Thematic Tafsir: Sheikh Saalih Aal al-Sheikh

In the introduction to a speech entitled, “Security and Fear in the Noble Qur’an“, Sheikh Saalih Aal al-Sheikh mentioned:

والتفسير له عدة علوم مختلفة يعلمها أهل الاختصاص، ومنها: التفسير الموضوعي للقرآن. ـ

The field of Tafsir – explaining the Qur’an – is comprised of a number of different sub-disciplines which are known by those who specialize in this area. One of these sub-fields is: Thematic Tafsir of the Qur’an.

والتفسير الموضوعي على قسمين: ـ

Thematic Tafsir can be divided into two main categories:

القسم الأول: التفسير الموضوعي باعتبار موضوع ما، كهذا الموضوع، وكما نقول مثلاً التوحيد في القرآن، الرسالة في القرآن، الإيمان باليوم الآخر في القرآن، القدر في القرآن، الصلاة في القرآن، الفتنة في القرآن، الرجال في القرآن، النساء في القرآن، وحتى إن بعض أهل العلم كتب: الجبال في القرآن. ـ

○ The first category is: thematic tafsir that is oriented around a particular theme, such as the subject of this lecture, or if we were to say, for example, “al-Tawheed in the Qur’an”, “Divine Revelation in the Qur’an”, “Belief in the Last Day in the Qur’an”, “al-Qadr in the Qur’an”, “Prayer in the Qur’an”, “Fitnah in the Qur’an”, “Men in the Qur’an”, “Women in the Qur’an”, and so on. And one of the scholars even wrote a book called, “Mountains in the Qur’an.” Continue reading

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How the Sahabah Used to Divide the Qur’an: Tafsir ibn Kathir

al-Haafidh Ismaa’eel ibn Kathir began his tafsir of surah Qaaf (50) with the following discussion of how many of the Sahabah used to divide their nightly recitation of the Qur’an:

وهذه السورة هي أول الحزب المفصل على الصحيح ، وقيل : من الحجرات . وأما ما يقوله العامة : إنه من ( عم ) فلا أصل له ، ولم يقله أحد من العلماء المعتبرين فيما نعلم . والدليل على أن هذه السورة هي أول المفصل ما رواه أبو داود في سننه ، باب ” تحزيب القرآن ” ثم قال : حدثنا مسدد ، حدثنا قران بن تمام ، ( ح ) وحدثنا عبد الله بن سعيد أبو سعيد الأشج ، حدثنا أبو خالد سليمان بن حبان – وهذا لفظه – عن عبد الله بن عبد الرحمن بن يعلى ، عن عثمان بن عبد الله بن أوس ، عن جده – قال عبد الله بن سعيد : حدثنيه أوس بن حذيفة – ثم اتفقا . قال : قدمنا على رسول الله – صلى الله عليه وسلم – في وفد ثقيف ، قال : فنزلت الأحلاف على المغيرة بن شعبة ، وأنزل رسول الله – صلى الله عليه وسلم – بني مالك في قبة له – قال مسدد : وكان في الوفد الذين قدموا على رسول الله – صلى الله عليه وسلم – من ثقيف ، قال : كان رسول الله [ – صلى الله عليه وسلم – ] كل ليلة يأتينا بعد العشاء يحدثنا – قال أبو سعيد : قائما على رجليه حتى يراوح بين رجليه من طول القيام – فأكثر ما يحدثنا ما لقي من قومه قريش ، ثم يقول : لا سواء وكنا مستضعفين مستذلين – قال مسدد : بمكة – فلما خرجنا إلى المدينة كانت سجال الحرب بيننا وبينهم ، ندال عليهم ويدالون علينا . فلما كانت ليلة أبطأ عن الوقت الذي كان يأتينا فيه ، فقلنا : لقد أبطأت عنا الليلة ! قال : ” إنه طرأ علي حزبي من القرآن ، فكرهت أن أجيء حتى أتمه ” . قال أوس : سألت أصحاب رسول الله – صلى الله عليه وسلم – : كيف تحزبون القرآن ؟ فقالوا : ثلاث ، وخمس ، وسبع ، وتسع ، وإحدى عشرة ، وثلاث عشرة ، وحزب المفصل وحده . ـ

This surah [surah Qaaf] is the first surah of the mufassal section of the Qur’an according to the correct opinion, though some say surah al-Hujurat is.

