28. That is, Allah has not created the earth and the heavens for mere sport, but it is a wise system with a purpose. In this system it is absolutely unimaginable that the people who may have accomplished good deeds by the right use of the powers and means and resources granted by Allah, and the people who may have spread mischief and wickedness by their wrong use, should end up ultimately in the dust after death, and there should be no life Hereafter in which their good and bad deeds should lead to good or bad results according to justice. If this were so, this universe would be the plaything of a thoughtless being, and not a purposeful system devised by a Wise Being. (For further explanation, see, (Surah Al-Anaam: 73); (Surah Younus, Ayats 5-6), (Surah Ibrahim, Ayat 19), (Surah An-Nahl, Ayat 3), (Surah Al- Ankabut, Ayat 44 and E.Ns 75, 76); (Surah Ar-Room, Ayat 8 and E.N. 6) on it.
29. In this context the sentence clearly means: If the good people are not rewarded for their goodness, and the wicked are not punished for their wickedness, and the grievances of the oppressed are not redressed, it would be injustice. There cannot be such an injustice in the kingdom of God. Likewise, there cannot also be the other kind of injustice that a good man be given a lesser reward than what is due to him, or a bad man be given a greater punishment than what he deserves.
30. “Desire his god” implies that one should become a slave of his lusts and desires. He should do whatever he likes whether God has forbidden it, and should not do what he dislikes, whether God has made it obligatory. When a man starts obeying somebody like this, it means that his deity is not God but the one whom he is obeying without question, no matter whether he calls him his lord (with the tongue) or not, and carves out an image of him and worship him or not. For when he has worshiped him directly without question, it is enough to make him a deity and after this practical shirk one cannot be absolved from the guilt of shirk only because he did not call the object of his worship as his deity with the tongue, nor prostrated himself before it. The major commentators also have given the same commentary of this verse. Ibn Jarir says: The forbidden things by Allah are forbidden. He does not regard the things made lawful by Him as lawful. Abu Bakr al-Jassas gives this meaning: He obeys his desires as one should obey his God. Zamakhshari explains it, thus: He is obedient to the desires of his self. He follows his self wherever it beckons him, as if he serves him as one should serve his God. (For further explanation, see (E.N. 56 of Surah Al- Furqan); (E.N. 63 of Surah Saba); (E.N. 53 of Surah YaSeen), and (E.N. 38 of Surah Ash-Shura).
31. The words adalla hulla-huala ilm-in may either mean: The person in spite of being knowledgeable was driven astray by Allah, for he had become a slave of his desires; or Allah, by virtue of His knowledge that he had made his desires as his god, drove him astray.
32. For the commentary of letting a person go astray and setting a seal upon his heart and ears and a covering on his eyes, see (Surah Al-Baqarah, Ayats 7, 18); (Surah Al-Anaam, Ayat 25 and E.N. 28); (Surah Al-Aaraf, Ayat 100); (Surah At- Taubah, Ayats 87, 93); (Surah Younus, Ayat 74 and E.N. 73); (Surah Ar-Raad, Ayat 27); (Surah Ibrahim, Ayats 4, 27); (Surah An-Nahl, Ayat 108); (Surah Bani-Israil, Ayat 46); (Surah Ar-Room, Ayat 59); (Surah Fatir, Ayat 8 and E.Ns 16, 17), and (E.N. 54 of Surah Al-Muminun).
33. From the context in which this verse occurs, it becomes obvious that only those people deny the Hereafter, who want to serve their desires and who regard belief in the Hereafter as an obstacle to their freedom. Then, once they have denied the Hereafter, their servitude of the self goes on increasing and they go on wandering further into deviation. They commit every kind of evil without feeling any qualms. They do not hesitate to usurp the rights of others. They cannot be expected to restrain themselves when there is an opportunity for them to commit an excess or injustice only because of a regard for justice and truth in their hearts. The events and incidents that can serve as a warning for a man are witnessed by them too, but they draw the wrong conclusion that whatever they are doing is right and they should do the same. No word of advice moves them. No argument, which can stop a man from evil, appeals to them; but they go on devising and furnishing more and more arguments to justify their unbridled freedom, and their minds remain day and night engaged only in devising ways and means of fulfilling their own interests and desires in every possible way instead of engaging in a good thought. This is an express proof of the fact that the denial of the Hereafter is destructive for human morals. The only thing that can restrain man within the bounds of humanity is the feeling that man is not irresponsible but has to render an account of his deeds before God. Being devoid of this feeling, even if a person is highly learned, he cannot help adopting an attitude and behavior worse than that of the animals.
34. This is, there is no means of knowledge by which they might have known with certainty that after this life there is no other life for man, and that man's soul is not seized by the command of God, but he dies and perishes merely in the course of time. The deniers of the Hereafter say these things not on the basis of any knowledge but on mere conjecture. The maximum that they could say scientifically is: We do not know whether there is any life after death or not; but they cannot say: We know that there is no other life after this life. Likewise, they cannot make the claim of knowing scientifically that man’s soul is not seized by God’s command but he perishes after death just like a watch which suddenly stops functioning. The most they can say is just this: We do not know what exactly happens in either case. Now the question is: When to the extent of the means of human knowledge there is an equal possibility of there being life after death or there being no life after death, and the soul’s being seized by Allah’s command, or man’s dying of himself in the course of time, what is the reason that these people abandon the probability of the possibility of the Hereafter and give their judgment in favor of its denial? Do they have any other reason than this that they, in fact, decide this question on the basis of their desire and not by any argument? As they do not like that there should be any life after death and death should mean total annihilation and not seizure of the soul by Allah’s command, they make their heart’s desire their creed and deny the other probability.
35. “Our clear verses”: the Revelations in which strong arguments have been given for the possibility of the Hereafter and in which it has been stated that its occurrence is the demand of both wisdom and justice, and its non-occurrence renders the whole system of the universe meaningless and absurd.
36. In other words, what they meant to say was: When somebody tells them that there is life after death, he must raise a dead person from the grave and present him before them. And if this is not done, they cannot believe that the dead would ever be raised to life once again at some time in the future, whereas nobody ever told them that the dead would be raised to life in this world as and when required separately, but what was said was: On the Day of Resurrection Allah will raise all human beings to life simultaneously and will subject them to accountability and punish and reward them accordingly.
37. This is the answer to their saying that death comes to man automatically in the course of time. It means: Neither you get life accidentally nor your death occurs automatically. It is God Who gives you life and it is He Who takes it away.
38. This is the answer to their demand: Bring back our forefathers if you are truthful. To this it has been said: This will not happen now separately for individuals, but a Day has been fixed for gathering all mankind together.
39. That is, it is lack of knowledge and right understanding which is the real cause of the people’s denying the Hereafter; otherwise it is not its coming but its not coming which is against reason. If a person reflects rightly on the system of the universe and on his own self, he will himself realize that there can be no doubt about the coming of the Hereafter.