Appropriate Miracles for Each People and Era: Ibn Kathir

The great scholar and historian al-haafidh Abu’l-Fidaa’ Ismaa’eel ibn Kathir wrote the following point of benefit in his tafsir under his discussion of some of the miracles of ‘Eesaa ibn Maryam (Jesus the son of Mary):

قال كثير من العلماء : بعث الله كل نبي من الأنبياء بمعجزة تناسب أهل زمانه ، فكان الغالب على زمان موسى ، عليه السلام ، السحر وتعظيم السحرة . فبعثه الله بمعجزة بهرت الأبصار وحيرت كل سحار ، فلما استيقنوا أنها من عند العظيم الجبار انقادوا للإسلام ، وصاروا من الأبرار .  ـ

Many of the scholars have said: Allah sent each one of the prophets with miracles which were befitting the people of their time. So what was predominant during the time of Moosaa (‘alaihi al-salaam) was sorcery and magnification of magicians, so Allah sent Moosaa with miracles which dazzled the sight and confounded every magician, so when they [the magicians] became certain that this was from al-‘Atheem al-Jabbaar (The Magnificent and Mighty), then they conformed to al-Islaam and they become amongst the most pious of people.

وأما عيسى ، عليه السلام ، فبعث في زمن الأطباء وأصحاب علم الطبيعة ، فجاءهم من الآيات بما لا سبيل لأحد إليه ، إلا أن يكون مؤيدا من الذي شرع الشريعة . فمن أين للطبيب قدرة على إحياء الجماد ، أو على مداواة الأكمه والأبرص ، وبعث من هو في قبره رهين إلى يوم التناد ؟ ـ

As for ‘Eesaa (‘alaihi al-salaam), then he was sent during an era of doctors and people studying the natural world, so he came to them with ayaat (signs, miracles) which no one could produce unless if he were aided by the One who legislated the divine legislation. For does the doctor have any power to give life to that which is inanimate, or to heal the blind or the leper, or to bring forth the one who was made subject unto the grave until the Day of Summoning?

وكذلك محمد صلى الله عليه وسلم بعثه [ الله ] في زمن الفصحاء والبلغاء ونحارير الشعراء ، فأتاهم بكتاب من الله ، عز وجل ، لو اجتمعت الإنس والجن على أن يأتوا بمثله ، أو بعشر سور من مثله ، أو بسورة من مثله لم يستطيعوا أبدا ، ولو كان بعضهم لبعض ظهيرا ، وما ذاك إلا لأن كلام الرب لا يشبهه كلام الخلق أبدا . ـ

And likewise with Muhammad (ﷺ) – Allah sent him during an era of articulate and eloquent speakers and excellent poets. So he came to them with a Book from Allah which even if mankind and Jinn-kind were to work together to bring about the likes of it, or even ten surahs like it, or even one surah like it – then would never be able to do that, even if there were aiding one another. And that is due to no other reason than that it is the Speech of the Lord which no speech of the creation will ever be able to resemble.

[Tafsir ibn Kathir 2/46]

See also: Tafsir al-Sa’di on the objective of revealing the Qur’an and its benefits

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

See also: The story of ‘Eesaa, his mother, Zakariyyah and Yahya – Imam al-Sa’di

See also: And even if they see all the signs, they will not believe in them: Tafsir al-Qurtubi

See also: The Qur’an, the Tawrah and the Injeel: Tafsir ibn Kathir

“O you who believe, avoid much suspicion…”: Tafsir al-Sa’di

Allah says in surah al-Hujuraat:

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا اجْتَنِبُوا كَثِيرًا مِّنَ الظَّنِّ إِنَّ بَعْضَ الظَّنِّ إِثْمٌ ۖ وَلَا تَجَسَّسُوا وَلَا يَغْتَب بَّعْضُكُم بَعْضًا ۚ أَيُحِبُّ أَحَدُكُمْ أَن يَأْكُلَ لَحْمَ أَخِيهِ مَيْتًا فَكَرِهْتُمُوهُ ۚ وَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ تَوَّابٌ رَّحِيمٌ

O you who believe! Avoid much suspicions, indeed some suspicions are sins. And spy not, neither backbite one another. Would one of you like to eat the flesh of his dead brother? You would hate it (so hate backbiting). And have taqwa of Allah. Verily, Allah is the One Who accepts repentance, Most Merciful. [49:12]

Commenting on this ayah in his tafsir, Imam al-Sa’di wrote:

