By February 13, 2024 Read More →

Section Ya-Seen – Part 9

We will continue with our study of Section Yaseen of the Qur’an where we last studied verses 41 and 42 mentioning a laden ship carrying human offspring. The next verse mentions that there are many other vessels that “We”(God) made for us to ride on. We investigated these verses as indicating that there are signs in the laden ships, “ٱلْفُلْكِ ٱلْمَشْحُونِ”. One meaning of the phrase refers to the continuation of human generation as demonstrated through the order of the parent’s cells getting together and DNA structure. Another meaning we understood was referring to Noah’s ark. All the vessels are described as being loaded which means that whatever is created by the Creator of the universe is preserved by Him and carried to the next stage of creation and ultimately to the hereafter. Everyone is carrying his own “loaded ship” with him taking with him to the next creation in the hereafter. 

The verse indicating similar vessels are made by God for them to ride on can as an extension refer to human made transportation systems by obeying the order of creation in the universe. We are all benefiting from many things that are available to us by following the orderly creation of the universe. The following verse gives us a warning to heed to as we benefit from all these vessels and systems in this world where everything is prepared for us. There is an indication in the following verses that teaches us the method of reading and benefiting from the Qur’an.

وَإِن نَّشَأْ نُغْرِقْهُمْ فَلَا صَرِيخَ لَهُمْ وَلَا هُمْ يُنقَذُونَ

36:43 If We willed, We could drown them: then no one would respond to their cries, nor would they be rescued,

The verse is indicating that based on God’s Will, He can drown the people where no one can rescue them from this drowning. We should not think that we can save ourselves by calling a number for emergencies or any government organizations that will act to provide help. Let us examine this “drowning” where I cannot be helped. 

As we experience our living life, we realize that our life is all arranged by God in such a way that we can manage several things based on how the orderly creation of the universe is working. It is an amazing order that is operating to make our living easy. However, there are many elements in creation where we cannot know exactly what will happen. There are two aspects of creation where one is we can calculate what will happen. Another aspect is that there are certain elements in creation that we do not know about. For example, for a farmer who has sowed seeds, there could be birds that come to eat his seeds and deprive him of having a harvest, or there could be a flood that wipes out the harvest. We do not know when or where an earthquake or tsunami may happen before the signs are created to make us guess. As the signs appear, get closer and clearer, God is letting us know that something is going to happen which you could not calculate. These exceptional cases are also created within an order. This order is so complicated that there are so many unknown elements in it that we cannot calculate them exactly. This tells me that there is no way that I can guarantee my life. The order of the universe does not change and I cannot change it; there is no guarantee for anything. For example, there is no way we can stop aging or avoiding death. People may say they can delay aging, but as much as of the order that one knows they can try. However, there are many elements in the creative order that we do not know and there is no guarantee. 

This is how God arranges the existence of the universe to teach us, educate us in a way for us to understand that we are always in a need of something that we can hold on to. What is it that we can trust? We cannot trust anything in this universe but we look for a solution. We are given the feeling to secure our existence, but we cannot secure our existence by ourselves. We are reminded in this way that we are created, dependent, needy, we need a point of support for our existence; we need a point of hope for the expectations of our feelings. We are innately created with these needs. The reality is that we cannot guarantee our needs unless we understand the mystery of creation or the wisdom of creation. We know that everything in the universe is deliberately arranged by the Owner of the universe. We will see in the next few verses that in this deliberate arrangement, God’s Mercy is always accompanying me. I should not ignore my reality but accept and confirm my reality that I am only a created being with many needs. I need someone who can satisfy my infinite needs.

God is not threatening us but teaching us what our reality is. The Qur’an mentions that the Lord of the universe created all the vehicles for my benefit, prepared and arranged everything in my life by guaranteeing many things. The verse is followed by: “If “We” will, “We” could drown you.” The example of drowning is used in this verse as ships were known during the prophetic time. In our time, we have many other means of transportation where we cannot guarantee anything with all the different variables in creation. But we should try by finding out from the order of the creation and express our need of security in this world to the Creator by obeying His orderly creation. This message acts as my reminder to not forget who is taking care of everything. I should never forget my responsibility which is to realize who I am, what my reality is and recognize my Point of Support. This reminder is a mercy from God.

إِلَّا رَحْمَةًۭ مِّنَّا وَمَتَـٰعًا إِلَىٰ حِينٍۢ

36:44 Except through a mercy from Us, and as an enjoyment for a while.

We know that our life is limited in this world where we are given a few years. The mercy of God is that most of the time we are comfortable, but it is only once in a while that we are given reminders in the form of earthquakes, floods, events we call as calamities. The events such as earthquakes only happen for a few minutes, they don’t stay long and are very exceptional to a particular time and place. This is another type of mercy of God.

