Surah Yusuf and the People of al-Madinah

In part of his famous manual of the Qur’anic sciences, al-Burhan fee ‘Uloom al-Qur’an, Badr al-Deen al-Zarkashi wrote:

ما حمل من مكة إلى المدينة
Those Parts of the Qur’an which were Transmitted from Mecca to al-Madinah

أول سورة حملت من مكة إلى المدينة سورة ” يوسف ” ، انطلق بها عوف بن عفراء في [ ص: 291 ] الثمانية الذين قدموا على رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم مكة ، فعرض عليهم الإسلام فأسلموا ، وهو أول من أسلم من الأنصار ، قرأها على أهل المدينة في بني زريق ، فأسلم يومئذ بيوت من الأنصار ، روى ذلك يزيد بن رومان ، عن عطاء بن يسار ، عن ابن عباس ، ثم حمل بعدها : ( قل هو الله أحد ) ( سورة الإخلاص ) إلى آخرها ، ثم حمل بعدها الآية التي في ” الأعراف ” : ( قل ياأيها الناس إني رسول الله إليكم جميعا ) إلى قوله : ( تهتدون ) ( الآية : 158 ) ، فأسلم عليها طوائف من أهل المدينة ، وله قصة

The first surah to be taken from Mecca to al-Madinah was surah Yusuf. ‘Awf ibn ‘Afraa’ was the one who brought it there, and he was one of eighty men who came to Allah’s Messenger in Mecca where he presented Islam to them and they accepted and became Muslims, and he was the first one of the Ansaar to enter Islam. He recited this surah to the people of Banu Zurayq in al-Madinah and as a result a number of households of the Ansaar accepted Islam on that day.

This was narrated by Yazeed ibn Ruman, on the authority of ‘Ataa’ ibn Yasar, on the authority of ibn ‘Abbaas.

After that, surah al-Ikhlaas was the next surah taken from Mecca to al-Madinah. Next after that was an ayah from surah al-A’raaf:

قُلْ يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ إِنِّي رَسُولُ اللَّـهِ إِلَيْكُمْ جَمِيعًا الَّذِي لَهُ مُلْكُ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ ۖ لَا إِلَـٰهَ إِلَّا هُوَ يُحْيِي وَيُمِيتُ ۖ فَآمِنُوا بِاللَّـهِ وَرَسُولِهِ النَّبِيِّ الْأُمِّيِّ الَّذِي يُؤْمِنُ بِاللَّـهِ وَكَلِمَاتِهِ وَاتَّبِعُوهُ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَهْتَدُونَ

Say: O mankind, I am certainly Allah’s messenger to all of you, the messenger of the One who possesses the dominion of the heavens and the earth. There is no deity worthy of worship except Him; He gives life and He causes death. So believe in Allah and His messenger, the illiterate prophet who believes in Allah and His words, and follow him so that you would be guided. [7:158]

And so a number of segments of the people of al-Madinah accepted Islam, and there is a larger story around this.

[al-Burhan fee ‘Uloom al-Qur’an 1/290-291]

In the beginning of his explanation of surah Yusuf, al-haafidh ibn Kathir – who was a teacher of al-Zarkashi – mentioned the following report:

وروى البيهقي في ” الدلائل ” أن طائفة من اليهود حين سمعوا رسول الله – صلى الله عليه وسلم – يتلو هذه السورة أسلموا لموافقتها ما عندهم . وهو من رواية الكلبي ، عن أبي صالح ، عن ابن عباس . ـ

In al-Dalaa’il, al-Bayhaqi relayed that when a group of Jews heard Allah’s Messenger recite this surah they accepted Islam because of how this surah matched what they had with them.

This was the narration of al-Kalbi, on the authority of Abu Saalih, on the authority of ibn ‘Abbaas.[1]

[Tafsir ibn Kathir 4/365]

Imam Muhammad al-Shawkaani also included a report on this in his preface to surah Yusuf:

أخرج الحاكم وصححه عن رفاعة بن رافع الزرقي : أنه خرج هو وابن خالته معاذ بن عفراء حتى قدما مكة ، وذكر قصة وفي آخرها أن رسول الله صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم علمهما سورة يوسف ، و اقرأ باسم ربك [ العلق : 1 ] ، ثم رجعا . ـ

al-Haakim reported the following report and held it to be Saheeh, on the authority of Rifaa’ah ibn Raafi’ al-Zuraqi that he and his cousin Mu’adh ibn ‘Afraa’ set out on a journey until they reached Mecca. He mentioned a story of some length, at the end of which he mentioned that Allah’s Messenger taught the two of them surah Yusuf and surah al-‘Alaq, after which they returned to al-Madinah.

