hereafter. Now reflect on this!
As for the repetition of “they (ūlā’ika),” it indicates that in respect of the ultimate cause of guidance and the reason for their being praised and privileged, these two fruits [of guidance and salvation (prosperity)] are independent of and different to each other. Nevertheless, the best [interpretation] is that the second “they (ūlā’ika)” points to the first in addition to [the predicate of which it is the subject] as though it is saying: “This one is learned and that one has been honoured.”
To come to the detached pronoun “they (hum):” besides corroborating the restriction that hints at the People of the Book who do not believe in the Prophet (Upon whom be blessings and peace), it contains a subtle point which is this: the “they (hum)” being placed between the subject and predicate changes the subject into one with numerous predicates. One is mentioned and the rest are referred to the imagination. For the “they (hum)” alerts the imagination to the fact that the predicates are not restricted and urges it to search for suitable ones. Just as you could plant Zayd before the listener and reel off many of his attributes, saying “Zayd is learned, Zayd is clever, he is this, he is that;” so too by saying: “they (ūlā’ika)” then putting the [pronoun] “they (hum),” the Qur’an excites the imagination so that it comes up with things consonant with their attributes. For example, “They are on guidance,” “they shall prosper,” “they shall escape Hell-fire,” “they shall win Paradise,” “they shall succeed in attaining to the vision of Allah’s beauty (May He be exalted),” and so on.
The definite article “the (al)” portrays reality, as though saying: “If you want to see the truth about those who shall prosper, look in the mirror of “they (ūlā’ika)” and it will depict it for you.” Or [its purpose] is to specify them, as though saying: “If you have heard who it is that shall prosper and attain to happiness and you want to learn what they’re like, look at ‘they (ūlā’ika),’ for that is [how they are].” Or [its purpose is] to clarify what is being stated and make it evident, like wāliduhu al-‘abd (his father is [a] slave); that is, the fact that his father is a slave is known and obvious. [For although the predicate should have been indefinite, it was made definite.]
“Who shall prosper (mufliḥūn)” is absolute to make it general. For the Qur’an addresses all classes of people with their different aspirations: some of them want to be saved from Hell-fire; others aspire only to Paradise; and others seek only divine pleasure; yet others yearn for the vision of divine beauty; and so forth. The Qur’an has put it in absolute form to make the table of its favours general so that everyone may pick what they fancy.