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.

ثم ذكر جرمهم الكبير فقال‏:‏ ‏{‏فَلَمَّا جَاءَتْهُمْ رُسُلُهُمْ بِالْبَيِّنَاتِ‏}‏ من الكتب الإلهية، والخوارق العظيمة، والعلم النافع المبين، للهدي من الضلال، والحق من الباطل ‏{‏فَرِحُوا بِمَا عِنْدَهُمْ مِنَ الْعِلْمِ‏}‏ المناقض لدين الرسل‏.‏

Then He mentioned their great offense when He said, “And when their messengers came to them with clear proofs” from the Divine Book, and great miracles and beneficial knowledge which clarified guidance from misguidance and the truth from falsehood, “they [merely] rejoiced in what they had of knowledge” in contradiction to the religion of the Messengers.

ومن المعلوم، أن فرحهم به، يدل على شدة رضاهم به، وتمسكهم، ومعاداة الحق، الذي جاءت به الرسل، وجعل باطلهم حقًا، وهذا عام لجميع العلوم، التي نوقض بها، ما جاءت به الرسل، ومن أحقها بالدخول في هذا، علوم الفلسفة، والمنطق اليوناني، الذي رُدَّت به كثير من آيات القرآن، ونقصت قدره في القلوب، وجعلت أدلته اليقينية القاطعة، أدلة لفظية، لا تفيد شيئًا من اليقين، ويقدم عليها عقول أهل السفه والباطل، وهذا من أعظم الإلحاد في آيات الله، والمعارضة لها، والمناقضة، فالله المستعان‏.‏

And it is well known that their rejoicing in it shows the extreme degree of their pleasure with it, their adherence to it, and their enmity to the truth which came with the Messengers in order to change their falsehood into truth. And this is (referring) generally to all the bodies of (secular) knowledge, which contradict what the Messengers came with. And the things which ought to be included therein are philosophy, logic, and Greek, which reject most of the ayaat of the Qur’an, and decreases its power over the hearts, and makes certain and unequivocal proofs (into merely) rhetorical proofs. It does not bring any benefit over certainty, and instead gives precedence to the people of foolishness and falsehood, and this is the greatest heresy against the ayaat of Allah and opposition and contradictions to it, and Allah’s aid is sought.

‏{‏وَحَاقَ بِهِم‏}‏ أي‏:‏ نزل ‏{‏مَا كَانُوا بِهِ يَسْتَهْزِئُونَ‏}‏ من العذاب‏.‏

But they were enveloped” – meaning it descended – “by what they used to ridicule” of punishment.

‏{‏فَلَمَّا رَأَوْا بَأْسَنَا‏}‏ أي‏:‏ عذابنا، أقروا حيث لا ينفعهم الإقرار ‏{‏قَالُوا آمَنَّا بِاللَّهِ وَحْدَهُ وَكَفَرْنَا بِمَا كُنَّا بِهِ مُشْرِكِينَ‏}‏ من الأصنام والأوثان، وتبرأنا من كل ما خالف الرسل، من علم أو عمل‏.‏

And when they saw Our harm” – meaning our punishment – they acknowledged when acknowledgment no longer benefited them. “They said, ‘We believe in Allah alone and disbelieve in that which we used to associate with Him’” of idols and altars, and we declare ourselves free and clear of everything which opposes the Messengers, whether it be knowledge or action.

‏{‏فَلَمْ يَكُ يَنْفَعُهُمْ إِيمَانُهُمْ لَمَّا رَأَوْا بَأْسَنَا‏}‏ أي‏:‏ في تلك الحال، وهذه ‏{‏سُنَّةَ اللَّهِ‏}‏ وعادته ‏{‏الَّتِي قَدْ خَلَتْ فِي عِبَادِهِ‏}‏ أن المكذبين حين ينزل بهم بأس الله وعقابه إذا آمنوا، كان إيمانهم غير صحيح، ولا منجيًا لهم من العذاب، وذلك لأنه إيمان ضرورة، قد اضطروا إليه، وإيمان مشاهدة، وإنما الإيمان النافع الذي ينجي صاحبه، هو الإيمان الاختياري، الذي يكون إيمانًا بالغيب، وذلك قبل وجود قرائن العذاب‏.‏

But never did their faith benefit them once they saw Our punishment” – meaning, in this situation, and this is the “the established way (sunnah) of Allah” and His norm “which has preceded among His slaves” that the deniers, when the punishment of Allah and His decreed end for them are sent down, then they believe, but their eemaan is not authentic, and it is not a salvation from their punishment. And that is because it is eemaan in the face of necessity, and it was forced upon them, and eemaan of the one who has witnessed (the impending punishment of Allah), but the only beneficial eemaan which saves its owner is the eemaan of free-choice, which is eemaan in the unseen (al-ghayb), and that is before the presence of impending punishment.

‏{‏وَخَسِرَ هُنَالِكَ‏}‏ أي‏:‏ وقت الإهلاك، وإذاقة البأس ‏{‏الْكَافِرُونَ‏}‏ دينهم ودنياهم وأخراهم، ولا يكفي مجرد الخسارة، في تلك الدار، بل لا بد من خسران يشقي في العذاب الشديد، والخلود فيه، دائما أبدًا‏.‏

And there the disbelievers lost utterly” – meaning at the time of their destruction and tasted the pain – in terms of their deen,their dunya and their aakhirah. For the mere loss in this abode is not sufficient, rather there should be a wretched loss of severe punishment, and everlasting, always and forever.

تم تفسير سورة المؤمن بحمد الله ولطفه ومعونته، لا بحولنا وقوتنا، فله الشكر والثناء‏.‏

This completes the tafsir of surah al-mu’min (Ghaafir), by the praise of Allah and His kindness and aid, not by our own might or power, and to Him belongs the thanks and praise.

[Taysir al-Kareem al-Rahman]

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.