Qualities of the Successful Ones: Tafsir al-Sa’di

Allah describes the successful believers in surah al-Nur by saying:

وَمَن يُطِعِ اللَّـهَ وَرَ‌سُولَهُ وَيَخْشَ اللَّـهَ وَيَتَّقْهِ فَأُولَـٰئِكَ هُمُ الْفَائِزُونَ

And whoever obeys Allah and His Messenger, fears Allah, and exercises taqwa of him – these ones are the successful ones. [24:52]

In part of his commentary on this ayah, sheikh ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn Naasir al-Sa’di wrote:

فقال: ومن يطع الله ورسوله فيصدق خبرهما ويمتثل أمرهما، ويخش الله أي: يخافه خوفا مقرونا بمعرفة، فيترك ما نهى عنه، ويكف نفسه عما تهوى، ولهذا قال: ويتقه بترك المحظور؛ لأن التقوى -عند الإطلاق- يدخل فيها فعل المأمور، وترك المنهي عنه، وعند اقترانها بالبر أو الطاعة – كما في هذا الموضع – تفسر بتوقي عذاب الله، بترك معاصيه، ـ

Allah’s statement:

وَمَن يُطِعِ اللَّـهَ وَرَ‌سُولَهُ

and whoever obeys Allah and His messenger

so he affirms what they have informed him of and complies with their commands Continue reading

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Fear the Fire Whose Fuel is Men and Stones: Tafsir al-Baghawi & Tafsir al-Qurtubi

In the beginning of surah al-Baqarah, Allah challenges the disbelievers that if they doubt the authenticity of the Qur’an to produce a single surah like it. He then follows this up by saying:

فَإِن لَّمْ تَفْعَلُوا وَلَن تَفْعَلُوا فَاتَّقُوا النَّارَ الَّتِي وَقُودُهَا النَّاسُ وَالْحِجَارَةُ ۖ أُعِدَّتْ لِلْكَافِرِينَ

But if you do not – and you will never be able to – then fear the Fire whose fuel is men and stones, prepared for the disbelievers. [2:24]

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

ـ ( التي وقودها الناس والحجارة ) قال ابن عباس وأكثر المفسرين يعني حجارة الكبريت لأنها أكثر التهابا وقيل جميع الحجارة وهو دليل على عظمة تلك النار وقيل أراد بها الأصنام لأن أكثر أصنامهم كانت منحوتة من الحجارة كما قال ” إنكم وما تعبدون من دون الله حصب جهنم ” ( 98 – الأنبياء ) . ـ

 الَّتِي وَقُودُهَا النَّاسُ وَالْحِجَارَةُ

… whose fuel is men and stones

ibn ‘Abbaas and the majority of the mufassiroon have said that ‘stones‘ here means sulfur because sulfur is very prone to igniting and burning.

It is also said that it is referring to all kinds of stones and that this demonstrates the severity and intensity of this fire.

And it is also said that what is intended by ‘stones‘ here are idols because most of their idols used to be statues made of stone. This is like what Allah said: Continue reading

Examples of Blame-worthy Opinion-based Tafsir: Sheikh Muhammad Bazmool

Sheikh Muhammad ibn ‘Umar Bazmool, a professor at Umm al-Qura University in Mecca, discusses some examples of “blame-worthy Opinion-based Tafsir“. For those not familiar with this term, you may want to read this article – The Difference Between Narration-based Tafsir and Opinion-Based Tafsir: Sheikh Muhammad Bazmool – before proceeding:

أمثلة من التفسير بالرأي المذموم؛ ـ

Some Examples of Blame-worthy Opinion-Based Tafsir

قول باطنية الشيعة في تفسير قوله تعالى: (إِنَّ اللَّهَ يَأْمُرُكُمْ أَنْ تَذْبَحُوا بَقَرَةً ) [البقرة: 67]، قالوا: هي عائشة. وقولهم في تفسير قوله تعالى: {فَقَاتِلُوا أَئِمَّةَ الْكُفْرِ إِنَّهُمْ لَا أَيْمَانَ لَهُمْ} [التوبة: 12]؛ هم أبوبكر وعمر. وهذا التفسير يخالف ما تقرر في الشرع من فضل أمهات المؤمنين، زوجات الرسول صلى الله عليه وسلم. ويخالف ما تقرر في الشرع من فضل أبي بكر وعمر رضي الله عنهما، فهذا التفسير باطل لمخالفته المتقرر في الشرع على خلافه. ـ

○ The position of the Baatini Shi’a [those Shi’a who search for hidden meanings in the texts, regardless of whether the texts support those meanings or not] regarding the explanation of Allah’s statement:

إِنَّ اللَّهَ يَأْمُرُكُمْ أَنْ تَذْبَحُوا بَقَرَةً

Indeed, Allah commands you to slaughter a cow [2:67]

is that this is referring to ‘Aa’ishah. And their position regarding the explanation of Allah’s statement:

فَقَاتِلُوا أَئِمَّةَ الْكُفْرِ إِنَّهُمْ لَا أَيْمَانَ لَهُمْ

then fight the leaders of disbelief, for indeed, there are no oaths to them [9:12]

is that this is referring to Abu Bakr and ‘Umar.

