Tafseer (Commentary) of Surah Yaseen (Part 12)

After being reprimanded in this way, Allah will then announce  the painful punishment which He has prepared for them. He will say to them:

36:63

36:64

  1. This is Hell which you were promised!
  2. Burn therein this Day, for that you used to disbelieve.

About the punishment they will be made to enter, Allah will say that such is the blazing fire of Hell which the Messengers had warned them about, and promised that if they did not believe in Allah, they will be made to enter the abode of Hell. Allah will then order them to enter the Fire, and taste the severe and intense heat, and burn in the fire which they denied on the face of the earth.

Having mentioned the state of the unbelievers on the Day of Judgement, Allah continues in verse 65 to describe the manner in which evidences shall be established against the unbelievers on the Day of Reckoning. The verse states:

36:65

  1. This Day, We shall seal up their mouths, and their hands will speak to Us, and their legs will bear witness to what they used to earn.

The commentators have stated that on the Day of Judgement, the unbelievers will deny their kufr and shirk. Their neighbours, family members and household would testify against them, but they will swear oaths that they did not commit shirk. Upon this, their mouths shall be sealed up, and their hands and feet will begin to speak. (Tafseer Al Bahr Al Muheet vol.9 pg. 78 Dar Al Fikr Beirut 1992)

While commenting on this verse, Hafiz IbnKatheer (A.R) has stated, ‘This shall be the state of the unbelievers and hypocrites on the Day of Judgement when they will deny the sins they perpetrated in the world. They will swear that they did not do wrong actions, hence, Allah will seal their mouths and demand their limbs to speak of their deeds’. (Tafseer Ibn Katheer vol.5 pg. 289 Dar Al Kitab Al Arabiya Beirut 2013)

The verse explains that their mouths shall be covered with a seal so that they may not speak, and their limbs will begin to speak. Their hands and feet will bear witness to the bad deeds they did. Another verse of the Quran states, ‘Till when they reach the Hell fire, their ears and their eyes, and their skins will testify against them as to what they used to do’. (Sura Fussilat verse 20). This shows that different parts of the body and limbs will be given the power of speech on the Day of Judgement. With this, the limbs will testify to the wrong actions that a person did in the world.

Another verse of the Quran states, ‘The Day when their tongues, their hands and their legs will testify against them with regard to what they did’. (Sura An Nur (24) verse 24). These verses tell us that various limbs will speak and testify to the actions of man at different times. As mentioned by the commentators, there will be various stages on the Day of Judgement, and each verse describes a different stage. Sometimes the mouth (tongue) will be sealed so that other limbs may testify, and at other times, the tongue will be allowed to confess and admit the sins committed.

In a tradition narrated by Abu Moosa Ash’ari (R.A), it is stated that ‘A believer shall be summoned for reckoning on the Day of Judgement. His Lord shall then present his deeds before him which is known between him and Allah. The believer will then confess to all his deeds and say, ‘Yes, O my Lord! I have done such. I have done such. I have done such’. Upon this, Allah will forgive his sins and shall conceal them. No one will be able to see those deeds. Allah will then make his good deeds apparent, and he (the believer) would wish that everyone see his good deeds.

An unbeliever/ hypocrite shall then be called for reckoning, and Allah will present his deeds before him. Upon seeing his deeds, he will deny them and will say, ‘O My Lord, by Your Honour, the angel has written against me actions which I did not do’. The angel will say, ‘Did you not do such, on such day, at such place?’ The person will say, ‘No, by Your Honour, O Lord, I have not done this’. When this will be done, a seal shall be placed over his mouth, and his limbs shall speak’. (Tafseer At Tabari vol.23 pg. 31 Dar Ihya At Turath Beirut 2001).

