Verses from Surah Yunus [55 – 61]

[55] Lo! To Allah belongs whatever there is in the heavens and the earth. Lo. Allah’s promise is true. But most of them know not. [56] It is He who gives life and deals death, and to Him you will be returned. [57] People! To you has already reached an admonition from your Lord, a cure for what is in the breasts,82 a guide and a mercy unto the believers.

Commentary

82. Although the textual word is “sudoor” (sing, sadr, breast) the intended meaning is the hearts.ImamRaghib Asfahani has discussed the issue of hearts and breasts in the following manner: Whenever Allah (swt) used the word “qalb” (heart) in the Qur’an, the allusion is to knowledge or intellect. Some have believed that it is also used in the sense of the soul. Allah (swt) said (50: 37),

“Surely, in this is a reminder unto him who has a heart”, i.e., he who has knowledge.

Or, the Qur’an said (9: 87),

“And their hearts have been sealed, so they do not understand.”

That is, their minds have been sealed.

Or, Allah said (33: 10),

 “And their hearts reached the throats.”

That is, their souls reached the throats (out of fear). In contrast, when He used the term “sadr” He alluded not only to knowledge and anger, etc. The present verse is an example of this usage. The Qur’an is a cure for these ailments of the heart (Au.).

Over the above, Rashid Rida adds: Intellect is the judicial power that differentiates and distinguishes between right and wrong, good and bad, beneficial or harmful, etc. In contrast, the ailments of the heart and the breast comprise of faith, doubt, hypocrisy, envy, hatred, evil intentions, etc. (paraphrased).

Some scholars have said that just as it is a cure for the hearts, the Qur’an is also a cure for the body. But Hasan al Busri has denied such a possibility since Allah (swt) said, “a cure for the hearts” and did not say “for the body.” Those who believe otherwise quote the following hadith of Ibn Marduwayh. Abu Sa‘id al Khudri reports that a man came up to the Prophet complaining of pain in his chest. The Prophet (saws) told him, “Recite the Qur’an for it is a cure for the hearts.” Another report in Bayhaqi’s Sho‘ab al Iman says that a man complained of pain in his throat. The Prophet told him also to recite the Qur’an (and eat some honey). [The hadith is weak: Manar].

After reporting the above ahadith Alusi notes that both the ahadith can be interpreted to mean differently from the apparent meaning. For, in the first case, it can be said that the treatment suggested was psychological, while in the second case it was simply a way of clearing the throat. Nonetheless, Alusi’s personal opinion is that the Qur’an could be a cure for bodily ailments, although the verse under discussion does not support such a meaning.

Curing certain diseases with the help of surah al Fatehah, adds Rashid Rida, if recited by one of strong faith, free of doubt and cynicism, is possible, although, this too cannot be substantiated with the present verse. Thanwi points out that the verse demonstrates that there are diseases of the heart that are more serious than those of the body.

[58] By Allah’s grace and mercy;83 in this let them rejoice.84 It is better than what they amass. 

Commentary

83. The textual term for rejoice, “farh” is used for over joyousness and is normally disapproved of. (It also bears an element of boastfulness: Au.). Allah (swt) said in reference to Qaroon (28: 76),

“Do not indulge in over joyousness. Allah does not approve of the over joyous.”

He said in another place (57: 23):

“So that you might not despair over what missed you and not be over joyous over what He gave you.”

Nonetheless, here, the blessing of the Qur’an and Islam is so great that the faithful might indulge in over joyousness (Au.).

84. Ibn ‘Abbas, Mujahid and Hasan have said, apart from some others, that the words “grace,” and “mercy” allude to Islam and the Qur’an (Ibn Jarir). Ibn Kathir adds: When the ‘Iraqi tribute arrived at Madinah, ‘Umar came out counting the camels, but gave up because of the huge numbers. One of his slaves remarked, “This is by Allah’s grace and mercy.” ‘Umar reacted, “You have lied. Allah has said in reference to the Revelation (and not in reference to worldly goods), ‘(This is) by Allah’s grace and mercy. In this let them rejoice. It is better than what they amass.’ Indeed, this exactly is what they (the people like to) amass.”

Sayyid comments:

“The primary theme of the social model that this religion creates is that of freedom of man from the servility to man and replace it with servility to Allah. With this change in the basic theme of life which serves as the basis to further work upon, man’s ideals, morals and values are elevated, in turn freeing his whole life from subservience to other humans.

“It is after this that come the worldly things and material possessions. As it happened with the very first generation of Muslims, when the pagan ways were swept away; they took hold of the keys to Allah’s power on the earth, and, in consequence, drove the people to Allah (swt) in order that they could also receive mercy.

