Choosing the Best Over What is Merely Good: Tafsir al-Shinqitee

Allah describes His servants in surah al-Zumar by saying:

الَّذِينَ يَسْتَمِعُونَ الْقَوْلَ فَيَتَّبِعُونَ أَحْسَنَهُ ۚ أُولَـٰئِكَ الَّذِينَ هَدَاهُمُ اللَّـهُ ۖ وَأُولَـٰئِكَ هُمْ أُولُو الْأَلْبَابِ

Those who listen to speech and follow the best of it. Those are the ones Allah has guided, and those are people of understanding. [39:18]

Sheikh Muhammad al-Ameen al-Shinqitee included the following valuable discussion inside his tafsir of surah al-Zumar. We have added section headings inside brackets for the sake of clarity and ease of navigation:

قوله تعالى : الذين يستمعون القول فيتبعون أحسنه . أظهر الأقوال في الآية الكريمة ، أن المراد بالقول ، ما جاء به النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم ، من وحي الكتاب والسنة ، ومن إطلاق القول على القرآن قوله تعالى : أفلم يدبروا القول الآية [ 23 \ 68 ] . وقوله تعالى : إنه لقول فصل وما هو بالهزل [ 86 \ 13 – 14 ] . وقوله تعالى في هذه الآية الكريمة : فيتبعون أحسنه [ 39 \ 18 ] أي : يقدمون الأحسن ، الذي هو أشد حسنا ، على الأحسن الذي هو دونه في الحسن ، ويقدمون الأحسن مطلقا على الحسن . ويدل لهذا آيات من كتاب الله . ـ

[Explanation of Vocabulary and General Meaning]

Allah’s statement:

الَّذِينَ يَسْتَمِعُونَ الْقَوْلَ فَيَتَّبِعُونَ أَحْسَنَهُ

Those who listen to speech and follow the best of it [39:18]

Out of the various opinions regarding this noble ayah, the most apparent is that the intended meaning of the word “speech” in it is the divine inspiration of the Qur’an and the Sunnah which the Prophet (ﷺ) brought. One example of the word “speech” being used to refer to the Qur’an is Allah’s statement:

أَفَلَمْ يَدَّبَّرُوا الْقَوْلَ

Then have they not reflected over the speech… [23:86]

or His statement:

إِنَّهُ لَقَوْلٌ فَصْلٌ * وَمَا هُوَ بِالْهَزْلِ

Indeed, it is a decisive speech * And it is not amusement [86:13-14]

As to Allah’s statement in this noble ayah:

 فَيَتَّبِعُونَ أَحْسَنَهُ

… and follow the best of it [39:18]

meaning: they give precedence to the best – that which is the greatest good – over other forms of good which are lesser in goodness; they give precedence to the absolute best over just plain good. And there are a number of ayaat in Allah’s book which support this interpretation. Continue reading

Some Benefits Derived from the Prophet’s Annual Review of the Qur’an with Jibril: Sheikh bin Baaz

The following question was posed the the former mufti of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, sheikh ‘Abd al-‘Aziz bin Baaz:

السؤال: هل يمكن أن يستفاد من مدارسة جبرائيل عليه السلام للنبي ﷺ القرآن في رمضان أفضلية ختم القرآن؟ ـ

Question: Can we understand from the reviewing of the Qur’an with Jibril during Ramadan that completing the entire Qur’an during this month is an encouraged action?

الجواب: يستفاد منها المدارسة، وأنه يستحب للمؤمن أن يدارس القرآن من يفيده وينفعه؛ لأن الرسول عليه الصلاة والسلام دارس جبرائيل للاستفادة؛ لأن جبرائيل هو الذي يأتي من عند الله جل وعلا وهو السفير بين الله والرسل، فجبرائيل لابد أن يفيد النبي ﷺ أشياء من جهة الله ، من جهة حروف القرآن، ومن جهة معانيه التي أرادها الله. ـ

