Using a Non-Canonical Recitation as Evidence: Tafsir ibn Kathir

In surah al-Ma’idah, Allah describes the expiation of a broken oath as follows:

 فَكَفَّارَتُهُ إِطْعَامُ عَشَرَةِ مَسَاكِينَ مِنْ أَوْسَطِ مَا تُطْعِمُونَ أَهْلِيكُمْ أَوْ كِسْوَتُهُمْ أَوْ تَحْرِيرُ رَقَبَةٍ ۖ فَمَن لَّمْ يَجِدْ فَصِيَامُ ثَلَاثَةِ أَيَّامٍ

… So its expiation is the feeding of ten needy people from the average of that which you feed your families or clothing them or the freeing of a slave. But whoever does not find the means – then a fast of three days. … [5:89]

al-Haafidh Ismaa’eel ibn Kathir addressed the ayah at length in his tafsir. In the midst of his discussion, he turns to a question regarding the fast:

واختلف العلماء : هل يجب فيها التتابع أو يستحب ولا يجب ويجزئ التفريق؟ على قولين : أحدهما أنه لا يجب التتابع ، هذا منصوص الشافعي في كتاب ” الأيمان ” ، وهو قول مالك لإطلاق قوله : ( فصيام ثلاثة أيام ) وهو صادق على المجموعة والمفرقة ، كما في قضاء رمضان ; لقوله : ( فعدة من أيام أخر ) [ البقرة : 184 ] . ـ

The scholars have differed as to whether the days of fasting for this expiation must be done consecutively or if that is only recommended without reaching the level of obligation, thus making it permissible to fast them non-consecutively. They fall into two camps:

The first position holds that it is not required to fast them consecutively. This the opinion of Imam al-Shafi’ee as is mentioned in the book al-Ayman, as well as being the position of Imam Malik. This was based off the general nature of Allah’s statement:

فَصِيَامُ ثَلَاثَةِ أَيَّامٍ

then a fast of three days

which could apply to both fasting them consecutively or non-consecutively, just as is the case when making up any missed days of Ramadan according to Allah’s statement: Continue reading

Assorted Qur’an Benefits #24

What follows are  brief benefits originally posted on our Facebook and Telegram pages in the end of February and March 2018:

♦ Good Thoughts or Bad Thoughts About Your Lord

Allah says in surah al-Haqqah:

فَأَمَّا مَنْ أُوتِيَ كِتَابَهُ بِيَمِينِهِ فَيَقُولُ هَاؤُمُ اقْرَءُوا كِتَابِيَهْ * إِنِّي ظَنَنتُ أَنِّي مُلَاقٍ حِسَابِيَهْ

As for he who is given his record of deeds in his right hand, he will say: come, read my record! * I certainly thought that I would meet my account! [69:19-20]

In his tafsir of these ayaat, Imam al-Qurtubi mentioned:

وقال الحسن في هذه الآية : إن المؤمن أحسن الظن بربه فأحسن العمل وإن المنافق أساء الظن بربه فأساء العمل . ـ

al-Hasan al-Basri commented on this ayah by saying, “The believer thinks well of his Lord, so he does well with his deeds. But the munaafiq thinks ill of his Lord, so he does ill deeds.”

[Jaami’ Li-Ahkam al-Qur’an 18/249]


♦ Taking Time to Contemplate the Qur’an

Imam Maalik ibn Anas recorded the following narration in his Muwatta: Continue reading

Seeking Refuge in Allah: al-Tafsir al-Muyassar

The book al-Tafsir al-Muyassar is a contemporary abridged tafsir commissioned to plainly explain each ayah or short passage of the Qur’an in its margins. Before providing an explanation of surah al-Fatihah, the authors included these brief words on the isti’aadhah – or seeking refuge with Allah prior to reciting the Qur’an:

الاستعاذة
al-Isti’aadhah – Seeking Refuge

[أعوذ بالله من الشيطان الرجيم]

