By February 19, 2024 Read More →

Section Ya-Seen – Part 10

We will continue to study Section Ya-Seen of the Qur’an where we last studied verse 47 as follows:

وَإِذَا قِيلَ لَهُمْ أَنفِقُوا۟ مِمَّا رَزَقَكُمُ ٱللَّهُ قَالَ ٱلَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا۟ لِلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُوٓا۟ أَنُطْعِمُ مَن لَّوْ يَشَآءُ ٱللَّهُ أَطْعَمَهُۥٓ إِنْ أَنتُمْ إِلَّا فِى ضَلَـٰلٍۢ مُّبِينٍۢ

36:47 And when they are told, ‘Spend on others for their sustenance out of what God has provided for you,’ the disbelievers say to the believers, ‘Why should we feed those that God could feed if He wanted? You must be deeply misguided.’

In this verse the disbelievers are saying to the believers that why should we feed those that God could feed if He wanted. Nowadays, we must admit that not every disbeliever says this, many of them want to help others in need. They don’t deny the reality of their human side that urges them to help others. The verse highlights the deliberate enemies of the prophet who say this.

First, those who don’t believe in God, in religion or in prophets but follow their human side, feelings, and awareness, they don’t follow the way it should be done according to the teachings of the prophets. The prophetic message adds another dimension to the human innate feelings. This dimension fulfills the purpose of the creation of all these feelings in human beings. They are given to us to recognize their Creator and live with this consciousness. The prophets are employed by the Creator of human feelings that all these spending on others must be done in the name of God. Some would say that God didn’t provide for those in need, so we are doing something better by helping others materially. Some say that we are “correcting the mistakes of nature”. These claims are plentiful nowadays. Nowadays, they are not deliberately being enemies of the prophet, they may not be aware of the teachings of the prophets and consequently not believe and follow their message that brings meaning to their living in this world. 

Why would someone deny this feeding and helping of those in need and in addition saying that you must be deeply misguided? This last phrase of the verse is closely tied to the next verse (36:48) which we will study next. In this verse, the question arises whether I or any Muslim can say the same as the unbelievers say regarding not helping the needy ones whom God can provide for? Without denying God and the prophetic message, can any believing person say this? Without challenging the prophetic message, one may say that why should I feed someone whom God could feed if He wanted? Even when their tongue doesn’t say this, the general Muslim community is saying this in their behavior: I am not going to spend on others. 

In what sense may the believers be saying the same thing? Let’s examine it:

Last week we studied the word “نفِقُ” which is translated as “to spend”. It means providing something that the person really needs for his life. The meaning does not pertain to entertaining such as inviting friends to your house which is being kind and sharing with them from what God has given to you; it is not “أَنفِقُوا۟”, which is to spend on what they really need. If this need is not provided, the person’s life would be horrible. What is the most important spending for the essential needs of people?

Providing for physical needs, charity, helping the orphans are the common areas that are popular, but they are all related to the human body. It is true that I need to survive bodily, and everyone is busy taking care of those needs. There are many organizations, people that are active in feeding the needy regardless of their belief. Everyone knows from their conscience, their own human feelings that they need to help the needy ones. What is missing is the feeding of the spirit, providing for the essential needs of humans! They need answers to their human existential questions, they need meaning, security and purpose in their living otherwise one would suffer from dissatisfaction with life and have psychological unrest, if not  going insane in some extreme senses. 

This essential need of human beings is provided by God in his speech where it is emphasized to believe in God, believe in the Hereafter, believe in Revelation, believe in Divine Determining, believe in Prophethood. I must arrange my life here to prepare for the Hereafter. I must pay attention to the teachings of the Qur’an that address human needs. The prophets are not sent only to address the bodily needs of human beings but essentially their spiritual human needs as well. They are sent to address what is missing in human living. The most important need for human beings is to receive guidance for their living in this world where their life is continuously fleeting. We must understand the verses of the Qur’an within the fundamental objective of the Qur’an as guidance for humans living in this world. 

This verse of the Qur’an speaks to everyone, but it depends on one’s understanding of the word “أَنفِقُوا۟” translated as “Feed!”. Yes, I need food and water to survive but I also need to satisfy my human side. There is “sustenance” “رَزَقَ” for my body and what gets neglected is “sustenance” for my spirit to make sense of my life. The whole message of the Qur’an is to satisfy my human needs. The prophetic message is conveyed to teach people that “you are given the sense to feed the needy ones. I am here to help you feed your human needs, which is missing in your understanding of life.”

