The meaning of al-Ma’roof and al-Munkar: Ibn Rajab

In his famous collection of 40 comprehensive ahaadeeth, Imam al-Nawawi brings the following two connected hadeeth in the same section:

عَنْ النَّوَّاسِ بْنِ سَمْعَانَ رَضِيَ اللهُ عَنْهُ عَنْ النَّبِيِّ صلى الله عليه و سلم قَالَ: “الْبِرُّ حُسْنُ الْخُلُقِ، وَالْإِثْمُ مَا حَاكَ فِي صَدْرِك، وَكَرِهْت أَنْ يَطَّلِعَ عَلَيْهِ النَّاسُ” رَوَاهُ مُسْلِمٌ . رَوَاهُ مُسْلِمٌ

On the authority of an-Nawwaas bin Sam’aan (may Allah be pleased with him), that the Prophet (ﷺ) said, “Righteousness (birr) is in good character, and wrongdoing (ithm) is that which wavers in your soul, and which you dislike people finding out about.” [Muslim]

وَعَنْ وَابِصَةَ بْنِ مَعْبَدٍ رَضِيَ اللهُ عَنْهُ قَالَ: أَتَيْت رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه و سلم فَقَالَ: “جِئْتَ تَسْأَلُ عَنْ الْبِرِّ؟ قُلْت: نَعَمْ. فقَالَ: استفت قلبك، الْبِرُّ مَا اطْمَأَنَّتْ إلَيْهِ النَّفْسُ، وَاطْمَأَنَّ إلَيْهِ الْقَلْبُ، وَالْإِثْمُ مَا حَاكَ فِي النَّفْسِ وَتَرَدَّدَ فِي الصَّدْرِ، وَإِنْ أَفْتَاك النَّاسُ وَأَفْتَوْك” .
حَدِيثٌ حَسَنٌ، رَوَيْنَاهُ في مُسْنَدَي الْإِمَامَيْنِ أَحْمَدَ بْنِ حَنْبَلٍ ، وَالدَّارِمِيّ بِإِسْنَادٍ حَسَنٍ.

And on the authority of Waabisah bin Ma’bad (may Allah be pleased with him) who said: I came to the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) and he said, “You have come to ask about righteousness.” I said, “Yes.” He (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said, “Consult your heart. Righteousness is that about which the soul feels at ease and the heart feels tranquil. And ithm is that which wavers in the soul and causes uneasiness in the breast, even though people have repeatedly given their legal opinion.”

A good hadeeth transmitted from the musnads of the two imams, Ahmed bin Hanbal and Al- Daarimi, with a good chain of authorities.

[al-Arba’een #27]

The haadidh ibn Rajab al-Hanbali brings the following point of clarification in his expansive commentary:

وقد قيل إن الدين كله خلق وأما في حديث وابصة فقال البر ما اطمأن إليه القلب واطمأنت إليه النفس وفي رواية ما انشرح إليه الصدر وفسر الحلال بنحو ذلك كما في حديث أبي ثعلبة وغيره وهذا يدل على أن الله فطر عباده على معرفة الحق والسكون إليه وقبوله وركز في الطباع محبة ذلك والنفور عن ضده

It is been said that “Verily the entire deen is good character.” And as for in the hadeeth of Waasibah where he said, “Righteousness is that about which the soul feels at ease and the heart feels tranquil“, and in another narration, “towards which the breast expands,” then this explains the halaal by the likes of that, such as in the hadeeth of Abu Tha’labah and other than him. And this shows that Allah fashioned His slaves with the recognition of the truth, and to be at ease with it and to accept it, and He affixed the love of that and the aversion to its opposite in our very nature.

وقد يدخل هذا في قوله في حديث عياض بن حمار إني خلقت عبادي حنفاء مسلمين فأتتهم الشياطين فاجتالتهم عن دينهم فحرمت عليهم ما أحللت لهم وأمرتهم أن يشركوا بي ما لم أنزل به سلطانا

And this (meaning) is included in his statement in the hadeeth [qudsi] of ‘Iyaadh ibn Himaar, “Verily I have created My slaves as Hunafaa’ [having a natural inclination to worship Allah alone] and as Muslims, and then the shayaateen came to them and made them deviate from their deen, and they forbade them what I had permitted for them and commanded them to make shirk [associate partners with Me in worship] for which I had never revealed any authority.”

