Ibn Mas’ood and the Prophet’s Final Review of the Qur’an

In a small booklet dedicated to a study of the narrated statements regarding the final review of the Qur’an that the Prophet performed with the angel Jibril in the year of his death, sheikh Muhammad Bazmool included the following valuable and clarifying discussion:

المسألة التاسعة : العرضة الأخيرة ، هي قراءة زيد أو قراءة ابن مسعود؟ ـ
Issue #9: The Final Review of the Qur’an, was it in the recitation of Zayd ibn Thabit or the recitation of ibn Mas’ood?

عن شَقِيقُ بْنُ سَلَمَةَ، قَالَ خَطَبَنَا عَبْدُ اللَّهِ فَقَالَ وَاللَّهِ لَقَدْ أَخَذْتُ مِنْ فِي رَسُولِ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم بِضْعًا وَسَبْعِينَ سُورَةً، وَاللَّهِ لَقَدْ عَلِمَ أَصْحَابُ النَّبِيِّ صلى الله عليه وسلم أَنِّي مِنْ أَعْلَمِهِمْ بِكِتَابِ اللَّهِ وَمَا أَنَا بِخَيْرِهِمْ‏.‏ قَالَ شَقِيقٌ فَجَلَسْتُ فِي الْحِلَقِ أَسْمَعُ مَا يَقُولُونَ فَمَا سَمِعْتُ رَادًّا يَقُولُ غَيْرَ ذَلِكَ‏.‏ ـ

Shaqeeq ibn Salamah said: ‘Abdullah ibn Mas’ood addressed us one day and said:

I swear by Allah that I learned seventy-something surahs directly from Allah’s Messenger, and I swear by Allah that the Companions of the Prophet know that I am one of the most knowledgeable of them when it comes to the Qur’an, although I am not the best of them.

and Shaqeeq said, “I sat in the sittings, listening to what was said and I did not hear anyone refuting what he said.”

ولفظ مسلم : عَنْ شَقِيقٍ، عَنْ عَبْدِ اللَّهِ، أَنَّهُ قَالَ ‏{‏ وَمَنْ يَغْلُلْ يَأْتِ بِمَا غَلَّ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ‏}‏ ثُمَّ قَالَ عَلَى قِرَاءَةِ مَنْ تَأْمُرُونِي أَنْ أَقْرَأَ فَلَقَدْ قَرَأْتُ عَلَى رَسُولِ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم بِضْعًا وَسَبْعِينَ سُورَةً وَلَقَدْ عَلِمَ أَصْحَابُ رَسُولِ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم أَنِّي أَعْلَمُهُمْ بِكِتَابِ اللَّهِ وَلَوْ أَعْلَمُ أَنَّ أَحَدًا أَعْلَمُ مِنِّي لَرَحَلْتُ إِلَيْهِ ‏.‏ قَالَ شَقِيقٌ فَجَلَسْتُ فِي حَلَقِ أَصْحَابِ مُحَمَّدٍ صلى الله عليه وسلم فَمَا سَمِعْتُ أَحَدًا يَرُدُّ ذَلِكَ عَلَيْهِ وَلاَ يَعِيبُهُ ‏.‏ ـ

In the wording of Muslim, Shaqeeq relayed that ‘Abdullah ibn Mas’ood said

Continue reading

How The Qur’an Describes Itself: Tafsir al-Sa’di

After a brief introduction, Sheikh ‘Abd al-Rahman al-Sa’di opened his book of thematic tafsir with the following chapter on the descriptions of the Qur’an found within the Qur’an itself:

ـ [مقدمة في ذكر أوصاف القرآن العامة الجامعة] ـ

Introduction: Some of the General Features of the Qur’an

في ذكر أوصاف القرآن العامة الجامعة قد وصف الله كتابه بأوصاف جليلة عظيمة تنطبق على جميعه، وتدل أكبر دلالة على أنه الأصل والأساس لجميع العلوم النافعة، والفنون المرشدة لخير الدنيا والآخرة: ـ

Allah has described His Book with many wonderful and tremendous qualities which apply to it in its entirety and which show with the utmost certainty that it is the foundation and the basis for all beneficial knowledge and all rightly-directed practices that lead to good in both this life and in the hereafter.

