I have a question regarding the following verse (Yusuf Ali’s translation):
Are they waiting to see if the angels come to them, or thy Lord (Himself), or certain of the signs of thy Lord! the day that certain of the signs of thy Lord do come, no good will it do to a soul to believe in them then if it believed not before nor earned righteousness through its faith. Say: “Wait ye: we too are waiting.” (6: 158)
Can you tell me what signs are being referred to? Some have said this refers to the last signs of the Day of Judgment such as the alleged rising of the Sun from the wrong side.
Any comments would be great.
In the referred verse, one of the demands of the rejecters has been answered. To fully understand the demand as well as the answer to it, we must be clear about a particular aspect of the message of the Qur’an. This aspect relates to the law of God relating to His messengers (Rasu’l).
The Qur’an tells us that Mohammad (pbuh) was not only a Prophet (Nabi), but also a Messenger (Rasu’l) of God. It tells us that when God sends His messenger in a people, these people are not allowed to live on God’s earth if they reject the messenger. It tells us that these people are given time in which to make up their minds and to present all their objections against the messenger (Rasu’l). It tells us that when the All-knowing God decides that these people have been given adequate time and that they are now absolutely clear of the truthfulness of the messenger and thus are not left with any excuse for their rejection, yet are still persistent in their rejection, then God directs His messenger to migrate from the area and subsequently He destroys all those who have rejected His messenger and are still persistent in ascribing partners to God, even after the truth has become completely manifest upon them. The Qur’an refers to the peoples (nations) of the messengers of old – Nuh, Hud, Lut, Sho`aib, Salaih, Musa’ (pbut) – and narrates the result of their rejection. It addresses the people of Mohammad (pbuh) – the Bani Ismai’l – and tells them that if they do not accept the message of God’s messenger (Mohammad) and persist in their polytheistic beliefs and practices their fate shall be no different from that of the nations, which have gone before them (See Surah Al-Qamar, the whole Surah especially verse 43 – 45).
In short, the Qur’an says that it is the unalterable law of God that when He sends His messenger in a people, these particular people are left with no option but to accept His message or to face the punishment of death and sometimes complete annihilation.
It is clear that the direct addressees of the Qur’an (the Arabs of the times of the Prophet) were warned of dire consequences if they persisted in their rejection of the Prophet (pbuh), not only in the hereafter, but also in the life of this world. However, when the Qur’an warned them of these consequences, they would mock these warnings and demand a sign of the all-encompassing punishment.
In the verse under consideration, the Qur’an has referred to such of their demands, reiterating the fact that rather than ask for such signs (of the punishment of God), man is required to use his mind and believe in what he has understood to be the truth. It has also stressed that after the signs are shown to them, they shall then not be given a chance to believe, as that would be the time of the implementation of God’s punishment. Thus, if any one wants to benefit from believing, he must believe before the implementation of God’s decision, for once the decision has been implemented, their belief shall not benefit them.
Keeping the foregoing explanation in perspective, let us now take a look at the referred verse. The Qur’an says:
[Even after the clear signs of the Qur’an, they still persist in their rejection] Are they now waiting for the angels to come to them, or your Lord (Himself), or that some signs of your Lord are shown to them? [They should remember that] the day the signs of your Lord come to them, no good will it do to a soul to believe in them, if it believed not before nor earned righteousness through its faith. [Therefore, O Prophet, ignore their demands and] Say: “[If you would like to wait for the signs of your Lord, then] wait [for them], we too shall wait [till God decides to show his signs.” (6: 158)
The above explanation should clarify that the ‘signs’ referred to in the verse are not any signs of the Day of Judgment, but are signs or samples of the punishment that the direct addressees of the Prophet (pbuh) were warned against, as a consequence of their rejection.
29th July 2000