وقوله كل مولود يولد على الفطرة فأبواه يهودانه أو ينصرانه أو يمجسانه كما تنتج البهيمة بهيمة جمعاء هل تحسون فيها من جدعاء قال أبو هريرة رضي الله عنه اقرأوا إن شئتم فطرة الله التي فطر الناس عليها لا تبديل لخلق الله الروم

And his statement, “Every one born is born upon the fitrah [natural inclination to pure monotheism], so then his parents make him a Jew or make him a Christian or make him a Magian. Just as an animal delivers a perfect baby animal; do you perceive any mutilation in it?” Abu Hurayrah said, “Recite, if you wish, ‘the fitrah of Allah upon which He has created [all] people. No change should there be in the creation of Allah‘ [30:30]

ولهذا سمى الله ما أمره به معروفا وما نهى عنه منكرا فقال تعالى ‏{‏إِنَّ اللَّهَ يَأْمُرُ بِالْعَدْلِ وَالإِحْسَانِ وَإِيتَاء ذِي الْقُرْبَى وَيَنْهَى عَنِ الْفَحْشَاء وَالْمُنكَرِ وَالْبَغْيِ‏}‏ النحل وقال تعالى في صفة الرسول صلى الله عليه وسلم ‏{‏وَيُحِلُّ لَهُمُ الطَّيِّبَاتِ وَيُحَرِّمُ عَلَيْهِمُ الْخَبَآئِثَ‏}‏ الأعراف‏.‏

And for this reason Allah has named that which He commands as ma’roof and that which He forbids as munkar.* So Allah said, “Indeed, Allah orders justice and good conduct and giving to relatives and forbids immorality and bad conduct and oppression. He admonishes you that perhaps you will be reminded” [16:90], and He said, “and makes lawful for them the good things and prohibits for them the evil” [9:157]

وأخبر أن قلوب المؤمنين تطمئن بذكره فالقلب الذي دخله نور الإيمان وانشرح به وانفسح سكن للحق واطمأن به ويقبله وينفر عن الباطل ويكرهه ولا يقبله‏.‏

And He informed us that the hearts of the mu’minoon are find tranquility in His remembrance, so the heart for which noor and eemaan has entered and it has been opened to it and expanded to the indwelling of truth, and tranquil because of it, and it accept it; and it flees from falsehood and dislikes it and does not accept it.

[Jaami’a al-‘Uloom w’al-Hikam 2/99-100]

*Translator’s Note: al-Ma’roof [الْمَعْرُ‌وف] is generally used to refer to what is good or right, and al-munkar [الْمُنكَر] is generally used to refer to what is evil and wrong, such as in the common phrase:

يَأْمُرُ‌هُم بِالْمَعْرُ‌وفِ وَيَنْهَاهُمْ عَنِ الْمُنكَرِ‌

“Commanding the right and forbidding the evil”

However, Ibn Rajab is making a fine linguistic point here. The root of al-ma’roof [الْمَعْرُ‌وف] is “to know” [عَرَفَ] from which one derives ma’rifah [مَعْرِفَة], or knowledge/acquaintance. Similarly, the root of al-munkar [الْمُنكَر] is “to not know” [نَكِرَ], from which one derives [نَكِير] and related words indicating denial, rejection, and disapproval.

So Ibn Rajab makes the connection between the fitrah which Allah created His slaves upon and their natural inclination to recognize the good (al-ma’roof), and to reject evil (al-munkar).

For more linguistic insights from Ibn Rajab, please see: The Sharee’ah of Moosaa and the Sharee’ah of Muhammad

For more on the issue of the Fitrah, please see: Imam al-Nawawi on the Fitrah
See also: “All of you are astray except whomever I guide”: Ibn RajabSee also: “Consult your heart”: Clarification from Ibn Rajab

Postponing a deed with the intention to perform it: Imam al-Nawawi

Abu Hurayrah narrates in Saheeh Muslim that the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said:

مَنْ مَاتَ وَلَمْ يَغْزُ وَلَمْ يُحَدِّثْ بِهِ نَفْسَهُ مَاتَ عَلَى شُعْبَةٍ مِنْ نِفَاقٍ

Whoever died but did not fight in the way of Allah and without saying to his soul that he intends to do so, dies upon one of the branches of hypocrisy.

قَالَ ابْنُ سَهْمٍ قَالَ عَبْدُ اللَّهِ بْنُ الْمُبَارَكِ فَنُرَى أَنَّ ذَلِكَ كَانَ عَلَى عَهْدِ رَسُولِ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم

Ibn Sahm said that ‘Abdullah ibn al-Mubaarak said, “So we consider that this was the case during the era of Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ).

[Saheeh Muslim #1910]

Imam al-Nawawi, in his commentary on Saheeh Muslim, mentions the following about this hadeeth:

قوله صلى الله عليه وسلم : ( من مات ، ولم يغز ولم يحدث به نفسه مات على شعبة من نفاق ، قال عبد الله بن المبارك : فنرى أن ذلك كان على عهد رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم ) قوله : ( نرى ) بضم النون ، أي : نظن ، وهذا الذي قاله ابن المبارك محتمل ،  .