I seek refuge in Allah from the accursed Shaytaan

شرع الله تعالى لكل قارئ للقرآن العظيم أن يستعيذ بالله من الشيطان الرجيم ، قال سبحانه : [فَإِذَا قَرَأْتَ الْقُرْآنَ فَاسْتَعِذْ بِاللَّـهِ مِنَ الشَّيْطَانِ الرَّجِيمِ] ؛ ذلك لأن القرآن الكريم هداية للناس وشفاء لما في الصدور ، والشيطان سبب الشرور والضلالات ، فأمر الله سبحانه كل قارئ للقرآن أن يتحصن به سبحانه من الشيطان الرجيم ووساوسه وحزبه . ـ

Allah has legislated that any person who recites the Qur’an should seek refuge in Allah from the accursed Shaytaan by saying:

فَإِذَا قَرَأْتَ الْقُرْآنَ فَاسْتَعِذْ بِاللَّـهِ مِنَ الشَّيْطَانِ الرَّجِيمِ

So when you recite the Qur’an seek refuge in Allah from the accursed shaytaan [16:98] Continue reading

The Light of Eeman in the Heart of the Believer: Tafsir al-Tabari

Allah says in surah al-Nur:

اللَّـهُ نُورُ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ ۚ مَثَلُ نُورِهِ كَمِشْكَاةٍ فِيهَا مِصْبَاحٌ ۖ الْمِصْبَاحُ فِي زُجَاجَةٍ ۖ الزُّجَاجَةُ كَأَنَّهَا كَوْكَبٌ دُرِّيٌّ يُوقَدُ مِن شَجَرَةٍ مُّبَارَكَةٍ زَيْتُونَةٍ لَّا شَرْقِيَّةٍ وَلَا غَرْبِيَّةٍ يَكَادُ زَيْتُهَا يُضِيءُ وَلَوْ لَمْ تَمْسَسْهُ نَارٌ ۚ نُّورٌ عَلَىٰ نُورٍ ۗ يَهْدِي اللَّـهُ لِنُورِهِ مَن يَشَاءُ ۚ وَيَضْرِبُ اللَّـهُ الْأَمْثَالَ لِلنَّاسِ ۗ وَاللَّـهُ بِكُلِّ شَيْءٍ عَلِيمٌ

Allah is the light of the heavens and the earth. The likeness of his light is like a niche inside of which is a lamp. The lamp is inside of glass. The glass is like a bright star lit by a blessed olive tree which is neither of the east nor of the west. Its oil practically gives off light even though it has not been touched by fire. Light upon light. Allah guides with His light whomever He wishes. And Allah strikes parables for mankind. And Allah is completely knowing of all things. [24:35]

The great mufassir Muhammad ibn Jarir al-Tabari mentioned several different explanations of this ayah in his famous tafsir, including the following from some of the great scholars of the Qur’an among the Sahabah:

وقال  آخرون عنى بالمشكاة : صدر المؤمن ، وبالمصباح : القرآن والإيمان ، وبالزجاجة : قلبه . ذكر من قال ذلك : ـ

Others said that the niche is the chest of the believer, and that the lamp is the Qur’an and eemaan, and that the glass is his heart.

Among those who said that are:

حدثني عبد الأعلى بن واصل ، قال : ثنا عبيد الله بن موسى ، قال : أخبرنا أبو جعفر الرازي ، عن الربيع بن أنس ، عن أبي العالية ، عن أبي بن كعب ( مثل نوره كمشكاة فيها مصباح ) قال : مثل المؤمن ، قد جعل الإيمان والقرآن في صدره كمشكاة قال : المشكاة : صدره ( فيها مصباح ) قال : والمصباح القرآن والإيمان الذي جعل في صدره ( المصباح في زجاجة ) قال : والزجاجة : قلبه ( الزجاجة كأنها كوكب دري يوقد ) قال : فمثله مما استنار فيه القرآن والإيمان كأنه كوكب دري ، يقول : مضيء ( يوقد من شجرة مباركة ) والشجرة المباركة أصله المباركة الإخلاص لله وحده وعبادته ، لا شريك له ( لا شرقية ولا غربية ) قال : فمثله مثل شجرة التف بها الشجر ، فهي خضراء ناعمة ، لا تصيبها الشمس على أي حال كانت ، لا إذا طلعت ولا إذا غربت ، وكذلك هذا المؤمن قد أجير من أن يصيبه شيء من الغير ، وقد ابتلي بها فثبته الله فيها ، فهو بين أربع خلال : إن أعطي شكر ، وإن ابتلي صبر ، وإن حكم عدل ، وإن قال صدق ، فهو في سائر الناس كالرجل الحي يمشي في قبور الأموات ، قال : ( نور على نور ) فهو يتقلب في خمسة من النور : فكلامه نور ، وعمله نور ، ومدخله نور ، ومخرجه نور ، ومصيره إلى النور يوم القيامة في الجنة . ـ

