11:21 It is they who have squandered their own selves – for [on the Day of Resurrection] all their false imagery will have forsaken them:
Explaining this verse, Ibn ‘Abbas mentions that some of the pagan chieftains of Mecca said, “O Muhammad, cause the mountains of Mecca to be turned into gold if thou art truly an apostle of God”, while others exclaimed derisively, “Bring before us angels who would bear witness to thy being a prophet!” – whereupon the above verse was revealed (Razi). Cf. 6:8 and 17:90-93.
11:22 Truly it is they, they who in the life to come shall be the losers!
c., “and so it is He who will cause the truth to prevail”. Regarding the Prophet’s denial of any ability on his part to perform miracles,
11:23 Behold, [only] those who attain to faith and do righteous deeds and humble themselves before their Sustainer – [only] they are destined for paradise, and there shall they abide.
For my rendering of the particle am at the beginning of this sentence as “and”, see surah 10, note 61.
11:24 These two kinds of man may be likened to the blind and deaf and the seeing and hearing. Can these two be deemed alike in [their] nature? Will you not, then, keep this in mind?
i.e., that a divine writ like the Qur’an could have been “invented” by a human being.
11:25 And Indeed, [it was with the same message that] We sent forth Noah unto his people: “Behold, I come unto you with the plain warning
Lit., “if they [i.e., your poets and wise men] do not respond to your call”. Cf. 2:24, where a similar challenge is followed by the words, “And if you cannot do it – and most certainly you cannot do it – then …”, etc.
11:26 That you may worship none but God – for, verily, I fear lest suffering befall you on a grievous Day!”
Lit., “only by God’s knowledge”.
11:27 But the great ones among his people, who refused to acknowledge the truth, answered: “We do not see in thee anything but a mortal man like ourselves; and we do not see that any follow thee save those who are quite obviously the most abject among us; and we do not see that you could be in any way superior to us: on the contrary, we think that you are liars!”
i.e., although their good deeds will be taken fully into account on Judgment Day, they will be outweighed by their refusal to believe in the resurrection and the life to come.
11:28 Said [Noah]: “O my people! What do you think? If [it be true that I am taking my stand on a piece of clear evidence from my Sustainer, who has vouchsafed unto me grace from Himself – [a revelation] to which you have remained blind -: [if this be true,] can we force it on you even though it be hateful to you?
This interpolation is based on the interpretation given by Baghawi, Zamakhshari, and Razi.
11:29 “And, O my people, no benefit do I ask of you for this [message]: my reward rests with none but God. And I shall not repulse [any of] those who have attained to faith.” Verily, they [know that they] are destined to meet their Sustainer, whereas in you I see people without any awareness [of
right and wrong]!
Lit., “which a witness from Him recites”, or “announces”. According to Zamakhshari, Razi, and other classical commentators, this phrase refers to the Qur’an; hence my rendering of shahid as “testimony”. If, as some commentators believe, this term refers to the Prophet or, alternatively, to the Angel Gabriel who transmitted the revelation to him. shahid should be translated as “witness”. Whichever interpretation one adopts, the meaning remains the same, for – as Ibn Kathir points out in his commentary on this verse – “the Qur’an was revealed through Gabriel to Muhammad, and was conveyed by the latter to the world.
11:30 And, O my people, who would shield me from God were I to repulse them? Will you not, then, keep this in mind?
Sc., “and shall, therefore, attain to happiness in the hereafter”. The ijaz (elliptic mode of expression) employed in this passage is comparable in its subtlety to that in 10:103.