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What is the occasion of the revelation of Surah al-Nahl? What is meant by "Allah's commandment has come, therefore do not desire to hasten it?"

What is the occasion of the revelation of Surah al-Nahl? What is meant by

What is the cause of revelation of Surah Nahl verse 1?
Concise answer
God, the Exalted, says in the beginning of Surah al-Nahl:
«أَتىَ أَمْرُ اللَّهِ فَلَا تَسْتَعْجِلُوهُ سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالىَ عَمَّا یُشْرِکُونَ»[1]
"Allah's commandment has come for criminals and culprits, therefore do not desire to hasten it; Glory be to Him, and highly exalted be He above what they associate (with Him)."
There are two occasions or causes of revelation for this verse:
1. The Holy Prophet of Islam, peace be upon him and his family, warned people of divine punishments but the pagans would mock him in reaction asking for the punishment of Allah to descend upon them. They told the Prophet (S):
«اللَّهُمَّ إِن کاَنَ هَذَا هُوَ الْحَقَّ مِنْ عِندِکَ فَأَمْطِرْ عَلَیْنا حِجارَةً مِنَ السَّماءِ أَوِ ائْتِنا بِعَذابٍ أَلِیمٍ»[2]
"Remember how they said: "O Allah if this is indeed the Truth from Thee, rain down on us a shower of stones form the sky, or send us a grievous penalty."
Thus, this verse was revealed in response to those pagans promising them that divine punishment would definitely overtake them.[3]
2. Some exegetes have stated in connection with occasion of the revelation of the verse in question: After God revealed the verse "The Hour (of Judgment) is nigh, and the moon is cleft asunder"[4] the pagans said to each other: Muhammad thinks that the Day of Judgment is close; wait and renounce from some evil acts to see what will happen. They waited for a few days and they saw nothing. Thereupon, they said: Nothing is going to happen. That was why they started their evil acts once again. Then, God, the Almighty, revealed the above verse telling the pagans not to make haste as the Day of Judgment would come."[5]
Keeping in view the cause of the revelation of the verse, we shall now deal with the key part of the verse i.e. the command of Allah.
a) Based on the cause of the revelation, first of all, the "Command of Allah" refers to divine punishment.[6]
b) Based on the second cause of the revelation of the verse, the "Command of Allah" is the taking place of the Day of Judgment. As well, though the word "ataa" (came) is the in the past tense but it refers to the future and this usage is only to show that it is definitive and indubitable.[7] A verb is used in the past tense to indicate that something is definitely going to happen. This kind of usage is common in the Quran and in other books. Of course, this kind of interpretation can be considered as close to the first interpretation because the Day of Judgment shall take place with the punishment of the disbelievers and pagans. In any case, some of the exegetes have considered both interpretations as possible and likely.[8]
c) The "Command of Allah" refers to divine rules, commands and duties.[9] Indeed, we did not find any individuals believing in this kind of interpretation. This interpretation has been brought up as a probability together with some other exegetic views.[10]
When it comes to the interpretation of "Glory be to Him, and highly exalted be He above what they associate (with Him)", the exegetes of the Holy Quran have said: "Some unbelievers addressing the Prophet of Islam (S) said: "If what you are saying is true and your Lord shall inflict punishment on us in this world and in the hereafter, know that we are worshipping the idols and they will intercede with God for us and we will be saved from divine punishment. It is for the same reason that God responds to them by saying «سُبْحانَهُ وَ تَعالى عَمَّا یُشْرِکُونَ» "Glory be to Him, and highly exalted be He above what they associate (with Him)". That is to say, God cannot be described in the way the pagans described Him as He has no equal and none can be associated with him and that nothing and none can intercede against His will.[11]

[1] Al-Nahl: 1.
[2] Al-Anfal: 32
[3] Qommi, Ali bin Ibrahim, Tafsir al-Qummi, researched and edited, Musavi Jazaeri, Sayyid Tayyib, vol.1, p. 382, Qom, Dar al-Kitab, third edtion, 1404 A.H; Mughniyah, Muhammad Jawad, Tafsir al-Kashi, vol.4, p. 496, Tehran, Dar al-Kotob al-Islamiyah, first edition, 1424 A.H.
[4] Al-Qamar: 1 «اقْتَرَبَتِ السَّاعَةُ وَ انْشَقَّ الْقَمَرُ»
[5] Wahedi, Ali bin Ahmad, Causes of the Revelation of the Quran, researched by Zaghlol, Kamal Yasyubi, p. 284, Beirut, Dar al-Kotob al-Ilmiyah, first edition, 1411 A.H; Baghdadi, Alaa al-Din, Ali bin Muhammad, Lebab al-Ta'wil, fi Ma'ani al-Tanzil, corrected by Shahi, Muhammad Ali, v.3, p. 6, Beirut, Dar al-Kotob al-Ilmiyah, first 1415 A.H.
[6] Sheikh Tusi, Muhammad bin Hasan, al-Tebyan fi Tafsir al-Qur'an, with a preface by Sheikh Agha Buzurg Tehrani, researched by Qusair Ameli, Ahmad, vol.6, p. 358, Beirut, Dar Ihya al-Turath al-Arabi; Makarem Shirazi, Naser, Tasir Namuneh, vol.11, p. 152, Tehran, Dar al-Kotob al-Islamiyah, first edition, 1374 (solar calendar).
[7] Tabarsi, Fazl bin Hasan, Majma' al-Bayan fi Tafsir al-Qur'an, with a preface by Balaghi, Muhammad Jawad, vol. 6, p. 536 - 537, Tehran, Naser Khosro, third edition, 1372 (solar calendar).
[8] Tabarsi, Fazl bin Hasan, Tafsir Jawami' al-Jami', vol.2, p. 277, Tehran, Tehran University Press, Islamic Seminary of Qom Management, first edition, 1377; Zamakhshari, Mahmood, al-Kashaf 'An Haqayeq Ghawamiz, vol.2, p. 592, Beirut, Dar al-Kotob al-Arabi, third edition, 1407 A.H.
[9] Suyuti, Jalaluddin, al-Durr al-Manthur fi Tafsir al-Ma'thur, vol.4, p. 10, Qom, Ayatollah Mar'ashi Najafi Library, 1404 A.H.
[10] Tabari, Muhammad bin Jarir, Jami' al-Bayan fi Tafsir al-Qur'an, vol. 14, p. 52, Beirut, Dar al-Ma'refah, first edition, 1412 A.H.
[11] Fakhr Razi, Muhammad bin Umar, Mafatih al-Ghaib, vol. 19, p. 168, Beirut, Dar Ihya al-Turath al-Arabi, third edition, 1420 A.H.


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