Ashaab al-Aykah and the People of Shu’aib: Tafsir ibn Kathir

Allah begins recounts the story of His prophet Shu’aib in surah al-Shu’araa’ by saying:

كَذَّبَ أَصْحَابُ الْأَيْكَةِ الْمُرْسَلِينَ * إِذْ قَالَ لَهُمْ شُعَيْبٌ أَلَا تَتَّقُونَ

The Ashaab al-Aykah denied the messengers * when Shu’aib said to them, “Won’t you have taqwaa?” [26:176-177]

al-Haafidh Ismaa’eel ibn Kathir mentioned the following point in his discussion of these verses:

 هؤلاء – أعني أصحاب الأيكة – هم أهل مدين على الصحيح . وكان نبي الله شعيب من أنفسهم ، وإنما لم يقل هنا أخوهم شعيب ; لأنهم نسبوا إلى عبادة الأيكة ، وهي شجرة . وقيل : شجر ملتف كالغيضة ، كانوا يعبدونها ; فلهذا لما قال : كذب أصحاب الأيكة المرسلين ، لم يقل : ” إذ قال لهم أخوهم شعيب ” ، وإنما قال : ( إذ قال لهم شعيب ) ، فقطع نسبة الأخوة بينهم ; للمعنى الذي نسبوا إليه ، وإن كان أخاهم نسبا . ومن الناس من لم يتفطن لهذه النكتة ، فظن أن أصحاب الأيكة غير أهل مدين ، فزعم أن شعيبا عليه السلام ، بعثه الله إلى أمتين ، ومنهم من قال : ثلاث أمم . … والصحيح أنهم أمة واحدة ، وصفوا في كل مقام بشيء ; ولهذا وعظ هؤلاء وأمرهم بوفاء المكيال والميزان ، كما في قصة مدين سواء بسواء ، فدل ذلك على أنهم أمة واحدة . ـ

These people – meaning the Ashaab al-Aykah [the People of the Thicket] – are the people of the city of Madyan according to the correct opinion. The prophet of Allah Shu’aib was one of them, and the only reason why he is not referred to here as “their brother Shu’aib” is because here they are being described in relation to their worship of the aykah, which is a sort of tree – and some say it is a twisted sort of tree like a thicket -, which they used to worship.

So it is because of this that when Allah said, “The Ashaab al-Aykah denied the messengers“, He did not then say, “when their brother Shu’aib said to them…”, but instead said, “when Shu’aib said to them…“. So He cut off the relationship of brotherhood between Shu’aib and his people in the sense of them being referred to as “his people” even though he was in fact related to them as their brother. Continue reading

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Marriage in the Qur’an pt.4 – The Husband’s Roles and Responsibilities: Imam al-Sa’di

In his book of thematic tafsir, sheikh ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn Naasir al-Sa’di dedicated a chapter of his book to the issues related to marriage. This series of articles will present the different sub-divisions of this chapter in order. This is the fourth section, click the links the visit the other sections: 12345678 – 9 – 10

وقوله: {الرِّجَالُ قَوَّامُونَ عَلَى النِّسَاءِ بِمَا فَضَّلَ اللَّهُ بَعْضَهُمْ عَلَى بَعْضٍ وَبِمَا أَنْفَقُوا مِنْ أَمْوَالِهِمْ فَالصَّالِحَاتُ قَانِتَاتٌ حَافِظَاتٌ لِلْغَيْبِ بِمَا حَفِظَ اللَّهُ وَاللَّاتِي تَخَافُونَ نُشُوزَهُنَّ فَعِظُوهُنَّ وَاهْجُرُوهُنَّ فِي الْمَضَاجِعِ وَاضْرِبُوهُنَّ فَإِنْ أَطَعْنَكُمْ فَلَا تَبْغُوا عَلَيْهِنَّ سَبِيلًا إِنَّ اللَّهَ كَانَ عَلِيًّا كَبِيرًا} [النساء: 34] .ـ

Allah’s statement:

