Tafsir of Surah al-Baqarah 87-96: al-Tafsir al-Muyassar

This is the ninth installment of our translation of al-Tafsir al-Muyassar‘s explanation of surah al-Baqarah, covering ayaat 87-96. This passage focuses on Banu Israa’eel‘s refusal to believe in what Allah has sent to them. See the series guide here for more information about this series and other installments.

وَلَقَدْ آتَيْنَا مُوسَى الْكِتَابَ وَقَفَّيْنَا مِن بَعْدِهِ بِالرُّسُلِ ۖ وَآتَيْنَا عِيسَى ابْنَ مَرْيَمَ الْبَيِّنَاتِ وَأَيَّدْنَاهُ بِرُوحِ الْقُدُسِ ۗ أَفَكُلَّمَا جَاءَكُمْ رَسُولٌ بِمَا لَا تَهْوَىٰ أَنفُسُكُمُ اسْتَكْبَرْتُمْ فَفَرِيقًا كَذَّبْتُمْ وَفَرِيقًا تَقْتُلُونَ

And We gave the Scripture to Moosaa and followed him up with other messengers. And We gave ‘Eesaa the son of Maryam clear signs and supported him with the Ruh al-Qudus. Isn’t it that whenever a messenger came to you with something your souls did not like you became arrogant, so you denied some and killed others. [2:87]

ولقد أعطينا موسى التوراة، وأتبعناه برسل من بني إسرائيل، وأعطينا عيسى ابن مريم المعجزات الواضحات، وقوَّيناه بجبريل عليه السلام. أفكلما جاءكم رسول بوحي من عند الله لا يوافق أهواءكم، استعليتم عليه، فكذَّبتم فريقًا وتقتلون فريقًا؟ـ

87. And We granted Moosaa the Tawrah and followed him up with other messengers from Banu Israa’eel. And We granted ‘Eesaa the son of Maryam clear miracles and strengthened him with Jibreel (peace by upon him). Isn’t it the case that every time a messenger came to you with revelation from Allah that didn’t match with your desires, you rose up against him, and so you denied some and killed others.

وَقَالُوا قُلُوبُنَا غُلْفٌ ۚ بَل لَّعَنَهُمُ اللَّـهُ بِكُفْرِهِمْ فَقَلِيلًا مَّا يُؤْمِنُونَ

And they said, “Our hearts are wrapped.” No, rather Allah has cursed them for their disbelief, for how little do they believe! [2:88]

وقال بنو إسرائيل لنبي الله ورسوله محمد صلى الله عليه وسلم: قلوبنا مغطاة، لا يَنْفُذ إليها قولك. وليس الأمر كما ادَّعَوْا، بل قلوبهم ملعونة، مطبوع عليها، وهم مطرودون من رحمة الله بسبب جحودهم، فلا يؤمنون إلا إيمانًا قليلا لا ينفعهم.ـ

88. Banu Israa’eel told Allah’s prophet and messenger Muhammad (peace and blessing be upon him) that, “Our hearts are covered; your speech cannot reach them.” But things are not as they claim. Rather, their hearts are cursed and sealed over and they have been thrown out of Allah’s mercy due to their rejection of faith. So they will not believe, except for a small amount of faith which will not benefit them. Continue reading

Those Who Threw Off the Guidance that Allah Gave Them: Tafsir al-Sa’di

Allah says in surah al-A’raaf:

وَاتْلُ عَلَيْهِمْ نَبَأَ الَّذِي آتَيْنَاهُ آيَاتِنَا فَانسَلَخَ مِنْهَا فَأَتْبَعَهُ الشَّيْطَانُ فَكَانَ مِنَ الْغَاوِينَ * وَلَوْ شِئْنَا لَرَفَعْنَاهُ بِهَا وَلَـٰكِنَّهُ أَخْلَدَ إِلَى الْأَرْضِ وَاتَّبَعَ هَوَاهُ ۚ فَمَثَلُهُ كَمَثَلِ الْكَلْبِ إِن تَحْمِلْ عَلَيْهِ يَلْهَثْ أَوْ تَتْرُكْهُ يَلْهَث ۚ ذَّٰلِكَ مَثَلُ الْقَوْمِ الَّذِينَ كَذَّبُوا بِآيَاتِنَا ۚ فَاقْصُصِ الْقَصَصَ لَعَلَّهُمْ يَتَفَكَّرُونَ * سَاءَ مَثَلًا الْقَوْمُ الَّذِينَ كَذَّبُوا بِآيَاتِنَا وَأَنفُسَهُمْ كَانُوا يَظْلِمُونَ * مَن يَهْدِ اللَّـهُ فَهُوَ الْمُهْتَدِي ۖ وَمَن يُضْلِلْ فَأُولَـٰئِكَ هُمُ الْخَاسِرُونَ