نهى الله تعالى عن كثير من الظن السوء بالمؤمنين، فـ { إِنَّ بَعْضَ الظَّنِّ إِثْمٌ } وذلك، كالظن الخالي من الحقيقة والقرينة، وكظن السوء، الذي يقترن به كثير من الأقوال، والأفعال المحرمة، فإن بقاء ظن السوء بالقلب، لا يقتصر صاحبه على مجرد ذلك، بل لا يزال به، حتى يقول ما لا ينبغي، ويفعل ما لا ينبغي، وفي ذلك أيضًا، إساءة الظن بالمسلم، وبغضه، وعداوته المأمور بخلاف ذلك منه.ـ

Allah prohibited the people from engaging in an abundance of bad thoughts about the believers, for “indeed some suspicions are sins” and that is the truth, such as suspicion that is devoid of any true context, such as bad suspicion which is often associated with an abundance of speech and with unlawful actions. For indeed if bad suspicions are existing in the heart, then that person will not be limited to that alone. Rather, that will remain with him until he says something which is not appropriate and does something which is not appropriate. And that also brings about having evil thoughts about another Muslims, hating him and having enmity towards him, which is contrary to how one is commanded to be towards him.

ـ{ وَلَا تَجَسَّسُوا } أي: لا تفتشوا عن عورات المسلمين، ولا تتبعوها، واتركوا المسلم على حاله، واستعملوا التغافل عن أحواله التي إذا فتشت، ظهر منها ما لا ينبغي.ـ Continue reading

A sin may be beneficial for a person: Ibn al-Qayyim

The great scholar Ibn al-Qayyim (may Allaah have mercy on him) wrote:

إن الذنب قد يكون أنفع للعبد إذا اقترنت به التوبة من كثير من الطاعات ، وهذا معنى قول بعض السلف : قد يعمل العبد الذنب فيدخل به الجنة ويعمل الطاعة فيدخل بها النار ، قالوا : وكيف ذلك قال : يعمل الذنب فلا يزال نصب عينيه إن قام وإن قعد وإن مشى ذكر ذنبه فيُحدِثُ له انكساراً وتوبةً واستغفارا وندما فيكون ذلك سبب نجاته ، ويعمل الحسنة فلا تزال نصب عينيه إن قام وإن قعد وإن مشى كلما ذكرها أورثته عجباً وكبرا ومنة فتكون سبب هلاكه

Sin may be more beneficial for a person – if it leads him to repent – than engaging in many acts of obedience. This is the meaning of the statement of one of the salaf,

“‘A person may commit a sin and enter Paradise because of it, or he may do an act of worship and enter Hell because of it.’ They said, ‘How is that?’ He replied, ‘He may commit a sin and then it remains at the forefront of his thoughts, and when he stands or sits or walks he remembers his sin. So then there comes about shame, repentance, seeking forgiveness and regret, so that that will be the means of his salvation. And [on the other hand] one may perform a good deed and it remains at the forefront of his thoughts, so when he stands or sits or walks he always remembers it and it results in him being amazed [with himself] and prideful. So that will be from the cause of his doom.'”

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The Preservation of the Qur’an and the Preservation of the Tawrah: Imam al-Shinqitee

Allah says in surah al-Maa’idah:

إِنَّا أَنزَلْنَا التَّوْرَ‌اةَ فِيهَا هُدًى وَنُورٌ‌ ۚ يَحْكُمُ بِهَا النَّبِيُّونَ الَّذِينَ أَسْلَمُوا لِلَّذِينَ هَادُوا وَالرَّ‌بَّانِيُّونَ وَالْأَحْبَارُ‌ بِمَا اسْتُحْفِظُوا مِن كِتَابِ اللَّـهِ وَكَانُوا عَلَيْهِ شُهَدَاءَ ۚ فَلَا تَخْشَوُا النَّاسَ وَاخْشَوْنِ وَلَا تَشْتَرُ‌وا بِآيَاتِي ثَمَنًا قَلِيلًا ۚ وَمَن لَّمْ يَحْكُم بِمَا أَنزَلَ اللَّـهُ فَأُولَـٰئِكَ هُمُ الْكَافِرُ‌ونَ

Indeed, We sent down the Torah, in which was guidance and light. The prophets who submitted [to Allah] judged by it for the Jews, as did the rabbis and scholars by that with which they were entrusted of the Scripture of Allah, and they were witnesses thereto. So do not fear the people but fear Me, and do not exchange My verses for a small price. And whoever does not judge by what Allah has revealed – then it is those who are the disbelievers. [5:44]

Commenting on part of this ayah in his book of tafsir, Imam al-Shinqitee clarified an important issue by writing:

قوله تعالى : بما استحفظوا من كتاب الله وكانوا عليه شهداء الآية .ـ

Allah’s statement, “by that with which they were entrusted of the Scripture of Allah” until the end of the ayah.

