Allah says: `In the case of those who are decreed to be among the doomed, when it comes to the matter of being guided, We have made them like a person who has a chain around his neck and whose hands are tied together beneath his chin so that his head is lifted up.' As Allah says:
(so that their heads are raised up.) Mentioning the chains around the neck is sufficient and there is no need to mention the hands, although they are referred to by implication. Al-`Awfi said, narrating from Ibn `Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him) concerning the Ayah:
(Verily, We have put on their necks iron collars reaching to the chins, so that their heads are raised up.) This is like the Ayah:
(And let not your hand be tied (like a miser) to your neck) (17:29). meaning that their hands are tied to their necks and they cannot stretch them forth in order to do any good deeds.
(so that their heads are raised up.) according to Mujahid it means their heads are raised, and their hands are placed over their mouths, so they are restrained from doing anything good.
(And We have put a barrier before them,) Mujahid said, "Between them and the truth.''
(and a barrier behind them,) Mujahid said, "Between them and the truth, so they are confused.'' Qatadah said, "They move from one form of misguidance to another.''
(and We have covered them up,) means, `We have blinded their eyes to the truth.'
(so that they cannot see.) means, they cannot benefit from goodness or be guided to it. Ibn Jarir said, "It was narrated from Ibn `Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him) that he used to recite "Fa a`shaynahum'' (instead of Fa'aghshaynahum), from Al-`Asha (weakness of the sight, blindness), which is a complaint of the eye.'' `Abdur-Rahman bin Zayd bin Aslam said, "Allah placed this barrier between them and Islam and Iman, so that they will never reach it,'' and he recited:
(Truly, those, against whom the Word (wrath) of your Lord has been justified, will not believe, Even if every sign should come to them, until they see the painful torment.) (10:96-97). Then he said, "Whoever has been prevented by Allah, will never be able.'' `Ikrimah said, "Abu Jahl said, `If I see Muhammad, I will do such and such.' Then Allah revealed:
(Verily, We have put on their necks iron collars...) up to:
(so that they cannot see.)'' He said, "They used to say, `Here is Muhammad,' and he would say, `Where is he Where is he?' And he would not be able to see him.'' Ibn Jarir also recorded this.
(It is the same to them whether you warn them or you warn them not, they will not believe.) means, Allah has decreed that they will be misguided, so warning them will not help them and will not have any effect on them. Something similar has already been seen at the beginning of Surat Al-Baqarah, and Allah also says:
(Truly, those, against whom the Word (wrath) of your Lord has been justified, will not believe, Even if every sign should come to them, until they see the painful torment.)(10:96-97).
(You can only warn him who follows the Reminder,) means, `only the believers will benefit from your warning, those who follow the Reminder,' which is the Qur'an.
(and fears the Most Gracious unseen.) means, even when no one sees him except Allah, may He be blessed and exalted, he knows that Allah is watching him and sees what he does.
(Bear you to such one the glad tidings of forgiveness,) i.e., of his sins,
(and a generous reward.) means, one that is vast and great and beautiful. This is like the Ayah:
(Verily, those who fear their Lord unseen, theirs will be forgiveness and a great reward.) (67:12).
(Verily, We give life to the dead,) means, on the Day of Resurrection. This also indicates that Allah gives life to the heart of whomever He wills among the disbelievers, those whose hearts have died in misguidance, by guiding them after that to the truth. As Allah says after mentioning hardness of the heart:
(Know that Allah gives life to the earth after its death! Indeed We have made clear the Ayat to you, that you may understand.) (57:17)
(and We record that which they send before (them),) means, their deeds.
(and their traces) means, `We write down the deeds which they used to do themselves, and the legacy they left behind, so We will requite them for that: if it is good, then We will reward them, and if it is evil, then We will punish them.' This is like the Hadith:
(Whoever starts (or sets an example of) something good in Islam, will have a reward for it, and a reward equal to that of everyone who does it after him, without that detracting from their reward in the slightest. Whoever starts (or sets an example of) something evil in Islam, will bear the burden for that, and a burden equal to that of everyone who does it after him, without that detracting from their burden in the slightest.) This was recorded by Muslim from Jarir bin `Abdullah Al-Bajali, may Allah be pleased with him in which is detailed a story of the people from the Mudar tribe, who were wearing woollen rags. Ibn Abi Hatim recorded this Hadith in full from Jarir bin `Abdullah, may Allah be pleased with him. In it the Prophet then recited:
(and We record that which they send before (them), and their traces) Muslim also recorded it with a different chain of narration. There is also another Hadith recorded in Sahih Muslim from Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) who said, "The Messenger of Allah said:
(When the son of Adam dies, all his deeds come to an end except three: knowledge which is beneficial to others, a righteous child who prays for him, or ongoing charity which he leaves behind.)'' Sufyan Ath-Thawri reported that Abu Sa`id said, "I heard Mujahid say concerning the Ayah:
(Verily, We give life to the dead, and We record that which they send before (them), and their traces) `What they left behind of misguidance.''' Ibn Abi Najih and others said, narrating from Mujahid:
(that which they send before (them),) "Their deeds.''