As for what some of the common folk say, that the mufassal section begins from Juz’ ‘Amma’, there is no basis for this and not a single scholar of repute has voiced this position as far as I know.

The proof that surah Qaaf is the beginning of the mufassal section is what Abu Dawud transmitted in his Sunnah collection, under the chapter of “The Division of the Qur’an”. He said:

… Aws ibn Hudhaifah said: We came upon the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) in a delegation of Thaqif. The signatories of the pact came to al-Mughirah ibn Shu’bah as his guests. The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) made Banu-Malik stay in a tent of his.

Musaddad – who was in the delegation of Thaqif which came to the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) – said: The Prophet used to visit and talk with us every day after the night prayer. Continue reading

The Prohibition of Music in the Qur’an: Tafsir al-Qurtubi

Near the beginning of surah Luqman, Allah says what can be literally translated as:

وَمِنَ النَّاسِ مَن يَشْتَرِي لَهْوَ الْحَدِيثِ لِيُضِلَّ عَن سَبِيلِ اللَّـهِ بِغَيْرِ عِلْمٍ وَيَتَّخِذَهَا هُزُوًا ۚ أُولَـٰئِكَ لَهُمْ عَذَابٌ مُّهِينٌ

And among the people are those who purchase idle talk in order to mislead others from the path of Allah without knowledge and who take it as a mockery. For these ones, there is a humiliating punishment [31:6]

In part of his commentary on this ayah, the great mufassir imam Muhammad al-Qurtubi explained this ayah according to the understanding of the salaf by writing:

و ( لهو الحديث ) : الغناء ; في قول ابن مسعود وابن عباس وغيرهما . النحاس : وهو ممنوع بالكتاب والسنة ; والتقدير : من يشتري ذا لهو أو ذات لهو ; مثل : واسأل القرية . أو يكون التقدير : لما كان إنما اشتراها يشتريها ويبالغ في ثمنها كأنه اشتراها للهو . ـ

The phrase:

لَهْوَ الْحَدِيثِ

“idle talk”

means music. This is according to the statements of ibn Mas’ood, ibn ‘Abbaas, and others.

al-Nahhaas said: Music is prohibited according to the Qur’an and the Sunnah.

قلت : هذه إحدى الآيات الثلاث التي استدل بها العلماء على كراهة الغناء والمنع منه . والآية الثانية قوله تعالى : وأنتم سامدون . قال ابن عباس : هو الغناء بالحميرية ; اسمدي لنا ; أي غني لنا . ـ

I [Imam al-Qurtubi] say: This is one of three ayaat in the Qur’an which the scholars use as evidence for the position that music is something hated and prohibited. The second ayah is Allah’s statement: Continue reading

How the Prophet Explained the Qur’an: Sheikh Muhammad Bazmool

Sheikh Muhammad Bazmool, a professor at Umm al-Qura University in Mecca, wrote the following short discussion on how the Prophet (ﷺ) used to explain the Qur’an:

تعلم معني القرآن العظيم ومعاني السنة النبوية للعمل بذلك في عبادة الله وطاعته، هو الغاية التي يسعى إليها كل مسلم! والعمل بهذه المعاني هو حاصل من كل مسلم بالفعل وبالقوة. ـ

Learning the meanings of the Qur’an and the Sunnah in order to act in accordance with them in worship and obedience to Allah is the goal that every Muslim should work towards! Acting upon these meanings is what is required of every Muslim in his actions and efforts.

