Ayat no. 13-15
In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful
And set out to them an example of the people of the town, when the messengers came to it. When We sent to them two, they rejected both of them, then We strengthened (them) with a third, so they said: Surely we are messengers to you. They said: You are naught but mortals like ourselves, nor has the Beneficent God revealed anything; you only lie. (36:13-15)
Allah says, “We have recited verses telling the story of Antioch and of the arrival of three divine messengers. We have spoken about all this either directly or indirectly. It is known that Isa bin Maryam sent two persons. People beat them up and also imprisoned them.
Then he sent a third one by the name Shamoon. He brought the two out of prison. Then together they went to the markets and bazaars and invited people towards monotheism of ‘There is no god except God’, towards denial of idols and temples, and called them towards Only One God and instilled the fear of the Hereafter in their hearts.
As reported by some, about forty persons believed in them but all others indulged in arguments and quarrels and then also fought them. In the beginning, their argument that, “You are nothing but humans like us. There is no difference between you and us. On what basis did God give you revelation and send you to us? The Beneficent Lord has not revealed anything on you.”
It is the same argument put forward by ‘Wathniya’ group who said: All men are similar and of one kind. There is no distinction of one from the other. If the call of the prophets is correct, then God should send an angel. The Holy Quran quotes their argument and then refutes it.
God Almighty says in Surah Anam:
And they do not assign to Allah the attributes due to Him when they say: Allah has not revealed anything to a mortal. (6:91)
The implication of these words is that God has left man in ignorance absurdly and did not make them aware of what will happen after their death. Is it proper to put such an allegation upon the Lord of the worlds? If God leaves man in darkness it would be injustice to man. Tomorrow, on the Day of Judgment, all would say, “O God! Why did You not send a Messenger to us so that we would have followed him?”
O our Lord! Why didst Thou not send to us an apostle, for then we should have followed Thy communications before that we met disgrace and shame. (20:134)
Arguments would not have been completed for them with evidence.
Shaykh Abu Ali Sina explicates man’s need of prophets. He says, “Man’s need of a divine messenger is greater than the jutting out of eyebrows. Let us try to find even one person whose eyebrows do not jut out. Besides beautification of face, the arching of eyebrows serves as a drain for the forehead perspiration so that there may be no damage to eyes.
Moreover, it is a shade, saving eyes from brightness of light (it controls light falling on eyes).” Then he says, “When God does not overlook a need like this, how would He neglect the matter of sending guides for man?”
But if they say an angel should be sent to guide man and that as he would not be a human being, they would follow him without reservations and thus it would be the completion of argument for all, the Quran’s response is as follows:
And if We had made him angel, We would certainly have made him a man, and We would certainly have made confused to them what they make confused. (6:9)
The messenger must be a human being so that he may sit with them and speak to them. If he is not from the human race he will have no resemblance with man. That is why He says, “Had We wished We would have sent an angel as a guide. But then too he would be necessarily sent in the form of a human being and We would have given him a human face and form and dressed him like humans.”
At another place Allah says, “If We send an angel in his original form and style and appoint him a guide for men, all of them would die.”
And they say: Why has not an angel been sent down to him? And had We sent down an angel, the matter would have certainly been decided and then they would not have been respited. (6:8)
The Unseen World has predominance over this world and the angel is from the other world. The Angel belongs to the world of incorporeal beings. How can he be sent for you? If he comes with the same corporeal attributes to the world then there is no such world. Secondly, if an angel appears here it would be visible. What is needed is that one should put faith in the Unseen.
Of course, Almighty God has, also given him (the Prophet) some distinction so that people may not say that the messenger also is like us. He has knowledge and power with him. He must also have a miracle. So they brought dead persons to life and so on.
Reverting to our discussion, these three persons said,
Our Lord knows that most surely we are messengers to you.
That is Allah knows and He testifies that we are His messengers towards you. Your denial and your giving a lie to us causes no effect on the main point, that is, on our being the Messengers.
