Little personal detail is told of the man from Surah Ya-Seen. Yet, Allah SWT loved him to the extent that his actions have been noted in the passages of Surah Ya-Seen. Allah had elevated him so highly, that even if we were never to know his name, we know that Allah granted him a beautiful title of a man and granted him Paradise.
One may think that this is hardly a worthy accolade. Islamically, however, to be labelled as a man or a woman (rather than male or female) by Allah is akin to wearing a crown of honour. In surah Al-Ahzab, 33:23, Allah says:
Among the believers are men true to what they promised Allah. Among them is he who has fulfilled his vow [to the death], and among them is he who awaits [his chance]. And they did not alter [the terms of their commitment] by any alteration.
This verse explains the central pillars of the character to make you a man or a woman, which is to hold tight to the covenant and to live it, even sacrifice your life for it until the last moment of your life.
The exact whereabouts of the man of Surah Ya-Seen are not specified. However, we are told of a town where Allah had sent the community two Messengers, whose people denied the message and guidance that they were attempting to impart. A third Messenger was then sent to the same community to give support to the other two and to reinforce the message, and still the townsfolk opposed them. When they announced their Messengership, the people scoffed, saying that the three Messengers were human just like them, and that Allah could not have sent them. To these people, it was unlikely that God would use ordinary mortals to spread His message. As with what happened to the other Messengers, the spiritually blinded community refused to accept the message and accused the Messengers of being liars.
The dialogue took a critical turn when the townsfolk accused them of bringing them bad luck or evil omens, and threatened them with stoning and other forms of violent punishments. The Messengers responded that their evil omens were only with themselves and asked why they were so aggressively threatened merely for admonishing the community.
During this tense exchange, a man came running to them from the farthest reaches of the town. He was a believer, and he tried to intervene by giving advice to his own people in support of the Messengers.
Turning his attention to the crowd, he pleaded, “O my people, follow the messengers. Follow those who do not ask of you [any] payment, and they are [rightly] guided.” (Qur’an 36:20 – 36:21) His rationale was correct, for it is an established characteristic of Prophets and Messengers that their mission is to guide the people, without the expectation of any financial rewards.
The man continued:
“And why should I not worship He who created me and to whom you will be returned? Should I take other than Him [false] deities [while], if the Most Merciful intends for me some adversity, their intercession will not avail me at all, nor can they save me? Indeed, I would then be in manifest error. Indeed, I have believed in your Lord, so listen to me.” (Qur’an 36:22 – 36:25)
The man’s reasoning was perfectly sound, for it would be sheer foolishness to worship other than the One who had created them all. He ended his earnest speech by declaring his belief in the Lord of the Messengers before the congregation.
This proved to be the last straw for the community, and for his act of solidarity with the Messengers and for the public proclamation of his faith, the angry mob killed him in cold blood.
Even as he lay dying, he continued to give advice gently to this own killers. He did not get angry or seek revenge, nor did he pray for Allah to punish them. Instead, he tried to convince his aggressors towards the right path, until he drew his last breath. Compare his mentality to ours, when someone has done us wrong!
After he died, it was said to him, “Enter Paradise.” (Qur’an 36:26) When he saw the bounties in Paradise:
He said, “I wish my people could know of how my Lord has forgiven me and placed me among the honored.” (Qur’an 36:26 – 36:27) SubhanAllah! How noble was this characteristic, that even as he faced Paradise, he wished it for his people so that they could get the same reward. He held true to his covenant until the very end.
Allah loved and honoured him to the extent that He sent Jibreel AS to destroy the town for the injustice done to him. Allah SWT did not deploy an army of angels, but rather destroyed the town dismissively in one saihah, a mighty shout or blast, that brought the non believers to their disgraceful deaths.
And We did not send down upon his people after him any soldiers from the heaven, nor would We have done so. It was not but one shout, and immediately they were extinguished. (Qur’an 36:28 – 36:29)
What of the unnamed man?
According to some reports, his name was Habib ibn Najjar. He was a carpenter, afflicted by leprosy and was charitable by nature. He was a simple, ordinary human being – not a scholar or of the elite – but his soul was alive! When he heard what was happening in the town, he came running, purely to be a part of establishing the truth. He stood alone against the majority. He cared not except to support the truth. He disregarded the danger to his personal safety or his life.
His action was so beloved to Allah that even if his people did not listen, he had discharged his duty.
This incident is immortalized in the Qur’an, as a shining example of true victory in the Kingdom of Allah. The man had tried to lead his community to Islam and paid for his actions with his life. In recompense, Allah honoured him by mentioning his actions in the holiest of all scriptures, the Qur’an, to serve as a teaching and inspiration to Muslims until the end of time.
The ending of the story was decisive. The townspeople who died were not given much mention by Allah, whereas the man who was killed was elevated. Within minutes of his life being extinguished, his actions were so beloved that Allah granted him eternal dignity.
For you as a reader, take a long pause, and think how much we hear the news daily. Today we see heedlessness, people going astray, confusion, oppression, corruption and poverty, and we are watching. Let’s see the difference in this story. We bear witness by our faculties and what we hear, see and watch, and we spread the news on the internet. It can be a murder, a suicide and the general calamity and aggression of human beings against each other and themselves. In spite of that, we continue with our daily routines and personal drama, and barely lift a finger. As Muslims, we should be the supporter of the truth, by all avenues possible, according to our subjective abilities and capabilities. Otherwise, in Islam, if we watch all this and stand idly aside, we will be a partner of such crimes. Now, we should make dua and beg Allah to be an asset and supporter to the truth, and not to be amongst the tortured and cursed ones. Because it is coming.
May Allah make us amongst the honoured and save us from being among the disgraced.