The meaning of al-thulm : Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali

Allah says in surah al-An’aam:

الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَلَمْ يَلْبِسُوا إِيمَانَهُم بِظُلْمٍ أُولَـٰئِكَ لَهُمُ الْأَمْنُ وَهُم مُّهْتَدُونَ

Those who believe and do not mix their belief with thulm – for them (only) there is security and they are the guided.

[al-Qur’an 6:82]

Commenting on this ayah, al-Haafidh ibn Rajab al-Hanbali wrote:

خرّج البخاري ومسلم : من حديثِ ابن مسعود ، قال : لمّا نزلت : < الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَلَمْ يَلْبِسُوا إِيمَانَهُم بِظُلْمٍ > ، قال أصحاب الرسول الله ﷺ : أيّنا لم يظلم نفسه ؟ فأنزل الله : < إِنَّ الشِّرْ‌كَ لَظُلْمٌ عَظِيمٌ > . ـ

Al-Bukhari and Muslim reported the hadeeth of ibn Mas’ood that he said, “When the ayah, ‘Those who believe and do not mix their belief with thulm‘ [6:82] was revealed, the companions of Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) said, ‘Which of us does not wrong himself?’ So Allah revealed the ayah, ‘Verily al-shirk is great thulm‘ [31:13].

و معنى هذا : أنّ الظلم يختلف : ـ

And this means that the meaning of al-thulm varies:

فيه الظلمٌ ينقل عن الملة ، كقوله تعالى :  < إِنَّ الشِّرْ‌كَ لَظُلْمٌ عَظِيمٌ > ، وقوله تعالى : < وَالْكَافِرُ‌ونَ هُمُ الظَّالِمُونَ > ، فإنّ الظلم وضعُ الشيءِ في غير موضعه ، وأعظم ذلك أنَ يوضعَ المخلوقُ في مقام الخالق ، ويجعلَ شريكاً له في الربوبية وفي الإلهية ، سبحانه وتعالى عمّا يشركون . ـ

Among the meanings is the thulm which removes one from the religion, such as His statement, “Verily al-shirk is a great thulm” [31:13], and His statement, “and the disbelievers, they are al-thaalimoon” [2:254]. For al-thulm is placing something in other than it’s proper place, and the most severe form of that is to place the created being in the station of the Creator, or to make a partner for Him in terms of Lordship and God-ship, exalted is He above what they associate with Him.

وأكثرُ ما يرد في القرآن وعيدُ الظالمين ـ يراد به الكفار ، كقوله تعالى : < وَلَا تَحْسَبَنَّ اللَّـهَ غَافِلًا عَمَّا يَعْمَلُ الظَّالِمُونَ > الآية ، وقوله : < وَتَرَ‌ى الظَّالِمِينَ لَمَّا رَ‌أَوُا الْعَذَابَ يَقُولُونَ هَلْ إِلَىٰ مَرَ‌دٍّ مِّن سَبِيلٍ > الآية ومثل هذا كثير . ـ

And most of what is meant in the Qur’an of threats to the thaalimoon are directed towards the kuffaar, such as His statement, “And never think that Allah is unaware of what the thaalimoon do. (He only delays them for a Day when eyes will stare [in horror].) ” [14:42], and His statement, “And you will see the thaalimoon , when they see the punishment, saying, ‘Is there any way to return [to the former world]’” [42:44]. And there are many verses like this.

ويراد بالظلم ما لا ينقل عن الملة ، كقوله تعالى : < فَمِنْهُمْ ظَالِمٌ لِّنَفْسِهِ وَمِنْهُم مُّقْتَصِدٌ وَمِنْهُمْ سَابِقٌ بِالْخَيْرَ‌اتِ > ، وقوله : < وَمَن يَتَعَدَّ حُدُودَ اللَّـهِ فَأُولَـٰئِكَ هُمُ الظَّالِمُونَ > . ـ

And thulm can be used to mean that which does not remove one from the religion, such as His statement, “and among them is he who wrongs himself, and among them is he who is moderate, and among them is he who is foremost in good deeds” [35:32], and His statement, “And whoever transgresses the limits of Allah – it is those who are the thaalimoon” [2:229].

