Chapter Scripts

Surah Ya’sin: 36:41-50

36:41 And [it ought to be] a sign for them that We bear their offspring [over the seas] in laden ships.

Explanation

i.e., “which We alone have or could have created” (Zamakhshari and Razi). The above metaphorical expression is based on the concept of “handiwork” in its widest sense, abstract as well as concrete.

36:42 And [that] We create for them things of a similar kind, on which they may embark [in their travels].

Explanation

Lit., “made them submissive (dhallalnaha) to them”: implying also that man is morally responsible for the manner in which he uses or misuses them.

36:43 And [that] if such be Our will, We may cause them to drown, with none to respond to their cry for help, and [then] they cannot be saved. 

Explanation

Or: “other deities besides God” – alluding, in either case, to objects of worship consciously conceived as such – i.e., idols, imaginary deities, deified persons, saints, etc. – as well as to abstract concepts like power, wealth or “luck”, which may not be consciously “worshipped” but are nevertheless often revered in an almost idolatrous fashion. The verb ittakhadhu (lit., “they took [or “have taken”] for themselves”), used in the Qur’an in this and in similar contexts, is particularly suited for the wide range of meanings alluded to inasmuch as it bears the connotation of adopting something – whether it be concrete or abstract – for one’s own use or adoration.

36:44 Unless it be by an act of mercy from Us and a grant of life for a [further span of] time.

Explanation

Lit., “them”

36:45 And [yet] when they are told, “Beware of [God’s insight into] all that lies open before you and all that is hidden from you, so that you might be graced with His mercy” [most men choose to remain deaf]. 

Explanation

See the similar passage in 16:4, as well as the corresponding note 5. Completing the interpretation advanced in his (and Zamakhshari’s) commentary on the above-mentioned verse, Razi equates here the term khasim (lit., “contender in argument”) with the highest manifestation of what is described as natiq (“articulate [or “rational”) being”).

36:46 And no message of their Sustainer’s messages ever reach them without their turning away from it.

Explanation

Lit., “he coins for Us a simile (mathal)” an elliptic allusion to the unwillingness of “those who deny the truth” to conceive of a transcendental Being, fundamentally different from all that is graspable by man’s senses or imagination and having powers beyond all comparison with those which are available to any of the created beings. (Cf. 42:11, “there is nothing like unto Him”, and 112:4, “there is nothing that could be compared with Him”.) Since they are enmeshed in a materialistic outlook on life, such people deny – as the sequence shows – all possibility of resurrection, which amounts to a denial of God’s creative powers and, in the final analysis,

36:47 Thus, when they are told, “Spend on others out of what God has provided for you as sustenance,” those who are bent on denying the truth say unto those who believe, “Shall we feed anyone whom, if [your] God had so willed, He could have fed [Himself]? Clearly, you are but lost in error!”

Explanation

Cf. the ancient Arabian proverb, “In every tree, there is a fire” (Zamakhshari): evidently an allusion to the metamorphosis of green – i.e., water-containing – plants into fuel, be it through desiccation or man-made carbonization (charcoal), or by a millennial, subterranean process of decomposition into oil or coal. in a spiritual sense, this “fire” seems also to symbolize the God-given warmth and light of human reason spoken of in verse 77 above.

36:48 And they add, “When is this promise [of resurrection] to be fulfilled? [Answer this] if you are men of truth!”

Explanation

This is the meaning of the phrase innama amruhu – the term amr being synonymous, in this instance, with sha’n (“state [or “manner”] of being”). The exclusiveness of God’s creative Being is stressed by the restrictive particle innama.

36:49 [And they are unaware that] nothing awaits them beyond a single blast [of God’s punishment]. which will overtake them while they are still arguing [against resurrection].

36:50 And so [sudden will be their end that] no testament will they be able to make, nor to their own people will they return!

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