Those who wish to hasten to affairs before their proper times: Tafsir al-Sa’di

Allah says in surah al-Nisaa’:

أَلَمْ تَرَ إِلَى الَّذِينَ قِيلَ لَهُمْ كُفُّوا أَيْدِيَكُمْ وَأَقِيمُوا الصَّلَاةَ وَآتُوا الزَّكَاةَ فَلَمَّا كُتِبَ عَلَيْهِمُ الْقِتَالُ إِذَا فَرِيقٌ مِّنْهُمْ يَخْشَوْنَ النَّاسَ كَخَشْيَةِ اللَّهِ أَوْ أَشَدَّ خَشْيَةً ۚ وَقَالُوا رَبَّنَا لِمَ كَتَبْتَ عَلَيْنَا الْقِتَالَ لَوْلَا أَخَّرْتَنَا إِلَىٰ أَجَلٍ قَرِيبٍ ۗ قُلْ مَتَاعُ الدُّنْيَا قَلِيلٌ وَالْآخِرَةُ خَيْرٌ لِّمَنِ اتَّقَىٰ وَلَا تُظْلَمُونَ فَتِيلًا

Have you not seen those who were told, “Restrain your hands [from fighting] and establish prayer and give zakah”? But then when fighting was ordained for them, at once a party of them feared men as they fear Allah or with [even] greater fear. They said, “Our Lord, why have You decreed upon us fighting? If only You had postponed [it for] us for a short time.” Say, The enjoyment of this world is little, and the Hereafter is better for he who exercises taqwa. And injustice will not be done to you, [even] as much as a thread [inside a date seed].” [4:77]

In part of his commentary on this ayah in his well-known book of tafsir, sheikh ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn Naasir al-Sa’di wrote:

كان المسلمون -إذ كانوا بمكة- مأمورين بالصلاة والزكاة أي: مواساة الفقراء، لا الزكاة المعروفة ذات النصب والشروط، فإنها لم تفرض إلا بالمدينة، ولم يؤمروا بجهاد الأعداء لعدة فوائد:ـ

When the Muslims were still in Mecca, they were commanded to perform the salaah and the zakah – meaning charity to the poor, not the commonly understand meaning of zakah with its specific allocations and conditions, for that was not obligated until they were in al-Madinah – and they were not commanded to perform jihaad against enemies for a number of beneficial reasons:

 منها: أن من حكمة الباري تعالى أن يشرع لعباده الشرائع على وجه لا يشق عليهم؛ ويبدأ بالأهم فالأهم، والأسهل فالأسهل. ـ

Among these reasons was the it was from the wisdom of the Originator that He legislated the divinely legislated laws for His slaves in a manner that would not cause undue harm to them, and He began with the most important thing and then the next most important thing, and with the easiest thing and then the next easiest.

ومنها: أنه لو فرض عليهم القتال -مع قلة عَدَدِهِم وعُدَدِهِم وكثرة أعدائهم- لأدى ذلك إلى اضمحلال الإسلام، فروعي جانب المصلحة العظمى على ما دونها ولغير ذلك من الحِكَم. ـ

And among these reasons was that if He had made fighting obligatory upon them – despite their meager numbers and the abundance of their enemies – then that would have led to the disappearance of Islam. So He gave consideration to the aspect of the greater benefit over what was of less benefit.

And there were also other reasons for this.

وكان بعض المؤمنين يودون أن لو فرض عليهم القتال في تلك الحال، غير اللائق فيها ذلك، وإنما اللائق فيها القيام بما أمروا به في ذلك الوقت من التوحيد والصلاة والزكاة ونحو ذلك كما قال تعالى: { وَلَوْ أَنَّهُمْ فَعَلُوا مَا يُوعَظُونَ بِهِ لَكَانَ خَيْرًا لَهُمْ وَأَشَدَّ تَثْبِيتًا } فلما هاجروا إلى المدينة وقوي الإسلام، كُتب عليهم القتال في وقته المناسب لذلك . ـ

But there were some of the believers who wished that fighting would be obligated for them during that time in that situation when it was not appropriate to be so, for the only thing which was appropriate then was to establish what they had been commanded with of al-tawheed, al-salaah, al-zakah, and the likes of that during that time, just as Allah said:

وَلَوْ أَنَّهُمْ فَعَلُوا مَا يُوعَظُونَ بِهِ لَكَانَ خَيْرً‌ا لَّهُمْ وَأَشَدَّ تَثْبِيتًا

but if they had done what they were told, it would have been better for them, and would have strengthened their (Faith) [4:66]

So then when the made the hijrah to al-Madinah, Islam was strengthened and fighting was ordained for them in the time which was appropriate for it.

