“Blessed is whoever is at the fire and whoever is around it” : Tafsir al-Baghawi

While recounting the story of Moosaa approaching the burning bush in surah al-Naml, Allah says:

إِذْ قَالَ مُوسَىٰ لِأَهْلِهِ إِنِّي آنَسْتُ نَارً‌ا سَآتِيكُم مِّنْهَا بِخَبَرٍ‌ أَوْ آتِيكُم بِشِهَابٍ قَبَسٍ لَّعَلَّكُمْ تَصْطَلُونَ * فَلَمَّا جَاءَهَا نُودِيَ أَن بُورِ‌كَ مَن فِي النَّارِ‌ وَمَنْ حَوْلَهَا وَسُبْحَانَ اللَّـهِ رَ‌بِّ الْعَالَمِينَ

[Mention] when Moosaa said to his family, “Indeed, I have perceived a fire. I will bring you from there information or will bring you a burning torch that you may warm yourselves.” * But when he came to it, he was addressed, “Blessed is whoever is at (lit. “in”) the fire and whoever is around it. And exalted is Allah, Lord of the worlds. [27:7-8]

Commenting on the second ayah in his book of tafsir, Imam al-Baghawi wrote:

ـ ( فَلَمَّا جَاءَهَا نُودِيَ أَنْ بُورِكَ مَنْ فِي النَّارِ وَمَنْ حَوْلَهَا ) أَيْ : بُورِكَ عَلَى مَنْ فِي النَّارِ أَوْ مَنْ فِي النَّارِ ، وَالْعَرَبُ تَقُولُ : بَارَكَهُ اللَّهُ وَبَارَكَ فِيهِ ، وَبَارَكَ عَلَيْهِ ، بِمَعْنًى وَاحِدٍ . ـ

فَلَمَّا جَاءَهَا نُودِيَ أَن بُورِ‌كَ مَن فِي النَّارِ‌ وَمَنْ حَوْلَهَا

But when he came to it, he was addressed, ‘Blessed is whoever is at (lit. “in”) the fire and whoever is around it’ [27:8]

Meaning: Blessings upon those at (lit. “in”) the fire. And the Arabs say, “baarak Allaahu” (God bless), “baarak feehi” (blessings ‘in’ him) and “baarak ‘alaihi” (blessings on him) all with the same meaning.

وَقَالَ قَوْمٌ : الْبَرَكَةُ رَاجِعَةٌ إِلَى مُوسَى وَالْمَلَائِكَةِ ، مَعْنَاهُ : بُورِكَ فِي مَنْ طَلَبَ النَّارَ ، وَهُوَ مُوسَى عَلَيْهِ السَّلَامُ ) ( وَمَنْ حَوْلَهَا ) وَهُمُ الْمَلَائِكَةُ الَّذِينَ حَوْلَ النَّارِ ، وَمَعْنَاهُ : بُورِكَ فِيكَ يَا مُوسَى وَفِي الْمَلَائِكَةِ الَّذِينَ حَوْلَ النَّارِ ، وَهَذَا تَحِيَّةٌ مِنْ عِنْدِ اللَّهِ – عَزَّ وَجَلَّ – لِمُوسَى بِالْبَرَكَةِ ، كَمَا حَيَّا إِبْرَاهِيمَ عَلَى أَلْسِنَةِ الْمَلَائِكَةِ حِينَ دَخَلُوا عَلَيْهِ فَقَالُوا : رَحْمَةُ اللَّهِ وَبَرَكَاتُهُ عَلَيْكُمْ أَهْلَ الْبَيْتِ . ـ

A people said, “the barakah (blessings) refers to Moosaa and the angels”, meaning blessings on the one who sought the fire, and that is Moosaa (‘alaihis salaam).

وَمَنْ حَوْلَهَا

Whoever is around it

and they are the angels who were around the fire, meaning ‘blessings on you, O Moosaa, and on the angels who were around the fire’, and this is a greeting of blessings from Allah to Moosaa, just as He greeted Ibrahim via the tongues of the angels when they entered upon him and said,

رَ‌حْمَتُ اللَّـهِ وَبَرَ‌كَاتُهُ عَلَيْكُمْ أَهْلَ الْبَيْتِ

May the mercy of Allah and His blessings be upon you, people of the house [11:73]

