Tafseer of the Week

Their disbelief, sins and bad actions were causes for their troubles and difficulties. Their statement that the Messengers were evil omens was due to their intense love which they had for kufr, shirk and sins. It was on account of these, they opposed the Messengers and developed a hatred for their message.

Hence, their share of good and bad were with them, and the decree which has been made for them will come about. The Prophets also rebuked them and said, ‘because you are admonished’. It means ‘are you saying that we are a bad omen only because you are admonished?’ Or ‘have you threatened to stone us because you are admonished?’ The Prophets went on to tell them that ‘if this be the case, then they are open transgressors’. I t means that they have crossed all limits by disobeying Allah and committing sins.

SuraYaseen goes further in verse 20 and states:36:20

  1. And there came running from the farthest part of the town, a man, saying: “O my people! Obey the Messengers;

The verse explains that when the people of the town threatened to kill the Messengers, a man came running from the farthest part of the town in order to stop them from committing this heinous act.

According to many commentators, the name of this man was Habib, the carpenter (An Najar). It is narrated that Habib An Najar was a leper whose house was situated at the farthest gate of the city. He remained in the worship of idols for seventy years, supplicating to them and hoping that they may have mercy on him and remove his disease. However, they did not answer his supplications. When the Messengers entered the city, he saw them and they invited him to Allah. Upon this, he said to them, ‘Is there any proof (or sign) (that this is the truth)?’ They said, ‘Yes, we will supplicate to our Lord who is All Powerful, and He will remove from you what has touched you’. Habib said, ‘This is very strange. I have been calling on these ‘gods’ for seventy years to remove this harm from me and they were not able to do so. How can your Lord remove it in one day?’ They said, ‘Yes, our Lord is All Powerful over everything He wishes, and these ‘gods’ cannot benefit you in anything, neither can they harm you’. Upon this, Habib believed in Allah and the Messengers prayed for him. Allah answered their supplications and removed his disease from him. Thus, when the people of the town intended to harm the Messengers, he (Habib) came running from the farthest part of the city (where he lived) and began to speak to his people so that they may stop their evil action. (Tafseer Al Qurtubi vol. 15 pg. 20-21)

He pleaded with the people and said, ‘O my people, follow the Messengers who are calling you to the Oneness of Allah’. He further said:

36:21

  1. “Obey those who ask no wages of you (for themselves), and who are rightly guided.

Habib An Najar continued to exhort them by telling them to obey and listen to the Messengers, for they are people of truth and guidance, who did not seek a wage or compensation for what they did. At this time, while encouraging the people of the town to obey the Messengers, the people said to Habib, ‘Have you become an opposer of our religion and adopted the religion of the Messengers?’ Habib replied and said to them:

36:22

  1. “And why should I not worship Him (Allah Alone) Who has created me and to Whom you shall be returned.

In this response, Habib posed a question to the people, so that they may understand that like him, they also must worship the One who created them. He said to them, ‘Why should I not worship the One who created me and the One to whom I must return’.

In this way, he rebuked them for having neglected the worship of their Creator, and made it clear to them that nothing can prevent him from worshipping his Creator, when he knows that Allah is the One who created him, and he must return to Him when he dies. Habib An Najar then placed a question to his people which was meant to condemn and reprimand them for having taken others besides Allah as their god. He said:

36:23

  1. “Shall I take besides Him aliha (gods), if the Most Beneficent (Allah) intends me any harm, their intercession will be of no use for me whatsoever, nor can they save me?

He posed the question to his people so that they may ask themselves the same question. His message to them was, ‘How can I take other gods besides Allah? These ‘gods’ cannot hear nor can they benefit anyone’. He went further to show the weak, inconsiderable and poor nature of their gods and said, ‘If the Most Gracious (Allah) intends me any harm, their intercession will be of no use to me whatsoever, nor can they save me’. In this statement, he showed that ‘gods’ and beings that are taken as objects of worship besides Allah are so insignificant, despicable and mean that if Allah intends to cause harm and suffering to a person, then these gods/objects of worship will not be able to save that person, nor will they be able to intercede on behalf of the person. They are nothing but stones and images, which could neither hear, give benefit or intercede for anyone.

Habib further advised his people and said:

36:24

  1. “Then verily, I should be in plain error”.

Here, he told them that if he worshipped anyone besides Allah and took idols as gods, then he will be in manifest error and misguidance, and will be in a state of total loss.

In this statement, there was a message for the people also. He indicated to them that if they worshipped others besides Allah, then they will be in clear misguidance and in a state of being ruined. Having advised them and exhorted them to believe in the Messengers, Habib then openly declared his Imaan (faith) to his people and said:

36:25

  1. Verily! I have believed in your Lord, so listen to me!”

He made it clear to them that he believed in Allah, the One God. He is their Lord who  created them and all things on earth. They should therefore listen to him, take his advice and also believe in Allah, just as he believed.

The preaching and good counsel given by Habib did not do any good to his people. They became aggravated with his message and were annoyed with him. Further, when he openly declared his faith in one God, Allah, they became enraged and immediately attacked him. They fell on him from all sides and began to beat him. They trampled upon him with their feet, kicked him, threw stones at him and continued to beat him until he was killed and martyred. Some scholars have stated that they buried him alive. Others have said that they threw him in a well and killed him in this way, and some have stated that they burnt him to death. (Tafseer Al Qurtubi vol.15 pg. 21)

SuraYaseen goes further in verses 26 and 27 and states:

36:26

36:27

  1. It was said (to him when the disbelievers killed him): “Enter Paradise.” He said: “Would that my people knew!
  2. “That my Lord (Allah) has forgiven me, and made me of the honoured ones!”

The above verses speak about what happened to Habib An Najar (the carpenter). It is narrated  that upon his martyrdom, Allah ordered him to enter Jannah (Paradise), and so, when his soul came out from his body, it went straight to Jannah. Allah honoured him to be together with the righteous martyrs as a reward for his truthfulness and faith, and for giving his life for His cause. When he entered Paradise and saw the lofty status and honour given to him on account of his Imaan (faith) and patience, he expressed a desire that his people should know about his state. In this way, they would know that Allah had forgiven him and had honoured him with Paradise.

Some commentators have stated that Habib wanted his people to know his good state (in Paradise), so that this may induce them to belief, and may be an encouragement for them to earn rewards and blessings by giving up disbelief (kufr) and accepting the true faith (Imaan).

After Habib was martyred, Allah’s wrath and anger came over the people, and He ordered that the people be destroyed.

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