Recite to them the news of the one to whom We gave Our signs, but he threw that off and so the shaytaan followed him up, so he was one of those who went astray. * And if We had wished, We could have raised him up by them, but he clung to the earth and followed his desire. The likes of this one is the likes of a dog: if you drive it away it pants and if you leave it alone it pants. Those are the likes of the people who deny Our signs. So relate this story so that they might reflect. * What an evil likeness – the people who denied Our signs and used to wrong themselves. * Whoever Allah guides, then he is the guided one, and whoever Allah leads astray, then they are the losers. [7:175-178]

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

يقول تعالى لنبيه صلى الله عليه وسلم: وَاتْلُ عَلَيْهِمْ نَبَأَ الَّذِي آتَيْنَاهُ آيَاتِنَا أي: علمناه كتاب اللّه، فصار العالم الكبير والحبر النحرير. فَانْسَلَخَ مِنْهَا فَأَتْبَعَهُ الشَّيْطَانُ أي: انسلخ من الاتصاف الحقيقي بالعلم بآيات اللّه، فإن العلم بذلك، يصير صاحبه متصفا بمكارم الأخلاق ومحاسن الأعمال، ويرقى إلى أعلى الدرجات وأرفع المقامات، فترك هذا كتاب اللّه وراء ظهره، ونبذ الأخلاق التي يأمر بها الكتاب، وخلعها كما يخلع اللباس. فلما انسلخ منها أتبعه الشيطان، أي: تسلط عليه حين خرج من الحصن الحصين، وصار إلى أسفل سافلين، فأزه إلى المعاصي أزا. فَكَانَ مِنَ الْغَاوِينَ بعد أن كان من الراشدين المرشدين. ـ

Allah is telling His Prophet:

وَاتْلُ عَلَيْهِمْ نَبَأَ الَّذِي آتَيْنَاهُ آيَاتِنَا

Recite to them the news of the one to whom We gave Our signs

i.e. We taught this person the Book of Allah and so he became a major scholar and learned religious leader

فَانْسَلَخَ مِنْهَا فَأَتْبَعَهُ الشَّيْطَانُ

but he threw that off and so the shaytaan followed him up

Continue reading

The Objective of Hajj: Ibn Taymiyah

Sheikh al-Islaam ibn Taymiyah wrote the following words concerning the purpose of our worship, and Hajj in particular:

والعبادات التي شرعها الله كلها تتضمن إخلاص الدين كله لله تحقيقا لقوله تعالى وما أمروا إلا ليعبدوا الله مخلصين له الدين حنفاء ويقيموا الصلاة ويؤتوا الزكاة وذلك دين القيمة . فالصلاة لله وحده والصدقة لله وحده والصيام لله وحده والحج لله وحده إلى بيت الله وحده فالمقصود من الحج عبادة الله وحده في البقاع التي أمر الله بعبادته فيها ولهذا كان الحج شعار الحنيفية حتى قال طائفة من السلف حنفاء لله أي حجاجا فإن اليهود والنصارى لا يحجون البيت

All of the worship which Allah has legislated is comprised of making the religion exclusively, sincerely and truly for Allah. This is like His statement:

وَمَا أُمِرُوا إِلَّا لِيَعْبُدُوا اللَّـهَ مُخْلِصِينَ لَهُ الدِّينَ حُنَفَاءَ وَيُقِيمُوا الصَّلَاةَ وَيُؤْتُوا الزَّكَاةَ ۚ وَذَٰلِكَ دِينُ الْقَيِّمَةِ

And you have not been commanded except to worship Allah, making the religion exclusively for Him, as monotheists, and to establish the salah and to give the zakah. And that is the upright religion [98:5] Continue reading

“Whoever is Not Able to Stand at ‘Arafah …”: Ibn Rajab

In part of his final comments on Hajj in his book on the events of the Islamic calendar, al-haafidh ibn Rajab al-Hanbali wrote the following beautiful words:

من لم يستطيع الوقوف بعرفه فليقف عند حدود الله الذي عرفه ومن لم يستطيع المبيت في مزدلفه فليبت عزمه علئ طاعه الله ليقربه ويزدلفه ومن لم يقدر على نحر هديه بمنى فليذبح هواهه هنا ليبلغ به المنى ومن لم يستطع الوصول للبيت لانه منه بعيد فليقصد رب البيت فانه اقرب اليه من حبل الوريد . ـ

Whoever is not able to stand at ‘Arafah, then let him come to a standstill at the limits that Allah has set for him!

