People of Ya-Sin

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People of Ya-Sin is the phrase used by Muslims to refer to an ancient community that is mentioned in the Quran[1] as the People of the City or the Companions of the City. The location and people of this city has been the subject of much scholarly debate in Islam.

In the Qur'an[edit]

According to the Qur'an, God sent two prophets to this particular community.[2] When the people of the city refused to hear their words, God sent a third prophet to strengthen them. The prophets told the people: "Truly we have been sent on a mission to you".[3] The community mocked the message of the prophets and said "Ye are only men like ourselves; and the Most Gracious sends no sort of revelation: ye do nothing but lie."[4] The prophets, in reply, rebuked the community, saying: "Our Lord doth know that we have been sent on a mission to you: "And our duty is only to proclaim the clear Message."[5]

Nicolaes Pieterszoon Berchem's depiction of Paul and Barnabas at Lystra, an incident which has often been compared to the Qur'anic narrative of the "Companions of the City"

The Qur'an goes onto say that the prophets were threatened with stoning and torture,[6] but they refused to give in and continued to warn the people to end their sinful ways. Then, from the farthest part of the city, there came running a man who exhorted the people to believe the message and told them: "O my people! Obey the messengers: "Obey those who ask no reward of you (for themselves), and who have themselves received Guidance.[7] The following verses, which describe the man's entrance in to "the garden" (Janah), which refers to Heaven, has been interpreted by some scholars to mean that the believing man was martyred for his faith.[8]

Accounts in exegesis[edit]

Classical commentators on the Qur'an popularly identified the "People of the City" with the city of Antioch.[8] Those scholars who identified the city with Antioch, however, were divided over the date of the event. One group believed that this event took place after Jesus and explained that the Qur'an's use of the word "Messenger" in this context refers not to three prophets but to three of Jesus's disciples who were sent to Antioch to proclaim the message. The name of this martyr is not explicitly mentioned anywhere in Qur'an or Hadith, though he is known as The Believer of YaSin.[9] Ibn Kathir in his Tafsir (Commentary) on Qur'an 36 references a rumor that identifies the three disciples sent were Sham`un (Peter), Yuhanna (John) and the name of the third was Bulus (Paul). [10]. Other commentators who believe that the city does refers to Antioch, explained that this is the narrative of a far older incident, and that the three "messengers" mentioned were indeed prophets, namely Saduq, Masduq and Shalum.[11]

Abdullah Yusuf Ali did link the narrative of the story with the preaching of Paul and Barnabas as described in Acts of the Apostles.[12] As with Antioch, the city of Jerusalem is also not directly mentioned by name in the Qur'an, nor is it mentioned by its Arabic translation (Al Quds). [13]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Quran 36:13–21
  2. ^ Quran 36:13
  3. ^ Quran 36:14
  4. ^ Quran 36:15
  5. ^ Quran 36:16–17
  6. ^ Quran 36:18
  7. ^ Quran 36:20–21
  8. ^ a b Stories of the Prophets, Ibn Kathir, People of Ya-Sin
  9. ^ Muhammad, Martin Lings, Chapter XXVIII
  10. ^ (Tafsir Ibn Kathir (Abridged), Volume 8, Surat Al-Ahzab, Verse 51 to the end of Surat Ad-Dukhan, abridged under a group of scholars under the supervision of Shaykh Safiur Rahman Al-Mubarakpuri [Darussalam Publishers & Distributors Riyadh, Houston, New York, London, Lahore; First Edition, September 2000], p. 179) https://www.answering-islam.org/Shamoun/christs_apostles.htm https://quranx.com/tafsirs/36.13
  11. ^ A-Z of Prophets in Islam and Judaism, Wheeler, People of Ya-Sin
  12. ^ Abdullah Yusuf Ali, Qur'an: Text, Translation and Commentary, note. 3959: "Cf. Acts, 14:15, where Paul and Barnabas say, in the city of Lystra near the modern Konia, 'We also are men with like passions with you, and preach unto you that ye should turn from these vanities...'".
  13. ^ Religious significance of Jerusalem