Ubay ibn Ka’b said:

مَثَلُ نُورِهِ كَمِشْكَاةٍ فِيهَا مِصْبَاحٌ

The likeness of his light is that of a niche inside of which is a lamp …

the likeness of a believer. Allah has made emaan and the Qur’an in his chest like a niche. The niche is his chest Continue reading

Some Benefits from the End of Surah al-Fatihah: ibn ‘Uthaymeen

Allah concludes surah al-Fatihah by saying:

 اهْدِنَا الصِّرَاطَ الْمُسْتَقِيمَ * صِرَاطَ الَّذِينَ أَنْعَمْتَ عَلَيْهِمْ غَيْرِ الْمَغْضُوبِ عَلَيْهِمْ وَلَا الضَّالِّينَ

Guide us to the Straight Way * The Way of those on whom You have bestowed Your Grace, not of those who earned Your Anger, nor of those who went astray. [1:6-7]

Sheikh Muhammad ibn Saalih al-‘Uthaymeen mentioned a number of benefits derived from these ayaat, including:

 ومنها: أنه يقدم الأشد، فالأشد؛ لأنه تعالى قدم المغضوب عليهم على الضالين؛ لأنهم أشد مخالفة للحق من الضالين؛ فإن المخالف عن علم يصعب رجوعه . بخلاف المخالف عن جهل

One of the stylistic elements of the Qur’an is that it generally mentions negative things in decreasing order, moving from worst to less worse. Here, Allah mentioned those who have earned His anger before those who have gone astray. This is because their opposition to the truth was much more extreme than those who went astray, for it is very difficult for someone who opposes the truth despite knowing it to return to following the truth compared to someone who simply opposes the truth out of ignorance. Continue reading

Orientalists and the History of the Qur’an

Sheikh ‘Abd al-Rahman al-Shehri, one of the prominent contemporary scholars of the Qur’anic sciences and the founder of the Markaz al-Tafsir center, wrote the following on his personal website:

المستشرقون وتاريخ القرآن
Orientalists and the History of the Qur’an

اشتهرت عناية المستشرقين بنشر كتب التراث الإسلامي بشكلٍ عام، غير أن جانب تاريخ القرآن الكريم على وجه الخصوص وكتابته وجمعه قد لقي عناية خاصة، فأكثر من كتب في تاريخ القرآن -للأسف- من المستشرقين مثل: – ريتشارد بل في «مقدمة القرآن». – وليام مونتغمري واط. – ريجي بلاشير. – جون بيرتون. – آرثر جفري في «المفردات الأجنبية في القرآن»، ونشر كتاب «مقدمتان في علوم القرآن». – ثيودور نولدكه الألماني في كتابه «تاريخ القرآن»، ويعتبر كتابه من أشهر وأهم ما كتب في تاريخ القرآن. – جولد تسيهر. ـ

There is a well-known interest among the Orientalists in publishing the books of Islamic civilization in general, and in particular those books about the history, recording, and formalization of the Qur’an – subjects which they have devoted special attention to. In fact, many of the books regarding the history of the Qur’an are – unfortunately – products of the Orientalists. For example there is:

  • Richard Bell’s “Introduction to the Qur’an”
  • William Montgomery Watt
  • Régis Blachère
  • John Burton
  • Arthur Jeffery’s “The Foreign Vocabulary of the Qur’an”, and he also published “Materials For The History Of The Text Of The Qur’an: The Old Codices
  • The German Theodor Nöldeke’s “The History of the Qur’an”, which is considered to be one of the most well-known and most important books regarding the history of the Qur’an
  • Goldziher