And nothing devolves on us but a clear deliverance (of the message).
Our responsibility and duty is no more than to convey His message to you in a clear manner. We are only entrusted by God Almighty to bring God’s invitation to you explicitly. You may accept it or not. We have conveyed the concepts of monotheism and hereafter to you.
The people turn back and utter nonsense:
They said: Surely we augur evil from you; if you do not desist, we will certainly stone you, and there shall certainly afflict you a painful chastisement from us.
Meaning: We think you are inauspicious and a cause of trouble for us. If you do not leave, we will stone you to death. And we will torture you painfully.
In Tafsir Ruhul Bayan, in explanation of this verse, a story poem is mentioned and we shall quote it here due to its relevance:
It is said that once a tanner, along with a street sweeper (both of whom were accustomed to dirt and bad smell), came to a market and passed by the shops of perfumers. When the fragrance of perfume reached the nose of the poor tanner, he gave a sigh and fell unconscious. The perfume sellers sprinkled essence of rose and other fragrant flowers on his face, which worsened the condition of the poor tanner.
When his companion (the sweeper) saw this, he at once understood the matter. He went aside, brought some dirt and put it near the nose of his companion who soon recovered.
People gathered round him and asked, “O competent physician! What is this wonderful medicine that cured this man?”
The sweeper said, “I am neither Plato nor Aristotle. The fact is that our engagement is always with dirt and dirty things. What have we to do with flowers and fragrance and the smell of roses?”
This story hints at the humanity of man and his being conversant with the higher world. O resident of paradise! If you have perfected your job, the name of death should remind you of your original abode (paradise). If during a long journey, you meet someone coming from your hometown, how do you gather round him and seek the news of your country from him? All your liking is about your native place.
O’ the one whose native place or residence is Paradise, a place of everlasting rest and comfort, that place is after your death. It is near God. You are now on earth, the alien country. During nights you pray in Dua Abu Hamza Thumali: O my God! I am an alien in this world, so have mercy on me. The real destination, the true location (Maqad-e-Sidq), where you will never have any discomfort, is paradise.
There are three bounties in paradise, which for the people of paradise, are more precious than paradise itself and more delightful: Firstly, the pleasure of God or the spiritual bliss. Secondly, the neighborhood of Muhammad, Ali and the Ahle Bayt (‘a) and thirdly, the call of a caller who says: O people of paradise! No exit from here forever. Now there will be no death, no annihilation. This bounty of permanent life gives a pleasure more than paradise itself.
Here this world is alien land (Daarul Ghurbaa). The sign of your being lucky is that you should have longing for your original native place, not that you get frightened by the name death and the other world, and imagine it to be inauspicious.
Have you not seen some people who do not even utter the word death? Hearing about someone’s death they exclaim, “What happened! Why!” This is so because they do not belong to the other world. If one becomes an inhabitant of the Hereafter he likes death and is eager to die. He would not be like Jews who claim to be the chosen people but Quran challenges them:
Say: O you, who are Jews, if you think that you are the favorites of Allah to the exclusion of other people, then invoke death if you are truthful. (62:6)
On the other hand the true believers ardently desire to meet their Lord.
Whoever hopes to meet Allah, the term appointed by Allah will then most surely come…(29:5)
If there is one who does not like everlasting bliss and bounties, if one becomes restless at the name of death, it shows that he has not yet become a man of that world. Otherwise he should be happy just by remembering that world.
I don’t know whether you are thinking about tomorrow or not. In what way and in which state do we die? Quran has described two kinds of death. In one case, the one who is dying, at the time of his or her death, he or she rises up happily and with extreme pleasure, accompanied by angels.
Those, whom the angels cause to die in a good state, saying: Peace be on you: enter the garden for what you did. (16:32)
Another kind of death is when the angels of death whip the face and back.
But how will it be when the angels cause them to die smiting their backs. (47:27)