4 Preface وَما أَهلَكنا مِن قَريَةٍ إِلّا وَلَها كِتابٌ مَعلومٌYusuf AliNever did We destroy a population that had not a term decreed and assigned beforehand.1Kitab malum: literally, “a writing known”. There are many shades of meaning implied. (1) For every people, as for every individual, there is a definite Term assigned: their faculty of choice gives them the opportunity of moulding their will according to God’s Will, and thus identifying themselves with God’s Universal Law. During that Term they will be given plenty of rope: after that Term is past, there will be no opportunity for repentance. (2) Neither the righteous nor the ungodly can hasten or delay the doom: God’s Will must prevail, and He is All-Wise. (3) The destruction of a people is not an arbitrary punishment from God: the people bring it on themselves by their own choice: for the fixed Law or Decree of God is always made known to them beforehand, and in many ways.