His statement (ﷺ), “Whoever died but did not fight in the way of Allah and without saying to his soul that he intends to do so, dies upon one of the branches of hypocrisy.‘Abdullah ibn al-Mubaarak said, “So we consider that this was the case during the era of Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ).“. His [i.e. ibn al-Mubaarak] statement, “we consider” – meaning: ‘we think’, and this is that which ibn al-Mubaarak said was likely.

وقد قال غيره : إنه عام ، والمراد أن من فعل هذا فقد أشبه المنافقين المتخلفين عن الجهاد في هذا الوصف ، فإن ترك الجهاد أحد شعب النفاق .

But others have said: Verily this is general, and the intended meaning is that whoever does this, then he resembles the munaafiqoon who were averse to jihaad in this characteristic of his. For verily abandoning jihaad is one of the branches of nifaaq.

وفي هذا الحديث : أن من نوى فعل عبادة فمات قبل فعلها لا يتوجه عليه من الذم ما يتوجه على من مات ولم ينوها

And from this hadeeth is that whoever intends to perform an act of ‘ibaadah but then dies before performing it, then nothing of disgrace is due to him which is due to the one who dies without ever intending to do that.

وقد اختلف أصحابنا فيمن تمكن من الصلاة في أول وقتها فأخرها بنية أن يفعلها في أثنائه فمات قبل فعلها ، أو أخر الحج بعد التمكن إلى سنة أخرى فمات قبل فعله هل يأثم أم لا ؟ والأصح عندهم أنه يأثم في الحج دون الصلاة ؛ لأن مدة الصلاة قريبة ، فلا تنسب إلى تفريط بالتأخير ، بخلاف الحج ، وقيل : يأثم فيهما ، وقيل : لا يأثم فيهما ، وقيل يأثم في الحج الشيخ دون الشاب . والله أعلم

And there has been disagreement among our companions [i.e. in the Shaafi’i madhhab] concerning the one who is able to make [the obligatory] salaah in the early part of its time but postpones it with the intention to do it in the latter part of its time, and then dies before performing it, or concerning the one who postpones the Hajj – after he is able to do it – until another year, and then dies before performing it – are they committing a sin, or not? And the most correct position with them [i.e. in the Shaafi’i madhhab] is that he is sinning concerning the Hajj but not concerning the salaah, because the period for the salaah is close at hand, so delaying it is not attributed to negligence, in contrast to the Hajj. And it is said: he is sinning in both cases. And it is said: he is not sinning in either case. And it is said: The old man in sinning in the case of [postponing] the Hajj, but this is not the case for the young person. And Allah knows best.

[Sharh al-Nawawi ‘alaa Muslim #1910]

We have sent him in order that you may believe: Tafsir al-Sa’di

Allah says in the beginning of surah al-Fath:

‏إِنَّا أَرْسَلْنَاكَ شَاهِدًا وَمُبَشِّرًا وَنَذِيرًا * لِتُؤْمِنُوا بِاللَّهِ وَرَسُولِهِ وَتُعَزِّرُوهُ وَتُوَقِّرُوهُ وَتُسَبِّحُوهُ بُكْرَةً وَأَصِيلًا

“Indeed, We have sent you as a witness and a bringer of good tidings and a warner, In order that you (people) may believe in Allah and His Messenger and honor him and respect him and exalt Him morning and afternoon.” [48:8-9]

Imam al-Sa’di, in his book of tafsir, wrote the following on these ayaat:

أي‏:‏ ‏{‏إِنَّا أَرْسَلْنَاكَ‏}‏ أيها الرسول الكريم ‏{‏شَاهِدًا‏}‏ لأمتك بما فعلوه من خير وشر، وشاهدا على المقالات والمسائل، حقها وباطلها، وشاهدا لله تعالى بالوحدانية والانفراد بالكمال من كل وجه، ‏{‏وَمُبَشِّرًا‏}‏ من أطاعك وأطاع الله بالثواب الدنيوي والديني والأخروي، ومنذرا من عصى الله بالعقاب العاجل والآجل، ومن تمام البشارة والنذارة، بيان الأعمال والأخلاق التي يبشر بها وينذر، فهو المبين للخير والشر، والسعادة والشقاوة، والحق من الباطل، ولهذا رتب على ذلك قوله‏:‏ ‏{‏لِتُؤْمِنُوا بِاللَّهِ وَرَسُولِهِ‏}‏