وقد اعتنى هؤلاء المستشرقون بنشر الكثير من الكتب التي تبحث في القرآن الكريم وتاريخه، مثل: كتاب «التيسير» لأبي عمرو الداني، و«المقنع في رسم مصاحف الأمصار» مع كتاب «النقط» للداني، و«مختصر الشواذ» لابن خالويه، و«المحتسب» لابن جني، و«غاية النهاية» لابن الجزري في طبقات القراء، ولا تزال طبعته هذه هي المعتمدة! وكتاب «معاني القرآن» للفراء، وغير ذلك من الكتب التي تبحث في هذا الجانب من الدراسات القرآنية. ـ

These Orientalists have also given attention to publishing many of books which deal with the Qur’an and its history, such as: Continue reading

Responding to Doubts About the Prohibition of Music: Sheikh Muhammad Bazmool

One of the most commonly-cited evidences for the prohibition of music is the ayah from surah Luqman

وَمِنَ النَّاسِ مَن يَشْتَرِي لَهْوَ الْحَدِيثِ لِيُضِلَّ عَن سَبِيلِ اللَّـهِ بِغَيْرِ عِلْمٍ وَيَتَّخِذَهَا هُزُوًا ۚ أُولَـٰئِكَ لَهُمْ عَذَابٌ مُّهِينٌ

And among the people are those who purchase idle talk to mislead others from the path of Allah without knowledge and who take it as a mockery. For these ones, there is a humiliating punishment. [31:6]

and the “idle talk” in this ayah was explained to refer to music, as was explained by ibn Mas’ood, ibn ‘Abbaas and others. Another commonly-cited evidence is the hadeeth of the Prophet

لَيَكُونَنَّ مِنْ أُمَّتِي أَقْوَامٌ يَسْتَحِلُّونَ الْحِرَ وَالْحَرِيرَ وَالْخَمْرَ وَالْمَعَازِفَ

There will be some people from my nation who will consider illicit sexual intercourse, silk, alcohol and musical instruments to be permissible.

which is reported in Saheeh al-Bukhari (#5590). We have previously translated an explanation of this ayah from surah Luqman which brings several more pieces of evidence for the prohibition of music. We would recommend reading that article before proceeding, as it serves as a foundation for this topic.

After understanding the evidences for the prohibition of music, it bears mentioning that there are some who cast doubt on the validity of these primary pieces of evidence listed above. While these doubts may appear to be academic, they are ultimately without a sound foundation, as Sheikh Muhammad Bazmool explains below:

قال : هذا التفسير اجتهاد من ابن مسعود رضي الله عنه. وحديث المعازف مختلف فيه . ـ

Some say: This explanation of ibn Mas’ood is simply his personal scholarly opinion, and there is some differing as to the hadith of musical instruments.

قلت : لاحظ ان تفسير ابن مسعود رضي الله عنه للآية ليس فيه ما يخالف لفظها بل هو يقرر معناها فهو يقول : من لهو الحديث في الآية الغناء لانه يحصل به اضلال للناس في باب الشهوات. فاللام ليست للتعليل بل للعاقبة، كاللام في قوله تعالى: ({فَالْتَقَطَهُ آلُ فِرْعَوْنَ لِيَكُونَ لَهُمْ عَدُوّاً وَحَزَناً إِنَّ فِرْعَوْنَ وَهَامَانَ وَجُنُودَهُمَا كَانُوا خَاطِئِينَ }) (القصص:8). ـ

I say: It must be noted that ibn Mas’ood’s explanation of this ayah does not contain anything that is at odds with the ayah itself. Rather, his explanation affirms the ayah‘s meaning, as he is saying that one example of the “idle talk” mentioned in this ayah is music because it leads to the misguidance of people by way of lowly desires. So the preposition laam in the ayah is not meant to imply causation but rather consequence, like the laam in Allah’s statement: Continue reading

Assorted Qur’an Benefits #23

What follows are  brief benefits originally posted on our Facebook and Telegram pages in January and the beginning of February 2018:

♦ The Importance of Learning Arabic

Allah informs us in the first part of surah Ibrahim:

وَمَا أَرْسَلْنَا مِن رَّسُولٍ إِلَّا بِلِسَانِ قَوْمِهِ لِيُبَيِّنَ لَهُمْ

And We have not sent any messenger except in the language of his people, in order to make it clear to them… [14:04]

