Who Memorized the Qur’an During the Lifetime of the Prophet: Tafsir ibn Kathir

al-Haafidh ibn Kathir mentioned the following in the introduction to his tafsir as the first part of his section entitled “The Gathering of the Qur’an” which focused on the preservation and collection of the Qur’an:

 ثبت في الصحيحين عن أنس قال : جمع القرآن على عهد النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم أربعة ، كلهم من الأنصار ؛ أبي بن كعب ، ومعاذ بن جبل ، وزيد بن ثابت ، وأبو زيد . فقيل له : من أبو زيد ؟ قال : أحد عمومتي . وفي لفظ للبخاري عن أنس قال : مات النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم ولم يجمع القرآن غير أربعة ؛ أبو الدرداء ، ومعاذ بن جبل ، وزيد بن ثابت ، وأبو زيد ، ونحن ورثناه . ـ

It is well-established in both al-Bukhari and Muslim that Anas said, “Those who memorized the Qur’an during the lifetime of the Prophet (ﷺ) were four, all of whom were Ansaar: Ubay ibn Ka’b, Mu’aadh ibn Jabal, Zayd ibn Thaabit, and Abu Zayd.” Someone asked, “Who is Abu Zayd?” Anas answered, “One of my uncles.”

And in the wording that comes in al-Bukhari, Anas said, “The Prophet (ﷺ) died and no one else had memorized the Qur’an except for these four: Abu al-Dardaa’, Mu’aadh ibn Jabal, Zayd ibn Thaabit, and Abu Zayd, and then we took it from them.”

قلت : أبو زيد هذا ليس بمشهور ؛ لأنه مات قديما ، وقد ذكروه في أهل بدر ، وقال بعضهم : سعيد بن عبيد . ومعنى قول أنس : ولم يجمع القرآن . يعني من الأنصار سوى هؤلاء ، وإلا فمن المهاجرين جماعة كانوا يجمعون القرآن كالصديق ، وابن مسعود ، وسالم مولى أبي حذيفة وغيرهم . ـ

I [ibn Kathir] say: This Abu Zayd was not someone well-known because he died early, and he has been mentioned among those who were present for the Battle of Badr. And some said that he was Sa’eed ibn ‘Ubayd.

And the meaning of Anas’ statement, “no one else had memorized the Qur’an” is that none of the Ansaar besides these four had memorized the Qur’an. Otherwise, there were a number of the Muhaajiroon who had memorized the Qur’an, such as Abu Bakr, ibn Mas’ood, Saalim Mawla Abi Hudhaifah and others. Continue reading

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

Abu Muhammad Makki ibn Abi Taalib (died 437 AH) was one of the great scholars of the Qur’anic sciences in his era, having produced enduring works in the fields of the qiraa’aat, tajweed, tafsir, and the Arabic language. What follows is a small excerpt from al-Ri’aayah li-Tajweed, a definitive work on tajweed among the earlier generations:

باب ما يكمل به حال طالب القرآن
What the Seeker of the Qur’an Needs in Order to be Proficient

ينبغي لطالب القرآن أن يتعلم أحكام القرآن فيفهم عن الله ما فرض عليه ، ويلقن عنه ما خاطبه به ، فينتفع بما يقرأ ويعمل بما يتلو وأن يتعلم الناسخ والمنسوخ فيعلم ما فرض عليه مما لم يفرض عليه وما سقط العمل به مما العمل به واجب ، وأن يتعلم الفرائض والأحكام ، فما أقبح حامل القرآن أن يتلو فرائضه وأحكامه عن ظهر قلب وهو لا يعلم ما يتلو ، فكيف يعمل بما لا يفهم معناه ؟ فما أقبح أن يسأل عن فقه ما يتلوه ولا يدريه ! فما مثل من هذه حالته إلا كمثل الحمار يحمل أسفارا . ـ

The one seeking to learn and memorize the Qur’an ought to learn the legal rulings of the Qur’an so that he can know and understand from Allah Himself what Allah has mandated for him and comprehend what He is addressing him with. In doing so he can benefit from what he is reading and act according to what he is reciting.