In another tradition, Anas bin Malik (R.A) narrates, ‘We were with the Messenger of Allah ﷺand suddenly he smiled. He then said, ‘Do you know what makes me smile?’ We said, ‘Allah and His Messenger know best’. He (the Prophet ﷺ) then said, ‘I smiled on account of the servant’s address to his Lord (on the Day of Judgement). On that Day, the servant will say, ‘O my Lord, have you not granted me protection against injustice? Allah will say, ‘Yes, I have’. The servant will say, ‘Then, I will not allow any witness against me, except from my own self’. Allah will say, ‘Today, you will be sufficient as a witness against your own self, and the Kiraman Kaatibeen (the recording angels) shall be witnesses against you’. Allah will then put a seal on the servant’s mouth, and it shall be said to the limbs, ‘Speak’. The limbs will begin to speak of the deeds of the servant’. (Recorded by Imam Muslim in his Saheeh)

In another tradition narrated by Abu Hurairah (R.A), it states that, ‘then a third person shall be brought. Allah will say to him, ‘What were you upon?’ He will say, ‘I am your servant. I believed in You, Your Prophet and Your Book. I fasted, performed Salaah and gave Sadaqah (charity)’. The man will continue to praise the good things he did as much as he can. It shall then be said, ‘Shall We not raise against you Our witness?’ The servant will begin to ponder as to who will bear witness against him. Allah will then seal his mouth, and say to his thigh, flesh and bones, ‘Speak’. The thigh, flesh and bones will begin to speak of the actions of the servant, and this will make the person incapable. He will be a hypocrite, and one on whom Allah’s anger has descended’. (Recorded by Imam Muslim in his Saheeh – Tafseer Al Qurtubi vol.15 pg. 45-46 Maktaba Rasheediya Queta Pakistan; Tafseer Ibn Katheer vol.5 pg. 290)

In another tradition, Uqba bin Aamir (R.A) states that he heard the Prophet (S.A) saying, ‘Certainly, the first limb of a man which will speak on the Day when mouths shall be sealed will be his thigh from the left foot’. (Ahmad; Ibn Abi Hatim – Tafseer Ibn Katheer vol.5 pg. 290 Dar Al Kitab Al Arabiya; Tafseer At Tabari vol.23 pg. 31 Dar Ihya At Turath Al Arabi Beirut 2001; Tafseer Al Qurtubi vol.15 pg. 36 Maktaba Rasheediya Queta Pakistan)

These Ahadith have given a detailed explanation regarding the speaking of the limbs on the Day of Judgement, as mentioned in different verses of the Quran. These limbs will be given the power and ability to speak on that Day, and so, they shall speak of the actions committed by man. In this regard, the Quran states: And (remember) the Day that the enemies of Allah will be gathered to the Fire, so they will be collected there (the first and the last).Till, when they reach it (Hell-fire), their hearing (ears) and their eyes, and their skins will testify against them as to what they used to do.And they will say to their skins, “Why do you testify against us?” They will say: “Allah has caused us to speak, as He causes all things to speak, and He created you the first time, and to Him you are made to return.” (Sura Fussilat verses 19-21)

With respect to the reason for sealing the mouths and ordering the limbs to speak on the Day of Judgement, the commentators have given different reasons for this. Some have stated that this will occur since the unbelievers and mushrikeen (polytheists) will swear oaths that they did not commit shirk. They will say, ‘By Allah, our Lord, we were not those who joined others in worship with Allah’. (Sura An’am verse 23). On account of this, Allah will seal their mouths so that their limbs can reveal the truth of what they did. Some commentators have stated that this state will come about so that those gathered on the Day of Judgement will recognize the wickedness and evil deeds of the wrongdoers and will separate themselves from them.

Another explanation which has been given is that this will take place due to the fact that confessions made by the limbs which cannot speak, is stronger in evidence than confessions made by a limb that can speak. Thus, the speaking of the limbs of a person on the Day of Judgement shall be a greater testimony against him than his speaking with the tongue. Some have stated that the speaking of the limbs (besides the tongue) will show that the same limbs which were used by a person as a help for him in committing wrong deeds, shall become a witness against him for Allah on the Day of Judgement. (Tafseer Al Qurtubi vol.15 pg. 46 Maktaba Rasheediya Queta Pakistan)

Sura Yaseen goes further in verse 66 and states:

36:66

  1. And if it had been Our Will, We would surely have wiped out (blinded) their eyes, so that they would struggle for the Path, how then would they see?