وصفه بالهدى والرشد، والفرقان، وأنه مبين وتبيان لكل شيء؛ فهو في نفسه هدى، ويهدي الخلق لجميع ما يحتاجونه من أمور دينهم ودنياهم، ويرشدهم إلى كل طريق نافع، ويفرق لهم بين الحق والباطل، والهدى والضلال، وبين أهل السعادة والشقاوة بذكر أوصاف الفريقين، وفيه بيان الأصول والفروع بذكر أدلتها النقلية والعقلية، فوصفه بهذه الأوصاف المطلقة العامة التي لا يشذ عنها شيء في آيات كثيرة. ـ

He described it as “a guidance”, “right direction,” “a criterion”, and that it is clear and a clarification for everything. So it is in-and-of-itself guidance, and it guides the created beings to everything that they need in terms of both their religion and their worldly lives and it directs them to every beneficial path. It shows them the difference between truth and falsehood, between guidance and misguidance, and between the people of ultimate joy and the people of ultimate sorrow through mentioning the qualities of these two groups.

It contains a explanation of both fundamental principles and secondary matters, mentioning evidences both of textual and intellectual natures for these. So Allah characterized the Qur’an completely and unrestrictedly with these qualities, and none of its many ayaat fall outside of these descriptions. Continue reading

Links Between the Beginnings and Ends of Surahs: al-Suyooti

In part of his chapter on the munasabat [connections and links between ayaat and surahs] in his famous handbook on the Qur’anic sciences, Imam al-Suyooti mentioned the following:

من هذا النوع مناسبة فواتح السور وخواتمها ، وقد أفردت فيه جزءا لطيفا سميته مراصد المطالع في تناسب المقاطع والمطالع . ـ

Another type of munasabat are those between the beginning of a surah and its conclusion. I have written a work specifically focused on this category of munasabat entitled Maraasid al-Mataali’ fee Tanaasub al-Maqaati’ w’al-Mataali’.

وانظر إلى سورة القصص كيف بدئت بأمر موسى ونصرته ، وقوله فلن أكون ظهيرا للمجرمين [ القصص : 17 ] . وخروجه من وطنه ، وختمت بأمر النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم بأن لا يكون ظهيرا للكافرين ، وتسليته عن إخراجه من مكة ، ووعده بالعود إليها لقوله في أول السورة إنا رادوه [ القصص : 7 ] . ـ

Consider how surah al-Qasas begins with with the story of Moosaa, his helping the man in the market, his statement:

فَلَنْ أَكُونَ ظَهِيرًا لِّلْمُجْرِمِينَ

So I will never again be a helper to the criminal wrong-doers [28:17]

and his leaving his homeland. Then it ends with commanding the Prophet to not be a helper to the disbelievers and giving him some consolation for his leaving Mecca. And Allah also gives him a promise that he will return to Mecca in His statement:

إِنَّا رَادُّوهُ

… Indeed, We shall bring him back … [28:7]

قال الزمخشري : وقد جعل الله فاتحة سورة قد أفلح المؤمنون وأورد في خاتمتها إنه لا يفلح الكافرون [ المؤمنون : 117 ] . فشتان ما بين الفاتحة والخاتمة . ـ

al-Zamakhshari said: Allah placed Continue reading

A Brief Discussion of Sabr in the Qur’an: Sheikh Faisal Aal Mubarak

In many of the chapters in Riyadh al-Saliheen, Imam al-Nawawi would begin with some relevant ayaat before listing the hadith narrations he had selected. Sheikh Faisal Aal Mubarak added some valuable commentary of these ayaat in his explanation of Riyadh al-Saliheen. The original text from al-Nawawi will be in blue, and the commentary will be in black:

باب الصبر
Chapter on Sabr [Steadfast Patience]

قال الله تعالى : {يا أيها الذين آمنوا اصبروا وصابروا} ((آل عمران : 200) ـ

Allah said:

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا اصْبِرُوا وَصَابِرُوا

O you who believe, persevere and endure … [3:200]