Indeed, We have sent you” meaning  the Noble Messenger “as a witness” for your ummah (nation) over what they do of good and evil, and as a witness over their statements and affairs – both the correct and the false of them, and as a witness to Allah the Exalted with monotheism and singling Him out with perfect complete in every way. “And a bringer of good tidings” of reward in terms of in the dunya, the deen, and in the hereafter for those who obey him and who obey Allah. And a warner of punishment in this life and the next for those who disobey Allah. And from the completeness of giving glad tidings and warning is explaining the actions and manners for which one bears glad tidings or warns against, for that is clarifying of good and evil, eternal joy or sorrow, truth or falsehood. And this is leading up to His statement, “In order that you may believe in Allah and His Messenger.”

أي‏:‏ بسبب دعوة الرسول لكم، وتعليمه لكم ما ينفعكم، أرسلناه لتقوموا بالإيمان بالله ورسوله، المستلزم ذلك لطاعتهما في جميع الأمور‏.‏

Meaning: for the purpose of the Prophet’s da’wah to them and his teaching them what would benefit them. We sent him to establish eemaan in Allah and His messenger, which is required in order to obey them both in all affairs.

‏{‏وَتُعَزِّرُوهُ وَتُوَقِّرُوهُ‏}‏ أي‏:‏ تعزروا الرسول ـ صلى الله عليه وسلم ـ وتوقروه أي‏:‏ تعظموه وتجلوه، وتقوموا بحقوقه، كما كانت له المنة العظيمة برقابكم، ‏

And honor him and respect him” – meaning, to honor the Prophet (ﷺ), and to respect him, meaning: to magnify him and honor him, and to establish his rights, as it was a great blessing to him to be granted supervision over you all.

{‏وَتُسَبِّحُوهُ‏}‏ أي‏:‏ تسبحوا لله ‏{‏بُكْرَةً وَأَصِيلًا‏}‏ أول النهار وآخره، فذكر الله في هذه الآية الحق المشترك بين الله وبين رسوله، وهو الإيمان بهما، والمختص بالرسول وهو التعزير والتوقير، والمختص بالله، وهو التسبيح له والتقديس بصلاة أو غيرها‏.‏

And exalt Him” – meaning: exalt Allah “in the morning and afternoon” – the early part of the end and its latter part. So Allah mention in this ayah the joined rights between Allah and His messenger, and that in eemaan in both of them. And He specified honor and respect for the Messenger, and He specified for Allah exalting Him and consecrating the salaat and other than that.

[Taysir al-Kareem al-Rahman p. 934]

See also: Tafsir al-Sa’di on the objective of revealing the Qur’an and its benefits

See also: The command to extol the Prophet, and the punishment for harming him or the believers: Tafsir al-Sa’di

See also: Five descriptions of the Prophet in surah al-Ahzaab: Tafsir al-Sa’di

See also: Two of the Wisdoms for Revealing the Qur’an to the Prophet: Tafsir al-Shinqitee

See also: The Prophet Muhammad is the fulfillment of Ibrahim’s du’a: Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali

See also: The Universal Messenger: Tafsir al-Shinqitee

See also: Belief in the Messengers in brief: Tafsir al-Sa’di

“We are not able to perform qiyaam al-lail”: Responses from the salaf

While discussing qiyaam al-lail (the voluntary night prayers) in his book Lataa’if al-Ma’aarif, Imam ibn Rajab al-Hanbali brings the following statements of the salaf concerning those who experience difficulty in performing this recommended act of ‘ibaadah:

قيل لابن مسعود رضي الله عنه : ما نستطيع قيام الليل, قال : أبعدتكم ذنوبكم. .

It was said to Ibn Mas’ood (raadiAllaahu ‘anhu), “We are not able to perform the qiyaam al-lail.” He replied, “Distance yourselves from your sins!”

وقيل للحسن : قد أعجزنا قيام الليل, قال : قيّدتكم خطاياكم.

And it was said to al-Hasan [al-Basri], “We have been made incapable of performing qiyaam al-lail.” He replied, “Restrict your sins!”

وقال فضيل بن عياض : إذا لم تقدر على قيام الليل وصيام النهار, فاعلم أنّك محرومٌ مُكَبَّلٌ, كبَّلَتْكَ خكيئتُكَ.

And Fudhail ibn ‘Iyaadh said, “If you are not able to pray during the night and fast during the day, then know that you have been deprived and detained, shackled by your own sins.”

وقال الحسن : إنّ العبد ليذنب الذنب فيُحرم به قيام الليل

And al-Hasan said, “If the slave committed a sin then he is prohibited from qiyaam al-lail because of it.”

