The Levels of the Believers: Tafsir al-Sa’di

Imam ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn Naasir al-Sa’di mentions the following point of benefit in his thematic tafsir:

فائدة: قوله تعالى في المصطفين الذين أورثهم الله الكتاب: { فَمِنْهُمْ ظَالِمٌ لِّنَفْسِهِ وَمِنْهُم مُّقْتَصِدٌ وَمِنْهُمْ سَابِقٌ بِالْخَيْرَ‌اتِ } [ فاطر: 32 ].  اشترك هؤلاء الثلاثة في أصل الإيمان، وفي اختيار الله لهم من بين الخليقة، وفي أنه منَّ عليهم بالكتاب، وفي دخول الجنة، وافترقوا في تكميل مراتب الإيمان، وفي مقدار الاصطفاء من الله وميراث الكتاب، وفي منازل الجنة ودرجاتها بحسب أوصافهم. ـ

A point of benefit: The statement of Allah regarding the chosen ones to whom He has bequeathed the Book:

فَمِنْهُمْ ظَالِمٌ لِّنَفْسِهِ وَمِنْهُم مُّقْتَصِدٌ وَمِنْهُمْ سَابِقٌ بِالْخَيْرَ‌اتِ

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]

These three groups share in the foundation of al-eemaan and in Allah selecting them from amongst His created beings, and in the fact that He has blessed them with the Book and in their entering al-Jannah. But they differ in the completeness of the level of eemaan and in the measure of their being chosen by Allah and inheriting the Book, and in the dwellings of al-Jannah and its levels – all according to their descriptions.

أما الظالم لنفسه فهو المؤمن الذي خلط عملا صالحا وآخر سيئا، وترك من واجبات الإيمان ما لا يزول معه الإيمان بالكلية، وهذا القسم ينقسم إلى قسمين: ـ

1) As for the one who wrongs himself, then he is the mu’min who mixes righteous deeds and others that are foul, and he leaves off some of the obligations of al-eemaan which do not by themselves eliminate al-eemaan completely. This category is divided into two sub-categories:

أحدهما: من يرد القيامة وقد كفّر عنه السيئات كلها، إما بدعاء أو شفاعة أو آثار خيرية ينتفع بها في الدنيا، أو عذب في البرزخ بقدر ذنوبه، ثم رفع عنه العقاب وعمل الثواب عمله، فهذا من أعلى هذا القسم، وهو الظالم لنفسه. ـ

1.A) The first of them: the one for whom the Day of Standing comes and all of his sins have been expiated from him – either by supplication or intercession or good legacies in the dunya which he benefits from or punishment during the barzakh period according to his sins. So then the punishment is lifted from him, and he is given the reward of his deeds, and this is the higher one of this category, and he is one who wrongs himself.

القسم الثاني: من ورد القيامة وعليه سيئات، فهذا توزن حسناته وسيئاته ثم هم بعد هذا ثلاثة أنواع: ـ

1.B) The second category: the one for whom the Day of Standing comes and he has sins, so his good deeds and his sins are weighed in the balance, and then after that they are of three different classes:

أحدها: من ترجح حسناته على سيئاته، فهذا لا يدخل النار، بل يدخل الجنة برحمة الله وبحسناته، وهي من رحمة الله. ـ

1.B.i) The first of them: the one whose good deeds outweigh his sins, so this one does not enter into the Hell-Fire due to the Mercy of Allah and due to his good deeds – which are themselves from the mercy of Allah.

ثانيها: من تساوت حسناتهم وسيئاتهم، فهؤلاء هم أصحاب الأعراف، وهي موضع مرتفع بين الجنة والنار يكونون عليه، وفيه ما شاء الله، ثم بعد ذلك يدخلون الجنة، كما وصف ذلك في القرآن. ـ

1.B.ii) The second of them: the one whose good deeds and sins are equal, so this these are the ashaab al-‘Aaraaf (the companions of the elevations) – which is an elevated place between al-Jannah and the Hell-fire which they are upon, and whatever Allah wishes is there. Then, after that period, they will enter al-Jannah, just as they have been described in the Qur’an.