الصبر ثلاثة أنواع : صبر على طاعة الله ، وصبر عن محارم الله ، وصبر على أقدار الله وقد أمر الله تعالى بالصبر على ذلك كله . ـ

There are three types of sabr:

Sabr in obedience to Allah

Sabr against the prohibitions of Allah

Sabr in the face of the divine decrees of Allah

and Allah has commanded us to have sabr in all of these things. Continue reading

Tafsir of Surah al-Baqarah 47-57: al-Tafsir al-Muyassar

This is the fifth installment of our translation of al-Tafsir al-Muyassar‘s explanation of surah al-Baqarah, covering ayaat 47-57, in which Allah reminds the Children of Israel of His blessings upon them and their ingratitude for those blessings. See the series guide here for more information.

يَا بَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ اذْكُرُوا نِعْمَتِيَ الَّتِي أَنْعَمْتُ عَلَيْكُمْ وَأَنِّي فَضَّلْتُكُمْ عَلَى الْعَالَمِينَ

O Children of Israel, remember My favor which I bestowed upon you and that I favored you over all creation. [2:47]

يا ذرية يعقوب تذكَّروا نعمي الكثيرة عليكم، واشكروا لي عليها، وتذكروا أني فَضَّلْتكم على عالَمي زمانكم بكثرة الأنبياء، والكتب المنزَّلة كالتوراة والإنجيل. ـ

47. O offspring of Ya’qub, remember My many favors upon you and be grateful to Me for them, and remember that I favored you over all the created beings of your time. This favoring was by way of the many prophets and revealed scriptures such as the Tawrah and the Injeel.

وَاتَّقُوا يَوْمًا لَّا تَجْزِي نَفْسٌ عَن نَّفْسٍ شَيْئًا وَلَا يُقْبَلُ مِنْهَا شَفَاعَةٌ وَلَا يُؤْخَذُ مِنْهَا عَدْلٌ وَلَا هُمْ يُنصَرُونَ

And fear a day when no soul can avail another soul in the least and when no intercession will be accepted from him nor will any ransom be accepted from him, not will they be helped. [2:48] Continue reading

Three Parables in Surah al-Tahreem: ibn al-Qayyim

The great scholar Ibn al-Qayyim mentioned the following in part of his discussion of the parables of the Qur’an:

ومنها قوله تعالى ضرب الله مثلا للذين كفروا امرأة نوح وامرأة لوط كانتا تحت عبدين من عبادنا صالحين فخانتاهما فلم يغنيا عنهما من الله شيئا وقيل ادخلا النار مع الداخلين وضرب الله مثلا للذين آمنوا امرأة فرعون إذا قالت رب ابن لي عندك بيتا في الجنة ونجني من فرعون وعمله ونجني من القوم الظالمين ومريم ابنة عمران التي أحصنت فرجها فنفخنا فيه من روحنا وصدقت بكلمات ربها وكتبه وكانت من القانتين

Another example is Allah’s statement:

‏ضَرَبَ اللَّهُ مَثَلًا لِلَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا اِمْرَأَةَ نُوحٍ وَامْرَأَةَ لُوطٍ كَانَتَا تَحْتَ عَبْدَيْنِ مِنْ عِبَادِنَا صَالِحَيْنِ فَخَانَتَاهُمَا فَلَمْ يُغْنِيَا عَنْهُمَا مِنَ اللَّهِ شَيْئًا وَقِيلَ ادْخُلَا النَّارَ مَعَ الدَّاخِلِينَ

Allah presents an example of those who disbelieved: the wife of Nuh and the wife of Lut. They were under two of Our righteous servants but betrayed them, so those prophets did not avail them from Allah at all, and it was said, “Enter the Fire with those who enter.”

وَضَرَبَ اللَّهُ مَثَلًا لِلَّذِينَ آمَنُوا اِمْرَأَةَ فِرْعَوْنَ إِذْ قَالَتْ رَبِّ ابْنِ لِي عِنْدَكَ بَيْتًا فِي الْجَنَّةِ وَنَجِّنِي مِنْ فِرْعَوْنَ وَعَمَلِهِ وَنَجِّنِي مِنَ الْقَوْمِ الظَّالِمِينَ

And Allah presents an example of those who believed: the wife of Fir’awn, when she said, “My Lord, build for me near You a house in Paradise and save me from Fir’awn and his deeds and save me from the wrongdoing people.”

