Tafsir Of Surah Yaseen (36) - 7/8

A'uzubillahi min al-shaytan al-rajim. Bismillah al-rahman al-rahim. Al-hamdulillah rabb al-'alameen wa sallahu 'ala sayyidina wa habibina habibi ilahal 'alameen Muhammad wa 'ala alihi at-tahireen. Assamalu aleykum, wa rahmatullah jami'an, welcome to another episode of Quranic Wisdoms.

We were continuing doing the verses of Sura Yasin, explaining and discussing certain aspects and concepts involved in those verses. And now we continue with verse number 13, 'Wadrib lahum mathalan Ashaabal Qaryatih; iz jaaa'ahal mursaloon' (36:13). After the introduction that Allah gave in Sura Yasin, now there is a mathal - there is an example given to people how this issue of communication between God and people and the way that people interact with that communication would work.

So the example is given for that - Wadrib lahum mathalan Ashaabal Qaryatih; iz jaaa'ahal mursaloon (36:13) - give them the example of the inhabitants of the town when the apostles came to it. Now Mathal in the Quran has different meanings and we have to be aware of that. Mathal sometimes means example and sometimes means parable and sometimes just means a similie. Now here Mathal is used as an example. The difference between example and parable is that parable is not a real story, its just a story. It's just a sort of imaginory story given for us to deduce something, to invoke something in our mind. But example is the example of a real event, real story which has happened on the Earth and Allah brings that to our attention so that we take our lessons from it. Now, here, if we say this is a parable, it means that the story is not a true story. It's just a story given for us to understand something from it.

Like, for example, the parables which are used in the Quran: (there) is a parable at the beginning of Sura Baqara , 'mathaluhum kamathalillazis tawqada naaran falammaaa adaaa'at maa hawlahoo zahabal laahu binoorihim,' (2:17) - the parable of the munafiqoon is like a parable of someone who lit a fire. And as soon as that fire starts to give heat, it lighted all around him, Allah took away their light and left them in utter darkness, and that is a similie. Here, of course, there is a discussion whether this example, Wadrib lahum mathalan Ashaabal Qaryatih, is a parable that's not a real story, but a story to give us some lessons, (....) the time to the Arabs at the time, otherwise the example wouldn't have been given to them for taking their lessons from it. And therefore, we don't think this matter here to be a parable. It is an example.

Wadrib lahum mathalan Ashaabal Qaryatih; iz jaaa'ahal mursaloon. Now, which town was this? The exegetes have discussed this in detail: this town or the city the example of which is given to people of Mecca, what city it was. Traditionally, it is mentioned that the city was Antioch in today's Turkey and the mursaloon, the messengers, the apostles who came to them, they were the apostles of Jesus. They were not sent by God. They were sent by Jesus. Many early Tabi'oon have actually taken this view as to be the correct view among them Abu Qatada, a very famous Tabi'een mufassir of his time. They have taken this view.

However, there are problems with this view which somehow leads us to reject this view, despite the respect that we have for those Tabi'oon who followed this view and also Ibn Katheer, in his tafsir, has criticized the view of Tabi'oon for certain reasons. One of the reasons which he gives is that this qarya which is mentioned here, this town, Allah mentions that He destroyed it; because they rejected the mursaloon, Allah destroyed this qarya. Now, Ibn Katheer says that in Sura Qasas we have a verse 'Wa laqad aatainaa Moosal Kitaaba mim ba'di maaa ahlaknal quroonal oolaa basaaa'ira linnaasi' (28:43) - after We had destroyed many generations in the past, We gave Moses the book. And he says from these words we understand that after Moses, no city, no town, no nation were destroyed by God's punishment or destruction.

It was just the sort of jihad that mu'minoon waged against those cities. Now, I don't know whether we can understand that from this verse or not. However, there are other reasons why we cannot accept that this city was Antioch and these messengers were messengers of Jesus, peace be upon him. The very important or the most prominent reason is that these people were idolatrous. They were not Jews because they were worshipping gods beside God. And we know that Jesus in his time did not preach to anyone who were not Jews, did not preach to other nations, and he did not send messengers to anyone who were not Jews. And even after Jesus, peace be upon him, there was this dispute among the hawariyun or the disciples of Jesus that whether we can actually preach among the non Jews or we cannot preach.

