“…Until they change what is within themselves”: Tafsir al-Shinqitee

In surah al-Anfaal, Allah informs us that:

ذَٰلِكَ بِأَنَّ اللَّـهَ لَمْ يَكُ مُغَيِّرًا نِّعْمَةً أَنْعَمَهَا عَلَىٰ قَوْمٍ حَتَّىٰ يُغَيِّرُوا مَا بِأَنفُسِهِمْ ۙ وَأَنَّ اللَّـهَ سَمِيعٌ عَلِيمٌ

That is because Allah would not change a favor which He had bestowed upon a people until they change what is within themselves. And indeed, Allah is Hearing and Knowing. [8:53]

Sheikh Muhammad al-Ameen al-Shinqitee commented on this in his tafsir by writing:

ذكر تعالى في هذه الآية الكريمة أنه لا يغير نعمة أنعمها على أحد إلا بسبب ذنب ارتكبه ، وأوضح هذا المعنى في آيات أخر كقوله : إن الله لا يغير ما بقوم حتى يغيروا ما بأنفسهم وإذا أراد الله بقوم سوءا فلا مرد له وما لهم من دونه من وال [ 13 \ 11 ] ، وقوله : وما أصابكم من مصيبة فبما كسبت أيديكم ويعفو عن كثير [ 42 \ 30 ] ، وقوله : ما أصابك من حسنة فمن الله وما أصابك من سيئة فمن نفسك [ 4 \ 79 ] إلى غير ذلك من الآيات

In this noble ayah, Allah mentioned that He will not change a blessing which He has bestowed upon someone except due to a sin which that person has committed.

And Allah has made this meaning clear in a number of other verses, such as His statement: Continue reading

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The Best Methods of Explaining the Qur’an: Sheikh Muhammad Bazmool

Sheikh Muhammad Bazmool, a professor at Umm al-Qura University in Mecca, wrote the following in a series of social media posts dealing with the fundamentals of al-tafsir:

افضل طرق التفسير ؛ ـ
The Best Methods of Explaining the Qur’an

ـ = تفسير القرآن بالقرآن وقد علمنا الرسول صلى الله عليه وسلم هذه الطريقة كما مر في حديث استشكال الصحابة لقوله تعالى : (الذين ٱمنوا ولم يلبسوا إيمانهم بظلم) . فما أجمل في مكان فصل في آخر . ـ

Explaining the Qur’an by means of the Qur’an itself. Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) taught us this method, as comes in the hadeeth where the Companions were confused by Allah’s statement:

الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَلَمْ يَلْبِسُوا إِيمَانَهُم بِظُلْمٍ

They who believe and do not mix their belief with thulm [6:82]

For whatever is left general in one place is explained in further detail in another.

ـ = تفسير القرآن بالسنة . فإن من وظيفة الرسول بيان معاني ما نزل إليه. وما مات الرسول صلى الله عليه وسلم إلا وبين جميع ما نزل بطريق البيان النبوي وقد سبقت الإشارة إليها. ـ

Explaining the Qur’an by means of the Sunnah. One of the tasks of the Messenger was to explain the meanings of what was revealed to him, and the Messenger did not die until after he had explained all of what had been revealed to him through some method of Prophetic explanation which we have discussed elsewhere. Continue reading

Clarifying some Misconceptions about the Seven Qiraa’aat: Ibn Taymiyah

Sheikh al-Islaam ibn Taymiyah once received a letter with a series of questions regarding the different huroof/ahruf (dialects) and various qiraa’aat (modes of recitation) of the Qur’an. One part of this question read:

وسئل عن قول النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم ” { أنزل القرآن على سبعة أحرف } ” ما المراد بهذه السبعة ؟ وهل هذه القراءات المنسوبة إلى نافع وعاصم وغيرهما هي الأحرف السبعة أو واحد منها ؟ ـ

The sheikh was asked about the statement of the Prophet (ﷺ), “The Qur’an was revealed in seven ahruf” – what is meant by these seven? And are the qiraa’aat which are attributed to Naafi’, ‘Aasim and others these seven ahruf, or only one of them?