This first explanation contradicts the great virtues of the Mothers of the Believers, the wives of the Messenger (ﷺ), which are emphasized in the sharee’ah. And this second explanation contradicts the great virtues of Abu Bakr and ‘Umar (may Allah be pleased with them both) which are also emphasized in the sharee’ah. So these explanations are invalid and false due to their complete opposition to what the sharee’ah affirms. Continue reading

“It is only revealed to me that your god is but one God”: Imam al-Shinqitee

In a work of his devoted to clarifying supposed contradictions in the Qur’an, sheikh Muhammad al-Ameen al-Shinqitee mentioned the following in part of his discussion of surah al-Anbiyah:

وَقَوْلِهِ تَعَالَى: قُلْ إِنَّمَا يُوحَى إِلَيَّ أَنَّمَا إِلَهُكُمْ إِلَهٌ وَاحِدٌ فَهَلْ أَنْتُمْ مُسْلِمُونَ [21 \ 108] . ـ

Allah’s statement:

قُلْ إِنَّمَا يُوحَىٰ إِلَيَّ أَنَّمَا إِلَـٰهُكُمْ إِلَـٰهٌ وَاحِدٌ ۖ فَهَلْ أَنتُم مُّسْلِمُونَ

Say, “It is only revealed to me that your god is but one God; so will you be those who submit to Him?” [21:108]

عَبَّرَ فِي هَذِهِ الْآيَةِ الْكَرِيمَةِ بِلَفْظِ: «إِنَّمَا» وَهِيَ تَدُلُّ عَلَى الْحَصْرِ عِنْدَ الْجُمْهُورِ، وَعَلَيْهِ فَهِيَ تَدُلُّ عَلَى حَصْرِ الْوَحْيِ فِي تَوْحِيدِ الْأُلُوهِيَّةِ. ـ

In this noble ayah, Allah uses the wording of “innama” which indicates a restriction [i.e. “it is only revealed to me…”] according to the majority opinion. So according to that position, this would seem to indicate that the divine revelation is restricted the matter of Tawheed al-‘Uloohiyyah – singling out Allah alone for deification and worship.

وَقَدْ جَاءَتْ آيَاتٌ أُخَرُ تَدُلُّ عَلَى أَنَّهُ أَوْحي إِلَيْهِ غَيْرَ ذَلِكَ كَقَوْلِهِ: قُلْ أُوحِيَ إِلَيَّ أَنَّهُ اسْتَمَعَ نَفَرٌ مِنَ الْجِنِّ الْآيَةَ [72] ، وَقَوْلِهِ: تِلْكَ مِنْ أَنْبَاءِ الْغَيْبِ نُوحِيهَا إِلَيْكَ [11 \ 49] ، وَقَوْلِهِ: نَحْنُ نَقُصُّ عَلَيْكَ أَحْسَنَ الْقَصَصِ بِمَا أَوْحَيْنَا إِلَيْكَ الْآيَةَ [12 \ 3] . ـ

However, a number of other ayaat have come which show other things being revealed to him, such as Allah’s statement: Continue reading

We made the way easy for him: Tafsir al-Tabari & Tafsir ibn Kathir

In surah ‘Abasa, Allah mentions the following passage:

قُتِلَ الْإِنسَانُ مَا أَكْفَرَهُ * مِنْ أَيِّ شَيْءٍ خَلَقَهُ * مِن نُّطْفَةٍ خَلَقَهُ فَقَدَّرَهُ * ثُمَّ السَّبِيلَ يَسَّرَهُ * ثُمَّ أَمَاتَهُ فَأَقْبَرَهُ * ثُمَّ إِذَا شَاءَ أَنشَرَهُ * كَلَّا لَمَّا يَقْضِ مَا أَمَرَهُ

Cursed is man, how he disbelieves! * What did Allah create him from? He created him from a sperm-drop, and then apportioned him * Then He made the way easy for him * then He causes him to die and makes a grave for him * then, when He wills, He will raise him up * No! Man has not yet accomplished what Allah has command of him [80:17-23]

The salaf and the mufassiroon differed as to the meaning of the ayah:

ثُمَّ السَّبِيلَ يَسَّرَهُ

Then He made the way easy for him

al-Haafidh Ismaa’eel ibn Kathir summarized the two opinions of the salaf and later scholars by writing:

ـ ( ثم السبيل يسره ) قال العوفي عن ابن عباس ثم يسر عليه خروجه من بطن أمه وكذا قال عكرمة والضحاك وأبو صالح وقتادة والسدي واختاره ابن جرير . ـ

ثُمَّ السَّبِيلَ يَسَّرَهُ

Then He made the way easy for him

al-‘Awfi relayed that ibn ‘Abbaas explained it as: then Allah made man’s exit from his mother’s womb easy for him.

