Shaykh Tabarsi 2 reports several commentators' views concerning the meaning of "umma" in this verse :
- He reports from ibn 'Abbas and Mujahid that the term "umma" in this verse has the meaning of "time", as it appears in another verse also.
- He reports from Ali ibn `Isa who said that "umma" means "community"; the meaning of the verse would then be, "if we delay their punishment until another community comes after them, one that also keeps insisting on their blasphemy and no believers would mingle with them... as we did with the community of the Prophet Nuh."
- Jaba'i said that the meaning of the verse is that "if we delay their punishment until the people after them come, who are ordered to perform duties and who also behave with
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2 Majma' al-Bayan, Vol.12, p.12
disobedience, when at this moment the divine wisdom orders their annihilation ..." - Tabarsi then reports from the traditions of Imam Baqir (fifth Imam) and Imam Sadiq (sixth Imam) who said: "The meaning of "ummatin ma 'dudah" in that verse is the Companions of Imam Mahdi, whose number is the same as the Companions of Badr, who were more than three hundred and ten people, and like the clouds in autumn, they will gather in circle around him."