And we know the dispute between Paul and Peter about it. James and Peter were taking the side that we should not preach to non-Jews initially. And Paul was taking the idea that we have to preach to non-Jews. And then, of course, he took a more stringent line saying that even the non-Jews should not observe the Shariah of Moses peace be upon him. And therefore the whole Shariah of Moses gradually was obliterated from Christianity. Now we know that at his time, Jesus did not send any apostle to non-Jews. And therefore this cannot be true. So we cannot say that this city was Antioch. God does not tell us what city it was, but most probably the city was known to the Arabs of Mecca and that's why their example is given here.

Wadrib lahum mathalan. Now let's come to the story. Mathalan Ashaabal Qaryatih; iz jaaa'ahal mursaloon - when messengers came to them. Now, who are these messengers? We don't know. But Allah says, Iz arsalnaaa ilaihimusnaini fakazzaboohumaa fa'azzaznaa bisaalisin faqaalooo innaaa ilaikum mursaloon (36:14) - when We sent them two apostles, they rejected them. They did not accept their invitation. Then We reinforced them with a third messenger and they said we have indeed been sent to you - faqaalooo innaaa ilaikum mursaloon.

Now, there are several things that we can understand from this - interesting things which strikes our mind and our curiosity, actually. One is that it is not the case that always one prophet or one messenger should be sent to a people. For reasons which are unknown to us, sometimes God sends several messengers at the same time to warn people. The very clear example is the example of Moses and Haroon alayhi assalam, who were sent together to Fir'awn and they said, 'faqoolaaa innaa Rasoolu Rabbil 'aalameen,' (26:16) - we are the messengers from Rabb Al-Alameen. So the two were sent. The reason there was clear, because Moses wanted help and he said that Haroon speaks better than me, he's more eloquent and he can help me very much in that. So the two of them together were sent. Here, there is no mention of why two messengers were sent and whether these two messengers were sent together or one after another.

What is mentioned is after two messengers were sent, then there was a third messenger because people rejected them - fa'azzaznaa bisaalisin - We reinforced them with another messanger. This shows how Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala is eager to guide people: even when His ambassadors come, even when these very highly spiritual people who are very much loved by Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala, He sends them to some people, the people belie them, ridicule them, torture them. And Allah accepts all of these things for His friends, for these chosen servants, because He wants to guide people.

And even after they do this with two of the messangers, Allah reinforces them with a third one. Now, apparently, this third one should have been someone who would have some command over the people of this city, that they would have listened to him. Otherwise, there was no reason for sending a third one or fourth one or whatever. So there should have been something in this third one, which the two previous messengers didn't have: a command over the people, respect, obedience that people would have paid before being sent to people as a messenger. So, 'fa'azzaznaa bisaalisin faqaalooo innaaa ilaikum mursaloon,'- we are sent to you. Mursaloon means that we have risala, we have a message for you. And this message, of course, is from Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala.

Now the answer was this 'Qaaloo maaa antum illaa basharum mislunaa wa maaa anzalar Rahmaanu min shai'in in antum illaa takziboon' (36:15) - they said you are nothing but humans like us and the All-Beneficient has not sent down anything and you are only lying. Now this idea that people thought that Allah should guide them through means which are higher than human beings, directly by angels, this is something which has been prevalent throughout the history. And even nowadays, for example, if you call people to certain faith, certain spiritual book, they want something to accompany it, which is quite supernatural. They want an evidence like that.

And therefore, during the history when messengers were sent to different nations, their main objection was that, well, you are a human being like us and how a human being can guide on behalf of Allah on behalf of God? God should have sent angels to us. They thought that it is possible for every human being to have that connection with God, not knowing that that connection is very difficult to establish, it needs very, very pure soul, very pure heart. And when someone gets to that stage of purity, of heart and soul, then Allah would give them a mission to come and guide other people. So they said 'Qaaloo maaa antum illaa basharum mislunaa,'. In Sura Taghabun also we have when Allah sends messangers to people, they say, 'faqaaloo a basharuny yahdoonanaa fakafaroo wa tawallaw; wastaghnal laah' (64:6) - they say, what a human being is going to guide us, a human being, which is more like us, which has grown up as a baby, grown up to become a child, grown up to become a young man?

