The Story of Saalih as explained by Mujahid and Qatadah

In addition to co-authoring Tafsir al-Jalalayn, sheikh Jalal al-Deen al-Suyooti also has another book of tafsir to his name, entitled al-Durr al-Manthoor fee Tafsir bi’l-Ma’thoor. As one might suspect from the title, al-Durr al-Manthoor was dedicated to presenting the explanations of the Qur’an transmitted from the Prophet himself, his companions, and those who followed their way in the early generations.

What follows is an excerpt from his explanation of the story of the Prophet Saalih and his people as it comes in surah al-Nahl [27:45-53]. al-Suyooti collected a number of the statements from the two leading mufassiroon of the tabi’oon, Mujahid ibn Jabr and Qatadah ibn Di’amah, found in the previous books of narration-based tafsir and arranged them to present an explanation of the passage as a whole from each of these great figures.

As mentioned in a previous post, the early generations would often only explain those parts of an ayah which were not immediately clear to their audience. As such, the reader may find it helpful to have a mushaf and/or translation nearby to follow along with the entire passage:

قوله تعالى : ولقد أرسلنا إلى ثمود الآيات . ـ

Allah’s statement:

وَلَقَدْ أَرْسَلْنَا إِلَىٰ ثَمُودَ

And We sent to Thamud … [27:45]

until the end of this passage [27:45-53].

أخرج الفريابي ، وابن أبي شيبة ، وعبد بن حميد ، وابن جرير ، وابن المنذر ، وابن أبي حاتم ، عن مجاهد في قوله : فإذا هم فريقان يختصمون قال : مؤمن وكافر؛ قولهم : صالح مرسل من ربه . وقولهم : ليس بمرسل . وفي قوله : لم تستعجلون بالسيئة قال : العذاب . قبل الحسنة قال : الرحمة . وفي قوله : قالوا اطيرنا بك قال : تشاءمنا . وفي قوله : وكان في المدينة تسعة رهط قال : من قوم صالح . وفي قوله : تقاسموا بالله قال : تحالفوا على هلاكه، فلم يصلوا إليه حتى هلكوا وقومهم أجمعين . ـ

al-Firyaabi, ibn Abi Shaybah, ‘Abd ibn Humayd, ibn Jarir [al-Tabari], ibn al-Mundhir, and ibn Abi Haatim reported the following from Mujahid:

فَإِذَا هُمْ فَرِيقَانِ يَخْتَصِمُونَ

… and at once they were two parties conflicting.[27:45]

meaning: believers and disbelievers. The first group said, “Saalih is sent from his Lord,” while the other group said, “He was not sent.”

 لِمَ تَسْتَعْجِلُونَ بِالسَّيِّئَةِ

[Saalih said] why are you impatient for evil … [27:46]

meaning: for punishment

قَبْلَ الْحَسَنَةِ

… instead of good [27:46]

meaning: mercy.

قَالُوا اطَّيَّرْنَا بِكَ

They said, “We augur ill from you” [27:47]

meaning: we take this as a bad sign.

وَكَانَ فِي الْمَدِينَةِ تِسْعَةُ رَهْطٍ

And there were nine men in the city … [27:48]

meaning: among Saalih’s people

تَقَاسَمُوا بِاللَّـهِ

 [they said] take a mutual oath by Allah … [27:49]

meaning: swear to one another to destroy him. But they did not achieve that goal at all; rather their people were all destroyed.

وأخرج عبد الرزاق ، وعبد بن حميد ، وابن المنذر ، وابن أبي حاتم ، عن قتادة في قوله : فإذا هم فريقان يختصمون قال : إذا القوم بين مصدق ومكذب، مصدق بالحق ونازل عنده، ومكذب بالحق وتاركه، في ذلك كانت خصومة القوم، قالوا اطيرنا بك قال : قالوا : ما أصابنا من شر فإنما هو من قبلك ومن قبل من معك، قال طائركم عند الله يقول : علم أعمالكم عند الله، بل أنتم قوم تفتنون قال : تبتلون بطاعة الله ومعصيته، [ ص: 387 ] وكان في المدينة تسعة رهط من قوم صالح، قالوا تقاسموا بالله لنبيتنه وأهله قال : توافقوا على أن يأخذوه ليلا فيقتلوه، قال : ذكر لنا أنهم بينما هم معانيق إلى صالح – يعني مسرعين – ليقتلوه بعث الله عليهم صخرة فأهمدتهم، ثم لنقولن لوليه يعنون رهط صالح، ومكروا مكرا قال : مكرهم الذي مكروا بصالح، ومكرنا مكرا قال : مكر الله الذي مكر بهم، رماهم بصخرة فأهمدتهم، فانظر كيف كان عاقبة مكرهم قال : شر والله، كان عاقبة مكرهم أن دمرهم الله وقومهم أجمعين، ثم صيرهم إلى النار . ـ