This is just as ‘Ikrimah, al-Dhahhaak, Abu Saalih, Qataadah, and al-Suddi said. And this was the preferred position of ibn Jariri [al-Tabari]. Continue reading

An Example of Reconciling Different Explanations from the Salaf: Sheikh Muhammad Bazmool

Sheikh Muhammad Bazmool, a professor at Umm al-Qura University in Mecca, wrote:

مثال لتفسير الصحابي: ابن عمر رضي الله عنه، وتفسير لرجل من أتباع أتباع التابعين الفضيل بن عياض رحمه الله في قوله تعال: (لِيَبْلُوَكُمْ أَيُّكُمْ أَحْسَنُ عَمَلًا)؛ ـ

Here is an example of the tafsir of a Companion is that of ibn ‘Umar (may Allah be pleased with him), as well as the tafsir from someone of the generation of the Atbaa’ al-Taabi’een, al-Fudhayl ibn ‘Iyyaadh (may Allah have mercy on him), regarding Allah’s statement:

لِيَبْلُوَكُمْ أَيُّكُمْ أَحْسَنُ عَمَلًا

that He may test you, which of you is best in deed [67:2]

روي عن ابن عمر وجاء مرفوعا و لا يصح، أنه قال: “(وأحسن عَمَلًا): أَحْسَنُ عَقْلًا، وَأَوْرَعُ عَنْ مَحَارِمِ اللَّهِ، وَأَسْرَعُ فِي طَاعَةِ الله”. وقال الفضيل بْنُ عِيَاضٍ: أَحْسَنُ عَمَلًا أَخْلَصُهُ وَأَصْوَبُهُ. ـ

It is transmitted from ibn ‘Umar – and it has also been attributed to the Prophet, though not authentically – that he explained:

 أَحْسَنُ عَمَلًا

… best in deed

to mean, “best in intellect, most detached from that which Allah has forbade, and quickest to obey Allah.” While al-Fudhayl ibn ‘Iyyaadh explained it as, “Best in deed – that is, the most sincere and correct of deeds.” Continue reading

The Great Merits of Reciting the Qur’an with Contemplation: ibn al-Qayyim

The great scholar ibn al-Qayyim al-Jawziyyah once wrote:

فَلَو علم النَّاس مَا فِي قِرَاءَة الْقُرْآن بالتدبر لاشتغلوا بهَا عَن كل مَا سواهَا فَإِذا قَرَأَهُ بتفكر حَتَّى مر بِآيَة وَهُوَ مُحْتَاجا إِلَيْهَا فِي شِفَاء قلبه كررها وَلَو مائَة مرّة وَلَو لَيْلَة فقراءة آيَة بتفكر وتفهم خير من قِرَاءَة ختمة بِغَيْر تدبر وتفهم وأنفع للقلب وأدعى الى حُصُول الايمان وذوق حلاوة الْقُرْآن وَهَذِه كَانَت عَادَة السّلف يردد احدهم الاية الى الصَّباح وَقد ثَبت عَن النَّبِي انه قَامَ بِآيَة يُرَدِّدهَا حَتَّى الصَّباح وَهِي قَوْله {إِن تُعَذبهُمْ فَإِنَّهُم عِبَادك وَإِن تغْفر لَهُم فَإنَّك أَنْت الْعَزِيز الْحَكِيم} فقراءة الْقُرْآن بالتفكر هِيَ اصل صَلَاح الْقلب . ـ

If people only knew the great value of reciting the Qur’an with reflection, then they would devote themselves to it above anything else. For when one recites with contemplation, when he comes across an ayah which contains something needed to rectify his heart, he would repeat that ayah, perhaps as many as one hundred times or even for the entire night! For reciting a single ayah with contemplation and understanding is better, more beneficial for one’s heart, and more likely to bring about an increase in eemaan and tasting the sweetness of the Qur’an than reciting the entire Qur’an without reflection or understanding.

