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Tafsir Surah 36 Yasin (Yaseen)


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Yā Sīn (سورة يس‎) is the 36th 'chapter' of the Qur'an with 83 ayat, and is one of the Meccan suras. It is often referred to as "the Heart of the Qur'an" i

Tafsir Surah 36 Yasin (Yaseen)

  1. 1. Surah Ya-Seen 1
  2. 2. For an introduction to our tafsirs and for a discussion of the Basmallah, which is the first ayah ofthis Surah, please see our tafsir of Surah Fatihah, which is also on Quran-Tafsir.org2. Ya Seen. Much like several other Surahs of the Quran, Allah (swt) begins this Surah with someletters of the Arabic alphabet. As we have mentioned in our previous tafsir books, Allah (swt)Knows best as to the true meaning of such ayahs. These are what we call mutashabiyat ayahs orayahs for which only Allah (swt) Knows the true meaning. Although we do not know the truemeaning of this ayah, we can still take a general meaning from it. That meaning is that theseletters remind us how the Quran is in the Arabic language. The Miracle of the Quran is the Arabiclanguage, the way in which it uses the Arabic language. So by placing letters from this languageat the beginning of Surahs Allah (swt) reminds us that this Book is in the Arabic language. Arabicis a language that is known to man, so if this Book is not divine in origin then why is it that manhas still not been able to reproduce it. Thus through these letters Allah (swt) reminds us of theDivine origin of this Book and how it truly is a Miracle that man cannot reproduce. However for these particular letters of “Ya Seen”, many scholars have said that it has anadditional meaning. That meaning is that it is one of the names of the Prophet (saw). We knowthat the Prophet (saw) had several names including “Muhammad” and “Ahmad”. But this name of“Ya Seen” is a very special name because it is has been given to him (saw) by Allah (swt). SoAllah (swt) Himself has named the Prophet (saw) with this name in His (swt)’s blessed Book. Thisonce again shows us the Love that Allah (swt) has for the Prophet (saw) in that He (swt) woulddedicate an entire ayah of the Quran just to give this special name to the Prophet (saw). If welove Allah (swt) then how much should we love the Prophet (saw)? How can we claim to be closeto Allah (swt) and then not have this overflowing love for His (swt)’s Beloved (saw)? The benefitthat we must take from it is that we too must increase in our love for him (saw). How can you notlove the most perfect of human beings? The very best of creation? 2
  3. 3. The scholars have said that Ya Sin means the “leader of all mankind”. This is who theProphet (saw) is. He (saw) is not the leader of the Quraysh, or the Arabs, or the Muslims, butrather he (saw) is the leader for all mankind. All mankind. Not only for mankind who lived duringhis time and after his time, but even for those people who lived before he (saw) was sent. For allthe generations who came before him (saw) and all the generations who came after him (swt).The Prophet (saw) is even the leader for Adam (as) himself! This is the great meaning that thisName gives. How then can you not respect him (saw) and regard him (saw)? . We should also remember that on the Day of Judgment the grave of the Prophet (saw)will be the first grave to open. He (saw) will be the first one to come out from his grave. He (saw)will be the first to march forward towards the Plain of Judgment. All of mankind, every singlehuman being, will then follow him (saw). Then at his (saw)’s request the Judgment will start andhe (saw) will be the first to enter the Garden. This is also why we say that he (saw) is the leaderof all mankind. Do you then realize the kind of human being that he (saw) is? What then shouldbe your relationship with him (saw)? Thus we see how Allah (swt) begins this ayah by calling out to the Prophet (saw). Inaddition to reminding us of the Miracle of the Quran, these two Arabic letters make up a specialname that Allah (swt) gave to His (swt)’s beloved (saw). A name that He (swt) calls him (saw) byhere. So we see that even though this ayah is mutashabiyat it still does serve a purpose. There isstill a benefit and a guidance that we can take from it. First of all it reminds us of the Miracle of theQuran, it also shows us the status and the rank of the Prophet (saw) compared to all mankind, italso shows us the love that Allah (swt) had for him (saw), and finally it reminds us that in theseayahs Allah (swt) is directly addressing and speaking to the Prophet (saw). So even in themutashabiyat ayahs there is still a benefit and a guidance that we can take even if we do notknow their true interpretation. May Allah (swt) help us to realize this fact! May Allah (swt) save usfrom ever interpreting any ayah in such a way that it does not give any benefit or guidance! 3
  4. 4. 3. By the Wise Quran. In the previous ayah we saw how Allah (swt) called out to the Prophet (saw). In this ayahHe (swt) continues that address. However before He (swt) tells the Prophet (saw) what He (swt)has to say, He (swt) first takes an oath. What does He (swt) take the oath by? By this very Quranitself. Allah (swt) only swears by what is tremendous and by Him (swt) swearing by this Quran weare reminded of indeed how tremendous it is. How true then must be the statement that followsthis oath be that Allah (swt) would take such a tremendous oath to affirm it? Notice also the word that Allah (swt) chooses to describe the Quran with here. Allah (swt)calls it the “Wise” Quran. Without a doubt this Book is filled with wisdom. It calls us to the worshipand servitude of Allah (swt). It shows us the correct way on how to worship and serve Him (swt).What could have more wisdom than that? If wisdom is knowing what is right and doing what isright then what could be more right than worshipping and serving Allah (swt)? This is the purposefor which we were created. This is what gives true peace and tranquility in this life. This is whatleads to the Garden in the Hereafter. Who then could be more wise than the one who follows thispath? The Quran is the Book which calls to this worship. That is why it is a Book that is filled withwisdom. Anyone who holds fast to the guidance in this Book, and who bases their decisions onthe teachings of this Book will be the wisest of all people. They would be fulfilling the purpose forwhich mankind was created. For which the entire universe was created. That is why Allah (swt)describes the Quran here as “Wise”. Following it is following the best of paths. However in Arabic this word Hakeem that Allah (swt) uses has a far deeper meaning thansimply wisdom. It gives also the meaning of that which restricts and demarcates. Somethingwhich not only shows the right way to follow but also that which puts you on that right way andkeeps you on it. Such is the Quran. In it is wisdom and guidance and in it is also the means thatwill allow you to stick to and hold on to this guidance. The only onus that is upon you is to look tothis Quran and to see what it has to say. Once you do Insha Allah you will be guided. 4
  5. 5. Also derived from the same root word as Hakeem is that which rules and legislates. TheHakim is the One Who rules and legislates. Thus not only does the Quran show the right way andnot only does it keep one on that way, but it is also a legal Book. A Book of Law. What does theLaw of the Quran cover? Everything of course. Do you expect the Lord and Master of theuniverse to send down a law that is not comprehensive? A law that is only restricted to worshiprituals, inheritance, transactions, and marriage? Is that all that Islam is? No rather this Divine Lawis far more comprehensive than that. It covers every single action that the human being can take.Everything from the government and foreign policy to even the way the bathroom should be usedand the body should be groomed. It is all here in this Book. Thus the very nature of the Quran isthat it is a legal Book. Allah (swt) describes at such in this ayah. Why then do we as an Ummahnot treat it as such? Sayyid Qutb tells us in his tafsir of this ayah that because Allah (swt) uses the word“wise” to describe the Quran how that shows us the “humanity” of this Book. When it comes to thecreation, wisdom is an essential quality of human beings. Of all the creation only human beingsare capable of wisdom. This is true even though many humans often do not behave wisely.Despite our laziness to use this capacity, it is still something that Allah (swt) has bestowed uswith. So by being described as “wise”, the Quran can also be described as “human”. According toSayyid Qutb it is not just human in any sense of the word, but it is human in that it is like yourfriend. The one who advises you. The one who is always with you. The one who shows you atevery moment what is the correct course of action to follow. A wise friend. A loving friend. A friendwho will never abandon you. This is the kind of friend that the Quran was for Sayyid Qutb. Wepray that Allah (swt) makes it into such a friend to us as well. In addition to addressing the Prophet (saw) this ayah is an admonition for us as well.Before Allah (swt) tells us anymore about this beautiful Surah He (swt) first reminds of the Bookthat we are reading. We are not just reading any book but rather this is His (swt)’s Book. This isthe Quran. Allah (swt) reminds us of this fact here at the very beginning of this Surah. How thenshould we approach this Surah? How should we respond to what it tells us? Ultimately the Quranis a Book about Allah (swt) because He (swt) is the Real and the True. Everything else in the 5
  6. 6. universe is only an illusion. Now to constantly remember Allah (swt). To constantly be present ofheart with Him (swt). That is the challenge. That is what we must strive to do. Not only must wealways be with Allah (swt) but we must strive to call others to Him (swt). That is the mission forwhich our Creator created and for which He (swt) sustains us. This task is by no means easy.How do we fulfill it? What will show us the way? What will give us the strength? It is only thisQuran. Such is the purpose of the Quran. It shows the way to Allah (swt). It gives us the strengthand the determination to call others to Him (swt).That is why it is a Wise Book. Because there isno wisdom except in turning to Allah (swt) and dedicating your all to Him (swt). Any way otherthan this is utter foolishness. May Allah (swt) help us all to realize this! May this Book be a lightfor all those who sincerely turn to it!5. Most surely you are of the messengers. In the previous ayah Allah (swt) took an oath by the Quran itself. In this ayah He (swt)shows us what He (swt) has taken that oath to. It is an oath where Allah (swt) swears by theQuran itself that the Prophet (saw) is surely of the messengers. Recall from the previous ayahhow Allah (swt) had called out to the Prophet (saw). Here He (swt) tells him (saw) what He (swt)has to say. By the Wise Quran, oh Muhammad (saw), you indeed are of the messengers. Thereare two linguistic tools of emphasis that Allah (swt) uses in this ayah. Both of these show thatAllah (swt) emphasis and stresses this point again and again. With the utmost certainty andwithout a doubt the Prophet (saw) is indeed of the messengers. Now what is the significance of being among the messengers? What does it mean to befrom among the messengers? Who are the messengers? The messengers are without a doubtthe greatest of human beings to ever walk on the face of the earth. Never has this earth beenblessed as much as it has when the feet of the messengers have walked on it. This is becausethe messengers are the representatives of the Divine. They connect all mankind with the Real 6