Response: From this reviewing, we can understand that it is recommended for the believers to study and review the Qur’an with someone who can benefit them. That is because the Messenger reviewed with Jibril in order to take some benefit, for Jibril was the one who came from Allah as an intermediary between Allah and the messengers. So of course Jibril was going to bring something of benefit from Allah to the Prophet – both in terms of the words of the Qur’an and in terms of the meanings which Allah intended by those words. Continue reading

Speaking About Allah Without Knowledge is the Foundation of All Shrik, Kufr, & Innovation: Ibn al-Qayyim

The great scholar ibn al-Qayyim al-Jawziyyah mentioned the following words in his famous Madaarij al-Saalikeen:

فصل القول على الله بغير علم
Speaking About Allah Without Knowledge

وأما القول على الله بلا علم فهو أشد هذه المحرمات تحريما ، وأعظمها إثما ، ولهذا ذكر في المرتبة الرابعة من المحرمات التي اتفقت عليها الشرائع والأديان ، ولا تباح بحال ، بل لا تكون إلا محرمة ، وليست كالميتة والدم ولحم الخنزير ، الذي يباح في حال دون حال . ـ

As for speaking about Allah without knowledge, this is the most strongly forbidden prohibition and the greatest of them in sinfulness. Because of that, it is mentioned in the fourth level of prohibited things, something that all the divine legislations agreed upon. It is not permitted in any situation nor can it take any other ruling than prohibited. This is unlike carrion, blood, or swine, all of which can become permissible in certain situations.

فإن المحرمات نوعان : محرم لذاته لا يباح بحال ، ومحرم تحريما عارضا في وقت دون وقت ، قال الله تعالى في المحرم لذاته قل إنما حرم ربي الفواحش ما ظهر منها وما بطن ثم انتقل منه إلى ما هو أعظم منه فقال والإثم والبغي بغير الحق ثم انتقل منه إلى ما هو أعظم منه ، فقال وأن تشركوا بالله ما لم ينزل به سلطانا ثم انتقل منه إلى ما هو أعظم منه ، فقال وأن تقولوا على الله ما لا تعلمون فهذا أعظم المحرمات عند الله وأشدها إثما ، فإنه يتضمن الكذب على الله ، ونسبته إلى ما لا يليق به ، وتغيير دينه وتبديله ، ونفي ما أثبته وإثبات ما نفاه ، وتحقيق ما أبطله وإبطال ما حققه ، وعداوة من والاه وموالاة من عاداه ، وحب ما أبغضه وبغض ما أحبه ، ووصفه بما لا يليق به في ذاته وصفاته وأقواله وأفعاله . ـ

You see, prohibited things can be classified into two types:

  1. Things which are forbidden due to some intrinsic quality, which are not allowed in any situations
  2. Prohibited things whose prohibition is in effect in certain situations but not others

Allah spoke about those things whose prohibition is intrinsic by saying:

قُلْ إِنَّمَا حَرَّمَ رَبِّيَ الْفَوَاحِشَ مَا ظَهَرَ مِنْهَا وَمَا بَطَنَ 

Say: My Lord has only forbidden immoralities – what is apparent of them and what is concealed …

then He moved on to those prohibitions which are even greater by saying: Continue reading

Assorted Qur’an Benefits #6

What follows is a collection of Qur’anic benefits that were originally posted on our Facebook page in January and February of 2015:

♦ Determining the Truth

Sheikh ‘Abd al-Rahman al-Sa’di mentioned numerous benefits from the story of Nuh, and among them he included:

وكذلك قولهم: { وَمَا نَرَ‌اكَ اتَّبَعَكَ إِلَّا الَّذِينَ هُمْ أَرَ‌اذِلُنَا } ( هود ٢٧ ) من المعلوم لكل أحد عاقل أن الحق يعرف أنه حق بنفسه لا بمن تبعه، وأن هذا القول الذي قالوه صدر عن كبر وتيه، والكبر أكبر مانع للعبد من معرفة الحق ومن اتباعه. ـ

And similarly Nuh’s people said,

وَمَا نَرَ‌اكَ اتَّبَعَكَ إِلَّا الَّذِينَ هُمْ أَرَ‌اذِلُنَا

and we do not see you followed except by those who are the lowest of us [11:27]

It is well-known to every intelligent person that the truth is known to be the truth by itself and not by who follows it, and that this statement which they said emanates from pride and arrogance. And pride is the greatest thing preventing the slave from recognizing the truth and following it.

