HAS THERE [not] been an endless span of time1 before man [appeared - a time] when he was not yet a thing to be thought of?2
Asad Translation Note Number :
Implying, according to all the classical commentators, "there has indeed been an immensely long [or "endless"] span of time" - the interrogative particle hal having here the positive meaning of qad. However, this meaning can be brought out equally well by interpolating the word "not".
Lit., "a thing mentioned" or "mentionable" - i.e., non-existent even as a hypothetical concept. The purport of this statement is a refutation of the blasphemous "anthropocentric" world-view, which postulates man as he exists - and not any Supreme Being - as the centre and ultimate reality of all life.
Malik Quran Translation
Has there not passed over man a period of time when he was nothing- -not even mentioned?
Yusuf Ali Quran Translation
Has there not been over Man a long period of Time when he was nothing--(not even) mentioned? 58305831
Yusuf Ali Translation Note Number :
The undoubted fact is mentioned in the form of a question, to get the assent of man. It is certain that the physical world existed long before man was ever heard of or mentioned, as geological records prove. It is also true that the world existed long before man came on the scene: see ii. 30-31. Man is here taken in a generic sense.
Dahr is Time as a whole, or for a long period.
Mustafa Khattab Quran Translation
Is there not a period of time when each human is nothing yet worth mentioning?1
Mustafa Khattab Translation Note Number :
This is the time before a human comes into being and as an embryo.
Piktal Quran Translation
Hath there come upon man (ever) any period of time in which he was a thing unremembered?
Hal ata AAala alinsani heenun mina alddahri lam yakun shayan mathkooran