Sūrat YāSīn (Part 4)
Final observations on the organization, structure and coherence of Sūrat YāSīn
Last week we completed our observations of the six passages that make up Sūrat YāSīn. This week we will look at a possible ring structure of the entire sūrah.
One Big Ring Structure
It has been proposed that Sūrat YāSīn can also be organized into one large ring structure when one considers the āyāt on an almost individual level.1
[A]/[A’] – The sūrah begins with Allah ﷻ swearing an oath by the Quran. This oath is to emphasize what He has sent, i.e., the Messenger ﷺ. The ending emphasizes our return to Him.
[B]/[B’] – The Revelation (Allah’s Word) is spoken of next, along with the fact that the “qawl (word)” (i.e., judgment) has been established upon most, but they still refuse to believe. The corresponding section gives us a taste of the power of Allah’s speech. All He needs to do is “yaqūl (say), “Be,” and it is.
[C]/[C’] – Allah ﷻ describes the state of the Hell-bound people on the Day of Judgment as having chains around their necks and there being barriers propped up in front of and behind them. The paired section mentions “fuel” for fire, which might be a subtle reference to another attribute of those condemned to Hell.2
[D]/[D’] – There is an implicit reference to Paradise wherein Allah ﷻ says to give good news of “forgiveness and a generous reward.” The complementary section gives another implicit reference to gardens with the mention of “green trees.”
[E]/[E’] – Allah ﷻ informs us that He is the One who will “nuḥyī (revive)” the dead and that He records every detail about our lives. Similarly, the end has the disbelievers asking, “Who will ‘yuḥyī (revive)’ decayed bones?” Allah ﷻ immediately responds, “He will ‘yuḥyī (revive)’ them who produced them the first time.” He continues, again referencing His knowledge of all things, “and He is, of all creation, Knowing."
[F]/[F’] – Allah ﷻ introduces the story of the town saying, “waḍrib la-hum mathalan (Present the example for them) of the people of the town, when the messengers came to them.” Similarly, in the corresponding section He says, “wa ḍaraba la-nā mathalan (And he presented an example for Us), while forgetting his own creation.” At first it is Allah ﷻ presenting the example to mankind, but the latter half shows the disbeliever arrogantly trying to present an example back to Allah ﷻ.
[G]/[G’] – The disbelievers’ initial rejection of the messengers was that they were just “humans beings like us.” Allah ﷻ turns this rejection on its head in the complementary section wherein He says, “Does man not consider that We created him from a [mere] sperm-drop - then suddenly he is argumentative?” They want to argue using “human origins” as a proof against the messengers, and Allah ﷻ replies that it is their very humanity that should prevent them from making such haughty arguments.
[H]/[H’] – The disbelievers of the town begin to verbally abuse their messengers, but the messengers respond back to their provocateurs. The linked section tells the Messenger ﷺ to not grieve their words. He is similarly being mocked by his people, but in this instance, Allah ﷻ goes on the attack for the Messenger ﷺ. He ﷺ does not need to defend himself.
[I]/[I’]3 – Following the messengers’ rejection, a believing man came from the end of town to reinforce their message. He says, “A’attakhidhu min dūni-hi ālihata (Should I take other than Him as a [false] god)? If the Most Merciful intends for me some adversity, their intercession will not avail me at all, nor can they save me.” Similarly, Allah ﷻ says towards the end of the sūrah, “wattakhadhū min dūn illāhi ālihata (But they have taken besides Allah [false] gods) so that perhaps they would be helped. But they are not able to help them.”
The man further says, “I have believed in my Master, so listen!” The complementary section speaks of Allah’s creation of cattle and livestock, and how He made them subservient to us. The connection may not be immediately obvious, but consider that cattle are used in the Quran to describe people who do not listen, and only follow blindly.4
After the man is rejected, Allah ﷻ alludes to his death saying that he was entered into Paradise. In the corresponding section, Allah ﷻ speaks of the disbelievers’ destiny, saying that they will be entered into Hell because of their disbelief. Their limbs will testify against them (presumably with regards to the killing they did).
