Sura Al Ahzab continues in verse 63 and states:
63. People ask you concerning the Hour, say: “The knowledge of it is with Allah only. What do you know? It may be that the Hour is near!”
It is related that when the polytheists (Mushrikeen) heard about the punishment of Allah and about the Judgment day, they used to mockingly ask the Prophet (S.A) as to when it will come. Their purpose of questioning was to show their denial for it and to show him that they did not believe that a Day of Judgment will occur. It is about this conduct of the polytheists, the verse stated: ‘The people ask you about the Judgment day (Qiyamah). Say, ‘Its knowledge is only with Allah’ (Tafseer Al Qurtubi vol.14 pg. 221; Sawatut Tafseer vol.12 pg. 73).
Here, the Prophet (S.A) was ordered to inform them that he does not possess such knowledge and only Allah, the Knower of the Unseen has this knowledge. Allah, out of His wisdom, has kept this knowledge hidden, and has not informed even the closest angel nor a beloved prophet of its time. The message of the Prophet (S.A) also informed them that this knowledge being concealed from him did not make his prophethood ineffective, nor was it a condition for any Prophet to have knowledge of the Unseen without it being given by Allah. (Tafseer Al Qurtubi vol.14 pg. 221)
Further in the verse, Allah has asked the Prophet (S.A) to say to the unbelievers/polytheists, ‘What do you know? It may be that the hour is near’. It means that they should ponder for a little while and think that it is possible that the hour of Judgment can be very close to them but they are ignorant of this. This hour is unknown to man and it can occur at any moment, but many people are unaware of this. The Quran itself has indicated to the fact that it is close although many people think it is far. In one verse, Allah says, ‘Draws near for mankind their reckoning, while they turn away in heedlessness’. (Sura Ambiya (21) verse 1). In another verse, Allah says, ‘The Hour has drawn near, and the moon has been cleft asunder’. (Sura Al Qamar (54) verse 1).
In an authentic hadith, the Prophet (S.A) is reported to have said, ‘The hour of Judgment and I, are like these two fingers’, he then pointed to the index finger and the middle finger. (Bukhari, Muslim) The verse thus informs the polytheists that the hour of Judgment may be close to them. They should therefore prepare themselves for that day, instead of wasting their time in asking about its occurrence.
Verse 64 goes further to tell them that they should not feel happy that all is well with them in this life, while they disbelieve in the Judgment day which is yet to come. The verse states:
64. Verily, Allah has cursed the disbelievers, and has prepared for them a flaming Fire (Hell).
The verse tells them that although they seemed to be enjoying the worldly life in spite of their disbelief in Allah, in reality, they were living under the curse of Allah. On account of their actions, Allah had cast them away from His mercy and love, and has turned away from them. Thus, they continue to live under His displeasure and anger. As for the hereafter, they will suffer in an everlasting punishment which Allah has prepared for them.
About this, the verse says: ‘and (Allah) has prepared for them a blazing fire’. This will be the flames of fire, extremely hot and rising high in Hell. The unbelievers and polytheists will be thrown in this flaming fire and will be made to remain there forever. Regarding this, verse 65 of Sura Ahzab states:
65. Wherein they will abide forever, and they will find neither a Wali (a protector) nor a helper.
The verse tells us that while in the blazing fire, the unbelievers will have no one to help them nor protect them from the terrible punishment.
Verse 66 further mentions their humiliating state and says:
66. On the Day when their faces will be turned over in the Fire, they will say: “Oh, would that we had obeyed Allah and obeyed the Messenger
It means that while in the scorching heat and in the blazing fire, their faces shall be turned from one direction to another. These will be overturned like meat roasted on fire, and shall change their color on account of the scorch of the fire. Sometimes their faces will be black and at times they will be red. Whenever the skins are burnt, they shall be replaced with new ones so that the punishment shall continue ceaselessly.
In that state, they (the unbelievers and polytheists) will regret their actions and will lament over their pitiable state. They will say, ‘Oh! If only we had obeyed Allah and obeyed the Messenger’. The verse mentions that at that time, they would reflect on their evil ways and the path of falsehood which they adopted on the face of the earth and will feel sorry for what they had done. They would reproach themselves for having disobeyed Allah and His Messenger, and would wish that they had taken to the path of obedience. They would know then, that if they had rejected kufr (disbelief) and accepted Imaan, they would have been saved from the fire of Hell just as the believers were saved. Then with deep regret over their mistakes, the unbelievers and polytheists will say to Allah:
67. And they will say: “Our Lord! Verily, we obeyed our chiefs and our great ones, and they misled us from the (Right) Way.
Here, it shows that they will put the blame of their disbelief upon their leaders. They will accuse their leaders of misguiding them and will say that they simply followed their chiefs and leaders. They will plead to Allah and say that it was their leaders who invited, encouraged and even forced them upon misguidance which they were on. (In this way, the unbelievers will try to absolve themselves from blame and place it upon their leaders)
Having identified to Allah who were responsible for their misguidance, they will then entreat Allah in the following manner:
68. Our Lord! give them double torment and curse them with a mighty curse!”
They (the unbelievers) will beseech Allah to double the punishment of their leaders and give them twice the amount that they will receive. Their statement shows that they will consider their leaders deserving of double punishment seeing that while they were misguided they also influenced and pulled others into that misguidance. Hence, they deserve to be punished in this world as well as the hereafter. They also need to be punished for their misguidance and for misguiding others. The followers will also appeal to Allah to ‘curse their leaders with a mighty curse’. Here, they will be asking Allah to curse their leaders with the worst type of curse and the most severe one.
