In the first of these verses, the surah establishes a bond between the Qurâan and earlier revelations, and between Prophet Muhammad, (peace be upon him), and all messengers sent before his time. Thus, all prophets belong to one family which receives the same discourse from God. Their hearts and souls look up to Him as they pursue their course advocating His message. Thus, the last in this family, the Prophet of Islam, feels that he is a branch of a great tree with deep roots, a member of a great family that goes back to the beginnings of history.
âNothing is being said to you other than what was said to the messengers sent before your time. Your Lord is the Lord of forgiveness, but He also inflicts painful punishment.â It is all one message and one faith. Likewise, it is received in the same way: the same rejection and the same objections. Yet it establishes one bond, making one family which endures the same experience and feels the same pain. Ultimately, it follows the same way, leading to the same goal.
How comforting this fact is to advocates of the divine message. It strengthens their resolve to continue along the same way that was traversed before them by Godâs noble messengers, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, Muhammad and the others, (peace be upon them all). How honored and confident the advocates of Godâs message feel knowing that they follow in the footsteps of such a select group. Such a feeling motivates them to go along, caring little for the difficulties and hardships they meet on the way.
It is certainly true: âNothing is being said to you other than what was said to the messengers sent before your time.â The impact this fact can have when it becomes firmly established in the minds of believers is truly profound.
Included in what was said to Godâs messengers, and to Muhammad (peace be upon him), the last among them, was: âYour Lord is the Lord of forgiveness, but He also inflicts painful punishment.â Thus balance is emphasized. A believer then hopes for Godâs grace and forgiveness, never despairing that these will be bestowed on him by Godâs will, but always fearing to incur Godâs punishment. Striking the right balance is an essential characteristic of Islam.
The surah then reminds the Arabs of Godâs blessing by making Arabic the language of the Qurâan. At the same time, it refers to their contentious disputes and rejection. âHad We willed to make this revelation a discourse in a non-Arabic tongue, they would have said: âIf only its verses were clearly spelled out! Why (a message in) a non-Arabic tongue and an Arab (messenger)?ââ They do not listen to it in its Arabic form. In fact, they feared it because it addressed their Arab nature in their own language. Hence, they urged each other to adopt this strategy: âDo not listen to this Qurâan, but drown it in frivolous talk, so that you may gain the upper hand.â (Verse 26) Had God expressed His message in a different tongue, they would still have objected to it, calling for it to be put clearly in Arabic. They would object even if part of it were in Arabic and the other part in a different language. Their notion, therefore, was to argue in all cases and all situations.
The truth that emerges from this argument about the form given to the message is that this book provides guidance and healing to believers. Believersâ hearts appreciate its nature and truth, receive its guidance and benefit from its healing. Those who do not believe remain in confusion, and their hearts do not feel the cheerfulness of its message. Hence, it becomes like deafness to their ears and blindness in their eyes. They recognize nothing, because they are far removed from the nature of this book and its address: âSay: This is guidance and healing for all those who believe; but as for the unbelievers: there is deafness in their ears, and they are blind to it. They are, as it were, being called to from too far away.â
We feel the truth of this statement in every community and generation. Some people are profoundly affected by the Qurâan. It transforms them, giving them a different type of life, and enables them to achieve miracles within themselves and in their environment. Others feel this Qurâan too heavy for their hearts and ears. When they listen to it, they only grow more deaf and blind. The Qurâan never changes; it is hearts that are different. ¬