|The Lesson to be learned from what happened to Those Who Came before|
Allah tells us about the nations who rejected their Messengers in ancient times. He mentioned the severe punishment they suffered despite their great strength, He mentioned the traces which they left behind in the earth and the great wealth they amassed. None of that availed them anything and could not prevent the punishment of Allah at all. That is because when the Messengers came to them with clear signs and decisive evidence, they did not pay any attention to them. Instead, they were content with the knowledge with them, or so they claimed, and they said that they did not need what the Messengers brought them. Mujahid said, "They said, we know better than them, we will not be resurrected and we will not be punished.'' As-Suddi said, "In their ignorance, they rejoiced in what they had of (worldly) knowledge. So Allah sent upon them a punishment which they could not escape or resist.''
(and surrounded them.) means, encompassed them.
﴿مَا كَانُواْ بِهِ يَسْتَهْزِءُونَ﴾
(that at which they used to mock,) means, that which they used to disbelieve in and said would never happen,
﴿فَلَمَّا رَأَوْاْ بَأْسَنَا﴾
(So when they saw Our punishment,) means, when they saw with their own eyes the punishment which came upon them, they said,
﴿قَالُواْ ءَامَنَّا بِاللَّهِ وَحْدَهُ وَكَـفَرْنَا بِمَا كُنَّا بِهِ مُشْرِكِينَ﴾
(We believe in Allah Alone and reject (all) that we used to associate with Him as (His) partners. ) means, they affirmed that Allah is One and denied the false gods, but this was at the time when excuses were to no avail. This is like what Fir`awn said as he was drowning:
﴿ءَامَنتُ أَنَّهُ لا إِلِـهَ إِلاَّ الَّذِى ءَامَنَتْ بِهِ بَنواْ إِسْرَءِيلَ وَأَنَاْ مِنَ الْمُسْلِمِينَ﴾
(I believe that none has the right to be worshipped but He in Whom the Children of Israel believe, and I am one of the Muslims.) (10:90) But Allah said:
﴿ءَالَنَ وَقَدْ عَصَيْتَ قَبْلُ وَكُنتَ مِنَ الْمُفْسِدِينَ ﴾
(Now (you believe) while you refused to believe before and you were one of the the corrupters.) (10:91) meaning, Allah did not accept this from him, because He had answered the prayer of His Prophet Musa, when he said,
﴿وَاشْدُدْ عَلَى قُلُوبِهِمْ فَلاَ يُؤْمِنُواْ حَتَّى يَرَوُاْ الْعَذَابَ الاٌّلِيمَ﴾
(And harden their hearts, so that they will not believe until they see the painful torment) (10:88). Allah says here:
﴿فَلَمْ يَكُ يَنفَعُهُمْ إِيمَـنُهُمْ لَمَّا رَأَوْاْ بَأْسَنَا سُنَّةَ اللَّهِ الَّتِى قَدْ خَلَتْ فِى عِبَادِهِ﴾
(Then their Faith could not avail them when they saw Our punishment. (Like) this has been the way of Allah in dealing with His servants.) means, this is the ruling of Allah concerning all those who repent only when they actually see the punishment: He does not accept that from them. It says in the Hadith:
«إِنَّ اللهَ تَعَالَى يَقْبَلُ تَوْبَةَ الْعَبْدِ مَالَمْ يُغَرْغِر»
(Allah will accept the repentance of His servant so long as the death rattle is not sounding in his throat.) Once the death rattle is sounding and the soul has reached the throat, and the dying person actually sees the angel (of death), then he can no longer repent. Allah says:
﴿وَخَسِرَ هُنَالِكَ الْكَـفِرُونَ﴾
(And there the disbelievers lost utterly.) This is the end of the Tafsir of Surah Ghafir. Praise and thanks be to Allah.