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.)
`Ali bin Abi Talhah reported that Ibn `Abbas commented on the Ayah:
(Alas for mankind!), this means, woe to mankind! Qatadah said:
(Alas for mankind!) means, "Alas for mankind, who have neglected the command of Allah.'' The meaning is that they will feel regret and sorrow on the Day of Resurrection. When they see the punishment with their own eyes; they will regret how they disbelieved the Messengers of Allah and went against the commands of Allah, for they used to disbelieve in them in this world.
(There never came a Messenger to them but they used to mock at him.) means, they disbelieved him and made fun of him, and rejected the message of truth with which he had been sent.
Then Allah says:
(Do they not see how many of the generations We have destroyed before them Verily, they will not return to them.) meaning, `do you not learn a lesson from those whom Allah destroyed before you of those who disbelieved in the Messengers They came to this world only once, and will not return to it.' It is not as many of those ignorant and immoral people claim that
("There is nothing but our life of this world! We die and we live!'') (23:37). This was the belief in the cycle of reincarnation; in their ignorance they believed that they would come back to this world as they had been before. But Allah refuted their false belief and said:
(Do they not see how many of the generations We have destroyed before them Verily, they will not return to them.) Allah's saying:
(And surely, all -- everyone of them will be brought before Us.) means, all of the past nations and those that are yet to come, will be gathered and brought to account before Allah, may He be glorified and exalted, on the Day of Judgment, and they will be requited according to their good and evil deeds. This is like the Ayah:
(And verily, to each of them your Lord will repay their works in full.) (11:111).
(33. And a sign for them is the dead land. We give it life, and We bring forth from it grains, so that they eat thereof.) (34. And We have made therein gardens of date palms and grapes, and We have caused springs of water to gush forth therein.) (35. So that they may eat of the fruit thereof -- and their hands made it not. Will they not then give thanks) (36. Glory be to Him Who has created all the pairs of that which the earth produces, as well as of their own kind, and of that which they know not.)
Allah, may He be glorified and exalted, says:
(And a sign for them) means, evidence for them of the existence of the Creator and His perfect power and ability to resurrect the dead,
(is the dead land.) means, when it is dead and arid, with no vegetation, then Allah sends water upon it, it is stirred (to life), and it swells and puts forth every lovely kind (of growth). Allah says:
(We give it life, and We bring forth from it grains, so that they eat thereof.) meaning, `We have made it a provision for them and their cattle.'
(And We have made therein gardens of date palms and grapes, and We have caused springs of water to gush forth therein.) means, `We have created therein rivers which flow to the places where they are needed, so that they may eat of their fruits.' When Allah reminds them of the blessing that He bestows upon His creation by creating crops and plants, He mentions the different types and kinds of fruits. Allah says:
(and their hands made it not.) means, all of that could only come about by the mercy of Allah towards them, not by their own efforts and labor and strength. This was the view of Ibn `Abbas and Qatadah. Allah says:
(Will they not then give thanks) meaning, will they not then give thanks for the innumerable blessings that He has bestowed upon them. Ibn Jarir, however, understood the word Ma to mean Alladhi (i.e., a relative pronoun). In this case the meaning of the Ayah would be that they eat from the fruits provided by Allah's bounty and from what their own hands have done, i.e., by planting the seeds and tending the plants. Ibn Jarir mentioned other possible interpretations in his Tafsir, but this is the interpretation that he favored. This interpretation also fits with the recitation of Ibn Mas`ud: (لِيَأْكُلُوا مِنْ ثَمَرِهِ وَمِمَّا عَمِلَتْهُ أَيْدِيهِمْ أَفَلَا يَشْكُرُونَ) (So that they may eat of the fruit thereof -- and from what their own hands have done.) Then Allah says:
(Glory be to Him Who has created all the pairs of that which the earth produces,) meaning, of crops and fruits and plants.
(as well as of their own (human) kind, ) means, He made them into male and female.
(and of that which they know not.) means, different kinds of creatures of which they know nothing. This is like the Ayah:
(And of everything We have created pairs, that you may remember.) (51:49)
(37. And a sign for them is the night. We withdraw therefrom the day, and behold, they are in darkness.) (38. And the sun runs on its fixed course for a term (appointed). That is the decree of the Almighty, the All-Knowing.) (39. And the moon, We have decreed for it stages, till it returns like the old dried curved date stalk.) (40. It is not for the sun to overtake the moon, nor does the night outstrip the day. They all float, each in an orbit.)