  7. 7. and the True. Who is greater than Allah (swt)? What is more important than knowing Him (swt)and drawing close to Him (swt)? The messengers are who facilitate this. They allow mankind toknow the purpose of their existence. In this life they rescue mankind from the torment ofheedlessness and they show them the serenity of gnosis. In the next life they rescue them fromthe burning of the Fire and show them the bliss of the Garden. So how important are themessengers? We were never them. We were never close to them. So we can never truly realizethe burden that they carried. They carried the greatest burden but they also had the best rewardwith their Lord. Their efforts and their striving brought them closer to Allah (swt) than everyoneelse. There is no one who is closer to Allah (swt) than the messengers. So if we want to approachAllah (swt). If we want to be close to Him (swt) then what should be our task in life? Could therebe any nobler task than following in their footsteps calling to Him (swt)? But we should also remember that this ayah was first and foremost addressed to theProphet (saw). So why was it so significant for Allah (swt) to remind him (saw) that he (saw) wasamong the messengers? Should not he (saw) have known this fact already? We can understandwhy Allah (swt) says this if we understand the context in which this Surah was revealed. ThisSurah was revealed at the later phase of the Makkan dawah. This was a period in which theProphet (saw) had spent years and years calling the people to Islam without much success. Aswe know the ultimate goal of the Prophet (saw) in Makkah was to establish the Islamic Statethere. However the Quraysh chiefs were unwilling to give up their political authority. They wantedto be the ones to legislate the laws for that land rather than give that right to Allah (swt). Theyknew that the Prophet (saw) was the Messenger of Allah (swt). But they did not want to accepthim (saw) as this because they knew what it would entail. They would rather live a life where theyserved themselves and their desires, rather than their Creator like they knew that they werecreated to do. So they rejected the Prophet (saw) even when they knew that he (saw) was trulythe Messenger. Every time he (saw) called them and told them that he (saw) was the messenger,they rejected him (saw) and told him (saw) that he (saw) was not. Now this constant rejection must have weighed down heavily on the blessed heart of theProphet (saw). To hear his own tribe and his own people tell him (saw) that he (saw) was not the 7
  8. 8. Messenger. To hear them say that he (saw) was a madman or that he (saw) was possessed byspirits. Imagine how difficult it must have been for the Prophet (saw) to hear this from those whowere all around him (saw). That is why Allah (swt) revealed this ayah to the Prophet (saw). It wasto ease his (saw)’s heart. It was to let him (saw) know that indeed he (saw) was of themessengers. Despite what these people said. Their words were false, and the Word of Allah (swt)was true. In addition to easing his heart, this ayah was also an encouragement for him (saw) tocontinue. He (saw) should pay no heed to this people. He (saw) should make Allah (swt) thecentral focus of his heart. He (saw) should keep doing what he (saw) has to do. Even if the victorynever comes. Even if the Islamic State is never established. What matters is not the result but it isthe effort. What is important is not us but Allah (swt).4. On the Straight Path. In this ayah Allah (swt) continues to address the Prophet (saw) and all those who carrythis dawah after him (saw). In the previous ayah Allah (swt) reminded the Prophet (saw) how he(saw) was indeed of the messengers. Of those who have been sent by Allah (swt) to mankind.People may deny this fact. People may reject this fact. But it does not change the reality. This isthe Truth. Allah (swt) is True. This Message is True. The fact that we are the bearers of thisMessage is True. We have the Quran that is filled with wisdom. A close friend that will show usthe way and one that will always be with us. Now we know what we are and what we have. Herein this ayah Allah (swt) shows us where we must go. He (swt) describes for us the path on whichwe must walk. This is the path that the Prophet (saw) walked on. This is the path that leads to thePleasure of Allah (swt). This is the path that all of us were created to walk on. This is the path thatleads to the goal which is the purpose of our existence. Should we not then try to find out asmuch as we can about this path? 8
  9. 9. The Arabic word that Allah (swt) uses to describe this path is far more comprehensiveand has a far deeper meaning than simply “straight”. Straight is just one of the many meaningsgiven by this word. Another meaning is constant. So not only is this path straight but it is alwaysstraight. It never deviates or turns. It is one that keeps going and going on a straight andunbending line. This is what Islam is. It is a path. It is a way of thinking and a behavior that resultsfrom that thinking. First and foremost you must believe that you exist only to please Allah (swt).That is the only purpose for your existence. That is the first step on this path. To know yourpurpose. To know your reason for being. What flows naturally from this is repentance becauseonce you know Allah (swt) then you will realize that you could never do enough to be worthy ofHim (swt). All that you can do is sincerely try to the best of your ability and hope that He (swt)accepts it from you. So the next step in this path is servitude. You try to please Allah (swt) with allof your thoughts and actions. You keep striving to stay on this path until your death comes. Sayyid Qutb tells us in his tafsir how this ayah also shows us the simplicity of Islam. Sonot only is Islam straight but it is also simple. First and foremost the belief is simple. What couldbe a more simple belief than to know that there is but One Creator for this entire universe? ThisCreator is Perfect in every way with absolutely no weaknesses or limits imaginable. Not only hasthis Creator brought every single thing into existence but He (swt) is also sustaining andmaintaining everything at every moment. Our duty is but to dedicate ourselves to this PerfectBeing. The One Who truly deserves that everything be dedicated to Him (swt). What could besimpler than that? There is no struggle between church and state. There are no mind bogglingphilosophies or archaic dogma. Nothing in this belief defies logic and reason. On the contraryeverything that this belief teaches is what the human being can arrive at rationally were he tostudy the proofs in the world around him. Furthermore there is no clergy or institutions ofintermediaries between the worshipper and the Divine. There is no struggle to find spirituality or asense of purpose in a world of materialism. There is just you and your Creator. Your only task isto worship and serve Him (swt) to the best of your ability. If you do that then you will find peaceand contentment in this life because you would have found your Reason for being. Furthermorewhen you die you will be rewarded with pleasures and joys unimaginable. It will be yours for all 9
  10. 10. eternity. If however you fail in this task and you turn away from your Creator, then it is completelyup to Him (swt) to deal with you in a way that He (swt) pleases. What we can be certain of is thatAllah (swt) will not do injustice to anyone. In the end justice will be done for everyone. What couldbe simpler than this? How could anyone then turn away from this Din? This is the Din that the Prophet (saw) brought to us from Allah (swt). This is the pathupon which he (saw) walked. The noblest path that any creation can walk on. In fact all ofcreation longs to walk on this path. They all wish to be on this path. Everything from the angels inthe heavens to the fish in the lowest depths of the ocean. This is because they know where thispath ends. The Pleasure of Allah (swt). What could be better than that? So Allah (swt) remindsthe Prophet (saw) here that he (saw) is indeed on this path. Why then should he (saw) care aboutthe enemies of this Message? They mean nothing to Allah (swt). As long he (saw) is on this paththen he (saw) already has all of the good of this world.6. Sent down by the Mighty, the Merciful. In this ayah Allah (swt) continues to address the Prophet (saw). In the previous ayahsAllah (swt) called out to the Prophet (saw) and reminded him (saw) that he (saw) was indeed ofthe messengers and that he (saw) was on the Straight Path. Allah (swt) swore by the Quran itselfto this fact. Now in this ayah Allah (swt) tells us about the nature of the Quran and about thenature of the path upon which the Prophet (saw) and the true believers walk. What is the reality ofthis? How best can we describe it? Allah (swt) tells us in this ayah. As you read this ayah realizethat Allah (swt) is telling you here both about the Quran and also about the Din of Islam for whichit is the foundation of. First Allah (swt) tells us about this Quran that it has been sent down. This refers to howthe Quran was sent down to earth from the highest heavens. We know that atop the highestheaven is the Guarded Tablet on which the Quran is written. Forever inscribed there are the 10
  11. 11. Divine Words. The benefit that we can take from this is to remind ourselves here of the loftinessand the greatness of this Book. This is not just any book. This is not a book that has been writtenby some man. Rather it is the very words that the Lord and Master Himself (swt) has inscribed onthe Guarded Tablet. Can you then realize the tremendousness of this Book? Can you realize theplace that it must have in your life? Many scholars have said that if you read anything less than ajuz a day of the Quran then you have neglected it. So we must strive to read more and more ofthe Quran, to contemplate and reflect on its meanings, and to allow it to bring us closer to ourLord with every ayah. Only then can you even begin to realize the magnitude of this Book. Wemust also have the same regard for the Din of Islam itself. This is because the Quran was notsent merely to be placed at the highest level of the bookshelf or to be read when someonepasses away. Rather it was sent to establish a society and a way of life. A community and a statethat submits wholly to Allah (swt). If we do not work to bring this about then we too haveneglected this Book. How could we when we know now where it came from? After Allah (swt) describes the Quran and this Din of Islam that comes from it, He (swt)then describes the One Who sent it down. Of course this is Allah (swt) Himself. He (swt)describes Himself (swt) here with two of His most beautiful Names. The first of these names inArabic is Al-Aziz. This does not simply mean the One Who is Mighty as we have translated ithere. Our translation is at best an approximation and there is a far deeper meaning that theoriginal Arabic gives. First of all when it comes to the Might of Allah (swt) this Name gives themeaning that He (swt) is so powerful that He (swt) can do whatsoever that He (swt) pleases. Sooverwhelmingly Powerful is He (swt) that there is nothing that He (swt) cannot do. He (swt) cando everything by Will alone. There is not the least bit of effort involved for Him (swt) for anythingthat He (swt) does. Not even the creation and the sustaining of the universe. Such is the Lord thatyou have. In addition to that this Name also gives the meaning that He (swt) has the authority andthe right to do whatsoever He (swt) pleases. Thus Allah (swt) can do all things and no one canquestion Him (swt) in anything that He (swt) does. The One Who has absolute Power andabsolute authority. The One Who can put you in the Fire forever right at this moment and such 11