The first revealed verses of the Qur’an speak in a way that is easily understood by the public so that people can relate to what prophet (pbuh) is saying which is not something complicated or unusual to them. In the context of this verse the disbelievers are challenging the prophet (pbuh) by saying “who are you to teach me that God asks to feed those in need? I already know this.” They are not taking the advice as coming from their Lord but taking it as coming from a man. The emphasis on the phrase “مِمَّا رَزَقَكُمُ ٱللَّهُ” translated as “out of what God has provided for you” is trying to teach us that whatever we have is given to us by God; I did not create them. This introduces God as being the Owner, indicating that one must be grateful to God and obey Him. My feelings do not operate independently but God has given me this feeling of feeding the needy.

The Muslims today would not disagree about feeding the needy with physical food as most of them would agree that they must take care of human bodily needs. They don’t say as the enemies of the prophet (pbuh) say but agree with the prophet (pbuh) that God created us with the need to help others. As far as the purpose of Revelation and the purpose of prophethood, it is to feed their human needs. This means that human beings must know that they have a Creator, they have an Owner, this universe and living here is for educational purposes. If this teaching of God is not taught by the prophets, people would not have any answer to their human needs. That is the reason why God sends Revelation and employs prophets to teach human beings. The prophet starts teaching from the basic understanding of common people to feed the poor. Those people understood it as physical food. However, the prophet (pbuh) includes physical food and extends that understanding of food to feed the spiritual human needs, to convey God’s message to them. 

There is a way that the Muslim may say the same thing as the unbelievers say. For example, one may be a businessman and say that “I do my job as a businessman and perform my worship. If someone needs guidance, God will guide them. I need to take care of myself and my family.” Even as a practicing believer, one may not feel their responsibility of feeding the needy by addressing their human needs. They may not take on the responsibility to convey the message of God to others and reduce their responsibilities to feeding bodily needs only. We must spend time learning what God has sent us, work on ourselves and share it with others. This is the most neglected part of our lives these days.


وَيَقُولُونَ مَتَىٰ هَـٰذَا ٱلْوَعْدُ إِن كُنتُمْ صَـٰدِقِينَ

36:48 And they say, “When will this promise of the resurrection be fulfilled, if you speak the truth?”

The latter phrase of the previous verse “إِنْ أَنتُمْ إِلَّا فِى ضَلَـٰلٍۢ مُّبِينٍۢ” translated as “you must be deeply misguided” is tied to understanding the verse above questioning the “ٱلْوَعْدُ” “promise” of resurrection. We understand that the opponents of the prophet (pbuh) are challenging the prophet on when this resurrection will be fulfilled. They are asking “tell us when it will happen?” Why is this challenging question being asked? They don’t believe that the prophet (pbuh) is employed by God and think that it is his opinion. They don’t believe in the guidance thinking that he (pbuh) made this up and is misguided. This word “ٱلْوَعْدُ” is also translated as “calamities” by some translations. The promise of resurrection is included as part of it. The disbelievers know that the prophet (pbuh) cannot bring calamities, so they think that he is making it up and thus are challenging him by asking such questions. They don’t believe that the prophets are employed by God.

مَا يَنظُرُونَ إِلَّا صَيْحَةًۭ وَٰحِدَةًۭ تَأْخُذُهُمْ وَهُمْ يَخِصِّمُونَ 

36:49 But all they are waiting for is a single blast that will overtake them while they are still arguing with each other [about the possibility of resurrection.]

We should bear in mind that the word “ٱلْوَعْدُ” in the earlier verse has two meanings. In one sense “resurrection”, in another “calamity”. Human death is also seen as the destruction of our life as it appears to be on the surface, i.e. seen as a calamity. Believers understand that death is a deliberate creation where they will be resurrected in the next creation. Paradise and Hell must be set, and everyone will get what they have earned in this life and what they deserve. This news of the Qur’an is generally accepted by the believing Muslims. The disbelievers don’t accept this message, and God is telling them that you will experience death as destruction of your life.

The verse mentions “يَخِصِّمُونَ” which is that they are “arguing”. What are they “arguing” about? In the translation above within brackets a clarification is made that they are arguing about the possibility of resurrection. The question being asked is “Is it possible that it may happen?” As was stated, the promise may very well be translated as that of “calamity”, where the disbelievers are questioning whether it is possible that it may come? (Their death is also seen as a destruction and calamity for them.)