الرِّ‌جَالُ قَوَّامُونَ عَلَى النِّسَاءِ بِمَا فَضَّلَ اللَّـهُ بَعْضَهُمْ عَلَىٰ بَعْضٍ وَبِمَا أَنفَقُوا مِنْ أَمْوَالِهِمْ ۚ فَالصَّالِحَاتُ قَانِتَاتٌ حَافِظَاتٌ لِّلْغَيْبِ بِمَا حَفِظَ اللَّـهُ ۚ وَاللَّاتِي تَخَافُونَ نُشُوزَهُنَّ فَعِظُوهُنَّ وَاهْجُرُ‌وهُنَّ فِي الْمَضَاجِعِ وَاضْرِ‌بُوهُنَّ ۖ فَإِنْ أَطَعْنَكُمْ فَلَا تَبْغُوا عَلَيْهِنَّ سَبِيلًا ۗ إِنَّ اللَّـهَ كَانَ عَلِيًّا كَبِيرً‌ا

Men are the leaders and maintainers of women due to what Allah has given one over the other and what they spend from their wealth. So righteous women are devoutly obedient, guarding in [the husband’s] absence, by the grace of Allah’s protection. But those [wives] from whom you fear arrogance – [first] advise them; [then if they persist], forsake them in bed; and [finally], strike them. But if they obey you [once more], seek no means against them. Indeed, Allah is ever Exalted and Grand. [4:34]

هذا خبر وأمر، أي: الرجال قوامون على النساء في أمور الدين والدنيا، يلزمونهن بحقوق الله، والمحافظة على فرائضه، ويكفونهن عن جميع المعاصي والمفاسد، وبتقويمهن بالأخلاق الجميلة والآداب الطيبة، وقوامون أيضا عليهن بواجباتهن من النفقة والكسوة والمسكن وتوابع ذلك . ـ

This is both informational and a command – meaning: men are the leaders and maintainers of women in the matters of the deen and the dunya, enjoining rights of Allah upon them as well as safeguarding His obligations, and averting them from all forms of disobedience and corruption, and caring for them while having beautiful character and good manners. And they are also the leaders and maintainers of them by virtue of the obligation of spending on them and providing clothing, lodging and so on. Continue reading

A Common Theme of the Disconnected Letters: Sheikh ibn ‘Uthaymeen

Sheikh Muhammad ibn Saalih al-‘Uthaymeen was asked the following question:

 السؤال: أشكل عليَّ حين قلت بأنه لا يوجد في القرآن شيء لا يعرفه أحد من علماء الأمة أو أجمع الناس على عدم معرفته، فماذا نجيب على الحروف المقطعة (ألم)، و(ق)، و(يس)، وغيرها مما كان فيه الخلاف وأشكل على أهل العلم؟ ـ

Question: I was confused when you said that there is nothing in the Qur’an which none of the scholars of this ummah know or which no one of mankind understands. So how do we respond when it comes to the Disconnected Letters [al-Huroof al-Muqatta’ah] – alif lam meen, qaf, ya seen, and other such things – which have been the subject of differing and which have been difficult for some of the scholars?

الجواب: نجيب على هذا أنه لا إشكال في هذا إطلاقاً؛ لأن الله تعالى قال: ﴿بِلِسَانٍ عَرَبِيٍّ مُبِينٍ ﴾[الشعراء:195] ومن المعلوم أن هذه الحروف دون تركيبها كلمات ليس لها معنى، (ق) ليس لها معنى، (ص) ليس لها معنى، (ن) ليس لها معنى، (ألم) ليس لها معنى، فهي بمقتضى اللسان العربي ليس لها معنى، لو قال لك الرجل العربي: (ق) وهو يريد الحرف الهجائي هل له معنى؟ ليس له معنى، إذا كان ليس لها معنى والله -عز وجل- أخبرنا أن القرآن نزل بلسان عربي مبين علمنا أنه ليس لها معنى، لكن على هذا يبقى عندنا إشكال: كيف يكون في القرآن ما ليس له معنى والقرآن حق؟ نقول: نعم ليس لها معنى في ذاتها، لكن لها معنى في غرضها ومغزاها، كأن الله -عز وجل- إذا قال (ق)، (ن)، (ص) وما أشبه ذلك كأنه يقول: هذا الكتاب العظيم الذي أعجزكم أيها العرب لم يأت بحروف جديدة، فالحروف التي فيه هي الحروف التي تركبون منها كلامكم، ومع ذلك أعجزكم؛ ولهذا قال شيخ الإسلام ابن تيمية: لا يوجد سورة مبدوءة بهذه الحروف إلا وبعدها ذكر القرآن، أو ما لا يعلم إلا بالوحي. ـ

