Qualities of the Successful Believers – Part 1/7: Tafsir al-Shinqitee

Allah begins surah al-Mu’minoon with 11 ayaat describing the qualities of the successful believers and their ultimate reward. Sheikh Muhammad al-Ameen al-Shinqitee broke his tafsir of these ayaat into seven sections, which we have translated and will publish as a series over the coming weeks. al-Shinqitee started his explanation of this passage by discussing the first two ayaat, as follows:

قوله تعالى : قد أفلح المؤمنون الذين هم في صلاتهم خاشعون ، ذكر – جل وعلا – في هذه الآيات التي ابتدأ بها أول هذه السورة علامات المؤمنين المفلحين فقال قد أفلح المؤمنون [ 23 \ 1 ] أي : فازوا وظفروا بخير الدنيا والآخرة . وفلاح المؤمنين مذكور ذكرا كثيرا في القرآن ; كقوله وبشر المؤمنين بأن لهم من الله فضلا كبيرا [ 33 \ 47 ]  ـ

Allah’s statement:

قَدْ أَفْلَحَ الْمُؤْمِنُونَ * الَّذِينَ هُمْ فِي صَلَاتِهِمْ خَاشِعُونَ

Indeed the believers have succeeded * Those who are characterized by khushoo’ in their salaah [23:1-2]

In these ayaat which begin this surah, Allah mentioned the signs of the successful believers, for He said:

قَدْ أَفْلَحَ الْمُؤْمِنُونَ

Indeed the believers have succeeded

meaning: they have succeeded and achieved good in both this life and in the hereafter. And the success of the believers mentioned here is mentioned frequently throughout the Qur’an, such as Allah’s statement:

وَبَشِّرِ‌ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ بِأَنَّ لَهُم مِّنَ اللَّـهِ فَضْلًا كَبِيرً‌ا

And give good tidings to the believers that they will have a great bounty from Allah. [33:47] Continue reading

Advertisements

Notes on the Book “Safwah al-Tafaasir”: Sheikh Saalih al-Fawzan

In the late 1970s, sheikh Muhammad ‘Ali al-Saabooni, a professor at King ‘Abd al-‘Azeez University and Umm al-Quraa’ University in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, published a book of tafsir entitled “Safwah al-Tafaasir“. This book has since spread far and wide and gained popularity, especially because it was primarily written for a common audience. However, a number of scholars have noted issues and problems within it, and have subsequently written detailed corrections and notes regarding the book, as well as other works of al-Saabooni.

What follows is an excerpt from the detailed notes and correction of sheikh Saalih al-Fawzan concerning “Safwah al-Tafaasir“. Sheikh Fawzan is a member of the Council of Senior Scholars of Saudi Arabia, among many other positions, may Allah preserve him.

الحمد لله رب العالمين، والصلاة والسلام على نبينا محمد وآله وصحبه، وبعد‏:‏ فإن المسلمين بحاجة شديدة إلى معرفة معاني كتاب ربهم عز وجل؛ لأن ذلك وسيلة للعمل به والانتفاع بهديه، وقد قام أئمة الإسلام بهذه المهمة خير قيام، ففسروا كتاب الله معتمدين في ذلك على تفسير القرآن بالقرآن، ثم بسنة رسول الله – صلى الله عليه وسلم – ثم على أقوال الصحابة والتابعين وأتباعهم من القرون المفضلة، وما تقتضيه اللغة التي أنزل بها، فجاءت تفاسيرهم نقية صافية من التأويلات الباطلة والأهواء المضلة التي غالبا ما تشتمل عليها تفاسير من جاء بعدهم ممن لم يحذ حذوهم‏.‏ ـ

All praise is due to Allah, the Lord of all creation. Peace and blessings be upon our Prophet, his family and his companions. To proceed:

Indeed, the Muslims are in great need of knowing the meanings of their Lord’s Book, for that is a means to acting in accordance with it and benefiting from its guidance. The scholars of Islam have been attendant to this important matter with the greatest of care, and as such they have explained the Book of Allah and they have made their foundation for that the explanation of the Qur’an by the Qur’an itself, then by the Sunnah of Allah’s Messenger, then according to the statements of the Sahabah, the Taabi’oon and those who followed them from the best generations, as well as what the language in which it was sent down in necessitates. And so their explanations have come pure and unsullied by the false interpretations and misguided desires which are so prevalent in the contents of those explanations which came after them from those who did not follow their example.

