“Allah commanded me to recite to you”: Sharh al-Nawawi

It is reported in both al-Bukhari and Muslim on the authority of Qatadah that Anas ibn Malik said:

عَنْ أَنَسِ بْنِ مَالِكٍ، أَنَّ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم قَالَ لأُبَىٍّ ‏”‏ إِنَّ اللَّهَ أَمَرَنِي أَنْ أَقْرَأَ عَلَيْكَ ‏”‏ ‏.‏ قَالَ آللَّهُ سَمَّانِي لَكَ قَالَ ‏”‏ اللَّهُ سَمَّاكَ لِي ‏”‏ ‏.‏ قَالَ فَجَعَلَ أُبَىٌّ يَبْكِي ‏.‏

The Prophet said to Ubay, “Allah has commanded me to recite to you.” Ubay said, “Did Allah mention me by name to you?” The Prophet replied, “Allah mentioned you by name to me.” Anas said: That caused Ubay to cry.

[Muslim #799]

And in the narration of al-Bukhari, there is an addition to the end of the hadith from one of the subnarrators:

قَالَ قَتَادَةُ فَأُنْبِئْتُ أَنَّهُ قَرَأَ عَلَيْهِ ‏{‏لَمْ يَكُنِ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا مِنْ أَهْلِ الْكِتَابِ‏}

Qatadah said: I was told that the Prophet recited surah al-Bayyinah (97) to him.

[al-Bukhari #4960]

In his commentary on Saheeh Muslim, Imam Abu Zakariyyah Yahya al-Nawawi mentioned the following commentary on this hadith:

وفي الحديث فوائد كثيرة . منها : استحباب قراءة القرآن على الحذاق فيه وأهل العلم به والفضل ، وإن كان القارئ أفضل من المقروء عليه ، ومنها : المنقبة الشريفة لأبي بقراءة النبي – صلى الله عليه وسلم – عليه ، ولا يعلم أحد من الناس شاركه في هذا ، ومنها : منقبة أخرى له بذكر الله تعالى له ، ونصه عليه في هذه المنزلة الرفيعة ، ومنها : البكاء للسرور والفرح مما يبشر الإنسان به ويعطاه من معالي الأمور . ـ

There are a number of benefits to be found in this hadith.

One benefit is the encouragement to recite the Qur’an to someone who is skilled in it, a person of knowledge and virtue. That is the case even if the one reciting is more virtuous than the one to whom he is reciting.

Another benefit is the great merit of Ubay that the Prophet recited to him, and there is no one else who is known to share in this distinction.

A further benefit is yet another merit of Ubay that Allah mentioned him explicitly for this high station.

Another benefit is that one may cry out of joy and happiness when he receives good news or is granted some sort of high honor.

ـ [ ص: 413 ] وأما قوله : ( آلله سماني لك ) فيه : أنه يجوز أن يكون الله تعالى أمر النبي – صلى الله عليه وسلم – أن يقرأ على رجل من أمته ولم ينص على أبي فأراد أبي أن يتحقق هل نص عليه أو قال : على رجل؟ فيؤخذ منه الاستثبات في المحتملات . ـ

A point comes up regarding Ubay’s question, “Did Allah mention me by name to you?”: It is possible that Allah could have commanded the Prophet to recite to any member of his ummah without explicitly mentioning Ubay, so Ubay wanted to check if Allah had actually mentioned him or if He had just commanded the Prophet to recite to some unspecified person. From this we learn that is legislated to seek clarity when something is ambiguous.

