The great blessing of being a guiding leader: Tafsir al-Sa’di

After mentioning the story of Ibrahim being thrown into the fire by his people, and his subsequent migration with Loot, Allah says in surah al-Anbiyaa’:

وَوَهَبْنَا لَهُ إِسْحَاقَ وَيَعْقُوبَ نَافِلَةً ۖ وَكُلًّا جَعَلْنَا صَالِحِينَ * وَجَعَلْنَاهُمْ أَئِمَّةً يَهْدُونَ بِأَمْرِ‌نَا وَأَوْحَيْنَا إِلَيْهِمْ فِعْلَ الْخَيْرَ‌اتِ وَإِقَامَ الصَّلَاةِ وَإِيتَاءَ الزَّكَاةِ ۖ وَكَانُوا لَنَا عَابِدِينَ

And We gave him Ishaaq and Ya’qoob in addition, and all [of them] We made righteous. And We made them leaders guiding by Our command. And We inspired to them the doing of good deeds, establishment of prayer, and giving of zakah; and they were worshippers of Us. [al-Qur’an 21:72-73]

Imam al-Sa’di, in his great book of tafsir, writes about these ayaat by saying:

{‏وَوَهَبْنَا لَهُ‏}‏ حين اعتزل قومه ‏{‏إِسْحَاقَ وَيَعْقُوبَ‏}‏ ابن إسحاق ‏{‏نَافِلَةً‏}‏ بعدما كبر، وكانت زوجته عاقرا، فبشرته الملائكة بإسحاق، ‏{‏وَمِنْ وَرَاءِ إِسْحَاقَ يَعْقُوبَ‏}‏ ويعقوب، هو إسرائيل، الذي كانت منه الأمة العظيمة، وإسماعيل بن إبراهيم، الذي كانت منه الأمة الفاضلة العربية، ومن ذريته، سيد الأولين والآخرين‏.‏ ‏{‏وَكُلَا‏}‏ من إبراهيم وإسحاق ويعقوب ‏{‏جَعَلْنَا صَالِحِينَ‏}‏ أي‏:‏ قائمين بحقوقه، وحقوق عباده، ومن صلاحهم، أنه جعلهم أئمة يهدون بأمره، وهذا من أكبر نعم الله على عبده أن يكون إماما يهتدي به المهتدون، ويمشي خلفه السالكون، وذلك لما صبروا، وكانوا بآيات الله يوقنون‏.‏

And We gave Him” when withdrew from his people “Ishaaq and Ya’qoob” the son of Ishaaq. “In addition” – i.e. after he had become old and his wife was barren, then the angels gave him glad tidings of Ishaaq “and after Ishaaq, Ya’qoob” [11:71]. And Ya’qoob is Israa’eel, from whom there was a great ummah. And there was also Ismaa’eel ibn Ibrahim, from whom there was a blessed Arab ummah, and from whose offspring was the sayyid of the first and the last.

And all of them” – Ibrahim and Ishaaq and Ya’qoobWe made righteous” – meaning: establishing and fulfilling His rights and the rights of His slaves. And because of their righteousness, He made them leaders guiding by His command. This is one of the greatest blessings of Allah upon a slave of His, that he would be a leader by whom the guided ones are guided, and the traversers of the path would follow in his footsteps. And that is because they exercised sabr and had yaqeen in the ayaat of Allah.

وقوله‏:‏ ‏{‏يَهْدُونَ بِأَمْرِنَا‏}‏ أي‏:‏ يهدون الناس بديننا، لا يأمرون بأهواء أنفسهم، بل بأمر الله ودينه، واتباع مرضاته، ولا يكون العبد إماما حتى يدعو إلى أمر الله‏.‏

And His statement, “guiding by Our command” – meaning: guiding the people according to Our deen, not commanding them according to their own personal whims and desires, rather by the commands of Allah and His deen, and following His pleasure. And a slave cannot be a leader unless and until he calls to the commands of Allah.

‏{‏وَأَوْحَيْنَا إِلَيْهِمْ فِعْلَ الْخَيْرَاتِ‏}‏ يفعلونها ويدعون الناس إليها، وهذا شامل لجميع الخيرات كلها، من حقوق الله، وحقوق العباد‏.‏

And We inspired to them the doing of good deeds” – they carried them out and called the people to them as well. This is inclusive of all good deeds, regarding both of the due rights of Allah and the due rights of the slaves (of Allah).

‏{‏وَإِقَامَ الصَّلَاةِ وَإِيتَاءَ الزَّكَاةِ‏}‏ هذا من باب عطف الخاص على العام، لشرف هاتين العبادتين وفضلهما، ولأن من كملهما كما أمر، كان قائما بدينه، ومن ضيعهما، كان لما سواهما أضيع، ولأن الصلاة أفضل الأعمال، التي فيها حقه، والزكاة أفضل الأعمال، التي فيها الإحسان لخلقه‏.‏

And establishment of prayer, and giving of zakah” – this is an example of juxtaposing something specific to something general, and that is due the honor of these two acts of worship and their virtues. It is also done because whoever completes and perfects these two acts as they have been commanded, then he is one who established his deen. But whoever neglects them [either by leaving them entirely or neglecting to perfect his performance of them], then he will neglect other acts besides these as well. This is because al-salaah is the most virtuous action in respects to the rights of Allah, and al-zakaah is the most virtuous action which concerns ihsaan to Allah’s creation.

‏{‏وَكَانُوا لَنَا‏}‏ أي‏:‏ لا لغيرنا ‏{‏عَابِدِينَ‏}‏ أي‏:‏ مديمين على العبادات القلبية والقولية والبدنية في أكثر أوقاتهم، فاستحقوا أن تكون العبادة وصفهم، فاتصفوا بما أمر الله به الخلق، وخلقهم لأجله‏.‏

And they were, to Us,” – meaning: not to any others than Us – “worshippers” – meaning: consistent upon acts of worship of the heart, tongue and body in a great abundance of their times. So it is fitting that they would be described with worship, so they were described by what Allah commanded his creation with, and for that purpose (i.e. to worship Allah) they were created.

[Taysir al-Kareem al-Rahman pg. 614-615]

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

See also: Exerting Oneself and Galvanizing Others – the Best of Conditions: Imam al-Sa’di

See also: The Du’a of Ibrahim for Mecca and his Descendants: Tafsir al-Sa’di

See also: “And mention in the Book, Ismaa’eel”: Tafsir al-Sa’di

See also: And We gave Ibrahim good in this life: Tafsir al-Shinqitee

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9 thoughts on “The great blessing of being a guiding leader: Tafsir al-Sa’di

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