ثالثها: من رجحت سيئاته على حسناته فهذا قد استحق دخول النار، إلا أن يمنع من ذلك مانع، من شفاعة الرسول له، أو شفاعة أحد أقاربه أو معارفه ممن يجعل الله لهم في القيامة شفاعة لعلو مقاماتهم على الله وكرامتهم عليه، أو تدركه رحمة الله المحضة بلا واسطة، وإلا فلا بد له من دخول النار يعذب فيها بقدر ذنوبه، ثم مآله إلى الجنة، ولا يبقى في النار أحد في قلبه أدنى أدنى أدنى مثقال حبة خردل من إيمان، كما تواترت بذلك الأحاديث عن النبي ﷺ وأجمع عليه سلف الأمة وأئمتها. ـ

1.B.iii) The third of them: the one whose sins outweigh his good deeds, so this one has earned entrance into the Hell-fire unless a preventative force prevents that from happening such as intercession of the Prophet on his behalf or intercession of one of his close relatives or acquaintances from among those whom Allah has granted them intercession of the Day of Standing due to the highness of their positions and their nobility in the sight of Allah. Or it could be prevented purely by the Mercy of Allah without any intermediary. Otherwise, he must enter into the Hell-fire where he is punished therein in accordance with his sins, and then his ultimate destination is al-Jannah. And no one who has the smallest of the smallest of the smallest weight of a mustard seed of eemaan in his heart will remain in the Hell-fire (eternally), just as has been reliably attested by numerous ahaadeeth from the Prophet (ﷺ) and as the salaf of this ummah and its imams have agreed upon.

وأما المقتصد فهو الذي أدى الواجبات وترك المحرمات، ولم يكثر من نوافل العبادات، وإذا صدر منه بعض الهفوات بادر إلى التوبة فعاد إلى مرتبته، فهؤلاء أهل اليمين، وأما من كان من أصحاب اليمين: { فَسَلَامٌ لَّكَ مِنْ أَصْحَابِ الْيَمِينِ } [ الواقعة: 91 ]. فهؤلاء سلموا من عذاب البرزخ وعذاب النار، وسلم الله لهم إيمانهم وأعمالهم، فأدخلهم بها الجنة، كل على حسب مرتبته. ـ

2) And as for the one who is moderate, then he is the one who performs the obligatory actions and leaves off the prohibited actions, and he does not perform an abundance of the optional acts of worship, and when some lapses issue forth from him, he is one who initiates al-tawbah (repentance) and returns to his normal practice. So these are the ahl al-yameen (people of the right), and as for those who are amongst the ashaab al-yameen:

فَسَلَامٌ لَّكَ مِنْ أَصْحَابِ الْيَمِينِ

Then [the angels will say], “Peace for you; [you are] from the ashaab al-yameen.” [56:91]

So these ones are safe from the punishment of the barzakh and the punishment of the Hell-fire, and Allah preserves their eemaan and their good deeds for them. So He enters them thereby into al-Jannah, each of them according to their level.

وأما السابق إلى الخيرات فهو الذي كمل مراتب الإسلام، وقام بمرتبة الإحسان، فَعَبَدَ الله كأنه يراه، فإن لم يكن يراه فإنه يراه، وبذل ما استطاع من النفع لعباد الله، فكان قلبه ملآنا من محبة الله والنصح لعباد الله، فأدى الواجبات والمستحبات، وترك المحرمات والمكروهات وفضول المباحات المنقصة لدرجته. ـ

3) And as for the forerunners in good deeds, then he is the one who has perfected the levels of Islam and established the levels of al-ihsaan so he worships Allah as if he can see Him, so if he cannot see Him then verily Allah sees him, and he does as much as he is able of benefit to the slaves of Allah. So his heart is full of the love of Allah and sincerity towards the slaves of Allah. So he performs the obligatory deeds and the recommended actions, and he leaves of the prohibited deeds and the disliked actions, and in addition to that he leaves of the allowed actions which detract from his level.