So the sheikh responded to this question by writing:

فنقول : لا نزاع بين العلماء المعتبرين أن ” الأحرف السبعة ” التي ذكر النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم أن القرآن أنزل عليها ليست هي ” قراءات القراء السبعة المشهورة ” بل أول من جمع قراءات هؤلاء هو الإمام أبو بكر بن مجاهد وكان على رأس المائة الثالثة ببغداد فإنه أحب أن يجمع المشهور من قراءات الحرمين والعراقين والشام ; إذ هذه الأمصار الخمسة هي التي خرج منها علم النبوة من القرآن وتفسيره والحديث والفقه من الأعمال الباطنة والظاهرة وسائر العلوم الدينية فلما أراد ذلك جمع قراءات سبعة مشاهير من أئمة قراء هذه الأمصار ; ليكون ذلك موافقا لعدد الحروف التي أنزل عليها القرآن لا لاعتقاده أو اعتقاد غيره من العلماء أن القراءات السبعة هي الحروف السبعة أو أن هؤلاء السبعة المعينين هم الذين لا يجوز أن يقرأ بغير قراءتهم . ـ

I say: Among the scholars whose views are given weight, there is no disagreement that the seven ahruf which the Prophet (ﷺ) said the Qur’an was sent down in are not the same thing as the qiraa’aat of the seven well-known reciters.

To the contrary, the first person who grouped these qiraa’aat together was Imam Abu Bakr ibn Mujahid, who lived in Baghdad at the beginning of the third century. He did this because he wanted to compile the well-known qiraa’aat of Mecca, Madinah, Kufah, Basrah, and Syria, as these were the five cities from which the Prophetic knowledge of the Qur’an, its tafsir, hadeeth, fiqh of both the outward and internal actions, and all other religious sciences spread. Continue reading

Qualities of the Successful Ones: Tafsir al-Sa’di

Allah describes the successful believers in surah al-Nur by saying:

وَمَن يُطِعِ اللَّـهَ وَرَ‌سُولَهُ وَيَخْشَ اللَّـهَ وَيَتَّقْهِ فَأُولَـٰئِكَ هُمُ الْفَائِزُونَ

And whoever obeys Allah and His Messenger, fears Allah, and exercises taqwa of him – these ones are the successful ones. [24:52]

In part of his commentary on this ayah, sheikh ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn Naasir al-Sa’di wrote:

فقال: ومن يطع الله ورسوله فيصدق خبرهما ويمتثل أمرهما، ويخش الله أي: يخافه خوفا مقرونا بمعرفة، فيترك ما نهى عنه، ويكف نفسه عما تهوى، ولهذا قال: ويتقه بترك المحظور؛ لأن التقوى -عند الإطلاق- يدخل فيها فعل المأمور، وترك المنهي عنه، وعند اقترانها بالبر أو الطاعة – كما في هذا الموضع – تفسر بتوقي عذاب الله، بترك معاصيه، ـ

Allah’s statement:

وَمَن يُطِعِ اللَّـهَ وَرَ‌سُولَهُ

and whoever obeys Allah and His messenger

so he affirms what they have informed him of and complies with their commands Continue reading

Fear the Fire Whose Fuel is Men and Stones: Tafsir al-Baghawi & Tafsir al-Qurtubi

In the beginning of surah al-Baqarah, Allah challenges the disbelievers that if they doubt the authenticity of the Qur’an to produce a single surah like it. He then follows this up by saying:

فَإِن لَّمْ تَفْعَلُوا وَلَن تَفْعَلُوا فَاتَّقُوا النَّارَ الَّتِي وَقُودُهَا النَّاسُ وَالْحِجَارَةُ ۖ أُعِدَّتْ لِلْكَافِرِينَ

But if you do not – and you will never be able to – then fear the Fire whose fuel is men and stones, prepared for the disbelievers. [2:24]

Commenting on this in his book of tafsir, Imam al-Baghawi wrote:

ـ ( التي وقودها الناس والحجارة ) قال ابن عباس وأكثر المفسرين يعني حجارة الكبريت لأنها أكثر التهابا وقيل جميع الحجارة وهو دليل على عظمة تلك النار وقيل أراد بها الأصنام لأن أكثر أصنامهم كانت منحوتة من الحجارة كما قال ” إنكم وما تعبدون من دون الله حصب جهنم ” ( 98 – الأنبياء ) . ـ

 الَّتِي وَقُودُهَا النَّاسُ وَالْحِجَارَةُ

… whose fuel is men and stones

ibn ‘Abbaas and the majority of the mufassiroon have said that ‘stones‘ here means sulfur because sulfur is very prone to igniting and burning.