He should also learn what is naasikh and what is mansukh[1] so that he can distinguish what is binding on him from what is not mandatory on him, and that which is no longer acted on from that which is he required to carry out.

So let him learn the legal obligations and rulings, for what is worse than a person who carries the Qur’an and recites its obligations and rulings by heart but doesn’t know what he is reciting? How will he act according to something he does not understand? What is worse than someone who asks about the meaning of something he recites while not even knowing it? There is nothing more fitting to describe the condition of such a person than a donkey hauling around tablets. Continue reading

Reciting Surah al-Mulk: Sheikh bin Baaz

The following question was posed to sheikh ‘Abd al-‘Aziz bin Baaz:

السؤال: هل أقرأ سورة تبارك قبل النوم كل ليلة، وهل ينجي الله بها من فعل ذلك من عذاب القبر؟ ـ

Question: Should I recite surah Tabaarak [i.e. surah al-Mulk] every night before sleeping? And is is true that through such an action Allah saves whoever does that from the punishment of the grave?

الجواب: سورة تبارك لها شأن عظيم، وإذا قرأها فقد جاء فيها حديث يدل على فضلها وأنها تشهد لصاحبها يوم القيامة، لكن إنما تنفعه قراءتها وقراءة القرآن إذا عمل بذلك، أما إذا قرأها ولم يعمل فلا تنفعه؛ لقوله ﷺ: القرآن حجة لك أو عليك حجة لك إن عملت به وحجة عليك إذا لم يعمل به، فإذا قرأ القرآن أو قرأ سورة الكهف أو تبارك وهو مضيع لأمر الله ومرتكب لمعاصي الله فهو على خطر عظيم، فلا يكون القرآن حجة له بل يكون حجة عليه فيما أضاع. ـ

Response:Surah Tabaarak has tremendous merit, as does reciting it. There is a hadith which shows its virtue, which is that, on the Day of Recompense, it will bear witness for the one who recited it.

However, reciting surah Tabaarak or reciting the Qur’an will only be of benefit if one acts according to it. As for the one who recites it but does not act accordingly, then it will not be of benefit to him. Continue reading

Assorted Qur’an Benefits #10

What follows is a collection of benefits that were originally posted on our Facebook page in December 2015, and January and February of 2016:

♦ Fearing Allah is a Part of Eeemaan

Allah says to the believers in surah Aal ‘Imraan:

 إِنَّمَا ذَٰلِكُمُ الشَّيْطَانُ يُخَوِّفُ أَوْلِيَاءَهُ فَلَا تَخَافُوهُمْ وَخَافُونِ إِن كُنتُم مُّؤْمِنِينَ

It is only the Shaytan that suggests to you to fear his allies; so fear them not, but fear Me, if you are indeed believers. (3:175)

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

وفي هذه الآية وجوب الخوف من الله وحده، وأنه من لوازم الإيمان، فعلى قدر إيمان العبد يكون خوفه من الله، والخوف المحمود: ما حجز العبد عن محارم الله

This ayah shows the obligation of fearing of Allah alone and that this is a necessary part of al-eemaan. For a slave’s fear of Allah is in accordance with his eemaan. And the praiseworthy type of fear is that which restrains the slave from what Allah had made forbidden.

[Taysir al-Kareem al-Rahman pg. 168]


♦ The Great Value of al-Hamdulillaah

Abu’l-Fidaa’ Ismaa’eel ibn Kathir wrote the following in his tafsir of surah al-Fatihah:

وقال القرطبي في تفسيره ، وفي نوادر الأصول عن أنس عن النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم قال : لو أن الدنيا بحذافيرها في يد رجل من أمتي ثم قال : الحمد لله ، لكان الحمد لله أفضل من ذلك . قال القرطبي وغيره : أي لكان إلهامه الحمد لله أكبر نعمة عليه من نعم الدنيا ؛ لأن ثواب الحمد لا يفنى ونعيم الدنيا لا يبقى ، قال الله تعالى : المال والبنون زينة الحياة الدنيا والباقيات الصالحات خير عند ربك ثوابا وخير أملا [ الكهف : 46 ] .ـ

al-Qurtubi said in his tafsir: In the book Nawaadir al-Usool, it is reported that Anas narrated that the Prophet said, “If the entire dunya were to be in the hands of a man from among my ummah and then he were to say, ‘alhamdulillaah‘, that alhamdulillaah would be better for him than all of that.” Continue reading

