“They would not believe unless Allah should will”: Tafsir al-Sa’di

Allah says in surah al-An’aam:

وَأَقْسَمُوا بِاللَّـهِ جَهْدَ أَيْمَانِهِمْ لَئِن جَاءَتْهُمْ آيَةٌ لَّيُؤْمِنُنَّ بِهَا ۚ قُلْ إِنَّمَا الْآيَاتُ عِندَ اللَّـهِ ۖ وَمَا يُشْعِرُ‌كُمْ أَنَّهَا إِذَا جَاءَتْ لَا يُؤْمِنُونَ ﴿١٠٩﴾ وَنُقَلِّبُ أَفْئِدَتَهُمْ وَأَبْصَارَ‌هُمْ كَمَا لَمْ يُؤْمِنُوا بِهِ أَوَّلَ مَرَّ‌ةٍ وَنَذَرُ‌هُمْ فِي طُغْيَانِهِمْ يَعْمَهُونَ ﴿١١٠﴾وَلَوْ أَنَّنَا نَزَّلْنَا إِلَيْهِمُ الْمَلَائِكَةَ وَكَلَّمَهُمُ الْمَوْتَىٰ وَحَشَرْ‌نَا عَلَيْهِمْ كُلَّ شَيْءٍ قُبُلًا مَّا كَانُوا لِيُؤْمِنُوا إِلَّا أَن يَشَاءَ اللَّـهُ وَلَـٰكِنَّ أَكْثَرَ‌هُمْ يَجْهَلُونَ ﴿١١١﴾

And they swear by Allah their strongest oaths that if a sign came to them, they would surely believe in it. Say, “The signs are only with Allah.” And what will make you perceive that even if a sign came, they would not believe. And We will turn away their hearts and their eyes just as they refused to believe in it the first time. And We will leave them in their transgression, wandering blindly. And even if We had sent down to them the angels and the dead spoke to them and We gathered together every thing in front of them, they would not believe unless Allah should will. But most of them are ignorant.

Imam al-Sa’di, commenting on these powerful words, writes the following in his book of tafsir:

أي‏:‏ وأقسم المشركون المكذبون للرسول محمد ـ صلى الله عليه وسلم ـ ‏‏ ‏{‏بِاللَّهِ جَهْدَ أَيْمَانِهِمْ‏}‏ أي‏:‏ قسما اجتهدوا فيه وأكدوه‏‏

Meaning: So the unbelievers and the deniers of the Messenger Muhammad (ﷺ) swear “by Allah their strongest oaths” – meaning: an oath which they virulently assert and confirm.

‏{‏لَئِنْ جَاءَتْهُمْ آيَةٌ‏}‏ تدل على صدق محمد ـ صلى الله عليه وسلم ـ ‏{‏لَيُؤْمِنُنَّ بِهَا‏}‏ وهذا الكلام الذي صدر منهم، لم يكن قصدهم فيه الرشاد، وإنما قصدهم دفع الاعتراض عليهم، ورد ما جاء به الرسول قطعًا، فإن الله أيد رسوله ـ صلى الله عليه وسلم ـ بالآيات البينات، والأدلة الواضحات، التي ـ عند الالتفات لها ـ لا تبقي أدنى شبهة ولا إشكال في صحة ما جاء به،

that if a sign came to them” proving the truth of Muhammad (ﷺ) “they would surely believe in it“. And that is the speech which they publicly announced, but their intention in that was not right guidance, and their intention was only to put forward their opposition against it, and they rejected that with which the Messenger came unreservedly. For verily Allah supported His messenger (ﷺ) with clear signs, and clarifying proofs, which – if one pays attention to them – do not leave the least doubt or confusion in the truthfulness of what he came with.

فطلبهم ـ بعد ذلك ـ للآيات من باب التعنت، الذي لا يلزم إجابته، بل قد يكون المنع من إجابتهم أصلح لهم،

So they demanded – after that [i.e. after those clear signs had already come to them] – signs with an attitude of obstinacy, demands which do not merit a response; rather they have been prohibited from a response which would rectify them [from their obstinacy and misguidance].

فإن الله جرت سنته في عباده، أن المقترحين للآيات على رسلهم، إذا جاءتهم، فلم يؤمنوا بها ـ أنه يعاجلهم بالعقوبة، ولهذا قال‏:‏ ‏{‏قُلْ إِنَّمَا الْآيَاتُ عِنْدَ اللَّهِ‏}‏ أي‏:‏ هو الذي يرسلها إذا شاء، ويمنعها إذا شاء، ليس لي من الأمر شيء،

For verily Allah has acted according to His sunnah [established way] concerning His slaves, that those who made such brash demands of His messengers when they came to them and they did not believe in them, that He made for them a punishment. And about this He says, “Say, ‘The signs are only with Allah‘” – meaning: He is the One who sends them when He wills, and halts them when He wills, the affair is not up to me.