 فقال فريق من الذين يستعجلون القتال قبل ذلك خوفا من الناس وضعفا وخورا: { رَبَّنَا لِمَ كَتَبْتَ عَلَيْنَا الْقِتَالَ } ؟ وفي هذا تضجرهم واعتراضهم على الله، وكان الذي ينبغي لهم ضد هذه الحال، التسليم لأمر الله والصبر على أوامره، فعكسوا الأمر المطلوب منهم فقالوا: { لَوْلَا أَخَّرْتَنَا إِلَى أَجَلٍ قَرِيبٍ } أي: هلَّا أخرت فرض القتال مدة متأخرة عن الوقت الحاضر، وهذه الحال كثيرًا ما تعرض لمن هو غير رزين واستعجل في الأمور قبل وقتها، فالغالب عليه أنه لا يصبر عليها وقت حلولها ولا ينوء بحملها، بل يكون قليل الصبر. ـ

But then a group of those who had previously wished to hasten to fighting said – out of fear of the people, weakness and feebleness – :

رَبَّنَا لِمَ كَتَبْتَ عَلَيْنَا الْقِتَالَ

Our Lord! Why have you ordained for us fighting?

And this entails censure and disapproval from Allah towards them, and that that which was proper for them was the opposite of that condition: i.e. submission to the command of Allah and steadfast patience upon his commandments. But they did the opposite of what was desired of them, for they said:

لَوْلَا أَخَّرْتَنَا إِلَى أَجَلٍ قَرِيبٍ

Would that You had granted us respite for a short period?

– meaning: “Why didn’t You postpone the obligation of fighting until a time far removed from the present?” And this is the situation which one frequently encounters from those who are not serious and who wish to hasten to affairs before their proper times, for in most cases such a person does not exercise steadfast patience upon those affairs when their times does come nor can he bear their burden; rather, such a person is one of meager patience.

 ثم إن الله وعظهم عن هذه الحال التي فيها التخلف عن القتال فقال: { قُلْ مَتَاعُ الدُّنْيَا قَلِيلٌ وَالْآخِرَةُ خَيْرٌ لِمَنِ اتَّقَى } أي: التمتع بلذات الدنيا وراحتها قليل، فتحمل الأثقال في طاعة الله في المدة القصيرة مما يسهل على النفوس ويخف عليها؛ لأنها إذا علمت أن المشقة التي تنالها لا يطول لبثها هان عليها ذلك، فكيف إذا وازنت بين الدنيا والآخرة، وأن الآخرة خير منها، في ذاتها، ولذاتها وزمانها . ـ

Then, Allah admonished them regarding this situation involving their failure to be present for the fighting, for He said:

قُلْ مَتَاعُ الدُّنْيَا قَلِيلٌ وَالْآخِرَةُ خَيْرٌ لِمَنِ اتَّقَى

Say: “Short is the enjoyment of this world. The Hereafter is (far) better for him who exercises taqwa

– meaning: the enjoyment of the delights and pleasures of this worldly life are minuscule, so bear with its burdens in obedience to Allah for a short period of time which will be made easy and light for your soul. For if you know that the difficulties which you encounter will not continue on forever, then the adversities of this life will become insignificant. So then what about if you compared this worldly life and the hereafter, and that the hereafter is better than this worldly life in respects to its essence, its delights and its time.

فذاتها -كما ذكر النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم في الحديث الثابت عنه- “أن موضع سوط في الجنة خير من الدنيا وما فيها” . ـ

So its essence is just as the Prophet (ﷺ) mentioned in the hadeeth authentically related from him, “A place the size of a whip in Jannah is better than this worldly life and all it contains.”