واختلفوا في الحكمة في قراءته – صلى الله عليه وسلم – على أبي ، والمختار أن سببها أن تستن الأمة بذلك في القراءة على أهل الإتقان والفضل ويتعلموا آداب القراءة ولا يأنف أحد من ذلك . وقيل : للتنبيه على جلالة أبي وأهليته لأخذ القرآن عنه ، وكان يعده – صلى الله عليه وسلم – رأسا وإماما في إقراء القرآن ، وهو أجل ناشرته أو من أجلهم . ويتضمن معجزة لرسول الله – صلى الله عليه وسلم – . وأما تخصيص هذه السورة فلأنها وجيزة جامعة لقواعد كثيرة من أصول الدين وفروعه ومهماته والإخلاص وتطهير القلوب ، وكان الوقت يقتضي الاختصار . والله أعلم . ـ

The scholars have voiced different reasons for why the Prophet was instructed to recite to Ubay, but the strongest position is that it was in order to set a precedent and example for this ummah in reciting to the people of virtue who excel in the recitation of the Qur’an, as well as to teach this ummah the etiquette of reciting the Qur’an so that no one could reject these points.

Others say that the reason for this was to let us know the great status of Ubay and that he was one of the people most fit to learn the Qur’an from, and that the Prophet held him to be a leader and example in reciting the Qur’an. Moreover, Ubay was one of the prolific teachers of the Qur’an, if not the most prolific.* So this hadith contains a Prophetic miracle.

As for why this specific surah was chosen, that is because it is brief while bringing together many principles pertaining to the foundations, secondary issues, and important matters of this religion, including sincerity and purifying one’s heart. All this while the time that it requires is very short. And Allah knows best.

[Sharh Saheeh Muslim #799]

Dr. Muhammad Moosaa Nasr, one of the salafi scholars of recent times who an expert in the qiraa’aat and the Qur’anic sciences as well as a long-term student of sheikh al-Albani, briefly wrote the following about the role that Ubay played in transmitting the Qur’an:

والآخذون عن أبي ابن كعب – رضي الله عنه – من الصحابة والتابعين : أم الأخذون عن أبي ابن كعب من الصحابة فكثيرون ؛ منهم أبو هريرة وابن عباس وعبد الله بن السائب وغيرهم كثير . وأما الأخذون عنه من التابعين : فعبد الله ابن عياش ابن أبي ربيعة ، وعبد الله ابن حبيب ، وأبو عبد الرحمن السلمي ، وأبو العالية الرياحي . وقد انتهى إلى إمام القراء أبي – رضي الله عنه – أسانيد تسعة من الأئمة العشرة المتواترة قراءتهم إلى اليوم ؛ وهم : نافع وأبو جعفر وابن كثير وأبو عمرو ويعقوب وعاصم وحمزة والكسائي وخلف العاشر . ـ

The Sahabah and Taabi’oon who learned the Qur’an from Ubay ibn Ka’b

As for the Sahabah who learned the Qur’an from Ubay ibn Ka’b, there were many. Among them were Abu Hurayrah, ibn ‘Abbaas, ‘Abdullah ibn al-Saa’ib, as well as many others.

As for the Tabi’oon who learned from him, there was ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Ayyaash ibn Abi Rabee’ah, ‘Abdullah ibn Habeeb, Abu ‘Abd al-Rahman al-Sulami, and Abu’l-‘Aaliyah al-Riyaahi.

And the chains for nine out of the ten imams of the mutawaatir qiraa’aat that are still in use today go back to this leader of the reciters, Ubay. Those nine are: Naafi’, Abu Ja’far, ibn Kathir, Abu ‘Amr, Ya’qub, ‘Aasim, Hamzah, al-Kisaa’i, and Khalaf who is tenth on the list.

[al-Qawl al-Mufeed fee Wujoob al-Tajweed pg 42.]

See also: Etiquette of Reciting and Listening to the Qur’an: ibn ‘Uthaymeen

See also: How the Prophet Would Recite the Qur’an

See also: The Beauty of Reciting the Qur’an Properly: ibn al-Jazari

See also: The virtues of Usaamah ibn Zayd: Fath al-Bari

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2 thoughts on ““Allah commanded me to recite to you”: Sharh al-Nawawi

  1. Pingback: The virtues of Usaamah ibn Zayd: Fath al-Bari | Tulayhah

  2. Pingback: How the Prophet Would Recite the Qur’an | Tulayhah

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