Five Descriptions of the Prophet in Surah al-Ahzaab

Allah سبحانه وتعالى says in His Book in surah al-Ahzaab:

يَا أَيُّهَا النَّبِيُّ إِنَّا أَرْ‌سَلْنَاكَ شَاهِدًا وَمُبَشِّرً‌ا وَنَذِيرً‌ا * وَدَاعِيًا إِلَى اللَّـهِ بِإِذْنِهِ وَسِرَ‌اجًا مُّنِيرً‌ا * وَبَشِّرِ‌ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ بِأَنَّ لَهُم مِّنَ اللَّـهِ فَضْلًا كَبِيرً‌ا * وَلَا تُطِعِ الْكَافِرِ‌ينَ وَالْمُنَافِقِينَ وَدَعْ أَذَاهُمْ وَتَوَكَّلْ عَلَى اللَّـهِ ۚ وَكَفَىٰ بِاللَّـهِ وَكِيلًا

O Prophet, indeed We have sent you as a witness and a bringer of good tidings and a warner. And one who invites to Allah, by His permission, and an illuminating lamp. And give good tidings to the believers that they will have from Allah a great bounty. And do not obey the disbelievers and the hypocrites but do not harm them, and rely upon Allah. And sufficient is Allah as Disposer of affairs. [33:45-48]

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

هذه الأشياء، التي وصف الله بها رسوله محمدًا ـ صلى الله عليه وسلم ـ هي المقصود من رسالته، وزبدتها وأصولها، التي اختص بها، وهي خمسة أشياء‏:‏ أحدها‏:‏ كونه ‏{‏شَاهِدًا‏}‏ أي‏:‏ شاهدًا على أمته بما عملوه، من خير وشر، كما قال تعالى‏:‏ ‏{‏لِتَكُونُوا شُهَدَاءَ عَلَى النَّاسِ وَيَكُونَ الرَّسُولُ عَلَيْكُمْ شَهِيدًا‏}‏ ‏{‏فَكَيْفَ إِذَا جِئْنَا مِنْ كُلِّ أُمَّةٍ بِشَهِيدٍ وَجِئْنَا بِكَ عَلَى هَؤُلَاءِ شَهِيدًا‏}‏ فهو ـ صلى الله عليه وسلم ـ شاهد عدل مقبول‏.‏

These things with which Allah described His messenger Muhammad (ﷺ) are the objectives of his being sent as a messenger, its apex and foundation, for which it was specifically designated, and they are five things [i.e. objectives]: To be “a witness” – meaning a witness over his ummah in what they do, whether good or evil, as Allah said, “that you will be witnesses over the people and the Messenger will be a witness over you” [2:143], “So how [will it be] when We bring from every nation a witness and we bring you, [O Muhammad] against these [people] as a witness?” [4:41]. So he (ﷺ) is a just and acceptable witness.

الثاني، والثالث‏:‏ كونه ‏{‏مُبَشِّرًا وَنَذِيرًا‏}‏ وهذا يستلزم ذكر المبشر والمنذر، وما يبشر به وينذر، والأعمال الموجبة لذلك‏.‏

Secondly, and thirdly: To be “a bringer of good tidings and a warner” and this requires that he mentions glad tidings and warnings, and what he mentions of glad tidings and warnings, and acting in accordance with that.

فالمبشَّر هم‏:‏ المؤمنون المتقون، الذين جمعوا بين الإيمان والعمل الصالح، وترك المعاصي، لهم البشرى في الحياة الدنيا، بكل ثواب دنيوي وديني، رتب على الإيمان والتقوى، وفي الأخرى بالنعيم المقيم‏.‏

And a bringer of glad tidings to them – meaning the believers and those with al-taqwa, those who combine al-eemaan and righteous good deeds, and who abandon disobedience. For them there are glad tidings in this life, and every reward in terms of the dunya and deen, according to their level of al-eemaan and al-taqwa, and in the hereafter there is an enduring blessing.

وذلك كله يستلزم، ذكر تفصيل المذكور، من تفاصيل الأعمال، وخصال التقوى، وأنواع الثواب‏.‏

And all of that is necessary, that he mentioned things in detail, and clarified the manner of (good) deeds in detail, and the characteristics of al-taqwa, and the types of reward.

والْمنْذَر هم، هم‏:‏ المجرمون الظالمون، أهل الظلم والجهل، لهم النذارة في الدنيا، من العقوبات الدنيوية والدينية، المترتبة على الجهل والظلم، وفي الأخرى، بالعقاب الوبيل، والعذاب الطويل‏.‏

And a warner to them. And the ‘them’ in question are the criminals and unjust wrong-doers, the people of injustice and ignorance. For them there is warning in this life, in the form of punishments which will occur in this life and in the hereafter, according to their level of ignorance and injustice. And in the hereafter there will be dreaded and lasting punishment.