(and their traces). He said, "Their footsteps.'' This was also the view of Al-Hasan and Qatadah.
(and their traces) means their footsteps. Qatadah said, "If Allah were to have neglected anything with regard to you, O son of Adam, He would have neglected what the wind could remove of these footsteps.'' But He takes into account the footsteps of the son of Adam and all his deeds; He even takes into account these footsteps and whether they are for the purpose of obeying Allah or disobeying Him. So, whoever can have his footsteps recorded for the purpose of obeying Allah, let him do that. Imam Ahmad recorded that Jabir bin `Abdullah (may Allah be pleased with him) said, "There was an empty area around the Masjid, and Banu Salamah wanted to move to be closer to the Masjid. When the Messenger of Allah heard about that, he said to them:
(I have heard that you want to move close to the Masjid.) They said, `Yes, O Messenger of Allah, that is what we want.' He said:
(O Banu Salamah, stay where you are, and your footsteps will be recorded, stay where you are, and your footsteps will be recorded.)'' This was also recorded by Muslim from Jabir, may Allah be pleased with him. Imam Ahmad recorded that `Abdullah bin `Amr (may Allah be pleased with him) said, "A man died in Al-Madinah and the Prophet prayed over him, and said,
(Would that he had died somewhere other than in his place of birth!) A man among the people said, `Why, O Messenger of Allah' The Messenger of Allah said:
(When a man dies somewhere other than in his place of birth, it will be measured for him from where he was born to where his footsteps no longer appear, (and this is the space that will be allocated for him) in Paradise.)'' It was also recorded by An-Nasa'i and Ibn Majah. Ibn Jarir narrated that Thabit said, "I was walking with Anas and I began to walk quickly. He took my hand and we walked slowly, and when we had finished praying, Anas said, `I walked with Zayd bin Thabit and I was walking quickly, and he said: O Anas! Do you not feel that your footsteps are being written down''' There is no contradiction between this and the first report, on the contrary, this indicates the same thing somewhat more forcefully. Because these footsteps are being recorded, then those which are setting an example, whether good or bad, are more likely to be recorded. And Allah knows best.
(and all things We have recorded with numbers (as a record) in Imam Mubin (a Clear Book).) means, everything that exists is precisely dictated in a record in Al-Lawh Al-Mahfuz. Al-Imam Al-Mubin here refers to the source of all records. This was the view of Mujahid, Qatadah and `Abdur-Rahman bin Zayd bin Aslam. Similarly, Allah also says:
((And remember) the Day when We shall call together all human beings with their (respective) Imam (record of good and bad deeds)) (17:71). meaning the Book of their deeds which will testify as to their deeds, whether they were good or bad. This is like the Ayat:
(and the Book will be placed (open), and the Prophets and the witnesses will be brought forward) (39:69), and
(And the Book (one's Record) will be placed, and you will see the criminals, fearful of that which is (recorded) therein. They will say: "Woe to us! What sort of Book is this that leaves neither a small thing nor a big thing, but has recorded it with numbers!'' And they will find all that they did, placed before them, and your Lord treats no one with injustice.) (18:49).
(13. And put forward to them a similitude; the Dwellers of the Town, when there came Messengers to them.) (14. When We sent to them two Messengers, they denied them both; so We reinforced them with a third, and they said: "Verily, we have been sent to you as Messengers.'') (15. They said: "You are only human beings like ourselves, and the Most Gracious has revealed nothing. You are only telling lies.'') (16. The Messengers said: "Our Lord knows that we have been sent as Messengers to you,'') (17. "And our duty is only to convey plainly.'')
Allah says, `O Muhammad, tell your people who disbelieve in you,'
(a similitude; the Dwellers of the Town, when there came Messengers to them.) In the reports that he transmitted from Ibn `Abbas, Ka`b Al-Ahbar and Wahb bin Munabbih - Ibn Ishaq reported that it was the city of Antioch, in which there was a king called Antiochus the son of Antiochus the son of Antiochus, who used to worship idols. Allah sent to him three Messengers, whose names were Sadiq, Saduq and Shalum, and he disbelieved in them. It was also narrated from Buraydah bin Al-Husayb, `Ikrimah, Qatadah and Az-Zuhri that it was Antioch. Some of the Imams were not sure that it was Antioch, as we shall see below after telling the rest of the story, if Allah wills.
