Qualities of the Successful Believers – Part 3/7: 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 are in the midst of publishing it as a series. For a guide to the different sections, click here. Sheikh Muhammad al-Ameen al-Shinqitee continued his tafsir of the opening of surah al-Mumi’noon as follows:

قوله تعالى : والذين هم للزكاة فاعلون ، في المراد بالزكاة هنا وجهان من التفسير معروفان عند أهل العلم : أحدهما : أن المراد بها زكاة الأموال ، وعزاه ابن كثير للأكثرين . ـ

Allah’s statement:

وَالَّذِينَ هُمْ لِلزَّكَاةِ فَاعِلُونَ

and those who carry out the zakaah [23:4]

There are two well-known opinions among the People of Knowledge regarding the intended meaning of the word “al-zakaah” here.

The first of them is that what is intended here is the zakaah of one’s wealth, and ibn Kathir attributed this opinion to the majority.

الثاني : أن المراد بالزكاة هنا : زكاة النفس أي : تطهيرها من الشرك ، والمعاصي بالإيمان بالله ، وطاعته وطاعة رسله عليهم الصلاة والسلام ، وعلى هذا فالمراد بالزكاة كالمراد بها في قوله قد أفلح من زكاها وقد خاب من دساها [ 91 \ 9 – 10 ] وقوله قد أفلح من تزكى الآية [ 87 \ 14 ] ، وقوله ولولا فضل الله عليكم ورحمته ما زكا منكم من أحد أبدا [ 24 \ 21 ] وقوله خيرا منه زكاة الآية [ 18 \ 81 ] وقوله وويل للمشركين الذين لا يؤتون الزكاة [ 41 \ 6 – 7 ] على أحد التفسيرين ، وقد يستدل لهذا القول الأخير بثلاث قرائن : ـ

The second is that the intended meaning of zakaah in this instance is the zakaah of one’s self – i.e. purifying one’s self from al-shirk and disobedience by having eemaan in Allah, obeying Him, and obeying His Messenger (ﷺ). So according to this position, the intended meaning of zakaah is like it’s intended meaning in Allah’s statement:

قَدْ أَفْلَحَ مَن زَكَّاهَا * وَقَدْ خَابَ مَن دَسَّاهَا

He has succeeded who purifies it * And indeed he fails who corrupts his own self [91:9-10]

And His statement:

قَدْ أَفْلَحَ مَن تَزَكَّىٰ

Indeed, whoever purifies himself shall achieve success [87:14]

And His statement:

وَلَوْلَا فَضْلُ اللَّـهِ عَلَيْكُمْ وَرَ‌حْمَتُهُ مَا زَكَىٰ مِنكُم مِّنْ أَحَدٍ أَبَدًا 

And if not for the favor of Allah upon you and His mercy, not one of you would have been pure, ever [24:21]

And His statement:

خَيْرً‌ا مِّنْهُ زَكَاةً

one better than him in purity [18:81]

As well as one of the two interpretations of His statement:

وَوَيْلٌ لِّلْمُشْرِ‌كِينَ * الَّذِينَ لَا يُؤْتُونَ الزَّكَاةَ

and woe to the mushrikoon * those who do not purify themselves [41:6-7]

This second position [i.e. that zakah here refers to purifying one’s self] is is supported by three things in the surrounding context:

الأولى : أن هذه السورة مكية ، بلا خلاف ، والزكاة إنما فرضت بالمدينة كما هو معلوم ، فدل على أن قوله والذين هم للزكاة فاعلون نزل قبل فرض زكاة الأموال المعروفة ، فدل على أن المراد به غيرها . ـ

Firstly: That this surah is a Makki surah – and there is no differing on this point – and the zakaah was only decreed as an obligation in al-Madinah, as is well known. So this indicates that Allah’s statement:

وَالَّذِينَ هُمْ لِلزَّكَاةِ فَاعِلُونَ

and those who carry out the zakaah [23:4]

was revealed prior to the mandate of paying zakaah on one’s wealth – this well-known meaning of the word “al-zakaah” -, so this indicates that the intended meaning of zakaah here is something other than that.

