Preservation of the Wordings and Meanings of the Qur’an among the Salaf: Tafsir ibn Kathir

In surah al-Nisaa’, Allah informs us of the following:

وَرُسُلًا قَدْ قَصَصْنَاهُمْ عَلَيْكَ مِن قَبْلُ وَرُسُلًا لَّمْ نَقْصُصْهُمْ عَلَيْكَ ۚ وَكَلَّمَ اللَّـهُ مُوسَىٰ تَكْلِيمًا

And Messengers We have mentioned to you before, and Messengers We have not mentioned to you, – and Allah spoke to Moosaa directly. [4:164]

In part of his commentary on this ayah, al-haafidh Ismaa’eel ibn Kathir mentioned the following points:

وقوله : ( وكلم الله موسى تكليما ) وهذا تشريف لموسى ، عليه السلام ، بهذه الصفة ; ولهذا يقال [ ص: 475 ] له : الكليم . وقد قال الحافظ أبو بكر بن مردويه : حدثنا أحمد بن محمد بن سليمان المالكي ، حدثنا مسيح بن حاتم ، حدثنا عبد الجبار بن عبد الله قال : جاء رجل إلى أبي بكر بن عياش فقال : سمعت رجلا يقرأ : ” وكلم الله موسى تكليما ” فقال أبو بكر : ما قرأ هذا إلا كافر ، قرأت على الأعمش ، وقرأ الأعمش على [ يحيى ] بن وثاب ، وقرأ يحيى بن وثاب على أبي عبد الرحمن السلمي ، وقرأ أبو عبد الرحمن ، على علي بن أبي طالب ، وقرأ علي بن أبي طالب على رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم : ( وكلم الله موسى تكليما ) . ـ

Allah’s statement: Continue reading

Allah Knows what the Chests Contain: Tafsir al-Sa’di

In the beginning of surah al-Maa’idah, Allah addresses the believers by saying:

وَاذْكُرُوا نِعْمَةَ اللَّـهِ عَلَيْكُمْ وَمِيثَاقَهُ الَّذِي وَاثَقَكُم بِهِ إِذْ قُلْتُمْ سَمِعْنَا وَأَطَعْنَا ۖ وَاتَّقُوا اللَّـهَ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّـهَ عَلِيمٌ بِذَاتِ الصُّدُورِ

And remember the favor of Allah upon you and His covenant with which He bound you when you said, “We hear and we obey”; and have taqwa of Allah. Indeed, Allah is the All-Knower of what is within the chests. [5:7]

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

يأمر تعالى عباده بذكر نعمه الدينية والدنيوية، بقلوبهم وألسنتهم. فإن في استدامة ذكرها داعيا لشكر الله تعالى ومحبته، وامتلاء القلب من إحسانه. ـ

Allah commands His slaves to remember His blessings – both those related to the deen and those related to this worldly life – with their hearts and with their tongues, for being continuously in remembrance of them leads one to be grateful to Allah and to love Him and to have a heart filled with His goodness.

وفيه زوال للعجب من النفس بالنعم الدينية، وزيادة لفضل الله وإحسانه. و { مِيثَاقَهُْ} أي: واذكروا ميثاقه { الَّذِي وَاثَقَكُمْ بِهِ ْ} أي: عهده الذي أخذه عليكم. ـ

This would also lead to a removal of self-amazement at the blessings of this worldly life, and an increase of the bounties of goodness of Allah.

And Continue reading

The Virtue of this Ummah over the Previous Nations: Imam al-Shinqitee

The following discussion is an excerpt from a class of the famous mufassir, sheikh Muhammad al-Ameen al-Shinqitee. The class was delivered in his home to a group of his students. It was recorded, and subsequently transcribed and published in a collection of similar lessons and recorded events. This particular excerpt occurred during a lesson in which sheikh al-Shinqitee was explaining part of surah al-Baqarah, during his discussion of the ayah:

يَا بَنِي إِسْرَ‌ائِيلَ اذْكُرُ‌وا نِعْمَتِيَ الَّتِي أَنْعَمْتُ عَلَيْكُمْ وَأَنِّي فَضَّلْتُكُمْ عَلَى الْعَالَمِينَ

O Banu Israa’eel, remember My favor that I have bestowed upon you and that I preferred you over all creation [2:47]

Sheikh Muhammad al-Ameen al-Shinqitee explained:

وقوله هنا {فَضَّلْتُكُمْ عَلَى الْعَالَمِينَ} ؛ أي : على عالمي زمانكم الذي أنتم فيه ، فلا ينافي أن هذه الأمة التي هي أمة محمد ﷺ أفضل منهم ، كما نصّ الله على ذلك بقوله : {كُنْتُمْ خَيْرَ أُمَّةٍ أُخْرِجَتْ لِلنَّاسِ} الآية [آل عمران 110] ، وفي حديث معاوية بن حيدة القشيري عن النبي ﷺ : أَنْتُمْ تُوفُونَ سَبْعِينَ أُمَّةً أَنْتُمْ خَيْرُهَا وَأَكْرَمُهَا عَلَى اللَّهِ . ـ

Allah’s statement here:

 فَضَّلْتُكُمْ عَلَى الْعَالَمِينَ

 I preferred you over all creation [2:47]

meaning: over all creation of the time in which they were living, so this does not conflict with the fact that this ummah – which is the ummah of Muhammad (ﷺ) – is the best of nations, as Allah informed us in His statement:

كُنتُمْ خَيْرَ‌ أُمَّةٍ أُخْرِ‌جَتْ لِلنَّاسِ

You are the best nation brought forth for mankind … [3:110]

…until the end of the ayah. And in the hadeeth of Mu’aawiyah ibn Haidah al-Qushairi that the Prophet (ﷺ) said, “You succeeded seventy nations and you are the best of them and the most noble of them in the sight of Allah”. Continue reading

The Virtues of Surah al-Ikhlaas: Sheikh Saalih al-Fawzan

Sheikh Saalih al-Fawzan, a member of the Council of Senior Scholars as well as Permanent Committee for Islamic Research and Fataawaa of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, was asked the following question:

 نص السؤال : ما صحة هذا الحديث‏:‏ ‏«من قرأ‏:‏ ‏{‏قُلْ هُوَ اللَّهُ أَحَدٌ‏}‏ في ليلة ألف مرة فقد شرى نفسه من الله‏» ؟‏

Question: What is the veracity of the hadeeth, “whoever recites surah al-Ikhlaas (102) one thousand times within the course of a night, then he has purchased himself from Allah”?

نص الإجابة : أما سورة‏:‏ ‏{ ‏قُلْ هُوَ اللَّهُ أَحَدٌ‏ }‏ فهي سورة عظيمة أخبر النبي – صلى الله عليه وسلم – في أحاديث صحيحة” أنها تعادل ثلث القرآن‏” ،، وذلك لما تتضمنه من أوصاف الله سبحانه وتعالى ونعوت جلاله، فهي سورة خالصة في التوحيد، ولهذا تسمى سورة الإخلاص، وكان النبي – صلى الله عليه وسلم ـ” يقرأها مع المعوذتين عند النوم” ‏‏، وكان يحث على قراءتها ‏لما فيها من الفضل العظيم، وأنها تعدل ثلث القرآن‏.‏  ـ

Response: As for surah al-Ikhlaas, it is a tremendous surah about which the Prophet (ﷺ) informed us in a number of authentic reports that “it is equal to one third of the Qur’an”, and that is due to the descriptions and attributes of Allah that it contains. For it is a surah which is entirely devoted to the subject of tawheed, and this is why it is named “surah al-Ikhlaas“. And the Prophet (ﷺ) said, “recite it along with the surah al-Falaq (113) and surah al-Nas (114) before sleeping”. This encouragement to recite it is due to the great virtue it holds and that it is equal to one third of the Qur’an. Continue reading

Whoever Denies One Messenger has Denied Them All: Tafsir al-Shinqitee

Sheikh Muhammad al-Ameen al-Shinqitee mentioned the following point of great benefit in part of his tafsir of surah al-Qamar:

من كذب رسولا واحدا فقد كذب جميع المرسلين ، ومن كذب نذيرا واحدا فقد كذب جميع النذر ، لأن أصل دعوة جميع الرسل واحدة ، وهي مضمون لا إله إلا الله كما أوضحه تعالى بقوله : ولقد بعثنا في كل أمة رسولا أن اعبدوا الله واجتنبوا الطاغوت [ 16 \ 36 ] ، وقوله تعالى : وما أرسلنا من قبلك من رسول إلا نوحي إليه أنه لا إله إلا أنا فاعبدون [ 21 \ 25 ] ، وقوله تعالى : وما أرسلنا من قبلك من رسول إلا نوحي إليه أنه لا إله إلا أنا فاعبدون [ 43 \ 45 ] . ـ