Sheikh ‘Abd al-Rahman al-Sa’di mentioned the following point in his explanation of this ayah:

ويستدل بهذه الآية الكريمة على أن علوم العربية الموصلة إلى تبيين كلامه وكلام رسوله أمور مطلوبة محبوبة لله لأنه لا يتم معرفة ما أنزل على رسوله إلا بها إلا إذا كان الناس بحالة لا يحتاجون إليها، وذلك إذا تمرنوا على العربية، ونشأ عليها صغيرهم وصارت طبيعة لهم فحينئذ قد اكتفوا المؤنة، وصلحوا لأن يتلقوا عن الله وعن رسوله ابتداء كما تلقى عنهم الصحابة رضي الله عنهم.ـ

This noble ayah can be used to show that the sciences of the Arabic language which enable one to understand Allah’s speech and the speech of His Messenger are something which are encouraged to learn and beloved to Allah. That is because knowing what Allah sent down to His Messenger can not be fully achieved without learning them.

That is the case, except for those people who do not need to learn those sciences – i.e. those how are accustomed to the Arabic language, having been brought up on it since their youth and it being natural for them. In that case, what they have is sufficient and suitable, for they are able to receive the message from Allah and His Messenger just as the Sahabah (may Allah be pleased with them) did.

[Taysir al-Kareem al-Rahman pg. 488]


Understanding the Parables of the Qur’an Continue reading

Tafsir of Ayah al-Kursi: Faisal Aal Mubarak

Due to its significance and importance, much space has been given to discussing ayah al-Kursi in the books of tafsir. Not least among these are the famous books of Ibn Jarir al-Tabari, ibn Kathir and al-Baghawi. All three of these works fall into the category of “narration-based tafsir“, meaning that they based their works on explaining the Qur’an by means of the Qur’an itself, by means of the sunnah of the Prophet, by means of the statements of the Sahabah and through recourse to those who followed them. In an effort to follow this same approach to tafsir while simultaneously providing a service to beginning students, Sheikh Faisal Aal Mubarak (1376Ah/1957CE) penned his own tafsir entitled Tawfeeq al-Rahman which effectively served as a digest of these three most-reliable books of tafsir. What follows below is his explanation of ayah al-Kursi:

قوله عز وجل: {اللهُ لاَ إِلَهَ إِلا هُوَ الْحَيُّ الْقَيُّومُ لاَ تَأْخُذُهُ سِنَةٌ وَلاَ نَوْمٌ لَّهُ مَا فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَمَا فِي الأَرْضِ مَن ذَا الَّذِي يَشْفَعُ عِنْدَهُ إِلا بِإِذْنِهِ يَعْلَمُ مَا بَيْنَ أَيْدِيهِمْ وَمَا خَلْفَهُمْ وَلاَ يُحِيطُونَ بِشَيْءٍ مِّنْ عِلْمِهِ إِلا بِمَا شَاء وَسِعَ كُرْسِيُّهُ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالأَرْضَ وَلاَ يَؤُودُهُ حِفْظُهُمَا وَهُوَ الْعَلِيُّ الْعَظِيمُ (255) } . ـ

Allah’s statement:

اللَّـهُ لَا إِلَـٰهَ إِلَّا هُوَ الْحَيُّ الْقَيُّومُ ۚ لَا تَأْخُذُهُ سِنَةٌ وَلَا نَوْمٌ ۚ لَّهُ مَا فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَمَا فِي الْأَرْضِ ۗ مَن ذَا الَّذِي يَشْفَعُ عِندَهُ إِلَّا بِإِذْنِهِ ۚ يَعْلَمُ مَا بَيْنَ أَيْدِيهِمْ وَمَا خَلْفَهُمْ ۖ وَلَا يُحِيطُونَ بِشَيْءٍ مِّنْ عِلْمِهِ إِلَّا بِمَا شَاءَ ۚ وَسِعَ كُرْسِيُّهُ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضَ ۖ وَلَا يَئُودُهُ حِفْظُهُمَا ۚ وَهُوَ الْعَلِيُّ الْعَظِيمُ

