Abbas - Tanwîr al-Miqbâs min Tafsîr Ibn ‘Abbâs
(They say) i.e. the disbelievers of Mecca: al-Harth Ibn 'Amir and his folk: Abu Jahl Ibn Hisham, al-Walid Ibn al-Mughira, Umayyah and Ubayy the sons of Khalaf: (Why hath no portent been sent down upon him from his Lord) to prove his prophethood? (Say) to them, O Muhammad: (Lo! Allah is Able to send down a portent) as they have asked. (But most of them know not) they have no knowledge of it being sent.
And they, the disbelievers of Mecca, say, ‘Why has a sign not been sent down to him from his Lord?’, [a sign] such as the she-camel [of the prophet Sālih] or the staff [of Moses] or the Table [of Jesus]. Say, to them: ‘Surely God has the power to send down (read yunazzil or yunzil) a sign, from among those they have requested, but most of them do not know’, that its sending down would be a trial for them, for if they then [still] denied it, they would necessarily be destroyed.
[And they say, 'Why has a sign not been sent down to him from his Lordḍ' Say, 'Surely God has the power to send down a sign] but most of them have no knowledge': about the sending down of signs. For the manifestation of each one of His attributes in every one of the loci of engendered beings is a sign of Him by which those who have knowledge are able to know Him.
(Say: "Allah is certainly able to send down a sign, but most of them know not.'') Certainly, Allah is able to send an Ayah (sign). But, He decided out of His wisdom to delay that, because if He sends an Ayah of their liking and they still do not believe, this will hasten their punishment as with the previous nations. Allah said in other Ayat,
(And nothing stops Us from sending the Ayat but that the people of old denied them. And We sent the she-camel to Thamud as a clear sign, but they did her wrong. And We sent not the signs except to warn, and to make them afraid (of destruction).) 17:59, and,
(There is not a moving (living) creature on earth, nor a bird that flies with its two wings, but are Umam like you.) Mujahid commented, "Meaning, various species that have distinct names.'' Qatadah said, "Birds are an Ummah, humans are an Ummah and the Jinns are an Ummah.'' As-Suddi said that,
إِلاَّ أُمَمٌ أَمْثَـلُكُمْ
(but are Umam like you.) means, creations (or species). Allah's statement,
مَّا فَرَّطْنَا فِى الكِتَـبِ مِن شَىْءٍ
(We have neglected nothing in the Book,) means, the knowledge about all things is with Allah, and He never forgets any of His creatures, nor their sustenance, nor their affairs, whether these creatures live in the sea or on land. In another Ayah, Allah said;
(And no moving creature is there on earth but its provision is due from Allah. And He knows its dwelling place and its deposit (in the uterus, grave, etc.). All is in a Clear Book.) 11:6, there is a record of their names, numbers, movements, and lack of movement. In another Ayah, Allah said;
(And so many a moving creature there is, that carries not its own provision! Allah provides for it and for you. And He is the All-Hearer, the All-Knower.) 29:60 Ibn Abi Hatim reported that Ibn `Abbas said about the Ayah,
ثُمَّ إِلَى رَبِّهِمْ يُحْشَرُونَ
(then unto their Lord they (all) shall be gathered.) "Death gathers them.'' It was also said that the Day of Resurrection gathers them, for in another Ayah, Allah said;
وَإِذَا الْوُحُوشُ حُشِرَتْ
(And when the wild beasts shall be gathered together.) 81:5 `Abdur-Razzaq recorded that Abu Hurayrah said about Allah's statement,
(but are Umam like you. We have neglected nothing in the Book, then unto their Lord they (all) shall be gathered.) "All creatures will be gathered on the Day of Resurrection, the beasts, birds and all others. Allah's justice will be so perfect, that the un-horned sheep will receive retribution from the horned sheep. Allah will then command them, `Be dust!' This is when the disbeliever will say,
يَـلَيْتَنِى كُنتُ تُرَباً
("Woe to me! Would that I were dust!'')''78: 40. And this was reported from the Prophet in the Hadith about the Trumpet.
The Disbelievers will be Deaf and Mute in Darkness
(Those who reject Our Ayat are deaf and dumb in darkness.) due to their ignorance, little knowledge and minute comprehension. Their example is that of the deaf-mute who cannot hear nor speak, as well as being blinded by darkness. Therefore, how can such a person find guidance to the path or change the condition he is in Allah said in other Ayat,
(Their parable is that of one who kindled a fire; then, when it illuminated all around him, Allah took away their light and left them in darkness. (So) they could not see. They are deaf, dumb, and blind, so they return not (to the right path)) 2:17-18, and,
(Or like the darkness in a vast deep sea, overwhelmed with a great wave topped by a great wave, topped by dark clouds, darkness, one above another, if a man stretches out his hand, he can hardly see it! And he for whom Allah has not appointed light, for him there is no light. ) 24:40 This is why Allah said here,
(Allah sends astray whom He wills and He guides on the straight path whom He wills.) for He does what He wills with His creatures.