أخبر تعالى في هذه الآية الكريمة أن الأحبار والرهبان استحفظوا كتاب الله يعني استودعوه ، وطلب منهم حفظه ، ولم يبين هنا هل امتثلوا الأمر في ذلك وحفظوه ، أو لم يمتثلوا الأمر في ذلك وضيعوه ؟ ولكنه بين في مواضع أخر أنهم لم يمتثلوا الأمر ، ولم يحفظوا ما استحفظوه ، بل حرفوه وبدلوه عمدا كقوله : يحرفون الكلم عن مواضعه . الآية [ 4 \ 46 ] . ـ

Allah informed us in this noble ayah that the rabbis and the scholars were entrusted with the scripture of Allah – meaning they were given charge of its safekeeping and He sought for them to preserve it. And He did not clarify here whether they complied with the command in this matter and preserved it or whether they did not comply with the command in this matter and caused it to perish. However He did clarify elsewhere that they did not comply with the command and that they did not preserve what they were entrusted with – rather they distorted it and changed it intentionally, such as in His statement,

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“Remind them of the Days of Allah”: Tafsir al-Shawkaani

Allah says in surah Ibrahim:

وَلَقَدْ أَرْ‌سَلْنَا مُوسَىٰ بِآيَاتِنَا أَنْ أَخْرِ‌جْ قَوْمَكَ مِنَ الظُّلُمَاتِ إِلَى النُّورِ‌ وَذَكِّرْ‌هُم بِأَيَّامِ اللَّـهِ ۚ إِنَّ فِي ذَٰلِكَ لَآيَاتٍ لِّكُلِّ صَبَّارٍ‌ شَكُورٍ

And We certainly sent Moosaa with Our signs, [saying], “Bring out your people from darknesses into the light and remind them of the days of Allah.” Indeed in that are signs for everyone patient and grateful. [14:5]
Commenting on this, Imam al-Shawkaani wrote:
وذكرهم بأيام الله أي بوقائعه . ـ
‘And remind them of the days of Allah’ – meaning His events.
 –
قال ابن السكيت : العرب تقول الأيام في معنى الوقائع ، يقال فلان عالم بأيام العرب ، أي : بوقائعها . ـ
ibn al-Sakeet said:The Arabs says ‘days’ with the meaning of ‘events/happenings’.  One might say, ‘So-and-so is very knowledgeable of the days of the Arabs’ – meaning: of their happenings.
 –
وقال الزجاج ، أي : ذكرهم بنعم الله عليهم وبنقم أيام الله التي انتقم فيها من قوم نوح وعاد وثمود . ـ
And al-Zujaaj said: it means ‘remind them of the blessings of Allah upon them and of the punishment of the days of Allah which He inflicted upon the people of Nuh, ‘Aad and Thamood. Continue reading

The Sabr of Choice and Sabr of Necessity: Imam al-Sa’di

Imam ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn Naasir al-Sa’di commented on the temptation that Yusuf endured at the hands of his master’s wife by writing:

هذه المحنة العظيمة أعظم على يوسف من محنة إخوته، وصبره عليها أعظم أجرا، لأنه صبر اختيار مع وجود الدواعي الكثيرة، لوقوع الفعل، فقدم محبة الله عليها، وأما محنته بإخوته، فصبره صبر اضطرار، بمنزلة الأمراض والمكاره التي تصيب العبد بغير اختياره وليس له ملجأ إلا الصبر عليها، طائعا أو كارها، وذلك أن يوسف عليه الصلاة والسلام بقي مكرما في بيت العزيز

This great test was more arduous on Yusuf than the test of his brothers, and his sabr in the face of it was of greater reward. This is because it was sabr of choice in the face of many temptations and it entailed action, but he prioritized the love of Allah ahead of that.

As for the test of his brothers, then his sabr there was a sabr of necessity, similar in status to sickness and misfortunes with afflict a slave outside of his choosing and from which there is no refuge except having sabr over them – whether willingly or unwillingly. And so Yusuf (‘alaihi al-salaam) remained honorable in the house of [his owner] al-‘Azeez.

[Taysir al-Kareem al-Rahman pg. 456]

For more benefits from Surah Yusuf, click here.

