The surah shows the unbelievers how Godâs power extends over their hearts and minds, even when they are still on earth refusing to believe in Him. Since He is fully aware that their hearts have become corrupt, He lets some evil entities, from among both humans and jinn, befriend them and make what is evil seem fair and goodly. Thus, they lead them astray until they join those who ruin themselves and become liable to punishment: âWe have assigned to the unbelievers companions who made their past and present seem goodly to them, but the sentence has fallen due upon them together with bygone generations of jinn and humans. They will indeed be lost.â
They are too proud to worship God when they are subject to His power. Their own hearts lead them to ruin and ultimately to Godâs punishment. God allocates them wicked companions who whisper in their ears, assuring them that all the evil they see around them is good, and who present their own bad deeds to them in a fair appearance so that they do not see how foul these are.
Perhaps the worst thing that can happen to man is that he loses his balanced judgement and can no longer see how foul or deviant his actions are. In this way, he perceives everything he does as good and fair. Inevitably, though, this leads him to ruin. When the unbelievers reach this stage, they find themselves among the lost herd of past communities that suffered Godâs punishment: âThey will indeed be lost.â
One aspect of what such wicked companions persuaded them to do was to fight the Qurâan when they realized how powerful was its argument: âThe unbelievers say: Do not listen to this Qurâan, but drown it in frivolous talk, so that you may gain the upper hand.â
The elders of the Quraysh in Makkah used to counsel each other to do just this, and they also persuaded the masses to do the same. They realized that they were no match for the Qurâan, its beauty, power and eloquence: âDo not listen to this Qurâan.â (Verse 26). They claimed that it cast a magical spell over their minds and ruined their lives, causing division between a man and his children or a man and his wife. It is true that the Qurâan causes such division, but only through Godâs criterion that separates faith from unfaith, and guidance from going astray. The Qurâan wins peopleâs hearts so that they no longer value any other bond as they do their bond of faith. Thus, it was known as Al-Furqan, meaning âThe Criterionâ.
âDo not listen to this Qurâan, but drown it in frivolous talk, so that you may gain the upper hand.â
Such frivolity is totally unbecoming, yet it was the result of their knowing that they could not combat the Qurâan with logic or consistent argument. Those who persist in such disbelief can basically do nothing other than drown out the voice of the Qurâan with their own frivolities. They used to do this in a variety of ways: Malik ibn Al-Nadr, for example, used to sit and relate accounts of Rustum and other Persian kings in order to impress people so that they would not listen to the Qurâan, while others used to shout and make noises or recited poetry and rhymes. All this, however, came to nothing while the Qurâan retained its power because it is the word of the truth, and the truth is overpowering.
In response to their singular remark they are given a stern warning: âWe shall most certainly give the unbelievers a taste of severe suffering; and We shall most certainly requite them according to the worst of their deeds. Such is the requital of the enemies of God: the fire will be their lasting home: a fit requital for their having knowingly rejected Our revelations.â We soon see them suffering in hell and see how the deluded are so angry with the ones who led them astray. They realize now that it was they who led them to their fate when they persuaded them that their foul deeds were fair and goodly. âThe unbelievers say: Our Lord! Show us those jinn and men who have led us astray. We shall trample them under our feet so that they shall be among the lowest of the low.â They are not merely angry with them; they want to exact revenge: âWe shall trample them under our feet.â What a contrast with their close friendly ties in this present world.
A different type of bond is that which the believers have. These are the ones who take the right path of endeavour to do only what is good. God assigns to them angels to give them reassurance, bring them the good news of their prospects in heaven and to be their guardians, both in the life of this world and the world to come: âAs for those who say: âOur Lord is God,â and then steadfastly pursue the right way, the angels will descend on them, saying: Have no fear, and do not grieve, but rejoice in the good news of Paradise which you have been promised. We are your guardians in the life of this world and in the life to come. There you shall have all that your souls desire, and all that you ask for, as a ready welcome from Him who is much-forgiving, ever-merciful.â
To remain steadfast in pursuing what is entailed by the declaration, âOur Lord is God,â means to keep it alive in oneâs conscience, to give proof to it in oneâs life and to discharge the responsibilities it imposes. This is serious, important and hard work. Therefore, it deserves the abundant grace God grants them: a friendly relation with angels who, as God tells us, reassure the believers with sweet words: âHave no fear, and do not grieve, but rejoice in the good news of Paradise which you have been promised. We are your guardians in the life of this world and in the life to come.â They also describe heaven to them, knowing that they will have there all that they desire and is pleasing to them. They make it even more inviting and pleasing by saying that it is âa ready welcome from Him who is much-forgiving, ever-merciful.â It is a gift from God and a place assigned to them through His forgiveness and endless mercy.