[Taysir al-Lateef al-Manaan pg. 276]

♦ Recite the Qur’an with Tarteel

al-Haafidh Ibn Kathir wrote in his famous book of tafsir:

وقوله : ( ورتل القرآن ترتيلا ) أي : اقرأه على تمهل ، فإنه يكون عونا على فهم القرآن وتدبره

And His statement,

وَرَتِّلِ الْقُرْآنَ تَرْتِيلًا

And recite the Qur’an with tarteel [73:4] Continue reading

I did not Create the Jinn and Mankind Except to Worship Me: Tafsir al-Sa’di

Near the end of surah al-Dhaariyaat, Allah says:

وَمَا خَلَقْتُ الْجِنَّ وَالْإِنسَ إِلَّا لِيَعْبُدُونِ * مَا أُرِيدُ مِنْهُم مِّن رِّزْقٍ وَمَا أُرِيدُ أَن يُطْعِمُونِ * إِنَّ اللَّـهَ هُوَ الرَّزَّاقُ ذُو الْقُوَّةِ الْمَتِينُ

And I did not create the jinn and mankind except to worship Me * I do not desire provision from them, nor do I want them to feed me * It is Allah who is the continual provider, the firm possessor of strength. [51:56-58]

Commenting on this in his well-known tafsir, sheikh ‘Abd al-Rahman al-Sa’di wrote:

هذه الغاية التي خلق الله الجن والإنس لها، وبعث جميع الرسل يدعون إليها، وهي عبادته، المتضمنة لمعرفته ومحبته، والإنابة إليه والإقبال عليه، والإعراض عما سواه ـ

This is the purpose for which Allah created the Jinn and mankind, and all of the Messengers were sent to call to this: that is, the worship of Allah. Worship of Allah involves knowing Him, loving Him, turning to Him in repentance, dedicating oneself to Him, and turning away from the worship of any others.

وذلك يتضمن معرفة الله تعالى، فإن تمام العبادة متوقف على المعرفة بالله، بل كلما ازداد العبد معرفة بربه، كانت عبادته أكمل، فهذا الذي خلق الله المكلفين لأجله، فما خلقهم لحاجة منه إليهم. ـ

This involves knowing Allah, as complete worship is dependent upon knowing Allah. In fact, the more that a person increases in knowing His Lord, the more complete his worship will be. So it is for this purpose that Allah created these two legally-responsible beings [i.e. Jinn and mankind]; He did not created them out of any need for them. Continue reading

Central Themes of Surah al-Baqarah: Sheikh Muhammad Bazmool

In a discussion on the connections between different sections of individual surahs, Sheikh Muhammad Bazmool provided an example in this quick outline of the contents of surah al-Baqarah:

مثال آخر: الآيات من آية رقم ( ١)، إلى الآية رقم ( ٢٠ ) من سورة البقرة تعتبر المقدمة بالنسبة لمحتوى السورة، حيث وصف القرآن بما هو أهله، ووصف متبعيه ومخالفيه كلا بما يستحقه. ـ

Another example of the relationships between different groups of ayaat to one another within a surah comes in surah al-Baqarah[1].

Ayaat 1-20 can be considered as an introduction to the contents of this surah as it describes the Qur’an in the way that it deserves and characterizes the followers and violators of the Qur’an in ways appropriate for each of them.

ثم يأت المقصد الأول من آية رقم ( ٢١-٢٥ ) في دعوة الناس كافة إلى الإسلام. ـ

Then we come to the first section, from ayah 21-25, which is inviting all of mankind to Islam.

