We will continue with our study of Section Ya-Seen from the Qur’an. We last studied the verse mentioning 2 prophets that were sent to the people of a town which were neglected. The verse indicated that we supported those prophets with another one. Some scholars say another prophet was sent whereas some say another person. We will study that a person came to them and warned them, emphasizing the importance of God’s message as well as the continuation of God’s message. “The third” mentioned in the verse may refer to him. This way, God keeps reminding people with His message. If one messenger is not enough, another one is sent when the people become obstinate in not taking the message seriously. This demonstrates God’s compassion for people although they may insist on not taking notice of His warnings.
The people of the town asked the messengers to stop their mission or else they would be harmed. The arrogant leaders threatened that they would stone them, kill them or expel them from the town. The prophetic response was “You are very wasteful people”. You are wasting your qualities, your potential as a human being; wasting your spirit which is not used properly. The people know what the prophets are teaching, reminding them of their reality which irritates them because of their arrogance not to face their reality, instead, playing the role of being happy with their own choices. They fear the loss of their lifestyle and status which is based on artificial values and label the messengers as “evil omen” as well as “liars”. They are aware that they cannot rely on their claims which cannot be relied upon, so they attack the messengers with these false labels and threaten them, rather than coming up with a counter argument which may challenge the Prophetic messages. Apparently they do not have it.
The Section continues with the following verses:
وَجَآءَ مِنْ أَقْصَا ٱلْمَدِينَةِ رَجُلٌۭ يَسْعَىٰ قَالَ يَـٰقَوْمِ ٱتَّبِعُوا۟ ٱلْمُرْسَلِينَ
36:20 Then a man came running from the farthest end of the town, saying, “O, my people, follow the Messengers.”
The scholars state that the word “أَقْصَا’ translated as “far away” refers to someone not being from the center of a town or one who is in the spotlight, i.e. not one of the prominent ones or those who claim some nobility in society. The man is referring to someone else that is unknown to them. This means that the message had spread around the city or country but the ones in the center holding power were still resisting the message. The already existing nobles did not want to lose their status in society.
Historically, a great majority of the people had become aware of the institution in Medina which was deemed to be completely different to theirs. The institution in Medina was based on justice and equality. The leaders of the administration did not hold any status of nobility or attempted to be a superpower that was prevalent elsewhere. This administration was unprecedented and nothing like them was seen anywhere in the world at that time. They had constitutionally abolished slavery. They had taken necessary steps to ensure the end of slavery. For example, if one breaks their fast inappropriately during Ramadan, they must give freedom to one of their slaves. These kinds of rules were efficient in propagating the abolishment of slavery which was prevalent around the world at that time. This was unbelievable around 1450 years ago for any administration. In Medina, a somehow primitive city, this practice to free slaves was initiated by the Bedouins living there. For people to even imagine the freedom of slaves was unfathomable. Most of the people were poor, and many were slaves, so they welcomed this administration and their system. The nobles who were oppressors that used to travel for trade expressed some resistance. However, the great majority of people supported Islam and annexed their tribes to the Medina administration.
No one could ever imagine that the Bedouin Arabs would destroy the well-established empire starting with the Sasanian (Persian) Empire. After around 10 years of the death of the prophet (pbuh), they further challenged the Roman empire, the most powerful empire of the age, Sasanian Empire was defeated by the desert living Bedouin tribes known as “camel riders.” This was impossible to imagine as the Arab Bedouins didn’t have many horses or any army structure as those established empires had. They came from the farthest end of the town, not from the central core administration, not the leaders in the capital city. Besides those few resisting leaders, most of the general public, private soldiers were admiring this newly emerging administration of Medina. They had heard the news that there is a new administration in Medina that has destroyed slavery, where everyone was equal, the nobles and regular citizens were all equal. This was hard to believe at that time.
Historically, it is known that the envoy of the prophet (pbuh) to the Roman Empire was killed by the emperor of that time. The companion of the prophet Umar decided to go with the army to the Persian Empire. When the Persian people heard of the army coming, many unfavored soldiers of the empire joined the Muslims and thus toppled the central power there where the emperor and his people ran away. Soon after, the companions went there to teach Islam and the people of Iran embraced Islam.
It is important to establish justice, equality among the citizens and then present the religion of Islam, belief in God, belief in the Hereafter. The Persians were following Zoroastrianism where some called them fire worshipers. After joining the Islamic Administration, they welcomed Islamic principles, the most human belief system. None of the human senses and feelings could reject the message presented to them.
The significance of the phrase “a man came from far away” can be seen as referring to the general public and not the central authority. One cannot expect the message which says to follow the Messengers coming from the central figures, leaders who were benefiting materially as they do not want to lose their status. The poor people were not happy with the administrative situation and wanted justice to be established. The man is thus not from within the central authority but far away from the town but still a citizen of the town telling the people to follow the Messengers, to take them seriously.