The scientists find out the order in the universe but there are certain elements that we cannot calculate or guarantee. For a few seconds the earth shakes, the mercy of God reminds us that we cannot guarantee our lives. It is God’s mercy that we are warned. If we are not warned that this world is dependent on someone who is arranging it then we would never be educated, we would not pay attention to our reality. 

The universe is not operating on its own, it has a Creator, someone who is taking care of it. We are happy with our lives most of the time. Once we start getting to a certain age, we see signs that remind us to get ourselves ready to leave this world. Sometimes, a young person may die which we say is too early. These are exceptional creations that are also merciful reminders for us to teach us that we cannot guarantee our lives at any stage of life. I understand that my existence is dependent on someone else’s will. I can only use what is given to me. We are given a certain period of time “إِلَىٰ حِينٍۢ” where we experience all sorts of events created in this world. We become curious to investigate different events in creation: Why is it happening in this way? Who is managing all this? We understand that we are reminded mercifully in this limited time that we need a point of support for our lives. However, in this ephemeral world, we cannot find a point of support which we often forget. We need to be reminded who we are, what our purpose of existence is and what is expected of us. The purpose of the Qur’an is to teach me these serious things: who I am, what my reality is, what is expected of me, who my Lord is. I  cannot find the answers to these existential questions within the universe, but by investigating the way the things are given existence I can find out the signs to the answers. They all refer me to their Creator and seek answers from Him. 

We go to school and learn many things but none of them address what is the purpose of my existence in this world. Many things are taught only by investigating the order in the universe. There are hundreds of branches taught at university campuses. Neither Psychology or Sociology teaches us why we are living in this world. Physics, Mathematics, Biology don’t teach us our purpose but how the order in the universe works. If the end is death then what can be the purpose of living? Did I just come to enjoy life for a brief time? The Creator, God, sends His verbal Speech to us, like the Qur’an, with the answers to these concerns. The one who creates the universe, the one who creates me must have the answers for me as He is the Creator of ability to ask these questions. Without His verbal Speech, called Revelation, we cannot make sense of our lives in this world. I should ask myself what am I doing here, who brought me here and why, what am I expected to do here? It is me who asks the questions and it is my Creator who answers them: Questions are human, answers must be Divine.

I can investigate the universe as much as I can; I can use the universe for my needs, but I can never get the answers to my human existential questions from the universe. Revelation is necessary to get answers to my human questions. It is only through God’s Mercy that I am enjoying my existence in this world for a while. The Qur’an reminds us that this enjoyment is not provided by the universe, but “إِلَّا رَحْمَةًۭ مِّنَّا” it is provided “as a Mercy fromUs”, the Lord of the universe.

وَإِذَا قِيلَ لَهُمُ ٱتَّقُوا۟ مَا بَيْنَ أَيْدِيكُمْ وَمَا خَلْفَكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تُرْحَمُونَ

36:45 Yet when they are told, “Beware of what lies before and behind you, so that you may receive mercy,’

What lies before and behind me? One aspect of things before me is what I have experienced before in the past. I have witnessed many things where people and other beings are living, getting old and dying, babies are born, and they get old too. The other aspect of things behind me is what I have not experienced yet, they have not yet arrived. From my experience now, I can anticipate what I may experience next. If I am young right now, I know that I will get old and die. I may be healthy and energetic now, but I know that there is always a possibility of falling into sickness. I cannot guarantee anything in my life. Even if I may not experience any sickness, I surely know that I am going to be given death. I am being educated by my Lord at this moment now to understand my reality, who I am.

Another aspect of this phrase “مَا بَيْنَ أَيْدِيكُمْ وَمَا خَلْفَكُمْ” translated as “what lies before and behind you” is that we can see what is created right now as well as look into the archeology of creatures through the fossils. I can find out what happened to many creatures, and I wonder where they are now. What will happen to me, will I also leave my fossils? Where will I be going? I am not going to live here forever so what is my destination? I understand that I cannot guarantee anything in my life here in this world. These relics remind us that the human species will also become extinct one day.

All the experience from the past and the uncertainty of the future tells me to be careful, to take notice of the situation using the word “ٱتَّقُوا۟”. Do not turn blind to the acts in creation, take notice of the changes going on. All this is for your education so that you can arrange your life accordingly. Be careful in your living, realize what your reality is, understand that you are a needy created being. I must realize that I am given existence, understand that I have a Lord, I am created for a purpose. All my human needs must be referred to this Creator to get the strength from Him, out of His Mercy. It is out of His Mercy that I am here in this world, given life to enjoy His creation, only He can guarantee my existence and my human needs. This makes me smile where I am no longer worried about my future. I am no longer worried about dying as the Mercy of my Creator is taking care of me. Realizing who my Owner is helps me to live confidently and not lose hope for my future.

