“Those who listen to speech and follow the best of it”: Tafsir al-Sa’di

Allah says in His Book in surah al-Zumar:

وَالَّذِينَ اجْتَنَبُوا الطَّاغُوتَ أَن يَعْبُدُوهَا وَأَنَابُوا إِلَى اللَّـهِ لَهُمُ الْبُشْرَ‌ىٰ ۚ فَبَشِّرْ‌ عِبَادِ * الَّذِينَ يَسْتَمِعُونَ الْقَوْلَ فَيَتَّبِعُونَ أَحْسَنَهُ ۚ أُولَـٰئِكَ الَّذِينَ هَدَاهُمُ اللَّـهُ ۖ وَأُولَـٰئِكَ هُمْ أُولُو الْأَلْبَابِ

“But those who have avoided Taaghoot, lest they worship it, and turned back to Allah – for them are good tidings. So give good tidings to My servants, those who listen to speech and follow the best of it. Those are the ones Allah has guided, and those are people of understanding.” [39:17-18]

Imam al-Sa’di explains this in his tafsir by writing:

لما ذكر حال المجرمين ذكر حال المنيبين وثوابهم، فقال‏:‏ ‏(‏وَالَّذِينَ اجْتَنَبُوا الطَّاغُوتَ أَنْ يَعْبُدُوهَا‏)‏ والمراد بالطاغوت في هذا الموضع، عبادة غير اللّه، فاجتنبوها في عبادتها‏.‏ وهذا من أحسن الاحتراز من الحكيم العليم، لأن المدح إنما يتناول المجتنب لها في عبادتها‏.‏

When Allah mentions the condition of the ­mujrimun (polytheists, sinners, criminals, the disobedient to Allah, etc.), He also mentions the condition of the repentant and their reward, so He said, “But those who have avoided Taaghoot, lest they worship it” – and the intended meaning here of al-Taaghoot is the worship of other than Allah, so avoid them and their worship. And this is one of the best acts of caution concerning al-Hakeem al-Aleem (The Wise and all-Knowing), because the commendation (from Allah, for this action) is only dealing with avoiding them and their worship.

‏(‏وَأَنَابُوا إِلَى اللَّهِ‏)‏ بعبادته وإخلاص الدين له، فانصرفت دواعيهم من عبادة الأصنام إلى عبادة الملك العلام، ومن الشرك والمعاصي إلى التوحيد والطاعات، ‏(‏لَهُمُ الْبُشْرَى‏)‏ التي لا يقادر قدرها، ولا يعلم وصفها، إلا من أكرمهم بها، وهذا شامل للبشرى في الحياة الدنيا بالثناء الحسن، والرؤيا الصالحة، والعناية الربانية من اللّه، التي يرون في خلالها، أنه مريد لإكرامهم في الدنيا والآخرة، ولهم البشرى في الآخرة عند الموت، وفي القبر، وفي القيامة، وخاتمة البشرى ما يبشرهم به الرب الكريم، من دوام رضوانه وبره وإحسانه وحلول أمانه في الجنة‏.‏

And turned back to Allah” with worship and making the religion sincerely and exclusively for Him, so abandon the calls to the worship of idols for the worship of the Master of all creation, and abandon shirk and disobedience for al-tawheed and obedience. “For them are good tidings” which they cannot estimate nor know their descriptions, except for the one who is honored with them. And this includes glad tidings in this life with good commendation, and true dreams, and the nurturing care and aid from Allah which they see around them. It is meant to honor them in this life and the next, and they have the glad tidings of the aakhirah with death, and in the grave, and on the Resurrection, and the completion of their glad tidings is what they are promised of their Lord al-Kareem, and His everlasting pleasure and righteousness and goodness, and their station of safety in Paradise.

