Ibn al-Qayyim’s Model for Contemplating the Qur’an

One of the many written works of ibn al-Qayyim al-Jawziyyah is his Risalah al-Tabookiyyah which centers Allah’s command at the beginning of surah al-Ma’idah for the believers to help one another in al-birr and al-taqwa [5:3]. After describing many aspects of this ayah and its implications, ibn al-Qayyim then wrote:

ورأس الأمر وعموده في ذلك إنما هو دوام التفكر وتدبر آيات الله حيث تستولي على الفكر وتشغل القلب فإذا صارت معاني القرآن مكان الخواطر من قلبه وجلس على كرسيه، وصار له التصرف، وصار هو الأمير المطاع أمره، فحينئذ يستقيم له سيره ويتضح له الطريق وتراه ساكنا وهو يباري الريح {وَتَرَى الْجِبَالَ تَحْسَبُهَا جَامِدَةً وَهِيَ تَمُرُّ مَرَّ السَّحَابِ صُنْعَ اللَّهِ الَّذِي أَتْقَنَ كُلَّ شَيْءٍ إِنَّهُ خَبِيرٌ بِمَا تَفْعَلُونَ} . ـ

At the head of all of this and its very foundation is for one to always contemplate and reflect on the ayaat of the Qur’an, so much so that it overpowers one’s other thoughts and becomes the central concern of one’s heart. When the messages of the Qur’an take the place that mere passing thoughts previously held in his heart and begin to rule over it, being what turns his heart and the ruler that it obeys, then his journey becomes smooth and his course becomes clear. So even if it appeared that he was standing still he is in fact moving forward towards Allah fast as the wind.

وَتَرَى الْجِبَالَ تَحْسَبُهَا جَامِدَةً وَهِيَ تَمُرُّ مَرَّ السَّحَابِ صُنْعَ اللَّهِ الَّذِي أَتْقَنَ كُلَّ شَيْءٍ إِنَّهُ خَبِيرٌ بِمَا تَفْعَلُونَ

And you see the mountains, thinking them rigid, while they will pass as the passing of clouds. It is the work of Allah, who perfected all things. Indeed, He is Acquainted with that which you do. [27:88]

فان قلت: إنك قد أشرت إلى مقام عظيم فافتح لي بابه، واكشف لي حجابه، وكيف تدبر القرآن وتفهمه والإشراف على عجائبه وكنوزه؟ وهذه تفاسير الأئمة بأيدينا، فهل في البيان غير ما ذكروه؟ ـ

Now if you were to say, “You have just described a great station, so open up its door for me and remove its veil for me – how does one contemplate and understand the the Qur’an grasp its amazements and great treasures? We have the explanations of the great scholars of tafsir with us, is there anything else to understand the Qur’an beyond what they have already done?”

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

قلت: سأضرب لك أمثالاً تحتذي عليها وتجعلها إماماً لك في هذا المقصد، قال الله تعالى: {هَلْ أَتَاكَ حَدِيثُ ضَيْفِ إِبْرَاهِيمَ الْمُكْرَمِينَ إِذْ دَخَلُوا عَلَيْهِ فَقَالُوا سَلاماً قَالَ سَلامٌ قَوْمٌ مُنْكَرُونَ فَرَاغَ إِلَى أَهْلِهِ فَجَاءَ بِعِجْلٍ سَمِينٍ، فَقَرَّبَهُ إِلَيْهِمْ قَالَ أَلا تَأْكُلُونَ فَأَوْجَسَ مِنْهُمْ خِيفَةً قَالُوا لا تَخَفْ وَبَشَّرُوهُ بِغُلامٍ عَلِيمٍ فَأَقْبَلَتِ امْرَأَتُهُ فِي صَرَّةٍ فَصَكَّتْ وَجْهَهَا وَقَالَتْ عَجُوزٌ عَقِيمٌ قَالُوا كَذَلِكِ قَالَ رَبُّكِ إِنَّهُ هُوَ الْحَكِيمُ الْعَلِيمُ} . ـ

My response would be: Let me give you some things that you can take as an example and a model to follow for this goal.