The verse explains that if Allah had willed, He would have blinded them and then they would have struggled to find a path. But then, how would they be able to see at that time? While commenting on this verse, Abdullah bin Abbas (R.A) says, it means that Allah is saying, ‘If We had so wished, We could have made them blind to guidance. Then, they would never be able to be guided to the path of truth’. (Tafseer Al Qurtubi vol.15 pg. 47 Maktaba Rasheediya Queta Pakistan)

Other great commentators like Hasan Basri have stated, it means that if Allah had so wished, He would have blotted out their eyes and leave them in a state of blindness, wobbling and staggering in their movements. (Tafseer Ibn Katheer vol.5 pg. 290 Dar Al Kitab Al Arabiya Beirut 2013). Qatada has stated, it means that if Allah had so wished, he would have left them in the state of blindness, wavering from side to side. (Tafseer At Tabari vol.23 pg. 32)

After quoting various commentaries of the great exegetes of the Quran, Hafiz Ibn Jareer At Tabari (A.R) concludes by saying, ‘The opinions of Hasan Basri and Qatada are closer to the explanation and interpretation of the verse. It is so because (in this verse) Allah has threatened the unbelievers. Hence, there is no reason for Allah to say, ‘If We had so wished We would have misguided them’, when they were already misguided (unbelievers). But the message (of threat) to them is that Allah has stated, ‘If We had so wished, We would have punished them for their disbelief and blotted out their eyes, so they would become blind, not able to see the pathway, nor would they be guided to the right path’. (Tafseer At Tabari vol.23 pg. 32 Dar Ihya At Turath Al Arabi Beirut 2001)

This explanation has also been endorsed by Imam Qurtubi in his commentary. While discussing the verse, he said, ‘The meaning of the verse is that Allah has stated, ‘If We had so wished, We would have made them blind. In this way, they would not be able to see the path in discharging their duties and functions by going to their homes or other places’. (Tafseer Al Qurtubi vol.15 pg. 47). Thus, the verse sends a message to the unbelievers that Allah is All Powerful over mankind. He can punish people in whatever manner He likes, and besides the punishment in the Hereafter, He can also punish people in this world. Hence, if it is His will, He can obliterate the eyes of the unbelievers for their kufr and shirk, and leave them in total blindness. This is not difficult for Him to do.

Sura Yaseen continues in verse 67 and states:

36:67

  1. And if it had been Our Will, We could have transformed them (into animals or lifeless objects) in their places. Then they should have been unable to go forward (move about) nor they could have turned back.

In this verse, Allah explains that He can punish the wrongdoers in different ways, whenever He wishes to do so. In the previous verse, He mentioned that if He wanted, He could have made them blind, and they would not have been able to see anything. In this verse, He mentions that if He wished, He can transform them into other creatures. He has full control over them, and hence, on account of their disbelief and shirk, He can change their appearance and transfigure them into pigs and apes, just as He did with previous nations. In this way, they would be totally deprived of their senses and abilities, and will then be unable to move about.

While commenting on this verse, Abdullah bin Abbas (R.A) says, ‘It means that if Allah wishes, He can destroy them in their homes and residences’. (Tafseer Al Qurtubi vol.15 pg. 48 Maktaba Rasheediya Queta Pakistan; Tafseer At Tabari vol.23 pg. 34 Dar Ihya Turath Al Arabi Beirut). Other commentators have explained that it means that if Allah had wished, He would have transfigured them at the places where they have committed the sins. It is also possible that this may occur on the Day of Judgement when Allah will blot out the eyes of the unbelievers while they are crossing the bridge, as stated by some Scholars. (Tafseer Al Qurtubi – (Al Jami li Ahkaam Al Quran vol.15 pg. 48 Maktaba Rasheediya Queta Pakistan)

 

A famous commentary of this verse which has been given by Hasan and Qatada is that Allah says, ‘If it had been Our will, We would have made them sit on their feet. In this way, they would not have been able to move forward or backward’. (Tafseer At Tabari – (Jami Al Bayan an Taweel Aaya Al Quran) vol.23 pg. 33 Dar Ihya At Turath; Tafseer Al Qurtubi vol.15 pg. 48). The above were threats given by Allah to those who continue to remain upon disbelief.

Sura Yaseen goes further in verse 68 and states:

36:68

  1. And he whom We grant long life, We reverse him in creation (weakness after strength). Will they not then understand?

Here, in this verse Allah gives a clear proof that He is All Able to transfigure people and transform them into different creatures. He also has the ability to blot out their sight and make them blind. The clear proof given in this verse is that Allah shows man that in his lifetime many changes take place which take him to weakness and losing of his faculties. All these changes which reverse man to a state similar to that of a child are done only by Allah. Therefore, He alone has full control and power over His entire creation.

