This is the introduction to the discourse. By this the listener has been forewarned to the effect: °What is being presented before you, is not the word of an ordinary being but of that God Who has infinite power." After this, some of Allah's attributes have been mentioned, one after the other, which bear a deep relevance to the following theme:
First, that He is "All-Mighty", i.e. He is Dominant over everything. His every decree concerning anybody is always enforced; none can fight Him and win; none can escape His grasp. Therefore, a person who expects to be successful after turning away from His Command and expects to frustrate His Message after having a dispute with Him is himself foolish. Such notions are only deceptions.
Second, that He is "All-Knowing", i.e. He dces not say anything on mere conjecture, but has the direct knowledge of everything. Therefore, whatever information He gives about the supernatural realities, is lure, and the one who dces not accept it, is following nothing but ignorance. Likewise, He knows in what lies the true success of tnan and what rules and laws and commands are necessary for his well-being. His every teaching is based on wisdom and correct knowledge, which dces not admit of any error. Therefore, if a person does not acecpt His guidance, he only wants to follow the path of his own ruin. Then, nothing from the acts and deeds of man can remain hidden from Him; so much so that He even knows the intentions of man, which arc the real motives of his deeds. Therefore, man can never escape His punishment. The third attribute is that He is "Forgiver of sin and Acceptor of repentance. " This attribute brings hope and causes inducement, which has been mentioned so that the people who have led lives of sin, should not despair but should reform themselves with the hope that if they refrained from their behaviour even now, they could still be redeemed by Allah's mercy. Here, one should understand well that forgiving of sins and accepting of repentance are not necessarily one and the same thing, but in most cases Allah forgives sins even without the repentance. For example, a person commits errors as well as does good, and his good acts become the means of forgiveness for his mistakes, whether or not he had opportunity to show repentance for the errors, but might even have forgotten them. Likewise, all the troubles and hardships and diseases and calamities that afflict man and cause him grief in the world, serve as penance for his mistakes. That is why mention of forgiveness of sins has been made separately from the acceptance of repentance. But one should remember that the concession of forgiveness of errors without repentance only refers to those believers, who are free from defiance and who committed sins due to human weakness and not persistence in pride and sin.
The fourth attribute is that "He is stern in punishment." By this the people have been warned that just as Allah is Merciful for those who adopt the way of His service, so He is stern for those who adopt an attitude of rebellion against Him. When a person (or persons) transgresses the limits where he can still deserve pardon and forgiveness from Allah, then he becomes worthy of His punishment, and His punishment is so dreadful that only a fool would persist in his wrongdoing.
The fifth attribute is that "He is Bountiful", i.e. He is Generous and Beneficent: all creatures are being showered with His blessings and favours every moment: whatever the servants are getting, they are getting only through His bounty and beneficence. After these five attributes, two realities have been stated expressly: (1) That none but Allah is the Deity no matter how many false gods the people might have set up; and (2) that to Him everyone must return: there is no other deity which can call the people to account and reward or punish them. Therefore, if somebody makes another his deity, apart from Him, he will himself face the consequences of his folly.
*2 "To dispute" means using crooked arguments in reasoning, raising irrelevant objections, isolating a word or a sentence from its context, subjecting it to hair-splitting and making it the basis of doubts and accusations, misconstruing words from their true sense and intention so that neither should one understand the meaning oneself nor Iet others understand it. Such a way of dispute is adopted only by those whose difference of opinion is based on iII-will and malice. If a well-intentioned opponent disputes a point, he does so for the sake of arriving at the truth, and wants to be satisfied through discussion whether his own point of view is correct. Such a discussion is engaged in quest of truth and not for refutation. Contrary to this, the real purpose of the malicious opponent is not to understand anything nor to help others to understand, but to degrade and humiliate the other man; he joins a discussion only with the intention that he would not Iet the other man carry his point. That is why he never faces the real problems but launches his attacks only on the irrelevant issues.
*3 Here, the word kufr" has been used in two meanings: for ingratitude and for denial of the truth. According to the first meaning, the sentence would mean: As against the Revelations of Allah this sort of behaviour is adopted only by those who have forgotten His bounties and who have even lost the feeling that it is by His bounty that they are flourishing. According to the second, it would mean: "This sort of behaviour is adopted only by those who have turned away from the truth and are determined not to accept it. " From the context it becomes obvious that here the disbeliever does not imply every non-Muslim, for a non-Muslim who disputes a point in good faith for the sake of understanding Islam, and who tries to grasp thoroughly those things which he fends hard to follow, although a nonMuslim technically, yet that which has been condemned in this verse does not apply to him.