Whoever denies one single messenger has denied all of the messengers, and whoever denies one warner has denied all of the warners. This is because the basis of all the messengers’ call was one and the same, which was the substance of Laa ilaaha illAllaah – there is no deity worthy of worship in truth except Allah. This is as Allah has made clear in His statement:

وَلَقَدْ بَعَثْنَا فِي كُلِّ أُمَّةٍ رَّ‌سُولًا أَنِ اعْبُدُوا اللَّـهَ وَاجْتَنِبُوا الطَّاغُوتَ

And We certainly sent into every nation a messenger, (saying), “Worship Allah and avoid all that is worshiped besides Allah [16:36]

And His statement:

وَمَا أَرْ‌سَلْنَا مِن قَبْلِكَ مِن رَّ‌سُولٍ إِلَّا نُوحِي إِلَيْهِ أَنَّهُ لَا إِلَـٰهَ إِلَّا أَنَا فَاعْبُدُونِ

And We sent not before you any messenger except that We revealed to him that, “There is no deity except Me, so worship Me.” [21:25]

And His statement: Continue reading

Six Categories of Wrong-Doings: Sheikh al-Raajihi

In surah al-A’raaf, Allah mentioned:

قُلْ إِنَّمَا حَرَّمَ رَبِّيَ الْفَوَاحِشَ مَا ظَهَرَ مِنْهَا وَمَا بَطَنَ وَالْإِثْمَ وَالْبَغْيَ بِغَيْرِ الْحَقِّ وَأَن تُشْرِكُوا بِاللَّـهِ مَا لَمْ يُنَزِّلْ بِهِ سُلْطَانًا وَأَن تَقُولُوا عَلَى اللَّـهِ مَا لَا تَعْلَمُونَ

Say, “My Lord has only forbidden immoralities – what is apparent of them and what is concealed – and sin, and oppression without right, and that you associate with Allah that for which He has not sent down authority, and that you say about Allah that which you do not know.” [7:33]

Sheikh ‘Abd al-‘Aziz al-Raajihi mentioned the following points of benefit regarding this ayah by saying:

قال بعض العلماء على آية :   قُلْ إِنَّمَا حَرَّمَ رَبِّيَ الْفَوَاحِشَ مَا ظَهَرَ مِنْهَا وَمَا بَطَنَ وَالْإِثْمَ وَالْبَغْيَ بِغَيْرِ الْحَقِّ وَأَنْ تُشْرِكُوا بِاللَّهِ مَا لَمْ يُنَزِّلْ بِهِ سُلْطَانًا وَأَنْ تَقُولُوا عَلَى اللَّهِ مَا لَا تَعْلَمُونَ . الآية عطف بعضها على بعض ، وإن كان المعطوف داخلا في المعطوف عليه ، فبعضها داخل في بعض ، إذ الإثم والبغي والشرك داخل في الفواحش وعمومها ؛ لأن مظالم العباد بعضهم مع بعض والاعتداء عليهم يكون في ستة أشياء في البدن وفي النسب وفي الدين وفي العرض وفي العقل وفي المال ، فالاعتداء على الإنسان يكون :  في البدن .  وفي النسب .  وفي الدين .  وفي العرض . – وفي العقل .  ـ

Regarding the ayah:

قُلْ إِنَّمَا حَرَّمَ رَبِّيَ الْفَوَاحِشَ مَا ظَهَرَ مِنْهَا وَمَا بَطَنَ وَالْإِثْمَ وَالْبَغْيَ بِغَيْرِ الْحَقِّ وَأَن تُشْرِكُوا بِاللَّـهِ مَا لَمْ يُنَزِّلْ بِهِ سُلْطَانًا وَأَن تَقُولُوا عَلَى اللَّـهِ مَا لَا تَعْلَمُونَ

Say, “My Lord has only forbidden immoralities – what is apparent of them and what is concealed – and sin, and oppression without right, and that you associate with Allah that for which He has not sent down authority, and that you say about Allah that which you do not know.” [7:33]

some of the scholars have said that this ayah has some overlap in its categories with some overlapping others and that some categories in this listing could fall under other categories, and so some of them are included in others. For sin, oppression, and al-shirk all fall under the category of immoralities and its general encompassing nature. This is all because the wrong-doings and transgressions which human beings perpetrate against one another occur in relation to six things: physical well-being, lineage, religion, honor, intellect, or wealth. So the transgressions against people can be distilled down to: Continue reading

