فَاِنْ لَّمْ تَفْعَلُوْا وَلَنْ تَفْعَلُوْا فَاتَّقُوا النَّارَ الَّتِيْ وَقُوْدُهَا النَّاسُ وَالْحِجَارَةُ ۖ اُعِدَّتْ لِلْكٰفِرِيْنَ ( البقرة: ٢٤ )
Fail lam taf'aloo wa lan taf'aloo fattaqun Naaral latee waqooduhan naasu walhijaaratu u'iddat lilkaafireen (al-Baq̈arah 2:24)
But if you do not – and you will never be able to – then fear the Fire, whose fuel is people and stones, prepared for the disbelievers. (Al-Baqarah  : 24)
1 Mufti Taqi Usmani
But if you do not - and you will never be able to - then guard yourselves against the Fire, the fuel of which will be men and stones. It has been prepared for disbelievers.
2 Dr. Mustafa Khattab, the Clear Quran
But if you are unable to do so—and you will never be able to do so—then fear the Fire fuelled with people and stones, which is prepared for the disbelievers.
3 Ruwwad Translation Center
But if you did not do it, and you can never do it; then beware of the Fire whose fuel will be people and stones, which is prepared for the disbelievers.
4 A. J. Arberry
And if you do not -- and you will not -- then fear the Fire, whose fuel is men and stones, prepared for unbelievers.
5 Abdul Haleem
If you cannot do this- and you never will- then beware of the Fire prepared for the disbelievers, whose fuel is men and stones.
6 Abdul Majid Daryabadi
But if ye do it not, --and by no means ye shall, --then dread the Fire, the fuel whereof is men and stones, gotten ready for the infidels.
7 Abdullah Yusuf Ali
But if ye cannot- and of a surety ye cannot- then fear the Fire whose fuel is men and stones,- which is prepared for those who reject Faith.
8 Abul Ala Maududi
But if you do not do this, and you can never do this, then fear the Fire which has been prepared for the disbelievers and which shall have men and stones for fuel.
9 Ahmed Ali
But if you cannot, as indeed you cannot, then guard yourselves against the Fire whose fuel is men and rocks, which has been prepared for the infidels.
10 Ahmed Raza Khan
And if you are unable to bring forth (one chapter) – and We declare that you can never bring one – then fear the fire (of hell), the fuel of which is men and stones; kept ready for the disbelievers.
11 Ali Quli Qarai
But if you do not—and you will not—then beware the Fire whose fuel will be humans and stones, prepared for the faithless.
12 Ali Ünal
If you fail to do that – and you will most certainly fail – then guard yourselves against the Fire whose fuel is human beings and stones (that you have shaped into idols to adore), prepared for the unbelievers.
13 Amatul Rahman Omar
But if you fail to do (so), and never shall you do (it), then guard against the Fire, the fuel of which will be human beings (who are deviating from the way of truth) and stones, (it is) prepared for the disbelievers.
14 English Literal
So if you do not make/do and you will never make/do, so fear the fire, that/which its fuel (is) the people and the stones, (it) was/is prepared to the disbelievers.
15 Faridul Haque
And if you are unable to bring forth (one chapter) - and We declare that you can never bring one - then fear the fire (of hell), the fuel of which is men and stones; kept ready for the disbelievers.
16 Hamid S. Aziz
But if you do it not - and you surely cannot - then fear the Fire whose fuel is men and stones, prepared for disbelievers.
17 Hilali & Khan
But if you do it not, and you can never do it, then fear the Fire (Hell) whose fuel is men and stones, prepared for the disbelievers.
18 Maulana Mohammad Ali
But if you do (it) not -- and you can never do (it) -- then be on your guard against the fire whose fuel is men and stones; it is prepared for the disbelievers.
19 Mohammad Habib Shakir
But if you do (it) not and never shall you do (it), then be on your guard against the fire of which men and stones are the fuel; it is prepared for the unbelievers.
20 Mohammed Marmaduke William Pickthall
And if ye do it not - and ye can never do it - then guard yourselves against the Fire prepared for disbelievers, whose fuel is of men and stones.
21 Muhammad Sarwar
If you do not produce such a chapter and you never will then guard yourselves against the fire whose fuel will be people and stones and is prepared for those who hide the Truth.
22 Qaribullah & Darwish
But if you fail, as you are sure to fail, then guard yourselves against the Fire whose fuel is people and stones, prepared for the unbelievers.
23 Safi-ur-Rahman al-Mubarakpuri
But if you do it not, and you can never do it, then fear the Fire (Hell) whose fuel is men and stones, prepared for the disbelievers.
24 Wahiduddin Khan
But if you cannot do it, and you can never do it, then guard yourselves against the Fire whose fuel is men and stones, prepared for those who deny the truth.