(When We sent to them two Messengers, they denied them both;) means, they hastened to disbelieve in them.
(so We reinforced them with a third,) means, `We supported and strengthened them with a third Messenger. ' Ibn Jurayj narrated from Wahb bin Sulayman, from Shu`ayb Al-Jaba'i, "The names of the first two Messengers were Sham`un and Yuhanna, and the name of the third was Bulus, and the city was Antioch (Antakiyah).
(and they said) means, to the people of that city,
(Verily, we have been sent to you as Messengers.) meaning, `from your Lord Who created you and Who commands you to worship Him Alone with no partners or associates.' This was the view of Abu Al-`Aliyah. Qatadah bin Di`amah claimed that they were messengers of the Messiah (peace be upon him) sent to the people of Antioch.
(They said: "You are only human beings like ourselves...'') means, `so how could you receive revelation when you are human beings and we are human beings, so why do we not receive revelation like you If you are Messengers, you should be angels.' This is like what many of the nations said who disbelieved, as Allah has told us in the Ayah:
(That was because there came to them their Messengers with clear proofs, but they said: "Shall mere men guide us'') (64: 6) meaning that they were amazed by that and they denied it. And Allah says:
(They said: "You are no more than human beings like us! You wish to turn us away from what our fathers used to worship. Then bring us a clear authority.'') (14:10). And Allah tells us that they said:
("If you were to obey a human being like yourselves, then verily, you indeed would be losers.'') (23:34). And Allah says:
(And nothing prevented men from believing when the guidance came to them, except that they said: "Has Allah sent a man as (His) Messenger'') (17:94). These people said:
(You are only human beings like ourselves, and the Most Gracious has revealed nothing. You are only telling lies.'' The Messengers said: "Our Lord knows that we have been sent as Messengers to you.'') This means that the three Messengers answered them saying: "Allah knows that we are His Messengers to you. If we were lying, He would have taken the utmost vengeance against us, but He will cause us to prevail and will make us victorious against you, and you will come to know whose will be the happy end in the Hereafter.'' This is like the Ayah:
(Say: "Sufficient is Allah for a witness between me and you. He knows what is in the heavens and on earth.'' And those who believe in falsehood, and disbelieve in Allah, it is they who are the losers.) (29:52)
(And our duty is only to convey plainly.) means, `all we have to do is to convey to you the Message with which we have been sent; if you obey, then happiness will be yours in this world and the Hereafter, and if you do not respond, you will soon know the consequences of that.' And Allah knows best.
(18. 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.'') (19. They (Messengers) said: "Your evil omens be with you! Because you are admonished Nay, but you are a people mischievous.'') Then the people of the city said to them,
(For us, we see an evil omen from you;) meaning, `we do not see in your faces any sign of good for our lives.' Qatadah said, "They were saying, `if something bad befalls us, it will be because of you.''' Mujahid said, "They were saying: People like you never enter a town, but its people are punished.''
(if you cease not, we will surely stone you,) Qatadah said, "By throwing stones at you.''
(and a painful torment will touch you from us.) means, a severe punishment. Their Messengers said to them:
(Your evil omens be with you!) meaning, `they are thrown back at you.' This is like the Ayah where Allah describes the people of Fir`awn:
(But whenever good came to them, they said: "Ours is this.'' And if evil afflicted them, they ascribed it to evil omens connected with Musa and those with him. Be informed! Verily, their evil omens are with Allah) (7:131). And the people of Salih said:
("We augur ill omen from you and those with you.'' He said: "Your ill omen is with Allah.'') (27:47) And Allah said:
(And if some good reaches them, they say, "This is from Allah,'' but if some evil befalls them, they say, "This is from you.'' Say: "All things are from Allah,'' so what is wrong with these people that they fail to understand any word) (4:78)
((Do you call it ''evil omen'') because you are admonished Nay, but you are a people mischievous.) means, `because of us, because we admonished you and told you to worship Allah Alone and with all sincerity, and in return you said what you said and threatened us. Nay, but you are a mischievous people.' Qatadah said, "This means, `Because we reminded you about Allah, you saw an evil omen in us. Nay, but you are a mischievous people'. ''
(20. And there came a man running from the farthest part of the town. He said, "O my people! Obey the Messengers.'') (21. "Obey those who ask no wages of you, and who are rightly guided.'') (22. "And why should I not worship Him Who has created me and to Whom you shall be returned.'') (23. "Shall I take besides Him gods If the Most Gracious intends me any harm, their intercession will be of no use for me whatsoever, nor can they save me.'') (24. "Then verily, I should be in plain error.'') (25. "Verily, I have believed in your Lord, so listen to me!'') Quoting what reached him from Ibn `Abbas, Ka`b Al-Ahbar and Wahb bin Munabbih -- Ibn Ishaq reported that, "The people of the city resolved to kill their Messengers, then a man came running to them from the farthest part of the town, i.e., to help them against his people. They said, his name was Habib, and he used to work with ropes. He was a sickly man who suffered from leprosy, and he was very charitable, giving half of his earnings in charity, and his Fitrah (natural inclination) was sound.'' Shabib bin Bishr said, narrating from `Ikrimah, from Ibn `Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him) that the name of the man mentioned in Ya Sin was Habib An-Najjar, and he was killed by his people.