وحديثُ ابن مسعود هذا : صريحٌ في أنّ المراد بقوله تعالى : < الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَلَمْ يَلْبِسُوا إِيمَانَهُم بِظُلْمٍ > أنّ الظلم هو الشرك . ـ

And in this hadeeth of ibn Mas’ood, it is clear that the meaning of His statement, “Those who believe and do not mix their belief with thulm” is that al-thulm is al-shirk.

وجاء في بعض روياته زيادة : قال : إنّما هو الشرك

And in another narration of it, it comes with the addition, “Verily, it is only al-shirk.”

وروى حماد بن سلمة عن علي بن زيد عن يوسف بن مهران عن ابن عباس أنّ عمر بن الخطاب كان إذا دخل بيته نشر المصحف فقرأ ، فدخل ذات يوم فقرأ ، فأتى على هذه الآية : < الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَلَمْ يَلْبِسُوا إِيمَانَهُم بِظُلْمٍ > ، إلى آجر الآية فانتعل وأخذ رداءة ، ثمّ أتى أُبيّ بن كعب ، فقال : يا أبا المنذر ، أتيتُ قبلُ على هذه الآية : < الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَلَمْ يَلْبِسُوا إِيمَانَهُم بِظُلْمٍ > وقد ترى أنّا نظلم ونفعل ؟ فقال : يا أمير المؤمنين ، إنّ هذا ليس بذلك ، يقول تعالى : < إِنَّ الشِّرْ‌كَ لَظُلْمٌ عَظِيمٌ > إنما ذلك الشرك . ـ

Ibn ‘Abbaas narrated that whenever ‘Umar ibn al-Khattaab used to enter his house, he would bring out the mushaf and read. So one day he came across this ayah, “Those who believe and do not mix their belief with thulm” until the end of the ayah, so he put on his shoes and grabbed his garment and then went to Ubayy ibn Ka’b and said, “O Abu’l-Mundhir! I have come to you about this ayah, “those who believe and do not mix their belief with thulm,” and don’t you see that we have wronged ourselves and done that?” So he replied, “O Ameer al-Mu’mineen! Verily, this is not like that. Allah said, ‘Verily al-shirk is great thulm,’ – it is only al-shirk.”

وخرّجه محمد بن نصر المروزي . وخرّجه – أيضا – من طريق حماد بن زيد عن علي بن زيد عن سعيد بن المسيب ، أنّ عمر أتي على هذه الآية – فذكره . وحماد بن سلمة ، مقدم على حماد بن زيد في علي بن زيد خاصة . ـ

And it was reported by Muhammad ibn Nasr al-Marouzi. And it was also reported from another route via Sa’eed ibn al-Musayyib, that ‘Umar alighted upon this ayah, and then he mentioned it [the same]. …

وروى – أيضا – بأسناده عن سفيان عن ابن جريج ، عن عطاء ، قال : كفرٌ دين كفرٍ ، وظلمٌ دين ظلمٍ ، و فسقٌ دين فسقٍ . ـ

And it was also narrated with a chain from Sufyan from ibn Jurayj from ‘Ataa’ that he said, “Kufr less than kufr, thulm less than thulm, and fisq less than fisq.

يعني : أنّ الفسق قد يكون ناقلا عن الملة ، كما قال تعالى في حق إبليس : < فَفَسَقَ عَنْ أَمْرِ‌ رَ‌بِّهِ > ، وقال : < وَأَمَّا الَّذِينَ فَسَقُوا فَمَأْوَاهُمُ النَّارُ‌ ۖ كُلَّمَا أَرَ‌ادُوا أَن يَخْرُ‌جُوا مِنْهَا أُعِيدُوا فِيهَا وَقِيلَ لَهُمْ ذُوقُوا عَذَابَ النَّارِ‌ الَّذِي كُنتُم بِهِ تُكَذِّبُونَ > . ـ

Meaning that al-fisq could be something which exits one from the religion, such as what Allah said concerning Iblees, “he disobeyed (fasaqa) the command of his Lord,” [18:50], and He said, “But as for those who defiantly disobeyed (fasaqoo), their refuge is the Fire. Every time they wish to emerge from it, they will be returned to it while it is said to them, ‘Taste the punishment of the Fire which you used to deny.’ ” [32:20]

