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Sura 36
Aya 31
أَلَم يَرَوا كَم أَهلَكنا قَبلَهُم مِنَ القُرونِ أَنَّهُم إِلَيهِم لا يَرجِعونَ

Muhammad Asad

Are they not aware of how many a generation We have destroyed before their time, [and] that those [that have perished] will never return to them,1
  • I.e., to the people now living. As in many other Qur'anic passages, the term qarn, which literally signifies a "generation" or "people living at the same period", has in this context the wider meaning of "society" or "civilization" in the historical connotation of these terms. Thus, the downfall and utter disappearance of past societies and civilizations is here linked to their spiritual frivolity and consequent moral failure. A further lesson to be drawn from this parable is the implied conclusion that the majority of people in every society, at all times (our own included), refuse to be guided by moral considerations, regarding them as opposed to their conventional mode of life and their pursuit of materialistic values - with the result that "never has an apostle come to them without their deriding him".