Whoever is not able to stay the night at Muzdhalifah, then let him stay in a state of obedience to Allah, seeking closeness and nearness to Him!

Whoever is not able to slaughter his sacrificial animal at Mina, then let him slaughter his own lusts and desires so that might achieve that higher aim! Continue reading

I Swear by the Installments of the Qur’an: Tafsir of ibn ‘Abbaas

Allah swears in surah al-Waaqi’ah by saying:

فَلَا أُقْسِمُ بِمَوَاقِعِ النُّجُومِ * وَإِنَّهُ لَقَسَمٌ لَّوْ تَعْلَمُونَ عَظِيمٌ * إِنَّهُ لَقُرْآنٌ كَرِيمٌ * فِي كِتَابٍ مَّكْنُونٍ

So I swear by the mawaqi’ah al-nujoom * and that is certainly a strong oath – if you only knew – * that this is certainly a noble recitation * in a well-guarded book. [56:75-78]

In his brief commentary, Ibn al-Jawzi summarizes the different explanations of the term mawaqi’ah al-nujoom as follows:

وفي “النجوم” قولان . أحدهما: نجوم السماء، قاله الأكثرون . فعلى هذا في مواقعها ثلاثة أقوال . أحدها: انكدارها وانتثارها يوم القيامة، قاله الحسن . والثاني: منازلها، قاله عطاء، وقتادة . والثالث: مغيبها في المغرب، قاله أبو عبيدة . والثاني: أنها نجوم القرآن، رواه ابن جبير عن ابن عباس . فعلى هذا سميت نجوما لنزولها متفرقة، ومواقعها: نزولها . ـ

There are two interpretations of the word nujoom:

1. The stars of the sky, which was the position of the majority of the salaf. If the stars are what is being referred to by nujoom, then there are three different interpretations of the word mawaqi’ah:

a. The extinguishing and dispersal of the stars of the Day of Resurrection. This was the opinion of al-Hasan al-Basr.

b. Their places in the sky, as ‘Ataa’ and Qatadah said.

c. The places where the stars set on the horizon, as Abu ‘Ubaydah said.

2. That nujoom is referring to the installments of the Qur’an, as ibn Jubayr transmitted from ibn ‘Abbaas. According to this explanation, the word nujoom is used because it was sent down in many different installments, and the word mawaqi’ah in this context refers to the act of sending it down.

[Zad al-Maseer 8/151]

Most if not all English translators of the Qur’an have translated ayah 56:75 as some variant of the first explanation that ibn al-Jawzi mentioned, such as “the falling of the stars”, “the positions of the stars”, or “the setting places of the stars”. However, some of the mufassiroon such as ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Abbaas, the most important mufassir of the salaf, favored the second opinion.

al-Qurtubi mentions some of the statements of ibn ‘Abbaas in his tafsir of this ayah: Continue reading

Tafsir of Surah al-Baqarah 75-86: al-Tafsir al-Muyassar

This is the eighth installment of our translation of al-Tafsir al-Muyassar‘s explanation of surah al-Baqarah, covering ayaat 75-86. This passage focuses on the ways that Jews have broken their covenants with Allah and the resulting punishment. See the series guide here for more information about this series.

أَفَتَطْمَعُونَ أَن يُؤْمِنُوا لَكُمْ وَقَدْ كَانَ فَرِيقٌ مِّنْهُمْ يَسْمَعُونَ كَلَامَ اللَّـهِ ثُمَّ يُحَرِّفُونَهُ مِن بَعْدِ مَا عَقَلُوهُ وَهُمْ يَعْلَمُونَ

Do you hope that they will believe you when a group of them has heard the Speech of Allah and then distorted it after having understood while they know? [2:75]

أيها المسلمون أنسيتم أفعال بني إسرائيل، فطمعت نفوسكم أن يصدِّق اليهودُ بدينكم؟ وقد كان علماؤهم يسمعون كلام الله من التوراة، ثم يحرفونه بِصَرْفِه إلى غير معناه الصحيح بعد ما عقلوا حقيقته، أو بتحريف ألفاظه، وهم يعلمون أنهم يحرفون كلام رب العالمين عمدًا وكذبًا.ـ

75. O Muslims, have you forgotten the actions of Banu Israa’eel? Do your souls really imagine that the Jews will believe in your religion? For their scholars have heard Allah’s Speech in the Tawrah, but they then changed it by distorting it from its true meaning after having understood its real message, or by changing its wordings. And they did this while knowing full-well that they were intentionally and wrongfully changing the Speech of the Lord of all creation.

