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

Allah says in surah al-Nisaa’:

لَّا خَيْرَ فِي كَثِيرٍ مِّن نَّجْوَاهُمْ إِلَّا مَنْ أَمَرَ بِصَدَقَةٍ أَوْ مَعْرُوفٍ أَوْ إِصْلَاحٍ بَيْنَ النَّاسِ ۚ وَمَن يَفْعَلْ ذَٰلِكَ ابْتِغَاءَ مَرْضَاتِ اللَّهِ فَسَوْفَ نُؤْتِيهِ أَجْرًا عَظِيمًا

There is no good in much of their private conversation, except for those who enjoin sadaqah or that which is right or reconciliation between people. And whoever does that seeking means to the approval of Allah – then We are going to give him a great reward. [4:114]

In his well-known book of tafsir, sheikh ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn Naasir al-Sa’di mentioned the above ayah and then wrote:

أي: لا خير في كثير مما يتناجى به الناس ويتخاطبون، وإذا لم يكن فيه خير، فإما لا فائدة فيه كفضول الكلام المباح، وإما شر ومضرة محضة كالكلام المحرم بجميع أنواعه. ـ

Meaning: There is no good in much of what is exchanged secretly among the people or what they speak about together. So if it there is no good in it, then either it contains no benefit – such as idle curiosity which is neither good nor bad – , or it is evil and plainly harmful – such as any form of forbidden talk.

ثم استثنى تعالى فقال: { إِلَّا مَنْ أَمَرَ بِصَدَقَةٍ ْ} من مال أو علم أو أي نفع كان، بل لعله يدخل فيه العبادات القاصرة كالتسبيح والتحميد ونحوه . ـ

Then Allah provided an exception, for He said:

إِلَّا مَنْ أَمَرَ بِصَدَقَةٍ

except for those who enjoin sadaqah

which could be wealth or knowledge or any other thing of benefit. In fact, even acts of individual devotion – such as making tasbeeh, praising Allah, etc. – could be included in this.

كما قال النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم: “إن بكل تسبيحة صدقة، وكل تكبيرة صدقة، وكل تهليلة صدقة، وأمر بالمعروف صدقة، ونهي عن المنكر صدقة، وفي بضع أحدكم صدقة” الحديث. ـ

This is just as the Prophet (ﷺ) said, “Verily, every tasbeeh is a sadaqah [charity], and every takbeer is a sadaqah, and every tahleel [saying laa ilaaha illAllaah] is a sadaqah, and enjoining the good is sadaqah, and forbidding evil is a sadaqah, and in a person’s sexual intercourse there is a sadaqah,” until the end of the hadeeth.

ـ { أَوْ مَعْرُوفٍ ْ} وهو الإحسان والطاعة وكل ما عرف في الشرع والعقل حسنه، وإذا أطلق الأمر بالمعروف من غير أن يقرن بالنهي عن المنكر دخل فيه النهي عن المنكر، وذلك لأن ترك المنهيات من المعروف، وأيضا لا يتم فعل الخير إلا بترك الشر. ـ

أَوْ مَعْرُوفٍ

…or that which is right…

which is al-ihsaan and obedience and anything whose goodness is recognized by the divine legislation and the intellect. And whenever al-amr bi’l-ma’roof [enjoining the good] is mentioned on its own without being paired with al-nahi ‘an al-munkar [forbidding the evil], then forbidding evil is included in its meaning. That is because abandoning the prohibited matters is part of al-ma’roof, and also because doing good is not completed unless and until one leaves off doing evil.

وأما عند الاقتران فيفسر المعروف بفعل المأمور، والمنكر بترك المنهي. ـ

But as for when the two terms are used together, then al-ma’roof is explained as performing the commandments, and al-munkar is explained as leaving off the prohibited acts.

ـ { أَوْ إِصْلَاحٍ بَيْنَ النَّاسِ ْ} والإصلاح لا يكون إلا بين متنازعين متخاصمين، والنزاع والخصام والتغاضب يوجب من الشر والفرقة ما لا يمكن حصره، فلذلك حث الشارع على الإصلاح بين الناس في الدماء والأموال والأعراض، بل وفي الأديان كما قال تعالى: { وَاعْتَصِمُوا بِحَبْلِ اللَّهِ جَمِيعًا وَلَا تَفَرَّقُوا ْ} وقال تعالى: { وَإِنْ طَائِفَتَانِ مِنَ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ اقْتَتَلُوا فَأَصْلِحُوا بَيْنَهُمَا فَإِنْ بَغَتْ إِحْدَاهُمَا عَلَى الْأُخْرَى فَقَاتِلُوا الَّتِي تَبْغِي حَتَّى تَفِيءَ إِلَى أَمْرِ اللَّهِ ْ} الآية. ـ

أَوْ إِصْلَاحٍ بَيْنَ النَّاسِ

… or reconciliation between people.

