“We showed him the way, either he will be grateful or ungrateful”: Sheikh Muhammad Bazmool

Sheikh Muhammad Bazmool, a professor at Umm al-Qura University in Mecca, wrote the following words regarding an ayah from the beginning of surah al-Insaan:

 قول الله تبارك وتعالى: ﴿إِنَّا هَدَيْنَاهُ السَّبِيلَ إِمَّا شَاكِراً وَإِمَّا كَفُوراً﴾ (الإنسان:3). في هذه الآية الكريمة يعلمنا الله جل وعلا أنه هدى الإنسان إلى طريق الشكر وإلى طريق الكفر، فأرسل رسله صلوات الله عليهم وسلامه، يعلمون الناس السبيل، ويدعونهم إلى الصراط المستقيم، ويحذرونهم طريق الكفر والضلال طريق أصحاب الجحيم . وفي الآية وقفات : ـ

There is Allah’s statement:

إِنَّا هَدَيْنَاهُ السَّبِيلَ إِمَّا شَاكِراً وَإِمَّا كَفُوراً

We showed him the way, either he will be grateful or ungrateful [76:3]

In this noble ayah, Allah is teaching us that He has guided mankind to the path of shukr (gratitude) and the path or kufr (ingratitude/disbelief), for He sent His messengers (may Allah’s peace and salutations be upon them) who taught mankind the way, called them to the Straight Path, and warned them against the path of kufr, misguidance and the way of the people of the Hell-fire.

And this ayah contains a number of points:

الأولى : الهداية المقصودة هنا هي هداية الدلالة والإرشاد ؛ وذلك ما جعله الله تعالى في بعثة الرسل الكرام عليهم الصلاة والسلام، يعلمون الخلق ويرشدونهم إلى طريق الحق: الصراط المستقيم. ومن هذه الدلالة ما أنعم به سبحانه على الإنسان من نعمة العقل، والفطرة التي جبله عليها ليقبل الخير والحسن. وليس المراد بالهداية في الآية هنا هداية التوفيق لقبول الحق، أو هداية التوفيق للعمل، أو الثبات على الحق، أو هداية السبيل لدخول الجنة. ـ

First: What is intended by “guidance” here is the guidance of directing and showing, and that is what Allah did in sending the Messengers. They taught the people and directed them to the path of the truth – the Straight Path. And another aspect of this type of direction is that He blessed man with the gift of intellect and the innate disposition towards the truth and goodness (the fitrah) which He instilled in him. So the intended meaning of “guidance” here in this ayah is not the guidance of granting one success in accepting the truth or granting success in acting according to the truth or being steadfast upon the truth, nor is it referring to the guiding one to path of entering al-Jannah.

الثانية : نسب الهداية إليه سبحانه، فلا يملك أحد أن يهدي الإنسان إلا هو، فالعقل والفطرة لا يملكان من شأن هذه الهداية إلا أن يشاء الله أن يهدي إلى صراط مستقيم. ـ

Second: Allah is linking the guidance back to Himself, for no one has the power to guide a person except for Him. Neither the intellect nor the fitrah has any power at all to guide unless Allah wills for a person to be guided to the Straight Path.

الثالثة: الشكر في اللغة، أصله من الظهور، فالناقة يغزر لبنها من الرعي، ناقة شكور، والخيل تعلفها قليلا فيظهر سمنه خيل شكور، وكأن المؤمن يعمل الصالحات فيظهر عليه أثر ما في قلبه من الإيمان، فالإيمان قول باللسان واعتقاد في الجنان، وعمل بالأركان. وما في القلب يصدقه العمل ولابد، كما قال صلى الله عليه وسلم: “ألا وإن في الجسد مضغة إذا صلحت صلح الجسد كله، وإذا فسدت فسد الجسد كله، ألا وهي القلب”. ـ

Third: Linguistically, the root meaning of al-shukr is “outwardly displaying”. A she-camel who produces a large amount of milk relative to its grazing is a shukoor camel, and a horse which you only feed a little yet it becomes fat is a shukoor horse. So it is as if by performing good deeds, the believer is openly displaying the outward signs of the eemaan that is in his heart. For eemaan is comprised of the statements of one’s tongue, the beliefs of one’s heart, and the actions of one’s limbs, and one’s deeds attest to what is in one’s hearts, obviously. This is like what the Prophet (ﷺ) said, “Indeed! In the body there is a morsel of flesh. If it is rectified then the entire body is rectified, but if it is corrupted then the entire body is corrupted. Indeed, it is the heart.”