25 Talal Itani
But if you do not—and you will not—then beware the Fire whose fuel is people and stones, prepared for the disbelievers.
26 Tafsir jalalayn
And if you do not, do what was mentioned because you are incapable, and you will not (a parenthetical statement), that is, never [will you be able to], because of its inimitability, then fear, through belief in God and [belief] that this is not the words of a human, the Fire, whose fuel is men, disbelievers, and stones, like their very idols, indicating that its heat is extreme, since it burns with the [stones] mentioned, unlike the fires of this world that burn with wood and similar materials; prepared, and made ready, for disbelievers, so that they are punished in it (this [phrase, u`iddat li'l-kfirna, `prepared for disbelievers'] is either a new sentence or a sustained circumstantial qualifier).
27 Tafseer Ibn Kathir
فَإِن لَّمْ تَفْعَلُواْ وَلَن تَفْعَلُواْ
But if you do it not, and you can never do it,
indicating that they will never be able to answer the challenge.
This is another miracle, in that, Allah clearly stated without doubt that the Qur'an will never be opposed or challenged by anything similar to it, for eternity. This is a true statement that has not been changed until the present and shall never change.
How can anyone be able to produce something like the Qur'an, when the Qur'an is the Word of Allah Who created everything!
How can the words of the created ever be similar to the Words of the Creator!
Examples of the Miracle of the Qur'an
Whoever reads through the Qur'an will realize that it contains various levels of superiority through both the apparent and hidden meanings that it mentions.
الر كِتَابٌ أُحْكِمَتْ ءايَـتُهُ ثُمَّ فُصِّلَتْ مِن لَّدُنْ حَكِيمٍ خَبِيرٍ
Alif Lam Ra. (This is) a Book, the verses whereof are perfect (in every sphere of knowledge, etc.), and then explained in detail from One (Allah), Who is Wise and well-acquainted (with all things). (11;1)
So the expressions in the Qur'an are perfect and its meanings are explained. Further, every word and meaning in the Qur'an is eloquent and cannot be surpassed. The Qur'an also mentioned the stories of the people of the past; and these accounts and stories occurred exactly as the Qur'an stated. Also, the Qur'an commanded every type of righteousness and forbade every type of evil, just as Allah stated,
وَتَمَّتْ كَلِمَةُ رَبِّكَ صِدْقاً وَعَدْلاً
And the Word of your Lord has been fulfilled in truth and in justice. (6;115)
meaning, true in the stories it narrates and just in its Laws.
The Qur'an is true, just and full of guidance. It does not contain exaggerations, lies or falsehood, unlike Arabic and other types of poems that contained lies. These poems, conform with the popular statement,
"The most eloquent speech is the one that contains the most lies!"
Sometimes, one would find a long poem that mainly contains descriptions of women, horses or alcohol. Or, the poem might contain praise or the description of a certain person, horse, camel, war, incident, fear, lion, or other types of items and objects. Such praise or descriptions do not bring any benefit, except shed light on the poet's ability to clearly and eloquently describe such items. Yet, one will only be able to find one or two sentences in many long poems that elaborate on the main theme of the poem, while the rest of the poem contains insignificant descriptions and repetitions.
As for the Qur'an, it is entirely eloquent in the most perfect manner, as those who have knowledge in such matters and understand Arabic methods of speech and expressions concur.
When one reads through the stories in the Qur'an, he will find them fruitful, whether they were in extended or short forms, repeated or not. The more these stories are repeated, the more fruitful and beautiful they become. The Qur'an does not become old when one repeats reciting it, nor do the scholars ever get bored with it.
When the Qur'an mentions the subject of warning and promises, it presents truths that would make solid, firm mountains shake, so what about the comprehending, understanding hearts! When the Qur'an promises, it opens the hearts and the ears, making them eager to attain the abode of peace - Paradise - and to be the neighbors of the Throne of the Most Beneficent.
For instance, on the subject of promises and encouragement, the Qur'an said,
فَلَ تَعْلَمُ نَفْسٌ مَّأ أُخْفِىَ لَهُم مِّن قُرَّةِ أَعْيُنٍ جَزَاءً بِمَا كَانُواْ يَعْمَلُونَ
No person knows what is kept hidden for them of joy as a reward for what they used to do. (32;17)
وَفِيهَا مَا تَشْتَهِيهِ الاٌّنْفُسُ وَتَلَذُّ الاٌّعْيُنُ وَأَنتُمْ فِيهَا خَـلِدُونَ
(There will be) therein all that inner selves could desire, and all that eyes could delight in and you will abide therein forever. (43;71)
On the subject of warning and discouragement;
أَفَأَمِنتُمْ أَن يَخْسِفَ بِكُمْ جَانِبَ الْبَرِّ
Do you then feel secure that He will not cause a side of the land to swallow you up! (17;68)
أَءَمِنتُمْ مَّن فِى السَّمَأءِ أَن يَخْسِفَ بِكُمُ الاٌّرْضَ فَإِذَا هِىَ تَمُورُ
أَمْ أَمِنتُمْ مِّن فِى السَّمَأءِ أَن يُرْسِلَ عَلَيْكُمْ حَـصِباً فَسَتَعْلَمُونَ كَيْفَ نَذِيرِ
Do you feel secure that He, Who is over the heaven (Allah), will not cause the earth to sink with you, and then it should quake!
