While commenting on this verse, some exegetes have stated that the words, ‘Sent down by the All Mighty, Most Merciful’ refers to the sending of the Prophet (S.A). The verse tells the unbelievers that Muhammad (S.A) was indeed from among the Messengers because he was sent directly by Allah, the All Mighty. (Tafseer Al Qurtubi vol.15 pg. 11; Tafseer At Tabari vol.22 pg. 177)
Some commentators have explained that the words, ‘Sent down by the All Mighty, Most Merciful’ refers to the ‘straight path’ which was mentioned in the previous verse. The verse explains that the straight path which the Prophet (S.A) was sent with, was sent down by the Lord of Honour and Might who is Most Merciful to His servants. It was not a religion which was ‘made-up’ by human beings, instead, it was the path of guidance sent down by Allah. (Tafseer Ibn Katheer vol.5 pg. 272)
The above verse therefore makes it abundantly clear to the unbelievers that the Holy Quran, the Prophet Muhammad (S.A) and the path of guidance, Al Islam, were all sent directly by Allah.
SuraYaseen goes further in verse 6 and states:
لِتُنذِرَ قَوْمًا مَّا أُنذِرَ آبَاؤُهُمْ فَهُمْ غَافِلُونَ
- In order that you may warn a people whose forefathers were not warned, so they are heedless.
Here, the Prophet (S.A) was informed of his task which he was required to do, having been chosen as a Messenger and given the Quran as the Book of guidance. Allah informed him that his job was to warn the people and instill the fear of Allah in them regarding the punishment of Allah. The people referred to in the verse were the Arabs. They were the descendants of Ismail (A.S), and since the period of Ibraheem (A.S) and Ismail (A.S), no prophet came to them. On account of this long period, they became unmindful of Imaan (faith) and guidance and as a result plunged into kufr, shirk and evils.
The Prophet (S.A) was sent to warn and direct them to the right path so that they may come out from the darkness of kufr and shirk, which they had fallen into. It was about this state, the verse stated, ‘In order that you may warn a people whose forefathers were not warned, so they are heedless.’
SuraYaseen continues in verse 7 and states:
لَقَدْ حَقَّ الْقَوْلُ عَلَىٰ أَكْثَرِهِمْ فَهُمْ لَا يُؤْمِنُونَ
- Indeed the Word (of punishment) has proved true against most of them, so they will not believe.
It means that the punishment of the fire of Hell has become essential for most of the unbelievers because of their persistence in disbelief and denial of the truth. They paid no heed to the warnings and reminders, and they chose the path of disbelief above the path of belief, hence, they became deserving of the punishment which Allah had already decreed for such people.
While commenting on the above verse, some commentators of the Holy Quran have stated that ‘the word which has proved true against most of the unbelievers’ refers to the statement which Allah has made in the following verse: ‘Surely, I shall fill Hell with jinn and men all together’. (Sura Hud v.119) This statement was made regarding those who do not believe in Allah and His Messengers. (Tafseer Al Bahr Al Muheet vol.9 pg. 49 Dar Al Fikr; Tafseer Mazhari vol.9 pg. 357 Darul Ishaat Karachi 2010)
‘The word has proved true against them’ means that the promise which Allah has made to punish those who will die on kufr (disbelief) and shirk (polytheism) shall surely come to pass. Those who will adopt the path of misguidance are already known to Allah, and so, He has made His decree already regarding them, hence, they will not believe. (Tafseer Al Qurtubi vol.15 pg. 11)
Sura Yaseen goes further in verse 8 to explain the reason for their rejection and denial of the path of truth. The verse says:
إِنَّا جَعَلْنَا فِي أَعْنَاقِهِمْ أَغْلَالًا فَهِيَ إِلَى الْأَذْقَانِ فَهُم مُّقْمَحُونَ
- Verily! We have put on their necks iron collars reaching to chins, so that their heads are forced up.