(He said: "O my people! Obey the Messengers.'') -- he urged his people to follow the Messengers who had come to them.
(Obey those who ask no wages of you,) means, `for the Message which they convey to you, and they are rightly-guided in what they are calling you to, the worship of Allah Alone with no partner or associate.'
(And why should I not worship Him Who has created me) means, `and what is there to stop me from sincerely worshipping the One Who has created me, and worshipping Him Alone, with no partner or associate'
(and to Whom you shall be returned.) means, `on the Day of Resurrection, when He will requite you for your deeds: if they are good then you will be rewarded and if they are evil then you will be punished.'
(Shall I take besides Him gods) This is a rhetorical question intended to rebuke and chastise.
(If the Most Gracious intends me any harm, their intercession will be of no use for me whatsoever, nor can they save me.) means, `these gods whom you worship instead of Him possess no power whatsoever, if Allah wills me some harm,'
(none can remove it but He) (6:17). `These idols can neither cause any harm nor bring any benefit, and they cannot save me from the predicament I am in.'
(Then verily, I should be in plain error.) means, `if I were to take them as gods instead of Allah.'
(Verily, I have believed in your Lord, so listen to me!) Ibn Ishaq said, quoting from what had reached him from Ibn `Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him) Ka`b and Wahb, "He said to his people:
(`Verily, I have believed in your Lord) in Whom you have disbelieved,
(so listen to me!)' means, listen to what I say.'' Or it may be that he was addressing the Messengers when he said:
(Verily, I have believed in your Lord,) meaning, `Who has sent you,'
(so listen to me!) meaning, `bear witness to that before Him.' This was narrated by Ibn Jarir, who said, "And others said that this was addressed to the Messengers, and he said to them: `Listen to what I say and bear witness to what I say before my Lord, that I have believed in your Lord and have followed you.' This interpretation is more apparent, and Allah knows best. Ibn Ishaq said, quoting from what had reached him from Ibn `Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him) Ka`b and Wahb, `When he said that, they turned on him as one, and killed him at once, and he had no one to protect him from that.''' Qatadah said, "They started to stone him while he was saying, `O Allah, guide my people for they do not know, and they kept stoning him until he died a violent death, and he was still praying for them.' May Allah have mercy on him.''
(26. It was said: "Enter Paradise.'' He said: "Would that my people knew.'') (27. "That my Lord (Allah) has forgiven me, and made me of the honored ones!'') (28. And We sent not against his people after him an army from the heaven, nor was it needful for Us to send (such a thing).) (29. It was but one Sayhah and lo! they (all) were still.) Muhammad bin Ishaq reported from some of his companions from Ibn Mas`ud (may Allah be pleased with him) that they stamped on him until his intestines came out of his back passage. Allah said to him:
("Enter Paradise.'') so he entered it with all its bountiful provision, when Allah had taken away from him all the sickness, grief and exhaustion of this world. Mujahid said, "It was said to Habib An-Najjar, `Enter Paradise.' This was his right, for he had been killed. When he saw the reward,
(He said: "Would that my people knew...'').'' Qatadah said, "You will never find a believer but he is sincere and is never insincere. When he saw with his own eyes how Allah had honored him, he said:
(He said: "Would that my people knew that my Lord has forgiven me, and made me of the honored ones!'') He wished that his people could know about what he was seeing with his own eyes of the honor of Allah.'' Ibn `Abbas said, "He was sincere towards his people during his lifetime by saying,
(O my people! Obey the Messengers), and after his death by saying:
(Would that my people knew that my Lord (Allah) has forgiven me, and made me of the honored ones!) This was recorded by Ibn Abi Hatim. Sufyan Ath-Thawri narrated from `Asim Al-Ahwal from Abu Mijlaz:
(That my Lord has forgiven me, and made me of the honored ones!) "Because of my faith in my Lord and my belief in the Messengers.'' He meant that if they could see the great reward and everlasting blessings that he had attained, this would lead them to follow the Messengers. May Allah have mercy on him and be pleased with him, for he was so keen that his people should be guided.
