46:21 And remember that brother of [the tribe of] ‘Ad, how – seeing that [other] warnings had already come and gone within his own knowledge as well as in times beyond his ken – he warned his people [who lived] among those sand-dunes, “Worship none but God! Verily, I fear lest suffering befalls you on a day!”
Sc., “without any indication that anyone has been or will be resurrected”. This parabolical “dialogue” is not only meant to illustrate the ever-recurring – and perhaps natural – conflict between older and younger generations, but also points to the transmission of religious ideas as the most important function of parenthood, and thus, in a wider sense, as the basic element of all social continuity.
46:22 They answered “Hast thou come to seduce us away from our gods? Bring, then, upon us that [doom] with which thou threatenest us, if thou art a man of truth!”
See Appendix III.
46:23 Said he “Knowledge [of when it is to befall you] rests with God alone, I but convey unto you the message with which I have been entrusted, but I see that you are people ignorant [of right and wrong]!”
The particle li prefixed to the subsequent verb is evidently what the grammarians call a lam al-‘aqibah: i.e., not an indication of intent (“so that”) but simply of a causal sequence, which is best rendered as “and”, “and so”, or “hence”.
46:24 And so, when they beheld it in the shape of a dense cloud approaching their valleys, they exclaimed, “This is but a heavy cloud which will bring us [welcome] rain!” [But Hud said] “Nay, but it is the very thing which you [so contemptuously] sought to hasten – a wind bearing grievous suffering.
i.e., for having arrogantly, without any objective justification, asserted that there is no life after death.
46:25 Bound to destroy everything at its Sustainer’s behest!” And then they were so utterly wiped out, that nothing could be seen save their [empty] dwellings, thus do We requite people lost in sin.
i.e., the Prophet Hud (see surah 7, note 48). The mention of Hud and the tribe of ‘Ad connects with the last sentence of the preceding verse, inasmuch as this tribe “transgressed all bounds of equity all over their lands” (89:11).
46:26 And yet, We had established them securely in a manner in which We have never established you, [people of later times] and We had endowed them with hearing, and sight, and [knowledgeable] hearts, but neither their hearing, nor their sight, nor their hearts were of the least avail to them, seeing that they went on rejecting God’s messages, and [in the end] they were overwhelmed by the very thing which they had been wont to deride.
Lit., “from between his hands and from behind him”. This idiomatic phrase (explained in note 247 on 2:255) is evidently an allusion to the many warning messages, in Hud’s own time as well as in the almost forgotten past, which ought to have made – but did not make – the tribe of ‘Ad conscious of how far astray they had gone. We have here a subtle, parenthetic reminder that, apart from the revelations which He bestows upon His prophets, God offers His guidance to man through the many signs and warnings apparent in all nature as well as in the changing conditions of human society.
46:27 Thus have We destroyed many a [sinful] community living round about you, and yet, [before destroying them] We had given many facets to [Our warning] messages so that they might turn back [from their evil ways].
i.e., when they beheld, without recognizing it as such, the approach of their doom.
46:28 But, then, did those [beings] whom they had chosen to worship as deities beside God, hoping that they would bring them nearer [to Him], help them [in the end]? Nay, they forsook them, for that [alleged divinity] was but an outcome of their self-delusion and all their false imagery.
Lit., “then they became so that …”, etc. See 69:6-8, describing the sandstorm which destroyed the tribe of ‘Ad without leaving any trace of them.
46:29 And Lo! We caused a group of unseen beings to incline towards thee, [O Muhammad] so that they might give ear to the Qur’an, and so, as soon as they became aware of it, they said [unto one another], “Listen in silence!” And when [the recitation) was ended, they returned to their people as warners.
This relates in the first instance to the pagan contemporaries of the Prophet but applies to later generations as well. – The tribe of ‘Ad were the unchallenged lords in the vast region in which they lived (cf. 89:8 – “the like of whom has never been reared in all the land”). Moreover, the social conditions of their time were so simple and so free of the many uncertainties and dangers which beset people of higher civilizations that they could be regarded as more “securely established” on earth than people of later, more complex times.
46:30 They said “O our people! Behold, we have been listening to a revelation bestowed from on high after [that of] Moses, confirming the truth of whatever there still remains [of the Torah], it guides towards the truth, and onto a straightway.
i.e., intellect and feeling, both of which are comprised in the noun fu’ad.