As stated by many commentators of the Holy Quran, the above verse is given as a similitude to describe the state that the unbelievers are in. It is as if their state is such that iron collars have been placed around their necks upto their chins, which make it impossible for them to move their heads. Thus, their heads remain focused and fixed only in one direction. This description is a metaphorical one which explains the firm determination that the unbelievers have to remain on disbelief, and not to pay attention to the message of the Prophet (S.A). The verse explains that the unbelievers have made themselves like those who have placed iron collars around their necks which make their heads and necks immovable. Therefore, they cannot turn their attention to that which is beneficial and good, nor can they move their necks to the right direction. Due to the iron collars, their necks are raised up and are not able to move up and down. In this way, they are not able to lower their heads and gaze, and witness the truth of the message of Islam so that they may accept it. They have made themselves in such a state that they cannot see the truth, nor can they look in its direction.
Verse 9 (of Sura Yaseen) presents another similitude of their condition and says:
وَجَعَلْنَا مِن بَيْنِ أَيْدِيهِمْ سَدًّا وَمِنْ خَلْفِهِمْ سَدًّا فَأَغْشَيْنَاهُمْ فَهُمْ لَا يُبْصِرُونَ
- And We have put a barrier before them, and a barrier behind them, and We have covered them up, so that they cannot see.
Here, another comparison of their state is given. The verse explains that they (the unbelievers) are like such people who have placed a wall in front of them and a wall behind them. In this state, they are blocked from everything and remain totally unaware of their surroundings. This is also a metaphorical description of the state of the unbelievers. It explains that their deep rooted disbelief and shirk have made them blind to the truth that surrounds them. Their firm adherence to falsehood, has blocked their sight from recognizing the truth which has been sent to them. Thus, they are covered from every direction and are not able to see the path of guidance.
While commenting on the above verses, some exegetes have stated that the verses were revealed on a special occasion, and describe a real state which Allah placed over the unbelievers. It is narrated that on one occasion, Abu Jahl swore that if he saw the Prophet (S.A) performing Salaah (in the Haram), he will crush his head with a rock. Thus, when Abu Jahl saw the Prophet (S.A) in Salaah, he took a rock and was about to throw it at him. At that time, his hand went to his neck and the rock became stuck on his hand. Abu Jahl then returned to his companion and informed them of what happened. Upon this, Waleed bin Mughirah said, ‘I will crush his head’. Saying this, he proceeded to the Prophet (S.A) who was performing Salaah, and raised his hand to throw the rock, but Allah immediately seized his sight and he became blind. At this time, he heard the voice of the Prophet (S.A) but could not see him. He then returned to his companions but could not see them, until they called out to him. He said to them, ‘By Allah, I did not see him (Muhammad S.A) but I heard him’. When the second man failed to accomplish this evil task, a third stood up and said, ‘By Allah! I will surely crush his head’. He then took the rock and proceeded to the Prophet (S.A). However, he suddenly started to run back on his heels and fell unconsciously to the ground. It was then said to him, ‘What is the matter with you?’ He said, ‘My issue is a grave one. I saw the man (Muhammad S.A), but when I went close to him, a large camel suddenly appeared before me swinging its tail. I have never seen such a large camel like this, which came between me and him (the Prophet S.A). I swear by Laat and Uzza, if I had gone close to him, the camel would have devoured me’. Upon this, the above verses were revealed, which explained the states that came over those who wanted to cause harm to the Prophet (S.A). (Tafseer Al Qurtubi vol.15 pg.11-12; Tafseer Mazhari vol.9 pg. 358; Tafseer Al Baghwi vol.4 pg. 6)
Some commentators have also stated that the above verses (8 and 9) speak about the punishment which the unbelievers will receive in the fire of Hell. In this regard, Imam Al Qurtubi writes, ‘It is said that the verse indicates to what will be done to the people tomorrow in the fire of Hell, by placing iron collars on their necks and chains. It is just as Allah said, ‘Those who deny the Book (this Qur’an), and that with which We sent Our Messengers, they will come to know (when they will be cast into the Fire of Hell).When iron collars will be rounded over their necks, and the chains, they shall be dragged along’. (Sura Ghafir verses 70, 71) (Tafseer Al Qurtubi vol.15 pg. 130; Tafseer Al Bahr Al Muheet vol.9 pg. 49)