الرابعة: أنها أجملت كل طريق الإيمان والصراط المستقيم في أن سالكه يوصفه بأنه ﴿شاكرا﴾، فعنوان السبيل هو الشكر؛ فكل أعمال الإيمان هي من الشكر لله رب العالمين. ـ

Fourth: This ayah effectively summarizes the entire road of faith and Straight Path in that the one traversing this route is described as “grateful”, for the very essence of this path is gratitude. Every deed motivated by one’s eemaan is an act of gratitude to Allah, the Lord of all creation.

الخامسة : أنها أجملت كل طريق الضلال وعدم الاهتداء بهدي الله جل وعلا في أنه طريق يوصف صاحبه بأنه ﴿كفورا﴾. ـ

Fifth: This ayah effectively summarizes the entire path of misguidance and the absence of being guided by Allah’s guidance in that the one traversing this path is described as “ungrateful”.

السادسة : أنه وسم طريق التنكب عن الصراط بالكفر، والكفر أصل معناه في اللغة الستر والتغطية، وسمي الكافر كافراً إشارة إلى أنه بضلاله وعصيانه غطى وستر ما في قلبه من الفطرة المجبولة على قبول الخير واتباعه، وطلب الحسن وأخذه. ـ

Sixth: That Allah has branded the pathway which deviates from the Straight Path as kufr. The root meaning of al-kufr linguistically is to conceal and cover, and this term being applied to the kaafir acts as an indication that through his misguidance and sinfulness he is covering and concealing his own natural inclination and the predisposition in his heart to accept and follow what is good and to seek out goodness and take it when he finds it.

السابعة : أنه لما ذكر سبيل الهداية إلى الصراط المستقيم عبر بصيغة الفاعل، ﴿شاكرا﴾، ولما ذكر سبيل الضلال والغواية والتنكب عن الصراط عبر بما يدل على اسم الفاعل لكن بصيغة مبالغة ﴿كفوراً﴾؛ وهذا إشارة إلى أن سلوك الصراط المستقيم لا يحتاج من صاحبه تكلف وجهد، لأن النفس مفطورة على قبول الخير فإذا سلك صاحبها طريق الشكر سهل عليه ذلك، فهو (فاعل) وذلك بعد مشيئة الله له ﴿إِنَّ هَذِهِ تَذْكِرَةٌ فَمَن شَاء اتَّخَذَ إِلَى رَبِّهِ سَبِيلاً{29} وَمَا تَشَاؤُونَ إِلَّا أَن يَشَاءَ اللَّهُ إِنَّ اللَّهَ كَانَ عَلِيماً حَكِيماً{30} يُدْخِلُ مَن يَشَاءُ فِي رَحْمَتِهِ وَالظَّالِمِينَ أَعَدَّ لَهُمْ عَذَاباً أَلِيماً﴾ (الإنسان:29 -31)، وقال تعالى: ﴿لِمَن شَاء مِنكُمْ أَن يَسْتَقِيمَ * وَمَا تَشَاؤُونَ إِلَّا أَن يَشَاءَ اللَّهُ رَبُّ الْعَالَمِينَ﴾ (التكوير: 28 – 29). بينما سلوك سبيل الكفر والضلال والغواية يحتاج من صاحبه تكلف وتكرار تدل عليه صيغة (فعول) لأن ما يريد أن يسلكه هو مخالف لفطرته التي جبله الله عليها، فهو معها في صراع، يحملها على ما لا يتفق معها، وهذا من أسرار حالات الضيق والاكتئاب التي يعيشها كل من خرج عن الصراط المستقيم، أنه غير متوافق نفسيا مع فطرته، فيحتاج أن يحمل نفسه على الكفر مرة بعد مرة. ـ

