The Best Definition of the Authentic Qiraa’aat: al-Suyooti

Near the beginning of his discussion of the qiraa’aat (multiple recitations of the Qur’an) in his famous manual on the Qur’anic sciences, Jalal al-Deen al-Suyooti wrote:

وأحسن من تكلم في هذا النوع إمام القراء في زمانه ، شيخ شيوخنا أبو الخير بن الجزري ، قال في أول كتابه ” النشر ” : كل قراءة وافقت العربية ولو بوجه ، ووافقت أحد المصاحف العثمانية ولو احتمالا ، وصح سندها ، فهي القراءة الصحيحة التي لا يجوز ردها ولا يحل إنكارها ، بل هي من الأحرف السبعة التي نزل بها القرآن ، ووجب على الناس قبولها ، سواء كانت ، عن الأئمة السبعة ، أم عن العشرة أم عن غيرهم من الأئمة المقبولين ، ومتى اختل ركن من هذه الأركان الثلاثة أطلق عليها ضعيفة أو شاذة أو باطلة ، سواء كانت عن السبعة أم عمن هو أكبر منهم . ـ

The best person who has spoken on this topic was the Imam of the reciters during his time, the teacher of our teachers, Abu’l-Khair ibn al-Jazari. In the beginning of his book al-Nashr, he wrote:

Any qiraa’ah which

1) is in line with the rules of Arabic, even if not the most common usage,
2) is in alignment with one of the ‘Uthmani Mushafs even if it is not the most direct reading, and
3) has a sound chain of transmission

then it is an authentic qiraa’ah which is not permissible to reject nor is it allowed to disparage. On the contrary, it is part of the seven ahruf in which the Qur’an was revealed and it is mandatory for the people to accept it regardless of whether it comes from one of the seven leading reciters, one of the ten leading reciters, or any other accepted leading reciter. Continue reading

A Subtle Point in Surah al-Nisaa’: Tafsir al-Shawkani

In the middle of surah al-Nisaa’, Allah describes a number of the deeds meriting punishment, the qualities of those who call to and partake in these deeds and their ultimate destination [4:115-121] before describing the people of al-Jannah and their qualities and then mentioning:

وَمَنْ أَحْسَنُ دِينًا مِّمَّنْ أَسْلَمَ وَجْهَهُ لِلَّـهِ وَهُوَ مُحْسِنٌ وَاتَّبَعَ مِلَّةَ إِبْرَاهِيمَ حَنِيفًا ۗ وَاتَّخَذَ اللَّـهُ إِبْرَاهِيمَ خَلِيلًا

And who is better in religion than one who submits himself to Allah while being a doer of good and follows the religion of Abraham, inclining toward truth? And Allah took Abraham as an intimate friend. [4:125]

Allah then follows that ayah up immediately by seeming to turn to a new subject:

وَلِلَّـهِ مَا فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَمَا فِي الْأَرْضِ ۚ وَكَانَ اللَّـهُ بِكُلِّ شَيْءٍ مُّحِيطًا

And to Allah belongs whatever is in the heavens and whatever is on the earth. And ever is Allah, of all things, encompassing. [4:126]

Before then turning to yet another subject in the very next ayah, beginning with:

وَيَسْتَفْتُونَكَ فِي النِّسَاءِ

And they ask you [O Muhammad] for a legal verdict regarding the women … [4:127]

Sheikh Muhammad al-Shawkaani points out a subtle connection between ayahs 125 and 126 in his tafsir where he wrote:

ولله ما في السماوات وما في الأرض فيه إشارة إلى أنه سبحانه اتخذ إبراهيم خليلا لطاعته لا لحاجته ولا للتكثر به والاعتضاد بمخاللته وكان الله بكل شيء محيطا هذه الجملة مقررة لمعنى الجملة التي قبلها ؛ أي : أحاط علمه بكل شيء لا يغادر صغيرة ولا كبيرة إلا أحصاها [ الكهف : 49 ] ـ

وَلِلَّـهِ مَا فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَمَا فِي الْأَرْضِ

And to Allah belongs whatever is in the heavens and whatever is on the earth.

