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

While recounting the story of His prophet Yusuf, Allah mentions the statement of his father Ya’qub. When his sons informed Ya’qub that another of his sons had been lost to him, Allah tells us his response:

قَالَ إِنَّمَا أَشْكُو بَثِّي وَحُزْنِي إِلَى اللَّـهِ وَأَعْلَمُ مِنَ اللَّـهِ مَا لَا تَعْلَمُونَ

He said: “I complain of my grief and sorrow only to Allah, and I know from Allah that which you know not.” [12:86]

Imam al-Qurtubi, in his book of tafsir, writes about this ayah:

قوله تعالى‏{‏قال إنما أشكو بثي‏}‏ حقيقة البث في اللغة ما يرد على الإنسان من الأشياء المهلكة التي لا يتهيأ له أن يخفيها؛ وهو من بثثته أي فرقته، فسميت المصيبة بثا مجازا

The statement of Allah, “He said: I only complain of my grief” the reality of al-bath [used here to mean grief] linguistically is what is broadcast among the people about those acts of destruction which are not able to be concealed, so calamities became termed as bath metaphorically.

وقال ابن عباس‏{‏بثي‏}‏ همي‏.‏ الحسن‏:‏ حاجتي‏.‏ وقيل‏:‏ أشد الحزن، وحقيقة ما ذكرناه‏.‏ ‏{‏وحزني إلى الله‏}‏ معطوف عليه، أعاده بغير لفظه‏.‏

Ibn ‘Abbaas said, “bathaa is affliction or grief”. Al-Hasan [al-Basri] said “[it means] need”. And it is said [that it means] the most severe sorrow. And the reality is what He mentioned to us, “and sorrow to Allah” covering him, leaving him speechless.

‏{‏وأعلم من الله ما لا تعلمون‏}‏ أي أعلم أن رؤيا يوسف صادقة، وأني سأسجد له‏.‏ قاله ابن عباس‏.‏ إني أعلم من إحسان الله تعالى إلى ما يوجب حسن ظني به‏.‏

And I know from Allah that which you know not” – meaning I know that the dream of Yusuf is true, and that I will prostrate to him [in the future]. This is the statement of Ibn ‘Abbaas. [Qatadah said] Verily I know of the Ihsaan (excellent goodness) of Allah the Exalted which requires that I think well of Him.

وقيل‏:‏ قال يعقوب لملك الموت هل قبضت روح يوسف‏؟‏ قال‏:‏ لا، فأكد هذا رجاءه‏.‏ وقال السدي‏:‏ أعلم أن يوسف حي، وذلك أنه لما أخبر‏.‏ ولده بسيرة الملك وعدله خلفه وقوله أحست نفس يعقوب أنه ولده فطمع، وقال‏:‏ لعله يوسف‏.‏ وقال‏:‏ لا يكون في الأرض صديق إلا نبئ‏.‏ وقيل‏:‏ أعلم من إجابة دعاء المضطرين ما لا تعلمون‏.‏

And it is said: Ya’qub said to the Angel of Death, “Have you taken the soul of Yusuf?” He said, “No,” so this affirmed this hope of Ya’qub. Al-Saddi said: I know that Yusuf is alive, and that is according to what I have been told. He heard about the just man with the king [of Egypt] and the soul of Ya’qub sensed that the was his son, so he had hope, and he said, “Perhaps he is Yusuf.” He said, “There cannot be a truthful one [i.e. accurate interpreter of dreams] in the land except that he is a prophet.” And it is said, “I know what you do not know about the response of the du’a (supplication) of those in dire straits.”

[Jaami’ li-Ahkaam al-Qur’an]

For more on the inspirational stories from the life of the Prophet of Allah Ya’qub (‘alaihis salaam), please see the following links:

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

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

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

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