Allah says:

هَلْ أَتَاكَ حَدِيثُ ضَيْفِ إِبْرَاهِيمَ الْمُكْرَمِينَ * إِذْ دَخَلُوا عَلَيْهِ فَقَالُوا سَلَامًا ۖ قَالَ سَلَامٌ قَوْمٌ مُّنكَرُونَ * فَرَاغَ إِلَىٰ أَهْلِهِ فَجَاءَ بِعِجْلٍ سَمِينٍ * فَقَرَّبَهُ إِلَيْهِمْ قَالَ أَلَا تَأْكُلُونَ * فَأَوْجَسَ مِنْهُمْ خِيفَةً ۖ قَالُوا لَا تَخَفْ ۖ وَبَشَّرُوهُ بِغُلَامٍ عَلِيمٍ * فَأَقْبَلَتِ امْرَأَتُهُ فِي صَرَّةٍ فَصَكَّتْ وَجْهَهَا وَقَالَتْ عَجُوزٌ عَقِيمٌ * قَالُوا كَذَٰلِكِ قَالَ رَبُّكِ ۖ إِنَّهُ هُوَ الْحَكِيمُ الْعَلِيمُ

Has the news of the honored guests of Ibrahim reached you? * When they entered upon him and they said, “salaaman” and he said, “salaamun, an unfamiliar people.” * Then he went to his family and came with a fat calf * And placed it near them; he said, “Won’t you eat?” * Then he felt afraid of them. They said, “Do not fear.” And they gave him glad tidings of an intelligent son. * Then his wife approached with a cry, striking her face and saying, “A barren old woman!”* They said, “That is what your Lord has said. Indeed, He is All-Wise, All-Knowing.” [51:24-30]

فعهدى بك إذا قرأت هذه الآية وتطلعت إلى معناها وتدبرتها فإنما تطلع منها على أن الملائكة أتوا إبراهيم في صورة الأضياف يأكلون ويشربون وبشروه بغلام عليم، وإنما امرأته عجبت من ذلك فأخبرتها الملائكة أن الله قال ذلك. ولم يتجاوز تدبرك غير ذلك. ـ

After reading these ayaat, looking into their messages and reflecting on them, then you might understand the following few things:

  • that the angels came to Ibrahim in the form of guests who would normally eat and drink
  • that they gave him glad tidings of a boy with knowledge
  • that his wife was nothing short of astounded by this news, and
  • that the angels informed her that it was Allah Who had said this news

and perhaps one would not be able to come up with any other meanings besides these.

فاسمع الآن بعض ما في هذه الآيات من أنواع الأسرار. وكم قد تضمنت من الثناء على إبراهيم . وكيف جمعت الضيافة وحقوقها . وما تضمنت من الرد على أهل الباطل من الفلاسفة والمعطلة . وكيف تضمنت علما عظيماً من أعلام النبوة . وكيف تضمنت جميع صفات الكمال التي ردها إلى العلم والحكمة . وكيف تضمنت الأخبار عن عدل الرب وانتقامه من الأمم المكذبة . وتضمنت ذكر الإسلام والإيمان والفرق بينهما . وتضمنت بقاء آيات الرب الدالة على توحيده وصدق رسله وعلى اليوم الآخر . وتضمنت انه لا ينتفع بهذا كله إلا من في قلبه خوف من عذاب الآخرة وهم المؤمنون بها . وأما من لا يخاف الآخرة ولا يؤمن بها فلا ينتفع بتلك الآيات . ـ

If that is the case, then now I would like for you to listen to some of the less apparent things found in these ayaat, such as:

  • what high praise they include for Ibrahim
  • how they mention both the guests and their rights
  • how they include a refutation of the people of falsehood such as those who engage in philosophical thinking or who negate Allah’s attributes.
  • how they contain a great sign of prophethood
  • how they mention all of Allah’s perfect attributes, all of which go back to knowledge and wisdom
  • how they hold information about the Lord’s justice and vengeance towards the disbelieving nations
  • how they mention both al-Islam and al-eemaan while making a distinction between the two terms
  • how they show the enduring truth of Allah’s ayaat that point to His sole right to be worshiped, the truthfulness of His Messengers and the inevitability of the Last Day
  • how they demonstrate that no one will benefit from any of this except for those who have fear of Allah’s ultimate punishment in their hearts while they also have full certainty and belief in it. As for those who  neither fear nor believe in the hereafter, then these ayaat will not bring them any benefit.

فاسمع الآن بعض تفاصيل هذه الجملة: قال الله تعالى: {هَلْ أَتَاكَ حَدِيثُ ضَيْفِ إِبْرَاهِيمَ الْمُكْرَمِينَ} افتتح سبحانه القصة بصيغة موضوعة للاستفهام، وليس المراد بها حقيقة الاستفهام، ولهذا قال بعض الناس: إن (هل) في مثل هذا الموضع بمعنى (قد) التي تقتضي التحقيق. ولكن في ورود الكلام في مثل هذا بصيغة الاستفهام سر لطيف، ومعنى بديع، فإن المتكلم إذا أراد أن يخبر المخاطب بأمر عجيب ينبغي الاعتناء به، وإحضار الذهن له صدر له الكلام بأداة الاستفهام لتنبيه سمعه وذهنه للمخبر به، فتارة يصدره بألا، وتارة يصدره بهل، فقول: هل علمت ما كان من كيت وكيت؟ إما مذكرا به، وإما واعظاً له مخوفا، وإما منبها على عظمه ما يخبر به، وإما مقرراً له، فقوله تعالى: {هَلْ أَتَاكَ حَدِيثُ مُوسَى} و {وَهَلْ أَتَاكَ نَبَأُ الْخَصْمِ} و {هَلْ أَتَاكَ حَدِيثُ الْغَاشِيَةِ} و {هَلْ أَتَاكَ حَدِيثُ ضَيْفِ إِبْرَاهِيمَ الْمُكْرَمِينَ} متضمن لتعظيم هذه القصص والتنبيه على تدبرها ومعرفتها ما تضمنته. ـ

Now listen to some discussion of the points that I have just summarized.

○ Allah said:

هَلْ أَتَاكَ حَدِيثُ ضَيْفِ إِبْرَاهِيمَ الْمُكْرَمِينَ

Has the news of the honored guests of Ibrahim reached you? [51:24]

Allah the Exalted begins this story in the form of a question, however it is not really intended to be a question. Along these lines, some have said that when hal – which indicates a yes or no question – is used in situations like this, the meaning is actually that the thing in question has in fact occurred. However, there is a subtle secret and eloquence behind using this question form, for if a speaker wants to inform his audience of something amazing he needs to draw their attention to it and make sure they are paying attention to it. So he can begin his address with this question form in order to draw the attention of the listener in order to make sure he listens to it. And sometimes this is achieved by saying “Isn’t it the case that …?” while other times one can use the word hal to form a yes or no question. For instance one might say, “Did you know that such-and-such happened?” This can be used to remind the listener of something, to admonish them and incite fear, to indicate the significance of what they are about to say, or to emphasis something. Allah’s statements:

هَلْ أَتَاكَ حَدِيثُ مُوسَى

Has the story of Moosaa reached you? [20:9]

وَهَلْ أَتَاكَ نَبَأُ الْخَصْمِ

Has the news of the adversaries reached you? [38:21]

هَلْ أَتَاكَ حَدِيثُ الْغَاشِيَةِ

Has the news of the Overshadowing reached you? [88:1]

هَلْ أَتَاكَ حَدِيثُ ضَيْفِ إِبْرَاهِيمَ الْمُكْرَمِينَ

Has the news of the honored guests of Ibrahim reached you? [51:24]

All of these indicate the significance of these stories and alert the listen to reflect on them and try to understand what they mention.

