Ever since we were kids, our eyes glazed over at the prospect of being told a story. Even as adults with kids of our own today, we relive our stories and memories. The Quran is nearly 1/3 stories, Allah (swt), our Creator, knows how powerful stories are; in fact all civilizations used to pass on knowledge in the form of stories from one generation to the next. Stories have a profound impact on our minds – for example, how influential Hollywood is universally! Allah (swt) has related to us the best stories that are true, so why go elsewhere.
Story of the anonymous preacher
The story of an unnamed believer in Surah Ya-sin is noteworthy for many reasons, but most importantly because it teaches us how to be a Daee or the one who invites others to Islam. It starts with a conversation that two messengers have with people in a small town. When these people transgress and deny the messengers, Allah (swt) reinforces the two messengers with a third to lend weight to their claim and help them.
This also serves to indicate that the message is crystal clear, three people claiming the same thing. The names of the people or the town are not relevant so Allah (swt) has left them out in His wisdom as it would detract us from the lessons in the story. Also Allah (swt) will leave no place without sending guidance.
The messengers say: “Verily! We have been sent to you as Messengers.”
The people of the town denied that those men could be Messengers, they belied them. Their argument was like the one that the Quraish used on the Prophet (sa) as well: “You are only human being like us, and the Most Beneficent (Allah) has revealed nothing, you are only telling lies.”
The messengers reply: “Our Lord knows that we have been sent as Messengers to you, and our duty is only to convey plainly (the Message).”
They claimed that they wanted no riches or fame, their only aim was to deliver Allah’s (swt) message. They said Allah (swt) was enough for them, He was their witness that they were telling the truth.
Now, when people are stubborn and do not want to see the truth, they start an illogical argument, they 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.”
Imagine, in exchange for good, these evil people wanted to hurt the messengers who were trying to save them from doom.This is typical of people who do not have truth on their side; they will always resort to tyranny and oppression. They do not have words to counter the truth with; they just rely on superstitions and omens.
The messengers reply: “Your evil omens be with you! (Do you call it “evil omen”) because you are admonished? Nay, but you are a people Musrifun (transgressing all bounds by committing all kinds of great sins and by disobeying Allah).”
This is such an important lesson for us. Whenever we feel that someone wants to hurt us; we should look within ourselves and evaluate whether we are the ones who are being prejudiced? The messengers’ job is only to deliver Allah’s (swt) message as clearly and accurately as possible; people are free to choose what they want.
Dawah – Our sole and sacred mission!
A man from the furthest part of the city arrived. This statement teaches us two things: First, when the truth is apparent, we should hurry towards it and make an effort to tell others. Sitting at home and tweeting about it does not work. The first thing this man did was to call his people towards Allah (swt). He did not claim to be one of the messengers. His concern was only for his townsfolk – he did Dawah. Even when there are others doing Dawah, our responsibility to enjoin good and forbid evil does not desist; it is still our duty. He said, “My O my people! Obey the Messengers; Obey those who ask no wages of you (for themselves), and who are rightly guided.”
It is obvious that the man was not an influential person in the town, he was an average resident.
The townsfolk were very upset, and they did not want to hear what this man had to say, “And why should I not worship Him (Allah Alone) Who has created me and to Whom you shall be returned. Shall I take besides Him Aliha (gods), if the Most Beneficent (Allah) intends me any harm, their intercession will be of no use for me whatsoever, nor can they save me? Then verily, I should be in plain error. Verily! I have believed in your Lord, so listen to me!”
He was adamant, and knew that if Allah (swt) wanted harm to come to him, no one could stop it. Allah (swt) tells us that He will test our patience. The man realized that false idols could not harm or save him. What was perceived as harm was in reality Allah’s (swt) mercy- as we discover in the next verse.
The story continues and we are informed that Allah (swt) had asked this man to enter Paradise. We read in between the lines, that the people must have murdered this innocent man. The man was in Paradise, yet concerned for his people and said, “Would that my people knew! That my Lord (Allah) has forgiven me, and made me of the honoured ones!”
He was only an ordinary man and was killed for his belief. His response was not revenge; he only wished that the people could see what he could see after his remorse, so they would believe. He was forgiving and was steadfast in his mission, in spite of messengers sent by Allah (swt). Finally, after Allah (swt) had given the town’s people every chance to redeem themselves, He said, “It was but one Saihah (shout, etc.) and lo! They (all) were silent (dead-destroyed).”
Subhan’Allah, we humans are so fragile, and when we disobey Allah (swt), nothing but humiliation is our destiny!
(Adapted with permission for “Hiba” by Tasneem Vali.)