‘Abd al-Razzaaq, ‘Abd ibn Humayd, ibn al-Mudhir, and ibn Abi Haatim reported the following from Qatadah:

فَإِذَا هُمْ فَرِيقَانِ يَخْتَصِمُونَ

… and at once they were two parties conflicting.[27:45]

meaning: The people were split between belief and denial – believing the truth and sticking to it, or denying the truth and abandoning it. That is what the people were arguing about.

قَالُوا اطَّيَّرْنَا بِكَ

They said, “We augur ill from you” … [27:47]

meaning: They said, “The evil that has afflicted us comes entirely because of you and those who follow you.”

قَالَ طَائِرُكُمْ عِنْدَ اللَّهِ

… Saalih said, “Your ill omen is with Allah…” [27:47]

meaning: Allah has knowledge of your actions.

بَلْ أَنتُمْ قَوْمٌ تُفْتَنُونَ

… Nay, you are a people being put to trial [27:47]

meaning: you are being tested as to your obedience or disobedience to Allah.

وَكَانَ فِي الْمَدِينَةِ تِسْعَةُ رَهْطٍ

And there were nine men in the city … [27:48]

of Saalih’s people

قَالُوا تَقَاسَمُوا بِاللَّـهِ لَنُبَيِّتَنَّهُ وَأَهْلَهُ

They said: “Swear one to another by Allah that we shall make a secret night attack on him and his household” … [27:49]

meaning: Agree that you will seize him in the night and kill him.

He also explained it by saying: It has been mentioned to us that while they were rushing towards Saalih to kill him, Allah brought forth a part of the earth which impeded them

ثُمَّ لَنَقُولَنَّ لِوَلِيِّهِ

… then we will surely say to his allies … [27:49]

by which they meant the relatives of Saalih

وَمَكَرُوا مَكْرًا

and they plotted a plan … [27:50]

meaning: their plan which they plotted against Saalih.

وَمَكَرْنَا مَكْرًا

… and We plotted a plan [27:50]

meaning: Allah’s plan which He plotted against them, to hurl this piece of the earth and thus suppress them.

فَانظُرْ كَيْفَ كَانَ عَاقِبَةُ مَكْرِهِمْ

So look at how their plan came to an end [27:51]

He said: to an ill end, by Allah! The final result of their plan was that Allah destroyed them and all their people and then He caused them to go to the Hell-fire.

[al-Durr al-Manthoor 11/386-387]

For more from this same work, see: “Good speech ascends to Allah and righteous action raises it”: Narration-based Tafsir

See also: The Sahabah and Tabi’oon known for their Tafsir: al-Suyooti

See also: The Importance of Tafsir and its Sources: Sheikh al-Fawzan

See also: Did the Prophet make Tafsir of the Qur’an as it was Being Revealed?: Sheikh Saalih Aal al-Sheikh

See also: Narration-based Tafsir before Opinion-based Tafsir: Sheikh Saalih Aal al-Sheikh

See also: “They Became Two Parties Quarreling with One Another”: Tafsir

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3 thoughts on “The Story of Saalih as explained by Mujahid and Qatadah

  1. Pingback: “They Became Two Parties Quarreling with One Another”: Tafsir | Tulayhah

  2. Pingback: “We guided them, but they preferred blindness over guidance” | Tulayhah

  3. Pingback: “Good speech ascends to Allah and righteous action raises it”: Narration-based Tafsir | Tulayhah

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