[Lataa’if al-Ma’aarif pg. 98]

See also: Allah’s commendations for those who pray during the night

Allah created His creation in darkness: Sharh al-Mubaarakfoori

‘Abdullah ibn ‘Amr narrates that the Messenger of Allah said:

‏ ‏ إِنَّ اللَّهَ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ خَلَقَ خَلْقَهُ فِي ظُلْمَةٍ فَأَلْقَى عَلَيْهِمْ مِنْ نُورِهِ فَمَنْ أَصَابَهُ مِنْ ذَلِكَ النُّورِ اهْتَدَى وَمَنْ أَخْطَأَهُ ضَلَّ فَلِذَلِكَ أَقُولُ جَفَّ الْقَلَمُ عَلَى عِلْمِ اللَّهِ ‏‏ ‏

“Indeed Allah, the Blessed and Exalted, created His creation in darkness, then He cast His noor (light) upon them, so whoever is touched by that noor he is guided, and whoever it missed, he goes astray. It is for this reason that I say that the pens have dried with Allah’s knowledge.”

[Jaami’ al-Tirmidhi #2642, Saheeh]

Imam al-Mubaarakfoori, in his explanation of Jaami’ al-Tirmidhi, writes the following:

قوله : ( خلق خلقه ) أي الثقلين من الجن والإنس ، فإن الملائكة ما خلقوا إلا من نور ( في الظلمة ) أي الكائنين في ظلمة النفس الأمارة بالسوء المجبولة بالشهوات المردية والأهواء المضلة ( فألقى ) وفي رواية فرش ( من نوره ) أي شيئا من نوره ( فمن أصابه من ذلك النور ) أي شيء من ذلك النور ( اهتدى ) أي إلى طريق الجنة ( ومن أخطأه ) أي ذلك النور يعني جاوزه ولم يصل إليه ( ضل ) أي خرج عن طريق الحق ( فلذلك ) أي من أجل أن الاهتداء والضلال قد جرى ( أقول جف القلم على علم الله ) أي على ما علم الله وحكم به في الأزل لا يتغير ولا يتبدل ، وجفاف القلم عبارة عنه . وقيل من أجل عدم تغير ما جرى في الأزل تقديره من الإيمان والطاعة والكفر والمعصية أقول جف القلم .

His statement, “He created His creation” – meaning ‘the two weighty things’ of al-jinn and mankind, for verily the angels were not created from anything other than light – “in darkness” – meaning two things in the darkness, indicating the evil predisposition towards base desires and misguided wishes. “Then he cast” – and in another narration, ‘brushed’ – “His noor” – meaning something from His noor. “So whoever is touched by that light” – meaning, something from that noor – “he is guided” – meaning, to the path of Jannah – “and whoever it missed” – i.e. that noor, meaning he was beyond it so it did not reach him – “he goes astray” – meaning, exiting from the path of Jannah. “It is for this reason” – meaning because guidance and misguidance has already occurred – “I say that the pens have dried with Allah’s knowledge” – meaning, upon what Allah knew and decreed for it for eternity, neither to change nor to alter, And the drying of the pens is an idiom for that. And it is said in order to negate change in what happens in eternity that He decreed everything; al-eemaan and obedience, al-kufr and disobedience, saying, ‘the pens have dried.’

قوله : ( هذا حديث حسن ) وأخرجه أحمد والحاكم وصححه وابن حبان

And his [Imam al-Tirmidhi’s] statement, “This hadeeth is hasan“, and it was reported by Ahmad, and al-Haakim declared it Saheeh, as did Ibn Hibbaan.

[Tuhfat al-Ahwadhi #2642]

See also: “All of you are astray except whomever I guide”: Explanation of Ibn Rajab

See also: Imam al-Nawawi on the Fitrah

See also: “A donation is not to be compared to a bribe”: Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali

See also: The purpose of Allah’s creation: Imam al-Shinqitee

Guidance elevates and misguidance debases: Tafsir al-Sa’di

Allah describes some of the qualities of the believers in the beginning of surah al-Baqarah and then begins His conclusion of their attributes by saying:

أُولَـٰئِكَ عَلَىٰ هُدًى مِّن رَّ‌بِّهِمْ

“Those are upon guidance from their Lord”

Imam al-Sa’di makes a fine linguistic point in his book of tafsir when he writes:

وأتى بـ “على” في هذا الموضع, الدالة على الاستعلاء, وفي الضلالة يأتي ب ـ “في” كما في قوله: {وَإِنَّا أَوْ إِيَّاكُمْ لَعَلَى هُدًى أَوْ فِي ضَلَالٍ مُبِينٍ} لأن صاحب الهدى مستعل بالهدى, مرتفع به, وصاحب الضلال منغمس فيه محتقر.