And reconciliation can only occur between two parties who had been disputing and quarrelsome. Disputation, argumentation, and mutual enmity necessarily lead to evil and division, the likes of which cannot be enumerated. So because of that, the Divine Legislator encourages us towards making reconciliation between people in regards to blood, wealth, or honor – in fact even in regards to religious differences, as He said:

وَاعْتَصِمُوا بِحَبْلِ اللَّهِ جَمِيعًا وَلَا تَفَرَّقُوا

And hold firmly to the rope of Allah all together and do not become divided [3:103]

And He said:

وَإِن طَائِفَتَانِ مِنَ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ اقْتَتَلُوا فَأَصْلِحُوا بَيْنَهُمَا ۖ فَإِن بَغَتْ إِحْدَاهُمَا عَلَى الْأُخْرَ‌ىٰ فَقَاتِلُوا الَّتِي تَبْغِي حَتَّىٰ تَفِيءَ إِلَىٰ أَمْرِ‌ اللَّـهِ ۚ فَإِن فَاءَتْ فَأَصْلِحُوا بَيْنَهُمَا بِالْعَدْلِ وَأَقْسِطُوا ۖ إِنَّ اللَّـهَ يُحِبُّ الْمُقْسِطِينَ

And if two factions among the believers should fight, then make settlement between the two. But if one of them oppresses the other, then fight against the one that oppresses until it returns to the ordinance of Allah. And if it returns, then make settlement between them in justice and act justly. Indeed, Allah loves those who act justly. [49:9]

وقال تعالى: { وَالصُّلْحُ خَيْرٌ ْ} والساعي في الإصلاح بين الناس أفضل من القانت بالصلاة والصيام والصدقة، والمصلح لا بد أن يصلح الله سعيه وعمله. ـ

And Allah said:

وَالصُّلْحُ خَيْرٌ

And reconciliation is better [4:128]

And the one who hastens to make reconciliation between people is better than the one who is [merely] devoted to performing the prayers, fasting and charity. And of course Allah would rectify the efforts and deeds.of the one who brings about reconciliation.

كما أن الساعي في الإفساد لا يصلح الله عمله ولا يتم له مقصوده كما قال تعالى: { إِنَّ اللَّهَ لَا يُصْلِحُ عَمَلَ الْمُفْسِدِينَ ْ}. فهذه الأشياء حيثما فعلت فهي خير، كما دل على ذلك الاستثناء. ـ

Likewise, Allah would not rectify the deeds of the one who hastens to corruption, nor would He allow his purposes to come to fruition, just as He said

إِنَّ اللَّهَ لَا يُصْلِحُ عَمَلَ الْمُفْسِدِينَ

Indeed, Allah does not set right the work of the mischief-makers [10:81]

So then, whenever any of these listed things occur, then that is good, just as the exception in this ayah shows.

ولكن كمال الأجر وتمامه بحسب النية والإخلاص، ولهذا قال: { وَمَنْ يَفْعَلْ ذَلِكَ ابْتِغَاءَ مَرْضَاةِ اللَّهِ فَسَوْفَ نُؤْتِيهِ أَجْرًا عَظِيمًا ْ} . ـ

However, the completeness and fullness of the reward depends on one’s intention and ikhlaas. It was for this reason that Allah said:

وَمَنْ يَفْعَلْ ذَلِكَ ابْتِغَاءَ مَرْضَاةِ اللَّهِ فَسَوْفَ نُؤْتِيهِ أَجْرًا عَظِيمًا

And whoever does that seeking means to the approval of Allah – then We are going to give him a great reward.

فلهذا ينبغي للعبد أن يقصد وجه الله تعالى ويخلص العمل لله في كل وقت وفي كل جزء من أجزاء الخير، ليحصل له بذلك الأجر العظيم، وليتعود الإخلاص فيكون من المخلصين، وليتم له الأجر، سواء تم مقصوده أم لا، لأن النية حصلت واقترن بها ما يمكن من العمل. ـ

So for that reason, the slave ought to intend the approval of Allah and make his actions sincerely for the sake of Allah at all times and in every single step of performing the good deeds so that he might thereby be granted the great reward and so that he might habituate himself to acting with ikhlaas in order that he might become one of the mukhlisoon, and so that his reward will be granted to him in full regardless of whether his purpose came to fruition or not, for his intention was for that and it is connected to what the action might have done.

[Taysir al-Kareem al-Rahman pg. 219]

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

See also: Whoever abandons good will be tested with evil: Imam al-Sa’di

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

See also: The meaning of al-Ma’roof and al-Munkar: Ibn Rajab

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3 thoughts on ““There is no good in much of their private conversation, except…”: Tafsir al-Sa’di

  1. Pingback: Whoever abandons good will be tested with evil: Imam al-Sa’di | Tulayhah

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

  3. Pingback: Notes on Allah’s Might and Wisdom: Tafsir al-Sa’di | Tulayhah

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