We have seen these human beings living like us. How is it possible that these human beings are going to guide us - faqaaloo a basharuny yahdoonanaa fakafaroo - so they rejected. And also in Sura Ibrahim, when Allah mentions the overall history of prophethood 'Alam ya'tikum naba' al-ladheena min qablikum,' (14:9)- the example (news) of all those who went before you and they came 'Qaalat Rusuluhum,' (14:10)- the messengers told them the message and everything that Allah had told them.

Now the answer given to them was 'in antum illaa basharum mislunaa tureedoona an tasuddoonaa 'ammaa kaana ya'budu aabaaa'unaa fa'toonaa bi sultaanin mubeen' (14:10) - you are just a human being like us. And the answer they give in Sura Ibrahim is that, 'in nahnu illaa basharum mislukum wa laakinnal laaha yamunnu 'alaa mai yashaaa'u min 'ibaadihee' (14:11) - yes, we are human beings like you, but Allah can grace anyone of His servants, of His creatures, of human beings that He wishes so that to guide others.

So this was quite a logical answer. But the idea was this, that if God wants to guide me, He has to send an angel to me. Not knowing that this is not possible. In Sura Furqan 'Wa qaalal lazeena laa yarjoona liqaaa'anaa law laaa unzila 'alainal malaaa'ikatu awnaraa Rabbanaa' (25:21) - why the angels do not come to us? Why do we not see our Lord? Things which are impossible to happen.

First of all, the Lord cannot be seen, of course. And secondly, angel cannot come to a polluted heart - its impossible for it to happen and Allah wants to guide these polluted hearts, wants to guide these polluted souls, by human beings who are pure, who are not polluted, who can establish this connection with God through the angels and then guide them as well. This is because He is All-Beneficent. And of course, the opposition has always been like that.

'Qaaloo maaa antum illaa basharum mislunaa' (36:15) - what the inhabitants of this town said to these messengers, that you are just a human being like us, 'wa maaa anzalar Rahmaanu min shai'in,' - Rahmaan has not sent down anything. Now, the usage of term 'Rahman' is very significant here because Rahman was an attribute of Allah all-encompassing sort of Rahma or mercy of Allah that idolaters usually reject it and deny it because they said this sort of Rahma or mercy is something which is given to the idols. Allah doesn't have this overarching rahma giving and gracing everyone.

Every nation has their own idols, their own gods who give them this beneficence and give them this rahma and mercy and therefore we don't have someone who's All-Beneficient. And here, apparently in the same way as the mushrikoon of Mecca were rejecting the idea of Al-Rahman 'Wa izaa qeela lahumus judoo lir Rahmaani qaaloo wa mar Rahmaanu' (25:60) - when we told them that humble yourself before Rahman, they say what is Rahman? 'a nasjudu limaa ta'murunaa wa zaadahum nufooraa', - they say, well, this is something that you have made of, you have created; you are just telling us to do something based on your own opinion. We are not going to to comply.

And here, of course, the concept of Al-Rahman is used again, and it shows that these were idolaters who did not believe in the idea of the All-Beneficence of the Creator. Al-Rahman has not done anything because either we do not believe in Al-Rahman at all or because you are lying that you are coming from Al-Rahman, from that All-Benefficient being - wa maaa anzalar Rahmaanu min shai'in in antum illaa takziboon. You are just like us.

'Qaaloo Rabbunaa ya'lamu innaaa ilaikum lamursaloon' (36:16)- they said our Lord knows that we have indeed been sent to you. Now, this is a different answer from what we read in Sura Ibrahim when they said that you are only human beings like us. 'in nahnu illaa basharum mislukum wa laakinnal laaha yamunnu 'alaa mai yashaaa'u min 'ibaadihee' (14:11) - we are of course human beings like you, but Allah can grace anyone He wishes from among His servants, can choose them, can give them this blessing of connection with Allah, with Al-Rahman. But here what these messengers say, as it is quoted in the Quran, is that they said 'Rabbunaa ya'lamu,'- our Lord knows, 'innaaa ilaikum lamursaloon'. Now there are several letters of emphasis here - they are in a way emphasizing to the people that they were sent as messengers. Now, of course, this emphasis by expression would not avail anything.

