One of my favorite aspects of Ramadan is that it forces each and every Muslim to pause and reflect. By depriving ourselves of food and water and stepping away from our routines, we hit the pause button on our everyday lives. In exchange, we fill our time with ibadah, which includes an increased engagement and reflection on the Qur’an.
“He knows whatever goes into the earth and whatever comes out of it, and whatever descends from the sky and whatever ascends into it. And He is the Most Merciful, All-Forgiving.” —34:2
To reflect on Juz’ 22, I researched and contemplated two of the surahs that sit within it: Surah Saba and Surah Yasin. In these surahs, Allah addresses objections raised by the disbelievers by describing major concepts like tawhid (oneness of God), akhirah (afterlife) and risalah (belief in the Prophethood). In Surah Saba, Allah uses examples of well-known figures like Prophets Solomon and David and the Queen of Sheba to demonstrate the consequences of evil and showcase righteousness. In Surah Yasin, we see Allah pointing out signs that indicate His (SWT) existence and magnificence.
We are living in an age where false news dominates our media, and proofs or evidence are often disregarded as unsubstantiated. I thought it was appropriate to look more closely at Surah Yasin to see how Allah addressed the disbelievers using deductive reasoning to show that He (SWT) is the Creator and that Islam is the true religion.
According to Imam Ahmad, Abu Daud, and Nasai, on the authority of Hadrat Ma’qil bin Yasar, our beloved Prophet SWS said Surah Yasin is “the heart of the Qur’an.” While Surah al-Fatiha is often referred to as Umm al Qur’an, or the essence of the Qur’an, Surah Yasin is said to be the heart because it is a “more forceful” rendering of the message used to ignite the spirit of man. Allah says, “There is a sign for them in the dead earth: We give it life, producing grain from it for them to eat” (36:33). The tafsir on this surah indicates that the “them” refers to people that denied the message of Islam during the time of the Prophet SWS.
“Do you not see that Allah sends down rain from the sky with which We bring forth fruits of different colours? And in the mountains are streaks of varying shades of white, red, and raven black; just as people, living beings, and cattle are of various colours as well.” — 35:27-28
Surah Yasin not only recounts Allah’s signs through the creation of the natural world but also in the creation of man.
In addressing the concerns of the disbelievers, Allah points to the fact that He creates food out of deadlands for their sustenance. The imagery of life and death in His hands is a powerful reminder of His immense power and ability to give and take. When I reflect on this ayah in today’s context, I think about those who witness the rising temperatures, take note of the dwindling populations of certain animal species and deny climate change.
These days, while there is a growing movement to protect the Earth from the poison we all contribute with our consumption of things like single-use plastics and non-renewable energy sources, there is an even stronger movement to destroy such efforts. There are people, like the disbelievers mentioned in Surah Yasin, that see the signs Allah has provided in nature and ignore or, even worse, deter others from protecting the environment.
Allah says, “And We have placed in it gardens of palm trees and grapevines, and caused springs to gush forth in it…” (36:34). This ayah in contrast to the previous one showcases the aspects of nature that are more ornamental. While you can get sustenance from a palm tree and water from a spring, I feel that the descriptions here of the natural beauty are more so to get the reader (or the disbeliever) to reflect on the magnanimity of a Lord who has taken the time to craft earthly wonders for our mere enjoyment and pleasure. Those that deny the existence of Him and are quick to reject signs of human corruption to that natural beauty have missed the opportunity to conceive of something greater than themselves.
Surah Yasin not only recounts Allah’s signs through the creation of the natural world but also in the creation of man. In ayah 36, Allah says, “Glory be to the One Who created all ˹things in˺ pairs —˹be it˺ what the earth produces, their genders, or what they do not know!” Reflecting on this ayah, I think about the miracle of life. I think about how we are created with the desire to find love (under the umbrella of marriage) and are given an innate desire to create families, which become groups, tribes and nations.
With just those few ayahs, this juz has stopped me in my tracks. It captivated my attention and reminded me to take note of Allah’s existence when I spend time in nature and when I spend time with family and friends. This Ramadan, I hope we can all reflect more deeply on His creation and find moments to give shukr for the beauties He has crafted for us in this life and in the next.
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Nailah Dean is a Black American Muslim writer and lawyer. Her writing explores the intersections of faith, love and marriage from the perspective of Muslim American women. She has been published in Al Jazeera, Insider, MuslimGirl and Medium. She is an official blogger for Salams Says, a blog published by the popular Muslim dating app, Salams. She regularly contributes to ICNA’s The Message International. She is a member of the San Francisco Writers Workshop, a recipient of a 2019 Martha’s Vineyard Institute of Creative Writing Fellowship, and was shortlisted in a story competition by MFest. She has a bachelor’s in English from the University of North Texas and a Juris Doctor degree from Boston College Law School.