Studying the Qur’an and the Softening of Hearts: ibn Kathir

In the introduction to his celebrated book of tafsir, Imam Abu’l-Fidaa’ Ismaa’eel ibn Kathir mentioned the following point of benefit:

 قال تعالى ( أفلا يتدبرون القرآن ولو كان من عند غير الله لوجدوا فيه اختلافا كثيرا ) [ النساء 82 ] ، وقال تعالى ( كتاب أنزلناه إليك مبارك ليدبروا آياته وليتذكر أولو الألباب ) [ ص : 29 ] ، وقال تعالى ( أفلا يتدبرون القرآن أم على قلوب أقفالها ) [ محمد : 24 ] . ـ

Allah said:

أَفَلَا يَتَدَبَّرُ‌ونَ الْقُرْ‌آنَ ۚ وَلَوْ كَانَ مِنْ عِندِ غَيْرِ‌ اللَّـهِ لَوَجَدُوا فِيهِ اخْتِلَافًا كَثِيرً‌ا

Then do they not reflect upon the Qur’an? If it had been from other than Allah, they would have found within it much contradiction. [4:82]

And He said:

كِتَابٌ أَنزَلْنَاهُ إِلَيْكَ مُبَارَ‌كٌ لِّيَدَّبَّرُ‌وا آيَاتِهِ وَلِيَتَذَكَّرَ‌ أُولُو الْأَلْبَابِ

[This is] a blessed Book which We have revealed to you, [O Muhammad], that they might reflect upon its verses and that those of understanding would be reminded. [38:29]

And He said:

أَفَلَا يَتَدَبَّرُ‌ونَ الْقُرْ‌آنَ أَمْ عَلَىٰ قُلُوبٍ أَقْفَالُهَا

Then do they not reflect upon the Qur’an, or are there locks upon [their] hearts? [47:24]

فالواجب على العلماء الكشف عن معاني كلام الله وتفسير ذلك ، وطلبه من مظانه وتعلم ذلك وتعليمه كما قال تعالى ( وإذ أخذ الله ميثاق الذين أوتوا الكتاب لتبيننه للناس ولا تكتمونه فنبذوه وراء ظهورهم واشتروا به ثمنا قليلا فبئس ما يشترون ) [ آل عمران : 187 ] ، وقال تعالى ( إن الذين يشترون بعهد الله وأيمانهم ثمنا قليلا أولئك لا خلاق لهم في الآخرة ولا يكلمهم الله ولا ينظر إليهم يوم القيامة ولا يزكيهم ولهم عذاب أليم ) [ آل عمران 77 ] ـ

So it is incumbent upon the scholars to clearly bring forth the meanings of the Speech of Allah and the explanation of it, and to seek it out in the places where it is likely to be found, and to learn it and teach it, just as Allah said:

وَإِذْ أَخَذَ اللَّـهُ مِيثَاقَ الَّذِينَ أُوتُوا الْكِتَابَ لَتُبَيِّنُنَّهُ لِلنَّاسِ وَلَا تَكْتُمُونَهُ فَنَبَذُوهُ وَرَ‌اءَ ظُهُورِ‌هِمْ وَاشْتَرَ‌وْا بِهِ ثَمَنًا قَلِيلًا ۖ فَبِئْسَ مَا يَشْتَرُ‌ونَ

And [mention, O Muhammad], when Allah took a covenant from those who were given the Scripture, [saying], “You must make it clear to the people and not conceal it.” But they threw it away behind their backs and exchanged it for a small price. And wretched is that which they purchased. [3:187]

And He said:

إِنَّ الَّذِينَ يَشْتَرُ‌ونَ بِعَهْدِ اللَّـهِ وَأَيْمَانِهِمْ ثَمَنًا قَلِيلًا أُولَـٰئِكَ لَا خَلَاقَ لَهُمْ فِي الْآخِرَ‌ةِ وَلَا يُكَلِّمُهُمُ اللَّـهُ وَلَا يَنظُرُ‌ إِلَيْهِمْ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ وَلَا يُزَكِّيهِمْ وَلَهُمْ عَذَابٌ أَلِيمٌ

Indeed, those who exchange the covenant of Allah and their [own] oaths for a small price will have no share in the Hereafter, and Allah will not speak to them or look at them on the Day of Resurrection, nor will He purify them; and they will have a painful punishment. [3:77]

فذم الله تعالى أهل الكتاب قبلنا بإعراضهم عن كتاب الله إليهم وإقبالهم على الدنيا وجمعها واشتغالهم بغير ما أمروا به من اتباع كتاب الله ـ

So Allah dispraised the Ahl al-Kitaab [Jews and Christians] who preceded us due to their turning away from the Scripture of Allah that was given to them, and their turning towards this worldly life and gathering it up, and their occupying themselves with other than that with which they were commanded to do of following the Book of Allah.

