“Not for you is the decision…” : Tafsir al-Sa’di

In surah Aali ‘Imran, Allah addresses His messenger by saying:

لَيْسَ لَكَ مِنَ الْأَمْرِ‌ شَيْءٌ أَوْ يَتُوبَ عَلَيْهِمْ أَوْ يُعَذِّبَهُمْ فَإِنَّهُمْ ظَالِمُونَ * وَلِلَّـهِ مَا فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَمَا فِي الْأَرْ‌ضِ ۚ يَغْفِرُ‌ لِمَن يَشَاءُ وَيُعَذِّبُ مَن يَشَاءُ ۚ وَاللَّـهُ غَفُورٌ‌ رَّ‌حِيمٌ

Not for you is the decision; whether He turns in mercy to them or He punishes them; for verily they are the wrongdoers. * And to Allah belongs all that is in the heavens and all that is in the earth. He forgives whom He wills, and punishes whom He wills. And Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful. [3:128-129]

Commenting on these two ayaat in his famous book of tafsir, Imam al-Sa’di wrote:

لما جرى يوم “أحد” ما جرى، وجرى على النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم مصائب، رفع الله بها درجته، فشج رأسه وكسرت رباعيته، قال “كيف يفلح قوم شجوا نبيهم” وجعل يدعو على رؤساء من المشركين مثل أبي سفيان بن حرب، وصفوان بن أمية وسهيل بن عمرو، والحارث بن هشام

When what happened on the Day of Uhud transpired and the happenings which afflicted the Prophet (ﷺ), Allah raised his level by that, for his skull had been fractured and his eye-teeth broken. The Prophet said, “How can a people who distress their prophet succeed?!” and he supplicated against the leaders of the mushrikoon such as Abu Sufyan ibn Harb, Saywan ibn Umayyah, Suhail ibn ‘Amr, and al-Haarith ibn Hishaam.

أنزل الله تعالى على رسوله نهيا له عن الدعاء عليهم باللعنة والطرد عن رحمة الله { ليس لك من الأمر شيء } إنما عليك البلاغ وإرشاد الخلق والحرص على مصالحهم، وإنما الأمر لله تعالى هو الذي يدبر الأمور، ويهدي من يشاء ويضل من يشاء، فلا تدع عليهم بل أمرهم راجع إلى ربهم، إن اقتضت حكمته ورحمته أن يتوب عليهم ويمن عليهم بالإسلام فعل، وإن اقتضت حكمته إبقاءهم على كفرهم وعدم هدايتهم، فإنهم هم الذين ظلموا أنفسهم وضروها وتسببوا بذلك، فعل، وقد تاب الله على هؤلاء المعينين وغيرهم، فهداهم للإسلام رضي الله عنهم

Allah revealed a prohibition to His messenger against supplicating against them with curses and supplicating for them to be excluded from the mercy of Allah:

لَيْسَ لَكَ مِنَ الْأَمْرِ‌ شَيْءٌ

Not for you is the decision… [3:128]

the only thing incumbent upon you is conveying the message, directing the creation to the truth and being eager for their rectification, but the affair is only for Allah – He is the One who manages the affairs, and He guides whom He wills and misguides whom He wills. So do not supplicate against them; in reality their affair returns back to their Lord. If His wisdom and mercy entails that He would turn to them in forgiveness and bless them with Islam, then He will do so. But if His wisdom entails causing them to remain in their disbelief and the absence of their being guided – for indeed they are the ones who have wronged themselves and harmed themselves and caused that themselves – (if that is the case) then He will do that. And Allah did in fact turn in repentance to these specific people and to others as well, for He guided them to Islam – may Allah be pleased with them.

وفي هذه الآية مما يدل على أن اختيار الله غالب على اختيار العباد، وأن العبد وإن ارتفعت درجته وعلا قدره قد يختار شيئا وتكون الخيرة والمصلحة في غيره، وأن الرسول صلى الله عليه وسلم ليس له من الأمر شيء فغيره من باب أولى

And in this ayah there is one of the evidences which demonstrates that the choice of Allah takes precedence over the free choice of the slaves. And it demonstrates that even if the slave’s level is elevated and his standing is high, that slave might choose one thing while goodness and rectification actually may be elsewhere. This also demonstrates that the Messenger (ﷺ) does not have any decision in the matter, so anyone else is even less entitled to that.

ففيها أعظم رد على من تعلق بالأنبياء أو غيرهم من الصالحين وغيرهم، وأن هذا شرك في العبادة، نقص في العقل، يتركون من الأمر كله له ويدعون من لا يملك من الأمر مثقال ذرة، إن هذا لهو الضلال البعيد

So in this, there is the greatest refutation of the one who attaches himself in devotion to the prophets or to any others from among the righteous ones or to others still, and this is shirk in terms of worship – a deficiency in terms of the intellect. They abandon the One to whom all affairs belong and (instead) they supplicate to one who does not have even an atom’s weight of control over the affairs. Indeed, this is a misguidance far-astray.