This indicates that Allah took Ibrahim as a close friend due to his obedience, not due to any need of him or to increase His ranks or gain any support from his friendship. Continue reading

Pray As You Have Seen Me Pray: Tafsir al-Qurtubi

In part of his discussion of surah Hud, Imam al-Qurtubi included the following discussion:

ذكر الله سبحانه في كتابه الصلاة بركوعها وسجودها وقيامها وقراءتها وأسمائها فقال : أقم الصلاة الآية . وقال : أقم الصلاة لدلوك الشمس الآية . وقال : فسبحان الله حين تمسون وحين تصبحون وله الحمد في السماوات والأرض وعشيا وحين تظهرون . وقال : وسبح بحمد ربك قبل طلوع الشمس وقبل غروبها . وقال : اركعوا واسجدوا . وقال : وقوموا لله قانتين . وقال : وإذا قرئ القرآن فاستمعوا له وأنصتوا على ما تقدم . وقال : ولا تجهر بصلاتك ولا تخافت بها أي بقراءتك ; ـ

Throughout His Book, Allah mentions the prayer by referring to its bowing, prostrating, standing, recitation and by their names.

He says:

وَأَقِمِ الصَّلَاةَ طَرَفَيِ النَّهَارِ وَزُلَفًا مِّنَ اللَّيْلِ

And establish prayer at the two ends of the day and at the approach of the night … [11:114]

أَقِمِ الصَّلَاةَ لِدُلُوكِ الشَّمْسِ إِلَىٰ غَسَقِ اللَّيْلِ وَقُرْآنَ الْفَجْرِ ۖ إِنَّ قُرْآنَ الْفَجْرِ كَانَ مَشْهُودًا

Establish prayer at the decline of the sun until the darkness of the night and the recitation of dawn. Indeed, the recitation of dawn is ever witnessed. [17:78]

فَسُبْحَانَ اللَّهِ حِينَ تُمْسُونَ وَحِينَ تُصْبِحُونَ * وَلَهُ الْحَمْدُ فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ وَعَشِيًّا وَحِينَ تُظْهِرُونَ

So exalted is Allah when you reach the evening and when you reach the morning. * And to Him belongs praise throughout the heavens and the earth. And exalted is He at night and when you are at noon. [30:17-18] Continue reading

Principles and Examples of Analyzing the Themes of a Surah: al-Shatibi

In part of a longer discussion of understanding the context of the Qur’an and its intended meaning, Imam ِAbu Ishaq Ibrahim al-Shatibi provided some beneficial words regarding how to analyze the theme of a surah and an enlightening example of this process in action regarding surah al-Mu’minoon (23):

فالذي يكون على بال من المستمع والمتفهم والالتفات إلى أول الكلام وآخره بحسب القضية وما اقتضاه الحال فيها لا ينظر في أولها دون آخرها ولا في آخرها دون أولها فإن القضية وإن اشتملت على جمل فبعضها متعلق بالبعض لأنها قضية واحدة نازلة فى شيء واحد فلا محيص للمتفهم عن رد آخر الكلام على أوله وأوله على آخره وإذ ذاك يحصل مقصود الشارع فى فهم المكلف

The through-line of an address from its beginning to its end through all of its different topics is a central concern of anyone listening and trying to understand. One does not look at the beginning of a text while ignoring the end or at the end while ignoring the beginning, for even if the topic includes many different sections, each section is connected to the others since there is one central topic throughout. So anyone trying to understand a text cannot avoid referring the end of a text back to the beginning and connecting the beginning to the end. If one follows the through-line, he will grasp the meaning that Allah intended for the recipients to understand.

فإن فرق النظر فى أجزائه فلا يتوصل به إلى مراده فلا يصح الاقتصار في النظر على بعض أجزاء الكلام دون بعض إلا في موطن واحد وهو النظر في فهم الظاهر بحسب اللسان العربي وما يقتضيه لا بحسب مقصود المتكلم

If one analyzes the different sections in isolation, he will not be able to grasp the overall meaning. That is why it is not a sound approach to limit one’s analysis to one part of a text to the exclusion of the rest. There is only one exception to that rule, which is when analyzing the surface-level meaning from a linguistic perspective and what that conveys, not when one is searching for the overarching meaning intended by the speaker.

