The Consequences for the Disbelievers
Here Allah consoles His Prophet Muhammad for the disbelief of those among his people who opposed him.
(And if they deny you, so did deny before them the people of Nuh) until His saying,
(and denied was Musa.) means, despite all the clear signs and evidence that they brought.
(But I granted respite to the disbelievers for a while,) means, `I delayed and postponed.’
(then I seized them, and how (terrible) was My punishment!) means, `how great was My vengeance against them and My punishment of them!’ In the Two Sahihs it is reported from Abu Musa that the Prophet said:
(Allah lets the wrongdoer carry on until, when He seizes him, He will never let him go.) Then he recited:
(Such is the punishment of your Lord when He seizes the towns while they are doing wrong. Verily, His punishment is painful (and) severe.) 11:102 Then Allah says:
(And many a township did We destroy)
(while they were given wrongdoing,) meaning, they were rejecting their Messengers.
(so that it lie in ruins,) Ad-Dahhak said, “Leveled to their roofs,” i.e., their houses and cities were destroyed.
(and (many) a deserted well) means, they draw no water from it, and no one comes to it, after it had been frequented often by crowds of people.
(and a castle Mashid!) `Ikrimah said, “This means whitened with plaster.” Something similar was narrated from `Ali bin Abi Talib, Mujahid, `Ata’, Sa`id bin Jubayr, Abu Al-Mulayh and Ad-Dahhak. Others said that it means high and impenetrable fortresses. All of these suggestions are close in meaning and do not contradict one another, for this sturdy construction and great height did not help their occupants or afford them any protection when the punishment of Allah came upon them, as He says:
(“Wheresoever you may be, death will overtake you even if you are in Buruj Mushayyadah!”) 4:78
(Have they not traveled through the land,) means, have they not traveled in the physical sense and also used their minds to ponder That is sufficient, as Ibn Abi Ad-Dunya said in his book At-Tafakkur wal-I`tibar, “Some of the wise people said, `Give life to your heart with lessons, illuminate it with thought, kill it with asceticism, strengthen it with certain faith, remind it of its mortality, make it aware of the calamities of this world, warn it of the disasters that life may bring, show it how things may suddenly change with the passing of days, tell it the stories of the people of the past, and remind it what happened to those who came before.”‘ Walk through their ruins, see what they did and what became of them, meaning, look at the punishments and divine wrath that struck the nations of the past who belied,
(and have they hearts wherewith to understand and ears wherewith to hear) meaning, let them learn a lesson from that.
(Verily, it is not the eyes that grow blind, but it is the hearts which are in the breasts that grow blind.) means, the blind person is not the one whose eyes cannot see, but rather the one who has no insight. Even if the physical eyes are sound, they still cannot learn the lesson.