In the Name of God, the Merciful, the Beneficent
They say: “If we were to follow the guidance along with you, we would be torn away from our land.” Have We not given them a secure sanctuary to which are brought the fruits of all things, as a provision from Us? But most of them have no knowledge. How many a community that exulted in its life (of ease and plenty) have We destroyed. The dwellings they left behind were but scarcely inhabited. It is We who are the only heirs. Your Lord would never destroy a community without first sending them a messenger who would recite to them Our revelations. Never would We destroy a community unless its people are intent on wrongdoing. Whatever you are given is but for the enjoyment of life in this world and for its embellishment, but that which is with God is much better and more enduring. Will you not use your reason? Is the one to whom We have given a goodly promise which he shall certainly see fulfilled comparable to one whom We have given much of the enjoyment of this world but who, on Resurrection Day, will be one of those brought before Us?
(The Story, Al-Qasas: 28: 57-61)
The surah then mentions what the unbelievers in Makkah said to the Prophet (peace be upon him) by way of justifying their negativity to his message. Basically, they would lose their power vis-à-vis neighboring Arab tribes which revered the Ka'aba, honored its custodians and venerated its idols. Those tribes would collaborate against them, or perhaps other enemies from outside Arabia would drive them away from their land as they could no longer rely on support from neighboring tribes. The Qur’an clearly shows them where security lies and what they should fear, citing both their history and their current state of affairs. This follows what was stated earlier in the surah about Moses and Pharaoh. It takes the unbelievers on a further round showing them the true causes of ruin, not least ingratitude for God’s blessings, denying His messengers, and turning a blind eye to His signs. This is followed by further verses that clearly outline true values. Thus, this present life, with all its pleasures, appear infinitesimal when compared to what God has in store for those who truly believe:
“They say: ‘If we were to follow the guidance along with you, we would be torn away from our land.’ Have We not given them a secure sanctuary to which are brought the fruits of all things, as a provision from Us? But most of them have no knowledge.”
Theirs is a superficial outlook, evaluating things by earthly standards. That is why the Quraysh imagined, as many other people do, that following the guidance God has given exposes them to danger and tempts their enemies to attack them. They think it will deprive them of support and bring about their ruin: “They say: ‘If we were to follow the guidance along with you, we would be torn away from our land.’” (Verse 57) They do not deny that what the Prophet advocated is proper guidance, but they fear their enemies will tear them away from their land. They forget God, the only One who provides support and protection. They overlook the fact that no force on earth can overcome them when they enjoy God’s support, and none can give them victory should God withdraw His support from them. Faith has just simply not touched their hearts. Had it done so, they would have had a different measure with which to appraise hostile forces and powers. Indeed, they would have had a completely different outlook, realizing that true security is found in enjoying God’s support, and that fear results from lack of His guidance. For certain, following God’s guidance is directly linked with real power and dignity. This is neither myth nor something said to comfort and reassure people. It is a profound truth, which ensues from following God’s guidance. For this brings people into harmony with the laws that govern the universe and all powers operating in it. It enables them to make use of such powers for the benefit of mankind. It is God who has created the universe and set in operation all its laws. Those who follow God’s guidance can only derive strength from all this.
The guidance provided by God lays down a perfect and practical way of life. When it is implemented, it achieves victory on earth, in addition to leading to happiness in the life to come. Its great distinctive feature is that it allows for no separation between what promotes happiness in this life and what achieves it in the life to come. It does not negate man’s interest in this world for the sake of the world beyond. It joins them together to achieve goodness in the heart, society and life as a whole. Thus, this present life is seen as the time for planting while the next life is the time for harvesting. This can only be achieved through following divine guidance and addressing all actions to God, aiming to earn His pleasure.
Every time a community followed God’s guidance, it ultimately won power, security and sovereignty. This after it completed its preparations to shoulder the trust of being in charge. This is a law that has never failed.
Many are those who fear the consequences of implementing divine law and following God’s guidance. They fear the hostility and the scheming of those who are hostile to divine faith, the collaboration of enemy powers and their economic and general sanctions. But all these fears are based on myth, just like those of the Quraysh when they said to the Prophet: “If we were to follow the guidance along with you, we would be torn away from our land.” (Verse 57) When those very people eventually embraced God’s guidance and implemented its rules, they were able to extend their authority over vast areas to the east and the west in less than a quarter of a century.
At the time, God gave them an answer that demonstrated the fallacy of their excuses. Who had given them security, and placed the Sacred Mosque in their land? Who was it who had made people from all over the world yearning to visit their land? Such visitors brought with them all manner of fruit and goods, presenting them in this sacred land while they were produced in unfamiliar areas and in different seasons.