ولما أخبر أن لهم البشرى، أمره اللّه ببشارتهم، وذكر الوصف الذي استحقوا به البشارة فقال‏:‏ (‏فَبَشِّرْ عِبَادِ الَّذِينَ يَسْتَمِعُونَ الْقَوْلَ‏)‏

And when He informed them of the glad tidings, Allah attached their glad tidings with a command, and He mentioned the characteristics which are deserving of His glad tidings when He said, “So give glad tidings to My slaves who listen to speech

وهذا جنس يشمل كل قول فهم يستمعون جنس القول ليميزوا بين ما ينبغي إيثاره مما ينبغي اجتنابه، فلهذا من حزمهم وعقلهم أنهم يتبعون أحسنه، وأحسنه على الإطلاق كلام اللّه وكلام رسوله، كما قال في هذه السورة‏:‏ (‏اللَّهُ نَزَّلَ أَحْسَنَ الْحَدِيثِ كِتَابًا مُتَشَابِهًا‏)‏ الآية‏.‏

And this category includes all speech. So they listen to the categories of speech in order to distinguish between what should be sought and what should be avoided, so it is from their resoluteness and intellects that they follow the best of it. And the best of it in an absolute sense is the speech of Allah and the speech of His messenger, just as Allah said in this surah Allah has sent down the best statement: a consistent Book” [39:23]

وفي هذه الآية نكتة، وهي‏:‏ أنه لما أخبر عن هؤلاء الممدوحين أنهم يستمعون القول فيتبعون أحسنه، كأنه قيل‏:‏ هل من طريق إلى معرفة أحسنه حتى نتصف بصفات أولي الألباب، وحتى نعرف أن من أثره علمنا أنه من أولي الألباب‏؟‏

And this ayah contains an incisive point; which is that Allah informs us that the praiseworthy ones are those who listen to speech and follow the best of it, so it is as if it was said, ‘what is the path to recognizing the best of it so that we can be characterized with the qualities of the people of understanding, and so that we may recognize that whoever follows this knowledge, then he is one of the people of understanding?’

قيل‏:‏ نعم، أحسنه ما نص اللّه عليه ‏(‏اللَّهُ نَزَّلَ أَحْسَنَ الْحَدِيثِ كِتَابًا مُتَشَابِهًا‏)‏ الآية‏.‏

It was said, ‘Yes, the best of speech is what Allah has specified for them, “Allah has sent down the best statement: a consistent Book“.

‏(‏الَّذِينَ يَسْتَمِعُونَ الْقَوْلَ فَيَتَّبِعُونَ أَحْسَنَهُ أُولَئِكَ الَّذِينَ هَدَاهُمُ اللَّهُ‏)‏ لأحسن الأخلاق والأعمال ‏(‏وَأُولَئِكَ هُمْ أُولُو الْأَلْبَابِ‏)‏ أي‏:‏ العقول الزاكية‏.‏

Those who listen to speech and follow the best of it. Those are the ones Allah has guided” to the best of manners and actions, “and those are people of understanding” – meaning: incisive intellects.

ومن لبهم وحزمهم، أنهم عرفوا الحسن من غيره، وآثروا ما ينبغي إيثاره، على ما سواه، وهذا علامة العقل، بل لا علامة للعقل سوى ذلك، فإن الذي لا يميز بين الأقوال، حسنها، وقبيحها، ليس من أهل العقول الصحيحة، أو الذى يميز، لكن غلبت شهوته عقله، فبقي عقله تابعا لشهوته فلم يؤثر الأحسن، كان ناقص العقل‏.‏

And it is from their obedience and resoluteness that they recognize the good from other than it, and they follow what is praiseworthy in an even and measured fashion, and this is a sign of reason. Rather, there is no other sign of reason which is equal to that, for he who does not distinguish between the excellent and most reprehensible speech, then he is not from the people of true reason and intellect, or those who use discernment. Rather his desires overwhelm his intellect, so his reason is a follower of his desires and it does not follow the best, and he is deficient in intellect.

[Taysir al-Kareem al-Rahman pg. 848-849]

See also: Referring issues back to their experts – Imam al-Sa’di

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One thought on ““Those who listen to speech and follow the best of it”: Tafsir al-Sa’di

  1. Pingback: Qualities of the Successful Believers – Part 2/7: Tafsir al-Shinqitee | Tulayhah

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