القرينة الثانية : هي أن المعروف في زكاة الأموال : أن يعبر عن أدائها بالإيتاء ; كقوله تعالى وآتوا الزكاة [ 2 \ 43 ] وقوله وإيتاء الزكاة [ 21 \ 73 ] ونحو ذلك . وهذه الزكاة المذكورة هنا ، لم يعبر عنها بالإيتاء ، بل قال تعالى فيها والذين هم للزكاة فاعلون [ 23 \ 4 ] فدل على أن هذه الزكاة : أفعال المؤمنين المفلحين ، وذلك أولى بفعل الطاعات ، وترك المعاصي من أداء مال . ـ

The second issue from the context is: When it comes to the zakaah of wealth, it is well-known that it usually comes paired with the verb “give”, such as Allah’s statement:

وَآتُوا الزَّكَاةَ

…and give the zakaah [2:43]

And His statement:

وَإِيتَاءَ الزَّكَاةِ

…and giving of the zakaah [21:73]

and other similar statements. But the zakaah which is mentioned here in surah al-Mu’minoon does not come paired with the verb “give”. Rather, here Allah said:

وَالَّذِينَ هُمْ لِلزَّكَاةِ فَاعِلُونَ

and those who carry out the zakaah [23:4]

So this indicates that this zakaah in surah al-Mu’minoon is one of the deeds of the successful believers [i.e. something specific to them, not just the zakaah that every Muslim must pay], and so it is more fitting that that be the performance of acts of obedience and the abandonment of acts of disobedience than for it to be the payment of one’s wealth.

الثالثة : أن زكاة الأموال تكون في القرآن عادة مقرونة بالصلاة ، من غير فصل [ ص: 308 ] بينهما كقوله وأقيموا الصلاة وآتوا الزكاة [ 2 \ 110 ] وقوله وأقاموا الصلاة وآتوا الزكاة [ 2 \ 277 ] وقوله وإقام الصلاة وإيتاء الزكاة [ 21 \ 73 ] وهذه الزكاة المذكورة هنا فصل بين ذكرها ، وبين ذكر الصلاة بجملة والذين هم عن اللغو معرضون [ 23 \ 3 ] . ـ

Thirdly: That the zakaah of one’s wealth usually occurs in the Qur’an being paired with the salaah without any separation between the two, such as Allah’s statement:

وَأَقِيمُوا الصَّلَاةَ وَآتُوا الزَّكَاةَ

And establish prayer and give zakah … [2:110]

And His statement:

وَأَقَامُوا الصَّلَاةَ وَآتَوُا الزَّكَاةَ

… and establish prayer and give zakah ... [2:277]

And His statement:

وَإِقَامَ الصَّلَاةِ وَإِيتَاءَ الزَّكَاةِ

establishment of prayer, and giving of zakah … [21:73]

But the zakaah mentioned here in surah al-Mu’minoon comes with a separation between it and the mention of the salaah, separated by the sentence:

وَالَّذِينَ هُمْ عَنِ اللَّغْوِ مُعْرِ‌ضُونَ

and those who turn away from al-Laghw [23:3]

والذين قالوا المراد بها زكاة الأموال ، قالوا : إن أصل الزكاة فرض بمكة قبل الهجرة ، وأن الزكاة التي فرضت بالمدينة سنة اثنتين هي ذات النصب ، والمقادير الخاصة . ـ

However, those who say that what is intended here is the zakaah of one’s wealth say that the basis of al-zakaah was in fact mandated while still in Mecca prior to the the Hijrah, and that the zakaah which was ordained in al-Madinah in the second year after the Hijrah was based on the minimum threshold levels and specified amounts.