وَمَذْهَبُ أَكْثَرِ الْمُفَسِّرِينَ أَنَّ الْمُرَادَ بِالنَّارِ النُّورُ ، ذُكِرَ بِلَفْظِ النَّارِ لِأَنَّ مُوسَى حَسِبَهُ نَارًا ، وَ ” مَنْ فِي النَّارِ ” هُمُ الْمَلَائِكَةُ ، وَذَلِكَ أَنَّ النُّورَ الَّذِي رَآهُ مُوسَى كَانَ فِيهِ مَلَائِكَةٌ لَهُمْ زَجَلٌ بِالتَّقْدِيسِ وَالتَّسْبِيحِ ، [ ص: 145 ] وَ ” مَنْ حَوْلَهَا ” هُوَ مُوسَى لِأَنَّهُ كَانَ بِالْقُرْبِ مِنْهَا ، وَلَمْ يَكُنْ فِيهَا . وَقِيلَ : ” مَنْ فِي النَّارِ وَمَنْ حَوْلَهَا ” جَمِيعًا الْمَلَائِكَةُ . وَقِيلَ : ” مَنْ فِي النَّارِ ” مُوسَى وَ ” مَنْ حَوْلَهَا ” الْمَلَائِكَةُ ، وَمُوسَى وَإِنْ لَمْ يَكُنْ فِي النَّارِ كَانَ قَرِيبًا مِنْهَا ، كَمَا يُقَالُ : بَلَغَ فُلَانٌ الْمَنْزِلَ ، إِذَا قَرُبَ مِنْهُ ، وَإِنْ لَمْ يَبْلُغْهُ بَعْدُ . ـ

And the position of most of the mufassiroon (Qur’anic exegetes) is that the intended meaning of “the fire” is al-noor (light); it is mentioned by the wording al-naar (fire) because Moosaa perceived it as fire. And “whoever is at (lit. ‘in’) the fire” are the angels, and that is because the noor which Moosaa saw was from the angels who sent forth praises of Allah. And “whoever was around it” was Moosaa because he was close to it, but he was not *in* it. And it is said, “whoever is at (lit. “in”) the fire and whoever is around it” refers in both cases to the angels. And it is said, “whoever is at (lit. “in”) the fire” is Moosaa and “whoever is around it” are the angels, and although Moosaa was not *in* the fire, he was near to it, just as one can say, ‘so-and-so reached the house’ when he approaches near to it even though he has not yet completely reached it.

وَذَهَبَ بَعْضُهُمْ إِلَى أَنَّ الْبَرَكَةَ رَاجِعَةٌ إِلَى النَّارِ . وَرَوَى مُجَاهِدٌ عَنِ ابْنِ عَبَّاسٍ أَنَّهُ قَالَ : مَعْنَاهُ بُورِكَتِ النَّارُ . وَرَوَى سَعِيدُ بْنُ جُبَيْرٍ عَنِ ابْنِ عَبَّاسٍ قَالَ : سَمِعْتُ أُبَيًّا يَقْرَأُ : أَنْ بُورِكَتِ النَّارُ وَمَنْ حَوْلَهَا ، ـ

And some held that the barakah refers back to the fire. Mujaahid narrated from ibn ‘Abbaas that he said, “it means blessed is the fire.” And Sa’eed ibn Jubair narrated from ibn ‘Abbaas that he heard Ubay [ibn Ka’b] recite, “that blessed is the fire and whoever is around it“.

وَ ” مَنْ ” قَدْ تَأْتِي بِمَعْنَى مَا ، كَقَوْلِهِ تَعَالَى : فَمِنْهُمْ مَنْ يَمْشِي عَلَى بَطْنِهِ ( النُّورِ – 45 ) ، وَ ” مَا ” قَدْ يَكُونُ صِلَةً فِي الْكَلَامِ ، كَقَوْلِهِ ” جُنْدٌ مَا هُنَالِكَ ” ( ص – 11 ) ، وَمَعْنَاهُ : بُورِكَ فِي النَّارِ وَفِيمَنْ حَوْلَهَا ، وَهُمُ الْمَلَائِكَةُ وَمُوسَى عَلَيْهِمُ السَّلَامُ ، وَسَمَّى النَّارَ مُبَارَكَةً كَمَا سَمَّى الْبُقْعَةَ مُبَارَكَةً فَقَالَ : ” فِي الْبُقْعَةِ الْمُبَارَكَةِ ” . ـ

And “who/whoever” [ar. ‘man‘ – used to refer to sentient beings such as humans, angels, jinn] may take on the meaning of “what” [ar. ‘maa‘ – used to refer to non-sentient beings and non-living items], such as Allah’s statement,

فَمِنْهُم مَّن يَمْشِي عَلَىٰ بَطْنِهِ

And of them [creatures, animals] are those who [ar. ‘man‘] move on their bellies [24:45].

And “what” [ar. ‘maa‘] may function as a relative pronoun in speech, such as His statement,

جُندٌ مَّا هُنَالِكَ

soldiers who [ar. ‘maa‘] are in there [38:11]

So it means: blessing on the fire and on whoever is around it, and they are the angels and Moosaa (‘alaihis salaam). And the fire is called blessed just as the spot is called blessed, for He said,

فِي الْبُقْعَةِ الْمُبَارَ‌كَةِ

…in a blessed spot [28:30]