Another understanding of the “man from far away” from some scholars is referring to the human spirit. Coming from the deepest side of human beings, everyone experiences a voice within themselves to have meaning in their existence, security and happiness. No one wants to die and lose their existence. This is what my human conscience tells me. I should accept what the Messengers say as their message does not contradict my feelings.
ٱتَّبِعُوا۟ مَن لَّا يَسْـَٔلُكُمْ أَجْرًۭا وَهُم مُّهْتَدُونَ
36:21 “Follow those who ask for no reward from you, and themselves are rightly guided.”
What does it mean to ask for no reward?
The Messengers are not looking for a financial reward, nor seeking a superior position among you, nor looking to have authority over you or to have some respect. They are not looking for anything for themselves that would benefit them. They just say to “submit yourself to your Creator who has employed us to convey this message.” The Messengers are reminding us that we will die in this world and there is another creation after this. This world is just a temporary place where we are residing to prepare ourselves by receiving the reception here to go to the main banquet in the next creation.
I should stop following my egoistic desires but follow the Messengers and obey my Creator. The human spirit and consciousness also remind me to accept the Messenger and his message that I have a Creator to whom I should submit. The human spiritual qualities need to acknowledge the Creator and follow His Guidance sent through His messengers. I should search and learn why He created me and what I should do. This is what the messengers are telling us. It is difficult to follow a person and accept their message when one is determined in his egoistic desires and lifestyle. Even after believing in God, in the hereafter, understanding that this world is a transient life, one may continue to follow egoistic, self-interest desires, rather than acknowledging that these are not my earnings or efforts but provided to me by my Creator.
Everyone should know that whatever one receives in this world is not a result of our earnings. All the fruits and vegetables that we eat, the clothes and shoes we proudly wear, all coming from the earth as arranged by the Creator, things in the universe. We are not creating anything; human consciousness and spirit know this reality. The messengers are asking us to listen to our own reality, listen to your own spirit, voice.
The interpretation meaning wise is indicating the Messengers as saying: “Just submit yourselves to your Creator, not to me.”
وَمَا لِىَ لَآ أَعْبُدُ ٱلَّذِى فَطَرَنِى وَإِلَيْهِ تُرْجَعُونَ
36:22 “Why should I not worship the One who brought me into being and gave me a purpose and to whom you will be returned?
The phrase “why should I not worship” can be understood as “what’s wrong with me that I should not worship”. The phrase “وَمَا لِىَ” gives the connotation that “what am I going to gain by not worshiping the One who brought me into being?” The news I receive from this verse is that: At the end of this life, I will go back to the One who gave me existence in this world. I must realize right now that if someone brought me into this world, the same One would take me back. This One is reminding me through the aging process, He keeps reminding me in different ways via different events and experiences. I am reminded on many occasions that I am going to die. I would be taken back to the One who created me. These reminders, including gradual aging that I go through, shows me that He is a compassionate One, He doesn’t suddenly give me death. I see that my creation is made purposeful by Him because I am witnessing that everything is created purposefully, the whole universe shows signs of wisdom in its creation. I am purposefully designed to understand that I do not own myself and nothing in creation can do anything to me but, only the One who is continuously reminding me that He gave me existence and I will be taken back to the same Source. The verse asks me to consider “Why shouldn’t I worship Him?”
Worship starts with acknowledgment and then submitting all my existence to Him and nothing else. The hardest thing to submit are my human qualities, senses and feelings to Him. The hardest of all is to submit my own interest to serve His purpose in creating me, to follow with my free choice only His Absolute Free Choice. Look for the purpose that He created me for. Find out and use my free choice according to the reality that He has created me for, which I can realize if I think about.
Things such as food, clothing, shelter, sun, air and my body system are gifted to me freely, I must be thankful to Him for them, use the things in His Name and submit them to Him, according to His will. Why did He create them for me? For example, for what purpose did He create my mind? My mind is not created to be wasted with the concerns of this temporary life only. My mind and consciousness remind me that this world cannot be the only existence as it contradicts my human qualities. I cannot cheat myself into taking this world as the only world.
Why is intellect given to me, what is the reason? I can think about creation, I can reflect on my own existence, the existence of my feelings and understand that they are all announcing that I must acknowledge my Creator for everything that I am benefiting from. They are all gifted to me, presented to me freely. I must be thankful, modest and humble myself before the Presenter of those gifts. I must also respect the gifts freely given to me.
Take notice of the will of the Creator as to why He created my mind. Try to understand who my Creator is? Who is He really? What kind of qualities does He have? I must study and investigate creation, study His teachings sent through the prophets, and apply those teachings in my practice. I must follow the life pattern of the prophets and learn the theoretical side of the message that they bring verbally.
