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falawlā
فَلَوْلَا
So why not
kāna
كَانَ
had been
mina
مِنَ
of
l-qurūni
ٱلْقُرُونِ
the generations
min
مِن
before you
qablikum
قَبْلِكُمْ
before you
ulū
أُو۟لُوا۟
those possessing a remnant,
baqiyyatin
بَقِيَّةٍ
those possessing a remnant,
yanhawna
يَنْهَوْنَ
forbidding
ʿani
عَنِ
from
l-fasādi
ٱلْفَسَادِ
the corruption
فِى
in
l-arḍi
ٱلْأَرْضِ
the earth
illā
إِلَّا
except
qalīlan
قَلِيلًا
a few
mimman
مِّمَّنْ
of those
anjaynā
أَنجَيْنَا
We saved
min'hum
مِنْهُمْۗ
among them?
wa-ittabaʿa
وَٱتَّبَعَ
But followed
alladhīna
ٱلَّذِينَ
those who
ẓalamū
ظَلَمُوا۟
did wrong
مَآ
what
ut'rifū
أُتْرِفُوا۟
luxury they were given
fīhi
فِيهِ
therein,
wakānū
وَكَانُوا۟
and they were
muj'rimīna
مُجْرِمِينَ
criminals.

Falw laa kaana minal qurooni min qablikum ooloo baqiyyatiny yanhawna 'anil fasaadi fil ardi illaa qaleelam mimman anjainaa minhum; wattaba'al lazeena zalamoo maaa utrifoo feehi wa kaanoo mujrimeen

Sahih International:

So why were there not among the generations before you those of enduring discrimination forbidding corruption on earth - except a few of those We saved from among them? But those who wronged pursued what luxury they were given therein, and they were criminals.

1 A. J. Arberry

Or if there had been, of the generations before you, men of a remainder forbidding corruption in the earth -- except a few of those whom We delivered of them; but the evildoers followed the ease they were given to exult in and became sinners.

2 Abdul Haleem

If only there had been, among the generations before your time, people with a rem-nant of good sense, to forbid corruption on the earth! We saved only a few of them, while the unjust pursued the enjoyment of plenty, and persisted in sin.

3 Abdul Majid Daryabadi

Why were there not of the generations before you owner of wisdom restraining others from corruption on the earth, except a few of those whom We delivered from amongst them! And those who did wrong followed that in which they luxuriated, and they had been sinners.

4 Abdullah Yusuf Ali

Why were there not, among the generations before you, persons possessed of balanced good sense, prohibiting (men) from mischief in the earth - except a few among them whom We saved (from harm)? But the wrong-doers pursued the enjoyment of the good things of life which were given them, and persisted in sin.

5 Abul Ala Maududi

Why were there not, out of the generations that passed away before you, righteous men who would forbid others from causing corruption on the earth? And if such were there, they were only a few whom We had saved from those generations, or else the wrong-doers kept pursuing the ease and comfort which had been conferred upon them, thus losing themselves in sinfulness.

6 Ahmed Ali

If only there had been men endued with virtue in the ages before you, who could preserve men from doing evil in the world, other than the few We saved from among them. Those who were wicked followed that which made them dissolute, and became sinners.

7 Ahmed Raza Khan

So why were not there some people, from the generations before you, who had some goodness remaining in them in order to prevent (others) from causing turmoil in the earth? Except a few among them – the very ones whom We had rescued; and the unjust remained pursuing what they were given, and they were guilty.

8 Ali Quli Qarai

Why were there not among the generations before you a remnant [of the wise] who might forbid corruption in the earth, except a few of those whom We delivered from among them? Those who were wrongdoers pursued that in which they had been granted affluence, and they were a guilty lot.

9 Ali Ünal

If only there had been among the generations before you (of whom some We destroyed) people with lasting qualities (such as faith, knowledge, virtue, and good deeds, whose goal was what is lasting with God, the eternal life of the Hereafter, and) who would warn against disorder and corruption on earth! Among them only a few, included among those whom We saved, did this. But those who did wrong (against God by associating partners with Him, and against people by violating their rights) were lost in the pursuit of pleasures without scruples, and were criminals committed to accumulating sins.

10 Amatul Rahman Omar

Why, then, were there not among the generations that preceded you persons possessed of excellence who would forbid the perpetration of evil in the land. But there were only a few of those (who acted righteously and) whom We had saved from among them. And (all others) who had committed wrong pursued that (wanton) ease and plenty they were afforded with (and this led to their rebellion and disobedience), and they became those who cut off their ties (with Allâh).

11 English Literal

So where it not for (owners) of a remainder/remnant , from the generations/centuries from before you, (who were) forbidding/preventing from the corruption in the earth/Planet Earth, except a few from whom We saved/rescued from them; and those who caused injustice/oppression followed what they were luxuriated ungrateful and arrogant in it, and they were criminals/sinners .

12 Faridul Haque

So why were not there some people, from the generations before you, who had some goodness remaining in them in order to prevent (others) from causing turmoil in the earth? Except a few among them - the very ones whom We had rescued; and the unjust remained pursuing what they were given, and they were guilty.

13 Hamid S. Aziz

And be you patient, for Allah wastes not the wages of those who do good.

14 Hilali & Khan

If only there had been among the generations before you, persons having wisdom, prohibiting (others) from Al-Fasad (disbelief, polytheism, and all kinds of crimes and sins) in the earth, except a few of those whom We saved from among them. Those who did wrong pursued the enjoyment of good things of (this worldly) life, and were Mujrimun (criminals, disbelievers in Allah, polytheists, sinners, etc.).

