Abbas - Tanwîr al-Miqbâs min Tafsîr Ibn ‘Abbâs
(Hath not the fame) the news (of those before them reached them) how We destroyed them (the folk of Noah) We destroyed them by drowning, ('Aad) the people of Hud, We destroyed them by the wind, (Thamud) the people of Salih, We destroyed them by means of the earthquake, (the folk of Abraham) We destroyed them by razing them down, (the dwellers of Midian) the people of Shu'ayb, We destroyed them by the earthquake (and the disasters) the deniers who were swallowed up by the earth, i.e. the people of Lot who were destroyed by being swallowed up by the earth and also by a rain of stones? (Their messengers (from Allah) came unto them with proofs) with commands and prohibitions as well as signs, but they refused to believe in them and Allah destroyed them. (So Allah surely wronged them not) by destroying them, (but they did wrong themselves) through disbelief and giving the lie to the prophets.
Has not the tidings, the tale, of those before them reached them — the folk of Noah, and ‘Ād, the folk of Hūd, and Thamūd, the folk of Sālih, and the folk of Abraham, and the dwellers of Midian, the folk of Shu‘ayb, and the Deviant [cities]?, the cities of the folk of Lot, meaning, its inhabitants. Their messengers brought them clear proofs, with miracles, but they denied them, and so were destroyed. God would never have wronged them, by punishing them for no sin [on their part], but they wronged themselves, by committing sin.
Advising the Hypocrites to learn a Lesson from Those before Them
Allah advises the hypocrites who reject the Messengers,
أَلَمْ يَأْتِهِمْ نَبَأُ الَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِهِمْ
(Has not the story reached them of those before them) have you (hypocrites) not learned the end of the nations before you who rejected the Messengers,
(The people of Nuh), and the flood that drowned the entire population of the earth, except those who believed in Allah's servant and Messenger Nuh, peace be upon him,
(and `Ad), who perished with the barren wind when they rejected Hud, peace be upon him,
(and Thamud), who were overtaken by the Sayhah (awful cry) when they denied Salih, peace be upon him, and killed the camel,
(and the people of Ibrahim), over whom He gave Ibrahim victory and the aid of clear miracles. Allah destroyed their king Nimrod, son of Canaan, son of Koch from Canaan, may Allah curse him,
(and the dwellers of Madyan), the people of Shu`ayb, peace be upon him, who were destroyed by the earthquake and the torment of the day of the Shade,
(and the overturned cities), the people of Lut who used to live in Madyan. Allah said in another Ayah,
(And He destroyed the overturned cities) 53:53, meaning the people of the overturned cities in reference to Sadum Sodom, their major city. Allah destroyed them all because they rejected Allah's Prophet Lut, peace be upon him, and because they committed the sin that none before them had committed homosexuality.
أَتَتْهُمْ رُسُلُهُمْ بِالْبَيِّنَـتِ
(to them came their Messengers with clear proofs.), and unequivocal evidence,
فَمَا كَانَ اللَّهُ لِيَظْلِمَهُمْ
(So it was not Allah Who wronged them), when He destroyed them, for He established the proofs against them by sending the Messengers and dissipating the doubts,
وَلَـكِن كَانُواْ أَنفُسَهُمْ يَظْلِمُونَ
(but they used to wrong themselves), on account of their denying the Messengers and defying the Truth; this is why they earned the end, torment and punishment, that they did.
Maududi - Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi - Tafhim al-Qur'an
These are the common characteristics of all hypocrites. All of them are interested in evil and inimical to good. If some one undertakes to do an evil thing, they would dedicate all their sympathies, counsels encouragements contributions. good wishes, praises and their approvals to such a one. They would join hands co accomplish that evil thing and persuade others to take part in it and encourage tire doer in every way. Moreover, they would show in every way their hearty pleasure if they perceived that that evil thing was progressing satisfactorily. On the other hand, if someone undertakes to do a good thing, they are shocked to Bear the very news of it for it pains their hearts; nay, they do not even like that such a thing should be undertaken at all. Then if they see some one coming forward to help it, they feel very uncomfortable and try their worst to hinder him from it and if he does not give it up, they would wish that he should fail in it. Then all of them have this common characteristic that they do not spend anything at all for good ends irrespective of the fact whether they be otherwise parsimonious or generous. At any rate, their wealth is either for hoarding or for evil deeds. As a matter of fact, they would spend large sums on evil works generously but would not be willing to spend a farthing for good things.
In the preceding verse, they were being mentioned in the third person, but here they are being addressed directly in the second person.
Again they are being mentioned in the third person.
These were the people of Lot.
"They wronged themselves" for they were themselves responsible for their destruction. Allah had no enmity with them and had no desire to destroy them. As a matter of fact, they themselves adopted the way of life that led to destruction, whereas Allah had sent His Messengers to them and afforded them the opportunities of thinking, understanding and reforming. His Messengers admonished and warned them of the consequences of treading wrong paths, and presented very clearly before there the Way that leads to success, and also the ways that lead to destruction. But when they did not benefit from the opportunities that were offered to them to mend their ways, and persisted in treading the ways that led to destruction, they inevitably met with the end for which they were heading. And this horrible end was not due to Allah's will to be unjust to theta but due to their own evil doings."