In the Name of Allah. the Beneficent. the Merciful.
3. "That in which they differ".
4. "Nay! they shall soon (come to) know,"
5. "Nay indeed! they shall soon (come to) know".
The Great News!
In the first verse, it astonishingly questions: "O what do they ask (one another)?" Then, without expecting them to reply, the Qur'an answers: "Of the Great News".
"That in which they differ".
For the meaning of / naba'-in-`azim /, the commentators have put forth different ideas. Some of them say it means: 'the Day of Resurrection' while some others have meant it as 'the revelation of the Holy Qur'an' and still others have said it means: 'The whole Islamic Principles'. In some narrations it has been commented on to mean 'vicegerency and guardianship'; which will be dealt with later.
Paying careful attention to all verses of the Sura, especially to some points in the following verses and specifically to the sentence: "Verily The Day of Sorting out is (a day) appointed", which has come after mentioning some Signs of Allah's Power in the heavens and on the Earth, and also paying attention to the fact that the most intensive opposition of the Unbelievers was about the existence of 'Resurrection'; all in all most commentators approve of the first idea, that is, in the sense of 'Resurrection' for the phrase / naba'-in-`azim /.
As Raqib says in his book, Mufradat, the term /naba'/ means: 'a great news which is useful and man is acquainted with it or has a strong conviction to it; and these three things are the conditions of /naba'/'.
Therefore, the term /'azim / 'great' is more emphatic and, on the whole, indicates that this news, about which some were doubtful, has been a known fact, great and full of importance, and therefore, its most appropriate meaning is 'Resurrection'.
The phrase 'they ask (one another)' may refer only to the Unbelievers who used to ask each other about the Resurrection; of course, not for their research and comprehension, but, due to their doubts.
It is also probable that the question is from the believers or from the Prophet (p.b.u.h.), himself.
Here, a question may arise that: if / naba'-in-`azim / refers to the Resurrection, which apparently all the unbelievers denied, why does it say "That in which they differ"?
To answer this question, we say that: the denial of the Resurrection, in an absolute form, does not decisively exist even among the unbelievers, because many of them assume that there is the existence of the spirit after death, or in other words, 'the spiritual Resurrection'.
Some of them were doubtful about the bodily Resurrection as in Sura Naml No. 27, verse 66: "Still less can their knowledge comprehend the Hereafter: nay, they are in doubt and uncertainty regarding it, nay, they are blind thereunto!". And some of them completely denied the Resurrection and even said that the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) was mad, because of his claim about Resurrection; as in Sura Saba, No. 34, verse 7-8: "The Unbelievers say (in ridicule): Shall we point out to you a man that will tell you, when you are all scattered to pieces in disintegration, that you shall (then be raised) in a New Creation?". "Has he invented a falsehood against Allah, or has a spirit (seized) him? Nay, it is those who believe not in the Hereafter, that are in (real) Penalty, and in farthest Error". Thus, their rejection of the Resurrection is certain.
It further states: "Nay! they shall soon (come to) know".
"Nay indeed! they shall soon (come to) know".
When they will be informed, they will cry and will be sorry for themselves; each of them saying: "Lest the soul should (then) say: Ah! Woe is me! in that I neglected (my Duty) towards Allah,.... "(Sura Zumar, No. 39 verse 56).
On the Day that they are surrounded by massive punishment, and they wish to return to their former life, they ask: "Is there any way (to effect) a return?" (Sura Shura No. 42 verse 44.).
Even when they, being at the point of death, are sure about the partition and Resurrection; because all the curtains will be removed, then, and the facts of the next world will became obvious, they cry saying: "...O my Lord! send me back (to life)", "In order that I may work righteousness in the things I neglected...", (Sura Mo'minun, No. 23 verse 99-100).
The Arabic term /saya' lamun/ 'they shall soon come to know' begins with 'س' ( s ) which is usually used as a sign for near future, and denotes that the Hereafter is near; that this whole life is just a fleeting moment in comparison to it.
Commentators have suggested different ideas about the twice repeated verse, mentioned above, which says the same facts for emphasis: To inform them that the Hereafter is in the near future, or to tell them two separate matters: (1) That they will see the punishment of this world in the near future, and (2) that they will see the next world's punishment after that (of which, the first idea seems more appropriate).
It is also probable that this refers to the improvement and progress of Man's knowledge, when there will be so many reasons and evidences for the possibility of the Resurrection that even the unbelievers cannot afford to deny, but can only confess, the Reality.
However, the fault in this commentary is that this kind of knowledge is for the later generations of Mankind, which this verse refers to, and not for those who used to live at the Prophet's time (p.b.u.h.) and differed on the existence of the Hereafter.
The proposition of 'vicegerency' and '/naba'-in-'azim/ (The Great News):
As was mentioned earlier, it has been said that the phrase /naba'-in-'azim/ has several meanings: 'the Hereafter, the Holy Qur'an, the entire Islamic Principles', etc. But, the whole concept, taken from the verses altogether, leads us to 'Resurrection' as having the closest meaning.