Seventh: That when Allah is mentioning the route of guidance to the Straight Path, He refers to it in the form of the active participle shaakiran – “grateful” -, and when He mentions the way of misguidance, error, and deviating away from the Straight Path, He refers to it with something which carries the meaning of an active participle but which comes in an emphasized and stressed grammatical form kafooran – “ungrateful”. This indicates the traversing along the Straight Path is not something which requires the traveler to overburden himself or struggle, because people’s innate disposition is to accept what is good. So when someone travels down the pathway of gratitude, that is easy for him, so he is just the regular active participle – the doer – of that, following Allah’s will for him to do so.

إِنَّ هَذِهِ تَذْكِرَةٌ فَمَن شَاء اتَّخَذَ إِلَى رَبِّهِ سَبِيلاً * وَمَا تَشَاؤُونَ إِلَّا أَن يَشَاءَ اللَّهُ إِنَّ اللَّهَ كَانَ عَلِيماً حَكِيما * يُدْخِلُ مَن يَشَاءُ فِي رَحْمَتِهِ وَالظَّالِمِينَ أَعَدَّ لَهُمْ عَذَاباً أَلِيماً

Indeed, this is a reminder, so he who wills may take to his Lord a way. * And you do not will except that Allah wills. Indeed, Allah is ever Knowing and Wise. * He admits whom He wills into His mercy; but the wrongdoers – He has prepared for them a painful punishment. [76:29-31]

and He said:

لِمَن شَاء مِنكُمْ أَن يَسْتَقِيمَ * وَمَا تَشَاؤُونَ إِلَّا أَن يَشَاءَ اللَّهُ رَبُّ الْعَالَمِينَ

For whoever wills among you to take a right course. * And you do not will except that Allah wills – Lord of the worlds. [81:28-29]

Meanwhile, traversing the path of disbelief, misguidance, and error requires one to burden himself and continually make the decision to do so, as is indicated by the emphatic form of the active participle here. This is because the path he wants to tread runs counter to the natural disposition which Allah set him upon. So because of this, he is always in a struggle, forcing himself to do what goes against his nature. This is one of the secrets behind the feelings of depression and tightness in one’s chest that all those who depart from the Straight Path live with. It goes against his very being and natural disposition, and so it requires him to continuously force himself to be ungrateful and disbelieve.

الثامنة : فإن قيل : جاء وصف الشكر بصيغة فعول، كما في قوله تعالى: ﴿وَقَلِيلٌ مِنْ عِبَادِيَ الشَّكُورُ﴾ (سبأ:13). فالجواب : اكتسبت الصيغة المعنى السابق بدلالة السياق والمقابلة، فإنه لما ذكر في سياق واحد هاتين الصيغتين (فاعل) و (فعول) وقابل بينهما في الآية: ﴿إِنَّا هَدَيْنَاهُ السَّبِيلَ إِمَّا شَاكِراً وَإِمَّا كَفُوراً﴾، اقتضى ذلك أن للعدول عن صيغة (كافر) إلى صيغة (كفور) معنى يستفاد من المقابلة والسياق. وتكون الصيغة لمعنى التكثير من الوصف (المبالغة) في الآيات الأخرى لعدم ذلك. ـ

Eighth: If one were to say: but in other places the word shukr – gratitude – has come with that same emphatic active participle form, such as Allah’s statement:

وَقَلِيلٌ مِنْ عِبَادِيَ الشَّكُورُ

but few of My slaves are shakoor – grateful -. [34:13]

Then the response to this is that the grammatical forms take on the meanings that we have discussed due to the context in which they occur and in relation to surrounding words. For when Allah mentioned both of these two grammatical forms – the regular active participle and the stressed active participle – in the same context and placed them in contrast to one another in the ayah:

إِنَّا هَدَيْنَاهُ السَّبِيلَ إِمَّا شَاكِراً وَإِمَّا كَفُوراً

We showed him the way, either he will be grateful or ungrateful [76:3]

this necessarily means that the move from the regular active participle form of kaafir to the stressed active participle form of kafoor carries some special meaning in light of the context and that it has been placed there in contrast to another term. But in other ayaat where the stressed grammatical form is used, it just conveys a meaning of excessively or frequently doing an action, due to it not occurring in this specific context.

التاسعة : أن الشكر عنوان الإيمان، والكفر عنوان التنكب عن الصراط المستقيم، فإن كان مخرجا من الملة فهو كفر أكبر، وإن كان غير مخرج من الملة فهو كفر أصغر. فإن فعل الطاعات زاد إيمانه فهو من الشاكرين وإن نقصت طاعته نقص إيمانه، فضعف في وصف الشاكرين. ـ

Ninth: That gratitude is at the very core of eemaan, and kufr is deviating away from the Straight Path, for if one were to exit from the religion entirely, then that is major kufr, but if one did not reach the level of actually leaving the fold of the religion, then that is minor kufr. Acts of obedience increase one in eemaan, and so he is one of the grateful ones. If one falls short in his obedience, then his eemaan decreases, and consequently he would decline in this description of being a grateful one.

العاشرة : كل أعمال الإيمان فيها معنى الشكر؛ فالصلاة تقرأ فيها الفاتحة وهي سورة الحمد ، وإذا رفع من الركوع، قال: (سمع الله لمن حمده)، وقام رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم من الليل حتى تفطرت قدماه، فقيل له، فقال: “أفلا أكون عبداً شكورا”، وفي الصوم يترك طعامه وشرابه وشهوته من أجل الله، يتذكر حال غيره ممن يجوع و لا يجد طعاماً، و يظمأ فلا يجد ماءاً، فيؤدي شكر الله على هذه النعمة. وفي الزكاة، فيشكر الله على ما رزقه من المال، فيخرج صدقة يساعد بها الضعفاء وأهل الحاجة، وفي الحج يفد إلى بيت الله والمشاعر المقدسة طالبا رضوان الله يرجو رحمته سبحانه ويخاف عقابه، و﴿لِيَشْهَدُوا مَنَافِعَ لَهُمْ وَيَذْكُرُوا اسْمَ اللَّهِ فِي أَيَّامٍ مَّعْلُومَاتٍ عَلَى مَا رَزَقَهُم مِّن بَهِيمَةِ الْأَنْعَامِ فَكُلُوا مِنْهَا وَأَطْعِمُوا الْبَائِسَ الْفَقِيرَ﴾ (الحج: 28). وفي الدعاء : “أللهم أعني على ذكرك وشكرك وحسن عبادتك”. ـ

Tenth: The meaning of gratitude is found in all acts which are motivated by one’s eemaan.

For in the prayer you recite surah al-Fatihah which is the surah of praise, and when you rise up from the rukoo’ you say, “Allah hears the one who praises Him,” and one night Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) stood in prayer until his feet swelled up and cracked, so someone remarked on this and he responded by saying, “Should I not be a grateful slave?”

And in fasting one leaves off food, drink, and the fulfillment of sexual desires for the sake of Allah, remembering the condition of others who are hungry but cannot find any food to eat or who are thirsty and cannot find any water. So this brings about gratitude to Allah for these blessings.

And in the zakaah one is thanking Allah for the wealth that He has provided for him, so gives part of it as charity in order to assist the weak and needy.

