Tafseer (Commentary) of Surah Yaseen (Part 15)

Sura Yaseen continues in verse 74 and states:

  1. And they have taken besides Allah aliha (gods), hoping that they might be helped (by those so called gods).

In the previous verses (71, 72, 73 of Sura Yaseen), Allah enumerated His favours and established evidences to prove His existence and oneness. Now, in verse 74, He rebukes and reprimands those who have turned a ‘blind eye’ to His favours and evidences, and have taken others as gods besides Him. About them, Allah says: And they have taken besides Allah, aliha (gods), hoping that they might be helped (by those so called gods)’ (v.74). They are those who have taken objects, images, stones and idols, for their worship, which cannot hear them and cannot benefit them. They expect help and assistance from their idols but these are deaf and dumb, how can they help them? This is further emphasized in verse 75 which states:

  1. They cannot help them, but they will be brought forward as a troop against those who worshipped them (at the time of Reckoning).

The idols and images cannot help their followers because they cannot hear them nor can they respond to their supplications. Hence, those that the unbelievers have taken as their objects of worship, cannot come to their help nor can they intercede and plead for them on the Day of Judgement. Instead, ‘they will be brought forward as a troop against them’. It means that the idols, images and objects that were worshipped on the face of the earth, will be brought up against their worshippers on the Day of Judgement.

While explaining this verse, the great exegete, Mujahid (A.R) states, ‘The idols (which were worshipped) will be gathered on the Day of Judgement, and will be present for the reckoning of those who worshipped them. This will cause more humiliation to them, and will be used as the best proof against them in what they did’. (Tafseer Ibn Katheer vol.5 pg 296 Dar Al Kitab Al Arabiya Beirut 2013)

Another commentary of the verse states that a likeness of everything which people used to worship on the earth, besides Allah, will be brought up on the Day of Judgement. They shall then follow their objects of worship to the fire of Hell. In this regard, an authentic tradition narrated from Abu Hurairah (R.A) states that the Prophet (S.A) said, ‘Allah shall gather all the people on the Day of Judgement on one plain open space. The Lord of the worlds shall then make Himself manifest to them and say, ‘Behold! Let everyone follow that which he used to worship’. The likeness of a cross shall be brought for those who worshipped it. The likeness of a picture/image shall be brought for those who worshipped it, and fire will be brought for those who worshipped it. All shall then follow what they used to worship, and the Muslims shall remain’. (Bukhari, Muslim, Tirmidhi – Tafseer Al Qurtubi vol.15 pg. 53 Maktaba Rasheediya Queta Pakistan). Some scholars have stated that the idols which were worshipped will be present with those who worshipped them in the fire of Hell. One will not be able to help another in that fire.

The great commentator, Hasan Basri (A.R) has stated, ‘The idol worshippers prevent others from ill speaking their idols and they defend them’. Similarly, Qatada (A.R) has stated, ‘The idol worshippers become angry for their idols in the world, while they (the idols) do not bring any good to them, nor do they protect them from any harm. They are nothing but idols’. It has also been said that, ‘The meaning of the verse is that they (the idolaters) worship their gods and look after them. They are to them like a troop, while they are not able to help them’. After narrating these, Imam Qurtubi says, ‘These three explanations are close to each other in meaning’. (Tafseer Al Qurtubi vol.15 pg. 53)

The gist of these explanations is that those who have taken idols as their gods, (they) defend them and protect them. They show enmity to those who condemn their idols in the worldly life, and become angry for their sake. They worship their idols, look after them and fight those who speak ill of them. They are therefore, servants, troops and soldiers who guard their idols, while these lifeless objects cannot help them in the least.

The above explanation given by Qatada regarding verse 75 which states, ‘and they are for them a troop which will be present’ has been considered by Imam Ibn Jareer At Tabari as the best commentary of the verse. In this regard, he (Ibn Jareer) mentioned the opinions of both Mujahid (A.R) and Qatada (A.R) and then said, ‘The explanation of Qatada is the best of the two opinions which is correct in our understanding, as the interpretation of the verse’. (Tafseer At Tabari vol.23 pg. 37 Dar Ihya At Turath Al Arabi Beirut 2001)

Sura Yaseen goes further in verse 76 and states:

  1. So let not their speech, then, grieve you (O Muhammad ). Verily, We know what they conceal and what they reveal.

In this verse, Allah gave comfort to the Prophet (S.A) and advised him that he should not let the statements of the unbelievers grieve him. Although they denied him, and called him by many offensive names which caused great pain and grief to him, the Prophet (S.A) was instructed by Allah to continue upon his sacred mission and pay no heed to what they were saying to him. He should not allow any distress and sorrow to come over him on account of their statements, but should entrust everything to Allah who will take care of everything.

About their statements and actions, Allah says, ‘Verily, We know what they conceal and what they reveal’. It means that Allah is fully aware of all that they say and do. He knows what they do privately and publicly and He has full knowledge of what they conceal in their hearts and what they reveal on their tongues. He will therefore, take them to task for their deeds and will requite them with a fair requital.

Sura Yaseen continues in verses 77, 78 and 79 to give evidences for the resurrection and gathering on the Day of Judgement. These verses state:

  1. Does not man see that We have created him from Nutfah (mixed male and female discharge semen drops). Yet behold! He (stands forth) as an open opponent.
  2.  And he puts forth for Us a parable, and forgets his own creation. He says: “Who will give life to these bones when they have rotted away and became dust?”
  3. Say: (O Muhammad ) “He will give life to them Who created them for the first time! And He is the All-Knower of every creation!”