It is also said that it is referring to all kinds of stones and that this demonstrates the severity and intensity of this fire.

And it is also said that what is intended by ‘stones‘ here are idols because most of their idols used to be statues made of stone. This is like what Allah said: Continue reading

Examples of Blame-worthy Opinion-based Tafsir: Sheikh Muhammad Bazmool

Sheikh Muhammad ibn ‘Umar Bazmool, a professor at Umm al-Qura University in Mecca, discusses some examples of “blame-worthy Opinion-based Tafsir“. For those not familiar with this term, you may want to read this article – The Difference Between Narration-based Tafsir and Opinion-Based Tafsir: Sheikh Muhammad Bazmool – before proceeding:

أمثلة من التفسير بالرأي المذموم؛ ـ

Some Examples of Blame-worthy Opinion-Based Tafsir

قول باطنية الشيعة في تفسير قوله تعالى: (إِنَّ اللَّهَ يَأْمُرُكُمْ أَنْ تَذْبَحُوا بَقَرَةً ) [البقرة: 67]، قالوا: هي عائشة. وقولهم في تفسير قوله تعالى: {فَقَاتِلُوا أَئِمَّةَ الْكُفْرِ إِنَّهُمْ لَا أَيْمَانَ لَهُمْ} [التوبة: 12]؛ هم أبوبكر وعمر. وهذا التفسير يخالف ما تقرر في الشرع من فضل أمهات المؤمنين، زوجات الرسول صلى الله عليه وسلم. ويخالف ما تقرر في الشرع من فضل أبي بكر وعمر رضي الله عنهما، فهذا التفسير باطل لمخالفته المتقرر في الشرع على خلافه. ـ

○ The position of the Baatini Shi’a [those Shi’a who search for hidden meanings in the texts, regardless of whether the texts support those meanings or not] regarding the explanation of Allah’s statement:

إِنَّ اللَّهَ يَأْمُرُكُمْ أَنْ تَذْبَحُوا بَقَرَةً

Indeed, Allah commands you to slaughter a cow [2:67]

is that this is referring to ‘Aa’ishah. And their position regarding the explanation of Allah’s statement:

فَقَاتِلُوا أَئِمَّةَ الْكُفْرِ إِنَّهُمْ لَا أَيْمَانَ لَهُمْ

then fight the leaders of disbelief, for indeed, there are no oaths to them [9:12]

is that this is referring to Abu Bakr and ‘Umar.

This first explanation contradicts the great virtues of the Mothers of the Believers, the wives of the Messenger (ﷺ), which are emphasized in the sharee’ah. And this second explanation contradicts the great virtues of Abu Bakr and ‘Umar (may Allah be pleased with them both) which are also emphasized in the sharee’ah. So these explanations are invalid and false due to their complete opposition to what the sharee’ah affirms. Continue reading

“It is only revealed to me that your god is but one God”: Imam al-Shinqitee

In a work of his devoted to clarifying supposed contradictions in the Qur’an, sheikh Muhammad al-Ameen al-Shinqitee mentioned the following in part of his discussion of surah al-Anbiyah:

وَقَوْلِهِ تَعَالَى: قُلْ إِنَّمَا يُوحَى إِلَيَّ أَنَّمَا إِلَهُكُمْ إِلَهٌ وَاحِدٌ فَهَلْ أَنْتُمْ مُسْلِمُونَ [21 \ 108] . ـ

Allah’s statement:

قُلْ إِنَّمَا يُوحَىٰ إِلَيَّ أَنَّمَا إِلَـٰهُكُمْ إِلَـٰهٌ وَاحِدٌ ۖ فَهَلْ أَنتُم مُّسْلِمُونَ

Say, “It is only revealed to me that your god is but one God; so will you be those who submit to Him?” [21:108]

عَبَّرَ فِي هَذِهِ الْآيَةِ الْكَرِيمَةِ بِلَفْظِ: «إِنَّمَا» وَهِيَ تَدُلُّ عَلَى الْحَصْرِ عِنْدَ الْجُمْهُورِ، وَعَلَيْهِ فَهِيَ تَدُلُّ عَلَى حَصْرِ الْوَحْيِ فِي تَوْحِيدِ الْأُلُوهِيَّةِ. ـ

In this noble ayah, Allah uses the wording of “innama” which indicates a restriction [i.e. “it is only revealed to me…”] according to the majority opinion. So according to that position, this would seem to indicate that the divine revelation is restricted the matter of Tawheed al-‘Uloohiyyah – singling out Allah alone for deification and worship.

وَقَدْ جَاءَتْ آيَاتٌ أُخَرُ تَدُلُّ عَلَى أَنَّهُ أَوْحي إِلَيْهِ غَيْرَ ذَلِكَ كَقَوْلِهِ: قُلْ أُوحِيَ إِلَيَّ أَنَّهُ اسْتَمَعَ نَفَرٌ مِنَ الْجِنِّ الْآيَةَ [72] ، وَقَوْلِهِ: تِلْكَ مِنْ أَنْبَاءِ الْغَيْبِ نُوحِيهَا إِلَيْكَ [11 \ 49] ، وَقَوْلِهِ: نَحْنُ نَقُصُّ عَلَيْكَ أَحْسَنَ الْقَصَصِ بِمَا أَوْحَيْنَا إِلَيْكَ الْآيَةَ [12 \ 3] . ـ

However, a number of other ayaat have come which show other things being revealed to him, such as Allah’s statement: Continue reading

We made the way easy for him: Tafsir al-Tabari & Tafsir ibn Kathir

In surah ‘Abasa, Allah mentions the following passage:

قُتِلَ الْإِنسَانُ مَا أَكْفَرَهُ * مِنْ أَيِّ شَيْءٍ خَلَقَهُ * مِن نُّطْفَةٍ خَلَقَهُ فَقَدَّرَهُ * ثُمَّ السَّبِيلَ يَسَّرَهُ * ثُمَّ أَمَاتَهُ فَأَقْبَرَهُ * ثُمَّ إِذَا شَاءَ أَنشَرَهُ * كَلَّا لَمَّا يَقْضِ مَا أَمَرَهُ

Cursed is man, how he disbelieves! * What did Allah create him from? He created him from a sperm-drop, and then apportioned him * Then He made the way easy for him * then He causes him to die and makes a grave for him * then, when He wills, He will raise him up * No! Man has not yet accomplished what Allah has command of him [80:17-23]

The salaf and the mufassiroon differed as to the meaning of the ayah:

ثُمَّ السَّبِيلَ يَسَّرَهُ

Then He made the way easy for him

al-Haafidh Ismaa’eel ibn Kathir summarized the two opinions of the salaf and later scholars by writing:

ـ ( ثم السبيل يسره ) قال العوفي عن ابن عباس ثم يسر عليه خروجه من بطن أمه وكذا قال عكرمة والضحاك وأبو صالح وقتادة والسدي واختاره ابن جرير . ـ

ثُمَّ السَّبِيلَ يَسَّرَهُ

Then He made the way easy for him

al-‘Awfi relayed that ibn ‘Abbaas explained it as: then Allah made man’s exit from his mother’s womb easy for him.

