Abbas - Tanwîr al-Miqbâs min Tafsîr Ibn ‘Abbâs
(Messengers indeed have been denied before thee) their people denied them as your people deny you now, (and they were patient under the denial) of their own people (and the persecution) and they were patient in the face of their people's harm (till Our succour reached them) through the destruction of their people. (There is none to alter the decisions of Allah) in that He helps His friends against His enemies. (Already there hath reached thee) O Muhammad ((somewhat) of the tidings of the messengers (We sent before)) how their people denied them, as your people deny you now, and how they were patient.
Messengers indeed have been denied before you — herein is a consolation for the Prophet (s) — yet they endured patiently the denial and the persecution until Our victorious help came to them, through the destruction of their peoples, so be patient until the victorious help comes to you through the destruction of your people. There is none to change the words of God, His promises, and there has already come to you tidings of the messengers, [tidings] through which your heart can be at peace.
Messengers indeed have been denied before you; yet they endured patiently, through God. He has given him solace through Himself after reprimanding him, lest he subsist within the variegation and so that he might not be sorry after it has departed from him and end up in [a state of] constriction, but rather so that his heart might be reassured, which is why He follows that with His words: There is none to change the words of God, that is, the attributes of God by which He discloses Himself to His servants. These are not replaced, nor are they changed by the denial of the deniers; nor are these [deniers] able to change [His attributes]. He then denies him any power and declares him as incapable with His words:
(but it is the Verses of Allah that the wrongdoers deny. ) It is only the truth that they reject and refuse. Muhammad bin Ishaq mentioned that Az-Zuhri said that Abu Jahl, Abu Sufyan Sakhr bin Harb and Al-Akhnas bin Shurayq once came to listen to the Prophet reciting the Qur'an at night, but these three men were not aware of the presence of each other. So they listened to the Prophet's recitation until the morning, and then left. They met each other on their way back and each one of them asked the others, "What brought you'' So they mentioned to each other the reason why they came. They vowed not to repeat this incident so that the young men of Quraysh would not hear of what they did and imitate them. On the second night, each one of the three came back thinking that the other two would not come because of the vows they made to each other. In the morning, they again met each other on their way back and criticized each other, vowing not to repeat what they did. On the third night, they again went to listen to the Prophet and in the morning they again vowed not to repeat this incident. During that day, Al-Akhnas bin Shurayq took his staff and went to Abu Sufyan bin Harb in his house saying, "O Abu Hanzalah! What is your opinion concerning what you heard from Muhammad.'' Abu Sufyan said, "O Abu Tha`labah! By Allah, I have heard some things that I recognize and know their implications. I also heard some things whose meaning and implications were unknown to me.'' Al-Akhnas said, "And I the same, by He Whom you swore by!'' Al-Akhnas left Abu Sufyan and went to Abu Jahl and asked him, "O Abu Al-Hakam! What is your opinion about what you heard from Muhammad. '' Abu Jahl said, "We competed with Bani `Abd Manaf (the Prophet's subtribe) and so we fed as they fed and gave away as they gave away. So, when we were neck and neck with them, just as two horses in a race, they said, `There is a Prophet from among us, to whom revelation from the heaven comes.' So how can we ever beat them at that By Allah we will never believe in him or accept what he says.' This is when Al-Akhnas left Abu Jahl and went away.'' Allah's statement,
(Verily, (many) Messengers were denied before you, but with patience they bore the denial, and they were hurt, till Our help reached them,) This comforts the Prophet's concern for those who denied and rejected him. Allah also commands the Prophet to be patient, just as the mighty Messengers before him were. He also promised him victory, just as the previous Messengers were victorious and the good end was theirs, after the denial and harm their people placed on them. Then, victory came to them in this life, just as victory is theirs in the Hereafter. Allah said,
وَلاَ مُبَدِّلَ لِكَلِمَـتِ اللَّهِ
(and none can alter the Words of Allah.) This refers to His decision that victory in this life and the Hereafter is for His believing servants. Allah said in other Ayat,
(Allah has decreed: "Verily! It is I and My Messengers who shall be the victorious.'' Verily, Allah is All-Powerful, Almighty.) 58:21 Allah said;
وَلَقدْ جَآءَكَ مِن نَّبَإِ الْمُرْسَلِينَ
(Surely, there has reached you the information about the Messengers (before you).) who were given victory and prevailed over the people who rejected them. And you (O Muhammad ), have a good example in them. Allah said next,
وَإِن كَانَ كَبُرَ عَلَيْكَ إِعْرَاضُهُمْ
(If their aversion is hard on you,) and you cannot be patient because of their aversion,
(then if you were able to seek a tunnel in the ground or a ladder to the sky...) `Ali bin Abi Talhah reported that Ibn `Abbas commented, "If you were able to seek a tunnel and bring them an Ayah, or go up a ladder in the sky and bring a better Ayah than the one I (Allah) gave them, then do that.'' Similar was reported from Qatadah, As-Suddi and others. Allah's statement,
(And had your Lord willed, those on earth would have believed, all of them together) `Ali bin Abi Talhah reported that Ibn `Abbas said about Allah's statement,
وَلَوْ شَآءَ اللَّهُ لَجَمَعَهُمْ عَلَى الْهُدَى
(And had Allah willed, He could have gathered them together upon true guidance,) "The Messenger of Allah was eager that all people believe and be guided to follow him. Allah told him that only those whose happiness Allah has written in the first Dhikr will believe.'' Allah's statement,
إِنَّمَا يَسْتَجِيبُ الَّذِينَ يَسْمَعُونَ
(It is only those who listen, that will respond,) means, only those who hear the speech, comprehend and understand it, will accept your call, O Muhammad ! In another Ayah, Allah said;
(but as for the dead, Allah will raise them up, then to Him they will be returned.) refers to the disbelievers because their hearts are dead. Therefore, Allah resembled them to dead corpses as a way of mocking and belittling them, saying,
(but as for the dead (disbelievers), Allah will raise them up, then to Him they will be returned (for their recompense).)
