Verses from Surah Yunus (41 – 54)

[41] If they reject you (O Muhammad) tell them, ‘For you your deeds and for me my deeds. You are free of any responsibility for what I do as I am free of any responsibility for what you do.’70

Commentary

70. Thanwi has a note relevant to da‘wah workers which can be paraphrased as follows: This is the habit of the sincere callers to Islam, that when they find that the person addressed is bent on denial, they leave him alone, as against the disputants and debatists who strive to have the last word.

[42] And, there are some among them who (pretend to be) listening to you. (But), can you make the deaf hear, if, (in addition), they do not attempt an understanding?71

Commentary

71. Mawdudi comments:  In its most elementary sense even animals are possessed of the faculty of hearing. But ‘hearing’ in its true sense is applicable only when the act of hearing is accompanied with the attention required to grasp the meaning of what one hears, and with the readiness to accept it if it is found reasonable. Those who have fallen prey to prejudices, who have made up their minds that they will not hear, let alone accept anything, howsoever reasonable it might be, if it goes against their inherited beliefs and behavior patterns, or is opposed to living a life of heedlessness, as the animals do, or who focus all their attention on the gratification of their palate, or who recklessly pursue their lusts in total disregard of all consideration of right and wrong, may also be rightly characterized as incapable of hearing. Such people are not deaf of hearing, but their minds and hearts are certainly deaf to the truth.

That said about the unbelievers, Rashid Rida precedes Mawdudi in asking, ‘Aren’t there plenty of believers now who hear whole of the Qur’an recited to them in the month of Ramadan, or in assemblies of recitation, but they comprehend nothing, act by nothing, as if they heard nothing?’

[43] Again, there are others who look at you. But, can you make the blind see, if, (in addition), they do not attempt to perceive?

[44] Surely, Allah does not wrong the people by a bit but rather, the people wrong themselves.72

Commentary

72. At this point Ibn Kathir repeats a relevant hadith of Muslim and, therefore, shortens it. It reports Allah (swt) as saying, “O My slaves. I have forbidden transgression unto Myself and have declared it forbidden to you, therefore, do not commit transgression against one another…”  ending with, “O My slaves. It is your deeds that I reckon and then I reward you for them in full. Therefore, whoever finds goods, let him thank Allah. And whoever finds it otherwise, let him blame none but himself.”

[45] The Day We shall gather them together (they will feel), as if they had not tarried (in the world) but an hour of the day, mutually recognizing each other.73 Surely, those who denied meeting with Allah made no gains, and they were not such as to be guided.74

Commentary

73. In the manner of those who, having lived together in this life, did not part after death, but for a short while (Alusi).

Another possible meaning is expressed by Rashid Rida: They will recall having known and interacted with each other in the past life.

74. It is possible, as Zamakhshari has said, that the words, “Surely, those who denied meeting with Allah made no gains, and they were not such as to be guided,” are the words of those who will mutually recognize each other.

The translation herewith treats them as Allah’s words (Au.).

Asad comments: “In its wider sense, however it is addressed to every believer who might find it incomprehensible that life long suffering is often the lot of the righteous, while many wrongdoers and deniers of the truth apparently remain unscathed and are allowed to enjoy the good things of life. The Qur’an solves this apparent paradox by making it clear that, in comparison with the life to come, the life in this world is but a brief moment, and that it is only in the hereafter that man’s destiny reveals itself in all its true aspects.”

[46] Whether We show you (O Muhammad) a part of that We promise them (of punishment) or complete your life term75 (before that), to Us is their return. And, Allah is witness over the things they do.

Commentary

75. Shah ‘Abd al Qaadir has said that since the complete dominance of Islam was achieved partly during the Prophet’s life and partly after him, during the life of the four great caliphs, Allah (swt) used the expression, “Whether We show you (O Muhammad) a part of that We promise them, or complete your life term …” (Shabbir). In simpler words, it can be said that the above words contain a prophesy (Au.).

[47] For every nation there is a Messenger.76 When their messenger goes to them (and is rejected), the issue is settled between them with justice, and they are not wronged.

Commentary

76. Mawdudi comments on the textual term ummah: “The Qur’anic term ummah is not to be taken in the narrow sense in which the word ‘nation’ is used… All those who, after the advent of a Messenger, happen to live in an age when the teachings of that Messenger are extant or at least it is possible for people to know about what he had taught, constitute the ummah of that Messenger… In this respect all human beings who happen to be living in the age which commences with the advent of Muhammad (peace be on him) … are his ummah…”

The verse could also be understood to mean, “For every nation there has been a Messenger.” This is in the light of this present verse and another of the Qur’an which said (35: 24) “And there has not been a nation but a warner had been into them.” People often inquire about nations which, presumably did not receive a Prophet in the past, such as, e.g., the Russians or Indians. If can be said in reply that nations which did not preserve their history, cannot now claim that a Prophet was not raised among them. Another question is asked, “Is it possible that famous figures such as Buddha, Confucius, or Indian mythological figures were Messengers?” Some people in fact assume that those were Messengers, since, as they argue, “For every nation there has been a Messenger.” A proper explanation can be offered on the following lines:

Firstly, the Qur’an has used a term (ummah) of its own definition and which is not equivalent of a nation. However, with nation as the term of reference, it might be asked, were the Russians in living memory, or according to authentic historical accounts, ever a nation earlier to the advent of Islam? The same question can be asked about the Australians, or the Indians. A nation is a well organized unit, over a well defined geographical area, ruled by a central authority, inhabited by a homogenous people who share a language (or a few languages), culture and religion. Its identity as a nation lasts through several centuries. Has that been the case with Russia, or Australia or India in the past? To take the example of the last mentioned, it was never a nation in the true sense of the term. In ancient times India was no more than a land mass, supporting a vast number of villages and settlings: the peninsula divided into as many regions as there were interrupting forests, range of mountains, rivers or other such natural boundaries. At best there were conglomerations of villages spread all over perhaps several thousands of them that could have been (though we are not sure) ruled by a chieftain, but which broke into disparate elements with his death. A few villages of that group were then incorporated by the adjoining rulers, if there were any, while others remained scattered – without a central town or inhabitation as the seat of political, military or religious power controlling them, without a common culture, and without a single unifying language. The areas that were nominally ruled by a chieftain, a ruler, or a so called king, (in truth a war lord) were never cemented into a nation with its citizens acquiring that kind of identity, and they relating themselves to the state in that manner. A major difficulty, apart from the lack of well organized civilized life, means of transportation and communication, etc., was a unifying language. Never did any sizable territory in India have a language that was understood in its four corners. (There are thousands of active dialects in present day India). Had there been a Messenger, he would have had to receive revelation in dozens of languages at a time to be able to communicate his message effectively.

As regards the ancient and mythological figures, whether they could have been Messengers, it is anybody’s guess. However, if one considers the teachings of the Messengers as mentioned in the Qur’an, (however compressed to a few points as done by Rashid Rida: constituting Allah’s oneness, concept of belief in the Hereafter, and emphasis on righteous deeds), then, one might open the “so called” Holy Scriptures and look for these basic elements of Prophetic messages in the teachings of the Messenger candidates. An short exercise will categorically rule out Messengership for the candidates proposed.

It might be suggested that their followers could have corrupted their pristine message. But, if that is granted, then that would qualify a lot of past figures to Messengership. Every pervert person’s teachings can be said to be the corrupt forms of a true Messenger’s message (Au.).

[48] They ask, ‘When will this promise (be) if you be true?’

[49] Say, ‘I have no power over any harm unto myself or any profit save for what Allah will.’77 Every people have a deadline. When their deadline arrives, they cannot delay it by an hour nor can they hasten it.

Commentary

77. When Prophet Muhammad could not cause any harm or profit unto himself, could he do that to any other? Further, if he could not do when alive, can he do it now when he is in the grave? How strange of the faithful who imagine that the past Prophets or the so called saints in their graves, or angels, can cause them good or evil? If the noblest of creatures, Muhammad (on whom be peace) was commanded to announce that he had no power of good or evil unto himself, on what grounds can the Muslims of today seek help from those much lower than him? (Rashid Rida)

[50] Say, ‘Have you considered? Supposing His chastisement comes upon you by night or by day? (Can you stop it)?’78 What part of it then the criminals are wishing hastened on?79

Commentary

78. The expression, ‘by night or by day’ occurring in this context denotes the suddenness and unexpectedness with which Allah’s punishment comes. For all its appearance, it could take the form of a natural calamity, and so, as usual, unpredictable (Au.).

79. Seeing that none of its parts will treat them kindly, which of its parts are they demanding? (Zamakhshari)

[51] Is it that when it has occurred you will believe therein? (It will be said), ‘Ah now?   while it was you who were wishing it hastened on!?’

[52] Then it will be said to those who transgressed, ‘Taste now the everlasting punishment; are you being rewarded for anything but what you were earning?’

[53] They ask you, ‘Is it really true?’80 Say, ‘Yes,’ by my Lord. It is altogether true. And you will not be able to frustrate (Allah).’

Commentary

80. Some scholars have suggested that the questioning has been assumed, since the pagans would not have asked the Prophet (saws), having rejected him anyway. Rashid Rida believes that it is fairly possible that they actually asked him the question. The Arabs of that time were an upright people, who trusted others as upright. Lying was extremely uncommon among them. So, someone might have asked the question in earnest, besides those who raised questions of this kind in jest. We have a few traditions on the topic, such as the one preserved by the Shaykhayn, in which Damaam b. Tha‘labah adjured the Prophet to tell him ‘by the Lord’ if he was really the sent one, and was well satisfied when assured that ‘by Him’ that was the case.

[54] If every soul that transgressed were to posses all that is in the earth, it will surely ransom itself therewith. They will try to conceal their remorse81 when they behold the punishment. (The issue) will be judged between them in full equity, and they will not be wronged.

Commentary

81. Quoting a poetical piece of Imra ‘l Qays, Alusi points out that the textual word asarr is one of those words of the Arabic language that opposite meanings. In the present context, the word can yield both the meanings: “they will conceal” as well as, “they will reveal.” To explain, while the common unbelievers will betray their remorse, their artful leaders, being already recognized by their followers, will try to conceal it.