Sūrat YāSīn (Part 1)
Part 1 of observations on the structure, organization and cohesion of Sūrat YāSīn
Sūrat YāSīn (YāSīn) is the 36th sūrah of the Quran and is characterized by short āyāt and a fast rhythm making it easy to recite and memorize. It is a Meccan sūrah, with some commentators mentioning that it is the 41st sūrah to be revealed.
Similar to other Meccan revelation, YāSīn also discusses the three most fundamental aspects of our faith. It discusses tawḥīd (oneness of Allah ﷻ), risālah (prophethood and messengership), and qiyāmah (resurrection and life after death). Out of these three fundamental themes, the most emphasis is given to the concept of resurrection.
Sūrat YāSīn (YāSīn) can be divided into six passages or distinct subject matter.1 We will begin our discussion by looking at the connection within each passage individually, then we will return and observe the connection between all passages as a whole.
Quran And Our Record - Ring Structure Of Āyāt 1-122
[A]/[A’] - This section highlights two contrasting, but otherworldly, documents. The first is the Quran which is a document that was sent down from the heavens to the earth. The second is our book of deeds which are written on earth and then presented to Allah ﷻ above the seven heavens
[B]/[B’] - These passages share meaning as well as wording. Both use “tundhir (you warn)” to address the Messenger ﷺ. First, the Messenger ﷺ is told that he received revelation in order to warn people, and later he is told that only those who are fearful of Allah ﷻ can be warned.
[C]/[C’] - Here we find another shared phrase. Both parts say "lā yu'minūn (they do not believe)” in reference to the disbelievers. At first, we are informed that they simply do not believe, but by the conclusion we learn that despite the warnings, they will never believe.
[D] - The center informs us of the consequences of their stubbornness to believe even when the truth has been made clear.
It is important to note that in the Quran, Allah ﷻ highlights three avenues for guidance:
1. From the front – by reflecting on the physical world in front of us
2. From the back – by reflecting on history behind us
3. From above – by reflecting on revelation. Since we are incapable of observing certain realities before death - the Day of Judgment, Paradise, Hell, etc. – these can only come from Allah ﷻ.
In this section, Allah ﷻ says for those who disbelieve that He has put a wall in front of them and behind them, and He has put collars on their necks. They look up, yet they have been covered and they cannot see. Guidance has been cut-off for them in all three of the aforementioned directions.
Thus, they are blinded from all sides and therefore cannot see guidance properly. In the following sections we will see how Allah ﷻ expands upon this notion of the avenues for guidance further.
The next section focuses on the second of these avenues for guidance; history. Specifically, we will look at how this passage highlights the disbeliever’s refusal to learn from the past.
Lessons From History (The Wall Behind Them) – Ring Structure Of Āyāt 13-32
[E]/[E’] - Allah ﷻ begins the section by giving us an example of a town which had messengers sent to it. The corresponding passage addresses those who reject the messengers. It is as if the latter section is rhetorically asking “How many other towns are there? How many more examples do you need?”
[F]/[F’] - Section [F] describes the messengers speaking softly and lovingly to their audiences’ ears. In response, the disbelievers mocked and cursed them. As a consequence of their misdeeds, they are destroyed by a loud cry that brings death.
[G] - This section beautifully transitions between the outer sections. It describes a man who came from the furthest part of the city (Sections [E]/[E’]) and delivered a message (Sections [F]/[F’]).
We’ll continue our observations in next week’s post.
If anyone would like to listen to a nice recitation of Sūrat YāSīn, you can check out my friend’s recording below. Or, you can follow him on his socials for other nice Quran recordings.
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The following is based on the work of:
Ali Khan, Nouman. “Heavenly Order - Lesson 17_ Structural Coherence of Surah Ya-Sin” Bayyinah TV, https://bayyinahtv.com/topics/1/categories/1/series/28/videos/551
Khan’s work on this particular section is built off of the observations made by Neal Robinson in Discovering the Qur’an (London: SCM Press Ltd, 1996), pages 151-152