15 Maulana Mohammad Ali

And be patient, for surely Allah wastes not the reward of the doers of good.

16 Mohammad Habib Shakir

But why were there not among the generations before you those possessing understanding, who should have forbidden the making of mischief in the earth, except a few of those whom We delivered from among them? And those who were unjust went after what they are made to enjoy of plenty, and they were guilty.

17 Mohammed Marmaduke William Pickthall

If only there had been among the generations before you men possessing a remnant (of good sense) to warn (their people) from corruption in the earth, as did a few of those whom We saved from them! The wrong-doers followed that by which they were made sapless, and were guilty.

18 Muhammad Sarwar

Why were there no people of understanding among those people of the destroyed towns of the past except for a few, whom we saved from destruction, to prevent people from committing evil in the land? The unjust among them indulged in worldly pleasures and so became guilty.

19 Qaribullah & Darwish

If (only) there had been except for a few among them whom We saved among the generations that have gone before you, some that remained forbidding corruption in the land, but the wrongdoers pursued the ease they had been given to delight in and became sinners.

20 Safi-ur-Rahman al-Mubarakpuri

If only there had been among the generations before you persons having wisdom, prohibiting (others) from Fasad (corruption) in the earth, except a few of those whom We saved from among them! Those who did wrong pursued the enjoyment of good things of (this worldly) life, and were criminals.

21 Wahiduddin Khan

Why, then, were there not among the generations before you upright men who would speak out against the [spread of] corruption on earth -- except for the few whom We saved? But the wrongdoers pursued their worldly pleasures and thus became guilty.

22 Talal Itani

If only there were, among the generations before you, people with wisdom, who spoke against corruption on earth—except for the few whom We saved. But the wrongdoers pursued the luxuries they were indulged in, and thus became guilty.

23 Tafsir jalalayn

If only there had been among the generations, past communities, before you men possessing a remnant [of good sense], men of religion and virtue, forbidding corruption in the earth (this [statement] is intended to be a negation, in other words, `there never were such [men] among them'), except, but, a few of those whom (mimman; min is explicative) We delivered from among them, did forbid [corruption] and were thus delivered. But those who did wrong, through corruption and neglecting to forbid, followed that by which they were made profligate, and were sinners.

24 Tafseer Ibn Kathir

There must be a Group of People Who forbid Lewdness

Allah says,

فَلَوْلَا كَانَ مِنَ الْقُرُونِ مِن قَبْلِكُمْ أُوْلُواْ بَقِيَّةٍ يَنْهَوْنَ عَنِ الْفَسَادِ فِي الَارْضِ إِلاَّ قَلِيلً مِّمَّنْ أَنجَيْنَا مِنْهُمْ

If only there had been among the generations before you persons having wisdom, prohibiting (others) from Fasad (corruption) in the earth, except a few of those whom We saved from among them!

Allah, the Exalted, says that there should have been a group of wise people present among the past generations who called to good and forbade the evil and corruption that took place among them in the land.

His statement,
إِلاَّ قَلِيلً
(except a few),

This means that there were only a small number of people present among them who were of this caliber. They were those whom Allah saved at the sudden striking of His vengeance, when His anger was let lose. For this reason Allah commanded this noble Ummah (followers of Muhammad) to always have among them those who command the good and forbid the evil.

This is as Allah says,

وَلْتَكُن مِّنْكُمْ أُمَّةٌ يَدْعُونَ إِلَى الْخَيْرِ وَيَأْمُرُونَ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ وَيَنْهَوْنَ عَنِ الْمُنْكَرِ وَأُوْلَـيِكَ هُمُ الْمُفْلِحُونَ

Let there arise out of you a group of people inviting to all that is good, enjoining righteousness and forbidding evil. And it is they who are the successful. (3;104)

It is related in a Hadith that the Prophet said,

إِنَّ النَّاسَ إِذَا رَأَوُا الْمُنْكَرَ فَلَمْ يُغَيِّرُوهُ أَوْشَكَ أَنْ يَعُمَّهُمُ اللَّهُ بِعِقَاب

Verily, whenever a group of people see an evil and they do not change it, it is likely that Allah will cover them with (His) punishment.

Thus, Allah says,

فَلَوْلَا كَانَ مِنَ الْقُرُونِ مِن قَبْلِكُمْ أُوْلُواْ بَقِيَّةٍ يَنْهَوْنَ عَنِ الْفَسَادِ فِي الَارْضِ إِلاَّ قَلِيلً مِّمَّنْ أَنجَيْنَا مِنْهُمْ

If only there had been among the generations before you persons having wisdom, prohibiting (others) from the Fasad in the earth, - except a few of those whom We saved from among them!

Concerning the statement,

وَاتَّبَعَ الَّذِينَ ظَلَمُواْ مَا أُتْرِفُواْ فِيهِ

Those who did wrong pursued the enjoyment of good things of (this worldly) life,

This means that they continued in their ways of disobedience and evils and they did not heed the protesting of those righteous people, until the torment suddenly seized them.

وَكَانُواْ مُجْرِمِينَ



and were criminals.

Then, Allah

وَمَا كَانَ رَبُّكَ لِيُهْلِكَ الْقُرَى بِظُلْمٍ وَأَهْلُهَا مُصْلِحُونَ