Abbas - Tanwîr al-Miqbâs min Tafsîr Ibn ‘Abbâs
(And the first of them) the first nation (saith unto the last of them) the last of nations: (Ye were no whit better than us) such that our torment should be double yours, for you disbelieved as we disbelieved and worshipped others beside Allah as we did. Allah then tells them: (so taste the doom for what ye used to earn) for what you used to say and do of idolatry in the life of this world.
And the first of them shall say to the last of them, ‘You have no advantage over us, since you did not disbelieve because of us: you and we are equal [in this predicament]. God, exalted be He, says to them: So taste the chastisement for what you used to earn’.
(When those who were followed declare themselves innocent of those who followed (them), and they see the torment, then all their relations will be cut off from them. And those who followed will say: "If only we had one more chance to return (to the worldly life), we would declare ourselves as innocent from them as they have declared themselves as innocent from us.'' Thus Allah will show them their deeds as regrets for them. And they will never get out of the Fire) 2:166-167. Allah's statement,
حَتَّى إِذَا ادَّارَكُواْ فِيهَا جَمِيعًا
(until they are all together in the Fire) means, they are all gathered in the Fire,
قَالَتْ أُخْرَاهُمْ لاٍّولَـهُمْ
(The last of them will say to the first of them) that is, the nation of followers that enter last will say this to the first nations to enter. This is because the earlier nations were worse criminals than those who followed them, and this is why they entered the Fire first. For this reason, their followers will complain against them to Allah, because they were the ones who misguided them from the correct path, saying,
(On the Day when their faces will be turned over in the Fire, they will say: "Oh! Would that we had obeyed Allah and obeyed the Messenger.'' And they will say: "Our Lord! Verily, we obeyed our chiefs and our great ones, and they misled us from the (right) way. Our Lord! Give them a double torment.'') 33:66-68. Allah said in reply,
قَالَ لِكُلٍّ ضِعْفٌ
(He will say: "For each one there is double (torment)...''), We did what you asked, and recompensed each according to their deeds.' Allah said in another Ayah,
(And those who were arrogant will say to those who were deemed weak: "Did we keep you back from guidance after it come to you Nay, but you were criminals.'' Those who were deemed weak will say to those who were arrogant: "Nay, but it was your plotting by night and day, when you ordered us to disbelieve in Allah and set up rivals to Him!'' And each of them (parties) will conceal their own regrets, when they behold the torment. And We shall put iron collars round the necks of those who disbelieved. Are they requited aught except what they used to do) 34:32-33
Maududi - Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi - Tafhim al-Qur'an
"Every community has been given a fixed term": it does not mean a fixed period of time in terms of years, months and days, after the expiry of which that community is exterminated without fail. This means that a moral limit has been set to the opportunity that is allowed to every community for showing its performance as a respectable community. This is determined by the ratio between its good works and its evil works. Allah tolerates a community as long as the ratio of its good works to its evil works does not fall below the normal 1inmils. When it transgresses those limits that wicked community is given no more respite. In order to grasp this see v. 4, v.10 and v. 12 of LXXI.
The Qur'an has stated the thing contained in v. 36 in every place where the mention of the sending down of Adam and Eve from Paradise has been made. (Please see II: 38-39 and XX: 123-124). Therefore, here too, the same thing will be taken concerning the same occasion i. e., at the time of the beginning of the life of man, this thing was clearly explained to him. (See E.N. 69 of III).
That is, "They shall live here in this world for the term that has been set for them and get their destined share, good or bad, to pass this lift."
There is a double chastisement for every generation for the sins it committed as successor, and for the sins it left for others as predecessor, because it followed the heritage of evil left by its predecessors and then left the heritage of evil for its successors. Therefore if its predecessor shares a part of the burden of responsibility for its sins, it also shares a part of the burden of the responsibility for the legacy of the sins left by it for its successors.
There is a Tradition to this effect: "The one who initiates an innovation, that is disapproved of by Allah and His Messenger, shall be held responsible for the sins of all those people, who followed his innovation, without lessening in the least the burden of the responsibility for the sin committed by the inventor." Here is another Tradition: "Whenever a man is killed unjustly anywhere in the world, a part of the guilt of this murder is debited against the account pf that son of Adam who was the first to murder his own brother, because he was the first to open the way of murder. "
It is clear from the above that the person or the group or the community that starts the wrong idea or a wrong attitude, is not only responsible for his or its own error, but is also partly responsible for the sins of all those who are influenced by the error, and as long as the effects of that error continue to influence others, they are credited to his or its account. This also shows that an individual is not only personally accountable for his own good or bad actions but also for its effects on the lives of others.
As an illustration, let us take the case of an adulterer. All those persons whose bad example, or bad company or evil inducement misled him to adultery, share the responsibility for his becoming an adulterer and this responsibility extends above to all other persons, from whom those persons received this evil heritage. Thus it will go further and further upwards till it reaches the first person who initiated this evil way of sexuality.
Then the adulterer himself shall have w bear the responsibility of his guilt, because he committed this in utter disregard of many deterrents. He did not discriminate between good and bad: he did not pay attention to the voice of his conscience: he did not resort to the power of self-control within him: he did not make use of the knowledge of good and bad he had received from virtuous people and of their noble examples, and he did not take warning from the evil consequences of sexual immorality. In the face of all the above factors, that could have restrained him from adultery, he gave himself up to the blind sex urge that wanted its satisfaction in any available way.