Or do you feel secure that He, Who is over the heaven (Allah), will not send against you a violent whirlwind! Then you shall know how (terrible) has been My warning. (67;16-17)
On the subject of threats, the Qur'an said,
فَكُلًّ أَخَذْنَا بِذَنبِهِ
So We punished each (of them) for his sins. (29;40)
Also, on the subject of soft advice, the Qur'an said,
أَفَرَأَيْتَ إِن مَّتَّعْنَـهُمْ سِنِينَ
ثُمَّ جَأءَهُم مَّا كَانُواْ يُوعَدُونَ
مَأ أَغْنَى عَنْهُمْ مَّا كَانُواْ يُمَتَّعُونَ
Tell Me, (even) if We do let them enjoy for years. And afterwards comes to them that (punishment) which they had been promised. All that with which they used to enjoy shall not avail them. (26;205-207).
There are many other examples of the eloquence, beauty, and benefits of the Qur'an.
When the Qur'an is discussing Laws, commandments and prohibitions, it commands every type of righteous, good, pleasing and beneficial act. It also forbids every type of evil, disliked and amoral act.
Ibn Mas`ud and other scholars of the Salaf said,
"When you hear what Allah said in the Qur'an, such as,
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ امَنُواْ
O you who believe! then listen with full attention, for it either contains a type of righteousness that Allah is enjoining, or an evil that He is forbidding."
For instance, Allah said,
يَأْمُرُهُم بِالْمَعْرُوفِ وَيَنْهَـهُمْ عَنِ الْمُنْكَرِ وَيُحِلُّ لَهُمُ الطَّيِّبَـتِ وَيُحَرِّمُ عَلَيْهِمُ الْخَبَـيِثَ وَيَضَعُ عَنْهُمْ إِصْرَهُمْ وَالاٌّغْلَـلَ الَّتِى كَانَتْ عَلَيْهِمْ
He (Muhammad) commands them for Al-Ma`ruf (i.e. Islamic Monotheism and all that Islam has ordained); and forbids them from Al-Munkar (i.e. disbelief, polytheism of all kinds, and all that Islam has forbidden); he allows them as lawful At-Tayyibat(i.e. all good and lawful things), and prohibits them as unlawful Al-Khaba'ith (i.e. all evil and unlawful things), he releases them from their heavy burdens and from the fetters (bindings) that were upon them. (7;157)
When the Ayat mention Resurrection and the horrors that will occur on that Day, and Paradise and the Fire and the joys and safe refuge that Allah prepared for His loyal friends, or torment and Hell for His enemies, these Ayat contain glad tidings or warnings. The Ayat then call to perform good deeds and avoid evil deeds, making the life of this world less favorable and the Hereafter more favorable. They also establish the correct methods and guide to Allah's straight path and just legislation, all the while ridding the hearts of the evil of the cursed devil.
The Qur'an is the Greatest Miracle given to the Prophet
The Two Sahihs record that Abu Hurayrah said that the Prophet said,
مَا مِنْ نَبِيَ مِنَ الاْاَنْبِيَاءِ إِلاَّ قَدْ أُعْطِيَ مِنَ الايَاتِ مَا امَنَ عَلَى مِثْلِهِ الْبَشَرُ وَإنَّمَا كَانَ الَّذِي أُوتِيتُه وَحْيًا أَوْحَاهُ اللهُ إِلَيَّ فَأَرْجُو أَنْ أَكُونَ أَكْثَرَهُمْ تَابِعًا يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَة
Every Prophet was given a miracle, the type of which brings mankind to faith. What I was given is a revelation that Allah sent down to me. Yet, I hope that I will have the most following on the Day of Resurrection.
This is the wording narrated by Muslim.
The Prophet stated that among the Prophets he was given a revelation, meaning, he was especially entrusted with the miraculous Qur'an that challenged mankind to produce something similar to it. As for the rest of the divinely revealed Books, they were not miraculous according to many scholars. Allah knows best.
The Prophet was also aided with innumerable signs and indications that testify to the truth of his Prophethood and what he was sent with, all thanks and praise is due to Allah.