There are a lot of narrations, some of which have been cited by the Household of the Prophet 'Ahlul-Bait' (p.b.u.th), and some others by Sunni commentators, that say the phrase / naba'-in-'azim / refers to Hazrat Ali's (p.b.u.h.) vicegerency and Imamat (the leadership of the Islamic community), which is a matter of dispute among a group of Muslims, even today. Or it is interpreted as vicegerency, in general. Three of the narrations are as follows:
1. Hafiz-Mohammad-ibn-Mo'min - Shirazi, one of the scholars of the Sunni Community, has narrated a tradition from the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) on the commentary of the first verse of this Sura, and he (p.b.u.h.) said: "It means the vicegerency of Ali; about which everyone will be asked in the grave, and no one in the East or West, in the seas or over the land passes away without the angels asking him about the vicegerency of Amir-al-Mo'minin, and he will also be asked what his religion is, who his Prophet is, and who his Imam is".
2. Another narration says that on the day of the Battle of Seffin, a man from the troops of Sham (Damascus), having his armor on and carrying a Qur'an with him, entered the battlefield while he was reciting Sura Nabaa. Then Ali (p.b.u.h.), himself, faced him and questioned him: "Do you know what /naba'-in-'azim/ (the Great News), in which they differ, is?"
The man replied: "No, I do not know".
Imam Ali (p.b.u.h.) said: "I am, by Allah, the very /naba'-in-'azim/ (the Great News) that you differ in and you quarrel against my vicegerency. You turned away from my vicegerency after you had pledged allegiance to it, and only on Dooms Day will you really comprehend, once more, what you had understood about it before".
3. A narration from Imam Sadiq says: "'The Great News' is the same as Vicegerency".
To gather the contents of these narrations and the commentary of the verse, in the same sense as 'Resurrection', which was previously mentioned, is possible in two ways: (1) The phrase /naba'-in-'azim/ has a broad meaning which includes all of the meanings previously given, though when these verses were revealed the Qur'an insisted on 'Resurrection' more than anything else. Still, this does not hinder us from finding more interpretations, of the verse, other than the above and (2) as we know and as it has been mentioned repeatedly, the Qur'an has various meanings; that is, a verse may have several meanings, in different dimensions, among which only one is obvious by the apparent words and the other meanings are hidden, but they can be found with the help of other explanations and are not clear to anyone except 'the distinguished ones'.
This is not the only verse that has obvious and hidden meanings. There are many other verses, in the Holy Qur'an, of which the Islamic narrations contain different commentaries.
But, we emphatically state that it is not possible to understand the hidden meanings of the Qur'an without the clear explanations or commentaries from the Prophet or sinless Imams (p.b.u.th.), and the existence of hidden meanings, in the Qur'an, should not be a possible way of misusing it by the mischief-makers who comment on the verses in whatever way they wish.
Why is the Resurrection emphasized on so much?
It was mentioned, before, that the most important thing which is emphasized on and spoken about, in the thirtieth part of the Holy Qur'an; whose Suras are mostly Meccan, is the Resurrection and Man's state in the Hereafter.
This is so because, for the improvement of Man, the first step is to know that there is a Reckoning Day. And there is a flawless Court in which nothing is hidden from its Judges; a Court where you can find no transgression, no oppressor, and no mistake.
Neither recommendations nor bribes are useful therein. No one can tell a lie or deny the Truth. In short, there is no way to flee from the grip of punishment, there; the only way is staying away from sin, here; in this world.
The belief in there being such a Court shakes Man, awakens the sleeping souls, makes the spirit of piety and responsibility come alive, and invites human beings to be careful of their duties.
Generally, the main factor in the appearance of corruption, in any environment, is one of two following points: (1) the weakness of the watchmen, or (2) the weakness of judicial organization.
If the watchful guards look over the deeds of Man, and careful courts verify the offenders' crimes and let no mischief leave without penalty, then, in such a safe and sound environment, surely inequity, corruption, transgression, and rebellion will decrease to the minimum.
When the worldly life, under the control of its watchmen and courts is so, then Man's divine spiritual life is obvious.
Belief in an Omnipresent Unity that: "...From whom is not hidden he least little atom...." (Sura Saba No. 34 verse 3), and belief in the existence of Resurrection, which according to Sura Zilzal No. 99. verses 7-8: "So, whoever has done an atom's weight of good shall behold it!". "And whoever has done an atom's weight of evil shall behold it", nothing will be forgotten and everything will be in front of Man. This kind of belief supplies such a piety in Man that can guide him to the path of charity and goodness throughout his life.
 Risa'lat-ul-I'tiqad, Abu Bakr-Mohammad-ibn-i-Shirazi (Based on Ihqaq-ul-Haqq, vol. 4, p. 484).
 Tafsir-i-Borhan, vol. 4. p. 420, Tradition 9.
vol. 4, p. 419, Tradition 3.