فطلبكم مني الآيات ظلم، وطلب لما لا أملك، وإنما توجهون إلي توضيح ما جئتكم به، وتصديقه، وقد حصل، ومع ذلك، فليس معلوما، أنهم إذا جاءتهم الآيات يؤمنون ويصدقون، بل الغالب ممن هذه حاله، أنه لا يؤمن، ولهذا قال‏:‏ ‏{‏وَمَا يُشْعِرُكُمْ أَنَّهَا إِذَا جَاءَتْ لَا +يُؤْمِنُونَ‏}‏

So whoever seeks a sign from me has done wrong, and has sought from me something over which I have no control. And the signs are only pointing towards clarification of what came to them, and confirming it. And what has already occurred along with that, then it is not known. There were those who believed and affirmed it when it came to them, but the majority of them in the situation, they did not believe. And Allah says about this, “And what will make you perceive that even if a sign came, they would not believe“.

‏{‏وَنُقَلِّبُ أَفْئِدَتَهُمْ وَأَبْصَارَهُمْ كَمَا لَمْ يُؤْمِنُوا بِهِ أَوَّلَ مَرَّةٍ وَنَذَرُهُمْ فِي طُغْيَانِهِمْ يَعْمَهُونَ‏}‏ أي‏:‏ ونعاقبهم، إذا لم يؤمنوا أول مرة يأتيهم فيها الداعي، وتقوم عليهم الحجة، بتقليب القلوب، والحيلولة بينهم وبين الإيمان، وعدم التوفيق لسلوك الصراط المستقيم‏.‏

And We will turn away their hearts and their eyes just as they refused to believe in it the first time. And We will leave them in their transgression, wandering blindly” – meaning: and We will punish them, when they did not believe the first time We gave them that which came to them calling, and we establish a proof against them, and turned their hearts [away], and placed a preventing barrier between them and eemaan, and the absence of success in traversing the sirat al-mustaqeem.

وهذا من عدل الله، وحكمته بعباده، فإنهم الذين جنوا على أنفسهم، وفتح لهم الباب فلم يدخلوا، وبين لهم الطريق فلم يسلكوا، فبعد ذلك إذا حرموا التوفيق، كان مناسبا لأحوالهم‏.‏

And this is from the justice (‘adl) of Allah, and His wisdom of His slaves. For verily those insulate themselves (in their denial and rejection of the clear signs), and the door was opened for them but them did not enter, and the path was made clear for them and they did not traverse on it, then after that they are prohibited from success; that is befitting for their condition.

وكذلك تعليقهم الإيمان بإرادتهم، ومشيئتهم وحدهم، وعدم الاعتماد على الله من أكبر الغلط، فإنهم لو جاءتهم الآيات العظيمة، من تنزيل الملائكة إليهم، يشهدون للرسول بالرسالة، وتكليم الموتى وبعثهم بعد موتهم، وحشر كل شيء إليهم حتى يكلمهم ‏{‏قُبُلًا‏}‏ ومشاهدة، ومباشرة، بصدق ما جاء به الرسول ما حصل منهم الإيمان، إذا لم يشأ الله إيمانهم، ولكن أكثرهم يجهلون‏.‏ فلذلك رتبوا إيمانهم، على مجرد إتيان الآيات،

And like this they suspended eemaan by their own volition and will alone, and not relying upon Allah is one of the greatest mistakes. For even if great signs came to them, such as the angels descending to them, and their witnessing the messenger with the message, and the speech of the dead and their resurrection after their death, and gathering everything  to them until they speak “in front of them” and they are witnesses (of that), and given glad tidings of the truthfulness of what the Messenger came with, then what would happen to them regarding eemaan when Allah did not will for them to have eemaan? However most of them are ignorant. So like this their eemaan was derived from the mere giving of signs.

وإنما العقل والعلم، أن يكون العبد مقصوده اتباع الحق، ويطلبه بالطرق التي بينها الله، ويعمل بذلك، ويستعين ربه في اتباعه، ولا يتكل على نفسه وحوله وقوته، ولا يطلب من الآيات الاقتراحية ما لا فائدة فيه‏.‏

And it is only from reason and knowledge that the slave’s objective would be to follow the truth, and to seek the path which Allah has made clear, and to act according to that, and to seek the aid of his Lord in following it. And not to rely on himself and his own competence and ability, and not to seek the outlandish signs; there is not benefit in that.

[Taysir al-Kareem al-Rahman pg. 300-301]

For the next two ayaat of surah al-An’aam, see: We have made for every prophet an enemy: Tafsir al-Sa’di

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One thought on ““They would not believe unless Allah should will”: Tafsir al-Sa’di

  1. Pingback: We have made for every prophet an enemy: Tafsir al-Sa’di | Tulayhah

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