17. "Has the story reached thee, of the Forces"
18. "Of Pharaoh and (the tribe of) Thamud?"
19. "And yet the unbelievers (persist) in rejecting (the Truth)!"
20. "But Allah encompasses them from every point!"
21. "Nay! it is a glorious Qur'an,"
22. "(1nscribed) in a Tablet Preserved!"
Did you see what happened to the forces of Pharaoh and the tribe of Thamud?
The previous verses were about the Absolute Power of Allahand His Sovereignty with some threats for the unbelieving persecutors. Then, to make it clear that these threats are not a mere statement and they are practicable, in the next verses it addresses the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) and says: "Has the story reached thee, of the Forces"
These forces are some large and great troops which fought against Allah's prophets in the past, but all of them perished.
Then two examples of the forces are mentioned: one of them is very ancient, and the other waa not so ancient then. It says: "Of Pharaoh and (the tribe of) Thamud?"
These peoples were those who governed throughout of the world at their time from east to west. Some of them exploited the stable stone of the mountains and built splendid houses and castles with them, so that there were no other people who could match them, in those times.
But Allah destroyed them all. Pharaoh was a proud monarch of a powerful kingdom, with resources and organization, material, moral, and intellectual, as good as any in the world. When he pitted himself against Allah's Prophet, he and his forces were destroyed through water in the Nile. The 'Thamud ', a very old generation, were great builders, and had a high standard of material civilization. But, they defied the law of Allah and perished in a dreadful earthquake and cold terrible storms, which threw them prone on the ground and buried them with their fine buildings. These two factors, water and wind, were of the main necessities of life, but they worked as the means of their inevitable destruction.
Pharaoh and Thamud are two examples who were both very powerful; chosen from all past arrogant generations. They are selected because the Arab pagans knew their names and were partly familiar with their history.
* * * *
Then, in the next verse, it says:
"And yet the unbelievers (persist) in rejecting (the Truth)."
Truth is obvious to all, but the arrogant ones do not follow the 'Way' and do not obey the 'Right'.
The term /bal/ 'and yet' is used, here, for varying the matter and saying that these pagans are as if they are worse than Pharaoh and the tribe of Thamud from the point of arrogance and rejecting the verses of Qur'an. They used all possible means to gain their goal.
So, they should know that: "But Allah encompasses them from every point!" and they are all always within His grasp.
If Allah leaves them alone for a while, it is not due to inability, and if He does not punish them immediately, it is not because they are out of His reach.
The term / wara - 'i - him / 'from behind' points to the sense that they are encompassed by the Divine forces, not only in conditions that they foresee but from a variety of unexpected directions; and cannot escape from Justice and Penalty.
It is also probable that it points to the Knowledge of Allah in regard to their deeds, so much so that none of their words, behaviour, and thoughts are hidden from Him.
Then, pointing to the vanity of their persistence in rejecting the Qur'an and their claim that it was magic, or poetry it says: "Nay.' it is a glorious Qur'an~. "(Inscribed) in a Table! Preserved.!"
It will remain safe and unchanged from the hands of the Wicked, the Satans, and the Soothsayers. Therefore, O Prophet (p.b.u.h.)! pay no attention if they call you a poet, or sorcerer, or soothsayer, or even mad. Do not be worried. Your support is Mighty and your Way is clear. As it was mentioned before, the term / majid / is derived from /majd/ which means 'to excel in glory' and is completely appropriate for the Qur'an, because its contents are broad and glorious and its meaning is vast and exalted both about Divine theology, and ethical morals, as well as religious laws.
The term /lauh/ means 'a broad tablet to write on', while /louh/ means ' thirst ', and also: ' atmosphere '.
The verb, derived from the former, means ' appear and glitter '. But the word is used here in the sense of 'the Tablet on which the Holy Qur'an is inscribed and is preserved'. It, of course, does not mean the ordinary tablets that we use. It is cited in a commentary from Ibn-Abbas that the length of 'the Preserved Tablet' is as long as the distance between the sky and the earth, and its width is as long as the distance between East and West.
Hence, it seems that 'the Preserved Tablet' is the very Knowledge of Allah, which encompasses all the world and is safe from any distortion and alteration.
Surely, the Qur'an originates from the endless knowledge of Allah, and is neither from Man's thought, nor a production from the Satans. Its content, itself, proves this fact.
This is probably the same thing that the Holy Qur'an has called /kitab - un - mubin / 'a Record Clear' and sometimes ' Umm-ul-Kitab' 'the Mother of the Book', as Sura Ra'd, No.13, verse 39 says: "Allah doth blot out or confirm what He pleaseth: with Him is the Mother of the Book".
And in Sura An'am, No. 6.,verse 99 it says: "... nor anything fresh or dry (green or withered), but is (inscribed) in a Record Clear (to those who can read)".
It should also be noted that this is the only situation in 'the Holy Qur'an' in which the term 'the Preserved Tablet' has occurred.