*4 There is a gap between the previous sentence and this, which has been left for the listener to fill. From the context and style it becomes evident that those who adopt the attitude of disputation as against the Revelations of Allah Almighty, can never escape the punishment. Therefore, they shall inevitably meet their doom. Now, if one sees that those people, even after adopting such an attitude, arc strutting about, their business is flourishing, their governments functioning in a grand style. and they are enjoying the good things of life, one should not be misled into thinking that they have escaped Allah's punishment, or that war against Allah's Revelations is a sport which can be adopted as a pastime and its evil consequences warded off easily. This, in fact, is a respite which they have been granted by Allah. Those who abuse this respite for doing more mischief arc indeed preparing for an ignominious end.(40:5) Before them the people of Noah also gave the lie (to Messengers), and so did many parties after them. Each nation sallied forth against its Messenger to seize him, and they disputed with false arguments seeking therewith to repudiate the Truth. Then I seized them; and behold, how woeful was My retribution!
*5 That is, `The torment that seized them in the world was not their final punishment, but Allah has also decreed that they shall go to Hell.' Another meaning can be: "Just as the nations of the past have gone to their doom, so will those people also who arc committing disbelief go to Hell, according to the fixed decree of Allah."(40:7) The angels that bear the Throne and those that are around to extol your Lord's glory with His praise, they believe in Him, and ask forgiveness for the believers,6saying: “Our Lord! You encompass everything with Your Mercy and Knowledge.7 So forgive those that repent and follow Your Path,9 and guard them against the chastisement of Hell.8
*6 This thing has been said for the consolation of the Holy Prophet's Companions, who were feeling greatly discouraged at the impudence and rebellious attitude of the disbelievers of Makkah as against their own helplessness, as if to say: Why do you feel grieved at what these mean and worthless people say? You have the support of the angels who bear the Divine Throne and of those who stand around it; they are interceding with Allah for you." The mention of the angels who bear the Divine Throne and of those who stand around it, has been made, instead of the common angels, to impress the fact that not to speak of the common angels of Divine Kingdom, even the angels who are the pillars of this Kingdom, being nearest in rank and station to Allah, bear deep sympathy and regard for you. Then the words: °They affirm faith in Him and ask forgiveness for the believers", show that the relationship of the faith is the real relationship, which has joined the heavenly creatures and the earthly creatures together, and which has induced sympathy and esteem in the angels stationed around the Throne for the mortal humans inhabiting the earth, who affirm faith in Allah just like them. The angels' affirming the faith in Allah does not mean that they could disbelieve, and they adopted belief instead of disbelief, but it means that they believe in the sovereignty of AIlah, the One, alone there is no other being that may be commanding them and they submit before it in utter obedience. When the same attitude and behaviour was adopted by the human believers, a strong relationship of cherishing a common creed and faith was established between them and the angels in spite of the great disparity in species and remoteness in rank and station.
*7 That is, `The weakness, lapses and errors of Your servants are not hidden from You: You indeed know everything, but like Your knowledge Your Mercy also is infinite; therefore, forgive the poor creatures in spite of knowing their errors." Another meaning can be: "Forgive by Your Mercy all those about whom by Knowledge You know that they have repented sincerely and have, in reality, adopted Your Way."
*8 To forgive and to save from the torment of Hell are although Irrelatives, and there seems to be no need to mention the other when one has been mentioned, this style, in fact, reflects the deep interest the angels have in the believers. It is customary that when a person who is deeply involved in a matter. finds an opportunity to make submissions before a judge, he presents the same petition humbly over and over again, in different ways, and does not rest content with making the petition just once.
*9 "Who ... way": 'Who have given up disobedience and rebellion, adopted obedience and followed the way which You Yourself have shown."(40:8) Our Lord, admit them to the everlasting Gardens You have promised them10 and those of their fathers and spouses and progeny that were righteous.11 Surely You alone are Most Mighty, Most Wise;
*10 Here again there is the same state of solicitude as referred to in E.N. H above. Obviously. forgiving and saving from Hell by itself amounts to admitting to Paradise. And then soliciting Allah for granting the believers the same Paradise which He Himself has promised theta, seems to be unnecessary, but the angels are so earnest in their desire of well-being for the believers that they go on repeating their good wishes for them although they know that Allah will certainly bless them with these favours in the Hereafter.
*11 That is. "Join with them their parents and their wives and children for the comfort of their eyes." This same thing Allah Himself has stated as among the blessings which the believers will be granted in Paradise. For this see Ar-Ra'd: 23 and At-Tur: 21. In the verse of Surah Tur, there is also the explanation that if a person. will deserve a higher rank in Paradise, which his parents will not deserve, he will not be lowered in rank to be joined with them but Allah will raise them to join him in the higher station.(40:9) and guard them against all ills.12 He whom You guard against ills on that Day,13 to him You have surely been Most Merciful. That is the great triumph.”
*12 The word sayyi'at (evils) is used in three different meanings and all three arc implied here: (I) False beliefs, perverted morals and evil deeds; (2) consequences of deviation and evil deeds; and (3) calamities, disasters and suffering in this world, or in barzakh, or on the Day of Resurrection. The object of the angels' prayer is that they be saved from everything which may be evil for them.
*13 "Evils on the Day of Resurrection" implies the dread and terror of the Day. deprivation of the shade and every other comfort, severity of accountability, the ignominy of exposing every secret of life before all mankind, and other humiliations and hardships which the guilty ones will experience in the Hereafter.