وَرُوِيَ عَنِ ابْنِ عَبَّاسٍ وَسَعِيدِ بْنِ جُبَيْرٍ وَالْحَسَنِ فِي قَوْلِهِ : ( بُورِكَ مَنْ فِي النَّارِ ) يَعْنِي قُدِّسَ مَنْ فِي النَّارِ ، وَهُوَ اللَّهُ ، عَنَى بِهِ نَفْسَهُ ، عَلَى مَعْنَى أَنَّهُ نَادَى مُوسَى مِنْهَا وَأَسْمَعَهُ كَلَامَهُ مِنْ جِهَتِهَا كَمَا رُوِيَ : أَنَّهُ مَكْتُوبٌ فِي التَّوْرَاةِ : ” جَاءَ اللَّهُ مِنْ سَيْنَاءَ ، وَأَشْرَقَ مِنْ سَاعِين ، وَاسْتَعْلَن مِنْ جِبَالِ فَارَانَ ” فَمَجِيئُهُ مِنْ سَيْنَاءَ : بَعْثَةُ مُوسَى مِنْهَا ، وَمِنْ سَاعِينَ بَعْثَةُ الْمَسِيحِ مِنْهَا ، وَمِنْ جِبَالِ فَارَانَ بَعْثَةُ الْمُصْطَفَى مِنْهَا ، وَفَارَانُ مَكَّةُ . ـ

And it is narrated from ibn ‘Abbaas and Sa’eed ibn Jubair and al-Hasan concerning Allah’s statement, “Blessed is whoever is at (lit. “in”) the fire” that it means sanctified is whoever is at (lit. ‘in’) the fire, and that is Allah; He meant by it Himself, upon the meaning that He called Moosaa from it and caused him to hear His speech from its direction, just as had been narrated that it is written in the Tawrah, “Allah came from Sinai, and He rose up from Saa’een, and He shined forth from the mountains of Faaraan.” So His coming from Sinai was bringing Moosaa from there, and from Saa’een was bringing the Messiah from there, and from the mountains of Faaraan was bringing al-Mustafaa (i.e. Muhammad) from there, and Faaraan is Mecca.

قِيلَ : كَانَ ذَلِكَ نُورُهُ – عَزَّ وَجَلَّ – . قَالَ سَعِيدُ بْنُ جُبَيْرٍ : كَانَتِ النَّارُ بِعَيْنِهَا ، وَالنَّارُ إِحْدَى حُجُبِ اللَّهِ تَعَالَى ، كَمَا جَاءَ فِي الْحَدِيثِ : ” حِجَابُهُ النَّارُ لَوْ كَشَفَهَا لَأَحْرَقَتْ سُبُحَاتُ وَجْهِهِ مَا انْتَهَى إِلَيْهِ بَصَرُهُ مَنْ خَلْقِهِ ” ثُمَّ نَزَّهَ اللَّهُ نَفْسَهُ وَهُوَ الْمُنَزَّهُ مَنْ كُلِّ سُوءٍ وَعَيْبٍ ، فَقَالَ جَلَّ ذِكْرُهُ . ( وَسُبْحَانَ اللَّهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ ) ـ

And it is said, “that was His nuur“. Sa’eed ibn Jubair said, “It was a fire to his eyes, and fire is one of the veils of Allah,” just as comes in the hadeeth, “His veil is fire, and if He went to remove it then everything of his creation would burn as far as His gaze reaches.” Then Allah expunged Himself and that is a declaration of being far above every defect and deficiency, so He said His dhikr:

وَسُبْحَانَ اللَّـهِ رَ‌بِّ الْعَالَمِينَ

And exalted is Allah, Lord of the worlds [27:8] [1]

[Tafsir al-Baghawi 6/145-146]

1. Translator’s Note: Imam al-Sa’di writes briefly on this final part of the ayah by saying:

وَسُبْحَانَ اللَّهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ عن أن يظن به نقص أو سوء بل هو الكامل في وصفه وفعله. ـ

And exalted is Allah, Lord of the worlds” above what one may think of in terms of shortcomings or defects – rather, He is Perfectly Complete in His attributes and His actions.

[Taysir al-Kareem al-Rahman pg. 704]

And al-Haafidh ibn Kathir wrote about this by saying:

 وقوله : ( وسبحان الله رب العالمين ) أي : الذي يفعل ما يشاء ولا يشبه شيئا من مخلوقاته ، ولا يحيط به شيء من مصنوعاته ، وهو العلي العظيم ، المباين لجميع المخلوقات ، ولا يكتنفه الأرض والسموات ، بل هو الأحد الصمد ، المنزه عن مماثلة المحدثات .ـ

And His statement, “And exalted is Allah, Lord of the worlds” – meaning, He who does what He wills and does not resemble anything from His created beings, nor is He encompassed by anything of His created things, and He is al-‘Alee al-‘Atheem (the Most High, the Most Magnificent), the One who gave shape to all created entities, and the earth and the heavens do not enshroud Him – rather He is al-Ahad al-Samad (the One, the One who fulfills all needs and is in need of none), far above resemblance to the creation.

[Tafsir ibn Kathir 6/181]

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

See also: Did Fir’awn claim divinity, or worship other gods?: al-Shawkaani, al-Qurtubi, & al-Baghawi

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One thought on ““Blessed is whoever is at the fire and whoever is around it” : Tafsir al-Baghawi

  1. Pingback: Did Fir’awn claim divinity, or worship other gods?: al-Shawkaani, al-Qurtubi, & al-Baghawi | Tulayhah

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