  12. 12. would not be injustice for Him (swt). This is the One Who has sent down this Quran and this Dinof Islam. What then should be your relationship with this Book? How then should you live thisDin? How can you sleep contently at night while knowing that most of this Din is not beingimplemented and that most of the people are unaware of this Book? Do you not realize that rightat this moment you are in the grasp of Al-Aziz? Should this not send chills down your spine? This was how most of the Sahabah were when they heard this Name of Allah (swt). Theytrembled with fear. So much was their fear that it was almost paralyzing. They were so crippledwith fear of Allah (swt) that they could not do anything. This is how they would always have beenif Allah (swt) did not mention another Name of His, and that is His Mercy. The overflowing Mercyof Allah (swt) is the only refuge that we have from His Might and His Authority. Fortunately for usthis is a tremendous Mercy. So much is this Mercy that all of creation tastes from it. Even theworst of criminals and disbelievers taste of this Mercy. So we should not fear. Allah (swt) will notpunish us unless we truly deserved that punishment. Even when we are deserving of punishment,He (swt) will show Mercy to us. More Mercy that we can ever imagine. All that we need to do isfollow this Quran to the best of our ability. Then we hope for this Mercy. The scholars say that true believer should always have a balance of fear and hope. Thismeans that he should fear Allah (swt) and at the same time hope for Mercy from Him (swt). Thisfact is brought to light by these two Names of Allah (swt). The Name of the Mighty gives a senseof dread and fear for the servant and the Name of the Merciful gives hope and peace for theservant. Both of these must be present in equal amounts for the servant to properly serve hisMaster. If there is an imbalance then the proper relationship with Allah (swt) cannot beestablished. If there is too much hope then you will think that Allah (swt) will forgive you forwhatever you do and then you will fall into constant sin. If there is too much fear then you willthink that Allah (swt) will never forgive you and that He (swt) will never have mercy on you soonce again you fall into sin. The only to keep yourself in the Pleasure of Allah (swt) is to have anequal amount of hope and fear. Allah (swt) reminds us of this fact here by mentioning these twoNames of His (swt). So not only is He (swt) telling us about Himself (swt) but He (swt) is alsotelling us how our hearts should be. 12
  13. 13. The scholars also say that the fear must come before the hope. For example for theyouth they should have more fear because they are especially vulnerable to their lusts and theirarrogance. Fear should also come first when one is contemplating whether or not to sin. WhenShaitan prompts you to commit sin then there should be fear. It would be folly to think of theMercy of Allah (swt) at the moment when you are being called to sin. That is why in the ayah theName that invokes Fear is mentioned first. But by no means does this indicate that the Wrath ofAllah (swt) is more than His (swt)’s Mercy. In fact we know that the Mercy of Allah (swt) is greaterthan His (swt)’s Wrath. So if you are not able to resist the temptations and you succumb to the sinthen you must remember the Mercy of Allah (swt). Do not ever allow Shaitan to tell you that youare beyond the Mercy of Allah (swt). If you do then you have underestimated this Mercy. So muchis the Mercy of Allah (swt) that it will drown out any sin that you may have done. Thus when itcomes to your past and all the sins that you have committed previously then think of the Mercy ofAllah (swt), but if you are called to sin today or tomorrow then remember that Allah (swt) is alsoAl-Aziz. The One with Might Who can do whatsoever He (swt) pleases. This then is the One Who has sent down this Quran and this way of life. Then when youknow that this Message has been sent to you by the One Who could destroy you at any momentand it would mean nothing for Him (swt) to do so, how then can you turn away from it? When youalso know that He (swt) is so Merciful that Mercy is one of His (swt)’s very names how then canyou turn away from such Mercy? Do you not want to taste that Mercy in this life and especially inthe Hereafter? How else can you other than by turning to Allah (swt) and to the Message that He(swt) has sent you? How else can you other than by studying this Quran and trying to establishthe Din that springs forth from it in your life? Realize now the One Who has sent this Book to youand then you will realize what you must do with it. 13
  14. 14. 8. So that you may warn a people whose forefathers were not warned and so they areheedless. In this ayah Allah (swt) continues to address the Prophet (saw). In the previous ayahsAllah (swt) reminded the Prophet (saw) that he (saw) was surely of the messengers and that he(saw) was on the Straight Path. He (swt) also reminded him (saw) of the greatest of gifts andblessings that He (swt) had conferred upon him (saw) and that is this Quran. Now that theProphet (saw) knew who he (saw) was, and what he (saw) has, and the path that he (saw) is on,Allah (swt) now shows him (saw) the task that he (saw) has to fulfill. Allah (swt) shows theProphet (saw) what his mission is. Allah (swt) tells the Prophet (saw) here that his mission is to warn a people whoseforefathers had not been warned. This refers to the Arabs at the time of the Prophet (saw). It alsorefers to all people whose forefathers lived without guidance from Allah (swt). Any people whohad not received a messenger. Allah (swt) refers to the Prophet (saw) here as warning suchpeople. One of the main components of this Message is the warning. It warns the people aboutthe true nature of this universe. It warns the people by reminding them that they are not in thisworld to enjoy themselves and play. It warns them by reminding them that they are being testedwhile they are in this world. Tested on how well they worship and serve Allah (swt). Now many were the people who had never received this warning, many were the peoplewho had never received this guidance. As we mentioned included in this category were the Arabsat the time of the Prophet (saw). Although Ibrahim (as) and Ismail (as) were prophets who weresent to their ancestors, many were the generations that had passed in which the guidance thatthey brought had been lost. Now the Arabs at the time of the Prophet (saw) found themselveswithout any guidance from Allah (swt) whatsoever. Neither they nor their fathers had beenwarned by any Warner. The Light of Guidance that Ibrahim (as) had brought had been lost 14
  15. 15. generations ago. That is why Allah (swt) reminds the Prophet (saw) here that he (saw) has beensent to warn a people whom neither they nor their forefather had been warned before. The scholars of language have noted several meanings from the root of the Arabic wordnadr that Allah (swt) uses here for “warning”. One meaning is that it is a warning from whichprecaution can be taken. It is a warning from which one can be saved. Sometimes a dangercomes from which there is nothing that one can do to save oneself from it. No matter what onedoes the calamity or the danger will befall them. However there are other dangers from which awarning will save one. These are dangers which one can avert if they heed the warning that isgiven. This word nadr is used to describe such a warning. A warning which one can use to saveoneself from danger. An example that the scholars give for the usage of this word is that snakecharmers would this word in training young charmers. The snake charmers would warn theirstudents about how to handle the snake. How to charm it in such a way so that they do not getstung. Thus they give their students a warning from which benefit can be derived. A warning thatone can use to save oneself from pain. Similar is the warning that the Prophet (saw) brought. Another meaning from this word nadr is a promise or an oath. So not only does theProphet (saw) bring the people warning but he (saw) also bring them a promise. A promise fromtheir Lord. A promise that this world is not the end of existence. A promise that they will return toHim (swt). A promise of the Garden and the Fire. A promise of His contentment and His Wrath. Apromise of what the true purpose of our life is. The Prophet (saw) brings them this promise fromtheir Lord. He (saw) brings it to all those who had never received this promise before. Now thepeople have been given this promise. Now they have no excuse before their Lord whatsoever. Yet another meaning derived from the root of this word nadr is something that is out ofthe ordinary or something that is not expected. This word has been used in such a way todescribe a steep rock that sticks out from a mountain. Because this rock is radically different fromthe rest of the rock in the mountain. It sticks out and is prominent from the rest of the rock throughits sticking out. So through this warning the Prophet (saw) is reminding the people that the worldwill not remain as it is. Life will not go on forever as it had been going soon. Very soon a calamitywill happen. Very soon an event will befall. When this even happens then the world will be forever 15