ففيه أمر آخر. وهو التنبيه على أن إتيان هذا إليك علم من أعلام النبوة فانه من الغيب الذي لا تعمله أنت ولا قومك فهل أتاك من غير أعلامنا وإرسالنا وتعريفنا؟ أم لم يأتك إلا من قبلنا؟ فانظر ظهور هذا الكلام بصيغة الاستفهام، وتأمل عظم موقعه من جميع موارده يشهد أنه من الفصاحة في ذروتها العليا. ـ

○ And there is another point in this opening, which is alerting us to the fact that this news coming to you – i.e. the Prophet – is one sign of prophethood. That is because this news is some of the Ghaib which neither you nor your people previously knew. So could it have come to you by anything other than one of Our miracles and having sent it to you and made you aware of it? Could this news have reached you through any other means than Us?

So look at how this speech comes in the form of a question and consider how excellent it is from all angles, serving to demonstrate how extremely eloquent it is.

 وقوله ضيف إبراهيم المكرمين متضمن لثنائه على خليله إبراهيم فإن في المكرمين قولين. أحدهما: إكرام إبراهيم لهم ففيه مدح إبراهيم بإكرام الضيف. والثاني: انهم مكرمون عند الله كقوله تعالى: {بَلْ عِبَادٌ مُكْرَمُونَ} وهو متضمن أيضاً لتعظيم خليله ومدحه، إذ جعل ملائكته المكرمين أضيافاً له، فعلى كلا التقديرين فيه مدح لإبراهيم. وقوله: {فَقَالُوا سَلاماً قَالَ سَلامٌ} متضمن بمدح آخر لإبراهيم حيث رد عليهم السلام أحسن مما حيوه به، فإن تحيتهم باسم منصوب متضمن لجملة فعلية تقديره: سلمنا عليك سلاماً. وتحية إبراهيم لهم باسم مرفوع متضمن لجملة اسمية تقديره سلام دائم أو ثابت أو مستقر عليكم، ولا ريب أن الجملة الاسمية تقتضي الثبوت واللزوم والفعلية تقتضي التجدد والحدوث فكانت تحية إبراهيم أكمل واحسن. ثم قال {قَوْمٌ مُنْكَرُونَ} وفي هذا من حسن مخاطبة الضيف والتذمم منه وجهان في المدح. ـ

○ Allah’s statement

ضَيْفِ إِبْرَاهِيمَ الْمُكْرَمِينَ

the honored guests of Ibrahim

entails Allah’s praise and commendations for His Khaleel – close friend – Ibrahim. And there are two understandings of the word “honored” here:

1) It is referring to the way in which Ibrahim honored them. This contains commendation of Ibrahim for honoring his guests.

2) It is referring to how they are honorable in the sight of Allah, as comes in Allah’s statement:

بَلْ عِبَادٌ مُكْرَمُونَ

On the contrary, they are honored servants [21:26]

and this explanation also entails veneration and commendation of His Khaleel since Allah sent His honored angels to be his guests. So whether it is explained to mean this or that, both meanings contain commendations of Ibrahim.

 وقوله: {فَقَالُوا سَلاماً قَالَ سَلامٌ} متضمن بمدح آخر لإبراهيم حيث رد عليهم السلام أحسن مما حيوه به، فإن تحيتهم باسم منصوب متضمن لجملة فعلية تقديره: سلمنا عليك سلاماً. وتحية إبراهيم لهم باسم مرفوع متضمن لجملة اسمية تقديره سلام دائم أو ثابت أو مستقر عليكم، ولا ريب أن الجملة الاسمية تقتضي الثبوت واللزوم والفعلية تقتضي التجدد والحدوث فكانت تحية إبراهيم أكمل واحسن. ـ

○ Allah’s statement

فَقَالُوا سَلاماً قَالَ سَلامٌ

… they said, “salaaman” and he said, “salaamun.” [51:25]

contains another praise of Ibrahim since he responded to them with an even better salaam than theirs. That is because their greeting came in the object form of the noun, which indicates that this was a verbal sentence. The full form of their greeting would have been, “We greet you with peace.” On the other hand, Ibrahim’s greeting towards them came in the subject form of the noun, which indicates that this was a nominal sentence. The full form of his greeting would have been, “Continuous or ongoing or certain peace towards you.” There is no doubt that the nominal sentence indicates stability and continuity, while the verbal sentence indicates action and something new. So based on this, Ibrahim’s greeting was better and more complete.