A Warning Against Innovating and Giving Rulings Without Knowledge: ibn Kathir & al-Shawkaani

In surah al-Nahl, Allah lists a number of foods which He has forbidden, and then follows that up by saying:

وَلَا تَقُولُوا لِمَا تَصِفُ أَلْسِنَتُكُمُ الْكَذِبَ هَـٰذَا حَلَالٌ وَهَـٰذَا حَرَامٌ لِّتَفْتَرُوا عَلَى اللَّـهِ الْكَذِبَ ۚ إِنَّ الَّذِينَ يَفْتَرُونَ عَلَى اللَّـهِ الْكَذِبَ لَا يُفْلِحُونَ

And do not say that which your tongues falsely put forth, that this is halaal and this is haraam. Then you would falsely attribute untruth to Allah. Those who attribute untruth to Allah will not succeed. [16:116]

Commenting on this in part of his tafsir, al-haafidh Ismaa’eel ibn Kathir wrote:

ثم نهى تعالى عن سلوك سبيل المشركين ، الذين حللوا وحرموا بمجرد ما وضعوه واصطلحوا عليه من الأسماء بآرائهم ، من البحيرة والسائبة والوصيلة والحام ، وغير ذلك مما كان شرعا لهم ابتدعوه في جاهليتهم ، فقال : ( ولا تقولوا لما تصف ألسنتكم الكذب هذا حلال وهذا حرام لتفتروا على الله الكذب ) ويدخل في هذا كل من ابتدع بدعة ليس [ له ] فيها مستند شرعي ، أو حلل شيئا مما حرم الله ، أو حرم شيئا مما أباح الله بمجرد رأيه وتشهيه . ـ

Then Allah prohibits following the way of the Mushrikoon who used to declare things to be permissible or impermissible based on nothing more than some specialized terms to name and classify different types of creatures – specialized terms that they contrived based on their own whims. For example, they had various names they came up with for camels and other things according to their religious beliefs in the period of Pre-Islamic Ignorance. So Allah said:

وَلَا تَقُولُوا لِمَا تَصِفُ أَلْسِنَتُكُمُ الْكَذِبَ هَـٰذَا حَلَالٌ وَهَـٰذَا حَرَامٌ لِّتَفْتَرُوا عَلَى اللَّـهِ الْكَذِبَ

And do not say that which your tongues falsely put forth, that this is halaal and this is haraam. Then you would falsely attribute untruth to Allah. Continue reading

Responding to Some Current Misconceptions in Tafsir: Sheikh Muhammad Bazmool

Sheikh Muhammad Bazmool penned the following short clarification to certain current misconceptions regarding some technical aspects in the field of Tafsir:

خلفيات علمية
Some Background Knowledge

ينتقد بعض الناس مصطلح (التفسير بالمأثور) ، ويورد عليه بأنه حادث، لم يأت في كلام السابقين، وإنما جاء في كلام الدكتور محمد حسين الذهبي في كتابه التفسير والمفسرون. ـ
وبأن تفسير القرآن بالقرآن اجتهادي، إذ المفسر هو الذي يتدخل فيه بحمل الآية على الآية. ـ
وتفسير الصحابي باجتهاد منهم! وكذا تفسير التابعين. ـ
و لا يصح أن يحكم بصحة شيء من التفسير واعتماده إلا التفسير النبوي. ـ

There are some people who criticize the use of the term “al-Tafsir bi’l-Ma’thoor” – “Narration-based Exegesis” -, and they take it to be something new which was not present in the speech of the previous scholars; rather, it only came into use with the speech of Dr. Muhammad Husain al-Dhahabi in his book “al-Tafsir w’al-Mufassiroon“.

And they also say that tafsir of the Qur’an by the Qur’an is something which is a matter of individual scholarly efforts, thereby making it the mufassir who enters into this enterprise by interpreting this ayah in light of that ayah.