  16. 16. changed. Nothing will be the same. That is the Day of Judgment. The Day on which the universewill be changed forever. The Prophet (saw) brings warning of this. So this warning is what the Prophet (saw) brings to a people who had not previouslyreceived this warning. Before the Prophet (saw) had been sent, these people had been denied ofthis warning. What has been the result of this? Allah (swt) tells us in the next part of the ayah “sothey are heedless”. They are heedless of Allah (swt). They are heedless of the true reality of thisuniverse. They are heedless of the fact that they have been created and this universe aroundthem has been created for a great purpose. They are utterly ignorant of all of this. The Arabicword ghafala that Allah (swt) uses here to describe their heedlessness is beautiful. It gives themeaning of someone who is so preoccupied with chasing something that he becomes completelyoblivious to everything else that is around him. That is the situation of these people. This is theresult of their being deprived of this guidance. This is the result of a Warner from Allah (swt)never coming to them. They are so bent on chasing after the life of this world that they haveforgotten Allah (swt) and they have forgotten their responsibility to worship Him (swt). They haveforgotten the true reality of this universe. All that they can see is this world. All that they desire isgetting more and more of it. Their focus of this world has made them blind to the truth of thisexistence. This is one meaning of this word ghafala. Another meaning is a road that does nothave any markings on it. A road with no signs or guide. This meaning also describes theheedlessness of these people. It is like they are on a road that does not go anywhere, a roadwhich if one follows one will get lost on. That is the situation of these people. Without guidancefrom Allah (swt) their lives have no purpose and no meaning. They do not know what they aredoing here, where they came from, or where they are going. All that they know is the life of thisworld. They chase after it and dedicate their lives for it even though they know that they soonhave to leave it. Allah (swt) tells the Prophet (saw) here that he (saw) has been sent to remedythis situation. He (saw) has been sent to warn these people so that they come out of theirheedlessness. They are walking towards a pit of Fire and they do not even know it. Allah (swt)reminds the Prophet (saw) here that he (saw) is the one who has been sent to warn them. Toshow them the way. To save them. What task then could be more important than this? 16
  17. 17. One lesson that we can take from this ayah is to realize that today we are wearing theshoes of the Prophet (saw). We are the ones who have been sent to warn those who areheedless. How many people in the world today are among the heedless? Even many among theMuslims are among the heedless. They do not realize the purpose for which they exist. They areunaware of Allah (swt) while He (swt) is the Real and the True. Allah (swt) is the One Whobrought us into existence and He (swt) is the One Who sustains our existence for every moment.Yet how many people in the world today are even conscious of this fact let alone try to show theirgratitude to Him (swt) for it? How can we expect such people to fare on the Day of Judgment ifthey were to return to Him (swt) after living a lifetime of heedlessness to Him (swt)? Can we besure that they will be forgiven? Can we be sure that they will be saved? How can we expect ourselves to fare on that Day if we did not even make the effort towarn them? The world today is drowning in this heedlessness. So much has technology andinnovation opened up the world for the people that material goods are all that they care about.They just care about getting more and more of this world. Capitalism is the ideology thatconsumes the world today. Everything is about marketing, selling your product. Thisconsumerism is what is fed to the people day and night. This makes the people not care aboutanything except getting more and more goods of this world. Their homes for them are nothing butplaces where they can keep their things while they go out to buy more things. They even have topay for storage because they are buying so much. This is the pathetic situation that many amongmankind are in. They have completely forgotten Allah (swt) and the reason why they are here.Allah (swt) is telling us in this ayah to save the people from this. So for those of us who areaware of the true reality of this universe, we have to make the best effort that we can to warnthose around us. We have to use all of the outlets that are at our disposal. We have to remind thepeople about Allah (swt). Remind them of the Day of Judgment. Remind them why they are hereon this planet. This is the reason why we have been given the Quran. This is the reason why weare part of the Ummah of the Prophet (saw). This is what it means to walk on the Straight Path.Dawah is an obligation for every single Muslim. One that can no longer be neglected orpostponed. May Allah (swt) give us the enabling grace to take up this call and be steadfast on it! 17
  18. 18. 8. Most surely the word (of punishment) has proven true against most of them becausethey do not believe. To understand this ayah we have to once again remind ourselves of the context in whichthis Surah was revealed. Recall how we said that this Surah was revealed at the later phase ofthe Makkan dawah. This was a time when the Prophet (saw) had already presented this Messageto his tribe the Quraysh. As we know most of them had rejected his call. Even though they knewthat he (saw) was truly the Messenger from Allah (swt), even though they were absolutelyconvinced of it, they still decided to turn away. They turned away only to follow their lusts anddesires. They turned away only because they did not want to worship and serve Allah (swt) asthey were created to do. They knew that Allah (swt) was their Creator and Sustainer. They knewthat He (swt) had a right that He (swt) be submitted to. But they turned away from Him (swt).How evil are a people who would turn away from Allah (swt) when He (swt) is the Real and theTrue? So in this ayah Allah (swt) tells us what was their fate on the account of their turning away. Allah (swt) says in this ayah “Most surely the word (of punishment) has proven trueagainst most of them because they do not believe”. There is the word of forgiveness and theword of punishment. Allah (swt) tells us in this ayah that for those among the Quraysh whorejected the call of the Prophet (saw) the word of punishment has proven true for them. So withAllah (swt) were two words. One was a word of mercy and one was a word of pain. When thesepeople chose not to believe in this Message. When they chose to reject this Message even whenthey knew that it was the Truth. Then they made the word of pain to come true against them.They made the word of punishment to befall them. This was the result of the choice that theymade. Even though the word of punishment was already there with Allah (swt), it was their choiceto reject this Message that made this word come true against them. Allah (swt) tells us clearly in 18
  19. 19. this ayah that the word of punishment befalling them was a result of their not choosing to believe.If they had believed then the word of punishment would not have befallen them. One lesson that we can take from this ayah is to see that the human being does indeedhave free-will. This is because Allah (swt) clearly tells us in this ayah that the word of punishmentproved true against them because they chose not to believe. In other words the reason why thepunishment befell them is because they chose not to believe. Now there were some deviantgroups in the history of our Ummah who denied that the human has any free will at all. This ayahis a clear evidence to show how wrong they were. Everything is in the Knowledge of Allah (swt).Everything happens by the Decree of Allah (swt). Yet at the same time every human has free-willto choose or reject worshipping and serving Allah (swt). Allah (swt) is beyond time. The past, thepresent, and the future are all the same for Him (swt). So what He (swt) decreed for us is exactlywhat He (swt) Knew that we would do. With the Quraysh chiefs Allah (swt) Knew that they wouldreject this Message. That was why He (swt) decreed that the word of punishment be true againstthem. In other words the Decree of Allah (swt) was a consequence of the choice that He (swt)allowed them to make. Allah (swt) allowed them to make the choice, and because they chose thewrong path, that is why the punishment became due upon them. So this clearly shows that wehave free-will and that we will be judged in the Hereafter based on the choices that we make.This ayah clearly proves this point. However it is important to note that although the human beingdoes have free-will, he still needs Allah (swt) in order to be guided. He cannot guide himself to theStraight Path. Although he himself can go astray from the path, he needs Allah (swt) to guide himon the path. So the guidance comes only from Allah (swt). Once the human being chooses theStraight Path, he still needs Allah (swt) to show him the way and to keep him steadfast on thatway. This is our understanding of this concept and Allah (swt) Knows best! So we see how this ayah was also meant to comfort and console for the Prophet (saw).He (saw) saw the people rejecting his call for years upon years. He (saw) knew that they knewthat this Message was the Truth, yet he (saw) still saw them rejecting it. How painful must thishave been for the Prophet (saw) to see them turning away from him (saw) when he (saw) wascalling them to their salvation? When he (saw) was calling them to Allah (swt). Then on top of that 19
  20. 20. was all of the persecution and oppression that they were leveling upon the Prophet (saw) andthose few believers who were with him (saw). We know of how they would cause pain andsuffering to both the Prophet (saw) and many of his (saw)’s companions. They would use torture,slander, blackmail and bribery, coercion, social and economic boycotts. Any means possible tomake the Prophet (saw) and the believers to give up this dawah. To give up the call to Allah (swt).In this ayah Allah (swt) reassures the Prophet (saw) by letting him (saw) know that all of this evilhas not gone unnoticed. The result of the evil from these people who were causing him (saw)pain is that the word of punishment has come true against them. In this life the result of this wordwas humiliation and disgrace. In a matter of a few years the Quraysh would lose all of their powerand their city would be conquered. But in the next life is when they would truly see theramifications of this word of punishment. Allah (swt) tell us how this is so in the next ayah.9. Surely we have placed iron collars around their necks, reaching to the chins, so theirheads are raised up. In the previous ayah Allah (swt) promised the Prophet (saw) that the word of punishmenthad come true against those who rejected him (saw). We mentioned how this word for them inthis world was disgrace and humiliation. Allah (swt) tells us in this ayah what this word for themwill be in the Hereafter. As you read the description that Allah (swt) gives of their punishmentthink of what it is that they did in the life of this world to deserve this punishment. Allah (swt) is theMost Just so He (swt) would not subject a people to such a terrible punishment unless theydeserved to it. Not only does Allah (swt) only punish to the extent that they deserve but He (swt)also punishes with the most fitting of punishments. Now think to yourself as to what crime is it thatcould warrant such a terrible punishment. 20