Apparently, they showed them reasons, justifications why they were sent by Allah, why they were messangers of Allah. So the whole story has been made short here. 'Qaaloo Rabbunaa ya'lamu innaaa ilaikum lamursaloon' (36:16) - our Lord knows that we are messengers towards you. We have been sent to you. 'Wa maa 'alainaaa illal balaaghul mubeen' (36:17) - and if you want to reject us, you can reject us. Our duty is only to communicate in clear terms.

This is, of course, the clear statement of the Quran that you have free choice in this world, in this life. And if Allah is calling you, He is not forcing you, you cannot be forced 'Laaa ikraaha fid deeni' (2:256) - in religion force would not work. You cannot force the heart. Yes, you can, of course, enforce the law. You can enforce the Sharia. We should not confuse between the two. Say that because Allahs says 'Laaa ikraaha fid deeni,' so we don't need to enforce Sharia, for example, in Islamic countries.

That's a different issue. Enforcing Sharia is possible. It is possible. But enforcing or forcing faith into a heart that is impossible - 'Laaa ikraaha fid deeni qat tabiyanar rushdu minal ghayy' - We only clarify what is the right path, what is the wrong path, and then people should choose. And this was mentioned in the Quran with several expressions: 'wa maa'alar Rasooli illal balaaghul mubeen', (24:54)- the only duty of the messenger is to communicate clearly the message, to clarify for the people 'Wa maa 'alainaaa illal balaaghul mubeen'.(36:17)

One lesson we learn here is that if this Balaagh, this communication, this conveyance of the message is not clear for the people, they are not going to be put on task for it. They are not going to be responsible if they reject in the same way as those who reject the messengers who bring clear communication, a clear message to people. Sometimes we think that, OK, Islam or any other religion, for example, is clear in the books, it has been explained by commentators of the scripture and such things and therefore, people have this clear communication.

But if you look in our own time, the way different religions, and especially nowadays in our time, the way Islam is portrayed to the world by people like Daesh or al-Qaida or others, or even by certain people who use certain rituals which are quite repulsive in the heart of the people - how should we want people to be attracted? This is not balaaghul mubeen. Balaaghul mubeen is the conveyance of the message in full and without any sort of blemish which may drive away people from the message.

So the messengers come, Wa maa 'alainaaa illal balaaghul mubeen - the only duty that we have is to communicate with you clearly. And this shows that there is a duty for the messengers to come and communicate the message. There's a duty for the people to try to understand it, to try to understand it in a way which is not repulsive to human nature. Sometimes we understand religion in a way which is repulsive to human nature and this is wrong. And if it is the case, people cannot be attracted to this faith and therefore the duty is that we understand the faith in the correct way. People may have done things in the past which would have put people in later generations in doubt about faith as the Quran mentions in Sura Shura 'Wa maa tafarraqooo illaa mim ba'di maa jaaa'ahumul 'ilmu baghyam bainahum', (42:14)- after any prophet, people started to dispute amongst themselves and they argued and things happened, which later on created doubt in the heart of the people.

They did at the beginning - baghyam bainahum - because of their jealousy, because of their greed, covetousness for this world, they did it. 'wa innal lazeena oorisul Kitaaba mim ba'dihim lafee shakkim minhu mureeb,' (42:14) - but those who came after them, those who were given the book, inherited the book after them, they remained in a clear doubts about the book; a doubt, which put them in continuous agitation - shakkim minhu mureeb. So we have to be careful about that. The answer, of course, they said, 'Qaaloo innaa tataiyarnaa bikum la'il-lam tantahoo lanar jumannakum wa la-yamassan nakum minnaa 'azaabun aleem,' (36:18) - they said indeed we take you for a bad omen and if you do not relinquish, we will stone you and surely a painful punishment will visit you from us.

InshaAllah will explain this verse in our next session. Wa salallahu 'ala Muhammad wa alihi at-tahireen.

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