Shafaqna – Commentary on the Quran (Chapter 2:243)
By: Mohammad Sobhanie
A Proof of Resurrection
بِسْمِ اللَّـهِ الرَّحْمَـٰنِ الرَّحِيمِ
أَلَمْ تَرَ إِلَى الَّذِينَ خَرَجُوا مِن دِيَارِهِمْ وَهُمْ أُلُوفٌ حَذَرَ الْمَوْتِ فَقَالَ لَهُمُ اللَّـهُ مُوتُوا ثُمَّ أَحْيَاهُمْ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّـهَ لَذُو فَضْلٍ عَلَى النَّاسِ وَلَـٰكِنَّ أَكْثَرَ النَّاسِ لَا يَشْكُرُونَ ﴿٢٤٣﴾
2:243 Have you not seen those who left their homes in many thousands, fearing death? Allah (SWT) said to them: “Die”; then God restored them to life. And Allah (SWT) is full of bounty to the people, but most people do not show gratitude.
Commentary: A plague broke out in one of the Syrian cities; it spread quickly and caused many deaths among its residents. Some people left the town, hoping to escape the epidemic. After running away from this plague, they once again became arrogant. Hence, Allah (SWT) afflicted them with the same disease in the desert that they had fled in the past.
Another narration states that a messenger of God asked them to leave the city for a battle. They did not follow the order on the pretext that there was a plague in the war zone. Therefore, Allah (SWT) afflicted them with the disease that they had used as an excuse to defy His command. The epidemic broke out in the city and spread quickly among them. Hence, they fled from their homes to the desert, where they roamed for some time, but eventually, they perished there.
A long time passed, and Prophet Hizqeel (Ezekiel) (حِزقِیل), who was one of the prophets of Israel, passed by the place where he saw the remains of their bodies and belongings. He prayed and asked Allah (SWT) to bring them back to life. Allah (SWT) answered his prayer and restored them to life.
In particular, the verse states, “Have you not seen (known) those who left their homes in thousands for fear of death” (أَلَمْ تَرَ إِلَى الَّذِينَ خَرَجُوا مِن دِيَارِهِمْ وَهُمْ أُلُوفٌ حَذَرَ الْمَوْتِ).
The meaning of (أَلَمْ تَرَ) means “have not you seen,” but it implies “have not you known.” In Arabic literature, whenever they want to embody a subject to an audience, they address them with the phrase (أَلَمْ تَرَ). The verse then refers to their fate and says, “Allah (SWT) told them to die” with the disease which they used as an excuse to defy the divine command (فَقَالَ لَهُمُ اللَّـهُ مُوتُوا). Then, Allah (SWT) brought them back to life (ثُمَّ أَحْيَاهُمْ) so that the story of their lives would be a lesson for others.
The statement “Allah (SWT) told them to die” is not a verbal command, but it is a manifestation of the will of Allah (SWT). As stated in verse 36:82 (chapter Yaseen), when Allah (SWT) intends a thing, God says, “Be,” and “it comes to existence.”
إِنَّمَا أَمْرُهُ إِذَا أَرَادَ شَيْئًا أَن يَقُولَ لَهُ كُن فَيَكُونُ ﴿٨٢﴾
36:82 God’s command is only when He intends a thing that He says to it, “Be,” and it comes to existence.
Allah (SWT) favored the town’s deceased people by bringing them back to life and giving them another chance to repent and amend their affairs. The verse at the end asserts that Allah is gracious to everyone, but most people do not acknowledge it.
… إِنَّ اللَّـهَ لَذُو فَضْلٍ عَلَى النَّاسِ وَلَـٰكِنَّ أَكْثَرَ النَّاسِ لَا يَشْكُرُونَ ﴿٢٤٣﴾
2:243 … And Allah (SWT) is full of bounty to the people, but most people do not show gratitude.
The doctrine of Rajat (Return to life): Verses 2:243 states that the people of the town returned to life after death because of the prayer of the Prophet Hizqeel (Ezekiel). The Quran narrates similar events in chapter Al-Baqara, verses 2:55-56, 2: 55-56, 2:73, and 2:259.
For instance, the Children of Israel who accompanied Prophet Moses (AS) to the mountain were struck by lightning and perished. After that incident, Allah (SWT) brought them back to life because of the prayer of the Prophet Moses (AS) [Al-Baqarah, 2: 55-56].
The famous Shiite scholar, the late Sheikh Sadooq, argued that these verses prove that preceding individuals could come back to life with God’s permission (SWT). These verses are undeniable proof that Allah (SWT) will resurrect everyone on the Day of Judgment.
2:243 [أَلَمْ] did not [تَرَ] you see [إِلَى] to [الَّذِينَ] those who [خَرَجُوا] went out [مِن] from [دِيَارِهِمْ] their homes [وَهُمْ] and they [أُلُوفٌ] were in thousands [حَذَرَ] in fear of [الْمَوْتِ] the death. [فَقَالَ] Then said [لَهُمُ] to them [اللَّـهُ] Allah [مُوتُوا] “die”; [ثُمَّ] then [أَحْيَاهُمْ] God restored them to life. [إِنَّ] Indeed [اللَّـهَ] Allah (SWT) [لَذُو] is surely possessor [فَضْلٍ] of bounty [عَلَى] for [النَّاسِ] the mankind [وَلَـٰكِنَّ] and but [أَكْثَرَ] most [النَّاسِ] people [لَا] are not [يَشْكُرُونَ] grateful.