Nowadays, we don’t experience such destruction, why? Do we experience such destruction by denying the Hereafter? No. The Qur’an gives physical descriptions of the destruction using floods, winds. After the prophet (pbuh) received the message and delivered it to people, there were many who rejected the message but there was no destruction that happened. How do we understand this Qur’anic description of destruction? There are also materialistic interpretations that deny the message because they claim that everything is “naturally” happening nowadays, nothing happens miraculously by creating something extraordinary. The descriptions of the Qur’an don’t describe the destruction as extraordinary. The winds and strong storms all happen within the orderly creation of the universe and sometimes they cause damage to certain places. These kinds of destruction may happen here and there but especially for those denying resurrection, it does not happen to them. Why is that? 

Let’s study a verse that may help us understand this further.

وَمَا كَانَ رَبُّكَ مُهْلِكَ ٱلْقُرَىٰ حَتَّىٰ يَبْعَثَ فِىٓ أُمِّهَا رَسُولًۭا يَتْلُوا۟ عَلَيْهِمْ ءَايَـٰتِنَا ۚ وَمَا كُنَّا مُهْلِكِى ٱلْقُرَىٰٓ إِلَّا وَأَهْلُهَا ظَـٰلِمُونَ

28:59 “Your Lord would never destroy towns without first raising a messenger in their midst to recite Our messages to them, nor would We destroy towns unless their inhabitants were evildoers.”

We learn here that the messenger must come and be from among them. Some understood the phrase “فِىٓ أُمِّهَا” to mean from central, capital cities of areas. Towns are only destroyed when all their inhabitants are evildoers. The Qur’an presents the destruction while a prophet is present among those people. What God asks the prophets is to take all the believers out of the town with him and the destruction then comes to the deniers, those who didn’t believe in the message of God conveyed by the prophets. 

During the prophet Muhammad’s (pbuh) time, the prophet left the town of Mecca, but the town was not destroyed. Why? In section “Al-Fath” which is frequently recited among the Muslims, it is mentioned that if there were not some believing women and some believing men, we would destroy them. However, there were some believing people in Mecca after the prophet (pbuh) had left (See the Section Al-Fath, verse 25).The prophet was raised among the people in Mecca where he was reciting the Revelation of God to them.  After the prophet (pbuh) left Mecca, there were some people left that did not reject him and were not among the evildoers. They were just following the leaders because of the social structure where they needed some tribal support to survive. Some of the believers in the prophetic message did not have means to migrate to Madina where the prophet had migrated. 

Nowadays, how does this apply to us where the prophet is not among us? One important aspect is that the rejectors and believers are mixed, living among each other these days. Not all people of a town are evildoers or directly reject the prophets; that is why the towns are not destroyed. Majority of the people including Muslims nowadays are just negligent about the message of the prophets and absorbed in providing their bodily needs only.

Going back to verse 49, this argument about resurrection is a general attitude of questioning the possibility of resurrection happening. Many are hesitant and do not think about resurrection, the existence of Paradise and Hell at all. They argue among themselves, within their feelings and with others: “do you think that this is true? People are going but not coming back!” Suddenly death comes to them while they are arguing. Their death which will be their destruction. Until the end of their life in this world, they are still arguing within themselves without really investigating the prophetic messages. Death is inevitable whether it comes via a calamity, or one dies eventually at the end. We must take care of this severe warning and study what the prophet brought to us and get ready to prepare for the hereafter.


فَلَا يَسْتَطِيعُونَ تَوْصِيَةًۭ وَلَآ إِلَىٰٓ أَهْلِهِمْ يَرْجِعُونَ

36:50 They will have no time to make a will, nor shall they return to their family.

What is the significance of unexpected destruction of time?

Suddenly, the end will come. We keep postponing to delve into our human needs and suddenly we hear that we have a disease or some sort of sickness where the time is up telling us that we are going to die. People keep hesitating and keep arguing within themselves. This hesitation is also known as “agnosticism”, arguing whether resurrection is true, or it may not be true? Not having a convincing, sure understanding of resurrection. There are exceptional cases among believers in great numbers and some decent people who have taken the concept of resurrection seriously and are convinced about it. People don’t deliberately deny God or become enemies of the prophets but are usually negligent of the message, they prefer to stay indifferent and leave themselves to the flow of the current mode of life, which is mainly materialistic nowadays.


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