فعلينا أيها المسلمون أن ننتهي عما ذمهم الله تعالى به وأن نأتمر بما أمرنا به من تعلم كتاب الله المنزل إلينا وتعليمه وتفهمه وتفهيمه قال الله تعالى ألم يأن للذين آمنوا أن تخشع قلوبهم لذكر الله وما نزل من الحق ولا يكونوا كالذين أوتوا الكتاب من قبل فطال عليهم الأمد فقست قلوبهم وكثير منهم فاسقون اعلموا أن الله يحيي الأرض بعد موتها قد بينا لكم الآيات لعلكم تعقلون ) [ الحديد 16 ، 17 ] . ففي ذكره تعالى لهذه الآية بعد التي قبلها تنبيه على أنه تعالى كما يحيي الأرض بعد موتها كذلك يلين القلوب بالإيمان بعد قسوتها من الذنوب والمعاصي والله المؤمل المسؤول أن يفعل بنا ذلك إنه [ ص: 7 ] جواد كريم  ـ

So it is incumbent upon us, O Muslims, to desist from what Allah has dispraised them for, and that we carry out what we have been commanded with of learning the Book of Allah which has been sent down to us and teaching it, understanding it and making it understood. Allah said:

أَلَمْ يَأْنِ لِلَّذِينَ آمَنُوا أَن تَخْشَعَ قُلُوبُهُمْ لِذِكْرِ‌ اللَّـهِ وَمَا نَزَلَ مِنَ الْحَقِّ وَلَا يَكُونُوا كَالَّذِينَ أُوتُوا الْكِتَابَ مِن قَبْلُ فَطَالَ عَلَيْهِمُ الْأَمَدُ فَقَسَتْ قُلُوبُهُمْ ۖ وَكَثِيرٌ‌ مِّنْهُمْ فَاسِقُونَ * اعْلَمُوا أَنَّ اللَّـهَ يُحْيِي الْأَرْ‌ضَ بَعْدَ مَوْتِهَا ۚ قَدْ بَيَّنَّا لَكُمُ الْآيَاتِ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَعْقِلُونَ

Has the time not come for those who have believed that their hearts should become humbly submissive at the remembrance of Allah and what has come down of the truth? And let them not be like those who were given the Scripture before, and a long period passed over them, so their hearts hardened; and many of them are defiantly disobedient. * Know that Allah gives life to the earth after its lifelessness. We have made clear to you the signs; perhaps you will understand. [57:16-17]

ففي ذكره تعالى لهذه الآية بعد التي قبلها تنبيه على أنه تعالى كما يحيي الأرض بعد موتها كذلك يلين القلوب بالإيمان بعد قسوتها من الذنوب والمعاصي والله المؤمل المسؤول أن يفعل بنا ذلك إنه [ ص: 7 ] جواد كريم  ـ

So in His mentioning of this (second) ayah about what preceded it (the first ayah) is to draw one’s attention to the fact that just as He gives life to the earth after its death, similarly He softens the hearts by means of al-eemaan after their hardening from sins and acts of disobedience. And Allah is the One in whom we place our hopes and the One whom we ask that He would do this for us – for indeed He is Giving and Generous.

[Tafsir ibn Kathir 1/7-8]

See also: The purpose of Allah’s creation: Imam al-Shinqitee

See also: “The best of you are those who learn the Qur’an and teach it”: ibn Kathir

See also: Which is more virtuous: reading a small amount of the Qur’an with tarteel and contemplation, or a large amount quickly? – Ibn al-Qayyim

See also: How to benefit from reading the Qur’an during Ramadan: Sheikh Muhammad Bazmool

See also: Gathering in the Houses of Allah to Recite and Study the Qur’an: Sheikh Saalih al-Fawzan

See also: The Sources of Tafsir: al-Haafidh ibn Kathir [forthcoming, inshaAllaah]

See also: “And those who strive for Us – We will surely guide them to Our ways”: Tafsir al-Sa’di

5 thoughts on “Studying the Qur’an and the Softening of Hearts: ibn Kathir

  1. Pingback: “And those who strive for Us – We will surely guide them to Our ways”: Tafsir al-Sa’di | Tulayhah

  2. Pingback: Generosity and Studying the Qur’an during Ramadan – Ibn Hajr | Tulayhah

  3. Pingback: How to benefit from reading the Qur’an during Ramadan: Sheikh Muhammad Bazmool | Tulayhah

  4. Pingback: Gathering in the Houses of Allah to Recite and Study the Qur’an: Sheikh Saalih al-Fawzan | Tulayhah

  5. Pingback: He Gave You Hearing, Sight, and Hearts That You Might Give Thanks: Tafsir ibn Kathir | Tulayhah

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