The False Qiyaas of Iblis: Tafsir al-Sa’di

In the beginning of surah al-A’raaf, Allah mentions the well-known story of Iblis refusing to obey Allah’s command to bow towards Adam. After the initial refusal, Allah informs us of the following dialogue:

قَالَ مَا مَنَعَكَ أَلَّا تَسْجُدَ إِذْ أَمَرْتُكَ ۖ قَالَ أَنَا خَيْرٌ مِّنْهُ خَلَقْتَنِي مِن نَّارٍ وَخَلَقْتَهُ مِن طِينٍ

Allah said, “What prevented you from prostrating after I had commanded you?” Iblis said, “I am better than him; You created me from fire, and him You created from clay.” (7:12)

Sheikh ‘Abd al-Rahman al-Sa’di mentioned the following points of benefit under his tafsir of this ayah:

فوبخه اللّه على ذلك وقال: { مَا مَنَعَكَ أَلَّا تَسْجُدَ } لما خلقت بيديَّ، أي: شرفته وفضلته بهذه الفضيلة، التي لم تكن لغيره، فعصيت أمري وتهاونت بي؟ ـ

Allah reprimanded Iblis for this behavior and said:

مَا مَنَعَكَ أَلَّا تَسْجُدَ

What prevented you from prostrating

to that which I created which My own hands? Meaning, I have honored and favored him with this honor which was not done for any other, but you disobey My command and treat it so flippantly?

ـ { قَالَ } إبليس معارضا لربه: { أَنَا خَيْرٌ مِنْهُ } ثم برهن على هذه الدعوى الباطلة بقوله: { خَلَقْتَنِي مِنْ نَارٍ وَخَلَقْتَهُ مِنْ طِينٍ } وموجب هذا أن المخلوق من نار أفضل من المخلوق من طين لعلو النار على الطين وصعودها، وهذا القياس من أفسد الأقيسة، فإنه باطل من عدة أوجه . ـ

قَالَ

Iblis said

in response to his Lord

أَنَا خَيْرٌ مِنْهُ

I am better than him

and then he supported this false claim of his by saying,

خَلَقْتَنِي مِنْ نَارٍ وَخَلَقْتَهُ مِنْ طِينٍ

You created me from fire and You created him from clay.

This would entail that something created from fire is better than something created from clay due to fire’s highness and rising nature. But this qiyaas (analogical reasoning) is one of the most rotten examples of qiyaas, for it is false from a number of angles.

منها: أنه في مقابلة أمر اللّه له بالسجود، والقياس إذا عارض النص، فإنه قياس باطل، لأن المقصود بالقياس، أن يكون الحكم الذي لم يأت فيه نص، يقارب الأمور المنصوص عليها، ويكون تابعا لها. فأما قياس يعارضها، ويلزم من اعتباره إلغاءُ النصوص، فهذا القياس من أشنع الأقيسة. ـ

One of these angles is that it was offered in response to Allah’s command for him to prostrate, however when qiyaas opposes an actual text, then that qiyaas is invalid. For the purpose of qiyaas is to arrive at a ruling for which there is no text regarding it but which is similar to some other issues which do have textual guidance, and so this new ruling would follow those. But as for qiyaas which goes against an existing text and would require those who give it credence to ignore the texts on that subject, then this form of qiyaas is one of the most despicable types of reasoning.

ومنها: أن قوله: { أَنَا خَيْرٌ مِنْهُ } بمجردها كافية لنقص إبليس الخبيث. فإنه برهن على نقصه بإعجابه بنفسه وتكبره، والقول على اللّه بلا علم. وأي نقص أعظم من هذا؟” ـ

Another of these angles is his statement:

أَنَا خَيْرٌ مِنْهُ

I am better than him

This statement alone is sufficient evidence of the filthy Iblis’ deficient reasoning, for this demonstrates his deficiency, in that he is in a state of self-amazement and prideful arrogance, as well as his speaking about Allah without knowledge. So what deficiency is graver than this?

ومنها: أنه كذب في تفضيل مادة النار على مادة الطين والتراب، فإن مادة الطين فيها الخشوع والسكون والرزانة، ومنها تظهر بركات الأرض من الأشجار وأنواع النبات، على اختلاف أجناسه وأنواعه، وأما النار ففيها الخفة والطيش والإحراق. ـ

And another one of these angles is that he lied in placing more value in fire than in clay and dirt, for these earthy elements contain humbleness, calmness, and composure. And also, out of these earthy materials the blessing of the earth – such as the trees and various types of plant life – emerge. But as for fire, it is composed of haughtiness, recklessness, and burning.

ولهذا لما جرى من إبليس ما جرى، انحط من مرتبته العالية إلى أسفل السافلين . ـ

So it was in this way that Iblis’ circumstance came to be, that he was sent down from that highest level which he was inhabiting to being the lowest of the low.

[Taysir al-Kareem al-Rahman pg. 319]

See also: Using truthful speech for false purposes: Imam al-Shinqitee

See also: Whoever abandons good will be tested with evil: Imam al-Sa’di

See also: The Consequences of Not Forbidding Wrongdoing: Tafsir al-Sa’di

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