وَإِذَا لَقُوا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا قَالُوا آمَنَّا وَإِذَا خَلَا بَعْضُهُمْ إِلَىٰ بَعْضٍ قَالُوا أَتُحَدِّثُونَهُم بِمَا فَتَحَ اللَّـهُ عَلَيْكُمْ لِيُحَاجُّوكُم بِهِ عِندَ رَبِّكُمْ ۚ أَفَلَا تَعْقِلُونَ

And when they meet those who believe, they say, “We believe.” But when they are alone with one another, they say, “Would you tell them about what Allah has made clear to you? Then they would use it to argue with you in front of your Lord! Won’t you use sense?! [2:76] Continue reading

“O You Wrapped in Garments”: Tafsir al-Qurtubi

Allah begins surah al-Muzzammil by addressing the Prophet, saying:

يَا أَيُّهَا الْمُزَّمِّلُ * قُمِ  اللَّيْلَ إِلَّا قَلِيلًا

O you wrapped in garments! * Stand to prayer for the night, except for a little. [73:1-2]

In part of his commentary on this, Imam al-Qurtubi mentioned the following:

وفي خطابه بهذا الاسم فائدتان

There are two points of benefit related to Allah addressing the Prophet with this name:

إحداهما الملاطفة ; فإن العرب إذا قصدت ملاطفة المخاطب وترك المعاتبة سموه باسم مشتق من حالته التي هو عليها ; كقول النبي – صلى الله عليه وسلم – لعلي حين غاضب فاطمة – رضي الله عنهما – ، فأتاه وهو نائم وقد لصق بجنبه التراب فقال له : ” قم يا أبا تراب ” إشعارا له أنه غير عاتب عليه ، وملاطفة له . وكذلك قوله – عليه السلام – لحذيفة : ” قم يا نومان ” وكان نائما ملاطفة له ، وإشعارا لترك العتب والتأنيب . فقول الله تعالى لمحمد – صلى الله عليه وسلم – : يا أيها المزمل قم فيه تأنيس وملاطفة ; ليستشعر أنه غير عاتب عليه . ـ

First: It is a form of kindness. When the Arabs want to express kindness towards the one they are addressing and to avoid any sign of admonishment, they call the person by a name related to whatever condition that person is currently in. Continue reading

‘Uthman’s Gathering the Qur’an According to One Harf: Sheikh bin Baaz

Former mufti of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia sheikh ‘Abd al-‘Aziz bin Baaz was asked the following question:

هل صحيح أن عثمان رضي الله عنه عندما جمع القرآن في مصحف واحد حذف بعض الأحرف أم أنه أثبت بعض القراءات دون بعض؟ ـ

Is it true that when ‘Uthman (may Allah be pleased with him) gathered the Qur’an into one single written collection he discarded some of the ahruf or that he established one of the qiraa’aat as official to the exclusion of the others?

He replied by saying:

 ثبت عن رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم قوله: ((إن هذا القرآن أنزل على سبعة أحرف فاقرؤوا ما تيسر منه))[1]، وقال المحققون من أهل العلم: إنها متقاربة في المعنى مختلفة في الألفاظ. وعثمان رضي الله عنه لما بلغه اختلاف الناس وجاءه حذيفة رضي الله عنه وقال: (أدرك الناس) استشار الصحابة الموجودين في زمانه كعلي وطلحة والزبير وغيرهم فأشاروا بجمع القرآن على حرف واحد حتى لا يختلف الناس فجمعه رضي الله عنه، وكون لجنة رباعية لهذا، ويرأسهم زيد بن ثابت رضي الله عنه، فجمعوا القرآن على حرف واحد وكتبه ووزعه في الأقاليم حتى يعتمده الناس وحتى ينقطع النزاع، أما القراءات السبع أو القراءات العشر فهي موجودة في نفس ما جمعه عثمان رضي الله عنه في زيادة حرف أو نقص حرف، أو مد أو شكل للقرآن، كل هذا داخل في الحرف الواحد الذي جمعه عثمان رضي الله عنه، والمقصود من ذلك حفظ كلام الله ومنع الناس من الاختلاف الذي قد يضرهم ويسبب الفتنة بينهم، والله جل وعلا لم يوجب القراءة بالأحرف السبعة بل قال النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم: ((فاقرأوا ما تيسر منه))[2] فجمع الناس على حرف واحد عمل طيب ويشكر عليه عثمان والصحابة رضي الله عنهم وأرضاهم لما فيه من التيسير والتسهيل وحسم مادة الخلاف بين المسلمين. ـ

It is reliably transmitted that Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) said, “This Qur’an has been revealed in seven ahruf, so recite whichever of them is easy for you.” And the expert scholars have said that these ahruf are very near in meaning but differ in wordings.