This is just as ‘Ikrimah, al-Dhahhaak, Abu Saalih, Qataadah, and al-Suddi said. And this was the preferred position of ibn Jariri [al-Tabari]. Continue reading

An Example of Reconciling Different Explanations from the Salaf: Sheikh Muhammad Bazmool

Sheikh Muhammad Bazmool, a professor at Umm al-Qura University in Mecca, wrote:

مثال لتفسير الصحابي: ابن عمر رضي الله عنه، وتفسير لرجل من أتباع أتباع التابعين الفضيل بن عياض رحمه الله في قوله تعال: (لِيَبْلُوَكُمْ أَيُّكُمْ أَحْسَنُ عَمَلًا)؛ ـ

Here is an example of the tafsir of a Companion is that of ibn ‘Umar (may Allah be pleased with him), as well as the tafsir from someone of the generation of the Atbaa’ al-Taabi’een, al-Fudhayl ibn ‘Iyyaadh (may Allah have mercy on him), regarding Allah’s statement:

لِيَبْلُوَكُمْ أَيُّكُمْ أَحْسَنُ عَمَلًا

that He may test you, which of you is best in deed [67:2]

روي عن ابن عمر وجاء مرفوعا و لا يصح، أنه قال: “(وأحسن عَمَلًا): أَحْسَنُ عَقْلًا، وَأَوْرَعُ عَنْ مَحَارِمِ اللَّهِ، وَأَسْرَعُ فِي طَاعَةِ الله”. وقال الفضيل بْنُ عِيَاضٍ: أَحْسَنُ عَمَلًا أَخْلَصُهُ وَأَصْوَبُهُ. ـ

It is transmitted from ibn ‘Umar – and it has also been attributed to the Prophet, though not authentically – that he explained:

 أَحْسَنُ عَمَلًا

… best in deed

to mean, “best in intellect, most detached from that which Allah has forbade, and quickest to obey Allah.” While al-Fudhayl ibn ‘Iyyaadh explained it as, “Best in deed – that is, the most sincere and correct of deeds.” Continue reading

The Great Merits of Reciting the Qur’an with Contemplation: ibn al-Qayyim

The great scholar ibn al-Qayyim al-Jawziyyah once wrote:

فَلَو علم النَّاس مَا فِي قِرَاءَة الْقُرْآن بالتدبر لاشتغلوا بهَا عَن كل مَا سواهَا فَإِذا قَرَأَهُ بتفكر حَتَّى مر بِآيَة وَهُوَ مُحْتَاجا إِلَيْهَا فِي شِفَاء قلبه كررها وَلَو مائَة مرّة وَلَو لَيْلَة فقراءة آيَة بتفكر وتفهم خير من قِرَاءَة ختمة بِغَيْر تدبر وتفهم وأنفع للقلب وأدعى الى حُصُول الايمان وذوق حلاوة الْقُرْآن وَهَذِه كَانَت عَادَة السّلف يردد احدهم الاية الى الصَّباح وَقد ثَبت عَن النَّبِي انه قَامَ بِآيَة يُرَدِّدهَا حَتَّى الصَّباح وَهِي قَوْله {إِن تُعَذبهُمْ فَإِنَّهُم عِبَادك وَإِن تغْفر لَهُم فَإنَّك أَنْت الْعَزِيز الْحَكِيم} فقراءة الْقُرْآن بالتفكر هِيَ اصل صَلَاح الْقلب . ـ

If people only knew the great value of reciting the Qur’an with reflection, then they would devote themselves to it above anything else. For when one recites with contemplation, when he comes across an ayah which contains something needed to rectify his heart, he would repeat that ayah, perhaps as many as one hundred times or even for the entire night! For reciting a single ayah with contemplation and understanding is better, more beneficial for one’s heart, and more likely to bring about an increase in eemaan and tasting the sweetness of the Qur’an than reciting the entire Qur’an without reflection or understanding.

This used to be the practice of the Salaf, that one of them might repeat a single ayah until the morning came. It has also been authentically attributed to the Prophet that he stood in the night prayer until the morning came repeating a single ayah, which was:

إِن تُعَذبهُمْ فَإِنَّهُم عِبَادك وَإِن تغْفر لَهُم فَإنَّك أَنْت الْعَزِيز الْحَكِيم

If You punish them, then they are Your slaves. And if You forgive them, then You are the Mighty, the Wise. [5:118]

For reciting the Qur’an with contemplation is the very basis of the heart’s rectification. Continue reading