“I will seek forgiveness for you from my Lord”: Tafsir al-Qurtubi

Allah informs us in His Book about the story of His Prophet Yusuf (‘alaihis salaam) and highlights therein many important lessons for those who reflect. In the following ayaat, Allah informs us about the dialogue between Ya’qub (‘alaihis salaam) and his sons when thye inform him that Yusuf is still alive:

قَالُوا يَا أَبَانَا اسْتَغْفِرْ‌ لَنَا ذُنُوبَنَا إِنَّا كُنَّا خَاطِئِينَ  قَالَ سَوْفَ أَسْتَغْفِرُ‌ لَكُمْ رَ‌بِّي ۖ إِنَّهُ هُوَ الْغَفُورُ‌ الرَّ‌حِيمُ

They said, “O our father, ask for us forgiveness of our sins; indeed, we have been sinners.” He said, “I will ask forgiveness for you from my Lord. Indeed, it is He who is the Forgiving, the Merciful.” [12:97-98]

Imam al-Qurtubi writes about this in his tafsir, saying:

قوله تعالى ‏(‏قالوا يا أبانا استغفر لنا ذنوبنا إنا كنا خاطئين‏)‏ في الكلام حذف، التقدير‏:‏ فلما رجعوا من مصر قالوا يا أبانا؛ وهذا يدل على أن الذي قال له‏ (‏تالله إنك لفي ضلالك‏‏ القديم)‏ بنو بنيه أو غيرهم من قرابته وأهله لا ولده، فإنهم كانوا غيبا، وكان يكون ذلك زيادة في العقوق‏.‏ والله أعلم‏.‏ وإنما سألوه المغفرة، لأنهم أدخلوا عليه من ألم الحزن ما لم يسقط المأثم عنه إلا بإحلاله‏.‏

Allah’s statement, “They said, ‘O our father, ask for us forgiveness of our sins; indeed, we have been sinners’” is an abbreviated statement. The implication is that when they [Ya’qub‘s sons] returned from Egypt they said, “O our father!“, and this is in place of the statement which was previously said to him -“By Allah , indeed you are in your [same] old error” [12:95] which was said by his grandchildren or someone else from the family, not by his sons, for certainly that is gheebah (backbiting), and that would be increasing them in the disobedience. And Allah knows best. And they asked him only for his forgiveness, because they brought a painful distress on him, and negative consequences of which could only be removed by making it right.

قلت‏:‏ وهذا الحكم ثابت فيمن آذى مسلما في نفسه أو ماله أو غير ذلك ظالما له؛ فإنه يجب عليه أن يتحلل له ويخبره بالمظلمة وقدرها؛ وهل ينفعه التحليل المطلق أم لا‏؟‏ فيه خلاف والصحيح أنه لا ينفع؛ فإنه لو أخبره بمظلمة لها قدر وبال ربما لم تطب نفس المظلوم في التحلل منها‏.‏ والله أعلم‏.‏ وفي صحيح البخاري وغيره عن أبي هريرة قال‏:‏ قال رسول صلى الله عليه وسلم‏:‏ ‏(‏من كانت له مظلمة لأخيه من عرضه أو شيء فليحلله منه اليوم قبل ألا يكون دينار ولا درهم إن كان له عمل صالح أخذ منه بقدر مظلمته وإن لم يكن له حسنات أخذ من سيئات صاحبه فحمل عليه‏)‏ قال المهلب فقوله صلى الله عليه وسلم‏:‏ ‏(‏أخذ منه بقدر مظلمته‏)‏ يجب أن تكون المظلمة معلومة القدر مشارا إليها مبينة، والله أعلم‏.‏

I [Imam al-Qurtubi] say: this is a firm rule for when one harms a Muslim corporeally or financially or who was otherwise unjust to him. For certainly it is compulsory for him to break the news and inform his victim of the wrong-doing and its scope. But is breaking the news in an absolute way beneficial or not? There is some differing concerning this issues and the correct opinion is that it does not benefit; for if you do not inform him of the wrong done to him – its scope and type – them maybe you did not remedy the same wrong which you intended. And Allah knows best. And in Saheeh al-Bukhari and elsewhere there is a hadeeth from Abu Hurayrah who said, “The Messenger said:

He who has done a wrong affecting his brother’s honor or anything else, let him ask his forgiveness today before the time (i.e., the Day of Resurrection) when he will have neither a dinar nor a dirham. If he has done some good deeds, a portion equal to his wrong doings will be subtracted from them; but if he has no good deeds, he will be burdened with the evil deeds of the one he had wronged in the same proportion. [Al-Bukhari #6534]

Al-Muhallab said, The statement of the Messenger ‘a portion equal to his wrong doings will be subtracted from them’ necessitates making the scope of wrongdoing known and spelling it out to him clearly, and Allah knows best.”