وَمَرْيَمَ ابْنَتَ عِمْرَانَ الَّتِي أَحْصَنَتْ فَرْجَهَا فَنَفَخْنَا فِيهِ مِنْ رُوحِنَا وَصَدَّقَتْ بِكَلِمَاتِ رَبِّهَا وَكُتُبِهِ وَكَانَتْ مِنَ الْقَانِتِينَ

And [the example of] Maryam, the daughter of ‘Imran, who guarded her chastity, so We breathed into her Our Ruh, and she testified to the truth of the Words of her Lord, and His Scriptures, and she was of the devoutly obedient. [66:10-12]

فاشتملت هذه الآيات على ثلاثة أمثال مثل للكفار ومثلين للمؤمنين فتضمن مثل الكفار أن الكافر يعاقب على كفره وعداوته لله ورسوله وأوليائه ولا ينفعه مع كفره ما كان بينه وبين المؤمنين من لحمة نسب أو صلة صهر أو سبب من أسباب الاتصال فإن الأسباب كلها تنقطع يوم القيامة إلا ما كان منها متصلا بالله وحده على أيدي رسله فلو نفعت وصلة القرابة والمصاهرة أو النكاح مع عدم الإيمان لنفعت الوصلة التي كانت بين لوط ونوح وامرأتيهما فلما لم يغنيا عنهما من الله شيئا قيل ادخلا النار مع الداخلين

These ayaat include three parables: one of the disbelievers and two of the believers.

The example of the disbelievers shows that a disbeliever will be punished for his disbelief and opposition to Allah, His Messenger and His allies, and that as long as this disbelief is present, no blood relations or family ties through marriage or any other kind of connection that one might have with the believers will have any benefit. All of these connections will be cut off on the Day of Resurrection, except for those which were connected to Allah alone by way of His Messengers. Continue reading

The Historical Spread of the Qiraa’aat: 300AH to Present

In part of his master’s thesis on the different qiraa’aat and their effects on religious rulings, Dr. Waleed Al-Maneese included the following chapter regarding the historical spread of the qiraa’aat in different regions of the Muslim world, with particular focus on the year 300 onwards. For more information on the earlier period of the qiraa’aat, see The Early History of the Qiraa’aat: al-Suyooti.

السرد التاريخي لانتشار القراءات في وانحسارها في البلدان
A Collection of Points on the Historical Spread and Decline of the Different Qiraa’aat in the Various Lands

والذي توصلت إليه من خلال النقول التي تجمعت لديّ حول السرد التاريخي لانتشار القراءات في الأمصار وانحسارها منها ما يلي : ـ

What follows is material that I have gathered from various reports related to the historical spread of the different qiraa’aat in the various lands and their subsequent declines in popularity. It goes as follows:

١) إلى عصر الإمام ابن مجاهد الملقب بـ ( مُسبّع السبعة ) والذي ألف كتابه سنة 300 هـ كانت القراءات السبع يقرأ بها في الأمصار ، ولكن كان الغالب على أهل المدينة قراءة نافع ، وعلى أهل مكة قراءة ابن كثير ، وعلى أهل الشام قراءة ابن عامر ، وعلى أهل البصرة قراءة أبي عمرو ويعقوب ، وعلى أهل الكوفة قراءة عاصم وحمزة . ـ

1) From the time of the Prophet up through the time of Imam ibn Mujahid (also known as “The Selecter of the Seven” who wrote his book on the qiraa’aat in the year 300AH), the seven qiraa’aat were recited in the major cities, however what was predominant was:

  • the qiraa’ah of Nafi’ among the people of al-Madinah
  • the qiraa’ah of ibn Kathir among the people of Mecca
  • the qiraa’ah of ibn ‘Aamir among the people of Syria
  • the qiraa’ahs of Abu ‘Amr and Ya’qub among the people of al-Basrah
  • the qiraa’ahs of ‘Aasim and Hamzah among the people of al-Kufah

