By Kareem Elsayed
This is a Makkan surah revealed near the middle or the end of the Makkan period. Imam Ahmad, Abu Daud, Nasai, Ibn Majah and Tabarani have related on the authority of Ma’qil bin Yasar that the Prophet (SAAWS) said:”Surat Ya Seen is the heart of the Qur’an.” This is because the surah embodies so well many of the messages and themes contained elsewhere in the Qur’an.
The opening passage of the surah addresses the concept of the message, and the rejection of that message by most of Quraysh. Next, Allah (SWT) instructs the Prophet (SAAWS) to relate to them the story of the people of the city. Two messengers came to them, and their people disbelieved them, so Allah (SWT) strengthened them with a third. Their people persisted on kufr and threatened to assassinate their messengers. Then a man from the outskirts of the city came hurrying, advising his fellow people to follow the messengers. He delivered to them a khutbah encouraging them to follow the guidance, and giving them good reasons to do so. But once the man proclaimed his belief in the oneness of Allah (SWT), he was immediately murdered. Allah (SWT) ordered him to enter Jannah, but out of his compassion for his people his first statement in Jannah was:
“…”I wish my people could know: Of how my Lord has forgiven me and placed me among the honored.” (26-27)”
This story is overflowing with lessons for us: look at the Mercy of Allah (SWT) for sending so many reminders and warnings, how the messengers patiently endured the disbelief of their people, how a commoner from among the people went to great lengths to make da`wah to his people, and how he was so concerned with the condition of his people, even after he attained the ultimate reward of Jannah.
Then Allah (SWT) orders the Prophet (SAAWS) to remind his people of the signs of Allah (SWT): the dead earth how it produces fruits, gardens and springs, the night, the sun, the moon, and their appointed courses, and the blessing of being able to ride on boats. However, Allah (SWT) says that their hearts are closed to His signs:
“And no sign comes to them from the signs of their Lord except that they are from it turning away. (46)”
People like them will never believe until they are brought forth before Allah (SWT) on the Day of Reckoning. This is a stern warning for Quraysh – don’t make the same grave error!
“They will say, “O woe to us! Who has raised us up from our sleeping place?” [The reply will be], “This is what the Most Merciful had promised, and the messengers told the truth.”(52)”
However, the believers on that day will be enjoying themselves, hearing the word of “Salam” from the Lord of the Worlds (SWT). Whereas the disbelievers will be cast into Hellfire as a recompense for what they used to do.
In the final passage of the surah Allah (SWT) makes a final appeal to their sense – relating His capability (SWT) as well as more signs for them to ponder. Finally, Allah (SWT) closes the surah with three beautiful ayahs, succinctly stating his capability:
“Is not He who created the heavens and the earth Able to create the likes of them? Yes, [it is so]; and He is the Knowing Creator. His command is only when He intends a thing that He says to it, “Be,” and it is. So exalted is He in whose hand is the realm of all things, and to Him you will be returned. (81-83”
Like surat Ya Seen, this surah was revealed in the mid to late Makkan period. The message of this surah is clearly stated in ayah 4:
“Indeed, your God is One, (4)”
This surah is all about instilling the message of belief and aqeedah into any who would hear the Qur’an. This surah in particular harshly addresses the disbelievers and rebukes them for their kufr:
“But you wonder, while they mock, And when they are reminded, they remember not. And when they see a sign, they ridicule (12-14)”
Their ridicule and denial of the Day of Judgment will not delay its arrival at all, and when it comes, they will be sorry:
“It will be only one shout, and at once they will be observing. They will say, “O woe to us! This is the Day of Recompense.” [They will be told], “This is the Day of Judgement which you used to deny.” (19-21)”
Look how sternly the criminals and transgressors will be dealt with – they have no one to help them and will be in utter surrender to the command of Allah (SWT):
“They will be asked], “What is [wrong] with you? Why do you not help each other?” But they, that Day, are in surrender. (25-26)”
“Indeed they, when it was said to them, “There is no deity but Allah ,” were arrogant And were saying, “Are we to leave our gods for a mad poet?” Rather, the Prophet has come with the truth and confirmed the [previous] messengers. Indeed, you [disbelievers] will be tasters of the painful punishment, And you will not be recompensed except for what you used to do” (35-39)”
Allah (SWT) compares the standing of His servants to the evil doers that He censures throughout the surah, repeating throughout the surah the phrase:
“But not the chosen servants of Allah . (40)”
In a very important verse, Allah (SWT) tells us what is worth working for: paradise.
“Indeed, this is the great attainment. For the like of this let the workers [on earth] work. (60-61)”
Again, Allah (SWT) gives a horrific description of the tree of Zaqqum which is in Hellfire. These descriptions should terrify anyone reading them, scaring them straight”
“Is Paradise a better accommodation or the tree of zaqqum? Indeed, We have made it a torment for the wrongdoers. Indeed, it is a tree issuing from the bottom of the Hellfire, Its emerging fruit as if it was heads of the devils. And indeed, they will eat from it and fill with it their bellies. Then indeed, they will have after it a mixture of scalding water. Then indeed, their return will be to the Hellfire. (62-68)”
Next Allah (SWT) relates portions of the stories of Nuh (AS), Ibrahim (AS), Isma`eel (AS), Ishaq (AS), Musa (AS), Haroon (AS), Ilyas (AS), Lut (AS), and Yunus (AS). A highlight from the part on Ibrahim (AS) shows his relationship with his son. Let us learn from this healthy relationship and strive to emulate it in our own families.
“And when he reached with him [the age of] exertion, he said, “O my son, indeed I have seen in a dream that I [must] sacrifice you, so see what you think.” He said, “O my father, do as you are commanded. You will find me, if Allah wills, of the steadfast.” (102)
Allah (SWT) again returns to harshly addressing the disbelievers. Perhaps one who hears or reads this surah will take heed of the message of tawheed.
“What is [wrong] with you? How do you make judgement? Then will you not be reminded? Or do you have a clear authority? Then produce your scripture, if you should be truthful. (154-157)”
Finally, Allah (SWT) concludes the surah with a promise of victory for his believers. After relating the successes of the previous prophets and messengers, the disbelievers should realize that the promise of Allah (SWT) is true, and it was indeed manifest before them during Ramadan 8 AH, when Makkah was liberated.
“And Our word has already preceded for Our servants, the messengers, [That] indeed, they would be those given victory And [that] indeed, Our soldiers will be those who overcome. So, [O Muhammad], leave them for a time. And see [what will befall] them, for they are going to see. Then for Our punishment are they impatient? But when it descends in their territory, then evil is the morning of those who were warned. And leave them for a time. And see, for they are going to see. (171-179)”
Allah (SWT) concludes the surah with a beautiful passage commonly recited to conclude a du`aa’.
“Exalted is your Lord, the Lord of might, above what they describe. And peace upon the messengers. And praise to Allah , Lord of the worlds. (180-182)”