Maududi - Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi - Tafhim al-Qur'an
The fact is that all the people of his tribe regarded the Holy Prophet Muhammad (upon whom be peace) truthful and honest up to the time he had not begun to recite the Revelations of Allah before them. They falsified him only when he began to deliver to them the Message of Allah. Even then, there was none who dared charge Muhammad, the Man, with falsehood; nay, even his bitterest enemies never accused him of having ever told a lie concerning any worldly matter. It was Muhammad, the Prophet, whom they charged with falsehood. So much so that even Abu Jahl, who was the bitterest of all his enemies never accused him of falsehood. According to a tradition related by Hadrat 'Ali, Abu Jahl himself declared during a conversation with the Holy Prophet, "We do not call you a liar; but regard as false what you are presenting. " On the occasion of the Battle of Badr, Akhnas bin Shariq asked Abu Jahl in private, "There is no third person here besides us two. Tell me the truth whether you regard Muhammad as a truthful man or as a liar." He answered, "By God, Muhammad is a truthful person and has never told a lie in his life, but if Bani Qusayy, who have already the privilege of being the bearers of the national flag and the providers of water to the pilgrims and the keepers of the keys of the Ka bah, should also be acknowledged as the recipients of Prophethood, what would then be left for the rest of the Quraish?" For this very reason Allah is comforting His Prophet, saying, "It is not you whom they are rejecting as an impostor but it is Our Message which they are rejecting; when We are forbearing everything and giving them respite after respite, why should you show any kind of anxiety'?"
The "Law" referred to here is the Law of Allah concerning the conflict between the right and the wrong. According to this Law, it is essential that the righteous should be tried for along period to stand their test in order to prove their fortitude, their righteousness, their spirit of sacrifice and their fidelity, their limn belief in their Faith and their complete trust in Allah. For this they must pass through afflictions and hardships in order to develop those high moral qualities which can be learned only by going through this hard and tough course, for with these weapons alone, they are required to win the battle against falsehood. When, according to this Law, they prove their competence, then will Allah's help come at the right moment to support them and this help cannot be brought about before its time by anyone.
Whenever the Holy Prophet felt that his people did not accept the Message in spite of his continuous preaching, he cherished the desire that Allah Might send such a clear Sign that they should have no alternative left but to accept his Message. In this verse Allah has admonished His Messenger against cherishing any such desire, so as to say, "Do not show impatience at their obduracy, but go on performing your mission persistently in the way and order We are laying down for it. If this mission had to be performed by means of miracles, could We not Ourselves have done so? But We know that this method is not suitable for bringing about that intellectual and moral revolution and for the establishment of that righteous society for which you have been appointed a Messenger. If, however, you cannot endure the heart-burning caused by their indifference and rejection and if you imagine that a tangible Sign, that might appeal to them, is required to break this inert state of their minds, then you should yourself try to bring about such a Sign: you may, if you can, go deep down into the bowels of the earth or ascend up to the heavens for this purpose, but you should not expect from Us that We would fulfill this desire of yours, for there is no room for it in Our scheme."
This is to impress that it is not the purpose of Allah that all human beings should be forced to accept the Guidance somehow or other. Had it been so, He would have created them in such a way that they would have been righteous by birth like angels. Then there would have been no need of sending the Prophets and the Books and of making the Believers enter into a conflict with the disbelievers for the gradual establishment of the Way of Allah. But Allah does not desire this. On the contrary, He intends that the Truth should be presented to the people in a rational way so that those, who are convinced of it, may adopt it without any coercion, and then mold their characters in accordance with it to prove their moral superiority over the disbelievers. In this way they would go on attracting the best among the people towards it till they succeeded in establishing the Way by virtue of their high ideals, best principles of life, pure characters and strong arguments and with resolute struggle with the disbelievers. Then Allah assures them of the guidance and help they need and deserve at any stage. But if one wishes that, instead of this natural process, Allah should adopt some supernatural method and eradicate false ideas from the minds of the people and bring in pure ones instead and establish the righteous civilization in place of the evil ones, he should know that Allah will not do this for this will be against the wisdom of the scheme of His creation of Man. He has created Man as a responsible being granted him powers to exploit the things of the world and given him the freedom of action-both good and evil-and granted him a definite term for the preparation of the test and fixed the time for the declaration of the result of the test to punish or reward him according to his efforts.
"Those, who listen to it... " are the people whose conscience is alive, who try to judge rationally between right and wrong, and who do not deliberately and obdurately lock the doors of their hearts. "Those who are dead..." are the people who blindly follow a way and are not ready to leave it and follow any other way even though that may manifestly be the Right Way.