(Every time a group is cast therein, its keepers will ask: "Did no warner come to you'' They will say: "Yes, indeed a warner did come to us, but we rejected him and said: `Allah never sent down anything; you are only in great error.''') In these Ayat Allah reminds of His justice in dealing with His creatures and that He does not punish anyone until the proof has been established against them and a Messenger has been sent to them. This is similar to Allah's statement,
(till when they reach it, the gates thereof will be opened. And its keepers will say, "Did not the Messengers come to you from yourselves, reciting to you the Ayat of your Lord, and warning you of the meeting of this Day of yours'' They will say: "Yes,'' but the Word of torment has been justified against the disbelievers!'') 39:71 Thus, they have no recourse but to blame themselves and they will feel remorseful when such remorse will be of no benefit to them. They will say,
(Had we but listened or used our intelligence, we would not have been among the dwellers of the blazing Fire!) meaning, `if we would have benefited from our intellects or listened to the truth that Allah revealed, we would not have been disbelieving in Allah and misguided about Him. But we did not have understanding to comprehend what the Messengers came with, and we did not have the intelligence to guide us to following them.' Allah then says,
(Then they will confess their sin. So, away with the dwellers of the blazing Fire!) Imam Ahmad recorded from Abu Al-Bakhtari At-Ta'i that he heard from one of the Companions that the Messenger of Allah said,
(The people will not be destroyed until they themselves confess their guilt.)
Maududi - Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi - Tafhim al-Qur'an
That is, the fate of all those,whether men or Satans, who disbelieve in their Lord. (For the explanation of the meaning of disbelieving in the Lord (Rabb), see E.N 161 of AI-Baqarah, E.N. 178 of An-Nisa', E.N. 39 of Al-Kahf, E,N. 3 of Al-Mu'min
The word shahiq is used for producing a cry like the ass's braying. The sentence may also mean that it could be the sound of Hell itself, as well as that it would be the sound coming from Hell, where the people already flung into it would be screaming and crying. This second meaning is supported by Surah Hud: 106, where it has been said: "Therein they will pant and hiss (because of thirst)", and the first meaning is confirmed by Al-Furqan: 12, which says: "When the Hell will see them from afar, they will hear the sounds of its raging and roaring." On this basis, the correct meaning is that it would be the noise made both by Hell and by the dwellers of Hell.
The real nature of this question will not be of a question that the keepers of Hell would like to ask them whether a warner from Allah had come to them or not, but the object would be to make them realize that no injustice had been done to them by casting them into Hell. They would try to make them confess that Allah had not kept them uninformed and unwarned: He had sent the Prophets to them; He had informed them of the truth and of the Right Way; He had warned them that if they followed a way other than the Right Way, it would lead them to Hell, in which they had been cast. But they had not listened to the Prophets. Hence, they rightly deserved the punishment which was being meted out to them at that time.
This thing has been pointed out over and over again in the Qur'an that the test for which Allah has sent man in the world is not being conducted by keeping man absolutely unaware and uninformed of the requirements of the test only to see whether he found the right way by himself or not; but Allah has made the most appropriate arrangements that could possibly be trade of guiding him to the Right Way, and it is that He has raised the Prophets and sent down the Books. Now the test of man lies in this whether he accepts the Prophets and the Books brought by them and adopts the straight way, or turns away from them to follow his own desires, whites and speculations. Thus, the Prophethood, in fact, is Allah's argument which He has established against man and on its acceptance or rejection depends his whole future life. No one, after the appointment of the Prophets, can present the excuse that he remained unaware of the Truth, or that he has been caught and put to the hard test unawares, or that he is being punished while he was innocent. This theme has been presented in countless different ways in the Qur'an; for instance, see Al-Baqarah: 213, and E.N. 230 on it; An-Nisa': 41-42, 165 and E N.'s 64 and 208; Al-An`am: 130-131, and E.N.'s 98-100; Bani Isra'il: 15 and E.N. 17; Ta Ha: 134; Al-Qasas 47, 59, 65 and E.N.'s 66, 83; Fatir: 37; AlMu'min: 50 and E.N. 66.
That is, "Not only you but the people who have believed in and followed you also are misguided and lost in grave error."
"Had we only listened or understood": "Had we listened to the Prophets with attention as seekers after Truth or used our intellect to understand what actually was the message they were presenting before us." Here listening has been given priority over understanding, the reason being that the pre-requisite of obtaining guidance is to listen to what the Prophet teaches (or to read if it is in the written form, like a seeker after Truth). To ponder over it in an attempt to understand the truth is secondary. Without the Prophet's guidance man cannot by himself reach the Truth directly by using his intellect and common sense.
The word dhanb (sin) has been used in the singular. It means that the real sin because of which they became worthy of Hell was to belie the Messengers and refuse to obey them; all other sins are its consequences.