  21. 21. In this ayah Allah (swt) describes how these people will have iron collars around theirnecks. These collars are so stiff and so tight and they reach all the way up to their chins. Thesecollars then not only take up a small portion of their necks but in fact they consume their necks.Their entire necks are wrapped in these iron collars. These collars reach from their shoulders totheir chins. Think about how painful this must be. To have your entire neck enshrouded in iron.So much does the iron consume their necks that they are not even able to look down. Theirheads are forced up and they cannot even see what is around them. This is the terrible punishment that these people have been promised in the Hereafter.The terrible punishment that they will have to endure for all eternity. Not what crime did theycommit that made them deserving of this punishment? What particular crime is this punishmentfitting for? Of course the lists of sins that these people have done are endless. They rejected thisMessage that they knew was the Truth. They tortured and persecuted the believers. They causedsuffering and hardships for the Prophet (saw). They exploited and oppressed their own people.They treated their women as objects and they satisfied every wanton pleasure that they had.They stole the property of the orphans and the defenseless. They engaged in usury and fraud.They did every crime known to man. But there was one crime that was the root of all of this. Onesin that was the cause of all other sins. Of course it was their pride and arrogance. This was infact the worst of their crimes. Because how can a human being have pride in his heart when heknows Allah (swt)? When you know that there is such a Being then who do you think that you areto become arrogant? How can you even compare to Him (swt)? How can you think of yourself asanything? So these people forgot Allah (swt) and they became overly proud of themselves. Theybecame their own gods. It is for this reason that they have been promised such a terriblepunishment. May Allah (swt) save us from this fate! May Allah (swt) save us from ourselves! Because of their arrogance and pride, when they walked on this earth they walked withhaughtiness and self glory. They always stuck their heads up so that they could think ofthemselves as better than everyone else. They actually thought that they were better than others.Through some estimation in their minds they considered themselves superior to their fellow man.So in the Hereafter they will be forced to walk in this way. Their heads will be forced up with iron 21
  22. 22. collars and they will not be able to bring them down. This is the fitting punishment for arroganceand pride. The fitting recompense for thinking yourself to be a god. This is the sin that is mostdispleasing to Allah (swt) because all honor and glory is a right that belongs only to Him (swt).They are His cloak and robe. If anyone competes with Him (swt) in these then He (swt) castssuch people into the Fire. May Allah (swt) save us from that fate! In his tafsir of this ayah Sayyid Qutb tells us that we can also take a metaphoricalmeaning from this ayah. He tells us that another meaning of this ayah is that it even describes thesituation of these people in the life of this world. In this world as well Allah (swt) has placed chainson the necks of these people. These “chains” are their arrogance and stubbornness. Thesechains prevent them from seeing the true reality of the world around them. They do not perceivehow everything in this universe points to Allah (swt). How every single thing around them is asign for Him (swt). They have their heads the sky so they are not able to perceive all of this that isaround them. They are so focused on bringing themselves up that they have made themselvesblind to Allah (swt). They live in the illusion of this world. All that they care about is getting more ofthis world and gratifying themselves with it. They do not take the time to consider the worldaround them. To realize the true nature of this universe. Their heads are always looking to thesky and they are completely unaware of the true reality of the world around them. Only on theLast Day will they wake up from this slumber. Only then will they see what their eyes had turnedaway from. What then will be their station with Allah (swt)? How can they hope to savethemselves from Him (swt)? So we see that Allah (swt) has chained their necks in this world justlike He (swt) will chain them in the Hereafter. Punishment upon punishment because they turnedaway from Him (swt). Punishment upon punishment because of their arrogance and pride. MayAllah (swt) save us from their fate! 22
  23. 23. 10. And We have set before them a barrier, and behind them a barrier, so We have coveredthem, so they cannot see. In this ayah Allah (swt) continues to describe the fate of those who reject this Message.Their fate both in this life and in the Hereafter. Because of their rejection of Allah (swt), thesepeople have a punishment in this life and a punishment in the Hereafter. Such is the fate of allthose who turn away from Allah (swt). Such is the enormity of the crime to turn away from theReal and the True. So as you read these ayahs do not wonder at how severe is the punishmentfor these people. Rather wonder at how severe was their crime was when they chose to turnaway from their Originator and Sustainer. There is no creation whom Allah (swt) has favored likeman and there is no creation who has been as ungrateful and rebellious to Him (swt) as man. For these people Allah (swt) tells us how He (swt) has placed a barrier both in front ofthem and behind them. This barrier is all around them such that it covers them. Similar to theprevious ayah, we can understand this ayah literally as meaning what will happen to these peoplein the Hereafter, and we can also understand it metaphorically to realize their situation in thisworld. So double is their punishment because of the terrible crime that they have done. They arepunished in this world and they will be punished in the Hereafter as well. In the Hereafter these people will be covered on all sides in that there will be barriers infront of them and behind them. These barriers are the Fire itself. We know that their home in theFire will be a very constricted place. Allah (swt) will make it so that they are surrounded by Fire.They will not be able to move forward of backward. Rather they will be held fast to a singlelocation. This will be their home for all eternity. This single narrow place. They will be covered onall sides by Fire. These barriers of fire have been set in place by Allah (swt) so they cannot bemoved. Neither they nor the angels can hope to move these barriers even by an inch. Such istheir fate for all eternity because they turned away from the Real and the True. 23
  24. 24. In the Hereafter not only will these people have physical barriers of fire but they will alsobe barred from Allah (swt). Allah (swt) should be the goal for everyone. He (swt) is thedestination Who everyone was created to travel to. Many people in this world today do not realizethis fact. But in the Hereafter everyone will realize this. In the Hereafter they will realize the Realand the True, the One Who they had barred themselves from in the life of this world. When theyfinally realize their Lord they will want to come close to Him (swt). They will want to be amongthose who witness His (swt)’s Majestic Beauty because they know that this is the greatestpleasure of all. But they will be denied this. A barrier will be placed between them and Allah (swt)such that they will not even be allowed to come near Him (swt). They will not be allowed toapproach Him (swt) and offer their excuses as to why they did not submit to Him (swt) when theywere commanded to. They will be barred from Allah (swt). A covering will also be over their eyesso that they cannot even see Him (swt). Of all things that could cause them pain nothing willcause them more pain this. May Allah (swt) save us from this fate! In addition to describing their punishment in the Hereafter, this ayah also describes theirpunishment in this world. Even in this world they are not able to see Allah (swt). Even thoughthere are countless signs that point to Him (swt). Even though everything in this universe is a signfor Him (swt). They still cannot see Him (swt). Allah (swt) has placed barriers all around them sothat they are blinded from Him (swt). These barriers cover their eyes so that they cannot see. Allthat they see is the life of this world. May Allah (swt) save us from this fate! The lesson that we can take from this ayah is to realize that these are the people who wehave to save ourselves from becoming. These people have the worst of fates both in this life andin the Hereafter. They have been denied Allah (swt). They are blind from Him (swt) in this life andthey will be blind from Him (swt) in the next one. Now why is it that they became deserving ofsuch a terrible punishment? What did they do that brought this punishment upon them? Notice inthe ayah that it is Allah (swt) Himself Who placed these barriers around them. It was Allah (swt)Himself Who barred them from Himself (swt). So their crime was that they displeased Him (swt).Because they displeased Allah (swt), through their thoughts and their actions, He (swt) barredHimself from them both in this life and the next. So in order to save ourselves from their fate we 24
  25. 25. must be among those who are always striving to please Him (swt). Do not let a moment go by inyour life except that you ask yourself how could please your Lord in that moment. Many of us foolishly believe that we can relax somewhat during our youth. When we areyoung we are absolutely certain that death will not come for us tomorrow. We are certain that wecan follow our pride and desires for yet another day. We are certain that death will not catch up tous at the very next moment. Allah (swt) shows us in this ayah how foolish such thinking is. Even ifwe were correct in such foolish assumptions, which of course we are not, but even if we were westill cannot escape the threat that Allah (swt) give us in this ayah. Allah (swt) tells us in this ayahthat for those whom He (swt) is displeased with He (swt) will place barriers all around them sothat they cannot see the Truth. So if you were to displease Allah (swt) by committing sins and byfailing in your obligations then how do you know that such a barrier and covering will not beplaced between you and the Truth? If such were to happen then you would be forever misguided.For whoever Allah (swt) allows to go astray there can be none to guide him. So we have torealize that the time to be the best Muslim that we can be is not tomorrow or the day after. It is noteven one hour from now or five minutes from now. But the time is now. Now is the time to striveto please Allah (swt), or else you must fear these barriers that He (swt) can place between youand Him (swt). If you are blinded to Allah (swt) then what else is left there for you to see? If youdo not have Allah (swt) in your life then what is the point of life? How can you be among thosewho know of such a Being and yet choose to turn away from Him (swt)? So the lesson that we can take from this ayah is that we must strive to be among thosewhom Allah (swt) is pleased with. If we do not then we would become barred from seeing thetruth. Barriers will be placed before us and in front of us. The Truth is there in the universe aroundus but we would not be able to see it. How terrible would that be? This is a point that cannot bestressed enough because none of us truly recognize it. The beholding of Allah (swt) andnearness to Him (swt) is the greatest of joys and fulfillments and distance from Allah (swt) andbeing blind to Him (swt) is the greatest of torments and punishments. May Allah (swt) help us torealize this! May Allah (swt) allow us to spend every moment trying to come closer to Him (swt)! 25