Having explained how many people in the hereafter will regret their deeds done in the worldly life, Allah goes further to warn the believers of causing harm to the Prophet (S.A). Regarding this, Sura Ahzab states in verse 69:
69. O you who believe! Be not like those who annoyed Musa (Moses), but Allah cleared him of that which they alleged, and he was honorable before Allah.
Having mentioned about the hypocrites and the unbelievers, and the harms they caused to the Prophet (S.A), Allah cautions the believers in the above mentioned verse, about causing harm and hurt to the Messenger of Allah (S.A). The verse prohibits them from behaving like the Bani Israel who caused harms to their Prophet, Moosa (A.S).
With respect to the harms that were caused to Moosa (A.S) by the Bani Israel, it is narrated in a tradition that the Prophet (S.A) said, ‘The Bani Israel used to bathe naked, but Moosa (A.S) used to cover himself to the extent that none saw his body. (Because of this), some people started to say that Moosa (A.S) had a defect in his body. Either he was suffering from scrotal hernia, leprosy or another defect. On one occasion, Moosa (A.S) went to take a bath in a spring (separated from everyone). There, he took off his clothes and placed it on a large stone. While bathing in the spring, the stone began to roll away with his clothes. Seeing this, Moosa (A.S) came out of the water and began to run after the stone. He continued to chase the stone saying, ‘My clothes, O stone! My clothes, O stone’. This, he did, until he passed in front of some of the leaders of Bani Israel. When they saw Moosa running after the stone, they looked at his body and found that he was the best of them with respect to creation, and the best of them with respect to shape and body features. With this, they realized that he was free from what they accused him of’. After narrating this, the Prophet (S.A) said, ‘It was about this, the Quran said, ‘but Allah cleared him of that which they alleged’. (Al Ahzab verse 69) (Recorded by Al Bukhari and Muslim from the narration of Abu Huraira R.A).
This tradition has been narrated with more explanation at another place. It states that the Prophet (S.A) said, ‘The Israelites used to bathe naked, looking at the private parts of each other. However, Moosa (A.S) used to bathe alone (so that no one can see him). Because of this, the people said, ‘By Allah, nothing prevents Moosa from bathing with us except that he has scrotal hernia. So one day, Moosa (A.S) went to bathe alone (away from the sight of others). He then took off his clothes and placed it on a stone. While in the spring, the stone took off with his clothes and started to run. Seeing this, Moosa (A.S) immediately came out of the spring and ran after it saying, ‘My clothes, O stone! My clothes, O stone’. While running unclothed behind the stone, the Israelites saw Moosa (A.S) and having looked at him carefully said, ‘By Allah! There is no defect with Moosa’. At that time, the stone stopped and Moosa (A.S) got his clothes. However, he took his staff and started to beat the stone to the extent that six or seven marks were left on the stone’. (Bukhari, Muslim – Tafseer Al Qurtubi vol.14 pg. 223, 224 Maktaba Rasheediya; Tafseer Ibn Katheer vol.3 pg. 520 Amjad Academy Lahore Pakistan; Tafseer At Tabari vol.22 pg. 61, 62 Dar Ihya At Turath Al Arabi-Beirut Lebanon)
It is also narrated from Ali (R.A) that the manner in which they caused harm to Moosa (A.S) was that they accused him of killing Haroon (A.S). He (Ali) (R.A), is reported to have said, ‘They harmed Moosa (A.S) by saying that he killed Haroon (A.S). This occurred when Moosa and Haroon left the place of At Teeh and went up on a mountain. While on the mountain, Haroon (A.S) died. When Moosa (A.S) returned to the Israelites, they said to him, ‘You killed Haroon. He was more beloved to us than you and was more lenient to us than you’. Ali (R.A) said, ‘In this manner they harmed Moosa (A.S)’. (In order to clear the name of Moosa (A.S)), Allah ordered the angels to lift the body of Haroon and pass with it in front of the Israelites. In this way, they saw a great sign that guided them to the truthfulness of Moosa (A.S), and there was no indication of murder on the body of Haroon (A.S). It is also narrated that the angels spoke to them regarding the death of Haroon (A.S) until they recognized that Haroon (A.S) died a natural death. In this way, Allah cleared the name of Moosa (A.S). They then carried the body and buried it’. (Tafseer At Tabari vol.22 pg. 63 Dar Ihya At Turath Al Arabi-Beirut Lebanon; Tafseer Al Qurtubi vol.14 pg. 224 Maktaba Rasheediya)
From the traditions recorded from the Prophet (S.A), it has been seen that the Israelites had a custom of bathing naked in front of each other, and would look at each other. Although this was a practice done by everyone, Moosa (A.S) who was a very shy person did not do this. When he needed a bath, he used to go separately from the people and take his bath where no one could have seen him. On account of this, some people started to accuse Moosa (A.S) of having a defect in his body. In order to clear Moosa (A.S) from this allegation, Allah caused a miracle to take place whereby He caused the large stone (rock) to run away with the clothing of Moosa (A.S). It was on account of this, Moosa (A.S) took off behind the stone, being totally unconscious of the fact that he was unclothed. His main concern and worry was to try to retrieve his clothes. In this way, the Israelites looked at his body and immediately realized that they were blaming him wrongfully and that he was free from what they attributed to him. This was the manner in which Allah cleared his name.