أَلَمْ يَرَوْا۟ كَمْ أَهْلَكْنَا قَبْلَهُم مِّنَ ٱلْقُرُونِ أَنَّهُمْ إِلَيْهِمْ لَا يَرْجِعُونَ
Asad Quran Translation
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,17
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".
Malik Quran Translation
Do they not see how many generations We have destroyed before them who will never return to them?
Yusuf Ali Quran Translation
See they not how many generations before them We destroyed? Not to them will they return: 3976
Not to them will they retum. What do the two pronouns them and they refer to? Commentators and translators have construed them differently, and some of them evade the question. To my mind the best construction seems to be: the generations which we have destroyed before the people addressed ('do they not see?') will not be restored to the people addressed: generations (qurun) standing for the periods of prosperity and good fortune enjoyed by the ancestors. They have all been wiped out: they will never be restored, but all people will be brought before the Judgment-seat for giving an account of their deeds.
Mustafa Khattab Quran Translation
Have the deniers not considered how many peoples We destroyed before them who never came back to life again?
Piktal Quran Translation
Have they not seen how many generations We destroyed before them, which indeed return not unto them;
Alam yaraw kam ahlakna qablahum mina alqurooni annahum ilayhim la yarjiAAoona