وقد يعينه على هذا المقصد النظر فى أسباب التنزيل فإنها تبين كثيرا من المواضع التي يختلف مغزاها على الناظر

Also, considering the circumstances surrounding the revelation may help one to understand the through-line, for that will clarify many instances in which the intended meaning is confusing to the reader. Continue reading

The Merits of the Mu’adhin: Tafsir al-Baghawi

Allah says in surah Fussilat:

وَمَنْ أَحْسَنُ قَوْلًا مِّمَّن دَعَا إِلَى اللَّـهِ وَعَمِلَ صَالِحًا وَقَالَ إِنَّنِي مِنَ الْمُسْلِمِينَ

And who is better in speech than those who call to Allah, do righteous deeds and say, “I am one of the Muslims”? [41:33]

Imam al-Baghawi mentioned the following beautiful points in his explanation of this ayah:

قوله عز وجل : ( ومن أحسن قولا ممن دعا إلى الله ) إلى طاعته ، ( وعمل صالحا وقال إنني من المسلمين ) قال ابن سيرين [ والسدي وابن عباس : هو رسول الله – صلى الله عليه وسلم – دعا إلى شهادة أن لا إله إلا الله . وقال الحسن : هو المؤمن الذي أجاب الله في دعوته ، ودعا الناس إلى ما أجاب إليه ، وعمل صالحا في إجابته ، وقال : إنني من المسلمين . وقالت عائشة : أرى هذه الآية نزلت في المؤذنين .وقال عكرمة : هو المؤذن . أبو أمامة الباهلي : ” وعمل صالحا ” صلى ركعتين بين الأذان والإقامة . وقال قيس بن أبي حازم : هو الصلاة بين الأذان والإقامة . ـ

Allah’s statement:

وَمَنْ أَحْسَنُ قَوْلًا مِّمَّن دَعَا إِلَى اللَّـهِ 

And who is better in speech than those who call to Allah …

to obeying Him

وَعَمِلَ صَالِحًا وَقَالَ إِنَّنِي مِنَ الْمُسْلِمِينَ

… and do righteous deeds and say, “I am one of the Muslims”?

Ibn Sireen, al-Suddi and ibn ‘Abbaas all said: This is referring to Allah’s Messenger; he called the people to bear witness of laa ilaaha illaAllaah – there is no deity worthy of worship except Allah.

al-Hasan said: This is referring to the believer who has responded to Allah calling him, calls the people to also respond to that call, and does righteous deeds in his responding to Allah’s call, and he says, “I am one of the Muslims.”

‘A’ishah said: I believe this ayah is referring to the mu’adhins [those who make the adhan, or call to prayer].

Continue reading

The Attention that the Salaf Gave to the Context of an Ayah

In the midst of discussing some of the narrations that show the attention that the salaf gave to understanding the themes of surahs, sheikh Muhammad al-Rabee’ah (a professor at Umm al-Qura University, formerly at Qassim University) arranged the following points together:

ـ (الثالث) ما ورد عنهم من الأمر بمراعاة المقصود من كلام الله بالنظر لموضع الآية وسياقها. ـ
Third: The reports which indicate the importance that the salaf gave to the placement and context of an ayah in relation to understanding its meaning

ورد عن بعض السلف تأكيد على مراعاة الغرض المقصود من كلام الله تعالى بالنظر إلى الموضع الذي وردت فيه الآية وسياقها . ـ

It has been reported from some of the salaf that they emphasized paying attention to the intended purpose and meaning of Allah’s speech by considering the placement and context in which an ayah is located.

قال عمر بن الخطاب رضي الله عنه: “إن هذا القرآن كلام الله عز وجل، فضعوه على مواضعه، ولا تتبعوا فيه أهواءكم” ))) . ـ

‘Umar ibn al-Khattab said, “This Qur’an is the speech of Allah, so put things in their proper places and don’t follow your own whims regarding it.”

وقال ابن مسعود رضي الله عنه: “إذا سأل أحدكم صاحبه كيف يقرأ آية كذا وكذا، فليسله عما قبلها ” ))) . ـ

Ibn Mas’ood said, “If one of you asks his companion how he recites such-and-such ayah, he should ask him about what comes before it.”