And they say that the tafsir of the Sahabah was of their own individual scholarly efforts! And likewise with the tafsir of the Taabi’oon.

And that it is not correct to rely on or consider any explanation of the Qur’an to be accurate except for the tafsir of the Prophet himself.

أقول: هذا الكلام يقرره بعض الأخوة ، وفيه عندي نظر من جهات متعددة؛ ـ

I say: These ideas have been accepted as fact by some brothers, and here is my opinion regarding these ideas from a number of different angles. Continue reading

Three Levels of Responding to People’s Harms: Tafsir al-Sa’di

Allah says in surah al-Shooraa:

وَجَزَاءُ سَيِّئَةٍ سَيِّئَةٌ مِّثْلُهَا ۖ فَمَنْ عَفَا وَأَصْلَحَ فَأَجْرُهُ عَلَى اللَّـهِ ۚ إِنَّهُ لَا يُحِبُّ الظَّالِمِينَ * وَلَمَنِ انتَصَرَ بَعْدَ ظُلْمِهِ فَأُولَـٰئِكَ مَا عَلَيْهِم مِّن سَبِيلٍ * إِنَّمَا السَّبِيلُ عَلَى الَّذِينَ يَظْلِمُونَ النَّاسَ وَيَبْغُونَ فِي الْأَرْضِ بِغَيْرِ الْحَقِّ ۚ أُولَـٰئِكَ لَهُمْ عَذَابٌ أَلِيمٌ * وَلَمَن صَبَرَ وَغَفَرَ إِنَّ ذَٰلِكَ لَمِنْ عَزْمِ الْأُمُورِ

The retribution of a harmful act is a harm like it. But whoever pardons and makes reconciliation, then his reward is due from Allah. Indeed, Allah does not love the unjust ones. * And whoever seeks revenge after having been treated unjustly, there is nothing against these ones. * The grounds for actions is only against those who wrong others and cause trouble in the earth without due right. For these ones there will be a painful punishment. * But whoever exercises patience and forgives; indeed, that is one of the ‘azm al-umoor. [42:40-43]

In his famous book of tafsir, sheikh ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn Naasir al-Sa’di wrote:

ذكر الله في هذه الآية، مراتب العقوبات، وأنها على ثلاث مراتب: عدل وفضل وظلم. ـ

In this noble ayah, Allah mentions the different levels of retribution for harms, and that there are three different levels of responding to harms:

  • Justice
  • Goodness
  • Injustice

فمرتبة العدل، جزاء السيئة بسيئة مثلها، لا زيادة ولا نقص، فالنفس بالنفس، وكل جارحة بالجارحة المماثلة لها، والمال يضمن بمثله. ـ

The level of justice is that you repay a harmful action with a harm similar to the original harmful action without any increase or decrease. So a life for a life, or an equivalent piece of the body for piece of the body harmed, or wealth of an equal amount to that lost. Continue reading

An Overview of Surah al-Dhariyat (51): Ibn Taymiyah

In the last part of surah al-Dhariyat, Allah says:

وَمَا خَلَقْتُ الْجِنَّ وَالْإِنسَ إِلَّا لِيَعْبُدُونِ

And I did not create the jinn and mankind except to worship Me. [5:56]

Sheikh al-Islam ibn Taymiyah commented on this ayah in one of his many written works by saying:

إن سياق الآية يقتضي أن هذا ذم وتوبيخ لمن لم يعبد الله منهم لأن الله خلقه لشيء فلم يفعل ما خلق له ولهذا عقبها بقوله ; { ما أريد منهم من رزق وما أريد أن يطعمون } ـ

The context of this ayah necessitates that it is a statement of dispraise and rebuke towards those men and Jinn who do not worship Allah. For Allah created them for one thing but they do not do what they were created for. This is why Allah immediately follows up this ayah by saying:

مَا أُرِيدُ مِنْهُم مِّن رِّزْقٍ وَمَا أُرِيدُ أَن يُطْعِمُونِ

I do not want any provision from them, nor do I want them to feed Me. [51:57]

فإثبات العبادة ونفي هذا يبين أنه خلقهم للعبادة ولم يرد منهم ما يريده السادة من عبيدهم من الإعانة لهم بالرزق والإطعام ـ

When placed beside this negation, the affirmation of Allah’s sole right to be worshiped makes it clear that He created them to worship Him and that He does not desire what a ruler might desire of his slaves – i.e. their aid in gaining provision and food.