“In contrast, those who concentrate on material values and material productions, unmindful of this basic principle, they indeed are the enemies of mankind. They do not wish that man should ever rise above the animals, and should never want anything beyond the subsistence of the animals.

“Their invitation to adopt a life of their design is not guileless. Whatever they claim outwardly, it is in truth indirectly aimed at the destruction of any belief and every such value that stands in their way of material progress. They alter the objectives of life of the people that come under their influence: from the soul lifting values to mere search for food, shelter and sex – in the same order as the animals.

“The continuous cry that is heard about material values and increased productions is simply to overcome people’s resistance, and alter their ideas and ideals so that they can be transformed to function as cogs in the machines, those that have forgotten all about soul lifting ideals. The incessant cries of higher and higher production, is to shout down every cry of the soul, give the people new ideals and use those ideals to achieve higher material production. This call then is not a guileless call. It is a firm step towards the replacement of devotion to stone idols of the pagan days with contemporary material idols.

“Once the incessant cry for increase in material production acquires the status of an idol, the people begin to toil for them and circumambulate around them. Every other value of life is then disregarded and destroyed if it comes in the way: morality, family, honor, freedom   just about everything. Anything that stands against it deserves to be destroyed. The new idols are not made of wood or stones. They are the new material values, slogans, catch words, icons and symbols.”

[59] Say, ‘Have you considered what Allah has sent down for you as providence? Of it you treat some as unlawful and some as lawful.’ Ask, ‘Is it Allah who has allowed you to do that, or do you fasten (a lie) on Allah?’85

Commentary

85. The reference of course is to the pagan practice (continued down to this age, even by Muslims) of arbitrarily declaring Allah’s lawful as unlawful and His unlawful as lawful. the Prophet (saws) illustrated this attitude in a hadith of Ahmed when he saw ‘Awf b. Malik’s father in a shabby state. He asked him,”Do you have any wealth?” The man said, “Yes.” He asked, “What sort of wealth?” He replied, “Of all sorts: Camels, slaves, horses, sheep.” The Prophet said, “When Allah bestows a blessing on you, then, let its good effects be seen on you.” He further added, “Is it true that your camels give birth to camels with whole ears, but you take a knife, split its ears and declare, ‘This is Hujur.’ You split their skin and declare, ‘This is Surum.’ Thereafter, you declare such of them unlawful unto yourself and the family?’ The man replied, ‘Yes. We do that.’ The Prophet said, ‘Surely, what Allah has given you is lawful. Allah’s arm is tougher than your arm. And Allah’s knife is sharper than your knife.” After presenting this shortened version of the hadith, Ibn Kathir remarks that the report, as found in two places in Ahmed, has a strong chain of narrators.

Zamakhshari warns: The verse conceals a strong warning to those who are used to arbitrarily declaring this or that lawful or unlawful. Such declarations should only be made when they can be backed by clear evidences. When one does not have them, let him hold his peace. Otherwise he will be fastening a lie on Allah.

Hence we see that, according to the Hanafiyy scholars, an unequivocal textual commandment (nass qata‘i) is required to declare a thing unlawful (Au.).

Sufi commentator Thanwi adds that this verse refutes those who, for ascetic reasons, treat some of Allah’s bounties as unlawful to themselves. All that can be said is that there is no harm if it is temporarily resorted to, (as a cure for certain base desires or traits, or a firmer control over one’s self: Au.).

[60] So, what do those who fasten a lie on Allah think of the Day of Judgment? Surely, Allah is full of grace for the people,86 but most of them do not render thanks.87

Commentary

86. So, it is by His grace and mercy that He has declared most things on earth as lawful unto His slaves, declaring not anything as unlawful but what harms them (Ibn Kathir).

87. The implication of these ending words is that Allah has been very generous in giving the people the tools of intelligence and sending to them His Messages. But the people do not use reason and do not accept the invitation to think.

[61] And, you are not (O Prophet) engaged in an affair (at any time), nor reciting any (part) of the Qur’an,88 neither do you (O people) carry out a deed except that We89 are witnesses over it when you press on it.90 Indeed, not away from your Lord is (anything) as much as the weight of an atom, whether in the earth or in the heavens, smaller than that or bigger, but is in a clear Book. 

Commentary

88. The expression, “You are not engaged in an affair, nor reciting any (part) of the Qur’an,” aptly reflects the Prophet’s way of life. All his time, either he was working to spread his mission, which required extensive Qur’anic recitation, or he was engaged in his personal devotional acts which also required plenty of its recitation (based on Manar).

89. The “We” here is the Majestic We (Asad).

90. With reference to the textual word “witness”, we might remind ourselves of the hadith in which Jibril defined “Ihsan” as that “you should worship Allah as if you are seeing Him. For, if you cannot see Him, He sees you” (Ibn Kathir).