Censuring the Rebellious and their Refusal to Accept Human Messengers
This ayah was revealed in the background of a particular incident. Abdullah ibn Umaiyyah had made a hostile demand before the Prophet salAllahu aalyhi wa sallam that he cannot believe in the Prophet until he saw him climbing all the way to the heavens and bringing a book from there before their eyes in which it should be written in Abdullah’s name that he should attest to Prophet’s prophethood.
Such were the uncalled-for and hostile demands made; mocking and insulting the Prophet particularly when on the contrary he was affectionate towards people. What effect such a bad manner would have made on Prophet’s heart is something we cannot fathom.
Therefore, in order to comfort His beloved, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala revealed ayah 7 of Surah al-Anaam and said the following words,
وَلَوْ نَزَّلْنَا عَلَيْكَ كِتَـباً فِى قِرْطَاسٍ فَلَمَسُوهُ بِأَيْدِيهِمْ لَقَالَ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُواْ إِنْ هَـذَآ إِلاَّ سِحْرٌ مُّبِينٌ
“And even if We had sent down unto you a Message written on paper so that they could touch it with their hands, the disbelievers would have said: This is nothing but obvious magic!”
The word qirtasin [قِرْطَاسٍ] is from the root letters qaf-ra-ta-seen. It means “parchment or anything on which something is written”. The fa in the word falamasuhu [ فَلَمَسُوهُ] stands for “and” while lamasuhu is from the root letter laam-meem-seen i.e. lams. Lams [ لَمَسُ] means “to touch or feel with hand”.
We know that the people of Makkah were illiterate. They could not read a written word. Yet they demanded a Book that could be felt. What’s the purpose of touching a book when you can’t read it? Qur’an was being revealed to them through speech so that they can understand it according to their aptitude. But their demand was to hold the book while they could not read or write.
This indicates that such demands were not being put forward for any useful purpose. They did not wish to follow Prophet’s message.
One may say touching strengthens certainty but even if they saw this Message’s descent and were eye-witnesses to that they would still not believe and called it sheer magic instead.
This is similar to Allah’s description of the disbelievers’ defiance of facts and truth in Surah al-Hijr Ayaat 14 – 15, where He says,
وَلَوْ فَتَحْنَا عَلَيْهِم بَاباً مِّنَ السَّمَاءِ فَظَلُّواْ فِيهِ يَعْرُجُونَ – لَقَالُواْ إِنَّمَا سُكِّرَتْ أَبْصَـرُنَا بَلْ نَحْنُ قَوْمٌ مَّسْحُورُونَ
“And even if We opened to them a gate from the heaven and they were to continue ascending thereto. They would surely say: Our eyes have been (as if) dazzled. Nay, we are a people bewitched.” And in Surah Turr ayah 44,
وَإِن يَرَوْاْ كِسْفاً مِّنَ السَّمَآءِ سَـقِطاً يَقُولُواْ سَحَـبٌ مَّرْكُومٌ
“And if they were to see a piece of the heaven falling down, they would say: Clouds gathered in heaps!”
This is because what they are saying comes from malice and hostility towards the prophets of Allah.
– We learn about the stubbornness of these people that no matter what miracle they are shown they are not going to believe.
– A person who doesn’t want to believe will not benefit from any proof, any sign or any evidence. The problem is in their mind. They have made up their mind that they are not going to believe. So there’s no point arguing with them.
– Touching something or seeing something with your own eyes strengthens your believe. For example, the Ka’abah. Every Muslim child knows about the Ka’abah from an early age but when we go to Makkah and see the Ka’abah it adds to our yaqeen.