And when their eyes, those of the men of the Heights, are turned towards, in the direction of, the inhabitants of the Fire, they shall say, ‘Our Lord, do not assign us, to the Fire, with the evildoing folk’.
And when their eyes are turned towards the inhabitants of the Fire: in other words, they do not look at them willingly or out of any compassion, mercy or satisfaction rather out of loathing and in passing, as though something had made their eyes turn to [look at] them; 'Our Lord, do not assign us with the evildoing folk', that is, do not cause our hearts to deviate after You have guided us [Q. 3:8], just as the Commander of the Believers ʿAlī, peace be upon him, said, 'I seek refuge with God from misguidance after guidance'. The Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, 'Lord God, establish my heart firmly upon Your religion', whereupon it was said to him, 'But has not God forgiven you your past sins and those that will beḍ', to which he replied, 'And what would assure me that the likeness of the heart is not as the likeness of a feather in an open expanse the winds turning it over as they wishḍ'.
After Allah mentioned that the people of Paradise will address the people of the Fire, He stated that there is a barrier between Paradise and the Fire, which prevents the people of the Fire from reaching Paradise. Ibn Jarir said, "It is the wall that Allah described,
(So a wall will be put up between them, with a gate therein. Inside it will be mercy, and outside it will be torment.) 57:13 It is also about Al-A`raf that Allah said,
وَعَلَى الاٌّعْرَافِ رِجَالٌ
(and on Al-A`raf will be men).'' Ibn Jarir recorded that As-Suddi said about Allah's statement,
(And between them will be a screen) "It is the wall, it is Al-A`raf.'' Mujahid said, "Al-A`raf is a barrier between Paradise and the Fire, a wall that has a gate.'' Ibn Jarir said, "Al-A`raf is plural for `Urf, where every elevated piece of land is known as `Urf to the Arabs.'' As-Suddi said, "Al-A`raf is so named because its residents recognize (Ya`rifun) the people. Al-A`raf's residents are those whose good and bad deeds are equal, as Hudhayfah, Ibn `Abbas, Ibn Mas`ud and several of the Salaf and later generations said.'' Ibn Jarir recorded that Hudhayfah was asked about the people of Al-A`raf and he said, "A people whose good and bad deeds are equal. Their evil deeds prevented them from qualifying to enter Paradise, and their good deeds qualified them to avoid the Fire. Therefore, they are stopped there on the wall until Allah judges them.'' Ma`mar said that Al-Hasan recited this Ayah,
لَمْ يَدْخُلُوهَا وَهُمْ يَطْمَعُونَ
(and at that time they will not yet have entered it (Paradise), but they will hope to enter (it).) Then he said, "By Allah! Allah did not put this hope in their hearts, except for an honor that He intends to bestow on them.'' Qatadah said; "Those who hope are those among you whom Allah informed of their places.'' Allah said next,
(And when their eyes will be turned towards the dwellers of the Fire, they will say: "Our Lord! Place us not with the people who are wrongdoers.'') Ad-Dahhak reported that Ibn `Abbas said, "When the people of Al-A`raf look at the people of the Fire and recognize them, they will supplicate, `O Lord! Do not place us with the people who are wrongdoers.'''
Maududi - Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi - Tafhim al-Qur'an
The people on 'the Heights' will be those with pending cases. While their positive sides will not be so strong as to merit admission into Paradise, their negative sides will not be so weak as to condemn them to Hell. Therefore they will wait for the decisions of their cases on 'the Height' between Paradise and Hell.