(And We sent not against his people after him an army from the heaven, nor was it needful for Us to send.) Allah tells us that He took revenge on his people after they had killed him because He, may He be blessed and exalted, was angry with them, for they had disbelieved in His Messengers and killed His close friend. Allah tells us that He did not send an army of angels, nor did He need to send them, to destroy these people; the matter was simpler than that. This was the view of Ibn Mas`ud, according to the reports of Ibn Ishaq from some of his companions concerning the Ayah:
(And We sent not against his people after him an army from the heaven, nor was it needful for Us to send.) He said: "`We did not seek to outnumber them, for the matter was simpler than that.''
(It was but one Sayhah and lo! they (all) were still.) He said, "So Allah destroyed that tyrant king, and destroyed the people of Antioch, and they disappeared from the face of the earth, leaving no trace behind. It was said that the words
(nor was it needful for Us to send (such a thing).) mean, `We did not send the angels against the nations when We destroyed them; all We did was to send the punishment to destroy them.' It was said that the words:
(And We sent not against his people after him an army from the heaven,) mean, another Message to them. This was the view of Mujahid and Qatadah. Qatadah said, "Allah did not rebuke his people after they killed him,
(It was but one Sayhah and lo! they (all) were still).'' Ibn Jarir said, "The former view is more correct, because the Message does not need to be brought by an army.'' The scholars of Tafsir said, "Allah sent Jibril (peace be upon him) to them, and he seized the pillars at the gate of their city, then he hurled one Sayhah upon them and lo! they (all) were still, to the last man among them, and no soul was left in any body.'' We have already referred to the reports from many of the Salaf that this city was Antioch, and that these three Messengers were messengers sent from the Messiah `Isa bin Maryam (peace be upon him) as Qatadah and others stated. This is not mentioned by any of the later scholars of Tafsir besides him, and this issue must be examined from a number of angles. (The first) is that if we take this story at face value, it indicates that these men were Messengers from Allah, may He be glorified, not from the Messiah (peace be upon him) as Allah says:
(When We sent to them two Messengers, they denied them both; so We reinforced them with a third, and they said: "Verily, we have been sent to you as Messengers.'') up to:
("Our Lord knows that we have been sent as Messengers to you. And our duty is only to convey plainly (the Message).'') If they had been from among the Disciples, they would have said something to indicate that they had come from the Messiah, peace be upon him. And Allah knows best. Moreover, if they had been messengers sent by the Messiah, why would the people have said to them,
("You are only human beings like ourselves'') (The second) is that the people of Antioch did believe in the messengers sent by the Messiah to them. Antioch was the first city to believe in the Messiah, and it is one of the four cities in which there are Christian patriarchs. These cities are: Jerusalem, because it is the city of the Messiah; Antioch, because it was the first city where all of the people believed in the Messiah; Alexandria, because it was in that city that they agreed to reform the hierarchy of patriarchs, metropolitans (archbishops), bishops, priests, deacons and monks; and Rome, because it is the city of the Emperor Constantine who supported and helped to establish their religion. When he adopted Constantinople as his city, the Patriarch of Rome moved there, as has been mentioned by several historian, such as Sa`id bin Batriq and others, both People of the Book and Muslims. If we accept that, then the people of Antioch were the first to believe, but Allah tells us that the people of this town rejected His Messengers and that He destroyed them with one Sayhah and lo! they (all) were still. And Allah knows best. (The third) is that the story of Antioch and the Disciples of the Messiah happened after the Tawrah had been revealed. Abu Sa`id Al-Khudri (may Allah be pleased with him) and others among the Salaf stated that after revealing the Tawrah, Allah, may He be blessed and exalted, did not destroy an entire nation by sending a punishment upon them. Rather, He commanded the believers to fight the idolaters. They mentioned this when discussing the Ayah:
(And indeed We gave Musa -- after We had destroyed the generations of old -- the Scripture) (28:43). This implies that the city mentioned in the Qur'an is a city other than Antioch, as also stated by more than one of the Salaf. Or, if we wish to keep the same name, it is possible that it is another Antioch, not the one which is well-known, for it is not known that it (the famous Antioch) was destroyed, either during Christian times or before. And Allah knows best.
(30. Alas for mankind! There never came a Messenger to them but they used to mock at him.) (31. Do they not see how many of the generations We have destroyed before them Verily, they will not return to them.) (32. And surely, all -- everyone of them will be brought before Us.)