وتأمل كيف لما ذكر تعالى توبته عليهم أسند الفعل إليه، ولم يذكر منهم سببا موجبا لذلك، ليدل ذلك على أن النعمة محض فضله على عبده، من غير سبق سبب من العبد ولا وسيلة، ولما ذكر العذاب ذكر معه ظلمهم، ورتبه على العذاب بالفاء المفيدة للسببية، فقال { أو يعذبهم فإنهم ظالمون } ليدل ذلك على كمال عدل الله وحكمته، حيث وضع العقوبة موضعها، ولم يظلم عبده بل العبد هو الذي ظلم نفسه . ـ

And consider how when Allah mentioned His turning in repentance towards them, He attributed the action to Himself and He did not mention any cause from them which would necessitate that. This is in order to demonstrate that this blessing is nothing but His favor upon His slave without that being preceded by any cause or means on the part of the slave. But when He mentioned the punishment, He mentioned it alongside their wrongdoing, and He arranged the mention of punishment with the particle faa which communicates the meaning of causality, for He said:

أَوْ يُعَذِّبَهُمْ فَإِنَّهُمْ ظَالِمُونَ

or He punishes them; for verily they are the wrongdoers [3:128]

This is in order to show Allah’s complete justice and wisdom, since He placed the punishment in its appropriate place and He does not wrong His slave; it is actually the slave who wrongs himself.

ولما نفى عن رسوله أنه ليس له من الأمر شيء قرر من الأمر له فقال { ولله ما في السماوات وما في الأرض } من الملائكة والإنس والجن والحيوانات والأفلاك والجمادات كلها، وجميع ما في السماوات والأرض، الكل ملك لله مخلوقون مدبرون متصرف فيهم تصرف المماليك، فليس لهم مثقال ذرة من الملك

And when Allah negated His messenger having any decision in the matter, He affirmed the affair as belonging to Him. So He said:

وَلِلَّـهِ مَا فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَمَا فِي الْأَرْ‌ضِ

And to Allah belongs all that is in the heavens and all that is in the earth [3:129]

including all the angels, the human beings, the jinn, the animals, the celestial bodies and the inanimate objects – everything which is in the heavens and the earth. All of the dominion belongs to Allah – they are created by Him, under His control and management. So they do not possess even an atom’s weight’s worth of ownership.

وإذا كانوا كذلك فهم دائرون بين مغفرته وتعذيبه فيغفر لمن يشاء بأن يهديه للإسلام فيغفر شركه ويمن عليه بترك العصيان فيغفر له ذنبه، { ويعذب من يشاء } بأن يكله إلى نفسه الجاهلة الظالمة المقتضية لعمل الشر فيعمل الشر ويعذبه على ذلك

So since that is the case, then they are hovering between His forgiveness and His punishment. For He forgives whom He wills such that He guides them to Islam and so forgives their shirk and blesses them with their giving up of disobedience, so He forgives them of their sins. And He punishes whom He wills such that He leaves them to their own ignorant and wrongdoing ways which necessitate the commission of evil deeds, so they perform evil and He punishes them for that.

      ثم ختم الآية باسمين كريمين دالين على سعة رحمته وعموم مغفرته وسعة إحسانه وعميم إحسانه، فقال { والله غفور رحيم } ففيها أعظم بشارة بأن رحمته غلبت غضبه، ومغفرته غلبت مؤاخذته، فالآية فيها الإخبار عن حالة الخلق وأن منهم من يغفر الله له ومنهم من يعذبه، فلم يختمها باسمين أحدهما دال على الرحمة، والثاني دال على النقمة، بل ختمها باسمين كليهما يدل على الرحمة، فله تعالى رحمة وإحسان سيرحم بها عباده لا تخطر ببال بشر، ولا يدرك لها وصف، فنسأله تعالى أن يتغمدنا ويدخلنا برحمته في عباده الصالحين . ـ

Then Allah concluded the ayah with two of His noble names which indicate the expansiveness of His mercy, the universality of His forgiveness, the wide and encompassing nature of His ihsaan. For He said:

وَاللَّـهُ غَفُورٌ‌ رَّ‌حِيمٌ

And Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful [3:129]

So herein is the greatest of glad tidings that His mercy supersedes His wrath and His forgiveness supersedes His punishment. For in this ayah we are being informed of the condition of the created beings and that among them there are those whom Allah forgives and those whom He punishes, but He did not conclude this ayah with two names one of which indicating mercy and the other indicating punishment; rather He concluded it with two names both of which indicate mercy, for He is the possessor of mercy and ihsaan. So He will show mercy to His slaves the likes of human mind cannot imagine nor can it grasp its description. So we ask Allah to encompass us with His mercy and thereby include us among His righteous slaves.

[Taysir al-Kareem al-Rahman pg. 155]

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

See also: Allah invites the disbelievers to repent: Tafsir al-Shinqitee

See also: The disbelievers are not sent as keepers over the believers: Tafsir ibn Kathir

See also: “Except the people of Yunus”: Tafsir al-Sa’di

See also: Consideration is given to the completeness of the conclusion, not the defects of the beginning

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4 thoughts on ““Not for you is the decision…” : Tafsir al-Sa’di

  1. Pingback: Allah implores the disbelievers to repent: Tafsir al-Shinqitee | Tulayhah

  2. Pingback: “Except the people of Yunus”: Tafsir al-Sa’di | Tulayhah

  3. Pingback: The disbelievers are not sent as keepers over the believers: Tafsir ibn Kathir | Tulayhah

  4. Pingback: “There is no good in much of their private conversation, except…”: Tafsir al-Sa’di | Tulayhah

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