And the word ‘upon’ in this instance demonstrates superiority, and regarding misguidance it come with the preposition ‘in’, such as when Allah’s statement, ‘And surely, either we or you are upon right guidance, or in clear error‘ because the companion of guidance is elevated by the guidance and raised up by it, while the companion of misguidance is submerged in misguidance and debased.

[Taysir al-Kareem al-Rahman pg 30]

See also: Surely either we or you are upon right guidance, or in clear error

Two disbelieving women and two believing women: Tafsir al-Sa’di

Allah concludes surah al-Tahreem with the following ayaat where He says:

‏ضَرَبَ اللَّهُ مَثَلًا لِلَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا اِمْرَأَةَ نُوحٍ وَامْرَأَةَ لُوطٍ كَانَتَا تَحْتَ عَبْدَيْنِ مِنْ عِبَادِنَا صَالِحَيْنِ فَخَانَتَاهُمَا فَلَمْ يُغْنِيَا عَنْهُمَا مِنَ اللَّهِ شَيْئًا وَقِيلَ ادْخُلَا النَّارَ مَعَ الدَّاخِلِينَ * وَضَرَبَ اللَّهُ مَثَلًا لِلَّذِينَ آمَنُوا اِمْرَأَةَ فِرْعَوْنَ إِذْ قَالَتْ رَبِّ ابْنِ لِي عِنْدَكَ بَيْتًا فِي الْجَنَّةِ وَنَجِّنِي مِنْ فِرْعَوْنَ وَعَمَلِهِ وَنَجِّنِي مِنَ الْقَوْمِ الظَّالِمِينَ * وَمَرْيَمَ ابْنَتَ عِمْرَانَ الَّتِي أَحْصَنَتْ فَرْجَهَا فَنَفَخْنَا فِيهِ مِنْ رُوحِنَا وَصَدَّقَتْ بِكَلِمَاتِ رَبِّهَا وَكُتُبِهِ وَكَانَتْ مِنَ الْقَانِتِينَ

Allah presents an example of those who disbelieved: the wife of Nuh and the wife of Loot. They were under two of Our righteous servants but betrayed them, so those prophets did not avail them from Allah at all, and it was said, “Enter the Fire with those who enter.” And Allah presents an example of those who believed: the wife of Fir’awn, when she said, “My Lord, build for me near You a house in Paradise and save me from Fir’awn and his deeds and save me from the wrongdoing people.” And [the example of] Maryam, the daughter of ‘Imran, who guarded her chastity, so We breathed into her Our Ruh, and she testified to the truth of the Words of her Lord, and His Scriptures, and she was of the devoutly obedient. [66:10-12]

Imam al-Sa’di, in his book of tafsir, writes the following commentary:

هذان المثلان اللذان ضربهما الله للمؤمنين والكافرين، ليبين لهم أن اتصال الكافر بالمؤمن وقربه منه لا يفيده شيئًا، وأن اتصال المؤمن بالكافر لا يضره شيئًا مع قيامه بالواجب عليه‏.‏

These are two examples which Allah has struck of the believers and the disbelievers in order to clarify to them that a connection of a kaafir to a mu’min and his closeness to him does not benefit the kaafir at all, and that the connection of a mu’min to a kaafir does not harm the mu’min at all, so long as he establishes his duties to him [i.e. giving him his due rights, not being unjust to him, etc.]

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Ibn al-Qayyim on patience

The great scholar Ibn al-Qayyim al-Jawzi, in his book Iddah al-Saabireen wa Dhakheerah al-Shaakireen, wrote the following insightful and uplifting words on the subject of Sabr:

 والنفس مطية العبد التى يسير عليها إلى الجنة أو النار والصبر لها بمنزلة الخطام والزمام للمطيه فإن لم يكن للمطيه خطام ولا زمام شردت في كل مذهب

And the soul is the mount of the servant upon which he embarks either to Jannah or to the Hell-fire, and Sabr is like the rein of that mount. And if there were to be no rein for the mount, the mount would bolt here and there, directionless.

 وحفظ من خطب الحجاج اقدعوا هذه النفوس فإنها طلعة إلى كل سوء فرحم الله امرءا جعل لنفسه خطاما وزماما فقادها بخطامها إلى طاعة الله وصرفها بزمامها عن معاصى الله فإن الصبر عن محارم الله أيسر من الصبر على عذابه

In one of the speeches of al-Hajjaaj, he said, “Restrain these souls for they plunge into every evil. May Allah have mercy upon a person who places a rein around his soul and guides it to the obedience of Allah and turns it away from from disobedience of Allah. For verily Sabr against the prohibitions of Allah is easier than sabr against His punishment.”

