﴿14﴾ وَمَا تَفَرَّقُوا إِلَّا مِنْ بَعْدِ مَا جَاءَهُمُ الْعِلْمُ بَغْياً بَيْنَهُمْ وَلَوْلا كَلِمَةٌ سَبَقَتْ مِنْ رَبِّكَ إِلَى أَجَلٍ مُسَمّیً لَقُضِيَ بَيْنَهُمْ وَإِنَّ الَّذِينَ أُورِثُوا الْكِتَابَ مِنْ بَعْدِهِمْ لَفِي شَكٍّ مِنْهُ مُرِيبٍ
14. And they divided not [to turn away from the Prophets] till after knowledge [as to their true Calling] had come unto them, through the spirit of enmity and envy amongst themselves. And had it not been for a Word that went forth before from your Lord for an appointed term [respite for disbelievers], the matter would have been settled amongst them [the the followers of falsehood would have perished]. And verily, those who were made to inherit the Scriptures after them are in grave doubt concerning it.
The clauses “after knowledge had come unto them” and “were made to inherit the Scriptures” designate that despite their knowledge as to Truth and having inherited the Scriptures, they still tread the path of division. Although the Prophets asked them to keep their solidarity, they were divided and the source of most of divisions is envy, wrong doing, and greed. God Almighty, because of His Lordship, provides man with respites such that he may enjoy the opportunity to reveal his essential character.
The blessed Verse is saying that differences of opinion concerning religious issues were merely due to rebellion and prejudice prevalent in the Age of Ignorance which, despite
evident truth of the Islamic faith, led to denial of Islam and the Holy Qur'an. However, God Almighty granted them respite and postponed their torment because of His Omniscience otherwise these disbelievers could have the same dire fate which had been in store for the peoples of 'Àd and Thamūd. It is worthy of note that followers of certain religions, such as Jews and Christians, were acquainted with the name and characteristics of the Seal of the Prophets (SAW) attested in their Scriptures; however, because of their bias and arrogance, they failed to seek the true religion and submit to the Will of Allah, as a consequence of which they have remained in doubt and suspicion. They failed to comprehend the truth but still entertained doubts in their hearts.