When news of the people differing reached ‘Uthman (may Allah be pleased with him) and Hudhaifah (may Allah be pleased with him) said to him, “Save the people!”, he consulted with the Sahabah who were alive during his era, such as ‘Ali, Talhah, al-Zubayr and others, and they advised him to collect the Qur’an according to one single harf so that the people would not differ. Continue reading

Assorted Qur’an Benefits #29

What follows is a collected of Qur’anic benefits originally posted on our social media channels in November 2018:

Taking Comfort in the Story of Yusuf and Ya’qub

In the beginning of his explanation of surah Yusuf [12], Imam al-Baghawi mentions the following statement:

وقال ابن عطاء : لا يسمع سورة يوسف محزون إلا استراح إليها .ـ

Ibn ‘Ataa’ said, “A sorrowful person cannot listen to surah Yusuf without finding some comfort in it.”

[Tafsir al-Baghawi 4/212]


Waking Up on the Day of Judgement

According to one explanation from the salaf, Allah describes the state of the mushrikoon at the time of their death and on the Day of Judgement in surah Saba’ by saying:

حَتَّىٰ إِذَا فُزِّعَ عَن قُلُوبِهِمْ قَالُوا مَاذَا قَالَ رَبُّكُمْ ۖ قَالُوا الْحَقَّ

When the fright is removed from their hearts, they will say, “What did your Lord say?” They will say, “the truth.” [34:23]

Commenting on this part of the ayah, al-haafidh Ismaa’eel ibn Kathir mentioned: Continue reading

Tafsir of Surah al-Baqarah 67-74: al-Tafsir al-Muyassar

This is the seventh installment of our translation of al-Tafsir al-Muyassar‘s explanation of surah al-Baqarah, covering ayaat 67-74. This passage recounts the story of Banu Israa’eel and the cow. See the series guide here for more information about this series.

وَإِذْ قَالَ مُوسَىٰ لِقَوْمِهِ إِنَّ اللَّـهَ يَأْمُرُكُمْ أَن تَذْبَحُوا بَقَرَةً ۖ قَالُوا أَتَتَّخِذُنَا هُزُوًا ۖ قَالَ أَعُوذُ بِاللَّـهِ أَنْ أَكُونَ مِنَ الْجَاهِلِينَ

And when Moosaa told his people, “Allah has commanded you to slaughter a cow.” They said, “Are you making fun of us?” He replied, “I seek refuge with Allah from being one of the ignorant people.” [2:67]

واذكروا يا بني إسرائيل جناية أسلافكم، وكثرة تعنتهم وجدالهم لموسى عليه الصلاة والسلام، حين قال لهم: إن الله يأمركم أن تذبحوا بقرة، فقالوا- مستكبرين-: أتجعلنا موضعًا للسخرية والاستخفاف؟ فردَّ عليهم موسى بقوله: أستجير بالله أن أكون من المستهزئين.ـ

67. And remember – O Children of Israa’eel – the crime of your ancestors and how stubborn they were and how much they argued with Moosaa when he told them, “Allah has commanded you to slaughter a cow,” to which they arrogantly responded, “Do you treat us as something to mock and belittle?” Then Moosaa replied to them by saying, “I seek Allah’s protection against being one of those who mock.”

قَالُوا ادْعُ لَنَا رَبَّكَ يُبَيِّن لَّنَا مَا هِيَ ۚ قَالَ إِنَّهُ يَقُولُ إِنَّهَا بَقَرَةٌ لَّا فَارِضٌ وَلَا بِكْرٌ عَوَانٌ بَيْنَ ذَٰلِكَ ۖ فَافْعَلُوا مَا تُؤْمَرُونَ

They said, “Call on your Lord for us so that He will make it clear to us what it is.” He said, “He says, ‘It is a cow neither old nor young – of medium age between those.’ Now do as you have been commanded!” [2:68]

قالوا: ادع لنا ربَّك يوضح لنا صفة هذه البقرة، فأجابهم: إن الله يقول لكم: صفتها ألا تكون مسنَّة هَرِمة، ولا صغيرة فَتِيَّة، وإنما هي متوسطة بينهما، فسارِعوا إلى امتثال أمر ربكم. ـ

68. They said, “Call on your Lord for us to clearly give us a description of this cow.” So he replied to them by saying, “Allah is telling you, ‘Its description is that it is neither old and decrepit nor a young calf; instead it is of a middle ground between those two.’ Now rush to obey your Lord’s command.” Continue reading