وهذه الجملة تفصيلها، ما جاء به ـ صلى الله عليه وسلم ـ من الكتاب والسنة، المشتمل على ذلك‏.‏

And this is an sentence which explains what he (ﷺ) came with of the Book and the sunnah, and what they contain.

الرابع‏:‏ كونه ‏{‏دَاعِيًا إِلَى اللَّهِ‏}‏ أي‏:‏ أرسله اللّه، يدعو الخلق إلى ربهم، ويسوقهم لكرامته، ويأمرهم بعبادته، التي خلقوا لها، وذلك يستلزم استقامته، على ما يدعو إليه، وذكر تفاصيل ما يدعو إليه، بتعريفهم لربهم بصفاته المقدسة، وتنزيهه عما لا يليق بجلاله، وذكر أنواع العبودية، والدعوة إلى اللّه بأقرب طريق موصل إليه، وإعطاء كل ذي حق حقه، وإخلاص الدعوة إلى اللّه، لا إلى نفسه وتعظيمها، كما قد يعرض ذلك لكثير من النفوس في هذا المقام، وذلك كله بِإِذْنِ الله تعالى له في الدعوة وأمره وإرادته وقدره‏.‏

And fourth: To be “one who invites to Allah” – meaning he was sent by Allah to call the creation to their Lord, and steer them towards His generosity, and command them with His worship, for which they were created. And that requires steadfastness (istiqaamah) upon what he is calling them to. And He mentions the details of that to which he is calling, in order to make them aware of their Lord and His Holy Attributes, and to eliminate those things [attributed to Him] which do not befit His Majesty. And he mentioned the types of worship, and called (the people) to Allah by the closest path which leads them to Him, and he gave each claimant his rights. And he sincerely called exclusively to Allah, not to himself or to grandeur, as many men have turned to doing that when they are put in this position [i.e. the position of inviting the people to Allah]. And all of that is by the permission of Allah the Exalted, to whom belongs the call and command, and will and power.

الخامس‏:‏ كونه ‏{‏سِرَاجًا مُنِيرًا‏}‏ وذلك يقتضي أن الخلق في ظلمة عظيمة، لا نور، يهتدى به في ظلماتها، ولا علم، يستدل به في جهالاتها حتى جاء اللّه بهذا النبي الكريم، فأضاء اللّه به تلك الظلمات، وعلم به من الجهالات، وهدى به ضُلَّالًا إلى الصراط المستقيم‏.‏

And fifthly: To be “an illuminating lamp“, and that requires that the creation was in a great darkness, without light and without knowledge, and this shows that they were in ignorance until Allah sent this noble prophet. So Allah illuminated this darkness by him, and brought knowledge out of the ignorance by him, and guided from misguidance to the straight path by him.

فأصبح أهل الاستقامة، قد وضح لهم الطريق، فمشوا خلف هذا الإمام وعرفوا به الخير والشر، وأهل السعادة من أهل الشقاوة، واستناروا به، لمعرفة معبودهم، وعرفوه بأوصافه الحميدة، وأفعاله السديدة، وأحكامه الرشيدة‏.‏

So they became the people of steadfastness, and he clarified for them the path. So they walked behind this imam and became aware through him of good and evil, the people of [ultimate] joy and the people of [ultimate] misery. And by him Allah illuminated the knowledge of Whom they were worshiping, and they came to know His praiseworthy attributes, and perfect actions, and correct judgements.

وقوله‏:‏ ‏{‏وَبَشِّرِ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ بِأَنَّ لَهُمْ مِنَ اللَّهِ فَضْلًا كَبِيرًا‏}‏ ذكر في هذه الجملة، المبشَّر، وهم المؤمنون، وعند ذكر الإيمان بمفرده، تدخل فيه الأعمال الصالحة‏.‏

And His statement, “And give good tidings to the believers that they will have from Allah a great bounty” He mentions in this sentence the giver of glad tidings to the believers, and He mentions al-eemaan specifically, and included therein are good righteous deeds.

