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

Allah says in surah al-Nisaa’:

وَإِذَا جَاءَهُمْ أَمْرٌ‌ مِّنَ الْأَمْنِ أَوِ الْخَوْفِ أَذَاعُوا بِهِ ۖ وَلَوْ رَ‌دُّوهُ إِلَى الرَّ‌سُولِ وَإِلَىٰ أُولِي الْأَمْرِ‌ مِنْهُمْ لَعَلِمَهُ الَّذِينَ يَسْتَنبِطُونَهُ مِنْهُمْ ۗ وَلَوْلَا فَضْلُ اللَّـهِ عَلَيْكُمْ وَرَ‌حْمَتُهُ لَاتَّبَعْتُمُ الشَّيْطَانَ إِلَّا قَلِيلًا

And when there comes to them information about [public] security or fear, they spread it around. But if they had referred it back to the Messenger or to those of authority among them, in order that the ones who [can] draw correct conclusions from it would have known about it. And were it not for the favor of Allah upon you and His mercy, you would have followed Shaytaan, except for a few. [4:83]

Commenting on this in his famous book of tafsir, Imam ‘Abd al-Rahman al-Sa’di wrote:

هذا تأديب من الله لعباده عن فعلهم هذا غير اللائق. وأنه ينبغي لهم إذا جاءهم أمر من الأمور المهمة والمصالح العامة ما يتعلق بالأمن وسرور المؤمنين، أو بالخوف الذي فيه مصيبة عليهم أن يتثبتوا ولا يستعجلوا بإشاعة ذلك الخبر، بل يردونه إلى الرسول وإلى أولي الأمر منهم، أهلِ الرأي: والعلم والنصح والعقل والرزانة، الذين يعرفون الأمور ويعرفون المصالح وضدها. ـ

This is a chastisement from Allah to His slaves for their committing an act which was inappropriate.[1] And when an issue comes to them from among the issues of importance and public well-being related to (public) safety and the secrets of the believers or concerning fear of a crisis for them, in order that they may be fortified and not take part in spreading that news it is befitting for them that they should refer it back to the Messenger and to those in authority among them – the experts: those of ‘ilm, sincerity, intelligence and poise, those who know the issues and know the pros and cons.

فإن رأوا في إذاعته مصلحة ونشاطا للمؤمنين ، وسرورا لهم ، وتحرزا من أعدائهم فعلوا ذلك. وإن رأوا أنه ليس فيه مصلحة أو فيه مصلحة ولكن مضرته تزيد على مصلحته، لم يذيعوه، ولهذا قال: { لَعَلِمَهُ الَّذِينَ يَسْتَنْبِطُونَهُ مِنْهُمْ } أي: يستخرجونه بفكرهم وآرائهم السديدة وعلومهم الرشيدة. ـ

So if they [the experts] perceive that spreading it (i.e. the issue in question) as beneficial and enlivening for the believers and a source of joy for them or a means of taking precaution against their enemies, then they should do that. And if they perceive that there is not benefit in it, or that there is benefit in it however its harms outweigh its benefits, then they should not spread it [i.e. that news]. And concerning this Allah said, “in order that the ones who [can] draw correct conclusions from it would have known about it” – meaning, through their thinking and expertise they can derive the correct path and rightly-guided knowledge from it.

وفي هذا دليل لقاعدة أدبية وهي أنه إذا حصل بحث في أمر من الأمور ينبغي أن يولَّى مَنْ هو أهل لذلك ويجعل إلى أهله، ولا يتقدم بين أيديهم، فإنه أقرب إلى الصواب وأحرى للسلامة من الخطأ. وفيه النهي عن العجلة والتسرع لنشر الأمور من حين سماعها، والأمر بالتأمل قبل الكلام والنظر فيه، هل هو مصلحة، فيُقْدِم عليه الإنسان؟ أم لا،فيحجم عنه؟

And in this is evidence for an ethical principle which is that when one encounters an issue from the affairs, it is necessary that it be directed towards those who are the experts in that and to place it with its people and not to take it out of their hands. For certainly this is closer to what is correct and more likely to be safe from error. And in this is a prohibition of hastiness and impulsiveness in broadcasting the affairs to whomever would listen. The issue should be addressed with contemplation before speaking about it and with looking into it – is this beneficial, such that it should be sent out amongst the people? Or no, such that one refrains from doing that?