ولهذا قال بعد ذلك : { فإن للذين ظلموا ذنوبا } أي نصيبا { مثل ذنوب أصحابهم } أي المتقدمين من الكفار . أي نصيبا من العذاب ـ

And this is why Allah said after that: Continue reading

Transmitted Explanations of the Qur’an: al-Zarkashi

In part of his well-known work of Usool al-Tafsiral-Burhan fee ‘Uloom al-Qur’an, sheikh Badr al-Deen Muhammad al-Zarkashi wrote:

واعلم أن القرآن قسمان : أحدهما ورد تفسيره بالنقل عمن يعتبر تفسيره ، وقسم لم يرد . والأول ثلاثة أنواع : إما أن يرد التفسير عن النبي – صلى الله عليه وسلم – أو عن الصحابة أو عن رؤوس التابعين ـ

You should know that the Qur’an can be divided into two categories:

1. That for which an explanation has been transmitted regarding what it means.
2. That for which nothing has been transmitted.

The first category has three sub-groups:

1a. Either an explanation has been transmitted from the Prophet himself (ﷺ)
1b. Or from the Sahabah
1c. Or from the leading scholars of the Taabi’oon

فالأول يبحث فيه عن صحة السند ، والثاني ينظر في تفسير الصحابي ، فإن فسره من حيث اللغة فهم أهل اللسان فلا شك في اعتمادهم ، وإن فسره بما شاهده من الأسباب [ ص: 313 ] والقرائن فلا شك فيه ؛ وحينئذ إن تعارضت أقوال جماعة من الصحابة ، فإن أمكن الجمع فذاك ، وإن تعذر قدم ابن عباس ؛ لأن النبي – صلى الله عليه وسلم – بشره بذلك حيث قال : اللهم علمه التأويل ، وقد رجح الشافعي قول زيد في الفرائض ، لقوله – صلى الله عليه وسلم – : أفرضكم زيد . فإن تعذر الجمع جاز للمقلد أن يأخذ بأيها شاء ، وأما الثالث وهم رؤوس التابعين إذا لم يرفعوه إلى النبي – صلى الله عليه وسلم – ولا إلى أحد من الصحابة – رضي الله عنهم – فحيث جاز التقليد فيما سبق ، فكذا هنا ، وإلا وجب الاجتهاد . ـ

In the first of these three sub-groups, one should look for the soundness of the chain of transmission. Continue reading

Assorted Qur’an Benefits #9

What follows is a collection of benefits that were originally posted on our Facebook page during October and November of 2015:

♦ Taqwa and Gratitude

Allah says in surah Aali ‘Imran:

فَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَشْكُرُونَ

So have taqwa of Allah that you may be grateful (3:123)

Commenting on this, sheikh ‘Abd al-Rahman al-Sa’di wrote:

قال { فاتقوا الله لعلكم تشكرون } لأن من اتقى ربه فقد شكره، ومن ترك التقوى فلم يشكره

Allah said, “So have taqwa of Allah that you may be grateful” because whoever exercises taqwa of his Lord  has expressed gratitude to Him while whoever leaves off al-taqwa has not been grateful to Him.

[Taysir al-Kareem al-Rahman pg. 154]


♦ Belief in Allah and the Last Day

Frequently in the Qur’an and the Sunnah, Allah and His messenger pair and emphasize the belief in Allah with the belief in the Day of Judgement when referring to the believers, such as Allah’s statement:

يُؤْمِنُونَ بِاللَّـهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الْآخِرِ

They believe in Allah and the Last Day … [3:114]

Sheikh ‘Abd al-Rahman al-Sa’di comments on this occurrence of this phrase in his tafsir by explaining: Continue reading