The above question asked in verse 77, is one of reproach and rebuke. In this verse, the unbelievers are reprimanded for having not looked at the things around them to recognize the power of Allah. Allah says, ‘Have not the unbelieving man looked carefully and pondered over the power of his Lord? Had he given due consideration, then he would have known that it is Allah who has created him from an insignificant despicable discharge which is impure. Allah, who has created man in the first instance, is All-Able to create him again for a second time for resurrection.

With respect to the above verses, many commentators have mentioned that these were revealed concerning an incident which occurred at the time of the Prophet (S.A). According to a narration from Saeed bin Jubair from Abdullah bin Abbas (R.A), it states that Aas bin Wa’il once picked up a decomposed bone from ‘Al Batha’, broke it with his hand and said to the Prophet of Allah (S.A), ‘Can Allah give life to this after it has become dust?’ The Prophet of Allah (S.A) said, ‘Yes, Allah will give life to this. Then Allah will give death to you. He will resurrect you and then enter you in the fire of Hell’. (Tafseer Ibn Katheer vol.5 pg. 296 Dar Al Kitab Al Arabiya Beirut 2013). Hafiz Ibn Jareer has also mentioned the above tradition from Saeed bin Jubair in his famous commentary.

It is also narrated that the above incident occurred with Ubayy bin Khalaf and not Aas bin Wa’il. In a narration from Mujahid, Ikramah, Urwa bin Zubair, Suddi and Qatada, it is stated that Ubayy bin Khalaf came to the Messenger of Allah (S.A) with a decomposed bone in his hand. He then broke it and threw the dust in the air. He then said, ‘O Muhammad! Do you think that Allah can resurrect this?’ The Prophet (S.A) said, ‘Yes. Allah will cause you to die. He will then resurrect you and gather you in Hell’. Upon this, the above verses of Sura Yaseen were revealed. (Tafseer Ibn Katheer vol.5 pg. 296)

After narrating these incidents, Hafiz Ibn Katheer (A.R) said, ‘Whether this incident occurred with Aas bin Wa’il or Ubayy bin Khalaf or with both of them, the verses are general to everyone who denies the resurrection. (Ibid). These verses refute the misconceptions held by the unbelievers, and establish the fact that Resurrection is a ‘truth’ which will take place.

Verse 77 explains that although man has been created from a ‘discharge’ which is weak, impure and despised, and he recognizes that he has been created and fashioned in the beautiful form of a human being by Allah, yet he becomes an open adversary, and an opponent to Allah. He forget his Creator and becomes an antagonist. He argues with his Lord, rejects His power and ability, and denies the Resurrection and the Judgement. He must give consideration to the fact that Allah who created him as a human being from a drop of liquid, in the first instance, is fully able and powerful to create him another time for Resurrection.

Verse 78 goes further to speak of the argumentative nature of the unbelievers and says, ‘And he puts forth for Us a parable, and forgets his own creation. He says: “Who will give life to these bones when they have rotted away and became dust?”

The verse speaks of the attitude of the unbeliever and states that he brings examples (like the incident of Ubayy bin Khalaf) to question the power and ability of Allah. Yet, he forgets his own creation. He overlooks the fact that it is Allah who created him from non-existence and placed life in him. He forgets the wonderful, strange and amazing way in which he was created. He then questions the power of Allah and says, ‘Who will give life to these bones after they are rotten and have become dust’.

This is the conduct of the unbeliever. He looks at rotten and decomposed bones that have become like dust particles and believes that no one has the power to put life into these decomposed particles. He judges Allah as he will judge a human being and thinks to himself that since no man can create life into dead bones, so too, Allah will not be able to do so. His thoughts are however, wrong and misguided. In response to his argument, and to guide his thoughts, Allah mentions in verse 79, Say: (O Muhammad ) “He will give life to them Who created them for the first time! And He is the All-Knower of every creation!”

The Prophet (S.A) was asked to tell the unbeliever Ubayy bin Khalaf and others like him (as a way to silence and rebuke them), that the One who will re-create and restore life to the decayed bones and resurrect them after death , will be the same One who brought them into being from non-existence and created them at the first time without anything. Hence, that One who is able to begin a creation, has full ability and power to repeat it.

The unbelievers were also told  that ‘Allah is the All Knower of every creation’. It means that He has full knowledge of  how He creates a being, and in what manner He originates it. Hence, resurrecting bodies after death is not difficult upon him. While explaining this verse, Hafiz Ibn Katheer says, ‘It means that Allah Has full knowledge of all the bones that are in the various  parts of the earth and  in different directions and areas. He knows where these bones have been buried and scattered, and where these have been ripped apart. (Hence, He will gather all these (bones) together and bring life into them).

Hafiz Ibn Katheer then mentioned the following tradition to explain his commentary. He says, ‘Uqba bin Amr once said to Huzaifa (R.A), ‘Will you not narrate to us what you heard from the Messenger of Allah (S.A)?’ Huzaifah (R.A) said, ‘I heard him (the Prophet S.A) saying, ‘There was a man (from those before you) to whom death came. When he became hopeless of life, he advised his family members, saying, ‘When I die, gather an abundant amount of fire sticks for me, then ignite it with fire and burn me in it. When the fire devours my flesh and reaches to my bones, and I am burnt, then take my bones, crush them to powder, and throw them in the open sea’. The man thereafter passed away, and the family members did as they were advised. After this was done, Allah gathered the bones together, and brought the man before Him. He then said (to the man), ‘Why did you do this?’ The man said, ‘On account of Your fear O Allah’. Allah then pardoned the man for this’. Uqba bin Amr then said to Huzaifa (R.A), ‘I heard the Prophet (S.A) saying the same’. (Hadith is Saheeh (sound). Recorded by Ahmad and Ibn Hibban – Tafseer Ibn Katheer vol.5 pg. 297 Dar Al Kitab Al Arabi Beirut 2013)