قال مكي بن أبي طالب: وكان الناس على رأس المائتين بالبصرة على قراءة أبي عمرو ويعقوب ، وبالكوفة على قراءة حمزة وعاصم ، وبالشام على قراءة ابن عامر ، وبمكة على قراءة ابن كثير ، وبالمدينة على قراءة نافع ، واستمروا على ذلك فلما كان على رأس الثلاثمائة أثبت ابن مجاهد اسم الكسائي وحذف يعقوب. اهـ

Makki ibn Abi Taalib said:

Continue reading

How the Qur’an Uses Contrasting Pairs and Repetition: Tafsir ibn Kathir

Allah describes His Book in surah al-Zumar by saying:

اللَّـهُ نَزَّلَ أَحْسَنَ الْحَدِيثِ كِتَابًا مُّتَشَابِهًا مَّثَانِيَ

Allah has sent down the best speech: a mutashaabih and mathaani Book. [39:23]

The word “mathaani” [مَثَانِي] is often translated into English as “oft-repeated” or sometimes as “paired”. Also, when used in conjunction with “mathaani“, the word “mutashaabih” [مُتَشَابِه] is it is often translated as “consistent”. But as often happens in translation, the translated terms do not sufficiently convey the meaning of the original. In what follows, the great scholar of tafsir al-haafidh Ismaa’eel ibn Kathir provides some clarification and examples of these terms which can help the reader to better understand these two recurring features of the Qur’an.

Even before reaching surah al-Zumar, ibn Kathir draws the reader’s attention these features at their first occurrence in the mushaf under his commentary of 2:25 by writing:

لما ذكر تعالى ما أعده لأعدائه من الأشقياء الكافرين به وبرسله من العذاب والنكال ، عطف بذكر حال أوليائه من السعداء المؤمنين به وبرسله ، الذين صدقوا إيمانهم بأعمالهم الصالحة ، وهذا معنى تسمية القرآن مثاني على أصح أقوال العلماء ، كما سنبسطه في موضعه ، وهو أن يذكر الإيمان ويتبعه بذكر الكفر ، أو عكسه ، أو حال السعداء ثم الأشقياء ، أو عكسه . وحاصله ذكر الشيء ومقابله . وأما ذكر الشيء ونظيره فذاك التشابه ، كما سنوضحه إن شاء الله ؛ فلهذا قال تعالى : ( وبشر الذين آمنوا وعملوا الصالحات أن لهم جنات تجري من تحتها الأنهار ) ـ

After having mentioned the pain and punishment that He has promised to those miserable enemies of His who disbelieve in Him and His Messengers, Allah then immediately follows that up by mentioning the condition of His joyful allies who believe in Him and His Messengers – those who actualize their eemaan with righteous good deeds. This is the essence of what the Qur’an refers to as Mathaani according to the strongest position of the scholars, a topic which we will discuss in more detail in its proper place. Essentially, Mathaani is to mention eemaan and then to follow that up by discussing kufr, or vice versa, or to mention the state of the people of ultimate joy and then the people of ultimate misery, or vice versa. In short, it is mentioning one thing and then contrasting it with its opposite.

Now as for mentioning something alongside a close corollary, that would be al-Tashaabah [i.e. their “mutashaabih-ness”], which is another topic that we will clarify in further detail, inshaAllaah.

So that is why [after having finished discussing the punishment of the disbelievers], Allah says: Continue reading

How to Approach Reciting the Qur’an: Ibn Qudamah

Ibn Qudamah al-Maqdisi included the following beautiful words in his part of his discussion on recitation of the Qur’an:

ينبغى لتالي القرآن العظيم أن ينظر كيف لطف الله تعالى بخلقه بى إيصال معاني كلامه إلى أفهامهم، وأن يعلم أن ما يقرأه ليس من كلام البشر، وأن يستحضر عظمة المتكلم سبحانه ويتدبر كلامه، فإن التدبر هو المقصود من القراءة، وإن لم يحصل التدبر إلا بترداد الآية، فليرددها، فقد روى أبو ذر رضى الله عنه عن النبى صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم أنه قام ليلة بآية  يرددها [إن تعذبهم فإنهم عبادك] الاية وقام تميم الداري رضي الله عنه بأية وهى قوله تعالى : { أم حسب الذين اجترحوا السيئات أن نجعلهم كالذين آمنوا وعملوا الصالحات } [ الجاثية : 21 ] وكذلك قام بها الربيع بن خثيم رحمة الله عليه ليلة . ـ