Merits of Surah al-Nisaa’: Tafsir ibn Kathir

A number of the books of tafsir begin their explanations of each surah with a section on the virtues of that particular surah. However, most of these sections are largely made up of fabricated or weak narrations. The famous mufassir, al-haafidh Ismaa’eel ibn Kathir, strove to avoid much inauthentic material in his tafsir or to follow up such material with notes as to its status and veracity. So when he did begin his explanation of surah al-Nisaa’ by mentioning some of its merits, he approached things in a different manner by bringing statements from some of the scholars of the Sahabah about this surah:

 وقال الحاكم في مستدركه : حدثنا أبو العباس محمد بن يعقوب ، حدثنا أبو البختري عبد الله بن محمد بن شاكر ، حدثنا محمد بن بشر العبدي ، حدثنا مسعر بن كدام ، عن معن بن عبد الرحمن بن عبد الله بن مسعود عن أبيه ، عن عبد الله بن مسعود ، رضي الله عنه ، قال : إن في سورة النساء لخمس آيات ما يسرني أن لي بها الدنيا وما فيها : ( إن الله لا يظلم مثقال ذرة ) الآية ، و ( إن تجتنبوا كبائر ما تنهون عنه ) الآية ، و ( إن الله لا يغفر أن يشرك به ويغفر ما دون ذلك لمن يشاء ) و ( ولو أنهم إذ ظلموا أنفسهم جاءوك ) الآية ، و ( ومن يعمل سوءا أو يظلم نفسه ثم يستغفر الله يجد الله غفورا رحيما ) ثم قال : هذا إسناد صحيح إن كان عبد الرحمن سمع من أبيه ، فقد اختلف في ذلك . ـ

○ al-Haakim said in his book al-Mustadrak: … that the grandson of ‘Abdullah ibn Mas’ood narrated from his father who narrated from his father, ‘Abdullah ibn Mas’ood (may Allah be pleased with him), that he said: In surah al-Nisaa’ there are five ayaat which are more pleasing to me than the entire world and all that is in it.

إِنَّ اللَّـهَ لَا يَظْلِمُ مِثْقَالَ ذَرَّةٍ ۖ وَإِن تَكُ حَسَنَةً يُضَاعِفْهَا وَيُؤْتِ مِن لَّدُنْهُ أَجْرًا عَظِيمًا

Surely, Allah does not do an atom’s worth of injustice. But if you have some good, He multiplies it and give a great reward from Himself [4:40]

إِن تَجْتَنِبُوا كَبَائِرَ مَا تُنْهَوْنَ عَنْهُ نُكَفِّرْ عَنكُمْ سَيِّئَاتِكُمْ وَنُدْخِلْكُم مُّدْخَلًا كَرِيمًا

If you avoid the major sins from which you are forbidden, We will expiate your minor sins from you and enter you into a noble entrance. [4:31]

إِنَّ اللَّـهَ لَا يَغْفِرُ أَن يُشْرَكَ بِهِ وَيَغْفِرُ مَا دُونَ ذَٰلِكَ لِمَن يَشَاءُ ۚ وَمَن يُشْرِكْ بِاللَّـهِ فَقَدْ ضَلَّ ضَلَالًا بَعِيدًا

Indeed, Allah does not forgive association with Him, but He forgives what is less than that for whom He wills. And he who associates others with Allah has certainly gone far astray. [4:116]

وَلَوْ أَنَّهُمْ إِذ ظَّلَمُوا أَنفُسَهُمْ جَاءُوكَ فَاسْتَغْفَرُوا اللَّـهَ وَاسْتَغْفَرَ لَهُمُ الرَّسُولُ لَوَجَدُوا اللَّـهَ تَوَّابًا رَّحِيمًا

And if, when they wronged themselves, they had come to you, [O Muhammad], and asked forgiveness of Allah and the Messenger had asked forgiveness for them, they would have found Allah Accepting of repentance and Merciful. [4:64]

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

And whoever does a wrong or wrongs himself but then seeks forgiveness of Allah will find Allah Forgiving and Merciful. [4:110]

And then al-Haakim said: This chain of narration is sound, so long as the grandson heard it from his father, and there is some differing as to whether he did or not. Continue reading

Regularly Reciting Specific Surahs: al-Lajnah al-Daa’imah

The Permanent Committee for Islamic Research and Fataawaa of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (al-Lajnah al-Daa’imah) received the following question:

س : أنا شاب ملتزم بقراءة سورتي الواقعة والحديد بعد أن قرأت أحاديث تذكر أن لهما فضلاً عظيمًا، فالأولى تقي وتدفع الفقر، والثانية تجلب صلاة وسلام الملائكة على قارئها، فهل علي حرج في هذا الالتزام؟ ـ

Question: I am a young person who regularly recites surah al-Waaqi’ah and surah al-Hadeed ever since I read some ahaadeeth mentioning their great virtues, that the former protects against and fends off poverty while the latter brings about the supplications of the angels upon the one who recites it. Am I doing anything wrong in regularly reciting these?

ج : قراءة القرآن مشروعة كل وقت، وتخصيص سورة معينة يلتزم الإنسان قراءتها كل ليلة يتوقف على هذا الدليل، فإن وُجد دليل صحيح ينص على قراءتها شرع ذلك، كما في آية الكرسي وسورة الإخلاص والمعوذتين دبر كل صلاة وعند النوم، وتكرار الإخلاص والمعوذتين ثلاث مرات بعد صلاة المغرب والفجر وعند النوم. ـ

Response: Reciting the Qur’an is something that is legislated at all times, but singling out any particular surah as one that a person should routinely recite every night is something that requires a textual evidence for doing so. So if an authentic textual proof indicating that reciting in this manner is found, then that is something legislated – as is the case with reciting ayah al-Kursisurah al-Ikhlaas, and surahs 113 and 114 after every prayer and before sleeping, or reciting surah al-Ikhlaas and surahs 113 and 114 three times after salah al-Maghrib, salah al-Fajr, and before sleeping. Continue reading

“If it had been good, they would not have preceded us to it”: Tafsir ibn Kathir

Allah says in surah al-Ahqaaf:

وَقَالَ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا لِلَّذِينَ آمَنُوا لَوْ كَانَ خَيْرًا مَّا سَبَقُونَا إِلَيْهِ ۚ وَإِذْ لَمْ يَهْتَدُوا بِهِ فَسَيَقُولُونَ هَـٰذَا إِفْكٌ قَدِيمٌ

And those who disbelieve say of those who believe, “If it had been good, they would not have preceded us to it.” And when they are not guided by it, they will say, “This is an ancient falsehood.” [46:11]

In his famous commentary on the Qur’an, Abu’l-Fidaa’ Ismaa’eel ibn Kathir wrote the following words regarding this ayah:

وقوله تعالى : ( وقال الذين كفروا للذين آمنوا لو كان خيرا ما سبقونا إليه ) أي : قالوا عن المؤمنين بالقرآن : لو كان القرآن خيرا ما سبقنا هؤلاء إليه . يعنون بلالا وعمارا وصهيبا وخبابا وأشباههم وأقرانهم من المستضعفين والعبيد والإماء ، وما ذاك إلا لأنهم عند أنفسهم يعتقدون أن لهم عند الله وجاهة وله بهم عناية . وقد غلطوا في ذلك غلطا فاحشا ، وأخطئوا خطأ بينا ، كما قال تعالى : ( وكذلك فتنا بعضهم ببعض ليقولوا أهؤلاء من الله عليهم من بيننا ) [ الأنعام : 53 ] أي : يتعجبون : كيف اهتدى هؤلاء دوننا ; ولهذا قالوا : ( لو كان خيرا ما سبقونا إليه ) وأما أهل السنة والجماعة فيقولون في كل فعل وقول لم يثبت عن الصحابة : هو بدعة ; لأنه لو كان خيرا لسبقونا إليه ؛ لأنهم [ ص: 279 ] لم يتركوا خصلة من خصال الخير إلا وقد بادروا إليها . ـ

Allah’s statement:

وَقَالَ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا لِلَّذِينَ آمَنُوا لَوْ كَانَ خَيْرًا مَّا سَبَقُونَا إِلَيْهِ

And those who disbelieve say of those who believe, “If it had been good, they would not have preceded us to it.”

meaning: they remark regarding those who are believers in the Qur’an, “if the Qur’an were any good, then these people would not have beaten us to it.” And they were referring to Bilal, ‘Ammaar, Suhaib, Khubaab and other such weak ones and slaves. And they only did this because they held themselves to have a certain standing and importance with Allah, however they were severely mistaken and in clear error regarding this assessment. This is like what Allah said: Continue reading