﴿71﴾ وَيَقُولُونَ مَتَي هَذَا الْوَعْدُ إِن كُنتُمْ صَادِقِينَ
﴿72﴾ قُلْ عَسَي أَن يَكُونَ رَدِفَ لَكُم بَعْضُ الَّذِي تَسْتَعْجِلُونَ
﴿73﴾ وَإِنَّ رَبَّكَ لَذُو فَضْلٍ عَلَي النَّاسِ وَلَكِنَّ أَكْثَرَهُمْ لاَ يَشْكُرُونَ
﴿74﴾ وَإِنَّ رَبَّكَ لَيَعْلَمُ مَا تُكِنُّ صُدُورُهُمْ وَمَا يُعْلِنُونَ
71. “ And they say: ‘When shall this promise (of chastisement) come to pass, if you are truthful?’”
72. “ Say: ‘May be that it is after you, a part of what you seek to hasten’.”
73. “ And verily your Lord is the Lord of grace unto the people, but most of them are not grateful.”
74. “ And verily your Lord well-knows what their breasts conceal and what they manifest.”
Whenever the Divine prophets warned people concerning Hereafter and the punishment of Allah, some people asked about the time of the occurrence of Hereafter. But in view of the fact that none knows the time of Hereafter except Allah, the prophets did not answer them, and they only warned the people of the principle of the punishment of Allah, not its time.
The pagans, of course, in order to observe the Divine chastisement, had some haste with ridicule, and instead of taking counsel from the warning of their kind prophet and paying attention to their fate, they ridiculed them, as the verse indicates:
come to pass, if you are truthful?’”
This verse addresses the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) but the matter is used in plural form, because the true believers also said the same thing that the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) announced and naturally they are the addressees of the verse, too.
Through the next verse, the Qur’ān, with a very truthful tone, answers this ridiculous statement of theirs, when it says:
Why do you hasten? Why do you consider the Divine punishment so little? Why do you not have pity to yourselves? Do know that chastisement is certainly earnest! Probably the punishment of Allah has come above you because of these very words of yours, and soon will fall over you and annihilate you. What is this ceaseless obstinacy for?
The Arabic word /ridf/ is derived from /radf/ which means ‘to be set after each other’.
Concerning the objective of this punishment, some of the commentators have said that its purpose is the same sharp struck that these obstinate disbelievers received in the Battle of Badr, the first Battle of Muslims against pagans, in which seventy chiefs of the pagans were killed and seventy persons of them were taken captives.
There is also another probability that the purpose of it is the common painful punishment, but at last it was removed because of the existence of the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) among them who was “… a Mercy for (all) the worlds” And Sura Al-’Anfāl, No. 8, verse 33 is an evidence upon this meaning. It says: “But Allah is not to punish them while you are among them, …”
 Sura Al-'Anbiyā, No. 21, verse 107
The application of the Arabic word /‘asā/ (may be) in the verse is from the tongue of the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) and it does not matter, and it is also in the word of Allah, though some commentators have considered something else. It points to the existence of premises required for something, though these premises may be faced with some barriers and they do not lead to the ultimate result.
Then, in the next verse, it states the fact that if Allah does not hasten in punishing you, it is because of His grace and Mercy on you so that you may have enough time to amend yourselves and recompense your past. It says:
people, but most of them are not grateful.”
By verse No. 74, it implies that if they imagine that the delay in their punishment is for the sake that Allah is not aware of the evil and ugly thought they have in their minds, they make a great mistake, because the Qur’ān says:
conceal and what they manifest.”
He knows the secrets of their inward as much as He knows their outward deeds, and principally inward and outward, visible and invisible, all are the same for Him.
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