Maududi - Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi - Tafhim al-Qur'an
''Sign" means a tangible miracle. Allah says that the reason why he is not showing a Sign is not that He is unable to do so but for another reason whose wisdom they do not understand. (See E.N. 6).
That is, "If you are really serious in your demand of seeing a Sign in order to judge whether the Message of this Prophet is true or false, you should see and ponder over the innumerable Signs that are found in abundance all around you. For instance, if you consider animal life, you will see that the structure of the bodies of each species of birds and beasts suits its functions immensely well; the qualities and characteristics that have been ingrained in its nature help to fulfill all its needs; the provision of its nourishment has been arranged in a wonderful way; and the course of its life has been so predetermined that it cannot transgress its limits in any way whatever. Allah also sees that each and every animal, nay, even the smallest insect, is being looked after, protected and guided, wherever it be, for the performance of the functions pre-destined for it. In short, you will find that its structure suits it well; it has been given inherent powers that help provide its needs: excellent provisions have been made for its food. The process of its birth, procreation and death has been going on according to a regulated fixed scheme. If you give a careful consideration to this Sign alone, you will realize that the teachings of this Prophet about the Oneness of God and His attributes and the way of life based on these to which he invites you are absolutely we. Yet you neither try to see with open eyes these Signs nor listen to the Message this Prophet is conveying to you. As a result, you have been involved in ignorance and, therefore, desire to see some wonderful miracle for mere pastime. "
This is how Allah lets them go astray: (1) He holds back the opportunity for observing His Signs from the one who chooses to remain in ignorance; (2) He keeps hidden the pointers to the Reality from the one who is a victim of prejudices, even though he should see His Signs, and lets him remain involved in misunderstandings and move farther and farther away from the Reality. On the contrary, He guides the seeker after truth to the Right Way by affording him the opportunity to make use of his knowledge for the purpose of discovering the Reality, and showing him the signs guiding towards it. We daily notice instances of these types. There are millions of people before whose eyes countless Signs are spread in their own persons and in the universe, but they see them like animals and do not learn any lessons from them. Then there are the physicists, chemists, zoologists, botanists, biologists, geologists, astronomers, physiologist, anatomists, historians, archaeologists, social scientists, etc., who observe such Signs as may enlighten the minds and the hearts with Faith, but they seem to see no "Sign" to lead them to the Reality, just because they begin their study with prejudiced minds, merely for the sake of material gains. Not only this, but every Sign leads them to atheism, disbelief, materialism and nature worship. In contrast to them, there are those, who observe the wonders of the universe and the phenomena of Nature with open eyes and open hearts, and find the Signs of God all round them: SO much so that they can see His Sign in each and every green leaf.
In answer to the demand of the disbelievers for a Sign, they were told that there was not one Sign, but innumerable Signs scattered all around them and their attention has been drawn in v. 38 to study the mystery of the life of any bird or beast and they would find Sign of God. Now in v. 40-42, they have been directed to another Sign that they can fmd in their own selves. When some affliction befalls a man or death confronts him with all its dreads, then he sees no refuge in any other than Allah. On such occasions even the most confirmed polytheists forget their gods and invoke Allah's help. Likewise the most obdurate atheists, in their utter helplessness, involuntary pray to Allah for rescue, this Sign-man's own state of mind is being presented here as a pointer to the Reality, for this is a clear proof of the existence of One God, and of the urge of God-worship that has been embedded deep in the heart of every human being. Though it might have been kept suppressed by negligence and ignorance, sometimes it comes to the surface under the stimulus of some misfortune.
Ikrimah, son of Abu Jahl, who was an arch enemy of Islam, was led towards Islam by witnessing such a Sign. When the Holy Prophet conquered Makkah, 'Ikrimah fled to Jaddah and sailed for Abyssinia. During the voyage, there came a furious storm which threatened to sink the boat. At first the passengers began to invoke their gods and goddesses for help. But when the storm became so violent that they feared that the boat was going to sink. they all cried out, "This is not the time to call any open except Allah, because He alone can save us. " This opened the eyes of `Ikrimah and the locked doors of his heart: "If there is none here except Allah to help us, how can there be any to help us in any other place? This is what Muhammad (Allah's peace be upon him) has been teaching us for the last twenty years any we have been fighting it out with him". That as the most decisive moment in the life of `Ikrimah. He made a solemn pledge with Allah to this effect: "If I escape from this storm, I will directly go to Prophet Muhammad Allah's peace be upon him) to become a follower of his." Allah rescued him from that storm and he fulfilled his pledge. He not only became a Muslim, but spent the rest of his life in the service of Islam by performing Jihad.