That which is witnessed by man is that he is created in a state where he is weak in body, and devoid of intelligence and knowledge. Allah then increases him in strength, ability and intelligence, and takes him from one state to another, until He reaches him to full maturity and complete strength. Man thus becomes intelligent and knowledgeable, and understands what is beneficial for him and others. However, when he reaches the peak of his strength, intelligence and ability, Allah reverses him in creation. At that time, he gradually begins to decrease; his faculties become weaker, he slowly becomes deaf, weak sighted and weak in physical strength. He eventually loses his understanding and declines to a state similar to that of a child. These are conditions that are witnessed by every human being in their daily lives and they give a clear indication to the fact that just as Allah takes man from one state to another, so too, He can completely transfigure a person and transform him into another creature. (Tafseer Al Bahr Al Muheet vol.9 pg. 79, 80 Dar Al Fikr Beirut 1992)

The verse explains that whomsoever Allah grants long life to, He changes him in stages and reverses him in creation, until he becomes like a child, having no knowledge and understanding. While commenting on this verse, the great Mufassir, Qatada (A.R) says, ‘A man is reversed to old age which resembles the state of childhood. Thus, long life makes the youth an old person. It changes strength into weakness and brings decrease to growth’. (Safwah At Tafaseer vol.13 pg. 60 Dar Al Quran Al Kareem)

Hafiz Ibn Katheer (A.R) has given a beautiful message while explaining this verse (i.e. 68) and has stated, ‘Here, Allah informs about the children of Adam and says that whenever his life is lengthened, he is returned to weakness after possessing strength, and inability after possessing energy. It is the same as Allah has said, ‘Allah is He who created you in (a state of) weakness then gave you strength after weakness, then after strength gave you weakness and grey hair. He creates what He wills. And it is He who is the All Knowing, the All Powerful’ (Ar Ruum v.54). Allah has also stated, ‘And among you there is he who is brought back to the miserable old age, so that he knows nothing after having known’. (Sura Al Hajj v.5)

(After quoting these) Hafiz Ibn Katheer (A.R) writes, ‘the message of these, and Allah knows best, is to inform (man) that this world is one which is moving and will come to an end. It is not one which will continue (to exist) or remain forever. It is for this reason, Allah says (in verse 68 of Sura Yaseen, after mentioning that man will be reversed in creation), ‘Will they not understand?’ It means that they should ponder over their states in the beginning of their creation. Then they were changed to youth and maturity and then to old age. From this, they must know that they were created for another world. In that world, they would not be moved, nor would they come to an end, and that is the world of the Hereafter’. (Tafseer Ibn Katheer (Tafseer Al Quran Al Adheem) vol.5 pg. 291 Dar Al Kitab Al Arabi Beirut 2013)

Sura Yaseen continues in verse 69 and states:

  1. And We have not taught him (Muhammad ) poetry, nor is it meet for him. This is only a Reminder and a plain Qur’an.

Here, in this verse Allah makes it abundantly clear that He did not teach the Prophet (S.A) poetry, nor was it fitting for a Prophet. The Quran is a revelation from Allah. It is a message of truth, a Reminder, and a book of guidance which is free from poetry.

While explaining this verse, Imam Qurtubi writes, ‘Allah refutes the statement of the unbelievers who said that the Prophet (S.A) was a poet. He was not a poet and the Quran was not poetry. (Tafseer Al Qurtubi vol.15 pg. 48). The statement of the unbelievers that the Quran was poetry and that the Prophet (S.A) was a poet was done in an effort to deny the Quran as the speech of Allah, and to deny the Prophet (S.A) as a Messenger of Allah with whom Allah communicates. Since poetry was composed of a speech that is beautified and measured, and it was based on baseless thoughts and delusive imaginations, they wanted to tell the Prophet (S.A) that the Quran was nothing but imaginary tales and stories of the old. In the verse, Allah outrightly refuted their false notion about the Holy Quran, and categorically stated that He did not teach the Prophet (S.A) poetry, nor did He reveal poetry to the Prophet (S.A). In truth, it was the Holy Quran, a Reminder to man, which was sent to the Prophet (S.A).