Continue reading

The Difference Between Humiliating Punishment and Great Punishment in the Qur’an: ibn Taymiyah

In one of his writings, ibn Taymiyah discusses a subtle difference between the use of the phrase “a humiliating punishment” [عَذَابُ مُهِين] and “a great punishment” [عَذَابُ عَظِيم] throughout the Qur’an, illustrating that “a humiliating punishment” is reserved for the disbelievers” while “a great punishment” could be applied to the disbelievers or believers:

قال إن الذين يؤذون الله ورسوله لعنهم الله في الدنيا والآخرة وأعد لهم عذابا مهينا ولم يجيء إعداد العذاب المهين في القرآن إلا في حق الكفار كقوله الذين يبخلون ويأمرون الناس بالبخل ويكتمون ما آتاهم الله من فضله وأعتدنا للكافرين عذابا مهينا وقوله وخذوا حذركم إن الله أعد للكافرين عذابا مهينا ـ

Allah said:

إِنَّ الَّذِينَ يُؤْذُونَ اللَّهَ وَرَسُولَهُ لَعَنَهُمُ اللَّهُ فِي الدُّنْيَا وَالْآخِرَةِ وَأَعَدَّ لَهُمْ عَذَابًا مُّهِينًا

Verily, those who affront Allah and His Messenger, Allah has cursed them in this world, and in the Hereafter, and has prepared a humiliating punishment for them. [33:57]

and preparing a humiliating punishment is only mentioned in the Qur’an in relation to the disbelievers. Take, for example, Allah’s statement:

الَّذِينَ يَبْخَلُونَ وَيَأْمُرُونَ النَّاسَ بِالْبُخْلِ وَيَكْتُمُونَ مَا آتَاهُمُ اللَّهُ مِن فَضْلِهِ ۗ وَأَعْتَدْنَا لِلْكَافِرِينَ عَذَابًا مُّهِينًا

Those who are miserly and enjoin miserliness on other men and hide what Allah has bestowed upon them of His Bounties. And We have prepared a humiliating punishment for the disbelievers. [4:37]

and His statement:

وَخُذُوا حِذْرَكُمْ ۗ إِنَّ اللَّهَ أَعَدَّ لِلْكَافِرِينَ عَذَابًا مُّهِينًا ‎

but take every precaution for yourselves. Verily, Allah has prepared a humiliating punishment for the disbelievers. [4:102]

وقوله فباؤوا بغضب على غضب وللكافرين عذاب مهين إنما نملي لهم ليزدادوا إثما ولهم عذاب مهين والذين كفروا وكذبوا بآياتنا فأولئك لهم عذاب مهين وإذا علم من آياتنا شيئا اتخذها هزوا أولئك لهم عذاب مهين وقد أنزلنا آيات بينات وللكافرين عذاب مهين اتخذا أيمانهم جنة فصدوا عن سبيل الله فلهم عذاب مهين ـ

And His statements:

فَبَاءُوا بِغَضَبٍ عَلَىٰ غَضَبٍ ۚ وَلِلْكَافِرِينَ عَذَابٌ مُّهِينٌ

So they have drawn on themselves wrath upon wrath. And for the disbelievers, there is a humiliating punishment. [2:90] Continue reading

Assorted Qur’an Benefits #43

The following are points of benefit originally posted on our social media channels during the month of April 2020:

♦ Qur’an Kareem

Allah swears in surah al-Waaqi’ah that:

إِنَّهُ لَقُرْآنٌ كَرِيمٌ

This is certainly a Qur’an kareem [56:77]

Imam al-Baghawi commented on this by writing:

ـ ( لقرآن كريم ) عزيز مكرم لأنه كلام الله . قال بعض أهل المعاني : الكريم الذي من شأنه أن يعطي الخير الكثير

A Qur’an kareem” – i.e. revered and honored, for it is the speech of Allah.

And some of the linguistic experts said that a person who is al-Kareem is one who, as a part of who he is, gives out great amounts of good.

[Tafsir al-Baghawi 8/22]

♦ The Meaning of Kanood

Allah says in surah al-‘Adiyat:

إِنَّ الْإِنسَانَ لِرَبِّهِ لَكَنُودٌ

Man is certainly kanood towards his Lord [100:06]

This word Kanood is usually translated as “ungrateful”. In part of his commentary on this ayah, Imam al-Baghawi mentioned the following explanations of this word from some of the salaf:

Continue reading

Tafsir of Surah al-Baqarah 234-242: al-Tafsir al-Muyassar

This is the twenty-fifth installment of our translation of al-Tafsir al-Muyassar‘s explanation of surah al-Baqarah, covering ayaat 234-242. This section continues discussing legal rulings surrounding marriage and divorce. See the series guide here for more information about this series and other installments.