Response: We respond by saying that there is no problem regarding this issue at all, for Allah has said:

بِلِسَانٍ عَرَبِيٍّ مُّبِينٍ

In the plain Arabic language [26:195]

and it is well-known that these letters do not carry any meaning when they are not arranged together into words. Qaf does not have any meaning, Saad does not have any meaning, Noon does not have any meaning, Alif Lam Meem does not have any meaning. So these things, according to the Arabic language, do not have any meaning of their own. If an Arabic-speaking person were to say to you, “Qaf” and all he meant by it was a letter of the alphabet, does that carry any meaning of its own? No, it does not have any meaning of its own. So it does not carry any meaning of its own, and Allah has informed us that the Qur’an was sent down in the clear Arabic language, teaching us that these do not carry any meaning. Continue reading

Marriage in the Qur’an pt.3 – Prohibited Relationships: Imam al-Sa’di

In his book of thematic tafsir, sheikh ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn Naasir al-Sa’di dedicated a chapter of his book to the issues related to marriage. This series of articles will present the different sub-divisions of this chapter in order. This is the third section, click the links the visit the other sections: 12345678 – 9 – 10

ـ {  وَلَا تَنكِحُوا مَا نَكَحَ آبَاؤُكُم مِّنَ النِّسَاءِ } [ النساء: 22 ]. ثم عدد المحرمات إلى أن قال: {وَأُحِلَّ لَكُم مَّا وَرَ‌اءَ ذَٰلِكُمْ } [ النساء: 24 ]. ـ

وَلَا تَنكِحُوا مَا نَكَحَ آبَاؤُكُم مِّنَ النِّسَاءِ

And marry not women whom your fathers married [4:22]

Allah then proceeded to list the muharramaat (unlawful marital relationships) until He said:

وَأُحِلَّ لَكُم مَّا وَرَ‌اءَ ذَٰلِكُمْ

All others are lawful for you [4:24]

قد استوفى الباري المحرمات في النكاح في هذه الآيات في النسب والرضاع والمصاهرة . ـ

In these ayaat, the Creator has grouped the unlawful marital relationships into categories of: those according to lineage, those according to wet-nursing, and those according to preexisting marital ties.

أما المحرمات بالمصاهرة فإن تزوج الرجل امرأة ترتب على هذا الزواج أربعة أحكام: ـ

As for the unlawful marital relationships due to preexisting marital ties, then for a man to marry a women, this marriage brings about four rulings: Continue reading

Do the Disconnected Letters Carry Meaning?: Sheikh Saalih Aal al-Sheikh

During question and answer session of his explanation of the book Lum’ah al-I’tiqaad, sheikh Saalih Aal al-Sheikh responded to the following question:

سؤال: هذه الحروف في أوائل السور ما معناها؟

Question: The letters at the beginnings of some surahs – what are their meanings?

الجواب: هذه الحروف في أوائل السور تسمى الحروف المقطعة، والراجح في معناها أنها للإشارة إلى أن هذا القرآن كلماته متألفة من جنس هذه الأحرف، وإذا كان كذلك وهذه الأحرف هي التي يتكلم العرب بها ويؤلفون بها كلامهم، فإن ذلك يدل على أن القرآن معجز، فكأن الله – سبحانه وتعالى- يقول للناس: هذا القرآن مكون من هذه الأحرف التي تتكلمون بها وتنشئون بها كلامكم، وليس من أحرف أخر، ومع هذا أنتم لا تستطيعون أن تأتوا بمثله، ولا بمثل عشر سور، ولا بمثل سورة منه، وهذا يدل على عظم الإعجاز، ويدل على هذا التفسير الاستقراء، والاستقراء أحد أوجه الأدلة التي ينبغي العناية بها، فتجد أن معظم السور التي في أولها الأحرف المقطعة يعقبها ذكر القرآن أو الكتاب، قال جل وعلا:) الم * ذلك الكتاب لا ريب (. [البقرة: 1-2]. ـ