 قلت والنفس فيها قوتان قوة الإقدام وقوة الاحجام فحقيقة الصبر ان يجعل قوة الإقدام مصروفة إلى ما ينفعه وقوة الاحجام امساكا عما يضره

I [ibn al-Qayyim] say: the soul has the ability of driving and daring, and it has the ability of restraint and resistance. The reality of patience is that one directs its driving force towards that which would benefit him and directs his resistance against that which would harm him.

ومن الناس من تكون قوة صبره على فعل ما ينتفع به وثباته عليه اقوى من صبره عما يضره فيصبر على مشقة الطاعه ولا صبر له عن داعى هواه إلى ارتكاب ما نهى عنه

Some people find that their ability to patiently persevere in doing that which will benefit them is greater than their ability to patiently refrain from that which will have them. So he is able to persevere in fulfilling the commandments but he has no sabr against the call of his desires to commit what is prohibited for him.

ومنهم من تكون قوة صبره عن المخالفات أقوى من صبره على مشقة الطاعات

And some people have a greater ability to patiently refrain from opposition than their ability to patiently persevere in obedience.

ومنهم من لا صبر له على هذا ولا ذاك

And some people do not have the sabr for either of these two.

وأفضل الناس أصبرهم على النوعين فكثير من الناس يصبر على مكابدة قيام الليل في الحر والبرد وعلى مشقة الصيام ولا يصبر عن نظرة محرمة

The best person is the one who has the most sabr in both matters. Many people are able to persevere in praying during the night, whether it is hot or cold, and fast during the day, but are not able to lower their gaze.

وكثير من الناس يصبر عن النظر وعن الالتفات إلى الصور ولا صبر له على الأمر بالمعروف والنهى عن المنكر وجهاد الكفار والمنافقين بل هو أضعف شئ عن هذا وأعجزه

And many people are able to lower their gaze but are unable to enjoin good and forbid evil or participate in jihaad against the kuffaar and the munaafiqeen. Rather they are the weakest in these things are they cannot do them.

وأكثرهم لا صبر له على واحد من الأمرين وأقلهم أصبرهم في الموضعين

And a majority do not have sabr for one of these two things, and a minority are able to exercise sabr in both cases.

وقيل الصبر ثبات باعث العقل والدين في مقابلة باعث الهوى والشهوة

And it is said that Sabr is that the intellect and the deen stand firm when faced with lusts and desires.

ومعنى هذا أن الطبع يتقاضى ما يحب وباعث العقل والدين يمنع منه والحرب قائمة بينهما وهو سجال ومعرك هذا الحرب قلب العبد والصبر والشجاعة والثبات

And the meaning of this is that human nature runs after that which it loves, but intellect and religion prevent it. So there is a standing war among them, and this war has its ups and down. The battlefield is the heart of the slave, and sabr, courage and steadfast firmness.

[Iddah al-Saabireen wa Dhakheerah al-Shaakireen p. 25-27]

See also: “Allah had distributed people’s actions just as he has distributed their sustenance”

Overlooking the foolishness of those upon falsehood: Sharh al-Nawawi

In Saheeh Muslim, ‘Aa’isha reported that:

أُنَاسٌ مِنَ الْيَهُودِ فَقَالُوا السَّامُ عَلَيْكَ يَا أَبَا الْقَاسِمِ . قَالَ ” وَعَلَيْكُمْ ” . قَالَتْ عَائِشَةُ قُلْتُ بَلْ عَلَيْكُمُ السَّامُ وَالذَّامُ . فَقَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم ” يَا عَائِشَةُ لاَ تَكُونِي فَاحِشَةً ” . فَقَالَتْ مَا سَمِعْتَ مَا قَالُوا فَقَالَ ” أَوَلَيْسَ قَدْ رَدَدْتُ عَلَيْهِمُ الَّذِي قَالُوا قُلْتُ وَعَلَيْكُمْ

Some Jews came to the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) and they said, “O Abu’l-Qasim, as-Saam-u-‘Alaikum (lit. may death be upon you)’, whereupon he replied, ‘Wa ‘Alaikum‘.

A’isha reported: In response to these words of theirs, I said [to the Jews], “Rather, let there be death upon you and disgrace also!” So The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said, “O ‘Aa’isha, do not be foul.” She said, “Didn’t you hear what they said?” Thereupon he said, “And didn’t I return to them what they said when I said, ‘Wa ‘Alaikum‘?”.