وقد ظهر أخيرا تفسير للشيخ محمد على الصابوني تحت عنوان‏:‏ ‏”‏ صفوة التفاسير ‏”‏، وهو عنوان يلفت النظر، لأنه يتضمن أن المؤلف أحاط بالتفاسير وانتقى منها صفوتها الصافية المطابقة للتفسير الصحيح لكتاب الله، وأكد ذلك بما كتبه تحت العنوان من قوله‏:‏ ‏”‏ تفسير للقرآن الكريم جامع بين المأثور والمعقول، مستمد من أوثق كتب التفسير ‏”‏، وكنت ممن استهواهم هذا العنوان، فأقبلت على قراءة هذا التفسير، وسرعان ما تبين لي أنه يشتمل على أخطاء في العقيدة مستمدة من كتب ليست هي أوثق التفاسير، وحيث إن الكتاب قد انتشر ووقع بين يدي كثير ممن قد لا يميزون بين الخطإ والصواب، لذا رأيت أن أدون ما رأيته على الكتاب من ملاحظات، وأن أنشرها للقراء إبراء للذمة، ونصيحة لله ولكتابه ولرسوله ولأئمة المسلمين وعامتهم‏.‏ ـ

In recent times a book by Sheikh Muhammad ‘Ali al-Saabooni has been published under the title “Safwah al-Tafaasir” [“The Choice Cuts of the Books of Tafsir”]. And this is a title which attracts attention, for it implies that the author has taken the creme of the crop from the various books of tafsir, corresponding to the correct explanation of the Book of Allah. And he reaffirms this idea with the book’s subtitle, which is, “Tafsir of the Noble Qur’an, Combining both Narration-Based and Insight-Based Explanations, Taken from the Most Trust-worthy Books of Tafsir”. And I was among those who were enticed by this title, so I sat down to read this tafsir, but it quickly became clear to me that it contained a number of mistakes in ‘aqeedah which is taken from books which are not the most trust-worthy of tafsirs. And subsequently this book has been disseminated and found its way into the hands of many who are not able to distinguish between what is correct and what is incorrect. So in light of that, I thought that I should record what I found in need of being noted in this book, and that I should make this available so as to free myself of blame and as an act of naseehah to Allah, His Book , His Messenger, the Muslim leaders and the lay-people. Continue reading

Notes on Allah’s Might and Wisdom: Tafsir al-Sa’di

Allah says in surah al-Baqarah:

وَيَسْأَلُونَكَ عَنِ الْيَتَامَىٰ ۖ قُلْ إِصْلَاحٌ لَّهُمْ خَيْرٌ ۖ وَإِن تُخَالِطُوهُمْ فَإِخْوَانُكُمْ ۚ وَاللَّهُ يَعْلَمُ الْمُفْسِدَ مِنَ الْمُصْلِحِ ۚ وَلَوْ شَاءَ اللَّهُ لَأَعْنَتَكُمْ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ عَزِيزٌ حَكِيمٌ

And they ask you about orphans. Say, “Improvement for them is best. And if you mix your affairs with theirs – they are your brothers. And Allah knows the corrupter from the amender. And if Allah had willed, He could have put you in difficulty. Truly, Allah is All-Might, All-Wise. [2:220]

Sheikh ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn Naasir al-Sa’di wrote the following commentary of this ayah in his famous tafsir:

لما نزل قوله تعالى: { إِنَّ الَّذِينَ يَأْكُلُونَ أَمْوَالَ الْيَتَامَى ظُلْمًا إِنَّمَا يَأْكُلُونَ فِي بُطُونِهِمْ نَارًا وَسَيَصْلَوْنَ سَعِيرًا } شق ذلك على المسلمين, وعزلوا طعامهم عن طعام اليتامى, خوفا على أنفسهم من تناولها, ولو في هذه الحالة التي جرت العادة بالمشاركة فيها, وسألوا النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم عن ذلك، فأخبرهم تعالى أن المقصود, إصلاح أموال اليتامى, بحفظها وصيانتها والاتجار فيها ، وأن خلطتهم إياهم في طعام أو غيره جائز على وجه لا يضر باليتامى, لأنهم إخوانكم, ومن شأن الأخ مخالطة أخيه, والمرجع في ذلك إلى النية والعمل، فمن علم الله من نيته أنه مصلح لليتيم, وليس له طمع في ماله, فلو دخل عليه شيء من غير قصد لم يكن عليه بأس، ومن علم الله من نيته, أن قصده بالمخالطة, التوصل إلى أكلها وتناولها, فذلك الذي حرج وأثم, و ” الوسائل لها أحكام المقاصد ” . ـ

When Allah revealed His statement:

إِنَّ الَّذِينَ يَأْكُلُونَ أَمْوَالَ الْيَتَامَىٰ ظُلْمًا إِنَّمَا يَأْكُلُونَ فِي بُطُونِهِمْ نَارً‌ا ۖ وَسَيَصْلَوْنَ سَعِيرً‌ا

Indeed, those who devour the property of orphans unjustly are only consuming into their bellies fire. And they will be burned in a Blaze. [4:10]

that was cumbersome for the Muslims, and they would separate their food from the food of the orphans, fearing for themselves lest they consume it even though it had been their custom to share their food collectively. So they asked the Prophet (ﷺ) about that, and Allah informed them that the objective was the well-being of the orphans’ wealth by protecting and safeguarding it and conducting transactions with it, and that mixing with them in regards to food and other than that is permissible so long as it does not cause harm to the orphans, because they are your brothers and the affairs of a brother are mixed with his brother. And it ultimately comes back to one’s intention and actions, so for whomever Allah knows that his intention was the well-being of the orphans and that he did not have covetousness towards his property, then even if he entered into something [of the orphan’s wealth] which he did not intend, there is no blame upon him. But whomever Allah knows that his intention was to achieve consumption and attainment of the orphan’s wealth through mixing the orphan’s property with his own, then that is the one who has done wrong and sinned. For “the means towards something take the same ruling as the objective”. Continue reading

And We gave Ibrahim good in this life: Tafsir al-Shinqitee

In the end of surah al-Nahl, Allah describes Ibrahim with a number of attributes, including:

وَآتَيْنَاهُ فِي الدُّنْيَا حَسَنَةً

And We gave him good in this worldly life [16:122]

The scholars of tafsir have offered a number of different opinions to as what this is referring to. Ibn al-Jawzi summarized these opinions in his tafsir by writing:

قوله تعالى : ” وآتيناه في الدنيا حسنة ” فيها ستة أقوال : أحدها : أنها الذكر الحسن ، قاله ابن عباس . والثاني : النبوة ، قاله الحسن . والثالث : لسان صدق ، قاله مجاهد . والرابع : اجتماع الملل على ولايته ، فكلهم يتولونه ويرضونه ، قاله قتادة . والخامس : أنها الصلاة عليه مقرونة بالصلاة على محمد صلى الله عليه وسلم ، قاله مقاتل بن حيان . والسادس : الأولاد الأبرار على الكبر ، حكاه الثعلبي . ـ

There are six different opinions regarding Allah’s statement, “And We gave him good in this worldly life“.

1) That this means a good mention, and this was the opinion of ibn ‘Abbaas.

2) Prophethood, which was the opinion of al-Hasan.

3) Truthful speech, which was the opinion of Mujaahid. Continue reading

“Whoever does evil or wrongs himself but then seeks Allah’s forgiveness…”: Tafsir al-Sa’di

Allah says in surah al-Nisaa’:

وَمَن يَعْمَلْ سُوءًا أَوْ يَظْلِمْ نَفْسَهُ ثُمَّ يَسْتَغْفِرِ‌ اللَّـهَ يَجِدِ اللَّـهَ غَفُورً‌ا رَّ‌حِيمًا * وَمَن يَكْسِبْ إِثْمًا فَإِنَّمَا يَكْسِبُهُ عَلَىٰ نَفْسِهِ ۚ وَكَانَ اللَّـهُ عَلِيمًا حَكِيمًا

And whoever does evil or wrongs himself but afterwards seeks Allah’s Forgiveness, he will find Allah Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful. * And whoever earns sin, he earns it only against himself. And Allah is Ever All-Knowing, All-Wise. [4:110-111]

In the midst of his commentary on the surrounding ayaat, sheikh ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn Naasir al-Sa’di wrote the following points of benefit regarding these two ayaat:

ـ { وَمَنْ يَعْمَلْ سُوءًا أَوْ يَظْلِمْ نَفْسَهُ ثُمَّ يَسْتَغْفِرِ اللَّهَ يَجِدِ اللَّهَ غَفُورًا رَحِيمًا } أي: من تجرأ على المعاصي واقتحم على الإثم ثم استغفر الله استغفارا تاما يستلزم الإقرار بالذنب والندم عليه والإقلاع والعزم على أن لا يعود. فهذا قد وعده من لا يخلف الميعاد بالمغفرة والرحمة. فيغفر له ما صدر منه من الذنب، ويزيل عنه ما ترتب عليه من النقص والعيب، ويعيد إليه ما تقدم من الأعمال الصالحة، ويوفقه فيما يستقبله من عمره، ولا يجعل ذنبه حائلا عن توفيقه، لأنه قد غفره، وإذا غفره غفر ما يترتب عليه. ـ

وَمَن يَعْمَلْ سُوءًا أَوْ يَظْلِمْ نَفْسَهُ ثُمَّ يَسْتَغْفِرِ‌ اللَّـهَ يَجِدِ اللَّـهَ غَفُورً‌ا رَّ‌حِيمًا

And whoever does evil or wrongs himself but afterwards seeks Allah’s Forgiveness, he will find Allah Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.