وذكر المبشَّر به، وهو الفضل الكبير، أي‏:‏ العظيم الجليل، الذي لا يقادر قدره، من النصر في الدنيا، وهداية القلوب، وغفران الذنوب، وكشف الكروب، وكثرة الأرزاق الدَّارَّة، وحصول النعم السارة، والفوز برضا ربهم وثوابه، والنجاة من سخطه وعقابه‏.‏

And He mentions the giver of glad tidings, and those glad tidings are the great bounty. Meaning: great and wonderful, which one cannot fully enumerate, including support in this world, and guidance of the heart, forgiveness of sins, removal of anguish, abundant provision, and good blessings, and the successful attainment of the pleasure of their Lord and His reward, and rescue from His anger and punishment.

وهذا مما ينشط العاملين، أن يذكر لهم، من ثواب اللّه على أعمالهم، ما به يستعينون على سلوك الصراط المستقيم، وهذا من جملة حكم الشرع، كما أن من حكمه، أن يذكر في مقام الترهيب، العقوبات المترتبة على ما يرهب منه، ليكون عونًا على الكف عما حرم اللّه‏.‏

And this is one of the things which encourages the doers of deeds, that he mentions to them the reward of Allah for their deeds, what will aid them in traversing upon the Straight Path. And this is a sentence of legal ruling, similar to His legal rulings in which He mentions something of intimidation or the punishments arising from what one should be fearful of, in order to assist one in desisting from what Allah has forbidden.

ولما كان ثَمَّ طائفة من الناس، مستعدة للقيام بصد الداعين إلى اللّه، من الرسل وأتباعهم، وهم المنافقون، الذين أظهروا الموافقة في الإيمان، وهم كفرة فجرة في الباطن، والكفار ظاهرًا وباطنًا، نهى اللّه رسوله عن طاعتهم، وحذره ذلك فقال‏:‏ ‏{‏وَلَا تُطِعِ الْكَافِرِينَ وَالْمُنَافِقِينَ‏}‏ أي‏:‏ في كل أمر يصد عن سبيل اللّه، ولكن لا يقتضي هذا أذاهم، ‏‏بل لا تطعهم ‏{‏وَدَعْ أَذَاهُمْ‏}‏‏‏ فإن ذلك جالب لهم وداع إلى قبول الإسلام، وإلى كف كثير من أذيتهم له ولأهله‏.‏

And then there was a group of people who were pleased to establish opposition to those who called to Allah – be they Prophets or their followers -, and these people were the munaafiqoon, those who outwardly display agreement and compliance of eemaan, but they are disbelievers and transgressors inwardly. And (also among those who established opposition to the callers) were the kuffaar who disbelieved both outwardly and inwardly. Allah forbade His messenger from obeying them, and He warned him of that, saying, “And do not obey the disbelievers and the hypocrites” – meaning, in every issue they are diverting people from the path of Allah, however this does not necessitate that you harm them; rather do not obey them “but do not harm them” for verily that will attract them and call them to accepting al-Islaam (and cause them to accept it), and to desist from much of the harm which they are causing to you and your people.

‏{‏وَتَوَكَّلْ عَلَى اللَّهِ‏}‏ في إتمام أمرك، وخذلان عدوك، ‏{‏وَكَفَى بِاللَّهِ وَكِيلًا‏}‏ تُوكَلُ إليه الأمور المهمة، فيقوم بها، ويسهلها على عبده‏.‏

And rely upon Allah” in fulfilling what you have been commanded, and disappointing your enemy, “And Allah is sufficient as Disposer of affairs” entrust your important affairs to Him, then He will establish them, and will facilitate them for His slave.

[Taysir al-Kareem al-Rahman pg. 783-784]

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

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

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

See also: A Mercy to All Creation: Tafsir al-Shinqitee

See also: The Universal Messenger: Tafsir al-Shinqitee

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

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8 thoughts on “Five Descriptions of the Prophet in Surah al-Ahzaab

  1. Pingback: The command to extol the Prophet, and the punishment for harming him or the believers: Tafsir al-Sa’di | Tulayhah

  2. Pingback: We have sent him in order that you may believe: Tafsir al-Sa’di | Tulayhah

  3. Pingback: A Mercy to All Creation: Tafsir al-Shinqitee | Tulayhah

  4. Pingback: Two of the Wisdoms for Revealing the Qur’an to the Prophet: Tafsir al-Shinqitee | Tulayhah

  5. Pingback: The Universal Messenger: Tafsir al-Shinqitee | Tulayhah

  6. Pingback: The Prophet Muhammad is the fulfillment of Ibrahim’s du’a : Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali | Tulayhah

  7. Pingback: Belief in the Messengers in brief: Tafsir al-Sa’di | Tulayhah

  8. Pingback: The Qualities of those who Hasten towards Good: Khutbah of Imam al-Sa’di | Tulayhah

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