Commentary of the Quran (Chapter 2:118)
By: Mohammad Sobhanie
بِسْمِ اللَّـهِ الرَّحْمَـٰنِ الرَّحِيمِ
وَقَالَ الَّذِينَ لَا يَعْلَمُونَ لَوْلَا يُكَلِّمُنَا اللَّـهُ أَوْ تَأْتِينَا آيَةٌ ۗ كَذَٰلِكَ قَالَ الَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِهِم مِّثْلَ قَوْلِهِمْ ۘ تَشَابَهَتْ قُلُوبُهُمْ ۗ قَدْ بَيَّنَّا الْآيَاتِ لِقَوْمٍ يُوقِنُونَ ﴿١١٨﴾
2:118 Those who have no knowledge say, “Why does not Allah speak to us, or come to us a sign?” So said those who were before them. Their hearts are alike. We have certainly made the signs clear for a people who have certainty,
Commentary: The People of the Book and the pagans of Mecca often asked the Prophet (SAW) irrational questions and for unjustified miracles. Instances of these requests are mentioned in Chapter Al-Furgan 25:7-9, Al-Isra, 17:90-96 & Al-Muddathir 74:52, as well as in the aforementioned verse.
The pagans of Mecca who had no knowledge about the scriptures [(لَا يَعْلَمُونَ)] [Tafseer-e-Namoona, Vol.1. Page 322, see also verse 2:113] asked, “Why does not Allah speak to us, or come to us a sign (miracle)?”
The verse continues to say that preceding nations [(الَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِهِم)] who had similar mindsets [(تَشَابَهَتْ قُلُوبُهُمْ)] made similar requests to their messengers. Indeed, Allah (SWT)’s communication is clear to open-minded people who possess inner certainty [(لِقَوْمٍ يُوقِنُونَ)].
The Quran underscores that any miracle, regardless of its magnitude, would never convince an ignorant, stubborn, dogmatist, perverse-minded individual. For example, even if they were handed a divine book in paper that they could touch, they would still say: “This is a plain magic.”
وَلَوْ نَزَّلْنَا عَلَيْكَ كِتَابًا فِي قِرْطَاسٍ فَلَمَسُوهُ بِأَيْدِيهِمْ لَقَالَ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا إِنْ هَـٰذَا إِلَّا سِحْرٌ مُّبِينٌ ﴿٧﴾
6:7 Had We sent down upon you a book on paper, and they had touched it with their hands, those who disbelieve would have said, “This is nothing but plain magic.”
The pagans of Mecca and like-minded people would not believe in the Divine guidance even if angels were sent down to them or dead people resurrected and spoke to them. Above all, even if all their unwarranted requests were fulfilled in front of their eyes [(وَحَشَرْنَا عَلَيْهِمْ كُلَّ شَيْءٍ قُبُلًا)] [Tafseer-e-Namoona, Vol.5. Page 404], they still would not believe in God unless Allah (SWT) coerced them to accept the faith [(إِلَّا أَن يَشَاءَ اللَّـهُ)].
وَلَوْ أَنَّنَا نَزَّلْنَا إِلَيْهِمُ الْمَلَائِكَةَ وَكَلَّمَهُمُ الْمَوْتَىٰ وَحَشَرْنَا عَلَيْهِمْ كُلَّ شَيْءٍ قُبُلًا مَّا كَانُوا لِيُؤْمِنُوا إِلَّا أَن يَشَاءَ اللَّـهُ وَلَـٰكِنَّ أَكْثَرَهُمْ يَجْهَلُونَ ﴿١١١﴾
6:11 Even if We sent down the angels to them, and the dead spoke to them, and We gathered all things before them, they still would not believe, unless God wills; but most of them are ignorant.
Speaking to Allah (SWT): Human beings speak and communicate with each other through sound waves. As we speak, muscles in our larynx tighten the vocal cords, causing this small opening to narrow. When air flows from our lungs through the tightened cords, it produces vibrations. These vibrations produce sound waves. On the other hand, sound waves travel into the ear canal. In the ear, the sound pressure changes into electrical signals that send to the brain through the hearing nerve. The brain then tells you the meaning of the sound.
The essence of Allah (SWT) is unique and He does not communicate like His creation. Hence, the Quran underscores that Allah (SWT) never speaks to humans except through revelations. He reveals His message 1) directly to human faculty [Al-Mu’minun 23:27]] 2) communicating through His angels [al-Baqara 2:97] and 3) indirectly, such as His exchange with Prophet Musa (AS) [An-Nisa 4:164] [Tafseer-e-Namoona Vol 20. P. 487]:
وَمَا كَانَ لِبَشَرٍ أَن يُكَلِّمَهُ اللَّـهُ إِلَّا وَحْيًا أَوْ مِن وَرَاءِ حِجَابٍ أَوْ يُرْسِلَ رَسُولًا فَيُوحِيَ بِإِذْنِهِ مَا يَشَاءُ ۚ إِنَّهُ عَلِيٌّ حَكِيمٌ ﴿٥١﴾
42: It is not [possible] for any human that Allah should speak to him except through revelation or from behind a veil, or send a messenger who reveals by His permission whatever He wishes. Indeed, He is All-exalted, All-wise.
اللَّهُمَّ أَحْسِنْ عَاقِبَتَنَا فِي الْأُمُورِ كُلِّهَا وَأَجِرْنَا مِنْ خِزْيِ الدُّنْيَا وَعَذَابِ الْآخِرَة
[وَقَالَ] and said [الَّذِينَ] those who [لَا] do not [يَعْلَمُونَ] know [لَوْلَا] why does not [يُكَلِّمُنَا] speak to us [اللَّـهُ] Allah [أَوْ] or [تَأْتِينَا] come to us [آيَةٌ] a sign [كَذَٰلِكَ] so (even thus) [قَالَ] have said [الَّذِينَ] those people who are [مِن قَبْلِهِم] before them [مِّثْلَ] like [قَوْلِهِمْ] their words [تَشَابَهَتْ] are like [قُلُوبُهُمْ] their hearts (minds) [قَدْ] indeed [بَيَّنَّا] we have made it clear [الْآيَاتِ] the Signs/Verses [لِقَوْمٍ] for people [يُوقِنُونَ] who believe firmly.