See also: The definition of Sabr: Imam al-Sa’di

See also: Words for those in the midst of long-suffering: Ibn al-Jawzi

See also: The reward of an action is of the same category as the action itself: Tafsir ibn Kathir

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

The relationship between al-Tawheed and al-istighfaar: Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali

In his discussion of the conclusion of the month of Ramadan, Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali mentions the following points of benefit concerning the relationship between al-Tawheed and al-istighfaar (seeking Allah’s forgiveness). After mentioning some notes concerning what is conducive to freeing oneself from the hell-fire during Ramadan, he writes:

و فيه أيضا : [ فاستكثروا فيه من أربع خصال : خصلتين ترضون بها ربكم و خصلتين لا غناء لكم عنهما فأما الخصلتان اللتان ترضون بهما ربكم : شهادة أن لا إله إلا الله و الإستغفار و أما اللتان لا غناء لكم عنهما : فتسألون الله الجنة و تستعيذون به من النار ] فهذه الخصال الأربعة المذكورة في الحديث كل منها سبب العتق و المغفرة : فأما كلمة التوحيد : فإنها تهدم الذنوب و تمحوها محوا و لا تبقي ذنبا و لا يسبقها عمل و هي تعدل عتق الرقاب الذي يوجب العتق من النار و من أتى بها أربع مرار حين يصبح و حين يمسي أعتقه الله من النار و من قالها مخلصا من قلبه حرمه الله على النار

And on this topic also is, “So be prolific in four characteristics: Two characteristics by which you please your Lord, and two characteristics which you cannot do without. As for the two characteristics by which you please your Lord – they are they shahaadah that there is no deity worthy of worship except Allaah, and al-istighfaar [seeking Allah’s forgiveness]. And as for the two which you cannot do without – they are your asking Allah for al-jannah and seeking refuge in Him from the Hell-fire.” So all four of the aforementioned characteristics in this statement are causes of emancipation and forgiveness. As for the kalimah al-tawheed (i.e. the shahaadah), then verily it destroys sins and completely erases them and sin does not remain, and no action precedes it [in virtue]. It is equivalent to freeing a slave, which necessitates the freeing of one from the Fire.

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

Allah commands the believers in surah al-Mujaadilah by saying:

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا إِذَا نَاجَيْتُمُ الرَّ‌سُولَ فَقَدِّمُوا بَيْنَ يَدَيْ نَجْوَاكُمْ صَدَقَةً ۚ ذَٰلِكَ خَيْرٌ‌ لَّكُمْ وَأَطْهَرُ‌ ۚ فَإِن لَّمْ تَجِدُوا فَإِنَّ اللَّـهَ غَفُورٌ‌ رَّ‌حِيمٌ * أَأَشْفَقْتُمْ أَن تُقَدِّمُوا بَيْنَ يَدَيْ نَجْوَاكُمْ صَدَقَاتٍ ۚ فَإِذْ لَمْ تَفْعَلُوا وَتَابَ اللَّـهُ عَلَيْكُمْ فَأَقِيمُوا الصَّلَاةَ وَآتُوا الزَّكَاةَ وَأَطِيعُوا اللَّـهَ وَرَ‌سُولَهُ ۚ وَاللَّـهُ خَبِيرٌ‌ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ

O you who have believed, when you [wish to] privately consult the Messenger, present before your consultation a charity. That is better for you and purer. But if you find not [the means] – then indeed, Allah is Forgiving and Merciful. * Have you feared to present before your consultation charities? Then when you did not and Allah has forgiven you, then [at least] establish prayer and give zakah and obey Allah and His Messenger. And Allah is Well-Acquainted with what you do. [58:12-13]

Commenting on this in his book of tafsir, imam al-Sa’di wrote:

يأمر تعالى المؤمنين بالصدقة، أمام مناجاة رسوله محمد صلى الله عليه وسلم تأديبا لهم وتعليما، وتعظيما للرسول صلى الله عليه وسلم، فإن هذا التعظيم، خير للمؤمنين وأطهر أي: بذلك يكثر خيركم وأجركم، وتحصل لكم الطهارة من الأدناس، التي من جملتها ترك احترام الرسول صلى الله عليه وسلم والأدب معه بكثرة المناجاة التي لا ثمرة تحتها، فإنه إذا أمر بالصدقة بين يدي مناجاته صار هذا ميزانا لمن كان حريصا على الخير والعلم، فلا يبالي بالصدقة، ـ

Allah commanded the believers to give sadaqah (charity) before privately consulting His messenger (ﷺ) as an admonition to them and as an instruction. And it is a magnification of the prophet (ﷺ), for verily this magnification is better for the believers and more pure – meaning that through this they would accumulate a great deal of good and reward and achieve purity from the blemishes which ensue from leaving off revering the Messenger (ﷺ) and [leaving off] having good manners with him by engaging in excessive private consultations which bear no benefit. So when He commanded the giving of saqadah prior to privately consulting him, this became a measuring scale of whoever was eager for good and for ‘ilm, for the sadaqah would not bother him.

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