Allah – none has the right be worshiped except Him, al-Hayy al-Qayyoom. Neither tiredness nor sleep overtakes Him. To Him belongs whatever is in the heavens and whatever is in the earth. Who can intercede with Him except by His permission? He knows what is ahead of you and what is behind you [OR “He knows what you have already done and what will happen after you”], and they grasp nothing of His knowledge except what He wills. His kursi extends over the heavens and the earth, and He feels no fatigue in guarding them. And He is al-‘Alee al-‘Atheem. [2:255]

عن أبي بن كعب: (أن النبي – صلى الله عليه وسلم – سأله: «أي آية في كتاب الله أعظم» ؟ قال: الله ورسوله أعلم. فرددها مرارًا ثم قال: أبيّ: آية الكرسي. قال: «ليهنك العلم أبا المنذر» . رواه مسلم وغيره. وفي حديث أبي هريرة عند البخاري في قصة الشيطان الذي سرق من الصدقة قال: (فرصدته الثالثة، فجاء يحثو من الطعام، فأخذته، فقلت: لأرفعنك إلى رسول الله – صلى الله عليه وسلم -، وهذا آخر ثلاث مرات إنك تزعم أنك لا تعود ثم تعود، فقال: دعني أعلمك كلمات ينفعك الله بها. قلت: وما هي؟ قال إذا أويت إلى فراشك فاقرأ آية الكرسي: {اللهُ لاَ إِلَهَ إِلا هُوَ الْحَيُّ الْقَيُّومُ} حتى تختم الآية، فإنك لن يزال عليك من الله حافظ، ولا يقربك شيطان حتى تصبح، فخليّت سبيله، فأصبحت فقال لي رسول الله – صلى الله عليه وسلم – «ما فعل أسيرك البارحة» ؟ قلت: يا رسول الله إنه زعم أنه يعلمني كلمات ينفعني الله بها، فخليت سبيله، قال: «ما هي» ؟ قال: قال لي: إذا أويت إلى فراشك فاقرأ آية الكرسي من أولها حتى تختم الآية: {اللهُ لاَ إِلَهَ إِلا هُوَ الْحَيُّ الْقَيُّومُ} وقال لي: لن يزال عليك من الله حافظ ولا يقربك شيطان حتى تصبح. فقال النبي – صلى الله عليه وسلم -: «أما إنه صدقك وهو كذوب» . وروى أبو داود وغيره عن أسماء بنت يزيد بن السكن قالت: سمعت رسول الله – صلى الله عليه وسلم – يقول في هاتين الآيتين: {اللهُ لاَ إِلَهَ إِلا هُوَ الْحَيُّ الْقَيُّومُ} و {الم * اللهُ لاَ إِلَهَ إِلا هُوَ الْحَيُّ الْقَيُّومُ} : «إن فيها اسم الله الأعظم» . ـ

○ It is narrated from Ubay ibn Ka’b that the Prophet asked him, “Which is the greatest ayah in Allah’s Book?” Ubay replied, “Allah and His Messenger know best.” The Prophet repeated the question a few times and then Ubay said, “Ayah al-Kursi,” to which the Prophet said, “May knowledge be a source of joy for you, O Abu’l-Mundhir!” This was reported by Muslim and others.

And there is also the story of the shaytaan who was stealing from charity that comes in the hadith of Abu Hurayrah in al-Bukhari in which he said: Continue reading

A Warning to the Family of Fir’awn: Sheikh Saalih Aal al-Sheikh

The following points of benefit were taken from the social media pages of sheikh Saalih Aal al-Sheikh:

قال تعالى:”ولقد جاء ءال فرعون النذر” والآل ترجع إلى من تبع الرجل في دينه، وآل فرعون من كان على ملة فرعون وعلى دينه.ـ

Allah said:

وَلَقَدْ جَاءَ آلَ فِرْعَوْنَ النُّذُرُ

And a warning certainly came to the Aal Fir’awn [54:41]

and word aal [literally “family/relatives”] refers to whoever follows a person in terms of his religion. So the Aal Fir’awn are whoever was upon the religion and way of life of Fir’awn.

قال تعالى:”ولقد جاء ءال فرعون النذر” لم يذكر البشارة لأنَّ القوم ما هم عليه من الشرك والكفر يستلزم الإنذار والتخويف.ـ

Allah said: Continue reading