وَالَّذِينَ يُتَوَفَّوْنَ مِنكُمْ وَيَذَرُونَ أَزْوَاجًا يَتَرَبَّصْنَ بِأَنفُسِهِنَّ أَرْبَعَةَ أَشْهُرٍ وَعَشْرًا ۖ فَإِذَا بَلَغْنَ أَجَلَهُنَّ فَلَا جُنَاحَ عَلَيْكُمْ فِيمَا فَعَلْنَ فِي أَنفُسِهِنَّ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ ۗ وَاللَّهُ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ خَبِيرٌ

And those of you who are taken in death and leave wives behind, they shall wait four months and ten days. When they have completed their term, then there is no blame on you for what they do with themselves in an acceptable way. And Allah is All-Aware of what you do. [2:234]

والذين يموتون منكم، ويتركون زوجات بعدهم، يجب عليهن الانتظار بأنفسهن مدة أربعة أشهر وعشرة أيام، لا يخرجن من منزل الزوجية، ولا يتزيَّنَّ، ولا يتزوجن، فإذا انتهت المدة المذكورة فلا إثم عليكم يا أولياء النساء فيما يفعلن في أنفسهن من الخروج، والتزين، والزواج على الوجه المقرر شرعًا. والله سبحانه وتعالى خبير بأعمالكم ظاهرها وباطنها، وسيجازيكم عليها. ـ

234. And those of you who die and leave wives behind after them, then it is required for the wives to wait for four months and ten days without leaving the house of their husband, beautifying themselves, or marrying. Then when that period has ended, there is no sin on you – O family of these women – for what they do with themselves in terms of going out, beautifying themselves, or marrying in a way that the shari’ah approves. And Allah is All-Aware of your actions, both outward and inward, and He will repay you for them. Continue reading

“Are They Equal?”: Tafsir al-Sa’di

In the midst of surah al-Nahl, Allah strikes two parables in succession when He says:

ضَرَبَ اللَّهُ مَثَلًا عَبْدًا مَّمْلُوكًا لَّا يَقْدِرُ عَلَىٰ شَيْءٍ وَمَن رَّزَقْنَاهُ مِنَّا رِزْقًا حَسَنًا فَهُوَ يُنفِقُ مِنْهُ سِرًّا وَجَهْرًا ۖ هَلْ يَسْتَوُونَ ۚ الْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ ۚ بَلْ أَكْثَرُهُمْ لَا يَعْلَمُونَ * وَضَرَبَ اللَّهُ مَثَلًا رَّجُلَيْنِ أَحَدُهُمَا أَبْكَمُ لَا يَقْدِرُ عَلَىٰ شَيْءٍ وَهُوَ كَلٌّ عَلَىٰ مَوْلَاهُ أَيْنَمَا يُوَجِّههُّ لَا يَأْتِ بِخَيْرٍ ۖ هَلْ يَسْتَوِي هُوَ وَمَن يَأْمُرُ بِالْعَدْلِ ۙ وَهُوَ عَلَىٰ صِرَاطٍ مُّسْتَقِيمٍ

Allah strikes a parable of a slave who is owned and unable to do anything and one to whom We have given good provision and so he spends from it both secretly and openly. Are they equal? All praise is due to Allah. But most of them do not know. * And Allah strikes a parable of two men: one of them dumb and unable to do anything and he is a burden to his guardian. Wherever he directs him, he brings no good. Is he equal to one who enjoins justice while he is on the straight path? [16:75-76]

Commenting on this in his well-known book of tafsir, sheikh ‘Abd al-Rahman al-Sa’di wrote the following:

ضرب تعالى مثلين له ولمن يعبد من دونه: أحدهما: عبد مملوك أي: رقيق لا يملك نفسه ولا يملك من المال والدنيا شيئا، والثاني: حر غني قد رزقه الله منه رزقا حسنا من جميع أصناف المال وهو كريم محب للإحسان، فهو ينفق منه سرا وجهرا، هل يستوي هذا وذاك؟! لا يستويان مع أنهما مخلوقان، غير محال استواؤهما . ـ

Allah struck two parables of Him and those who are worshiped besides Him.

The first parable is one slave who is owned – someone who is the property of another person. He does not own himself nor does he own any wealth or any worldly goods. The other person in this parable is a free, wealthy person whom Allah has provided with good shares of all forms of wealth and he is generous and loves to do good to others. As a result, he spends out of his wealth both secretly and openly. Is this one equal to that one? Are the two equal? Even though they are both created beings, they are certainly not equal.

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