This used to be the practice of the Salaf, that one of them might repeat a single ayah until the morning came. It has also been authentically attributed to the Prophet that he stood in the night prayer until the morning came repeating a single ayah, which was:

إِن تُعَذبهُمْ فَإِنَّهُم عِبَادك وَإِن تغْفر لَهُم فَإنَّك أَنْت الْعَزِيز الْحَكِيم

If You punish them, then they are Your slaves. And if You forgive them, then You are the Mighty, the Wise. [5:118]

For reciting the Qur’an with contemplation is the very basis of the heart’s rectification. Continue reading

Rulings Related to the Mosques in the Qur’an: Tafsir al-Sa’di

Allah says in surah al-Nur:

فِي بُيُوتٍ أَذِنَ اللَّـهُ أَن تُرْفَعَ وَيُذْكَرَ فِيهَا اسْمُهُ يُسَبِّحُ لَهُ فِيهَا بِالْغُدُوِّ وَالْآصَالِ * رِجَالٌ لَّا تُلْهِيهِمْ تِجَارَةٌ وَلَا بَيْعٌ عَن ذِكْرِ اللَّـهِ وَإِقَامِ الصَّلَاةِ وَإِيتَاءِ الزَّكَاةِ ۙ يَخَافُونَ يَوْمًا تَتَقَلَّبُ فِيهِ الْقُلُوبُ وَالْأَبْصَارُ * لِيَجْزِيَهُمُ اللَّـهُ أَحْسَنَ مَا عَمِلُوا وَيَزِيدَهُم مِّن فَضْلِهِ ۗ وَاللَّـهُ يَرْزُقُ مَن يَشَاءُ بِغَيْرِ حِسَابٍ

In houses which Allah has allowed to be raised and that His name be mentioned therein; exalting Him in them in the morning and the evenings * Men whom neither commerce nor sale distracts from the remembrance of Allah and performance of prayer and giving of zakah. They fear a Day in which the hearts and eyes will turn about – * That Allah may reward them according to the best of what they did and increase them from His bounty. And Allah gives provision to whom He wills without account. [24:36-38]

Commenting on this in his well-known tafsir of the Qur’an, sheikh ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn Naasir al-Sa’di wrote:

أي: يتعبد لله في بيوت عظيمة فاضلة، هي أحب البقاع إليه، وهي المساجد. أذن الله أي: أمر ووصى أن ترفع ويذكر فيها اسمه هذان مجموع أحكام المساجد، فيدخل في رفعها: بناؤها وكنسها وتنظيفها من النجاسة والأذى، وصونها من المجانين والصبيان الذين لا يتحرزون عن النجاسة، وعن الكافر، وأن تصان عن اللغو فيها، ورفع الأصوات بغير ذكر الله . ـ

Meaning: to draw near to Allah in these great, virtuous houses which are the most beloved places to Him, i.e. the mosques.

أَذِنَ اللَّـهُ

Allah has allowed …

meaning: He has commanded and enjoined that

أَن تُرْفَعَ وَيُذْكَرَ فِيهَا اسْمُهُ

… to be raised and that His name be mentioned therein

These two things encompass all the rulings related to the mosques. For raising the mosques includes: building them, sweeping them and cleaning out any forms of impurity or harm, protecting them against young children and the mentally ill who are not attentive against physical impurities, and against the disbelievers. And it involves preventing certain things from occurring in them such as idle speech and raising one’s voices for some other purpose than the remembrance of Allah.

Continue reading

The Difference Between Narration-based Tafsir and Opinion-Based Tafsir: Sheikh Muhammad Bazmool

Sheikh Muhammad Bazmool, a professor at Umm al-Qura University in Mecca, posed and answered the following question:

ما الفرق بين التفسيربالمأثور والتفسير بالرأي ؟ التفسير بالمأثور هو الذي يقتصر فيه دور المفسر على مجرد النقل؛ فيفسر الآية بالآية = تفسير القرآن بالقرآن. ويفسر الآية بالسنة . = تفسير القرآن بالسنة. ويفسر الآية بقول الصحابي . = ويفسر الآية بما أجمع عليه التابعون. فقط ينقل ماورد من ذلك في تفسير الآية، كما تراه في تفسير عبدالرزاق وابن أبي حاتم، وابن المنذر. ـ

What is the difference between Narration-based Tafsir [Tafsir bi’l-Ma’thoor] and Opinion-based Tafsir [Tafsir bi’l-Ra’yi]?

Narration-based tafsir can be defined as that in which the role of the mufassir is limited to mere transmission. So he would:

  • explain one ayah with another, which is explaining the Qur’an by means of the Qur’an itself.
  • explain an ayah through the Sunnah, which is explaining the Qur’an by means of the Sunnah.
  • explain an ayah with the statement of a Companion.
  • explain an ayah according to a position that all the Taabi’oon agreed on.

So he only transmits what has been relayed through those routes regarding the explanation of an ayah, as you can see in the books of tafsir by ‘Abd al-Razzaaq, ibn Abi Haatim, and ibn al-Mundhir. Continue reading