ثم يأت المقصد الثاني من آية رقم (٤٠ -١٦٢ ) في دعوة أهل الكتاب، دعوة خاصة إلى ترك باطلهم والدخول في هذا الدين الحق. ـ

Then we come to the second section, from ayah 40-162, which is inviting the Ahl al-Kitab. More specifically, it is inviting them to abandon their false beliefs and enter into this religion of truth. Continue reading

A Recurring Sequence in the Qur’an: al-Zarkashi

Muhammad al-Zarkashi, the author of a famous work on ‘uloom al-Qur’an, mentioned the following point of benefit therein:

وَعَادَةُ الْقُرْآنِ الْعَظِيمِ إِذَا ذَكَرَ أَحْكَامًا ذَكَرَ بَعْدَهَا وَعْدًا وَوَعِيدًا لِيَكُونَ ذَلِكَ بَاعِثًا عَلَى الْعَمَلِ بما سبق ثم يذكر آيات التوحيد والتنزيه لِيُعْلَمَ عِظَمُ الْآمِرِ وَالنَّاهِي . وَتَأَمَّلْ سُورَةَ الْبَقَرَةِ وَالنِّسَاءِ وَالْمَائِدَةِ وَغَيْرَهَا تَجِدْهُ كَذَلِكَ . ـ

A recurring feature of the Qur’an is that when it mentions some legislative rulings, it will then follow that up with a promise and/or a threat so that this could be an incentive to act on what was just mentioned. It will then mention verses on the subject of Allah’s sole right to be worshiped and His freedom from any faults or defects in order that the greatness of the One sending these commands and prohibitions might be known.

Consider surah al-Baqarah, al-Nisaa’, al-Maa’idah and others as well and you will find this pattern.

[al-Burhan fee al-‘Uloom al-Qur’an pg. 40]

See also: Connections and Links between Surahs: al-Zarkashi

See also: ‘Ilm al-Munasabat and its Proper Place: Sheikh Saalih Aal al-Sheikh

See also: How to Contemplate the Qur’an: Sheikh Muhammad Bazmool

See also: How the Qur’an Uses Contrasting Pairs and Repetition: Tafsir ibn Kathir

Read more posts about al-munaasabaat, or the connections and relationships among ayaat and surahs, here.

How the Sahabah Read and Divided the Qur’an: ibn Taymiyah

Sheikh al-Islam ibn Taymiyah wrote the following letter on the subjects of “Dividing the Qur’an into Daily Portions”, “How Much to Recite”, and “The Legislated Amount of Optional Fasting and Night Prayers.” This letter has been translated in full with some abridgement of technical and tangential discussions. The omitted sections are signaled by ellipses (…). Section headings have been added in bold and placed inside brackets for ease of navigation.

وقال شيخ الإسلام فصل في ” تحزيب القرآن ” وفي ” كم يقرأ ” وفي ” مقدار الصيام والقيام المشروع ” . عن { عبد الله بن عمرو رضي الله عنهما قال : أنكحني أبي امرأة ذات حسب فكان يتعاهد ابنته فيسألها عن بعلها فتقول : نعم الرجل لم يطأ لنا فراشا ولم يفتش لنا كنفا مذ أتيناه فلما طال ذلك عليه ذكر ذلك للنبي صلى الله عليه وسلم فقال : القن به فلقيته بعد فقال : كيف تصوم ؟ قلت : كل يوم . قال : متى – أو كيف – تختم ؟ قلت : كل ليلة . قال : صم من كل شهر ثلاثة أيام واقرأ القرآن في كل شهر . قلت : إني أطيق أكثر من ذلك . قال : صم ثلاثة أيام من كل جمعة . قلت : إني أطيق أكثر من ذلك . قال : أفطر يومين وصم يوما قال : قلت إني أطيق أكثر من ذلك . قال : صم أفضل الصوم صوم داود صيام يوم وإفطار يوم واقرأ القرآن في كل سبع ليال مرة . قال : فليتني قبلت رخصة رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم وذلك أني كبرت وضعفت } ” فكان يقرأ على [ ص: 406 ] بعض أهله السبع من القرآن بالنهار والذي يقرؤه يعرضه من النهار ليكون أخف عليه بالليل ; فإذا أراد أن يتقوى أفطر أياما وأحصى وصام مثلهن كراهية أن يترك شيئا فارق عليه النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم . ـ

[The Legislated Amount of Optional Fasting and Night Prayers]

It is relayed from ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Amr that he said:

My father married me to a women from a good family, so he used to always ask his daughter-in-law about her husband, and she would say, “What a good man he is, he has not come to my bed or approached me since he married me.” So after that continued for a while, my father mentioned this to the Prophet, who said, “Let me talk with him.” So I met with him and he said, “How do you fast?” I said, “Every day.” He said, “How often do you complete a recitation of the entire Qur’an?” I said, “Every night.” He said, “Fast three days of every month, and recite the Qur’an once in a month.” I said, “I am able to do more than that.” He said, “Fast three days every week.” I said, “I am able to do more than that.” He said, “Do two days off and one day of fasting.” I said, ” I am able to do more than that.” He said, “Fast the the best kind of fasting, which is the fasting of Dawud: one day on and one day off. And recite the Qur’an once every seven nights.”

‘Abdullah ibn ‘Amr said, “If only I had accepted one of these allowances from Allah’s Messenger, for I have become old and weak.” He used to read a seventh of the Qur’an to one of his family members each day and he would have them check his memory so that it would be easier for him to recite that portion during the night. And whenever he wanted to gain some strength, he would skip fasting for a number of days while counting those days to make them up later, for he disliked leaving anything that he used to do during the time of the Prophet.

وقال بعضهم : في ثلاث وفي خمس وأكثرهم على سبع . وفي لفظ : ” { اقرأ القرآن في شهر قلت : إني أجد قوة . قال : فاقرأه في سبع ولا تزد على ذلك } ” رواه بكماله البخاري وهذا لفظه . وروى مسلم الحديث بنحوه واللفظ الآخر مثله . وفي رواية { ألم أخبر أنك تصوم الدهر وتقرأ القرآن كل ليلة فقلت : نعم يا نبي الله . وفيه قال : اقرأ القرآن في كل شهر قال : قلت يا نبي الله إني أطيق أفضل من ذلك قال فاقرأه في كل عشر قال : قلت يا نبي الله إني أطيق أفضل من ذلك قال : فاقرأه في سبع ولا تزد على ذلك . قال : فشددت فشدد علي وقال لي النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم إنك لا تدري لعلك يطول بك عمرك قال : فصرت إلى الذي قال النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم } ” وعن عبد الله بن عمرو عن النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم قال : ” { اقرأ القرآن في كل ثلاث } ” رواه أحمد وأبو داود . ـ

Some narrations mention three or five nights, but most say seven.

In one narration, it is worded:

“Recite the Qur’an once a month.” I said, “I have it within me to do more.” He said, “Then recite it once a week, and do not increase beyond that.”

This is narrated in full by al-Bukhari, and that is his wording. And Muslim relayed a similar hadith with another wording like this one. And in one narration:

“I have heard that you fast every day and recite the entire Qur’an every night.” I replied, “Yes, O Prophet of Allah.”

and also in the same narration: Continue reading

How to Contemplate the Qur’an: Sheikh Muhammad Bazmool

Sheikh Muhammad Bazmool, a professor at Umm al-Qura University in Mecca, wrote the following on his social media:

كيف تتدبر القرآن ؟ ـ
How to Contemplate the Qur’an

ـ ∆ إذا قرأت آية فاعرف معناها … ثم تساءل ماذا يريد الله أن يعلمك بهذه الآية ! ـ

Whenever you read an ayah, first become acquainted with its meaning, and then ask yourself: What is it that Allah wants to teach me with this ayah?

ـ ∆ إذا قرأت آية فيها قصة تفكر في العبرة من هذه القصة وما المقصود منها ! ـ

Whenever you read an ayah that contains a story, contemplate what the lesson from this story is and what is its purpose.

ـ ∆ إذا قرأت الآية فانظر إلى ألفاظها … واسأل نفسك : لماذا جاءت الآية بهذا اللفظ بدلا من غيره … لماذا جاء التعبير بهذا التركيب دون غيره …. وتمسك بيدك مطالع العلوم … ـ

Whenever you read an ayah, look at its wording and ask yourself: why does this ayah use this wording instead of something else? Why is this expression used here, with this word order, rather than something else? So grab hold of the rungs of the ladder to knowledge. Continue reading