• If you were to ask: Why is the warning expressed by “you warn (lit. warned) them (andhartahum)” in the perfect tense?
You would be told: So that it might proclaim: “You’ve tried it before, O Muhammad! So you know what’ll happen!”
• If you were to ask: Why does it say “or whether you do not warn them (am lam tundhirhum)” although it is clearly pointless not to warn them?
You would be told: Warning a person may increase his obstinacy, but remaining silent may induce him to think fairly.
• If you were to ask: Why, although the Prophet (UWBP) is both a bringer of glad tidings and a warner, does this verse only warn and intimidate?
You would be told: Because intimidation is fitting for unbelief; and because repelling harm is preferable to attracting benefits and more effective; and because the intimidation here causes the imagination to tremble and makes it realize that after the words “they will not believe (lā yu’minūn),” it will be faced with “whether or not you give them glad tidings [it is the same for them].”
Know that all speech has a literal meaning and a hidden purpose. This too has subtle hovering meanings, and a purpose that unfolds, which is to alleviate the Prophet’s difficulties and relieve his stress, and to console him and advise him to follow the earlier prophets. For most of them were addressed similarly. Noah, even, said after receiving such an address: “... Leave not of the unbelievers a single one on the earth!”(71:26) Also, because the Qur’an’s verses resemble mutually reflecting mirrors, and the stories of the prophets are like a halo around the moon, they look to the Prophet’s (Upon whom be blessings and peace) situation. It is as though this passage is saying: “This is a natural divine law that has to be obeyed.”
Having made this analysis, know that with all their parts this verse and the next one up to “great is the penalty they incur (wa la-hum ‘adhābun ‘aẓīm)” are so delivered that they infer the abomination of unbelief and scorn of it, and cause aversion to it and implicitly deter from it, and humiliate the unbelievers and mark them out, and scare others away from it and threaten them. With their words these verses proclaim that unbelief is a terrible calamity, the loss of vast bounties, the onset of severe suffering, and the cessation of elevated pleasures. They state explicitly that unbelief is the most repulsive of things, and the most harmful. As follows:
The replacement of ‘they do not believe’ (lam yu’minū) with “they disbelieve or reject faith (kafarū)” indicates that due to their lack of belief they