Response: These letters at the beginnings of some surahs are called the “Disconnected Letters” [al-Huroof al-Muqatta’a], and the strongest position regarding their meanings is that they are a sign indicating that the words of this Qur’an are composed of these types of letter. So then if that is the case and these are the very same letters which the Arabs use to speak and of which their speech is composed, then this demonstrates that the Qur’an is miraculous and inimitable. It is as if Allah is saying to mankind, “This Qur’an is made up of these very same letters which you use to speak and which make up your discourse – not any other letters. However, despite that, you are not able to produce the likes of it, nor the likes of ten of its chapters, nor the likes of even one of its chapters.” So this points to the grand miraculous nature of the Qur’an

And detailed scholarly examination of the Qur’an also points to this same position, as detailed scholarly examination is one form of evidence which should be given due consideration. For you find that most of the surahs that begin with the Disconnected Letters immediately follow them up by mentioning the Qur’an or the Scripture. Allah said: Continue reading

Marriage in the Qur’an pt.2 – Rights of Wives: Imam al-Sa’di

In his book of thematic tafsir, sheikh ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn Naasir al-Sa’di dedicated a chapter of his book to the issues related to marriage. This series of articles will present the different sub-divisions of this chapter in order. This is the second section, click the links the visit the other sections: 12345678 – 9 – 10

ـ {  يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا لَا يَحِلُّ لَكُمْ أَن تَرِ‌ثُوا النِّسَاءَ كَرْ‌هًا ۖ وَلَا تَعْضُلُوهُنَّ لِتَذْهَبُوا بِبَعْضِ مَا آتَيْتُمُوهُنَّ إِلَّا أَن يَأْتِينَ بِفَاحِشَةٍ مُّبَيِّنَةٍ ۚ وَعَاشِرُ‌وهُنَّ بِالْمَعْرُ‌وفِ ۚ فَإِن كَرِ‌هْتُمُوهُنَّ فَعَسَىٰ أَن تَكْرَ‌هُوا شَيْئًا وَيَجْعَلَ اللَّـهُ فِيهِ خَيْرً‌ا كَثِيرً‌ا  } إلى قوله: {  مِّيثَاقًا غَلِيظًا }  [ النساء: 19 – 21 ].ـ

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا لَا يَحِلُّ لَكُمْ أَن تَرِ‌ثُوا النِّسَاءَ كَرْ‌هًا ۖ وَلَا تَعْضُلُوهُنَّ لِتَذْهَبُوا بِبَعْضِ مَا آتَيْتُمُوهُنَّ إِلَّا أَن يَأْتِينَ بِفَاحِشَةٍ مُّبَيِّنَةٍ ۚ وَعَاشِرُ‌وهُنَّ بِالْمَعْرُ‌وفِ ۚ فَإِن كَرِ‌هْتُمُوهُنَّ فَعَسَىٰ أَن تَكْرَ‌هُوا شَيْئًا وَيَجْعَلَ اللَّـهُ فِيهِ خَيْرً‌ا كَثِيرً‌ا * وَإِنْ أَرَ‌دتُّمُ اسْتِبْدَالَ زَوْجٍ مَّكَانَ زَوْجٍ وَآتَيْتُمْ إِحْدَاهُنَّ قِنطَارً‌ا فَلَا تَأْخُذُوا مِنْهُ شَيْئًا ۚ أَتَأْخُذُونَهُ بُهْتَانًا وَإِثْمًا مُّبِينًا * وَكَيْفَ تَأْخُذُونَهُ وَقَدْ أَفْضَىٰ بَعْضُكُمْ إِلَىٰ بَعْضٍ وَأَخَذْنَ مِنكُم مِّيثَاقًا غَلِيظًا 