قوله تعالى‏(‏قال سوف أستغفر لكم ربي‏)‏ قال ابن عباس‏:‏ أخر دعاءه إلى السحر‏.‏ وقال المثنى بن الصباح عن طاوس قال‏:‏ سحر ليلة الجمعة، ووافق ذلك ليلة عاشوراء‏.‏ وفي دعاء الحفظ – من كتاب الترمذي – عن ابن عباس أنه قال‏:‏ بينما نحن عند رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم إذ جاءه علي بن أبي طالب – رضى الله عنه – فقال‏:‏ – بأبي أنت وأمي – تفلت هذا القرآن من صدري، فما أجدني أقدر عليه، فقال له رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم‏:‏ ‏(‏أفلا أعلمك كلمات ينفعك الله بهن وينفع بهن من علمته ويثبت ما تعلمت في صدرك‏)‏ قال‏:‏ أجل يا رسول الله‏!‏ فعلمني؛ قال‏:‏ ‏(‏إذا كان ليلة الجمعة فإن استطعت أن تقوم في ثلث الليل الآخر فإنها ساعة مشهودة والدعاء فيها مستجاب وقد قال أخي يعقوب لبنيه (سوف أستغفر لكم ربي)‏ يقول حتى تأتي ليلة الجمعة‏)‏ وذكر الحديث‏.‏ وقال قال أيوب بن أبي تميمة السختياني عن سعيد بن جبير قال‏ (‏سوف استغفر لكم ربي‏)‏ في الليالي البيض، في الثالثة عشرة، والرابعة عشرة، والخامسة عشرة فإن الدعاء فيها مستجاب‏.‏ وعن عامر الشعبي قال‏ (‏سوف استغفر لكم ربي)‏ أي أسأل يوسف إن عفا عنكم استغفرت لكم ربي؛ وذكر سنيد بن داود قال‏:‏ حدثنا هشيم قال حدثنا عبدالرحمن بن إسحاق عن محارب بن دثار عن عمه قال‏:‏ كنت آتي المسجد في السحر فأمر بدار ابن مسعود فأسمعه يقول‏:‏ اللهم إنك أمرتني فأطعت، ودعوتني فأجبت، وهذا سحر فاغفر لي، فلقيت ابن مسعود فقلت‏:‏ كلمات أسمعك تقولهن في السحر فقال‏:‏ إن يعقوب أخر بنيه إلى السحر بقوله‏ (‏سوف استغفر لكم ربي‏)‏‏.‏

And Allah’s statement, “He said, ‘I will ask forgiveness for you from my Lord.’” Ibn ‘Abbaas said [it means], “I will postpone my du’a until the last part of the night.” And Muthanna ibn al-Sabaah said that Taawoos said, “the last part of Friday night, and that corresponded to the night of ‘Aashooraa’. And in the supplication of protection – in the book of al-Tirmidhi – Ibn ‘Abbaas reported that

We were with the Messenger of Allah when ‘Ali bin Abi Taalib came to him, and he said: ‘May my father and mother be ransomed for you! This Qur’an has suddenly left my heart, and I do not find myself capable of it.’ So the Messenger of Allah said to him: ‘O Abul-Hasan! Should I not teach you words that Allah shall benefit you with, and benefit whomever you teach, and they will make whatever you have learned firm in your chest?’ He said: ‘Of course, O Messenger of Allah, so teach me.’ He said: ‘When it is the night of Friday, then if you are able to stand in the last third of the night, then verily it is a witnessed hour, and supplication is answered in it. And my brother Ya’qub did say to his sons: I shall seek forgiveness for you from my Lord. He said: “Until the night of Friday comes.”…

And then he mentioned the rest of the hadeeth. And he said that Ayyub ibn Abi Tameemah al-Sakhtiyaani narrated that  Sa’eed ibn Jubair said, “‘I will ask forgiveness for you from my Lord’ – in the ‘white night’; in the 13th, 14th and 15th of the lunar month for certainly the du’a therein is mustajaab (responded to).” And ‘Aamir al-Sha’bi said, “‘I will ask forgiveness for you from my Lord‘ – meaning I will ask Yusuf to pardon you and seek forgiveness for you with my Lord.” And it is mentioned that the uncle of Muharrab ibn Dithaar said,

“I went to the masjid in the last part of the night as I was advised by the household of Ibn Mas’ood, so I listened to him and he [i.e. Ibn Mas’ood] said, ‘O Allah! You commanded me and I obeyed, and You called me and I answered. And this is the last part of the night, so forgive me!’ So I met Ibn Mas’ood and said to him, ‘I heard the words which you said in the last part of the night.’ So he said, ‘Verily Ya’qub postponed the du’a for his sons until the last part of the night with his statement, ”I will ask forgiveness for you from my Lord’.”

[Jaami’a li-Ahkaam al-Qur’an]

For more inspirational benefits from the life of Ya’qub (‘alaihis salaam), see also:

The Tawakkal and Understanding of Ya’qub (‘alaihis salaam)

“I complain of my grief and sorrow only to Allah”: Tafsir al-Qurtubi

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5 thoughts on ““I will seek forgiveness for you from my Lord”: Tafsir al-Qurtubi

  1. Pingback: The Tawakkal and Understaning of Ya’qub (‘alaihis salaam) | Tulayhah

  2. Pingback: “I complain of my grief and sorrow only to Allah”: Tafsir al-Qurtubi | Tulayhah

  3. Pingback: Consideration is given to the completeness of the conclusion, not the defects of the beginning | Tulayhah

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