The Themes and Contents of Surah Maryam: ibn Taymiyah

Sheikh al-Islaam ibn Taymiyah wrote the following words discussing the major themes of surah Maryam and outlining its contents. We would recommend reading this article with a Qur’an close by in order to better follow the different themes and topics mentioned:

سورة مريم قال شيخ الإسلام رحمه الله فصل ” سورة مريم ” مضمونها : تحقيق عبادة الله وحده وأن خواص الخلق هم عباده فكل كرامة ودرجة رفيعة في هذه الإضافة وتضمنت الرد على الغالين الذين زادوا في النسبة إلى الله حتى نسبوا إليه عيسى بطريق الولادة والرد على المفرطين في تحقيق العبادة وما فيها من الكرامة وجحدوا نعم الله التي أنعم بها على عباده المصطفين . ـ

Surah Maryam includes the following topics:

Affirming worship for Allah alone, and that the best of creation were those who devotedly worshiped Him. For every honor and elevated station lies in this relationship of the creation worshiping the Creator.

This surah also includes a rebuttal of those fanatical people who claim various additional and higher forms of relationship with Allah, to such an extent that they link ‘Eesaa (Jesus) directly to Him as an offspring.

It also includes a refutation of those who go to extremes in their affirmation of sevanthood and who deny the various blessings – such as the miracles given to righteous people – which Allah has bestowed upon His chosen servants.

افتتحها بقوله : { ذكر رحمة ربك عبده زكريا } وندائه ربه نداء خفيا وموهبته له يحيى ثم قصة مريم وابنها وقوله : { إني عبد الله } . . إلخ بين فيها الرد على الغلاة في المسيح وعلى الجفاة النافين عنه ما أنعم الله به عليه ; ثم أمر نبيه بذكر إبراهيم وما دعا إليه من عبادة الله وحده ونهيه إياه عن عبادة الشيطان وموهبته له إسحاق ويعقوب وأنه جعل له لسان صدق عليا وهو الثناء الحسن وأخبر عن يحيى وعيسى وإبراهيم ببر الوالدين مع التوحيد وذكر موسى وموهبته له أخاه هارون نبيا كما وهب يحيى لزكريا وعيسى لمريم وإسحاق لإبراهيم . ـ

Allah begins this surah by saying:

ذِكْرُ رَحْمَتِ رَبِّكَ عَبْدَهُ زَكَرِيَّا

a mention of the mercy of your Lord to His servant Zakariyyah [19:2]

and his calling His Lord with a private supplication, and Allah’s granting him Yahya, and then the story of Maryam and her son, and that son’s statement:

إِنِّي عَبْدُ اللَّـهِ

Indeed, I am a servant of Allah… [19:30]

until the end of the story. In this part of the surah, Allah makes a clear refutation against those who go to extremes regarding the Messiah, as well as rebutting those ill-mannered ones who deny the various blessings which Allah did bestow upon him.

Following that, Allah commanded His prophet to mention Ibrahim [c.f. 19:41] and his call to the unadulterated worship of Allah and his forbidding against worshiping the shaytaan, as well as the great blessing of Ishaaq and Ya’qub which was bestowed upon him, and that fact that Allah gave him a reputation of high honor, i.e. high praise.

Allah informed us of Yahya, ‘Eesaa, and Ibrahim and the good treatment that they had towards their parents along with their tawheed.

And He mentioned Moosaa [c.f. 19:51]. Allah granted him the blessing of his brother Harun also being made a prophet just as He had blessed Zakariyyah with Yahya, Maryam with ‘Eesaa, and Ibrahim with Ishaaq.

فهذه السورة ” سورة المواهب ” وهي ما وهبه الله لأنبيائه من الذرية الطيبة والعمل الصالح والعلم النافع ثم ذكر ذرية آدم لأجل إدريس { وممن حملنا مع نوح } وهو إبراهيم ومن ذرية إبراهيم وإسرائيل إلى آخر القصة . ـ

Because of all this, this surah is known as “the surah of blessings“. This is in reference to the good offspring, righteous deeds, and beneficial knowledge which Allah has bestowed upon His Prophets.

Next in the surah comes the mention Adam’s offspring by way of Idrees,

وَمِمَّنْ حَمَلْنَا مَعَ نُوحٍ

and from the descendants of those whom We carried (in the ship) along with Nuh [19:58]

which would be Ibrahim, and the descendants of Ibrahim and Israa’eel [Ya’qub], and so on until the end of the story.