O you who believe! You are forbidden to inherit women against their will, and you should not treat them with harshness, that you may take away part of the dowry you have given them, unless they commit open illegal sexual intercourse. And live with them honorably. If you dislike them, it may be that you dislike a thing and Allah brings through it a great deal of good. * But if you intend to replace a wife by another and you have given one of them a a great amount of gold as a dowry, take not the least bit of it back; would you take it wrongfully without a right and (with) a manifest sin? * And how could you take it (back) while you have gone in unto each other, and they have taken from you a firm and strong covenant? [4:19-21]

كان أهل الجاهلية إذا مات أحدهم ورثت زوجته عنه كما يورث ماله، فرأى قريبه كأخيه وابن عمه أنه أحق بها من نفسها، ويحجرها عن غيره، فإن رضي بها تزوجها على غير صداق، أو على صداق يحبه هو دونها، وإن لم يرض بزواجها عضلها ومنعها من الأزواج إلا بعوض من الزوج أو منها . ـ

It used to be the case for the people of pre-Islamic ignorance that when one of them would die his wife would be inherited just as his wealth would be inherited, so one of his close relatives – for instance his brother or paternal cousin – would consider himself to have more of a right to her than even she had of herself and so he would prevent her from going to anyone else. So if he was pleased with her, then he would wed her without giving her any dowry or with a dowry which pleased him but not her. However if he didn’t wish to marry her then he would make things difficult for her and prevent her from marriage unless he was provided with some compensation from the suitor or from her herself.

Continue reading

Ibn Kathir on Zakah and Tazkiyyah al-Nafs

Allah says in surah Fussilat:

وَوَيْلٌ لِّلْمُشْرِكِينَ * الَّذِينَ لَا يُؤْتُونَ الزَّكَاةَ وَهُم بِالْآخِرَةِ هُمْ كَافِرُونَ

Woe to the mushrikoon * those who do not give the zakah and who are disbelievers in the hereafter [41:6-7]

In part of his commentary on these ayaat, al-haafidh ibn Kathir wrote the following words:

ـ (وويل للمشركين) أي: دمار لهم وهلاك عليهم، (الذين لا يؤتون الزكاة) قال علي بن أبي طلحة، عن ابن عباس: يعني: الذين لا يشهدون أن لا إله إلا الله. وكذا قال عكرمة. ـ

وَوَيْلٌ لِّلْمُشْرِكِينَ

Woe to the mushrikoon

meaning: ruin and destruction for them

الَّذِينَ لَا يُؤْتُونَ الزَّكَاةَ

those who do not give the zakah

‘Ali ibn Abi Talhah transmitted that ibn ‘Abbaas said, “meaning, those who do not bear witness that there is no deity worthy of worship except Allah”. And ‘Ikrimah said something similar.

وهذا كقوله تعالى: (قد أفلح من زكاها وقد خاب من دساها) [الشمس: 9، 10]، وكقوله: (قد أفلح من تزكى وذكر اسم ربه فصلى) [الأعلى: 14، 15]، وقوله (فقل هل لك إلى أن تزكى ) [النازعات: 18] والمراد بالزكاة هاهنا: طهارة النفس من الأخلاق الرذيلة، ومن أهم ذلك طهارة النفس من الشرك. وزكاة المال إنما سميت زكاة لأنها تطهره من الحرام، وتكون سببا لزيادته وبركته وكثرة نفعه، وتوفيقا إلى استعماله في الطاعات. ـ

This is like Allah’s statement:

قَدْ أَفْلَحَ مَن زَكَّاهَا * وَقَدْ خَابَ مَن دَسَّاهَا

He has succeeded who purifies himself * and he has failed who corrupts it [91:9-10]

and like His statement: Continue reading

Marriage in the Qur’an pt.1 – Conditions for Marriage: Imam al-Sa’di

In his book of thematic tafsir, sheikh ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn Naasir al-Sa’di dedicated a chapter to the issues related to marriage. This series of articles will present the different sub-divisions of this chapter in order. This is the first section, please click the links the visit the other sections: 12345678 – 9 – 10