Now let us consider the case of the adulterer from the point of view of its evil influences and heritage in relation to his contemporaries and successors. The responsibility of his guilt does not remain confined to his own acts of adultery but extends to all those evil acts that were prompted and influenced by these. At first he himself catches the infection of a venereal disease and then communicates it to his own generation and to countless successive generations: he causes illegitimate births and then throws the burden of nourishment on others and makes them unlawful inheritors at the expense of the lawful inheritors, and the evil results of this injustice may continue to influence countless generations. Moreover, he seduces some innocent girl and induces her to surrender herself to sexual immorality, and then she, in her turn, spreads the evil to others and causes the ruin of countless families. Then he sets a bad example for his own children, his relatives and his friends and for the other people of his society and becomes a cause of the moral ruin of many persons, who, in their turn, leave the evil heritage, with all its evil influences on the countless succeeding generations. Therefore justice demands that a part of the responsibility for all these evil results should be laid on him as long as the effects last.
The case of the heritage of virtue may also be considered in the same way. All those persons, up to the first man, who left the heritage of virtue for us are entitled to a share of its reward. Then we shall also be entitled to a share of its reward, if we exert to preserve and increase it. Then we shall also be entitled to a share of its reward, if we leave behind us the legacy of virtue for others to follow, as long as its good effects go on influencing mankind and they benefit from it.
Every sensible man will admit that the manner of retribution presented by the Qur'an is the only right and perfect way of doing full justice: The right understanding of this tact will help remove the misunderstandings of those who regard this worldly life to be quite sufficient for retribution, and also of those who believe that this purpose is achieved by the process of the transmigration of souls. As a matter of fact, neither of the groups has fully grasped the extent, the effects and the consequences of human acts, nor the full requirements of just retribution. Obviously it is not possible today to punish here the countless generations, which contributed to the good or bad acts of a person during his life in this world. Moreover the effects of his good or bad acts do not cease with his death, but will continue through the countless centuries and will go on influencing the lives of countless people after him. Justice requires that these should he credited to his account as long as the effects last. Therefore the requital of justice is impossible in this worldly life, when even the smallest part of the effects of Iris acts has not yet appeared. Then there are not enough means for awarding fully the rewards or the punishments for the acts of a man in the limited life of this world and its limited means. Just imagine the extent of the guilt of a man who kindles the fire of a World War and destroys and ruins the lives of millions of people and leaves a legacy of evil that will continue to influence the lives of billions of people for centuries. Can any punishment in this world, physical or moral, or spiritual, however severe that may be, fully meet the requirements of justice? Or can any reward in this world, however great, fully recompense a man for his lifelong work for the good of humanity, which goes on benefiting millions of people for thousands of years?
Anyone, who will consider the problem of retribution from this point of view, will come to the inevitable conclusion that for the requital of full justice, there should be another world, where all the generations should be mustered together with their accounts: then there should be an all-knowing and all-aware judge to administer justice and there should also be human beings with eternal lives to receive the reward or punishment, as the case may be, and all kinds of means for the dispensation of justice as well.
This way of thinking also helps expose the basic error of the doctrine of transmigration, which has led its advocates to believe in the passage of souls after death into other bodies according to their merits or demerits. This is because they have not been able to grasp the fact that for the retribution of the acts of this short worldly life, a thousand times longer life is required. It is thus obvious that another reborn life of the same length in this world will not help solve the problem of retribution because it is quite insufficient for the purpose. On the contrary, this will make it all the more complex, for the circle of transmigration will go on multiplying such acts-good or bad-and increasing their effects more and more in an endless chain. Thus, according to the doctrine of transmigration, the account of person will remain unsettled for ever.
The Qur'an has described at several places this sort of altercation between the dwellers of Hell. For instance, in XXXIV:31-33, it says, "I wish you could see these unjust people when they will be standing before their Lord and accusing one another. The people, who were made weak, will say to those who posed as mighty ones, `But for you, we would have been believers'. But the so called mighty ones will reply, 'What, did we keep you back from the Guidance when it came to you? No, you yourselves were the guilty ones'. " In simple words, it means, "You yourselves are to blame for discarding the Guidance. You fell an easy prey to the greed with which we tempted you, to become ow slaves, because you yourselves were greedy for wealth. When we wanted to buy yow conscience, you sold it because you yourselves were eager to sell it: when we invited you to the worship of materialism, worldliness, nationalism and the like, you accepted our invitation, because you had an aversion W God-worship and a liking for this-worldliness. That is why you rejected the invitation of the worshipers of Allah, and accepted ours. When we deluded you with false religious things, you at once accepted these, because you yourselves were cherishing the same in yow hearts. For instance, you were in starch of such gods as might fulfill your desires without demanding any moral obligations from you, and we supplied such ones, and you accepted them. You were in search of such intercessors as might take the responsibility for your entry into Paradise, allowing you to do whatever pleased you in the world, without minding the Guidance of Allah. So we invented such ones and you followed us: you were in search of such religions as might guarantee short-cuts to salvation, freeing you from the hardships, restrictions and sacrifices for the cause of Allah, and permitting you to enjoy all sorts of indulgences, and we invented such easy and pleasant religions for you, and you followed them. In short, we alone arc not responsible for your misguidance but you, too, share it equally with us: if we supplied misguidance, you bought it of your own accord".