  26. 26. 10. And it is the same on them whether you warn them or you do not warn them, they willnot believe. So far we have learned that the Prophet (saw) has been sent to warn a people whoseforefathers had not been warned. He (saw) has been given the Quran full of Wisdom. A revelationfrom the Mighty and the Wise. He (saw) is on the Straight Path. He (saw) calls to Allah (swt) Whois the Real and True. When one considers all of this then there should have been no reason forthe people not to follow him (saw). How could you not follow a messenger whose truthfulness isso obvious? But Allah (swt) also told us in the previous ayahs about a certain kind of people. Acertain kind of people who have earned His (swt)’s displeasure. These are the people who wealways have to save ourselves from becoming like. Allah (swt) tells us that for these people it is the same upon them whether we warn themor not. No matter how much warning they are given they will not believe in the Truth of thisMessage. This is because of what Allah (swt) told us in the previous ayah. Allah (swt) has placeda barrier between them and the Truth. Their eyes are covered so that they do not see their Lordin all that is around them. Now no matter how many times you warn these people, no matter howstern or forceful is the warning, they will not believe. Even if you were to show them the veryHellfire itself they still will not believe. Their eyes and their hearts are covered so that the Light ofguidance cannot enter. May Allah (swt) save us from this fate! Mawdudi tells us in his tafsir of this ayah how this does not mean that we should not carrydawah. We should still carry dawah to the best of our ability to everyone that we know. We shouldstill invite them to Allah (swt). But at the same time we should not feel disappointed if we do notfind success. We should realize that the guidance of hearts is upon Allah (swt) and so there aresome people who simply will not respond no matter how many times they are warned. Mawduditells us that once it becomes clear that a certain person is from this group then we should leavehim. We should focus on those who will respond. Those whom Allah (swt) tells us about next. 26
  27. 27. 12. You only warn the one who follows the Reminder and who fears the Merciful in theunseen, so give good news to him of forgiveness and a great reward. The Quran is a Book of guidance. In it Allah (swt) gives us examples of those whom wemust strive to be like and those whom we must avoid becoming like. Allah (swt) has alreadyshown us the former of these groups, and here He (swt) shows us the latter. Pay close attentionto the way Allah (swt) describes these people whom He (swt) is pleased with. These are the oneswho benefit from the warning of the Prophet (saw). They are the ones who are saved from thatwhich the warning threatens. That which the warning threatens is the worst of all, the Fire anddistance from Allah (swt). What could be a greater tragedy than that? In this ayah is the guidancewith which you can save yourself. Allah (swt) begins this ayah by saying “You only warn the one who follows theReminder”. Here Allah (swt) describes for the Prophet (saw) a certain kind of people. These arethe ones who heed the warning that he (saw) gives. Allah (swt) first describes these people asthe ones who follow the Reminder. There are two words that are a key to understanding this partof the ayah, one is the word “follow” and the other is the word “Reminder”. The word “follow” thatAllah (swt) uses here means to follow a path very closely and very carefully. To follow withoutdeviation or error. To follow without laxity or laziness. The word “Reminder” means the Messageof Islam. The Message which Allah (swt) sent to remind us of the purpose of our existence. Inother words the Quran and the Sunnah. Thus the only ones who will benefit from the warning thatthe Prophet (saw) gives are those who listen and follow closely the Message that he (saw) wassent with. This may seem obvious but how many of us truly recognize the meaning of it. Just likethe desert Arabs, we were all a people who were steeped in heedless. Ignorant of the true realityof this universe. The Prophet (saw) came to warn us. But we will only benefit from this warning ifwe actually pay heed to it. This is obvious but how many of us realize it? 27
  28. 28. So the first characteristic of the people who take heed of the warning is that they followclosely the Message that the Prophet (saw) was sent with. They believe with utmost certaintywhat the Prophet (saw) tells them. They rush to do all that he (saw) tells them. They stay far awayfrom all that he (saw) has forbidden for them. This is what we must do as well if we want to beamong the saved. Allah (swt) calls the Message in this ayah a “Reminder”. This is because of thepropensity of the human being to forget. We always forget, such is part of our nature. Such is theweakness of our knowledge and the weakness in our ability to retain knowledge. We all know thatwe exist for a reason. We know that this reason is something more than this world. But we forget.So Allah (swt) in His (swt)’s Mercy has sent this Message to remind us. But how many of us lookto this Reminder? How many of us try to follow it? If we do not then no amount of warning willbenefit us at all. The next description that Allah (swt) gives of the one who heeds the warning is that he“fears the Merciful in the unseen”. The “Merciful” here of course refers to Allah (swt). So toheed the warning, to save yourself, you must be among those who fear Allah (swt) in the unseen.The word “fear” in this ayah does not mean a simple fear like you would fear the creation. Ratherit is a deep and overflowing fear. It is a fear that does not come from terror but it comes from aweand reverence. When you realize the Majesty and Tremendousness of your Lord then you arescared to do anything that might displease Him (swt). This is the kind of fear that this ayahspeaks of. Not only must you fear Allah (swt) but you must fear Him (swt) while He (swt) is in theunseen. Allah (swt) is in the unseen. We cannot see Him (swt) with our eyes. And this is a goodthing because were Allah (swt) to reveal Himself (swt) to the creation then the entire universewould be destroyed only from beholding Him (swt). So you must have this overwhelming fear andreverence of Allah (swt) even though He (swt) is in the unseen. Now if this fear does not comefrom your eyes and senses, then where does it come from? It comes from your heart. It comesfrom your knowledge. So in order to get this fear you must learn about your Lord as He (swt) hasdescribed Himself to be in His (swt)’s Book and on the words of His (swt)’s Messenger. Thereflection and contemplation of this knowledge in your heart is what will give you this fear. Thisthen is how you can save yourself. How important then is knowledge of this Din? 28
  29. 29. Now if you are among those who follow the Quran and Sunnah closely, and you fear yourLord with the fear that is due to Him (swt) despite the fact that you do not see Him (swt), thenwhat will be yours? What will you get out of it? Allah (swt) tells us in the final part of the ayah “sogive good news to him of forgiveness and a great reward”. The Forgiveness from Allah (swt)and on top of that a great reward. If you truly realized the value of what Allah (swt) is promisingyou here then you will not even allow a moment in your life to pass by except that you are ineager in anticipation of this. We are all in desperate need of Forgiveness from Allah (swt). Wewho sin by night and day. We who are in perpetual sin. We who do not even come close toworshipping and serving Allah (swt) as He (swt) deserves to be. Just for Allah (swt) to forgive us.For Him (swt) to look over our many sins and misdeeds. For Him (swt) to consider us worthy tobe His (swt)’s slaves. Such a thing would be more valuable than all of the riches and all of thetreasures in the world. Do you not realize this? If you realized how Perfect and Magnificent a Lordthat you have then you will realize how valuable this is. In addition to Forgiveness, Allah (swt) is also promising you a great reward. What kind ofa reward must this be if Allah (swt) Himself calls it “great”? Allah (swt), the Creator and Sustainerof all the universe, for Him (swt) to call a reward as “great” then what kind of a reward must it be?This reward is so tremendous that there is a portion of it in this world and a portion of it in theHereafter. In this world this reward is nearness to Allah (swt). It is that station of Ihsan and Taqwawhere you are conscious of the Divine Presence for every moment of your life. Once you reachthis level then nothing in this world can grieve you or cause you fear. Less and less do you seethe world and more and more do you see your Lord. This is the state of tranquility that manyaspire to but few reach. But Allah (swt) promises it to you here. All that you have to do is followthe guidance of the Quran and Sunnah to the best of your ability and fear your Lord with the fearthat is due to Him (swt). This is the reward only in this world. The reward in the Hereafter is fargreater. It is so great that any description we give of it here will not do it justice. All of mankind willfall into two groups. Those who get Forgiveness from their Lord and this great reward, and thosewho do not. Which of these groups do you want to belong to? Your choices today will decide. 29
  30. 30. 12. Surely We give life to the dead, and We record all that they send forth and all theirtraces left behind, and every single thing have We counted exactly in a clear Book. Now we know the two paths that lie before us. We know the path of those who heed thewarning that Allah (swt) has sent through the Prophet (saw), and we know the path of those whocannot even hear this warning. One of these groups is the saved and the other is the damned. Inorder for us to be among the group that is saved we now know what we have to do. We have tostrive to remember Allah (swt) at every moment and we have to give to Him (swt) the fear that isdue to Him (swt). Based on this consciousness and based on this fear we have to try to the bestof our ability to follow this Reminder that He (swt) has sent us. Now is this something that wehave to do at every moment? Does every action that we do count? How much do we really haveto strive to remember Allah (swt) and serve Him (swt)? Allah (swt) explains in this ayah. Allah (swt) begins this ayah by saying “Surely We give life to the dead”. Here our Lordbrings our attention to the Day of Resurrection. The Day on which all mankind will be broughtback to life. Brought back to life and made to stand before the King and Master for judgment.Allah (swt) brings our attention to this Day to remind us once again that this life is not our finalabode. There is a Hereafter after this life. How many Muslims, even those of us who areknowledgeable and practicing, seem to forget this fact? We live in this life like we are going tostay here forever. We are not willing to give up anything in this world for the sake of Allah (swt)and in anticipation of the Hereafter. We think and behave just like the one who is completelyignorant of the Day of Resurrection. So we need to be reminded of the reality of this Day and thatis why Allah (swt) reminds us here. The Prophet (saw) has told us that the reminder benefits thebeliever. The problem often times is not that we do not have the knowledge. We do have theknowledge. But we forget. We forget the knowledge that we have and we get caught up in thislife. You know that there is a Day of Judgment, but how often do you remember? 30