قال الله تعالى: { وَإِنْ خِفْتُمْ أَلَّا تُقْسِطُوا فِي الْيَتَامَىٰ فَانكِحُوا مَا طَابَ لَكُم مِّنَ النِّسَاءِ مَثْنَىٰ وَثُلَاثَ وَرُ‌بَاعَ ۖ فَإِنْ خِفْتُمْ أَلَّا تَعْدِلُوا فَوَاحِدَةً أَوْ مَا مَلَكَتْ أَيْمَانُكُمْ ۚ ذَٰلِكَ أَدْنَىٰ أَلَّا تَعُولُوا ﴿٣﴾ وَآتُوا النِّسَاءَ صَدُقَاتِهِنَّ نِحْلَةً ۚ فَإِن طِبْنَ لَكُمْ عَن شَيْءٍ مِّنْهُ نَفْسًا فَكُلُوهُ هَنِيئًا مَّرِ‌يئًا } [ النساء: 3 و 4 ]. ـ

Allah says:

وَإِنْ خِفْتُمْ أَلَّا تُقْسِطُوا فِي الْيَتَامَىٰ فَانكِحُوا مَا طَابَ لَكُم مِّنَ النِّسَاءِ مَثْنَىٰ وَثُلَاثَ وَرُ‌بَاعَ ۖ فَإِنْ خِفْتُمْ أَلَّا تَعْدِلُوا فَوَاحِدَةً أَوْ مَا مَلَكَتْ أَيْمَانُكُمْ ۚ ذَٰلِكَ أَدْنَىٰ أَلَّا تَعُولُوا ﴿٣﴾ وَآتُوا النِّسَاءَ صَدُقَاتِهِنَّ نِحْلَةً ۚ فَإِن طِبْنَ لَكُمْ عَن شَيْءٍ مِّنْهُ نَفْسًا فَكُلُوهُ هَنِيئًا مَّرِ‌يئًا

And if you fear that you will not deal justly with the orphan girls, then marry those that please you of [other] women, two or three or four. But if you fear that you will not be just, then [marry only] one or those your right hand possesses. That is more suitable that you may not incline [to injustice]. * And give the women [upon marriage] their [bridal] gifts graciously. But if they give up willingly to you anything of it, then take it in satisfaction and ease. [4:3-4]

لمّا منّ الباري على عباده بالنكاح قدرا وأباحه شرعا، بل أحبه ورضيه وحث عليه؛ لما يترتب عليه من المصالح الكثيرة، رتب عليه أحكاما كثيرة وحقوقا متنوعة تدور كلها على الصلاح وإصلاح أحوال الزوجين، ودفع الضرر والفساد، وهي من محاسن الشريعة، والشريعة كلها محاسن، وجلب للمصالح، ودرء للمفاسد . ـ

Since the Creator blessed His slaves with marriage as a decree, and made it permitted in terms of the divine legislation – rather, He loves it, is pleased with it and encourages it due to the many benefits which result from it – therefore, He arranged many rulings and various rights which all revolve around the rectification of and setting the affairs of the married couple in order as well as repelling harm and corruption. And this is one of the good qualities of the sharee’ah – and the entire sharee’ah is composed of good qualities and for the purpose of the bringing about benefit and repelling harmful matters.

يقول تعالى هنا: { وَإِنْ خِفْتُمْ أَلَّا تُقْسِطُوا}  أي: تقوموا بحق النساء اليتامى اللاتي تحت حجوركم وولايتكم لعدم محبتكم إياهن فاعدلوا إلى غيرهن . ـ

Allah said here:

وَإِنْ خِفْتُمْ أَلَّا تُقْسِطُوا

And if you fear that you will not deal justly… [4:3]

– meaning: that you will not be able to establish the rights of the orphan girls under your care and authority due to an absence of love for them, then find others to be just to. Continue reading