ولم يوكل الله بيان معاني القرآن العظيم إلا للرسول صلى الله عليه وسلم؛ قال تعالى: ({وَأَنْزَلْنَا إِلَيْكَ الذِّكْرَ لِتُبَيِّنَ لِلنَّاسِ مَا نُزِّلَ إِلَيْهِمْ وَلَعَلَّهُمْ يَتَفَكَّرُونَ } [النحل: 44]. فالرسول صلى الله عليه وسلم مامات إلا وقد بلغ الرسالة وأدى الأمانة، ومن ذلك بيان معاني القرآن الكريم؛ فالرسول فسر القرآن العظيم ، وبين معانيه؛ وذلك على وجوه ؛ ـ

Allah did not entrust anyone except for the Messenger (ﷺ) with explaining the meanings of the Qur’an. He said:

وَأَنْزَلْنَا إِلَيْكَ الذِّكْرَ لِتُبَيِّنَ لِلنَّاسِ مَا نُزِّلَ إِلَيْهِمْ وَلَعَلَّهُمْ يَتَفَكَّرُونَ

And We revealed the dhikr to you in order that you may make what was sent down to the people clear to them and that they might give thought. [16:44]

And the Messenger (ﷺ) did not pass away until after he had conveyed the message and fulfilled his duty, and one part of that duty was clarifying the meanings of the Qur’an.

So the Messenger explained the Qur’an and clarified its meanings, and this was done in a number of ways: Continue reading

“Only those who hear will respond”: Tafsir al-Tabari and Tafsir al-Sa’di

Allah says in surah al-An’aam:

إِنَّمَا يَسْتَجِيبُ الَّذِينَ يَسْمَعُونَ ۘ وَالْمَوْتَىٰ يَبْعَثُهُمُ اللَّـهُ ثُمَّ إِلَيْهِ يُرْجَعُونَ

Only those who hear will respond. But the dead – Allah will resurrect them; then to Him they will be returned. [6:36]

In his famous book of tafsir, Imam Abu Ja’far Muhammad ibn Jarir al-Tabari commented on this ayah by writing:

 قال أبو جعفر : يقول – تعالى ذكره – لنبيه محمد – صلى الله عليه وسلم – : لا يكبرن عليك إعراض هؤلاء المعرضين عنك ، وعن الاستجابة لدعائك إذا دعوتهم إلى توحيد ربهم والإقرار بنبوتك ، فإنه لا يستجيب لدعائك – إلى ما تدعوه إليه من ذلك – إلا الذين فتح الله أسماعهم للإصغاء إلى الحق ، وسهل لهم اتباع الرشد ، دون من ختم الله على سمعه ، فلا يفقه من دعائك إياه إلى الله وإلى اتباع الحق إلا ما تفقه الأنعام من أصوات رعاتها ، فهم كما وصفهم به الله – تعالى ذكره – : صم بكم عمي فهم لا يعقلون [ سورة البقرة : 171 ] ـ

I, Abu Ja’far, say: Allah is addressing His Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) by saying: Do not be distressed by the rejection of these ones who turn away from you and from responding to your call when you call them to singling out their Lord in worship and affirming your prophet-hood. For none will respond to your call – that is, those things which you are calling to – except for those whom Allah has opened their hearing to listen to the truth and then made it easy for them to follow the correct guidance. This is to the exclusion of those whom Allah has placed a seal over their hearing, so they do not understand this call to worship Allah and to follow the truth, this call of yours which is directed to them. They do not understand it any more than cattle understand the voice of their herder. So they are like those whom Allah described in this way:

وَمَثَلُ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا كَمَثَلِ الَّذِي يَنْعِقُ بِمَا لَا يَسْمَعُ إِلَّا دُعَاءً وَنِدَاءً ۚ صُمٌّ بُكْمٌ عُمْيٌ فَهُمْ لَا يَعْقِلُونَ

And the example of those who disbelieve, is as that of him who shouts to those that that hear nothing but calls and cries. (They are) deaf, dumb and blind. So they do not understand. [2:171]

ـ” والموتى يبعثهم الله ” يقول : والكفار يبعثهم الله مع الموتى ، فجعلهم – تعالى ذكره – في عداد الموتى الذين لا يسمعون صوتا ، ولا يعقلون دعاء ، ولا يفقهون قولا إذ كانوا لا يتدبرون حجج الله ، ولا يعتبرون آياته ، ولا يتذكرون فينزجرون عما هم عليه من تكذيب رسل الله وخلافهم . ـ

وَالْمَوْتَىٰ يَبْعَثُهُمُ اللَّـهُ

But the dead – Allah will resurrect them Continue reading

The Names and Revelation of Surah al-Fatihah: Tafsir al-Baghawi

Before proceeding to explain surah al-Fatihah verse-by-verse, Imam Abu Muhammad al-Husayn al-Baghawi included a short discussion of its well-known names and when it was revealed:

 ولها ثلاثة أسماء معروفة فاتحة الكتاب وأم القرآن والسبع المثاني . ـ

Surah al-Fatihah has three well-known names, which are:

سميت فاتحة الكتاب ؛ لأن الله بها افتتح القرآن . وسميت أم القرآن وأم الكتاب لأنها أصل القرآن منها بدئ القرآن وأم الشيء أصله ، ويقال لمكة : أم القرى؛ لأنها أصل البلاد دحيت الأرض من تحتها وقيل لأنها مقدمة وإمام لما يتلوها من السور يبدأ بكتابتها في المصحف وبقراءتها في الصلاة والسبع المثاني لأنها سبع آيات باتفاق العلماء . وسميت مثاني لأنها تثنى في الصلاة فتقرأ في كل ركعة وقال مجاهد سميت مثاني لأن الله تعالى استثناها لهذه الأمة فذخرها لهم . ـ

It is called Fatihah al-Kitaab because Allah opens the Qur’an with it.

And it is called Umm al-Qur’an or Umm al-Kitaab because it is the foundation of the Qur’an with which the Qur’an begins, and the umm of something is its foundation. Mecca is called Umm al-Quraa because it was the origin of the cities which spread out across the surrounding land. And it is also said that surah al-Fatihah is called Umm al-Qur’an because it is an introduction and a leader for the surahs which follow it. Its text begins the mushaf and its recitation begins the prayer. Continue reading

A Point on Numbering in the Qur’an: Ibn ‘Uthaymeen

In surah al-Kahf, Allah mentions the following ayaat during his discussion of the People of the Cave:

سَيَقُولُونَ ثَلَاثَةٌ رَّ‌ابِعُهُمْ كَلْبُهُمْ وَيَقُولُونَ خَمْسَةٌ سَادِسُهُمْ كَلْبُهُمْ رَ‌جْمًا بِالْغَيْبِ ۖ وَيَقُولُونَ سَبْعَةٌ وَثَامِنُهُمْ كَلْبُهُمْ ۚ قُل رَّ‌بِّي أَعْلَمُ بِعِدَّتِهِم مَّا يَعْلَمُهُمْ إِلَّا قَلِيلٌ

They will say there were three, the fourth of them being their dog; and they will say there were five, the sixth of them being their dog – guessing at the unseen. And they will say there were seven, and the eighth of them was their dog. Say, [O Muhammad], “My Lord is most knowing of their number. None knows them except a few….” [18:22]

In his explanation of Sheikh al-Islaam Ibn Taymiya’s “Introduction to Tafsir”, Sheikh Muhammad ibn Saalih al-‘Uthaymeen took some time to expand on this ayah and some of the points related to it. Below is one of these points:

وهنا نكتة في مسألة العدد، قال: {سبعة وثامنهم كلبهم} ولم يقل ثمانية ثامنهم كلبهم؛ لأن الكلب من غير الجنس، وإذا كان من غير الجنس فإنه لا يدخل في العدد ولكنه يجعل بعده، ولهذا قال الله عز وجل: {ما يكون من نجوى ثلاثة إلا هو رابعهم} ولم يقل: من نجوى أربعة إلا هو رابعهم؛ لأنه خالق وهم مخلوقون. ـ

And here there is a point about quantities. Allah said:

سَبْعَةٌ وَثَامِنُهُمْ كَلْبُهُمْ

there were seven, and the eighth of them was their dog [18:22]

And He did not say, “there were eight, and eighth of them was their dog”, because the dog was not of the same category of being. So since it was not of the same category of being, it was not included in their count but instead was mentioned afterwards. Continue reading

Khutbah on the Fundamentals of the Religion: Imam al-Sa’di

In a collection of more than four hundred sermons from sheikh ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn Naasir al-Sa’di, he delivered the following khutbah on the foundational beliefs of Ahl al-Sunnah w’al-Jamaa’ah:

خطبة في أصول الدين
Khutbah on the Fundamentals of the Religion

الحمد لله المعروف بأسمائه وصفاته ، المتحبب إلى خلقه بجزيل هباته . ـ

All praise belongs to Allah, the One who is known by His names and attributes and beloved to His creation due to the His overflowing bestowals.