  31. 31. There are two points to note in the language of this part of the ayah alone. First notice theway in which Allah (swt) is describing how He (swt) brings the dead back to life. Allah (swt) isdescribing it almost as if it is an event that is occurring right now. Right now Allah (swt) is givinglife to that which is dead. This reminds us how close the Day of Resurrection really is. It is so nearthat it is almost as if it is happening right now. The Hereafter for each and every one of us beginsthe moment that we die. For each and every one of us that moment is sooner than we think.When the angel of death comes to each of us we would think that he came too soon. So the firstbenefit that we can take from the use of the language in this part of the ayah to realize how closethe Hereafter is. As far as our Lord is concerned it is as if it is happening right now. We can also note in the language of the ayah how Allah (swt) emphasizes with certaintythat it is He (swt) Who will bring us back to life. Many people refuse to believe in the Resurrectionbecause they cannot believe how we can ever be brought back to life after we have becomebones and dust. Allah (swt) reminds us here that it is possible because it is He (swt) Who will doit. What do you think about the Creator and Sustainer of this universe? If you believe that such aBeing Exists, and to think otherwise would be utter foolishness, then do you not think that such aBeing could bring you back to life? Would you even think that such a Being Whose Knowledgeand Wisdom is Perfect would allow us to live only for this worldly life? We who feel so much andhave such hearts. Is this life truly the end of our existence? Furthermore would Allah (swt) Who isPerfect in His Justice and His Mercy allow any injustice to be done to His creation? The Day ofJudgment is the Day on which Allah (swt) would do justice to all of the creation. So if you denythis Day then you are denying that Allah (swt) does justice to the creation. So a belief in theCreator necessitates a belief in the resurrection and the afterlife. Allah (swt) would not havecreated us unless He (swt) intended for us eternity and unless He (swt) intended for us justiceand mercy. So if you have any doubts about being brought back to life then think about the OneWho will bring you back to life and you will realize that indeed He (swt) is Able. Allah (swt) is theOne and Only Who will bring us back to life and He (swt) emphasizes that fact with certainty inthis ayah. 31
  32. 32. In the next part of the ayah Allah (swt) says “and We record all that they send forth”.After bringing our attention to the resurrection in the previous part of the ayah, Allah (swt) tells ushere about what we will find when we return to Him (swt). Is it simply that Allah (swt) will bring usback to life? Did Allah (swt) create us just to live and die and then be brought back to life? Ofcourse not. We know that we will be brought back for judgment. But on what we will be judged?Will we only be judged for our conduct and if we avoided hurting other people? Will we only bejudged for our prayer and our fasting? Will we only be judged on if we ate halal meat or not?What is it that Allah (swt) will judge us on when He (swt) brings us back to life? Allah (swt) tells usin this ayah that He (swt) will judge us on everything. There is nothing that is excluded from thejudgment. Allah (swt) tells us in this ayah that He (swt) records all that they send forth. What wesend forth are our deeds. From every moment that we spend in this life a deed is created. Thiscould either be a good deed or a bad deed. This deed then is what we send forth to the Hereafter.Allah (swt) tells us here that He (swt) records all these deeds that we send forth. So much so thatevery moment of our life is recorded. Every moment has a ramification on our judgment. Thescholars say that the Scale on the Day of Judgment is the most sensitive of scales. Such that itwill move for even the smallest of good deeds or the smallest of evil deeds. This is how exactingthe reckoning will be. All that we do and all that we do not do with our time in this world is whatwe send forth for the Hereafter. Our Lord tells us here that He (swt) records it all. But we should not be overwhelmed with dread and fear because of what we learnedhere. Rather we should realize that we have a Lord that is Most Forgiving and Most Merciful.Even though we make so many mistakes, even though we spend so many moments of our life inheedlessness to Him (swt), we have to realize that Allah (swt) can forgive all of this. The OneName that Allah (swt) describes Himself the most with is His (swt)’s Mercy so we have to believethat He (swt) will have mercy on us. The Prophet (saw) has told us that the Mercy for Allah (swt)on us is more than the mercy of the most loving of mothers to her infant, so what kind of a Mercymust this be? But at the same time we must not allow ourselves to become lazy and we must notgive into our passions. We must not use the Mercy of Allah (swt) as an excuse for us to betrayHim (swt). We must remember the Day on which we will return to our Lord. We must remember 32
  33. 33. how He (swt) will judge us for everything. So we must try to the best of our ability to spend everymoment trying to please Him (swt). Even when we rest. Even when we eat. Even when we spendtime with our family. Even our nights with our wives. We should try to keep the intention in all thatwe are doing for Allah (swt). We should be conscious of the fact that we are being judged forevery moment that we spend in this life. So we should try to dedicate every moment trying to fulfillthe purpose of our existence, try to win the Pleasure of our Creator. Of course we will fall short ofthis ideal. We know that we will. That is when we take consolation in the Mercy of our Lord. Wehave to believe that no matter how many times we fall Allah (swt) is willing to forgive us again andagain. So we should try our best, try our best to send as much good as we can for the Day onwhich we will be brought back to life. Death is when our window of opportunity closes and it is farcloser that we can possibly imagine. Then Allah (swt) says “all their traces left behind”. Here Allah (swt) tells us that not onlydoes He (swt) record all that we send forth but He (swt) also records all that we leave behind. TheArabic word that Allah (swt) uses here is beautiful and there is really no word in the Englishlanguage that does it justice. The only English word that even comes close in meaning is“footprints” or the “traces left behind”. The Arabs at that time would sometimes brand the hoovesof their camels so that these animals leave a mark where they go. This would allow them to findthe animal if it ever got lost in the desert. They would use this word to then describe the tracesthat these animals would leave in the sand. This is also what Allah (swt) records for us. Thetraces we leave behind. Each of us makes an impression of where we have been. We all leave amark where we used to be. For some people this mark is more significant than it is for others. Forsome people what they leave behind is remembered more than it for others. Some people leavebehind good and others leave behind evil. We all leave behind something. Here Allah (swt) tellsus that He (swt) records all this that we leave behind. So anything that you have done which ispleasing to Allah (swt), as long as there are traces of it remaining on the earth, then it will berecorded in your favor. On the other hand, anything that you have done which is displeasing toyour Lord, as long as there are traces of it remaining in the earth, you will be held accountable forit. So for example suppose you taught some knowledge from which the people benefitted, or 33
  34. 34. suppose you help to build a masjid where the people come and pray. As long as the peoplecontinue to come closer to Allah (swt) because of what you did, then you will be rewarded for it.But on the other hand if you started an innovation in the Din, or you made something that was evilor something that was displeasing to Allah (swt). Then for as long as what you left behind on theearth continues to misguide the people from their Creator you will be held accountable for it. So the lesson that we can take from this is that we must look to what we leave behind.Not only must we be striving to do as many good deeds as possible but we must also be trying tobenefit those around us with the good that we do. What could be a better benefit that we can giveto the people other than to teach them about Allah (swt)? What could be a greater blessing andgift that we can give them other than the knowledge of their Creator? So do not just learnknowledge about Islam, but rather learn and teach others around you what you learn. Teach thepeople about Allah (swt). Teach the people the Quran. Teach the people about the life of theProphet (saw) and the Sahabah. Teach the people about the Islamic State and what this Din trulyis. But do not just tell the people about Islam with your words but show them Islam with yourbehavior as well. Behave with other people in a way so that you leave an impression on them ofwhat a true Muslim is. Let them know your honesty and your integrity and your good character. Allof this is from what you leave behind. Through your dawah and through your character if youleave behind righteous people who are also devoted to Allah (swt), then everything which they dowill be a reward for you even after you have left them. Even after you leave this world. Allah (swt)will count and record everything that they do, and all that the good that they do will be one moregood deed in your scale. We know that only one whose scale of good deeds is heavy will besaved on the Last Day. Since our time in this world is so limited, how else can you hope to fillyour scale of good deeds unless you do dawah? You have so little time. How then can you hopeto fill your scale unless you do dawah? How do you hope to be saved on the Last Day unlessyou leave behind something in this world that brings the people closer to their Lord? You lived inthis world for a certain period of time. But what is your legacy that you left behind? Your legacymust be something that brings the people closer to Allah (swt). Only then will you get their deedsas well. Only then will your scale be full enough to attain salvation. 34
