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

In surah Aali ‘Imran Allah instructs the Prophet (ﷺ) with the following words:

قُلْ إِن كُنتُمْ تُحِبُّونَ اللَّـهَ فَاتَّبِعُونِي يُحْبِبْكُمُ اللَّـهُ وَيَغْفِرْ‌ لَكُمْ ذُنُوبَكُمْ ۗ وَاللَّـهُ غَفُورٌ‌ رَّ‌حِيمٌ

Say, [O Muhammad], “If you love Allah, then follow me; Allah will love you and forgive you your sins. And Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.” [3:31]

Commenting on this famous ayah, Imam ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn Naasir al-Sa’di wrote the following concise explanation:

وهذه الآية فيها وجوب محبة الله، وعلاماتها، ونتيجتها، وثمراتها، فقال { قل إن كنتم تحبون الله } أي: ادعيتم هذه المرتبة العالية، والرتبة التي ليس فوقها رتبة فلا يكفي فيها مجرد الدعوى، بل لابد من الصدق فيها، وعلامة الصدق اتباع رسوله صلى الله عليه وسلم في جميع أحواله، في أقواله وأفعاله، في أصول الدين وفروعه، في الظاهر والباطن، فمن اتبع الرسول دل على صدق دعواه محبة الله تعالى، وأحبه الله وغفر له ذنبه، ورحمه وسدده في جميع حركاته وسكناته، ومن لم يتبع الرسول فليس محبا لله تعالى، لأن محبته لله توجب له اتباع رسوله، فما لم يوجد ذلك دل على عدمها وأنه كاذب إن ادعاها، مع أنها على تقدير وجودها غير نافعة بدون شرطها، وبهذه الآية يوزن جميع الخلق، فعلى حسب حظهم من اتباع الرسول يكون إيمانهم وحبهم لله، وما نقص من ذلك نقص. ـ

This ayah contains the obligation of love for Allah, its signs, its effects and its fruits. So He said,

قُلْ إِن كُنتُمْ تُحِبُّونَ اللَّـهَ

Say, “If you love Allah…”

– meaning: if you claim this high level – this level after which there is no level above it – then a mere claim is not sufficient for this. Rather, there must be truthfulness in this claim, and a sign of truthfulness is following His messenger (ﷺ) in all of one’s circumstances; in one’s statements and his actions, in regards to the fundamentals of the religion and to its supplementary matters, and both outwardly and inwardly.

So whoever follows the Messenger (ﷺ), then that indicates the truthfulness of his claim to have love for Allah, and Allah will love him, forgive him of his sins, have mercy on him and aid him to what is correct in all of his decisions whether to act or not.

And whoever does not follow the Messenger, then he does not have love for Allah, for one’s love for Allah would necessitate him following His messenger. So if that is not the case, then this indicates the absence of that love and that he is a liar, even if he claims this, since the love for Allah rests on the understanding that its presence does not benefit without this condition. So all of the created beings are measured according to this ayah; so their eemaan and love for Allah is according to their share of following the Messenger, and according to whatever the fall short in thereof, they fall short.

Allah then followed this ayah up with his command:

قُلْ أَطِيعُوا اللَّـهَ وَالرَّ‌سُولَ ۖ فَإِن تَوَلَّوْا فَإِنَّ اللَّـهَ لَا يُحِبُّ الْكَافِرِ‌ينَ

Say, “Obey Allah and the Messenger.” But if they turn away – then indeed, Allah does not like the disbelievers. [3:32]

Imam al-Sa’di continued in his tafseer by writing:

وهذا أمر من الله تعالى لعباده بأعم الأوامر، وهو طاعته وطاعة رسوله التي يدخل بها الإيمان والتوحيد، وما هو من فروع ذلك من الأعمال والأقوال الظاهرة والباطنة، بل يدخل في طاعته وطاعة رسوله اجتناب ما نهى عنه، لأن اجتنابه امتثالا لأمر الله هو من طاعته، فمن أطاع الله ورسوله، فأولئك هم المفلحون { فإن تولوا } أي: أعرضوا عن طاعة الله ورسوله فليس ثم أمر يرجعون إليه إلا الكفر وطاعة كل شيطان مريد { كتب عليه أنه من تولاه فأنه يضله ويهديه إلى عذاب السعير } فلهذا قال: { فإن تولوا فإن الله لا يحب الكافرين } بل يبغضهم ويمقتهم ويعاقبهم أشد العقوبة، وكأن في هذه الآية الكريمة بيانا وتفسيرا لاتباع رسوله، وأن ذلك بطاعة الله وطاعة رسوله، هذا هو الاتباع الحقيقي . ـ

And this is a command from Allah to His slaves with the most encompassing of commands: that is obedience to Him and obedience to His messenger. This includes al-eemaan and al-tawheed and whatever of actions and statements – both outwardly and inwardly – are from the supplementary matters of those. In fact, obedience to Him and obedience to His messenger also includes avoiding what He has prohibited, for avoiding those things is itself compliance with the command of Allah, and this is part of obedience to Him. So whoever obeys Allah and His messenger, then they are the successful ones.

فَإِن تَوَلَّوْا

But if they turn away…

– meaning: if they abandon obedience to Allah and His messenger, then there is no other affair to which they revert other than al-kufr and obedience to every rebellious shaytaan:

كُتِبَ عَلَيْهِ أَنَّهُ مَن تَوَلَّاهُ فَأَنَّهُ يُضِلُّهُ وَيَهْدِيهِ إِلَىٰ عَذَابِ السَّعِيرِ‌

It has been decreed for every devil that whoever turns to him – he will misguide him and will lead him to the punishment of the Blaze. [22:4]

So for this reason He said:

فَإِن تَوَلَّوْا فَإِنَّ اللَّـهَ لَا يُحِبُّ الْكَافِرِ‌ينَ

But if they turn away – then indeed, Allah does not like the disbelievers

– rather He hates them, detests them and punishes them with the most severe of punishments. And it is as if this ayah contains a clarification and exegesis of following His messenger, and that that is done through obedience to Allah and obedience to His messenger – indeed that is the true following!

[Taysir al-Kareem al-Rahman pg. 133]

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

See also: The Prophet is Closer to the Believers than Their Own Selves: Tafsir al-Qurtubi

See also: Tafsir of Surah al-‘Asr: Imam al-Sa’di

See also: The Qur’anic Ayaat on Love – Part 1: Love Towards Allah

See also: The Qur’anic Ayaat on Love – Part 2: Those whom Allah Loves

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

See also: Beware of Opposing the Prophet’s Command: Tafsir ibn Kathir

See also: “Whatever I have forbidden for you, avoid it…”: Ibn Rajab

13 thoughts on ““Say, ‘If you love Allah, then follow me'”: Tafsir al-Sa’di

  1. Pingback: The Levels of the Believers: Tafsir al-Sa’di | Tulayhah

  2. Pingback: The command to extol the Prophet, and the punishment for harming him or the believers: Tafsir al-Sa’di | Tulayhah

  3. Pingback: “Whatever I have forbidden for you, avoid it…”: Ibn Rajab | Tulayhah

  4. Pingback: The Qur’anic Ayaat on Love – Part 1: Love Towards Allah | Tulayhah

  5. Pingback: The Qur’anic Ayaat on Love – Part 2: Those whom Allah Loves | Tulayhah

  6. Pingback: The Qur’anic Ayaat on Love – Part 3: Those whom Allah does not Love | Tulayhah

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  8. Pingback: Beware of Opposing the Prophet’s Command: Tafsir ibn Kathir | Tulayhah

  9. Pingback: Three Categories of Love: Imam al-Sa’di | Tulayhah

  10. Pingback: “If you support Allah, He will support you”: Tafsir al-Shinqitee | Tulayhah

  11. Pingback: “You will never attain al-Birr until…” : Tafsir al-Sa’di | Tulayhah

  12. Pingback: The Prophet is Closer to the Believers than Their Own Selves: Tafsir al-Qurtubi | Tulayhah

  13. Pingback: “His Character was the Qur’an”: Ibn Kathir | Tulayhah

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