وقد أوضحنا هذا القول في الأنعام في الكلام على قوله تعالى وآتوا حقه يوم حصاده [ 141 ] وقد يستدل ; لأن المراد بالزكاة في هذه الآية غير الأعمال التي تزكى بها النفوس من دنس الشرك والمعاصي ، بأنا لو حملنا معنى الزكاة على ذلك ، كان شاملا لجميع صفات المؤمنين المذكورة في أول هذه السورة ، فيكون كالتكرار معها ، والحمل على التأسيس والاستقلال أولى من غيره ، كما تقرر في الأصول ، وقد أوضحناه في سورة النحل في الكلام على قوله تعالى فلنحيينه حياة طيبة الآية [ 6 \ 97 ] والذين قالوا : هي زكاة الأموال قالوا : فاعلون أي : مؤدون ، قالوا : وهي لغة معروفة فصيحة ، ومنها قول أمية بن أبي الصلت : ـ
المطعمون الطعام في السنة الأز مة والفاعلون للزكوات
وهو واضح ، بحمل الزكاة على المعنى المصدري بمعنى التزكية للمال ; لأنها فعل المزكي كما هو واضح ، ولا شك أن تطهير النفس بأعمال البر ، ودفع زكاة المال كلاهما من صفات المؤمنين المفلحين الوارثين الجنة . ـ

And we have already clarified this position in surah al-An’aam in our tafsir of Allah’s statement:

وَآتُوا حَقَّهُ يَوْمَ حَصَادِهِ

… and give its due [i.e zakah] on the day of its harvest …. [6:141]

and this shows that the intended meaning of al-zakaah in this ayah is not those actions by which one purifies themselves from the stains of al-shirk or disobedience, for if we were to interpret the meaning of al-zakaah here in that way, then this would encompass all of the qualities of the believers mentioned in the beginning of this surah and thus it would be like a repetition of them. Rather, interpreting something as new and unique information is given priority over interpreting it in other ways, as is well established in the fundamentals of the science of al-Tafsir, and we have explained this is our discussion of Allah’s statement in surah al-Nahl:

فَلَنُحْيِيَنَّهُ حَيَاةً طَيِّبَةً ۖ وَلَنَجْزِيَنَّهُمْ أَجْرَ‌هُم بِأَحْسَنِ مَا كَانُوا يَعْمَلُونَ

… We will surely cause him to live a good life, and We will surely give them their reward according to the best of what they used to do. [16:97][1]

And those who say that this ayah refers to the the zakaah of one’s wealth say “they carry it out” means “they pay it”. They say: This is a well-known usage of eloquent language … And this is a clear indication for interpreting al-zakaah according to its root meaning of “purifying one’s wealth”, for that is what the one who pays the zakaah is doing, as is clear. And there is no doubt that purifying one’s self is accomplished both by performing righteous acts, and by paying the zakaah on one’s wealth – both of these are qualities of the successful believers who will inherit Paradise.

وقد قال ابن كثير – رحمه الله – : وقد يحتمل أن المراد بالزكاة ها هنا : زكاة النفس من الشرك ، والدنس إلى أن قال ويحتمل أن يكون كلا الأمرين مرادا وهو زكاة النفوس ، وزكاة الأموال فإنه من جملة زكاة النفوس ، والمؤمن الكامل هو الذي يفعل هذا وهذا والله أعلم ، اهـ منه . ـ

And ibn Kathir (may Allah have mercy on him) said: It is possible that the intended meaning of al-zakaah here could be interpreted to mean the purification of one’s self from al-shirk and faults, and it is also possible that both meanings could be intended here. That is, the purification of one’s self and the zakaah of one’s wealth. For the zakaah of one’s wealth is a part of the purification of one’s self, and the true believer is the one who enacts both of these matters. And Allah knows best. [End of quote].

[Adhwaa al-Bayaan 5/308-309]

[1] Translator’s Note: We have translated this excerpt explaining the principle that “The function of providing new information is given precedence over reaffirming previously stated information”. We have published it as the first footnote in this article.

To explore more of this series, see Qualities of the Successful Believers Series Guide

See also: “And mention in the Book, Ismaa’eel”: Tafsir al-Sa’di

See also: Ibn Kathir on Zakah and Tazkiyyah al-Nafs

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One thought on “Qualities of the Successful Believers – Part 3/7: Tafsir al-Shinqitee

  1. Pingback: Ibn Kathir on Zakah and Tazkiyyah al-Nafs | Tulayhah

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