ثم قال {قَوْمٌ مُنْكَرُونَ} وفي هذا من حسن مخاطبة الضيف والتذمم منه وجهان في المدح.  إحداهما: أنه حذف المبتدأ والتقدير: انتم قوم منكرون، فتذمم منهم ولم يواجههم بهذا الخطاب لما فيه من الاستيحاش. وكان النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم لا يواجه أحدا بما يكرهه بل يقول: ” وما بال أقوام يقولون كذا ويفعلون كذا “. الثاني: قوله {قَوْمٌ مُنْكَرُونَ} فحذف فاعل الإنكار وهو الذي كان أنكرهم كما قال في موضع آخر (نكرهم) ولا ريب أن قوله (منكرون) ألطف من أن يقول أنكرتكم. ـ

○ Ibrahim then said:

قَوْمٌ مُنْكَرُونَ

… an unfamiliar people [51:25]

This contains two points regarding good ways to address one’s guests and fending off any sense of improper behavior towards them, and both of these contain some praise of Ibrahim.

1. That Ibrahim omitted the subject of this sentence. Its full form would be, “You are an unfamiliar people.” So he expressed some inhibitions about them without directly addressing it to them since that would involve some estrangement. And the Prophet used to not address anyone with something they wouldn’t like, instead saying, “What is the matter with some people who say such-and-such and do such-and-such?”

2. His statement:

قَوْمٌ مُنْكَرُونَ

… an unfamiliar people [51:25]

Here he omitted who it was that was making this comment, and he was the person who remarked that they were unfamiliar as it is mentioned in another place:

نَكِرَهُمْ

so he felt afraid of them [11:70]

and there is no doubt that saying “unfamiliar” is much more polite than to say “I am afraid of you.”

وقوله {فَرَاغَ إِلَى أَهْلِهِ فَجَاءَ بِعِجْلٍ سَمِينٍ فَقَرَّبَهُ إِلَيْهِمْ قَالَ أَلا تَأْكُلُونَ} متضمن وجوها من المدح وآداب الضيافة وإكرام الضيف. منها قوله: {فَرَاغَ إِلَى أَهْلِهِ} والروغان الذهاب بسرعة واختفاء وهو يتضمن المبادرة إلى إكرام الضيف، والاختفاء يتضمن ترك تخجيله وألا يعرض للحياء، وهذا بخلاف من يتثاقل ويتبارد على ضيفه ثم يبرز بمرأى منه ويحل صرة النفقة ويزن ما يأخذ، ويتناول الإناء بمرأى منه ونحو ذلك مما يتضمن تخجيل الضيف وحياءه فلفظة (راغ) تنفي هذين الأمرين. ـ

○ Allah’s statement:

فَرَاغَ إِلَى أَهْلِهِ فَجَاءَ بِعِجْلٍ سَمِينٍ * فَقَرَّبَهُ إِلَيْهِمْ قَالَ أَلا تَأْكُلُونَ

Then he went to his family and came with a fat calf * And placed it near them; he said, “Won’t you eat?”

This statement also includes several points of praise for Ibrahim, as well as some etiquette related to hosting and honoring guests. One of these in Allah’s statement:

فَرَاغَ إِلَى أَهْلِهِ

Then he went to his family

The word al-rughan used for “went” here means to go quickly and discreetly, which indicates the eagerness he had to honor his guests, and the discreetness involved indicates his humility and that he did not make a show of this out of his modesty. Compare this to those who make a show to their guests of how burdensome it is or how long it takes and mention how much it costs to them and other such things that would surely make his guests feel embarrassed and shy. So the wording used here negates both of these bad traits.