In this life, in retaliation for their crime of murder, Allah ﷻ did not send a “jund (army),” but instead took them out with a single Shout. The irony being that they used to worship idols which they themselves had to act as the “jund (army)” for, since the idols could not speak or defend themselves.
[J]/[J’] – Allah ﷻ laments the state of those who reject faith, asking them to reflect on all the past generations that He destroyed for their similar transgressions. Later, Allah ﷻ reiterates this point, saying that they should have worshiped Him. Satan has led astray many generations before them.
[K]/[K’] – We are told that all sinners will be brought before Allah ﷻ on the Day of Judgment for their full accounting. Allah ﷻ provides further details later on when He tells us how the criminals will be commanded to stand apart as a form of humiliation before their judgment comes.
[L]/[L’] – Amongst Allah’s miraculous signs are the fruits we eat and “al-azwāj (the spouses and pairs) He created. In the linked section Allah ﷻ describes believers in Paradise eating any fruits they wish, reclining with “azwāju-hum (their spouses)” in bliss. Those who heed the signs in this life will enjoy them in the next life.
[M]/[M’] – Another miraculous sign from Allah ﷻ is the night and day. Darkness “suddenly” outstrips the day, the sun quickly moves to “a resting place,” and the moon goes through phases to help us distinguish the passing of time. Similarly, Allah ﷻ describes the Horn being blow and people “suddenly” rushing out of their graves towards Allah ﷻ. They will say, “Who brought us out of our resting place?” The Horn is then further described as a single cry, which results in everyone being in front of Allah ﷻ without a moment’s notice. No time loss in-between steps of the Afterlife.
[N]/[N’] – Allah ﷻ then describes Him carrying our offspring on ships as another miraculous sign from Him. In the same vein, Allah ﷻ says that on Judgment Day no one will to leave behind a final will [for their family], nor will they be able to return to their families unlike those who leave on ships.
[O]/[O’] – If Allah ﷻ wanted, He could drown those on the ship and no one would respond to their cries, but He typically does not do that through His mercy and respite. On the same note, the Trumpet will blow and take away the argumentative disbelievers with a single cry, and no one will be able to help them.
[P]/[P’] – Both sections begin, “wa idhā qīla la-hum (and when it is said to them)…” First, they are told to be conscious of their actions and what deeds they are putting forth for the Afterlife. In the second instance they are being scolded, because when they are asked to spend on the poor, they refuse to spend in this life and mock Allah ﷻ, which will lead to consequences in the Next life.
[Q] – At the center of this sūrah appears to be a summary of all the outlying parts. “And no sign comes to them from the signs of their Lord except that they are turning away from it.” Over and over again, Allah ﷻ gives examples and signs to help guide people to His worship, but they continuously reject faith and go as far as to mock it as well.
Linear Structure of the Sūrah
Between the mention of “Quran” at the beginning and the end of this sūrah, it appears we have a chronological timeline of events which gives the sūrah a linear structure as well.
And Allah ﷻ knows best.
Thus concludes our observations of Sūrat YāSīn! If you found this interesting and/or faith-boosting, why not share with a friend so they can benefit too :)
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.
And maybe subscribe if you would like to support this publication :)
These observations owe to the work initiated by:
Symmetry in Sura al-Yasin. The Gold Mine Initiative. (2018, June 9). Retrieved 2022, from https://tgminitiative.blogspot.com/2018/06/symmetry-in-sura-al-yasin.html
Though his original structure left out some āyāt, I was able to build off his proposed ring structure to arrive at my own organization that included every āyah. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not that too convinced that this ring works, but I want to document it so that someone more capable can build upon it in the future. And, yes, he called it “Sura al-Yasin” with an extra “al-“ in there, which is probably a slight oversight since most suwar start with “al-.”
See 2:24, “…fear the Fire, whose fuel is men and stones, prepared for the disbelievers.”
These sections gave me the hardest time. The observant reader will notice that these sections are the longest in the entire ring. The many connections within there did not suit a ring structure, so I bunched them all together. Yeah, kind of cheating, I know, but that is the nature of developing research. In shā’ Allah I will lay the groundwork for someone more capable to build off of to create a much better ring structure.
See 25:44 – “Or do you think that most of them hear or reason? They are just like livestock. Rather, they are [even] more astray in [their] way.”