 فهؤلاء هم صفوة الصفوة، وهم المقربون في جنات النعيم إلى الله، وهم أهل الفردوس الأعلى، فإن الله كما أنه رحيم واسع الرحمة فإنه حكيم ينزل الأمور منازلها، ويعطي كل أحد بحسب حاله ومقامه، فكما كانوا هم السابقين في الدنيا إلى كل خير كانوا في الآخرة في أعلى المنازل، وكما تخيروا من الأعمال أحسنها جعل الله لهم من الثواب أحسنه .ـ

So these are the cream of the crop, and they are the muqarraboon (close ones) to Allah in the gardens of pleasure, and they are the people of al-Firdaws al-‘Aalaa (the highest level of al-Jannah). For indeed just as Allah is Raheem (especially Merciful towards the believers) with expansive mercy, indeed He is also Hakeem (Wise) in placing the affairs in their proper places and properly giving each person in accordance with their condition and circumstances. So just as they are the forerunners towards good in the dunya, so they are also in the highest positions in the hereafter. And just as they chose the best of the actions, so also did Allah make the best of rewards for them.

 ولهذا كانت عين التسنيم أعلى أشربة أهل الجنة، يشرب منها هؤلاء المقربون صرفا، وتمزج لأصحاب اليمين مزجا في بقية أشربة الجنة، التي لا نقص فيها بوجه من الوجوه كما قال تعالى: {  وَمِزَاجُهُ مِن تَسْنِيمٍ * عَيْنًا يَشْرَ‌بُ بِهَا الْمُقَرَّ‌بُونَ } [ المطففين: 27 و 28 ]. وهكذا بقية ألوان وأصناف نعيم الجنة لهؤلاء السابقين منه أعلاه وأكمله وأنفسه، وإن كان ليس في نعيم الجنة دني ولا نقص ولا كدر بوجه من الوجوه، بل كل من تنعم بأي نعيم من نعيمها لم يكن في قلبه أعلى منه؛ فإن الله أعطاهم وأرضاهم. ـ

And so the spring of al-Tasneem is the best of drinks of the people of al-Jannah, these muqarraboon will drink a pure drink from it, while it will be mixed for the ashaab al-yameen as a mix with the rest of the drinks of al-Jannah, which does not detract from it in any way as Allah said:

وَمِزَاجُهُ مِن تَسْنِيمٍ * عَيْنًا يَشْرَ‌بُ بِهَا الْمُقَرَّ‌بُونَ

And its mixture is of Tasneem – a spring from which the muqarraboon drink. [83:27-28]

And so likewise with the rest of the colors and varieties of pleasures of al-Jannah – for these forerunners there are the best and most perfect and most precious of them. This is the case even though there is nothing of the pleasures of al-Jannah of lowliness or defect or trouble in any way at all – rather, all who have been blessed with any one of its pleasures, then there is nothing in his heart which is better than that, for indeed Allah grants them and He makes them pleased.

 وخيار هؤلاء الأنبياء على مراتبهم، ثم الصديقون على مراتبهم، ولكل درجات مما عملوا، فسبحان من فاوت بين عباده هذا التفاوت العظيم، والله يختص برحمته من يشاء، والله ذو الفضل العظيم. ـ

And the best of these people are the Prophets according to their ranks, and then the siddeeqoon according to their ranks. And for everyone there is a level according to what they did, so exalted is He who created this marvelous differentiation among His slaves, and Allah selects for His mercy whom He wills, and Allah is the Owner of a great bounty.

[Taysir al-Lateef al-Manaan pg. 449-452]

See also: The Distinction Between a Prophet-King and a Slave-Messenger

See also: The Rewards of Obedience, and the Different Categories of People in Respects to that: Tafsir al-Shinqitee

See also: The Two Types of those who Believe in the Qur’an: Imam al-Sa’di

See also: “Beautified for people is the love of what they desire”: Tafsir al-Sa’di

See also: A Point of Benefit regarding Truthfulness: Imam al-Sa’di

See also: “Say, ‘If you love Allah, then follow me,”: Tafsir al-Sa’di

See also: “I preferred you over all the worlds” – Imam al-Shinqitee [forthcoming]

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17 thoughts on “The Levels of the Believers: Tafsir al-Sa’di

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