A person reciting the Qur’an ought to look at how kind Allah is to His creation by making the meanings of His Speech comprehensible to them, and the reciter ought to realize that what he is reciting is not the speech of any human being. He should therefore have a sense of awe at the Speaker and contemplate His Words, for contemplation is the true goal of recitation. One should contemplate even if he can only do so by repeating an ayah over and over again. Abu Dharr narrated that the Prophet stood in prayer one night repeating

إِن تُعَذِّبْهُمْ فَإِنَّهُمْ عِبَادُكَ ۖ وَإِن تَغْفِرْ لَهُمْ فَإِنَّكَ أَنتَ الْعَزِيزُ الْحَكِيمُ

If You should punish them – indeed they are Your servants; but if You forgive them – indeed it is You who is the Exalted in Might, the Wise. [5:118]

and Tameem al-Dari stood at night repeating a single ayah, which was

أَمْ حَسِبَ الَّذِينَ اجْتَرَحُوا السَّيِّئَاتِ أَن نَّجْعَلَهُمْ كَالَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَعَمِلُوا الصَّالِحَاتِ 

Or do those who commit evils think We will make them like those who have believed and done righteous deeds [45:21]

as did al-Rabee’ ibn Khuthaym repeating the same ayah for the entire night.

وينبغى للتالي أن يستوضح من كل آية ما يليق بها، ويتفهم ذلك، فإذا تلا قوله تعالى : { خلق السموات والأرض } [ الأنعام : 1 ] فليعلم عظمته ويتلمح قدرته في كل ما يراه . ـ

And the reciter ought to ask for explanation of every ayah which needs an explanation and to ponder over them. So if he recites Allah’s statement:

خَلَقَ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضَ

He created the heavens and the earth [6:1]

then he ought to recognize Allah’s greatness and and know that every thing he sees points to Allah’s incredible power.

وإذا تلا : { أفرأيتم ما تمنون } [ الواقعة : 58 ] فليتفكر في نطفة متشابهة الأجزاء، كيف تنقسم إلى لحم وعظم، وعرق وعصب، وأشكال مختلفة من رأس ويد، ورجل، ثم إلى ما ظهر فيها من الصفات الشريفة كالسمع، والبصر، والعقل، وغير ذلك، فيتأمل هذه العجائب . ـ

And if he recites:

أَفَرَأَيْتُم مَّا تُمْنُونَ

Have you seen that which you emit? [56:58]

then he ought to think about the sperm, all of whose parts seem to be the same. So then how do they divide to become flesh, bones, veins, nerves and all the various parts of the head, arms and legs? And it then further develops to manifest those noble qualities such as hearing, vision, intellect and so on. So the reciter should reflect on these amazing things.

وإذا تلا أحوال المكذبين فليستشعر الخوف من السطوة إن غفل عن امتثال الأمر . ـ

And when he recites the ayaat mentioning the conditions of those who denied the messengers, then he should feel fear of being similarly afflicted if he were to become lax or heedless in fulfilling what Allah has commanded.

وليتخلى التالي من موانع الفهم، مثل أن يخيل الشيطان إليه أنه ما حقق تلاوة الحرف ولا أخرجه من مخرجه، فيكرره التال، فيصرف همته عن فهم المعنى . ـ

And the reciter ought to rid himself of those factors which prevent him from understanding the Qur’an. For example, the shaytaan might cause him to think that he did not correctly pronounce the letters or articulate them in the proper way and so the reciter would repeat them again, however now his concern has turned away from understanding the meanings of the ayaat to instead focusing only on the pronunciation.