Meaning: whoever commits acts of disobedience and engages in wrongdoing and subsequently seeks the forgiveness of Allah with a complete seeking of forgiveness, which requires admission of the sin, regret of committing it, leaving the sin, and resolving not to return to it. In this case, then the One who does not break His promises [i.e. Allah] has promised him forgiveness and mercy. So He forgives him of the sins he had done, and He lifts the deficiencies and harms which resulted from those sins off of him, and He returns what he had previously done of righteous good deeds to him, and He grants him the accord to do well in what remains of his lifespan – not making his sin an obstacle to his success – for He has forgiven him. And when Allah forgives someone of their sin, He forgives what would have resulted from that sin. Continue reading

An Example of Added Meaning from the Different Qiraa’aat

The different qiraa’aat (recitations) of the Qur’an are an important part of tafsir and the sciences of the Qur’an, but a subject which does not receive much discussion in the English language. We have translated a brief introduction to this matter from sheikh ‘Abd al-‘Azeez bin Baaz, which we would recommending reading as a primer before proceeding with this article.

What follows is a simple and – inshaAllaah – easy-to-understand example of how the differences in the transmitted recitations can add to the meaning of an ayah, as illustrated in these excerpts from the tafsirs of sheikh Muhammad al-Ameen al-Shinqitee and imam Abu Ja’far Muhammad ibn Jarir al-Tabari. Please note that some level of familiarity with Arabic will greatly facilitate understanding this example.

In part of his explanation of surah Maryam, sheikh Muhammad al-Ameen al-Shinqitee wrote the following:

قوله تعالى : واذكر في الكتاب موسى إنه كان مخلصا وكان رسولا نبيا ، اعلم أن في قوله ” مخلصا ” قراءتين سبعيتين : قرأه عاصم وحمزة والكسائي بفتح اللام بصيغة اسم المفعول ، والمعنى على هذه القراءة أن الله استخلصه واصطفاه : ويشهد لهذا المعنى قوله تعالى : قال ياموسى إني اصطفيتك على الناس برسالاتي وبكلامي الآية [ 7 \ 144 ] ، ومما يماثل هذه القراءة في القرآن قوله تعالى : إنا أخلصناهم بخالصة ذكرى الدار [ 38 \ 46 ] ، فالذين أخلصهم الله هم المخلصون بفتح اللام . ـ

Allah’s statement:

وَاذْكُرْ‌ فِي الْكِتَابِ مُوسَىٰ ۚ إِنَّهُ كَانَ مُخْلَصًا وَكَانَ رَ‌سُولًا نَّبِيًّا

And mention in the Book, Moosaa. Indeed, he was mukhlasan, and he was a messenger and a prophet. [19:51]

You should know that there are two different readings of the word mukhlasan that are present in the seven well-known recitations. ‘Aasim, Hamzah, and al-Kasaa’ee recited it with a fathah on the letter laam, which makes it take the form of ism al-maf’ool (direct object). According to this recitation, the meaning is that Allah selected and chose him. And this meaning is attested to by Allah’s statement:

قَالَ يَا مُوسَىٰ إِنِّي اصْطَفَيْتُكَ عَلَى النَّاسِ بِرِ‌سَالَاتِي وَبِكَلَامِي

[Allah] said, “O Moosaa, I have chosen you over the people with My messages and My words…” [7:144]

And among the wordings in the Qur’an which resemble this reading is Allah’s statement:

إِنَّا أَخْلَصْنَاهُم بِخَالِصَةٍ ذِكْرَ‌ى الدَّارِ‌

Indeed, We chose them for an exclusive quality: remembrance of the home (of the Hereafter) [38:46]

For those whom Allah has chosen are the mukhlasoon, with a fathah on the letter laam. Continue reading

“And do not be like those who say, ‘We have heard,’ while they do not hear”: Tafsir al-Qurtubi

In surah al-Anfal, Allah commands the believers by saying:

وَلَا تَكُونُوا كَالَّذِينَ قَالُوا سَمِعْنَا وَهُمْ لَا يَسْمَعُونَ

And do not be like those who say, “We have heard,” while they do not hear. [8:21]

Commenting on this ayah in his book of tafsir, Imam al-Qurtubi wrote:

قوله تعالى : ولا تكونوا كالذين قالوا سمعنا أي كاليهود أو المنافقين أو المشركين . وهو من سماع الأذن . وهم لا يسمعون أي لا يتدبرون ما سمعوا ، ولا يفكرون فيه ، فهم بمنزلة من لم يسمع وأعرض عن الحق . نهى المؤمنين أن يكونوا مثلهم . ـ

Allah’s statement:

وَلَا تَكُونُوا كَالَّذِينَ قَالُوا سَمِعْنَا

And do not be like those who say, “We have heard…” [8:21]

such as the Jews, the Munaafiqoon [hypocrites], and the Mushrikoon [polytheists]. And this is referring to the literal hearing of one’s ears. They are those who do not hear – meaning: they do not consider or reflect on what they have heard. So these ones are just like those who did not hear (at all) and who turn away from the truth. Allah prohibited the believer from being like them.

Continue reading

Whoever does an atom’s weight of good or evil shall see it: Imam al-Shinqitee

In his short work dedicated to dispelling misconceptions and misunderstandings that some may have regarding apparent contradictions in the Qur’an, sheikh Muhammad al-Ameen al-Shinqitee wrote the following comments regarding surah al-Zalzalah:

قَوْلُهُ تَعَالَى: فَمَنْ يَعْمَلْ مِثْقَالَ ذَرَّةٍ خَيْرًا يَرَهُ وَمَنْ يَعْمَلْ مِثْقَالَ ذَرَّةٍ شَرًّا يَرَهُ. ـ

Allah’s statement:

فَمَنْ يَعْمَلْ مِثْقَالَ ذَرَّةٍ خَيْرًا يَرَهُ * وَمَنْ يَعْمَلْ مِثْقَالَ ذَرَّةٍ شَرًّا يَرَهُ

So whoever does an atom’s weight of good will see it, * And whoever does an atom’s weight of evil will see it. [99:7-8]

هَذِهِ الْآيَةُ الْكَرِيمَةُ تَقْتَضِي أَنَّ كُلَّ إِنْسَانٍ كَافِرًا كَانَ أَوْ مُسْلِمًا يُجَازَى بِالْقَلِيلِ مِنَ الْخَيْرِ وَالشَّرِّ. ـ

This noble ayah entails that every person – whether he be disbeliever or a Muslim – will be recompensed for (even) a small amount of good or evil.

وَقَدْ جَاءَتْ آيَاتٌ أُخَرُ تَدُلُّ عَلَى خِلَافِ هَذَا الْعُمُومِ : ـ

But other ayaat have come which indicate something contrary to this generality:

أَمَّا مَا فَعَلَهُ الْكَافِرُ مِنَ الْخَيْرِ، فَالْآيَاتُ تُصَرِّحُ بِإِحْبَاطِهِ، كَقَوْلِهِ: أُولَئِكَ الَّذِينَ لَيْسَ لَهُمْ فِي الْآخِرَةِ إِلَّا النَّارُ وَحَبِطَ مَا صَنَعُوا فِيهَا وَبَاطِلٌ مَا كَانُوا يَعْمَلُونَ [11 \ 16] ، وَقَوْلِهِ تَعَالَى: وَقَدِمْنَا إِلَى مَا عَمِلُوا مِنْ عَمَلٍ فَجَعَلْنَاهُ هَبَاءً مَنْثُورًا [25 \ 23] ، وَكَقَوْلِهِ: أَعْمَالُهُمْ كَرَمَادٍ الْآيَةَ [14 \ 18] وَقَوْلِهِ: أَعْمَالُهُمْ كَسَرَابٍ بِقِيعَةٍ الْآيَةَ [24 \ 39] إِلَى غَيْرِ ذَلِكَ مِنَ الْآيَاتِ. ـ

As for what the disbeliever does of good deeds, then there are a number of ayaat which make their futility clear, such as His statement:

أُولَئِكَ الَّذِينَ لَيْسَ لَهُمْ فِي الْآخِرَةِ إِلَّا النَّارُ وَحَبِطَ مَا صَنَعُوا فِيهَا وَبَاطِلٌ مَا كَانُوا يَعْمَلُونَ

Those are the ones for whom there is not in the Hereafter but the Fire. And lost is what they did therein, and worthless is what they used to do. [11:16]

And His statement: Continue reading