْهُمْ فَـسِقُونَ
(And many of them were rebellious.) meaning, in action; therefore, their hearts are corrupt and their actions are invalid, just as Allah the Exalted said,
(So, because of their breach of their covenant, We cursed them and made their hearts grow hard. They changed the words from their (right) places and have abandoned a good part of the Message that was sent to them.)(5:13) meaning, their hearts became corrupt and they hardened, and they acquired the behavior of changing Allah's Speech from their appropriate places and meanings. They abandoned acts of worship that they were commanded to perform and committed what they were prohibited to do. This is why Allah forbade the believers from imitating them in any way, be it basic or detailed matters. Allah the Exalted said,
(Know that Allah gives life to the earth after its death! Indeed We have made clear the Ayat to you, if you but understand.) This Ayah indicates that He brings subtleness to hearts after they have become hard, guides the confused after they were led astray, and relieves hardships after they have intensified. And just as Allah brings life back to the dead and dry earth by sending the needed abundant rain, He also guides the hardened hearts with the proofs and evidences of the Qur'an. The light (of faith) would have access to the hearts once again, after they were closed and, as a consequence, no guidance was able to reach them. All praise is due to Him Who guides whomever He wills after they were misguided, Who misguides those who were led aright before. Surely, it is He Who does what He wills and He is the All-Wise, the Most Just in all that He does, the Most Subtle, the Most Aware, the Most High, the Proud.
Maududi - Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi - Tafhim al-Qur'an
Here again, the word "believers" is general, but it does not apply to all the Muslims; it refers to those particular Muslims who had professed the faith verbally and joined the followers of the Holy Prophet (upon whom be Allah's peace) though their hearts were devoid of any concern for Islam. They were watching that the pagan forces were bent upon wiping out Islam; they had encircled the handful of Muslims from all sides, who were being made the target of persecution everywhere in Arabia, and thus oppressed the Muslims were fleeing to Madinah empty-handed for refuge; the sincere Muslims were extending to them whatever economic help they could; yet they were, at the same time, engaged in a life and-death struggle with the enemy. But, in spite of this, these people who professed the faith were not being moved at all. So, here, they are being put to shame. as if to say: "What kind of believers are you? At this critical juncture for Islam, is it not yet time that your hearts should melt at the mention of Allah and be filled with the spirit of sacrifice for the sake of His Religion? Can the believers be such that they may 'have no feeling for Islam when it is confronted with hard times, that they may sit un-concerned when they are summoned in the name of Allah, that the hearts may neither tremble out of fear of Allah nor bow to His Command when He Himself should make an appeal for contributions in the Book sent down by Him, declaring it as a loan on Himself and plainly telling that the one who would regard his wealth as dearer than the cause of the true Faith would be a hypocrite and not a believer?”
That is, "The Jews and Christians seem to have lost fervor and degenerated spiritually and morally hundreds of years after the passing away of their Prophets; but have you already become so depraved that while the Prophet is still present among you, and the Book of God is still being revealed, and not much time has passed over you since you affirmed the Faith, and you have started behaving like the Jews and Christians who have reached this state through centuries of playing and tempering with the Book of Allah and its verses?"
The point contained here should be well understood, At several places in the Qur'an the Prophethood and the revelation of the Book have been compared to the rainfall, for the effects produced by them on humanity are precisely like those produced by rain on the soil. Just as the dead earth swells and blooms as soon -as it receives a shower of rain, so it is with the dead humanity in a country where a Prophet is raised through Allah's mercy and Revelation begins to be sent down to him. It starts revealing those virtues which lay hidden and suppressed for ages; it starts manifesting from within itself excellent morals and good deeds and virtues of every kind. Allusion has been made to this truth here so as to open the eyes of the Muslims of the weak faith and to make them ponder their state. The way humanity was being reformed by the blessed rainfall of the Prophethood and Revelation and the way it was being richly and generously blessed in every way was not a remote story for them. They were observing it themselves in the pious and righteous society of the Companions and experiencing it day and night around them. Polytheism with all its evils was present before them while the virtues and good things emanating from Islam also were blooming and flourishing before their eyes. Therefore, they did not need to be told any details. An allusion was enough to the effect, "The signs of how Allah grants life to the dead earth through the rainfall of His mercy have been shown to you; now you should use your common sense and consider it for yourself as to what benefit you arc deriving from this blessing."
Is it not time for those who believe to humble their hearts for the remembrance of God…?He said:Is the time not ripe for them to feel humbled when they listen to the Reminder [the Qurʾān], and witness what is promised and what is warned of, in a contemplative witnessing of the unseen (mushāhadat al-ghayb)?His words, Exalted is He:
…so their hearts became hardened…He said:That is, through the pursuit of lust.His words, Exalted is He:
(Is not the time ripe for the hearts of those who believe to submit to Allah’s reminder…) [57:16]. Al-Kalbi and Muqatil said: “This verse was revealed about the hypocrites, one year after Emigration. This is because one day they asked Salman al-Farisi: ‘Tell us about what is in the Torah for it contains wonders’, and so this verse was revealed”. Others said that this verse was revealed about the believers. ‘Abd al-Qahir ibn Tahir informed us> Abu ‘Amr ibn Matar> Ja‘far ibn Muhammad al-Firyabi> Ishaq ibn Rahwayh> ‘Amr ibn Muhammad al-Qurashi> Khallad ibn Muslim al-Saffar> ‘Amr ibn Qays al-Mula’i> ‘Amr ibn Murrah> Mus‘ab ibn Sa‘d> Sa‘d who said: “The Qur’an was revealed to the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, and he recited it to them for a while. Then they said: ‘O Messenger of Allah, if only you narrate to us [the events of old]’, and so Allah, exalted is He, revealed (We narrate unto thee (O Muhammad) the best of narratives in that We have inspired in thee this Qur’an) [12:3]. He recited these to them for a while until they said: ‘O Messenger of Allah, if only you recite to us statements’. And so Allah, exalted is He, revealed (Allah hath (now) revealed the fairest of statements…) [39:23]. They were commanded all that through the Qur’an”. Khallad said: “Another narrator added: They also asked him: ‘O Messenger of Allah, if only you reminded us’. And so Allah, exalted is He, revealed (Is not the time ripe for the hearts of those who believe to submit to Allah’s reminder…)”.