ولذاتها صافية عن المكدرات، بل كل ما خطر بالبال أو دار في الفكر من تصور لذة، فلذة الجنة فوق ذلك كما قال تعالى: { فَلَا تَعْلَمُ نَفْسٌ مَا أُخْفِيَ لَهُمْ مِنْ قُرَّةِ أَعْيُنٍ } وقال الله على لسان نبيه: “أعددت لعبادي الصالحين ما لا عين رأت، ولا أذن سمعت، ولا خطر على قلب بشر” . وأما لذات الدنيا فإنها مشوبة بأنواع التنغيص الذي لو قوبل بين لذاتها وما يقترن بها من أنواع الآلام والهموم والغموم، لم يكن لذلك نسبة بوجه من الوجوه. ـ

And its delights are free from any disturbances. In fact, whatever one’s mind imagines or what passes through one’s thoughts about the idea of pleasure, then the pleasure of al-Jannah is greater than that, just as Allah said:

فَلَا تَعْلَمُ نَفْسٌ مَا أُخْفِيَ لَهُمْ مِنْ قُرَّةِ أَعْيُنٍ

No person knows what is kept hidden for them of joy [32:17]

And Allah said on the tongue of His prophet, “I have prepared for my righteous servants what not eye has seen, and no ear has heard, and no human heart has imagined.” But as for the delights of this worldly life, then they are blemished with various types of troubles which, if one were to weigh between the delights of this worldly life on the one hand and what is connected to them of the various forms of pain, distress and sadness on the other hand, then there would be absolutely no comparison between the two.

وأما زمانها، فإن الدنيا منقضية، وعمر الإنسان بالنسبة إلى الدنيا شيء يسير، وأما الآخرة فإنها دائمة النعيم وأهلها خالدون فيها، فإذا فكّر العاقل في هاتين الدارين وتصور حقيقتهما حق التصور، عرف ما هو أحق بالإيثار، والسعي له والاجتهاد لطلبه، ولهذا قال: { وَالْآخِرَةُ خَيْرٌ لِمَنِ اتَّقَى } أي: اتقى الشرك، وسائر المحرمات. ـ

And as for its time, then indeed this worldly life is coming to an end, and the lifespan of a human being in relation to this worldly life is hardly anything. But as for the the hereafter, then it is eternal joy and its inhabitants remain therein forever. So when the intelligent person thinks about these two abodes and considers their true natures with serious consideration, he recognizes what is more deserving of priority and what is more deserving of striving and hastening towards seeking it. So for this reason Allah said:

وَالْآخِرَةُ خَيْرٌ لِمَنِ اتَّقَى

The Hereafter is better for him who exercises taqwa

– meaning: exercises taqwa of al-shirk and all the other forbidden things.

ـ { وَلَا تُظْلَمُونَ فَتِيلًا } أي: فسعيكم للدار الآخرة ستجدونه كاملاً موفرًا غير منقوص منه شيئًا. ـ

وَلَا تُظْلَمُونَ فَتِيلًا

And injustice will not be done to you, [even] as much as a thread [inside a date seed].

– meaning: so endeavor for the abode of the hereafter; you will find it in full measure, nothing at all lacking of it.

[Taysir al-Kareem al-Rahman pg. 202-203]

See also: Exerting Oneself and Galvanizing Others – the Best of Conditions: Imam al-Sa’di

See also: “If We had decreed upon them, ‘kill yourselves’…”: Tafsir al-Sa’di

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

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

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

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3 thoughts on “Those who wish to hasten to affairs before their proper times: Tafsir al-Sa’di

  1. Pingback: Exerting Oneself and Galvanizing Others – the Best of Conditions: Imam al-Sa’di | Tulayhah

  2. Pingback: “Not for you is the decision…” : Tafsir al-Sa’di | Tulayhah

  3. Pingback: “If We had decreed upon them, ‘kill yourselves’…”: Tafsir al-Sa’di | Tulayhah

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