  35. 35. In the final part of this ayah Allah (swt) says “and every single thing have We countedexactly in a clear Book”. We learned in the previous part of the ayah that Allah (swt) records forus all that we send forward to the Hereafter and all that we leave behind in this world. For anyaction that we do there is a consequence in the Hereafter. It will be another weight on our scalepan of good deeds or our scale pan of evil deeds. Allah (swt) also records all that we leavebehind in this world. Anything that we leave behind is also recorded. So not only must we beconstantly looking forward to our Hereafter and what we have sent it ahead for it, but we mustalso look at what we will be leaving behind in this earth. The knowledge that we taught others, themasajid and the schools that we helped to build, the impression that we left in people’s hearts ofour character. All of this will be recorded either for us or against us. Now in this part of the ayah Allah (swt) emphasizes for us the extent of this recording.Allah (swt) says that He (swt) has counted every single thing in a clear Book. So there is nothingthat will be neglected. There is nothing that will not be counted. The Arabic word that Allah (swt)uses here to describe the counting gives a meaning of exact precision. This means that everysingle action that we do, every single thought that we have, every single moment that we passeswill be counted. Nothing will be left out. It will all be recorded in a clear Book. And on the Day ofJudgment. On that tremendous Day, it will all be brought out. We will all stand before our Lordand He (swt) will judge us on each and every line in this Book. Now do you realize what it meansto be a believer? But the purpose of this ayah is not to terrify us or to make us think that we can neverreach the expectation that Allah (swt) expects of us. Allah (swt) Knows that we are forgetfulcreatures. He (swt) Knows that we will constantly fall into sin. He (swt) Knows that we will allowmany moments of our life to pass by while we are heedless of Him (swt). He (swt) Knows all ofthis. That is why He (swt) has promised us again and again that He (swt) is the Most Forgivingand the Most Merciful. Rather the purpose of this ayah is to prevent us from becoming lazy andcomplacent. Do not think that one more good deed will not make a difference, do not think thatone small sin will not make a difference. The smallest of deeds could be the difference for you onthat Day. So know the value of every deed. Of every moment. 35
  36. 36. 14. And strike for them the similitude of the companions of the city when there came tothem the Messengers. The Quran is a Book about dawah. How few Muslims today realize this fact? Even thoseMuslims who revere and respect the Quran. Those Muslims who would hold protests all day longand scream at the top of their lungs if they believe that a copy of the Quran has been thrown inthe toilet. How many of them realize that this is a Book about dawah? This is a Book that iscalling on them to do dawah. The reason why we do not come to this realization is because weare in utter heedlessness to our Lord. If you truly realize Allah (swt) then what could be moreimportant in your life than establishing His Law on the earth and carrying His Message tomankind. How can you be content and just live out your life when there are so many souls livingin heedlessness of Him (swt) and when there exists on His (swt)’s earth that which displeasesHim (swt)? How can you say that the times in which we are living in now are good times whenthere is no organized dawah to mankind? When all that angers Allah (swt) such as usury,adultery, homosexuality, pornography, women showing their beauty in public, taxes, unfairdistribution of wealth, idols, and so much more of what displeases the Lord has been made lawfulon the earth and the earth is rampant with it? How can you remain silent when such is thesituation of the world today? So dawah is an obligation on each and every believer. Anyone whodoes not do dawah and calls themselves a Muslim is a hypocrite. Now no one is telling you thatyou have to establish the Islamic State tomorrow. But you do have to make the best effort thatyou can. You have to at least try. In this ayah Allah (swt) continues to tell us about the dawah. Here Allah (swt) tells the Prophet (saw) to give the people an example of when dawahwas carried out in the past. The story of a city to which the Messengers were sent. Messengerswho did dawah. What is this story other than a manual and a guide for those who do dawah? If 36
  37. 37. you are not among those who do dawah then how could you possibly benefit from this story?What is there in it for you? So just the existence of this story shows us how this is Book of dawah. Notice how Allah (swt) commands the Prophet (saw) to “strike” for the people this“similitude”. Look at the choice of words that Allah (swt) uses. Why does Allah (swt) use a wordsuch as “strike”? Why does He (swt) not simply say “tell” or “narrate”? The choice of words thatAllah (swt) uses here shows us how we should do dawah. When we speak to the people weshould not be boring or dull. We should not communicate with them in a monotonous orunenthusiastic tone. Rather we should be forceful. We should be full of emotion and power. Itshould almost be like we are hitting them with our dawah. Of course this is not literally, but it ishow they should get our message. Most people today are asleep. They only know the life of thisworld. We have to wake them up. We cannot wake them up if we are quiet or reserved. If we donot use force and expression. They will only wake up if they are struck with this dawah. The other significant word to note from the beginning of this ayah is the word “similitude”.Why does Allah (swt) use this word? Why did He (swt) not say “story” or “narration”? The reasonwhy Allah (swt) uses this word is because He (swt) wants to show us that the story of thesemessengers is not different from our own story. They are similar to us in more ways than we canimagine. Their story is the story of the dawah carriers. So it is the story of the Prophet (saw) andthe Sahabah. It is the story of all those who have carried this Message from Allah (swt). It is ourstory as well. Thus in their behavior is a model for us to emulate. In the events that happen tothem are events that we can expect to happen to us. So do not look at their story as an event thathappened a long time ago which does not concern you at all. Rather look at them as a reflectionof yourself. If you want to journey to your Lord then their path is what you must walk. Also notice in this ayah how Allah (swt) tells us that these messengers were sent to the“companions of the city”. These were the people to whom the messengers were sent. Theirdescription tells us that they were very close to their city. They loved their city. They were theclose companions of their city. They city in many ways represents the material accomplishmentsof man. It is technology and innovation. It is industry and manufacturing. This is what thesepeople were close to. They were close to the comforts that their material advancements had 37
  38. 38. brought them. In their city they had made for themselves a very pleasurable and comfortableplace to be in. That is why they were so close to it. That is why they were its companions. That iswhy it took them away from Allah (swt). One lesson that we can take from this is to see the hidden danger of technology andmaterial progress. On the one hand it does bring us comforts and it makes our life on this eartheasier. For that we have to be eternally grateful to Allah (swt) for it is He (swt) Who has bestowedall of this upon us. But on the other hand it could make our stay here too comfortable. Toopleasurable. We might become so comfortable here that we might forget that this world is a placeof testing. We might fall so much in love with this world that we might be reluctant to leave it. Wemight start to prefer this world to the Hereafter. This was not the case with the Prophet (saw) andthe Sahabah. They did not have all of these material comforts. They lived in the harsh deserts.They tasted the bitterness of this world and they felt its difficulties. Now this is not to say thatthere was no pleasure in their life and that there is no pain in ours. The Prophet (saw) himselfwas offered a life of great pleasure and power, more than any of us could ever imagine, and he(saw) walked away from it for the sake of his (saw)’s Lord. At the same time in our world we havemany fears and distresses. For the vast majority of people life in this world is difficult. We all haveto struggle. But on the whole, our lives are far more comfortable and we have much more interms of the wealth of this world, than those before us. Technology and innovations are amongthe main reasons for this. So we have to be careful and not allow to happen to us what happenedto the companions of the city whom Allah (swt) describes in this ayah. We should not allow allthat we have been given to take us away from our Lord. Rather we should use it to be grateful toHim (swt). So the next time that you partake in these comforts which you know that those beforeyou did not have then remember Allah (swt) Who gave it to you. If Allah (swt) has allowed you tolive through this time of material comforts and He (swt) has still saved you from being deceivedand seduced by them then you have to be grateful to Him (swt). You have to believe that it isbecause He (swt) loves you and wants the best for you. So we should realize that we are living ina time that is unlike any other. Allah (swt) has given us bounties and gifts that He (swt) had notgranted to any other generation prior to us. But in this there is also a test for us. All these 38
  39. 39. comforts and conveniences could make us fall in love with the world and forget our Lord like thepeople whom Allah (swt) describes in this ayah did. Or else every single bounty that we enjoy inthis life could be a means of us coming closer to Him (swt) by thanking Him (swt) for each of it. Both Mawdudi and Sayyid Qutb tell us in their tafsir of this ayah that we do not know forsure exactly which city and which messengers this ayah speaks of. Some have said that it is theSyrian city of Antioch but there is no authentic evidence for this in any hadith of the Prophet (saw)or narration from the Sahabah. But for us to derive the lessons and the benefits from this story itis not important for us to know exactly which people and which city this was. This is a story aboutmessengers from Allah (swt) who carried dawah. In it there is a warning for those who wouldreject this Message and there is a guidance and a motivation for those who carry this Message.This is all that should matter for us. We should always remember that we are reading the Quranonly to be guided to Allah (swt). We are not looking to learn about history or satisfy our curiosity.If Allah (swt) did not tell us who these messengers were and which city they were sent to then it isbecause such is not relevant for us. We can still be guided to Him (swt) if we learn this story andif we reflect and contemplate on it Insha Allah, without knowing these details. May Allah (swt)always give us the knowledge that will benefit us and may He (swt) save us from the knowledgethat will not! Not only do we not know the names of these messengers and the city to which they weresent but we also do not know if they themselves received revelation from Allah (swt) or if theywere sent on behalf of a messenger who did receive revelation. Even in the past there were theactual messengers who would receive the revelation from Allah (swt) and then there were theirsupporters and helpers. Much like the Sahabah (raa) were for the Prophet (saw). However onceagain these details are not important for us. What is important is that these were men whobelieved in Allah (swt) and they worked to carry the Message of Allah (swt). Such is our job aswell. So the benefit that we take from their story is not to inquire about unnecessary details butthe benefit we take is to look for guidance in the task that we have been given. Our mission wastheir mission. So in everything that they did and in everything that happened to them there is aguidance for us. May Allah (swt) help us to realize this! 39