Acknowledging my Creator and obeying His will is what constitutes worship. This is the example given to us by the verse saying, “Why should I not worship the One”. We also see that this One sends us Messengers clearly stating and expressing in a verbal form that I can understand. I can observe the life of the prophets and see that they took the message conveyed to us by implementing the content of the message in their practical lives as well. I must take their example and do the same thing.
The verse uses the word “فَطَرَنِى” to indicate my creation and then continues by saying that” وَإِلَيْهِ تُرْجَعُونَ” that you will return to Him. Don’t you know that you will be given death? Don’t think that you will be returned to earth, that is only the body. The human body is given death, but the spirit doesn’t die. Death is when my body becomes dysfunctional, not that I am going to die as I am not my body. If the tool for my spirit does not work, it gets buried in the grave. When life is taken away from my body, it does not mean that my spirit dies. My spirit is all of my human potential which will be returned back to its Creator.
When I think of the purpose of my human qualities, there is so much potential. If I use my intellect which has enormous potential and use it to just fill my stomach, it would be an insult to the purpose of the brain, the intellect and power of reasoning. The purpose must be something else which is to submit my will to His Will. For example, one may use his intellect to understand how the universe works. What will I do to understand how the universe works? What benefit is there? My primary purpose of understanding how the universe works must be to get to know the qualities of its Creator. If I will understand the order of the universe and make machines so that my bodily life will feel comfortable, it would be very unsatisfactory for human potential which looks for eternal satisfaction. However, my bodily life is temporary, and I will lose it. Is it worth investing in something which will perish away soon? We are given around 70 to 90 years in current times. We should search and look for the purpose of intellect’s existence. All our senses and feelings are endless with endless capacity which cannot be for this temporary world. We should understand that for whatever purpose these qualities created in me, I must use them for their purpose. We hear the Messengers talking about who our Creator is and what is the purpose in our creation. They are emphasizing to acknowledge my Creator and submit my will to His Will.
ءَأَتَّخِذُ مِن دُونِهِۦٓ ءَالِهَةً إِن يُرِدْنِ ٱلرَّحْمَـٰنُ بِضُرٍّۢ لَّا تُغْنِ عَنِّى شَفَـٰعَتُهُمْ شَيْـًۭٔا وَلَا يُنقِذُونِ
36:23 “How could I take besides Him other gods whose intercession would not be of any benefit to me, nor could they save me if the Most Compassionate intended to harm me?
If my Creator, the Merciful One, gives me illness and creates something that I become unhappy with, who can save me from this illness? No one in this universe can save me as everything is created by Him including the sickness and the medicine that I need to take.
The phrase “مِن دُونِهِ” is usually translated as “besides Him” or “apart from Him”. Some scholars say that the word has this practical meaning but the phrase “مِن دُونِهِ” also has the meaning from the context of the Qur’an of anything “danee” (low) from the Creator of the universe. This comes from the word “ٱلدُّنْيَا”, referred to as the earth, the lower level when seen in comparison to the skies and celestial bodies. When we investigate how the universe is operating, we see the demonstration which tells us that its Creator must be an Infinite One. Anything lower than Infinite would be limited. Only Infinite cannot be represented by any number. If something is not Infinite, it is finite. Anything finite must be dependent to be given existence by someone else. Anything that needs to be given existence cannot be the source of existence of itself or anything else. I can now read the verse as “How could I take anything below Infinite, anything dependent rather than Him being the Absolute being.” None of the lower things could benefit me. Everything is in the Hands (Power and Will) of this Merciful Creator.
The verse uses “ٱلرَّحْمَـٰنُ” translated as “Most Compassionate” to describe this Infinite being God. The Qur’an uses these words rather than “Allah” so that people can know this Merciful One. Human beings can know God only through His creation which is out of His Mercy. No one did anything to deserve their existence. All existence is completely out of His immense Mercy. Our existence is a gift, given freely, the manifestation of His Mercy. We know God through the manifestation of His Mercy.
Apart from His merciful creation, nothing has any intercession (شَفَـٰعَتُهُمْ), nothing has any sort of power to go and ask God to say, “please give me some power so that I will help your creatures.” God says, “if my creature needs help, I can help them, I don’t need you as the creator. But if you can ask Me to create in order to serve My creatures I can create them for you.” The word intercession means the quality of the tree is such that through the tree I get fruits. Through earth, I get grass. The water, soil, tree, atmosphere are given permission by God, they are created in this way by the Creator of the universe. The elements are employed to function in this way by the Creator of the universe, they function as intercessors by the Will of their Creator, not by themselves. Nothing created that is below the Infinite can harm me or benefit me.
Knowing this, how can I accept anything else to be thankful for, thinking that the created thing is the one that is helping me other than the Real One, who is helping me? I must use my human qualities and come to my senses; admit this reality and worship Him alone.
Tags: Belief, Feelings, human qualities, Life, Lord, Quran, Worship, Ya Sin, Ya-Seen, Ya-Seen Series, Yasin