Meaning of `Stones
فَاتَّقُواْ النَّارَ الَّتِي وَقُودُهَا النَّاسُ وَالْحِجَارَةُ أُعِدَّتْ لِلْكَافِرِينَ
Then fear the Fire (Hell) whose fuel is men and stones, prepared for the disbelievers.
`Fuel' is wood or similar substances, used to start and feed a fire.
Similarly, Allah said,
وَأَمَّا الْقَـسِطُونَ فَكَانُواْ لِجَهَنَّمَ حَطَباً
And as for the Qasitun (disbelievers who deviated from the right path), they shall be firewood for Hell. (72;15)
إِنَّكُمْ وَمَا تَعْبُدُونَ مِن دُونِ اللَّهِ حَصَبُ جَهَنَّمَ أَنتُمْ لَهَا وَارِدُونَ
لَوْ كَانَ هَـوُلاءِ ءَالِهَةً مَّا وَرَدُوهَا وَكُلٌّ فِيهَا خَـلِدُونَ
Certainly you (disbelievers) and that which you are worshipping now besides Allah, are (but) fuel for Hell! (Surely) you enter it.
Had these (idols) been alihah (gods), they would not have entered there (Hell), and all of them will abide therein. (21;98-99)
The stones mentioned here are the giant, rotten, black, sulfuric stones that become the hottest when heated, may Allah save us from this evil end.
It was also reported that the stones mentioned here are the idols and rivals that were worshipped instead of Allah, just as Allah said,
إِنَّكُمْ وَمَا تَعْبُدُونَ مِن دُونِ اللَّهِ حَصَبُ جَهَنَّمَ
Certainly you (disbelievers) and that which you are worshipping now besides Allah, are (but) fuel for Hell! (21;28)
(prepared for the disbelievers),
It appears most obvious that it refers to the Fire that is fueled by men and stones, and it also may refer to the stones themselves.
There is no contradiction between these two views, because they are dependent upon each other.
it is `kept' and will surely touch those who disbelieve in Allah and His Messenger.
Ibn Ishaq narrated that Muhammad said that Ikrimah or Sa`id bin Jubayr said that Ibn Abbas said,
(prepared for the disbelievers),
"For those who embrace the disbelief that you (disbelievers) have embraced."
Jahannam (Hellfire) exists now
Many of the Imams of the Sunnah used this Ayah to prove that the Fire exists now. This is because Allah said,
(prepared) meaning, prepared and kept.
There are many Hadiths on this subject. For instance, the Prophet said,
تَحَاجَّتِ الْجَنَّةُ وَالنَّار
Paradise and the Fire had an argument..
Also, the Prophet said,
اسْتَأْذَنَتِ النَّارُ رَبَّهَا فَقَالَتْ رَبِّ أَكَلَ بَعضِي بَعْضًا فَأذِنَ لَهَا بِنَفَسَيْنِ نَفَسٍ فِي الشِّتَاءِ وَنَفَسٍ فِي الصَّيْف
The Fire sought the permission of her Lord. She said, 'O my Lord! Some parts of me consumed the other parts.' And Allah allowed her two periods to exhale, one in winter and one in summer.
Also, there is a Hadith recorded from Ibn Mas`ud that the Companions heard the sound of a falling object. When they asked about it, the Messenger of Allah said,
هَذَا حَجَرٌ أُلْقِيَ بِهِ مِنْ شَفِيرِ جَهَنَّمَ مُنْذُ سَبْعِينَ سَنَةً الاْنَ وَصَلَ إِلى قَعْرِهَا
This is a stone that was thrown from the top of Jahannam seventy years ago, but only now reached its bottom.
This Hadith is in Sahih Muslim.
There are many Hadiths that are Mutawatir (narrated by many different chains of narrations) on this subject, such as the Hadiths about the eclipse prayer, the night of Isra etc.
فَأْتُواْ بِسُورَةٍ مِّن مِّثْلِهِ
(Then produce a Surah of the like thereof) (2;23), and,
(A Surah like it) (10;38),
this includes the short and long Surahs of the Qur'an. Therefore, the challenge to creation stands with regards to both the long and short Surahs, and there is no disagreement that I know of on this fact between the scholars of old and new.
Before he became Muslim, Amr bin Al-`As met Musaylimah the Liar who asked him, "What has recently been revealed to your fellow (meaning Muhammad) in Makkah?"
Amr said, "A short, yet eloquent Surah."
He asked, "What is it?"
إِنَّ الاِنسَـنَ لَفِى خُسْرٍ
By Al-`Asr (the time). Verily, man is in loss, (103;1-2)
Musaylimah thought for a while and said, "A similar Surah was also revealed to me."
Amr asked, "What is it?"
He said, "O Wabr, O Wabr (i.e. a wild cat), you are but two ears and a chest, and the rest of you is unworthy and thin."
Amr said, "By Allah! You know that I know that you are lying.