ثم قال : { فخلف من بعدهم خلف أضاعوا الصلاة واتبعوا الشهوات } الآية . فهذه حال المفرطين في عبادة الله ثم استثنى التائبين وبين أن الجنة لمن تاب وأن جنات عدن وعدها الرحمن عباده بالغيب وهم أهل تحقيق العبادة ثم قال : { تلك الجنة التي نورث من عبادنا من كان تقيا } ثم قال : { فاعبده واصطبر لعبادته } . ـ

Then Allah said:

فَخَلَفَ مِن بَعْدِهِمْ خَلْفٌ أَضَاعُوا الصَّلَاةَ وَاتَّبَعُوا الشَّهَوَاتِ ۖ فَسَوْفَ يَلْقَوْنَ غَيًّا

But there came after them successors who neglected prayer and pursued desires, so they are going to meet evil [19:59]

So this is the state of those who fall into neglect when it comes to worshiping Allah. But then Allah makes an exception for those who repent, and He clarifies that Jannah will be for those who turn to Him in repentance and that al-Rahman has promised Jannaat ‘Adn for those who worship Him unseen, and that these are the ones who actualize their worship as it is meant to be. Then Allah says:

تِلْكَ الْجَنَّةُ الَّتِي نُورِثُ مِنْ عِبَادِنَا مَن كَانَ تَقِيًّا

Such is the Paradise which We shall give as an inheritance to those of Our slaves who have exercised al-taqwa [19:63]

And then He says:

فَاعْبُدْهُ وَاصْطَبِرْ لِعِبَادَتِهِ

so worship Him and be constant and patient in His worship [19:65]

ثم ذكر حال منكري المعاد وحال من جعل له الأولاد وقرن بينهما فيما رواه البخاري من حديث أبي هريرة : { كذبني ابن آدم وما ينبغي له ذلك وشتمني ابن آدم وما ينبغي له ذلك } الحديث . { ويقول الإنسان أئذا ما مت لسوف أخرج حيا } ثم ذكر إقسامه على حشدهم والشياطين وإحضارهم حول جهنم جثيا . ـ

Then Allah mentions the condition of those who deny their ultimate return to Allah after death, as well as the condition of those who say that Allah has children. And these two things have been mentioned together in the hadith of Abu Hurayrah transmitted by al-Bukhari that:

[Allah says] The son of Adam tells a lie against Me,, though he no right to do so, and he abuses me though he has no right to do so. As for his telling a lie against Me, it is his saying that I will not recreate him as I created him for the first time. In fact, the first creation was not easier for Me than new creation. As for his abusing Me, it is his saying that Allah has begotten children, while I am the One, the Self-Sufficient Master Whom all creatures need, I beget not, nor was I begotten, and there is none like unto Me.”

وَيَقُولُ الْإِنسَانُ أَإِذَا مَا مِتُّ لَسَوْفَ أُخْرَجُ حَيًّا

And man says: “When I am dead, shall I then be raised up alive?” [19:66]

and then He mentions His sworn promise that He will gather them and the shayaateen and cause them to be present around the Hell-fire on their knees [c.f. 19:68].

 وفيها دلالة على أن المخبر عن خبر يحصل في المستقبل لا يكون إلا بطريقين : إما اطلاعه على الغيب وهو العلم بما سيكون ; وإما أن يكون قد اتخذ عند الرحمن عهدا والله موف بعهده فالأول علم بالخبر والثاني علم بالأمر . الأول علم بالكلمات الكونية والثاني علم بالكلمات الدينية وهذا الذي أقسم أنه يأتي يوم المعاد ما ذكر كاذب في قسمه فإنه ليس له اطلاع على الغيب ولا اتخذ عند الرحمن عهدا . ـ

And this surah also contains a proof that obtaining information about something that will take place in the future can only occur in one of two ways. Either by a person coming to know the ghaib, which is knowledge of what will happen, or by him having taking a promise from al-Rahman, and Allah is the fulfiller of His promises [c.f. 19:78]. So the first option involves knowledge of certain information while the second involves knowledge of a command. The first involves knowledge of the created world while the second involves knowledge of the religion. So Allah swears that He will fulfill this promise on the Day when all creation will be returned to Him [19:68]. As for what the disbeliever swears will happen [19:77], then he has neither knowledge of the ghaib nor has he taken any promise from al-Rahman.