ومن ذلك أن يكون التالي مصراً على ذنب، أو متصفاً بكبر، أو مبتلى بهوى مطاع، فإن ذلك سبب ظلمة القلب وصداه، فهو كالجرب على المرآة، يمنع من تجلى الحق، فالقلب مثل المرآة، والشهوات مثل الصدأ، ومعاني القرآن مثل الصور التي تتراءى في المرآة، والرياضة للقلب بإماطة الشهوات مثل الجلاء للمرآة . ـ

Other factors which prevent one from understanding the Qur’an are if the reciter habitually persists in a sin, or if he has a prideful character, or if he is tried with some lowly desires which he obeys. All of these things cause darkness in one’s heart and close it off. This is like a stain or a mark on a mirror, preventing it from displaying the truth. For a heart is like a mirror, lowly desires are like rust or corrosion, the messages of the Qur’an are like image which appears in the mirror, and maintaining the heart by removing these lowly desires is like polishing the mirror.

وينبغى لتالي القرآن أن يعلم أنه مقصود بخطاب القرآن ووعيد، وأن القصص لم يرد بها السمر (13) بل العبر، فليتنبه لذلك، فحينئذ يتلو تلاوة عبد كاتبه سيده بمقصود . وليتأمل الكتاب ويعمل بمقتضاه، فإن مثل العاصي إذا قرأ القرآن وكرره، كمثل من كرر كتاب الملك وأعرض عن عمارة مملكته وما أمر به في الكتاب فهو مقتصر على دراسته، مخالف أوامره، فلو ترك الدراسة مع المخالفة كان أبعد من الاستهزاء واستحقاق المقت . ـ

The reciter of the Qur’an ought to know that he is the one being addressed by the Qur’an and its threats, and that the stories of the Qur’an are not just some idle talk to pass the time but rather are cautionary tales, so let him be alert to them! So, in light of this, he ought to read with the recitation of a slave whose master has sent him a letter concerning an important matter! So one should contemplate the book and act in accordance with it. For a sinful person who recites the Qur’an over and over is like someone who reads a letter from the king over and over but then refuses to service his king’s kingdom or do what he was commanded to do in the letter. In this case, he is lacking in his study of the letter and also contravening his king’s orders. Giving up studying the book altogether while still contravening would be less of a blatant flouting of the law and less likely to open him up to Allah’s wrath.

وينبغى أن يتبرأ من حوله وقوته، وأن لا يلتفت إلى نفسه بعين الرضى والتزكية فإن من رأى نفسه بصورة التقصير، كان ذلك سبب قربه . ـ

One ought to consider himself free of having any might or power to change matters, and he should not view himself through a rosy lens or think himself pure. For if one views himself as lacking and deficient, then that is cause for him coming closer to Allah.

[Mukhtasar Minhaj al-Qasideen 1/44-45]

See also: The Beauty of Reciting the Qur’an Properly: ibn al-Jazari

See also: What the Memorizer of the Qur’an Ought to Know: Makki ibn Abi Taalib

See also: How to Contemplate the Qur’an: Sheikh Muhammad Bazmool

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

Points of Contrast Between Surah al-Falaq and Surah al-Nas

One of the valuable books of Badr al-Deen ibn Jamaa’ah (d. 733AH) was Kashf al-Ma’aani fee al-Mutashaabih min al-Mathaani, which focused on providing explanations for the slight differences in otherwise similar ayaat. In his discussion of surah al-Nas, ibn Jamaa’ah included the following notes:

مسألة: قوله تعالى: (بِرَبِّ النَّاسِ * مَلِكِ النَّاسِ * إِلَهِ النَّاسِ ) إلى آخر السورة. المستعان به في هذه ثلاث صفات، والمستعاذ منه شر واحد وهو: الوسوسة. وفى سورة الفلق: المستعاذ به بصفة واحدة، والمستعاذ منه أربعة أشياء؟ . ـ

Question: Allah’s statement:

بِرَبِّ النَّاسِ * مَلِكِ النَّاسِ * إِلَـٰهِ النَّاسِ

… in the Lord of mankind * the Master of mankind * the God of mankind [114:1-3]

until the end of the surah.

Here, there are three characteristics through which aid is sought and one evil against which protection is sought, which is the whispering of the shaytaan. But in surah al-Falaq, it is only one characteristic through which protection is sought but four things against which protection is sought. What is the significance of this? Continue reading