وأشهد أن لا إله إلا الله ، وحده لا شريك له ، المتفرد بالألوهية والوحدانية ، المتوحد في العظمة والكبرياء والمجد والربوبية . ـ

I bear witness that there is no deity worthy of worship in truth except Allah alone with no partners. He is One who is absolutely unique in terms of deity and singleness, singular in grandeur, greatness, majesty and Lordship.

وأشهد أن محمدا عبده ورسوله ، أكمل الخلق في مراتب العبودية ، وأعلاهم في كل خصلة حميدة ، فهو خير البرية ، اللهم صل وسلم على محمد ، وعلى آله وأصحابه الأخيار ، وعلى التابعين لهم بالأقوال والأفعال والإقرار . ـ

And I bear witness that Muhammad is His slave and messenger; the most complete created-being in the various levels of servitude, and the most elevated of them in every praiseworthy quality, for he is the best of the created-beings. O Allah, grant Your peace and blessings upon Muhammad and upon his family and his excellent companions, and upon all those who follow them in speech, action and confession.

أما بعد : أيها الناس ، اتقوا الله تعالى ، واعلموا أن الله خلقكم وأمركم بمعرفته وعبادته ، وحثكم على إخلاص الدين وتحقيق طاعته . قال تعالى : { وَمَا خَلَقْتُ الْجِنَّ وَالْإِنْسَ إِلَّا لِيَعْبُدُونِ } . وقال: { يَاأَيُّهَا النَّاسُ اعْبُدُوا رَبَّكُمُ الَّذِي خَلَقَكُمْ وَالَّذِينَ مِنْ قَبْلِكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَّقُونَ } ، وقال: { اللَّهُ الَّذِي خَلَقَ سَبْعَ سَمَاوَاتٍ وَمِنَ الْأَرْضِ مِثْلَهُنَّ يَتَنَزَّلُ الْأَمْرُ بَيْنَهُنَّ لِتَعْلَمُوا أَنَّ اللَّهَ عَلَى كُلِّ شَيْءٍ قَدِيرٌ وَأَنَّ اللَّهَ قَدْ أَحَاطَ بِكُلِّ شَيْءٍ عِلْمًا } ، وقال : { فَاعْلَمْ أَنَّهُ لَا إِلَهَ إِلَّا اللَّهُ وَاسْتَغْفِرْ لِذَنْبِكَ وَلِلْمُؤْمِنِينَ وَالْمُؤْمِنَاتِ وَاللَّهُ يَعْلَمُ مُتَقَلَّبَكُمْ وَمَثْوَاكُمْ } . ـ

To proceed: O mankind, exercise taqwa of Allah, and know that Allah created you and commanded you to know and worship Him, and He urges you to make your religion sincerely and completely for Him and to make obedience to Him a reality in your lives. He said: Continue reading

The Believers’ Response to the Mention of Allah: Imam al-Shinqitee

In his book responding to perceived contradictions in the Qur’an, sheikh Muhammad al-Ameen al-Shinqitee wrote the following:

قَوْلُهُ تَعَالَى: إِنَّمَا الْمُؤْمِنُونَ الَّذِينَ إِذَا ذُكِرَ اللَّهُ وَجِلَتْ قُلُوبُهُمْ الْآيَةَ. ـ

Regarding Allah’s statement:

إِنَّمَا الْمُؤْمِنُونَ الَّذِينَ إِذَا ذُكِرَ اللَّـهُ وَجِلَتْ قُلُوبُهُمْ وَإِذَا تُلِيَتْ عَلَيْهِمْ آيَاتُهُ زَادَتْهُمْ إِيمَانًا وَعَلَىٰ رَبِّهِمْ يَتَوَكَّلُونَ

The believers are only those who, when Allah is mentioned, their hearts become fearful, and when His verses are recited to them, it increases them in faith; and upon their Lord they rely. [8:2]

