woes with which we threatened them, or whether we cause thee first to die, unto us shall they be brought back.
And we have already sent apostles before thee: of some we have told thee, and of others we have told thee nothing: but no apostle had the power to work a miracle unless by the leave of God. But when God's behest cometh, everything will be decided with truth: and then they perish who treated it as a vain thing.
It is God who hath given you the cattle that on some of them ye may ride, and of some may eat:
(Other advantages too do ye derive from them)—and that by them ye may effect the projects ye cherish in your breasts; for on them, and on ships are ye borne:
And He sheweth you His signs: which, then, of the signs of God will ye deny?
Have they not journeyed in this land, and seen what hath been the end of those who flourished before them? More were they than these in number and mightier in strength, and greater are the traces of their power remaining in the land: yet their labours availed them nothing.
And when their apostles had come to them with the tokens of their mission, they exulted in what they possessed of knowledge; but that retribution at which they scoffed, encompassed them.
And when they beheld our vengeance they said, “We believe in God alone, and we disbelieve in the deities we once associated with Him.”
But their faith, after they had witnessed our vengeance, profited them not. Such the procedure of God with regard to his servants who flourished of old. And then the unbelievers perished.
- It is possible that Muhamtnad, conscious of his ignorance of Jewish history, intends in this verse to screen himself from the charge of passing over the histories of many of their prophets.
- The wealth of Mecca, although it still numbered about 12,000 inhabitants (as well as of Arabia generally), had much declined at the time of Muhammad, owing mainly to the navigation of the Red Sea, under the Roman dominion over Egypt, which of course impoverished the tribes situated on the line of the old mercantile route southward. Mecca, however, was still to a certain extent prosperous. Comp. Sura [lxi.] xliii. 28.