Tafseer (Commentary) of Surah Yaseen (Part 16)

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)

Sura Yaseen goes further in verse 80 and states:

  1. He, Who produces for you fire out of the green tree, when behold! You kindle therewith.

This verse speaks of  the great power and ability of Allah. The verse explains that nothing is difficult for Allah. He is the One, who, through His power and ability, creates fire from green trees. These are trees that are normally filled with moisture, and hence, fire cannot be produced from them. However, Allah, the All Powerful and Able, produces fire from them, and does whatever He wishes. No task is difficult for Him. As such, restoring life to dead and decomposed bones, and resurrecting man after death, is not difficult for Him.

While explaining this verse, Hafiz Ibn Katheer (A.R) writes, ‘Allah is He who has created these trees from water. Then, they become green and fresh and produce fruits and  vegetation. Allah then causes them to become dry sticks from which fire is kindled. Thus, Allah does whatever He wishes. He is All Able to do what He wants and nothing can prevent Him. (Tafseer Ibn Katheer vol.5 pg. 297  Dar Al Kitab Al Arabi Beirut 2013). This explanation shows that the verse alludes to every green tree. Allah, the All Powerful One, causes the green tree to become dry, and then makes it the source of fuel and fire.

Some commentators have explained that the verse, ‘He who produces for you fire out of the green tree’ refers to two trees which were well known in Arabia. These were the Markh tree and the Afar tree. Both of these grew in the land of Hijaz. When a person wanted to kindle a fire and did not have a flint, he used to take two green twigs (branches), (one from the Markh tree and the other from the Afar tree), and rub one on the other.  On account of this, fire used to be produced from these twigs. Thus, they (the Arabs) used to produce fire from rubbing the branches of these green trees on one another. This in itself was a clear sign, which demonstrated that Allah is All Able to do whatever He wishes. (Tafseer Al Baghwi vol.4 pg. 21 Idara Taleefat Ashrafiya Multan Pakistan; Tafseer Ibn Katheer vol.5 pg. 297, 298 Dar Al Kitab Al Arabi)

Imam Qurtubi has given another explanation of this verse (v.80) and stated, ‘In this verse, Allah notifies the unbelievers of His Oneness, and indicates to His perfect and complete ability to restore life to the dead, based on what they witness from the emergence of fire from a green branch. The unbelievers thought (to themselves) that the semen (from which a man is created) is hot (in its temperament) and moist. Both of these attributes have the ability to produce life, and so, life emanates from it (the semen). The bone however, is cold (in its temperament) and dry. Both of these have the characteristics of  being dead and lifeless. Therefore, it is impossible for life to evolve from this (the bone).

In order to refute this stray notion, Allah revealed the verse saying, ‘He who produces for you fire out of the green tree’. Here, Allah explained to the unbelievers that the green tree which they use as a flint to kindle a fire, is moist and contains water. The characteristic of water is that it is cold and moist, and is directly opposite to fire. Therefore, both being opposites, cannot mix with each other and come together. Hence, in accordance to this trend of thought, it will be totally impossible for fire to originate from a green tree which has moisture and water. Yet, Allah has done this, and has caused fire to emit from green trees. Hence, He is All Powerful and able to create and bring about a thing from its opposite. The green tree mentioned in the verse, refers to the Markh and Afar trees, which were the firestones for the Arabs. (Tafseer Al Qurtubi – Al Jami li Ahkam Al Quran vol.15 pg. 55 Maktaba Rasheediya Queta Pakistan).

SuraYaseen continues in verse 81 and states:

  1. Is not He, Who created the heavens and the earth Able to create the like of them? Yes, indeed! He is the All-Knowing Supreme Creator.

In this verse, Allah draws man’s attention to His great power and ability. He makes it known to them that it is He who has created the massive structure of the seven heavens and the seven earth with all the various creations that exist in them.  As such, He is fully capable to create the like of them after death and Has complete power and ability to restore life to their dead bodies after they have become decayed and decomposed. For certainly, a Being who has the ability to create such large and mighty structures, can surely re-create human beings after they are dead, since the creation of humans from their rotten bones is not bigger and greater than the creation of the heavens and earth. As such, One who is not unable to create a creation much greater/bigger than human beings, cannot be unable to produce life in the bones (of humans) after these have become rotten and disintegrated. (Tafseer Ibn Jareer vol.23 pg. 40 Dar Ihya At Turath Al Arabi Beirut 2013)

In the verse, Allah Himself answers the above question and says, ‘Yes, indeed! He is the All Knowing, Supreme Creator’. It means that Allah is certainly All Able to create the like of them (human beings), for He creates whatever He wishes. He is the Innovator and Inventor of every creation and creature, and He has full knowledge of every single thing which He has created in the past and will create in the future. Nothing is hidden from His knowledge.