هَذِهِ الْآيَةُ تَدُلُّ عَلَى أَنْ وَجَلَ الْقُلُوبِ عِنْدَ سَمَاعِ ذِكْرِ اللَّهِ مِنْ عَلَامَاتِ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ. وَقَدْ جَاءَ فِي آيَةٍ أُخْرَى مَا يَدُلُّ عَلَى خِلَافَ ذَلِكَ وَهِيَ قَوْلُهُ: الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَتَطْمَئِنُّ قُلُوبُهُمْ بِذِكْرِ اللَّهِ أَلَا بِذِكْرِ اللَّهِ تَطْمَئِنُّ الْقُلُوبُ [13 \ 28] . فَالْمُنَافَاةُ بَيْنَ الطُّمَأْنِينَةِ وَوَجَلِ الْقُلُوبِ ظَاهِرَةٌ. ـ

This ayah indicates that a person’s heart feeling fearful upon hearing mention of Allah is one of the distinguishing signs of the believers. However, in another ayah, there is something else which points to the opposite, which is Allah’s statement:

الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَتَطْمَئِنُّ قُلُوبُهُمْ بِذِكْرِ اللَّهِ أَلَا بِذِكْرِ اللَّهِ تَطْمَئِنُّ الْقُلُوبُ

They are those who believe and whose hearts find rest in the remembrance of Allah, Verily, in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find rest. [13:28]

And the incongruity between one’s heart being fearful versus being at rest is obvious.

وَالْجَوَابُ عَنْ هَذَا أَنَّ الطُّمَأْنِينَةَ تَكُونُ بِانْشِرَاحِ الصَّدْرِ بِمَعْرِفَةِ التَّوْحِيدِ، وَالْوَجَلُ يَكُونُ عِنْدَ خَوْفِ الزَّيْغِ وَالذَّهَابِ عَنِ الْهُدَى، كَمَا يُشِيرُ إِلَى ذَلِكَ قَوْلُهُ تَعَالَى: تَقْشَعِرُّ مِنْهُ جُلُودُ الَّذِينَ يَخْشَوْنَ رَبَّهُمْ ثُمَّ تَلِينُ جُلُودُهُمْ وَقُلُوبُهُمْ إِلَى ذِكْرِ اللَّهِ [39 \ 23] ، وَقَوْلُهُ تَعَالَى: رَبَّنَا لَا تُزِغْ قُلُوبَنَا بَعْدَ إِذْ هَدَيْتَنَا الْآيَةَ [3 \ 8] . وَقَوْلُهُ تَعَالَى: وَالَّذِينَ يُؤْتُونَ مَا آتَوْا وَقُلُوبُهُمْ وَجِلَةٌ أَنَّهُمْ إِلَى رَبِّهِمْ رَاجِعُونَ [23 \ 60] . ـ

The reconciliation for this issue is that feeling at rest comes from the heart being opened to the awareness and recognition of al-tawheed, while fearfulness comes from fear of deviation and straying from guidance. This is just as is shown in Allah’s statement:

تَقْشَعِرُّ مِنْهُ جُلُودُ الَّذِينَ يَخْشَوْنَ رَبَّهُمْ ثُمَّ تَلِينُ جُلُودُهُمْ وَقُلُوبُهُمْ إِلَىٰ ذِكْرِ اللَّـهِ

The skins of those who fear their Lord shiver from it; then their skins and their hearts relax at the remembrance of Allah. [39:23]

as well as His statement:

رَبَّنَا لَا تُزِغْ قُلُوبَنَا بَعْدَ إِذْ هَدَيْتَنَا وَهَبْ لَنَا مِن لَّدُنكَ رَحْمَةً ۚ إِنَّكَ أَنتَ الْوَهَّابُ

Our Lord, let not our hearts deviate after You have guided us and grant us mercy from You. Indeed, You are the Bestower.[3:8]

and also His statement:

وَالَّذِينَ يُؤْتُونَ مَا آتَوْا وَقُلُوبُهُمْ وَجِلَةٌ أَنَّهُمْ إِلَى رَبِّهِمْ رَاجِعُونَ

And those who give what they give while their hearts are fearful because they will be returning to their Lord [23:60]

[Daf’u Eehaam pg. 103]

See also: Supposed Contradictions in the Qur’an: ibn ‘Uthaymeen

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