وقد لا يكون الفسق ناقلا عن الملة ، كقوله تعالى : < وَلَا يُضَارَّ‌ كَاتِبٌ وَلَا شَهِيدٌ ۚ وَإِن تَفْعَلُوا فَإِنَّهُ فُسُوقٌ بِكُمْ > ، وقوله في الذين يرمون المحصنات : < وَلَا تَقْبَلُوا لَهُمْ شَهَادَةً أَبَدًا ۚ وَأُولَـٰئِكَ هُمُ الْفَاسِقُونَ > ، وقوله : < فَلَا رَ‌فَثَ وَلَا فُسُوقَ وَلَا جِدَالَ فِي الْحَجِّ > . ـ

And al-fisq could be something which does not exit one from the religion, such as His statement, “ Let neither scribe nor witness suffer any harm, but if you do (such harm), it would be fusooq in you” [2:282], and His statement concerning those who accuse chaste women (of sexual immorality), “and never accept their testimony, they indeed are the Faasiqoon” [24:4], and His statement, “ there is [to be for him] no sexual relations and no fusooq and no disputing during the Hajj” [2:197].

وفسّرت الصحابةُ الفسوقَ في الحجّ بالمعاصي كلّها ، ومنهم من خصّها بما يُنهى عنه في الإحرام جاصة . ـ

And the Sahaabah explained al-fusooq during the Hajj as any sort of disobedience. And some of them limited it specifically to what invalidates the ihraam status.

وكذلك الشركُ ، منه ما ينقل عن الملة ، واستعماله في ذلك كثيرٌ في الكتاب والسنة ، ومنه ما لا ينقل ، كما جاء في الحديث : < من حلف بغير الله فقد أشرْك > ، وفي الحديث : < الشركُ في هذه الأمة أخفى من دبيب النمل > ، وسمّى الريّاءَ الشركًا . ـ

And similarly with al-shirk: there is that which exits one from the religion – and it is used as such often in the Qur’an and sunnah – , and there is that which does not exit one from the religion, such as in the hadeeth, “Whoever swears by other than Allah, then he has committed shirk,” and in the hadeeth, “The shirk in this Ummah is more concealed than the crawling of an ant,” and he called al-riyaa’ [doing good deeds to be seen by others/showing off] al-shirk.

وتأوّل ابن عباس على ذلك قوله تعالى : <  وَمَا يُؤْمِنُ أَكْثَرُ‌هُم بِاللَّـهِ إِلَّا وَهُم مُّشْرِ‌كُونَ > ، قال : إنّ أحدَهم يشرك حتى يشرك بكلبه : لولا الكلبُ لسرقنا الليلة . ـ

And Ibn ‘Abbaas interpreted this statement, “And most of them believe not in Allah except while they associate others with Him” [12:106] by saying, “verily one of them commits shirk to the extent that he commits shirk with his dog, saying, ‘were it not for the dog, we would have stolen the night.'”

قال تعالى : < فَمَن كَانَ يَرْ‌جُو لِقَاءَ رَ‌بِّهِ فَلْيَعْمَلْ عَمَلًا صَالِحًا وَلَا يُشْرِ‌كْ بِعِبَادَةِ رَ‌بِّهِ أَحَدًا > . وقد رُوي أنها نزلت في الرياء في العمل . ـ

Allah said, “So whoever would hope for the meeting with his Lord – let him do righteous work and not associate anyone in the worship of his Lord,” [18:110]. And it has been narrated that this was revealed concerning al-riyaa’ in the performance of good deeds.

وقيل للحسن : يشركُ بالله ؟ قال : لا ، ولكن أشرك بذلك العمل عملا يريد به الله والناس ، فذلك يرد عليه . ـ

And it was said to al-Hasan, “Did so-and-so make shirk with Allah?” He said, “No, however one makes shirk by performing an action in which he intends [to please] both Allah and the people. So that is rejected from him.”

[Tafsir ibn Rajab 1/470-473]

See also: “And who is more unjust than…”: Imam al-Shinqitee

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

See also: The Sharee’ah of Moosaa and the Sharee’ah of Muhammad

See also: Kufr less than Kufr: Ibn Hajar [Forthcoming, inshaAllaah]

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3 thoughts on “The meaning of al-thulm : Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali

  1. Pingback: Prophets with multiple names and the meaning of “Israa’eel”: Tafsir al-Qurtubi | Tulayhah

  2. Pingback: “And who is more unjust than…”: Imam al-Shinqitee | Tulayhah

  3. Pingback: “Whoever does evil or wrongs himself but then seeks Allah’s forgiveness…”: Tafsir al-Sa’di | Tulayhah

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