[Muslim #2165]

Imam al-Nawawi, in part of his commentary on this incident, wrote:

وفي هذا الحديث استحباب تغافل أهل الفضل عن سفه المبطلين إذا لم تترتب عليه مفسدة . قال الشافعي رحمه الله : الْكَيِّسُ الْعَاقِلُ هُوَ الْفَطِنُ الْمُتَغَافِلُ

“And in this hadeeth is the preference for the people of good to overlook the foolishness of those upon falsehood, so long as it does not lead to evil consequences. And Imam al-Shaafi’ said, ‘The shrewd intelligent one is the clever one who displays outer disregard towards insult and injury’.”

[Sharh al-Nawawi ‘alaa Muslim #2165]

See also: The Jews used to hope for the supplication of the Prophet

See also: Forbidding the permissible to prevent the forbidden: Tafsir al-Sa’di

Religious knowledge and secular knowledge: Tafsir al-Sa’di

Allah concludes surah al-Ghaafir by saying:

أَفَلَمْ يَسِيرُ‌وا فِي الْأَرْ‌ضِ فَيَنظُرُ‌وا كَيْفَ كَانَ عَاقِبَةُ الَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِهِمْ ۚ كَانُوا أَكْثَرَ‌ مِنْهُمْ وَأَشَدَّ قُوَّةً وَآثَارً‌ا فِي الْأَرْ‌ضِ فَمَا أَغْنَىٰ عَنْهُم مَّا كَانُوا يَكْسِبُونَ * فَلَمَّا جَاءَتْهُمْ رُ‌سُلُهُم بِالْبَيِّنَاتِ فَرِ‌حُوا بِمَا عِندَهُم مِّنَ الْعِلْمِ وَحَاقَ بِهِم مَّا كَانُوا بِهِ يَسْتَهْزِئُونَ * فَلَمَّا رَ‌أَوْا بَأْسَنَا قَالُوا آمَنَّا بِاللَّـهِ وَحْدَهُ وَكَفَرْ‌نَا بِمَا كُنَّا بِهِ مُشْرِ‌كِينَ * فَلَمْ يَكُ يَنفَعُهُمْ إِيمَانُهُمْ لَمَّا رَ‌أَوْا بَأْسَنَا ۖ سُنَّتَ اللَّـهِ الَّتِي قَدْ خَلَتْ فِي عِبَادِهِ ۖ وَخَسِرَ‌ هُنَالِكَ الْكَافِرُ‌ونَ

Have they not traveled through the earth and seen what was the end of those before them? They were more numerous than them and mightier in strength, and in the traces (they have left behind them) in the land, yet all that they used to earn availed them not. * And when their messengers came to them with clear proofs, they [merely] rejoiced in what they had of knowledge, but they were enveloped by what they used to ridicule. * And when they saw Our punishment, they said,” We believe in Allah alone and disbelieve in that which we used to associate with Him.” * But never did their faith benefit them once they saw Our punishment. [It is] the established way (sunnah) of Allah in dealing with His slaves. And there the disbelievers lost utterly. (40:82-85)

Imam al-Sa’di, in his book of tafsir, explains these ayaat by writing:

يحث تعالى، المكذبين لرسولهم، على السير في الأرض، بأبدانهم، وقلوبهم‏:‏ وسؤال العالمين‏.‏ ‏{‏فَيَنْظُرُوا‏}‏ نظر فكر واستدلال، لا نظر غفلة وإهمال‏.‏

Allah, the Exalted, urges the deniers of His messengers to traverse the earth, with their bodies and hearts. And the question to all of creation, “And observed” – seen, considered, reason – not the thoughtless looking and neglectfulness.

‏{‏كَيْفَ كَانَ عَاقِبَةُ الَّذِينَ مِنْ قَبْلِهِم‏}‏ من الأمم السالفة، كعاد، وثمود وغيرهم، ممن كانوا أعظم منهم قوة وأكثر أموالاً وأشد آثارًا في الأرض من الأبنية الحصينة، والغراس الأنيقة، والزروع الكثيرة ‏{‏فَمَا أَغْنَى عَنْهُمْ مَا كَانُوا يَكْسِبُونَ‏}‏ حين جاءهم أمر الله، فلم تغن عنهم قوتهم، ولا افتدوا بأموالهم، ولا تحصنوا بحصونهم‏.‏

What was the end of those before them?” of the past nations, such as ‘Aad and Thamood and others. They were among the greatest of the past nations in terms of power and had more abundant wealth and left greater marks upon the earth in terms of fortified buildings and luxurious gardens and abundant agriculture “yet all that they used to earn availed them not” when the command of Allah came to them, their might did not benefit them, nor could their wealth ransom them, nor could their fortifications protect them.

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