This verse is one of the greatest verses in the Holy Qur’aan. It combines meanings of both fear and hope: fear of Allah and turning to Him, for there is no refuge from Him except in Him. The fact that no one offers refuge from Him except Him serves to tell His slaves that He is More Merciful than anyone else, and He wants to show mercy and forgive.
In Madaarij al-Saalikeen (1/469-481), al-‘Allaamah ibn al-Qayyim spoke at length explaining that the level of “ fleeing to Allah” is one of the levels of those who are striving to reach Allah.
Allah says (interpretation of the meaning): “So flee to Allaah. Verily, I (Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم) am a plain warner to you from Him” [al-Dhaariyaat 51:50].
Imam al-Tabari (may Allah have mercy on him) said:
Allah says: Flee, O people, from the punishment of Allah to His Mercy by believing in Him, following His commands and striving to obey Him. “Verily, I (Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم) am a plain warner to you from Him” means: I am a warner to you from Allah, sent to warn you of His punishment and make you fear the punishment that Allah sent against those nations He has told you about, and which He will cause them to taste in the Hereafter. The word “plain” (mubeen) means: to explain to you His warning. End quote.
Jaami‘ al-Bayaan, 22/440
Al-Qurtubi (may Allah have mercy on him) said:
Because of what is mentioned in the verses about how the nations disbelieved and rejected their Prophets and Allah brought about their destruction because of that, Allah says to His Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him): Tell them, O Muhammad, i.e., tell your people: “Verily, I (Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم) am a plain warner to you from Him” i.e., flee from disobedience of Him to obedience to Him.
Ibn ‘Abbaas said: Flee to Allah by repenting from your sins. And it was narrated that he said: Flee from Him to Him, and strive to obey Him.
Muhammad ibn ‘Abd-Allah ibn ‘Amr ibn ‘Uthmaan ibn ‘Affaan said: “Flee to Allah” means, Go to Makkah.
Al-Husayn ibn al-Fadl said: Flee from everything except Allah. The one who flees to anything else will not escape His punishment.
Abu Bakr al-Warraaq said: Flee from obeying the Shaytaan to obeying al-Rahmaan (the Most Merciful).
Al-Junayd said: The Shaytaan calls to falsehood, so flee to Allah and He will protect you from him.
Dhu’l-Noon al-Masri said: Flee from ignorance to knowledge, and from disbelief (kufr) to gratitude (shukr).
‘Amr ibn ‘Uthmaan said: Flee from yourself to your Lord.
He also said: Flee to (and be content with) that which Allah has already decreed for you, and do not rely on your own efforts.
Sahl ibn ‘Abd-Allah said: Flee from everything except Allah to Allah.
“Verily, I (Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم) am a plain warner to you from Him” means: I am warning you of His punishment for disbelief and sin. End quote.
Al-Jaami‘ li Ahkaam al-Qur’aan, 17/53-54
Al-‘Allaamah ‘Abd al-Rahmaan al-Sa‘di (may Allah have mercy on him) said:
When Allah called people to look at His signs which prompt one to fear Him and turn to Him, He enjoined that which is the aim behind that, which is to flee to Him, i.e., flee from that whichAllah hates, both visible and hidden, to that which He loves, both visible and hidden; flee from ignorance to knowledge, from kufr to faith, from disobedience to obedience, from heedlessness to remembrance (dhikr)of Allah. The one who achieves all of that has fulfilled all the commitments enjoined by Islam, and will no longer have any fears; he will have achieved his ultimate goal.
Allah called turning back to Him fleeing, because turning to anyone or anything other than Him involves a great deal of fear and negative consequences. In turning to Him there are all the things that one likes, security, happiness and victory. So the individual flees from His will and decree to His will and decree. Everyone you fear you can flee from, except Allah, may He be exalted; the more you fear Him, the more you flee to Him. “Verily, I (Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم) am a plain warner to you from Him” means: a warner to you of the punishment of Allah with a clear message. End quote.
Tayseer al-Kareen al-Rahmaan, p. 811
With regard to the word Qul (“say”), it appears in many verses of the Holy Qur’aan, in almost three hundred and ten verses, in various contexts and places, with a variety of meanings. But that does not mean that every command that Allah enjoins His Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) to convey to the people must begin with the word “Qul”. The Qur’aan has a well-known style and the Arabic language encompasses many styles of eloquent expression, and this is part of the beauty and distinct quality of the language.
With regard to this word in particular, Dr. Fadl Hasan ‘Abbaas says:
With regard to the word “Qul”, the one who ponders the verses of the Qur’aan and its style will find that this word appears whenever there is a need for it, which is when the style is one of prompting, whether the prompting is to teach or to refute specious arguments. That may be seen in the last three soorahs, and also in the following verses (interpretation of the meaning):
“Say (O Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم): ‘Shall I take as a Wali (Helper, Protector, Lord or God) any other than Allaah, the Creator of the heavens and the earth? And it is He Who feeds but is not fed.’ Say: ‘Verily, I am commanded to be the first of those who submit themselves to Allaah (as Muslims).’ And be not you (O Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم) of the Mushrikoon (polytheists, pagans, idolaters and disbelievers in the Oneness of Allaah).
15. Say: ‘I fear, if I disobey my Lord, the torment of a Mighty Day.’
16. Who is averted from (such a torment) on that Day, (Allaah) has surely, been Merciful to him. And that would be the obvious success”
“Say (to the disbelievers): ‘Tell me, if Allaah took away your hearing and your sight, and sealed up your hearts, who is there — an Ilaah (a god) other than Allaah who could restore them to you?” See how variously We explain the Ayaat (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.), yet they turn aside’”
“Say (O Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم): ‘Truly, my Lord has guided me to a Straight Path, a right religion, the religion of Ibraaheem (Abraham), Haneefa [i.e. the true Islamic Monotheism — to believe in One God (Allaah, i.e. to worship none but Allaah, Alone)] and he was not of Al-Mushrikoon.’
162. Say (O Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم): ‘Verily, my Salaah (prayer), my sacrifice, my living, and my dying are for Allaah, the Lord of the ‘Aalameen (mankind, jinn and all that exists)’”
The one who ponders these verses will have no doubt that their context is one of prompting and teaching. End quote.
Qadaaya Qur’aaniyyah fi’l-Mawsoo‘ah al-Breetaaniyyah (p. 57)
It is important for us to know that reaching these eloquent meanings from these verses is a matter of personal understanding; another researcher may come with a different eloquent meaning alongside the first one, or one that is more likely to be correct. With regard to such matters we should study the style of the Qur’aan in expression and see the different contexts in which a particular word was mentioned, in order to understand the role it is playing in expressing the eloquent meaning and see the reason why it was mentioned.
And Allah knows best.