وأخرج البيهقي في الدلائل من طريق الكلبي عن أبي صالح عن ابن عباس ” أن حبرا من اليهود دخل على رسول الله صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم ، فوافقه وهو يقرأ سورة يوسف ، فقال : يا محمد من علمكها ؟ قال : الله علمنيها ، فعجب الحبر لما سمع منه ، فرجع إلى اليهود ، فقال لهم : والله إن محمدا ليقرأ القرآن كما أنزل في التوراة ، فانطلق بنفر منهم حتى دخلوا عليه فعرفوه بالصفة ، ونظروا إلى خاتم النبوة بين كتفيه فجعلوا سمعهم إلى [ ص: 682 ] قراءته لسورة يوسف فتعجبوا منه ، وأسلموا عند ذلك ” ـ

In al-Da’aa’il, al-Bayhaqi brought the following report from the chain of al-Kalbi, on the authority of Abu Saalih, on the authority of ibn ‘Abbaas[1]:

One of the Jewish rabbis came to visit Allah’s Messenger so the Prophet welcomed him and recited surah Yusuf. The rabbi asked, “Who taught you this, Muhammad?” to which he replied, “Allah taught me this.” The rabbi was amazed at what he had heard from the Prophet so he went back to the Jews and told them, “I swear by Allah that Muhammad recites the Qur’an just like what was revealed in the Tawrah.” He then rushed back to the Prophet with a group of Jews until they came to him, at which point they recognized him by his characteristics and they looked at the seal of prophethood between his shoulder blades and they listened to his recitation of surah Yusuf. They were amazed by it and at that point they decided to enter into Islam.

[Fath al-Qadeer 1/681-682. See also al-Durr al-Manthoor 8/176]

[1] Translator’s Note: Imam al-Suyooti commented on this chain of narration by writing:

وأوهى طرقه طريق الكلبي عن أبي صالح ، عن ابن عباس ، فإن انضم إلى ذلك رواية محمد بن مروان السدي الصغير فهي سلسلة الكذب ، وكثيرا ما يخرج منها الثعلبي ، والواحدي . لكن قال ابن عدي في الكامل : للكلبي أحاديث صالحة ، وخاصة عن أبي صالح . ـ

The weakest of the chains of narration from ibn ‘Abbaas is that of al-Kalbi, on the authority of Abu Saalih, on the authority of ibn ‘Abbaas. That is because the chain goes on to also include Muhammad ibn Marwan al-Suddi al-Sagheer, so it is chain of falseness. al-Tha’labi and a-Wahidi used this chain frequently. However, ibn ‘Adee mentioned in al-Kamil that “there are some sound narrations from al-Kalbi, especially when narrating from Abu Saalih.”

[al-Itqan 2/472]

The great scholar ibn Hajr al-‘Asqalani also described this chain by writing:

من روايات الضعفاء عن ابن عباس: التفسير المنسوب لأبي النضر محمد بن السائب الكلبي، فإنه يرويه عن أبي صالح، وهو مولى أم هانئ عن ابن عباس، والكلبي اتهموه بالكذب، وقد مرض فقال لأصحابه في مرضه: كل شيء حدثتكم عن أبي صالح كذب. ومع ضعف الكلبي فقد روى عنه تفسيره مثله أو أشد ضعفا وهو محمد بن مروان السدي الصغير، ورواه عن محمد بن مروان مثله أو أشد ضعفا وهو صالح بن محمد الترمذي . وممن روى التفسير عن الكلبي من الثقات سفيان الثوري ومحمد بن فضيل بن غزوان. ـ

One of the weak chain of narration transmitting from ibn ‘Abbaas is the tafsir attributed to Abu’l-Nadhr Muhammad ibn al-Sa’ib al-Kalbi, for he relayed it from Abu Saalih, the mawla of Umm Hani, who relayed it from ibn ‘Abbaas. al-Kalbi was accused of speaking untruly and later when he fell ill he said to those around him, “Everything that I told you on the authority of Abu Saalih was untrue.” And in addition to al-Kalbi’s weakness, his tafsir was then transmitted from him by someone of similar or even greater weakness, Muhammad ibn Marwan al-Suddi al-Sagheer, and then someone of similar of even greater weakness than him transmitted that from him, Saalih ibn Muhammad al-Tirmidhi. However, those reliable narrators who transmitted from al-Kalbi included Sufyan al-Thawri and Muhammad ibn Fudhayl ibn Ghazwan.

[al-‘Ujaab 1/209-210. See also al-Durr al-Manthoor 6/423]

al-Zarkashi includes his remarks in part of his chapter on the Makki and Madani revelation. Learn more about this subject in our Makki and Madani Series or see: Makki and Madani Series Part 2 – Importance: al-Suyooti

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2 thoughts on “Surah Yusuf and the People of al-Madinah

  1. Pingback: Makki and Madani Series Part 2 – Importance: al-Suyooti | Tulayhah

  2. Pingback: Makki and Madani Series Part 4 – Details: al-Suyooti | Tulayhah

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