Benefits and Lesser Known Meanings of Surah Yaseen
We all have heard of Surah Yaseen, we would see calligraphies of Surah Yaseen hung in our homes or we would recognise the first verse of the surah, for it is the same as its title. However, it is also a surah that is mostly associated with the dead. Often, we would hear Surah Yaseen being recited when we visit the graves of those who have left us or when we visit those who are critically ill. Surah Yaseen has many benefits not only because of the themes present in the surah itself, but also because of the context in which it was revealed. In this article, I would like to share some of the benefits and meanings behind Surah Yaseen so that it may be beneficial to all of us when we recite it, InshaAllah.
Benefits of Surah Yaseen
Surah Yaseen is the 36th surah of the Qur’an and is commonly read when someone is ill or has passed away. This practice was adopted perhaps due to the hadith “recite Yaseen over those who are dying” (Bulugh al-Maram, Book 3, Hadith 561). The scholars have said that this is because of the themes within Surah Yaseen, that can help ease the soul.
The prominent themes of Surah Yaseen are faith (Iman), Resurrection and the Gathering (Qiyamah) and the story of the People of the Town (Ashab al-Qariya). Surah Yaseen is considered an important surah because it in itself has “themes that pulsate throughout the Holy Book”*.
Essentially Surah Yaseen is a summary of the core tenets of the Message carried by the Prophet SAW. For when death approaches, there are trials that come with it. In a hadith, Rasulullah said that Shaytan had sworn upon Allah, “By Thy Might, my Lord, I shall continue to lead Thy servants astray as long as their spirits are in their bodies'' (Mishkat al-Masabih, Book 9, Hadith 117). This tells us that the accursed Shaytan would constantly try to lead us astray for “as long as [our] spirits are in [our] bodies'', meaning even up till our deathbeds. However, InshaAllah we are reminded of the Oneness of God as the first few verses of Yaseen affirms the Qur’an and the Path in which we as Muslims undertake. In the second verse, Allah SWT swears an oath, “By the Quran, rich in wisdom!” (Al-Qur’an, 36:2). When Allah SWT swears an oath in the Qur’an it is to:
Capture your attention
Highlight the importance of the subject being talked about (the Qur’an)
Underline the following verse (which is affirming the Message of Rasulullah SAW)**
In the 4th verse of Surah Yaseen, Allah guarantees the Muslims that they are “on a straight Path” (Al-Qur’an 36:4). The following verses also asserts the imagery of a straight Path, for only those who follow this Path and hold on tightly to this Path would be given "good tidings of forgiveness and noble reward" (Al-Qur’an, 36:11). With Surah Yaseen being read, InshaAllah we will be reminded of not only the Oneness of God but also of the unlimited Mercy Allah SWT has on His creations. Continuing on from the previous hadith where Shaytan swore an oath to lead humankind astray, Allah SWT replied to Shaytan’s oath with His own: ‘the Lord who is great and glorious replied, “By My Might, Glory and Exalted Station, I shall continue to pardon them as long as they ask My Forgiveness.”’ Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal also says that Surah Yaseen eases the passage of the soul. The verses of the Qur’an are sustenance for the soul and thus strengthens the soul. In times of great tribulations such as death, we need such supplements to strengthen our soul and Surah Yaseen has been preferred by the Prophet and scholars.
Lesser Known Facts of Surah Yaseen:
Other than the benefits of Surah Yaseen, I would also like to share some lesser known facts of Surah Yaseen so that we could all expand our knowledge regarding the Qur’an. These facts are non-exhaustive, for I could not possibly fit all the meanings, both explicit and implicit, in this one article.
Surah Yaseen is one of a number of surahs in the Qur’an that does not begin with words but with letters. In Surah Yaseen, we begin with two letters, the arabic letter ي and ﺱ, together forming the word يس. These letters are called al huruf al muqatta’a (the severed letters). Other surahs which begin with al huruf al muqatta’a include Surah Al-Baqarah, Surah Luqman, Surah Maryam, Surah Ta Ha and many more. There have been debates on what these severed letters mean. A number of scholars interpret yaseen to mean Ya Insan and a small number of scholars interpret it to mean Yasin as in one of the names of the Prophet Muhammad. However, only Allah knows what yaseen actually means.
One other lesser known fact that I will be sharing in this article is that Surah Yaseen talks about the signs of the universe. From verses 30 to 32, Allah SWT reprimands those Meccans who do not choose to believe in the Message and who do not reflect upon the mistakes of the previous generations. For if they had truly reflected upon these signs, they would see the Greatness of God. The signs which Surah Yaseen describes follows a systematic approach. From verses 33 to 36, Allah describes the signs of God present on Earth, where God sustains human beings by giving life to the “dead Earth” and bringing from it “grain, and from it they (humans) eat” (Al-Qur’an 36:33). Allah SWT highlights how were it not for His decree, the earth by itself could not provide for human beings. Then Allah SWT expounds upon the signs present in the heavens from verses 37-40, like how "It is not allowable [i.e. possible] for the sun to reach the moon, nor does the night overtake the day, but each, in an orbit, is swimming." (Al-Qur’an, 36:40). This verse especially shows how Allah SWT ordains everything in perfect coordination. Lastly, from verses 41 to 44 Allah SWT uses the past to convey the signs at sea, in the form of the Ark of Prophet Nuh. “And a sign for them is that We carried their forefathers in a laden ship” (Al-Qur’an 36:41). In verse 41, many scholars interpret it to be the Ark of Prophet Nuh and Allah SWT reminds the people of Mecca that Allah SWT not only delivered the people of Prophet Nuh safely, but also every other human being, for we descend from those who were saved from the Great Flood. Thus, Surah Yaseen reminds us to constantly reflect upon the favors which Allah has conferred upon us and these favors should make ourselves feel more humble, for without Allah we are nothing.
In conclusion, Surah Yaseen is a surah which everyone should take some time to ponder about for it has many benefits which Allah knows best about. Surah Yaseen is also a beautiful surah that serves as a reminder for us to take a moment and reflect upon our actions, our thoughts and our faith. I hope that this article finds you well and that it will motivate you to go on and find other meanings relating to Surah Yaseen or any other surahs for Allah SWT says in Surah Luqman, “And if whatever trees upon the earth were pens and the sea [was ink], replenished thereafter by seven [more] seas, the words1 of Allah would not be exhausted. Indeed, Allah is Exalted in Might and Wise." (Al-Qur’an, 31:27)
** Tafsir of Surah Yasin Shaykh Muhammad Ali Al Sabuni