وَمَا تَأْتِيهِم مِّنْ ءَايَةٍۢ مِّنْ ءَايَـٰتِ رَبِّهِمْ إِلَّا كَانُوا۟ عَنْهَا مُعْرِضِينَ

36:46 And no matter what sign comes to them from the signs of their Lord, they turn away from it.

The word “ءَايَـٰتِ” translated as “signs” in this case have two meanings: the Qur’anic sentences that the prophet introduced to us are signs, and also the acts in creation that we read in the universe. What is interesting is that the verse highlights the “signs of their Lord” with the phrase “ءَايَـٰتِ رَبِّهِمْ”. In this context, the prophet (pbuh) is not saying “my Lord” but saying “their Lord”. In some verses, the context changes to “my Lord” with “رَبِّ”, i.e. concerning me. However, in these verses that we have been going through, the context is mainly addressing the deniers. The verse is not stating the “signs of God” or the “signs of the Lord of the universe” but “their own Lord”. In a way, it says: “Think about yourself, who is your Owner, your Lord?” When I think about my own life, I will realize that someone is taking care of me, someone is providing everything for me. Even if I don’t believe in God, I am still asking Him by obeying His rules of creation to obtain what I need. Someone must have arranged the universe in this way that allows me to obtain the things that I need by following a certain order. How can I say that “blind nature” or “matter” has consciousness, choice, knowledge and power. The verse is reminding me that: “Your Lord is taking care of your needs. Who is it that gave you the senses, the tools such as eyes, hands, ears, mind, etc. “

This presentation teaches us on how to speak to people. I should not be inviting people by using differential language such as “come to my religion, join my community”. We should use the method of the Qur’an to make them think about themselves kindly. Do you see that you have senses, and the universe is here but it cannot fully satisfy your senses. Who is taking care of your daily life in this temporal world? Think about it, find out so that you can connect your expectations to get full satisfaction with that one. Find out who is “your Lord” and be aware of “your Lord”.

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.’

According to their logic, the disbelievers say to the believers that why should we feed those that God could feed if He wanted. You must be deeply misguided. 

The word “أَنفِقُوا۟” is translated as “Spend on others”.  It may be the case that they lack their sustenance in the way things are arranged in the universe. They could be old, ill, certain senses may not be functioning, they may not have the means to obtain something, and the distribution system may have been blocked for political reasons. The phrase mentions “مِمَّا رَزَقَكُمُ ٱللَّهُ” translated as “from what God has provided for you” which means that I have to be careful in what has been provided to me by God: “Whatever you have, it is from Me, I have created them for you. You cannot obtain anything without obeying My order in creation that I establish.” I can confirm that I cannot create anything; I can only ask by obeying the order and the results are created by the Owner of the order. I did not create the order; I don’t have to be a believer in God to be obeying the order. In our practical life everyone obeys God when they choose to do anything; they cannot practice their free will without following the given options in the creation of the universe.

So how does one spend on others out of what God has provided? I must become the means through which God’s provision is distributed. For example, the tree is the means for the fruit in the order of the universe. Does the Creator of the fruit need the tree to present me with the fruit? No, being the Creator of the whole universe, He does not. In other words, is the Creator of the universe in need of something to create something else?  No.  However, in order to educate me, I have to obey how He set up the order in the universe by getting the fruit from the tree. I must follow the process by obeying the order in the universe, asking the Creator of the order to provide the results. I must use my free will and humble myself before my Creator.

As the tree is the means to obtain the fruit, human beings are the means to give provision to the needy ones. God says that “I have provided for you and made you the means to distribute My provision”. You must realize and practice to do this. You are given the sense to help the needy ones, you cannot ignore those feelings. If God has provided sustenance for me, I must put the act of provision in practice. God says that “I will create needy people as a means for you to practice in confirming that this provision is provided to you by Me.” I must recognize that it is His property that I obtained by obeying His order while I am practicing helping the needy ones. 

For example, a farmer that grows produce is not the creator of the produce, he obeys the order of the Creator of the universe to obtain the produce, asking God to create it. I must practice this understanding to confirm that it is true to my being. My being necessitates that I must share any provision given to me with the needy ones. When I do this, I will be happy, and my spirit gets trained accordingly. In order to teach me, God wants me to practice that the provision given to me is His provision. After I die, because of the acknowledgment of the True Provider, out of His mercy He rewards me with Paradise where I will be provided what I need permanently with full satisfaction. 

The phrase “إِنْ أَنتُمْ إِلَّا فِى ضَلَـٰلٍۢ مُّبِينٍۢ” translated as “you must be deeply misguided” will be studied with the following verse 36:48.


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