Abbas - Tanwîr al-Miqbâs min Tafsîr Ibn ‘Abbâs
(Had Allah willed) that they did not ascribe partners to Allah, (they had not been idolatrous). We have not set you as a keeper over them) to protect them, (nor art thou responsible for them) nor are you their custodian.
Had God willed, they would not have been idolaters; and We have not set you as a keeper over them, a watcher, so that you might then requite them for their deeds; nor are you a guardian over them, so that you might [be able to] coerce them to faith — this was [revealed] before the command to fight [them].
Had God willed, they would not have been idolaters: in other words, everything that takes place only occurs by the will of God and there is no doubt that the preparednesses by which they fell into idolatry and the causes of such [error] in the way of the teachings of their parents, habits and otherwise take place also by the will of God, for otherwise these things would not take place. If they believe in that, then it will have been by the guidance of God; if not, then be easy on yourself; and We have not set you as a keeper over them, to preserve them from misguidance, nor are you, appointed as a guardian to make them believe. This does not contradict what He says to them in censure later on, where He says, The idolaters will say, 'Had God willed, we would not have been idolaters [Q. 6:148], because they said that out of obstinacy and as a way of pushing away [the need for] faith by that pretext and not out of conviction. Thus with this statement of theirs, even if it might be true in the same case, they were lying and denying the Messenger. For had they been sincere, then they would have known that the affirmation of Oneness on the part of the believers was also by God's will; such is the case with any set of beliefs (dīn) but without obduracy or enmity towards anyone. Had they known that everything occurs only by the will of God, they would not have remained idolaters. Rather they would have become affirmers of [God's] Oneness. Nay, they said that with the purpose of imputing lies, to be obstinate and to prove that they were incapable of desisting from their idolatry. That is why God censures them with that [statement of theirs] and not because it is not so. For they have not been apprised of God's will and just as He willed that they be idolaters at a previous point in time, so now He does not will that they have faith. It is not that the heart of each one of them has been imprinted [with disbelief]: the proof of this is the faith of some of them. Why can it not be that some of them were prepared for faith and affirmation of the Oneness, yet were veiled by habit and by what they received from their fathers and thus fell into idolatry, but that then when they heard the warning and witnessed the signs of the Oneness, they yearned for the Truth and their veil was lifted and they affirmed [His] Onenessḍ That is why He rebukes them with their own statement and demands of them proof that God had always willed that for them, and warns them with the threat of punishment given to those before them, so that perhaps the one in whom there is a modicum of preparedness, when he has been severed from his [false] argument and has heard the threat of punishment given to deniers before him, his veil might be lifted and his heart might soften and he might believe, all of which would be a facilitation for him [from God] and a graciousness in his case; for the world of wisdom is built upon [such] causality.
As for the one who belongs with the wretched, those who are turned away, their hearts sealed, he does not pay attention, nor does he give ear, to [any of] that.
Allah commands His Messenger and those who followed his path,
اتَّبِعْ مَآ أُوحِىَ إِلَيْكَ مِن رَّبِّكَ
(Follow what has been inspired to you from your Lord,) meaning, follow it, obey it and act according to it. What has been revealed to you from your Lord is the Truth, no doubt, and there is no deity worthy of worship except Him,
وَأَعْرِضْ عَنِ الْمُشْرِكِينَ
(and turn aside from the idolators) meaning, forgive them, be forbearing and endure their harm until Allah brings relief to you, supports you and makes you triumphant over them. Know -- O Muhammad -- that there is a wisdom behind misleading the idolators, and that had Allah willed, He would have directed all people to guidance,
وَلَوْ شَآءَ اللَّهُ مَآ أَشْرَكُواْ
(Had Allah willed, they would not have taken others besides Him in worship.) Allah's is the perfect will and wisdom in all decrees and decisions, and He is never questioned about what He does, while they all will be questioned. Allah's statement,
وَمَا جَعَلْنَـكَ عَلَيْهِمْ حَفِيظاً
(And We have not made you Hafiz over them.) means, a watcher who observes their statements and deeds,
وَمَآ أَنتَ عَلَيْهِم بِوَكِيلٍ
(Nor are you set over them to dispose of their affairs. ) or to control their provision. Rather, your only job is to convey, just as Allah said,
(Your duty is only to convey and on Us is the reckoning.) 13:40
Maududi - Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi - Tafhim al-Qur'an
The different ways of expression, in which the Revelation has been couched, are a test for the people, because they help to discriminate the counterfeit from the genuine. The same thing has already been stated in Al-Baqarah, II: 26, in connection with the mention of insignificant things like flies, gnats, etc. in the parables of the Qur'an. Just as the mention of these insignificant things helps the seekers in finding the Truth, in the same way the different ways of expression help those, who have knowledge and make use of it, to think deeply about their aims and objects and learn lessons for their own good. On the contrary, those people, who are bigoted, pay no attention to the subject-matter, but begin to think on other lines. For instance, they begin to conjecture how this illiterate man can compose such excellent discourses. Thus, instead of judging the Qur'an from its excellent themes to be the Revelation from Allah, they turn to every other possible source and say, "You have learned this from such and such a one." Then in the "light" of this so-called successful "Research" into the source of the Qur'an, they conclude that it could not be the Book of God.
It means: "You have been appointed to invite the people to the Message and not to keep watch over them like a police inspector. Therefore your only duty is to present the Message to the people and try, your best to convince them of the Truth. After that, if someone does not accept the Truth, leave him alone. You have not been appointed to force the people to accept it so as to leave no worshiper of falsehood within the range of your Prophethood. Therefore you should not worry yourself and try to make them open their eyes which they have deliberately shut. If Allah had, in His Wisdom, willed that there should remain no worshiper of falsehood, He would not have entrusted you with this task. He could have made each and every human being a follower of the Truth, merely by a single word of His Command. But this is not the object of the creation of man. The real object is that man be given the freedom of choice between the Truth and falsehood: And then by presenting the light of the Truth before him, he be tested which one of the two he chooses. Now the right course for you is to follow the Right Way yourself and to invite others to follow it. Then you should make those, who accept it, your friends and not to forsake them in any case, even though they are very insignificant in the eyes of the worldly people. On the other hand, you should leave those alone who do not accept it and let them go to the evil end to which they themselves want to go and persist in doing so."
The followers of the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) have been advised not to lose their balance in zeal for preaching but to remain within proper limits when engaged in discussions and polemics with the non-Muslims and to refrain from offending against their creeds and from vilifying their leaders and objects of worship, for this will repel and alienate them all the more from the Truth.
Allah has ascribed their deeds to Himself, for everything that takes place in accordance with the Laws of Nature does, in fact, happens by the command of Allah. (Please refer to E.N. 17 above). As Allah is the Author of all the Laws of Nature, everything happens by His Command: therefore, Allah says, "We have made the deeds of every people seem fair to them." The human beings would, however, express the same thing, saying, "This has happened according to the Law of Nature. "