¡ A questioner asked about an impending punishment
* upon the disbelievers which none can avert,
1-2 The translation of v. 1 is based upon reading the preposition bi to mean about rather than “for,” meaning that someone asked the Prophet who would be punished and when (Q, Ṭ). Many commentators, however, read the verse “a supplicator supplicated for” or “a petitioner petitioned for.” In this sense, the verse would be similar to 22:47: They bid thee to hasten the punishment, which is said to have been revealed with regard to a certain Nadr ibn al-Ḥārith, who said, O God, if this be the truth from Thee, rain down stones upon us from the sky, or bring us a painful punishment (8:32; IK, JJ,
Q); regarding those who seek to hasten the punishment, see 10:50-51; 16:1; 26:204-7; 29:53-54; 34:30; 37:176-77; 42:18; 51:14, 59. In seeking to hasten punishment, Nadr ibn al-Ḥārith is believed to have supplicated against himself and to have unknowingly requested the punishment he received at the Battle of Badr (2/624), when he was killed in captivity (W, Z). According to others, the verse was revealed in response to another
of the Prophet’s adversaries among the Quraysh, Abū Jahl (Q).