And in the Hajj one comes to the House of Allah and performs the sacred rites seeking Allah’s pleasure, hoping for His mercy, and fearing His punishment, and

لِيَشْهَدُوا مَنَافِعَ لَهُمْ وَيَذْكُرُوا اسْمَ اللَّهِ فِي أَيَّامٍ مَّعْلُومَاتٍ عَلَى مَا رَزَقَهُم مِّن بَهِيمَةِ الْأَنْعَامِ فَكُلُوا مِنْهَا وَأَطْعِمُوا الْبَائِسَ الْفَقِيرَ

that they may witness things that are of benefit to them, and mention the Name of Allah on appointed days, over the beast of cattle that He has provided for them. Then eat thereof and feed therewith the poor who have a very hard time. [22:28]

and also in the supplication:

اللَّهُمَّ أَعِنِّي عَلَى ذِكْرِكَ وَشُكْرِكَ وَحُسْنِ عِبَادَتِكَ

O Allah, aid me in remembering You, thanking You, and worshiping You well!

الحادية عشرة: الشكر له أركان : الأول: الاعتراف بالنعمة . الثاني : الاعتراف بالمنعم. الثالث : معرفة حق من كان سبباً فيها. الرابع : استعمالها في طاعته ورضاه. الخامس : التحدث بالنعمة. ولما كان وجود الإنسان أصل النعم المتوالية عليه، وكان السبب في ذلك هما الوالدان، عظم الشرع حقهما، وقرن برهما بتوحيده سبحانه، فقال تبارك وتعالى: ﴿وَقَضَى رَبُّكَ أَلَّا تَعْبُدُوا إِلَّا إِيَّاهُ وَبِالْوَالِدَيْنِ إِحْسَانًا إِمَّا يَبْلُغَنَّ عِنْدَكَ الْكِبَرَ أَحَدُهُمَا أَوْ كِلَاهُمَا فَلَا تَقُلْ لَهُمَا أُفٍّ وَلَا تَنْهَرْهُمَا وَقُلْ لَهُمَا قَوْلًا كَرِيمًا﴾ (الإسراء:23). ـ

Eleventh: There are some essential parts to expressing gratitude:

  1. Recognizing the blessing
  2. Being cognizant of the One who bestowed that blessing
  3. Knowing the right of those whom Allah used to enact this blessing
  4. Using that blessing to obey Allah and seek His pleasure
  5. Verbally acknowledging the blessing

And since a person’s very existence is the foundation of all the ongoing blessings that he receives, and since his parents were the cause of his existence, the Divine Legislation has magnified the status of parents and frequently mentions goodness towards them alongside singling out Allah for worship. For Allah said:

وَقَضَى رَبُّكَ أَلَّا تَعْبُدُوا إِلَّا إِيَّاهُ وَبِالْوَالِدَيْنِ إِحْسَانًا إِمَّا يَبْلُغَنَّ عِنْدَكَ الْكِبَرَ أَحَدُهُمَا أَوْ كِلَاهُمَا فَلَا تَقُلْ لَهُمَا أُفٍّ وَلَا تَنْهَرْهُمَا وَقُلْ لَهُمَا قَوْلًا كَرِيمًا

And your Lord has decreed that you worship none but Him. And that you be dutiful to your parents. If one of them or both of them attain old age in your life, say not to them a word of disrespect, nor shout at them but address them in terms of honor. [17:23]

[Found on the sheikh’s Facebook page here.]

See also: The Deen is Built on Two Foundations: Dhikr and Shukr – Ibn al-Qayyim

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

See also: Allah legislated the religion for His remembrance: Imam al-Sa’di

See also: “So remember Me; I will remember you. And be grateful to Me and do not deny Me”: Tafsir al-Sa’di

See also: The gratitude of a slave is better than the blessings of this world: Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali

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3 thoughts on ““We showed him the way, either he will be grateful or ungrateful”: Sheikh Muhammad Bazmool

  1. Pingback: Overview of Surah al-Insaan: Ibn Taymiyah | Tulayhah

  2. Pingback: The Deen is Built on Two Foundations: Dhikr and Shukr – Ibn al-Qayyim | Tulayhah

  3. Pingback: He is upon a Light from His Lord: Tafsir al-Tabari | Tulayhah

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