Is is also narrated from Thabit Al Bunani (A.R) that he said, ‘I once walked with Anas (R.A) for Salaah and I walked very fast. Anas (R.A) held my hand and we walked for a short while. When we had completed Salaah, Anas (R.A) said, ‘Once I walked hurriedly with Zaid Ibn Thabit (R.A) and he said, ‘O Anas! Don’t you know that the traces of the footsteps are recorded? Don’t you know that the traces of the footsteps are recorded?’ (Tafseer At Tabari vol.22 pg. 182 Dar Ihya At Turath Al Arabi Beirut; Tafseer Al Qurtubi vol.15 pg. 15-16; Tafseer Ibn Katheer vol.5 pg. 275-276; Tafseer Mazhari vol.9 pg. 360)
Both explanations given above by the great commentators of the Holy Quran are sound and authentic, and are accepted by all scholars to be proper explanations of the verse. The fact that the footsteps taken while walking to the Masjid are recorded, are well established from many authentic traditions. These are from the good deeds of a man, and are from the actions which should be followed by others. In this way, all other actions are treated. Thus, while the second interpretation speaks of the recording of the footsteps taken while going to the Masjid, the first interpretation generalizes all good deeds (including the steps taken to the Masjid), and also all bad deeds done by a person, when these were left behind (after a person’s death) as practices and traits that were practiced and followed by others.
The great Mufassir (exegete) Hafiz Ibn Katheer has explained this in his famous commentary and said, ‘There is no contradiction/inconsistency between both statements. Instead, from the second explanation, a clear warning and indication is given to the first explanation. For certainly, when the (physical) traces of the footsteps are recorded, then to a greater extent, the good and bad deeds of a man which he left behind as practices and traits to be followed, would be recorded. And Allah knows best’. (Tafseer Ibn Katheer vol.5 pg. 276 Dar Al Kitab Al Arabi Beirut 2013)
SuraYaseen continues in verses 13 and 14 and states:
- And put forward to them a similitude; the (story of the) dwellers of the town, when there came Messengers to them.
- When We sent to them two Messengers, they belied them both, so We reinforced them with a third, and they said: “Verily! We have been sent to you as Messengers.”
Here, the Prophet ﷺ was asked to rehearse to his people who disbelieved in him, the incident of the ‘people of the town’, since in this narration there were lessons to be learnt and warnings to be taken. Allah sent Messengers to this town to invite its people to the message of truth, and to warn them of His punishment if they did not believe in Him.
Verse 14 went on to state that two messengers were sent to the people of the town, but when they were denied, Allah sent a third prophet as a support and strength to the previous two.
While commenting on these verses, the great exegetes have stated that this was the town of Antakiyah (Antioch) according to the opinions of all the Mufasireen (commentators). In this town, there was a Pharoah who worshipped idols. Allah sent three messengers to these people whose names were Sadiq, Saduq and Shalom (the third one). Allah ordered the Prophet ﷺ to warn the polytheists at his time, by rehearsing this narration to them, lest the same punishment comes to them as it came to the ‘dwellers of the town’. This is the commentary given by Abdullah bin Abbas (R.A), Kaab Al Ahbar and Wahb bin Munabih. (Tafseer Al Qurtubi vol.15 pg. 17-18 Mataba Rasheediya; Tafseer At Tabari vol.22 pg. 184 Dar Ihya At Turath Al Arabi; Tafseer Ibn Katheer vol.5 pg. 276 Dar Al Kitab Al Arabi Beirut)
Some commentators have stated that these three messengers were not prophets (as deputed by Allah), but were disciples of Isa (A.S) who were sent by him to convey the message of his religion to the people of the town. This explanation has been given by Qatada as narrated by Ibn Jareer. Imam Qurtubi has also indicated to this opinion and said, ‘It has been stated that it was Isa (A.S) who sent these messengers to Antakiyah (Antioch) to call towards Allah. This occurred at the time when Isa (A.S) was taken up to the heavens’. (Tafseer At Tabari vol.22 pg. 183; Tafseer Al Qurtubi vol.15 pg. 18)
The majority of the commentators however, have stated that the three Messengers were prophets of Allah.
Verse 14 mentions that when the Messengers came to them, they said, ‘Verily, we have been sent to you as Messengers’. In response to this, the unbelieving people of the town said:
- They (people of the town) said: “You are only human beings like ourselves, and the Most Beneficent (Allah) has revealed nothing, you are only telling lies.”
The people, while denying them as Messengers, told them that they were humans just as they were. They did not have anything that made them special or worthy of being above them. In addition, they told the Messengers that Allah has not revealed anything to them that made them messengers, nor did he convey a message to them. In fact, they believed that they were lying with respect to the claim of being Messengers. Upon this statement made by the unbelievers, the Messengers replied:
- The Messengers said: “Our Lord knows that we have been sent as Messengers to you,
- “And our duty is only to convey plainly (the Message).”
The Messengers made it clear to them that Allah knows very well that they are His Messengers and that He has sent them to the town. Allah’s knowledge of them that they were upon the truth and that they were not liars is sufficient. In addition, the Messengers told them that their task was simply to convey a plain message to them. They were not responsible for anything besides that. Hence, whether they accept them as Messengers or not, their job was only to deliver a message, which they will do. Benefits and harms were connected to their acceptance and non-acceptance of the message. Furthermore, rejection of their message cannot cause harm to them.
When the Messengers spoke in this manner, the people of the town retorted and said:
- They (people) said: “For us, we see an evil omen from you, if you cease not, we will surely stone you, and a painful torment will touch you from us.”
They said to the Messengers, ‘We see an evil omen from you’. It means that they said, ‘We do not see any good in your faces when you are living amongst us’. Qatada (A.R) said, ‘They were saying, ‘If bad touches us, then it is because of you’. Mujahid (A.R) said, ‘They were saying, ‘People like you have never entered into a city except that the dwellers were punished’. (Tafseer Ibn Katheer vol.5 pg. 277 Dar Al Kitab Al Arabi)
They considered the presence of the Messengers to be a cause for their troubles and difficulties. Maqatil said that rainfall was withheld from them for a period of three years, and they said that this was on account of the presence of the Messengers. (Tafseer Al Qurtubi vol.15 pg. 19)
As mentioned by the commentators, the reason that the people of the town considered the Messengers to be a bad omen was that they (the Messengers) invited them to a religion which they were not practicing. They saw it as being strange, and considered it to be bad. Hence, they disliked what they were called towards and saw it to be an evil omen.
This however, has been the way/conduct of the ignorant and arrogant people. They love that which their hearts are inclined towards, and they hate/detest that which their hearts are averse to. Thus, they were totally opposed to the teachings of the Messengers, and for this reason, they saw the Messengers as an evil omen. Having accused the prophets as being a sign of an evil omen, they then threatened them and said, ‘If you cease not, we will surely stone you, and a painful punishment will touch you from us’.
They issued a threat to the Messengers that if they did not stop their speeches and their mission of propagating their religion, they will stone them to death and will make them suffer a painful torment. In response to their threat and false statement, the Messengers replied:
- They (Messengers) said: “Your evil omens be with you! (Do you call it “evil omen”) because you are admonished? Nay, but you are a people Musrifun (transgressing all bounds by committing all kinds of great sins).
Here, the Messengers told them clearly that their evil omens were with them. It means that they were the cause of their evil/bad state.