This ayah comes after the ayah of Sabbath in suratul A’raaf (Chapter 7, verse 163)
The people of this village were divided into three groups: a group that committed the prohibition (catching fish on the Sabbath), another group prohibited them from transgression and avoided them. A third group neither prohibited them, nor participated in their action.
The third group said to the preachers, “Why do you advise [or warn] a people whom Allah is [about] to destroy or to punish with a severe punishment?”
The third group was more of the bystander group. Saw evil happening, Allaah’s boundaries being broken and they knew there was punishment coming but felt there was no benefit in forbidding them ya’ni why should we lose our breath?
So the group of ‘preachers‘ said – “In order to be free from guilt before your Lord (Allah),” `for we were commanded to enjoin righteousness and forbid evil’ (this was commanded to them in Suratul Baqarah)
Or – there could even be a win-win situation:
(“and perhaps they may fear Allah”) for on account of our advice, they might stop this evil and repent to Allah.
وَإِذْ قَالَتْ أُمَّةٌ مِنْهُمْ لِمَ تَعِظُونَ قَوْمًا اللَّهُ مُهْلِكُهُمْ أَوْ مُعَذِّبُهُمْ عَذَابًا شَدِيدًا قَالُوا مَعْذِرَةً إِلَى رَبِّكُمْ وَلَعَلَّهُمْ يَتَّقُونَAnd when a community among them said, “Why do you advise [or warn] a people whom Allah is [about] to destroy or to punish with a severe punishment?” they [the advisors] said, “To be absolved before your Lord and perhaps they may fear Him.” Now this is the part I can’t stop thinking about:
When the punishment came, Allaah subHaanahu wa ta’aala rescued those who advised and took those who committed evil with His punishment. أَنجَيْنَا الَّذِينَ يَنْهَوْنَ عَنِ السُّوءِ وَأَخَذْنَا الَّذِينَ ظَلَمُواْ
But what about the passive group? The bystanders? What happened to them? What was their end?
There could only be two possible outcomes: a) They were rescued along those advised OR b) They were punished with those who committed the prohibition.
What do you think might have happened to them?