وهذا كما قيل في إجابة الدعاء : أنه تارة يكون لصحة الاعتقاد وهو مطابقة الخبر وتارة لكمال الطاعة وهو موافقة الأمر كقوله : { فليستجيبوا لي وليؤمنوا بي } . فذكر حال من تمنى على الله الباطل بلا علم بالواقع ولا اتخاذ عهد بالمشروع . ـ

All of this is like what can be said about the response to one’s supplications: Sometimes the response comes due to the soundness of one’s belief, which corresponds to the angle of information, while other times the response comes due to the completeness of one’s obedience, which corresponds to angle of commands. This is like what Allah said:

فَلْيَسْتَجِيبُوا لِي وَلْيُؤْمِنُوا بِي

… So respond to Me [with obedience] and believe in Me … [2:186]

So Allah mentions the condition of whose who hold idle wishes and false ideas about Allah without actually having knowledge of what will take place or having taken any promise to follow the divine legislation [c.f. 19:79-87].

ثم ذكر حال الذين قالوا اتخذ الرحمن ولدا فنفى الولادة عن نفسه ورد على من أثبتها وأثبت المودة ردا على من أنكرها فقال : { سيجعل لهم الرحمن ودا } أي يحبهم ; ويحببهم إلى عباده وقد وافق ذلك ما في الصحيحين : { إذا أحب الله العبد نادى جبريل إني أحب فلانا فأحبه فيحبه جبريل ثم ينادي في السماء : إن الله يحب فلانا فأحبوه فيحبه أهل السماء ويوضع له القبول في الأرض } [ ص: 233 ] وقال في البغض عكس ذلك . ـ

Then Allah mentions the condition of those who say that al-Rahman has taken a son [c.f. 19:88], so He negates having any offspring for Himself and rebuts those who affirm such a thing. But He does affirm having love and affection, which is a rebuttal of those who deny this, for He says:

سَيَجْعَلُ لَهُمُ الرَّحْمَـٰنُ وُدًّا

al-Rahman will appoint for them affection [19:96]

meaning: He will love them, and He will make them beloved to His slaves. And this goes line with what is in the Saheehayn:

When Allah loves a slave, calls Jibreel and says, “I love so-and-so; so love him”. Then Jibreel loves him. After that Jibreel announces to the inhabitants of heavens that Allah loves so-and-so; so love him; and the inhabitants of the heavens also love him and then he is given acceptance among the people of the earth.

and it is the opposite case for hatred.

وفي قول إبراهيم : { إنه كان بي حفيا } وقوله في موسى : { وناديناه من جانب الطور الأيمن وقربناه نجيا } وما ذكره للمؤمنين من المودة : إثبات لما ينكره الجاحدون من محبة الله وتكليمه كما في الأول نفي لما يثبته المفترون من اتخاذ الولد . ـ

And in Ibrahim’s statement:

إِنَّهُ كَانَ بِي حَفِيًّا

Indeed, He is ever gracious to me. [19:47]

and in Moosaa’s statement:

وَنَادَيْنَاهُ مِن جَانِبِ الطُّورِ الْأَيْمَنِ وَقَرَّبْنَاهُ نَجِيًّا

And We called him from the right side of the Mount, and made him draw near to Us for a talk with him [19:52]

and in what Allah mentioned about affection towards the believers – in all of this there is an affirmation to the contrary of what those who deny that Allah loves or speaks deny, just as earlier there was negation of what those who claim that Allah took a son fabricate.

[Majmoo’ al-Fataawaa 15/230-233]

See also: The story of ‘Eesaa, his mother, Zakariyyah and Yahya – Imam al-Sa’di

See also: Overview of Surah al-Insaan: Ibn Taymiyah

See also: Remarks on the Contents of Surah Taha: Ibn Taymiyah

See also: Central Themes of Surah al-Baqarah: Sheikh Muhammad Bazmool

See also: The Arrangement of the Final Chapters of the Qur’an: Ibn Taymiyah

See also: An Overview of Surah al-Dhariyat (51): Ibn Taymiyah

See also: Ibrahim’s interactions with his father: Tafsir al-Shinqitee

See also: The Themes of Surah Qaaf and When to Recite it: Tafsir ibn Kathir

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10 thoughts on “The Themes and Contents of Surah Maryam: ibn Taymiyah

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