ثم قال تعالى: { وَلَوْلَا فَضْلُ اللَّهِ عَلَيْكُمْ وَرَحْمَتُهُ } أي: في توفيقكم وتأديبكم، وتعليمكم ما لم تكونوا تعلمون، { لَاتَّبَعْتُمُ الشَّيْطَانَ إِلَّا قَلِيلًا } لأن الإنسان بطبعه ظالم جاهل، فلا تأمره نفسه إلا بالشر. فإذا لجأ إلى ربه واعتصم به واجتهد في ذلك، لطف به ربه ووفقه لكل خير، وعصمه من الشيطان الرجيم. ـ

Then Allah said, “And were it not for the favor of Allah upon you and His mercy” – meaning, in your [receiving] success and admonition and your being taught that which you did not know – “you would have followed Shaytaan, except for a few,” because by his nature, man is wrong-doing and ignorant, such that his lower-self does not command him except to do evil. So if he takes refuge with his Lord and seeks protection with Him and strives in that, his Lord is kind towards him and causes him to achieve every good and protects him from the shaytaan.

[Taysir al-Kareem al-Rahman pg. 205]

1. Translator’s note: Imam al-Shawkani further describes the situation that precipitated the revelation of this ayah in his book of tafsir where he wrote:

قوله : وإذا جاءهم أمر من الأمن أو الخوف أذاعوا به يقال : أذاع الشيء وأذاع به : إذا أفشاه وأظهره ، وهؤلاء هم جماعة من ضعفة المسلمين كانوا إذا سمعوا شيئا من أمر المسلمين فيه أمن نحو ظفر المسلمين وقتل عدوهم ، أو فيه خوف نحو هزيمة المسلمين وقتلهم ؛ أفشوه وهم يظنون أنه لا شيء عليهم في ذلك . قوله : ولو ردوه إلى الرسول وإلى أولي الأمر منهم [ ص: 315 ] وهم أهل العلم والعقول الراجحة الذين يرجعون إليهم في أمورهم أو هم الولاة عليهم لعلمه الذين يستنبطونه منهم أي : يستخرجونه بتدبرهم وصحة عقولهم . ـ

His statement, “And when there comes to them information about [public] security or fear, they spread it around“. It is said that spreading something around is to circulate it and make it publicly known. And there was a group of the weak Muslims who, when they would hear something concerning the affairs of the Muslims related to public safety and the like such as a victory of the Muslims and death of their enemies or related to fear and the like such as defeat of the Muslims and their deaths, then they would circulate it and they thought that there was no foul on their part for doing so. His statement, “But if they had referred it back to the Messenger or to those of authority among them,” and those are the people of ‘ilm, intelligence and correct opinion – that they would return to them concerning their affairs. Or they are those in [political] authority over them. “In order that the ones who [can] draw correct conclusions from it would have known about it,” – meaning, that they would extract [the correct conclusions] therefrom by virtue of their contemplation and soundness of intellects.

والمعنى : أنهم لو تركوا الإذاعة للأخبار حتى يكون النبي صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم هو الذي يذيعها أو يكون أولو الأمر منهم هم الذين يتولون ذلك ؛ لأنهم يعلمون ما ينبغي أن يفشى وما ينبغي أن يكتم . ـ

And the meaning is if they were to leave off spreading around these pieces of news until the Prophet (ﷺ) was the one to spread it or those in authority from among them [were the ones to spread it], and they are the ones to whom it should be referred because they know what ought to be circulated and what ought to be concealed.

[Fath al-Qadeer 1/315-316]

See also: “If a Faasiq comes to you with news, verify it…”: Tafsir al-Shinqitee and al-Sa’di

See also: Applying Allah’s Guidance regarding the News of the Faasiq: Sheikh Muhammad Bazmool

See also: Investigate and Verify: Tafsir al-Sa’di

See also: “Ask the Ahl al-Dhikr if You Don’t Know”: Sheikh Muhammad Bazmool

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

See also: O you who believe, when you wish to privately consult with the Messenger… : Tafsir al-Sa’di

10 thoughts on “Referring issues back to their experts – Imam al-Sa’di

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