 وفي قوله تعالى: {إِلَى أَهْلِهِ} مدح آخر لما فيه من الإشعار أن كرامة الضيف معدة حاصلة عند أهله، وأنه لا يحتاج أن يستقرض من جيرانه، ولا يذهب إلى غير أهله إذ قرى الضيف حاصل عندهم. ـ

○ And His statement:

إِلَى أَهْلِهِ

… to his family

This is another praise as it serves to indicate that honoring one’s guests was a characteristic which had taken hold among his family members as well, and that he didn’t need to borrow anything from his neighbors or go to anyone besides his family in order to host his guests, receiving all the help he needed from them.

وقوله: {فَجَاءَ بِعِجْلٍ سَمِينٍ} يتضمن ثلاثة أنواع من المدح: أحدها: خدمة ضيفه بنفسه فإنه لم يرسل به وإنما جاء به بنفسه. الثاني: انه جاءهم بحيوان تام لم ياتهم ببعضه. ليتخيروا من أطيب لحمه ما شاءوا. الثالث: انه سمين ليس بهمزول، وهذا من نفائس الأموال، ولد البقر السمين فإنهم يعجبون به، فمن كرمه هان عليه ذبحه وإحضاره. ـ

○ Allah’s statement:

فَجَاءَ بِعِجْلٍ سَمِينٍ

… and came with a fat calf

This contains three types of praise.

1. That he served his guests himself, for he did not send anyone else to get it. Rather he brought it himself.

2. That he brought the full animal rather than only bringing a part of it so that his guests could choose which parts of it they liked and found best.

3. That he brought them a fattened animal rather than a lean one. A fattened calf is one of the most precious kinds of wealth. It was the offspring of a fattened cow, so they would of course be very pleased with it. But despite its price, his generosity made it easy for him to sacrifice and serve it.

وقوله {إليهم} متضمن المدح وآداباً أخرى وهو إحضار الطعام إلى بين يدي الضيف، بخلاف من يهيئ الطعام في موضع ثم يقيم ضيفه فيورده عليه. ـ

○ And Allah’s statement

فَقَرَّبَهُ إِلَيْهِمْ

Then he brought it close to them

contains another praise of Ibrahim as well as another point of etiquette which is bringing the food and placing it right in front of the guests. This is in contrast to those who prepare the food in one place and then have their guests get up to get it.

وقوله {أَلا تَأْكُلُونَ} فيه مدح وآداب أخر، فإنه عرض عليهم الأكل بقوله: {ألا تأكلون} وهذه صيغة عرض مؤذنة بالتلطف بخلاف من يقول:: ضعوا أيديكم في الطعام، كلوا، تقدموا، ونحو هذا. ـ

○ Ibrahim’s statement

أَلا تَأْكُلُونَ

“Won’t you eat?”

contains yet another praise of Ibrahim and another point of etiquette. He presented the food to them by saying, “Won’t you eat?” which is a very polite and gentle way of presenting something. Compare that to saying, “Dig in and eat!”, “Go ahead” or other similar things.

وقوله: {فَأَوْجَسَ مِنْهُمْ خِيفَةً} لأنه لما رآهم لا يأكلون من طعامه أضمر منهم خوفاً أن يكون معهم شر، فإن الضيف إذا أكل من طعام رب المنزل اطمأن إليه وأنس به، فلما علموا منه ذلك قالوا: {لا تَخَفْ وَبَشَّرُوهُ بِغُلامٍ عَلِيمٍ} وهذا الغلام اسحق لا إسماعيل، لأن امرأته عجبت من ذلك فقالت: عجوز عقيم، لا يولد لمثلي، فأنى لي بالولد؟ وأما إسماعيل فإنه من سريته هاجر وكان بكره وأول ولده. وقد بين سبحانه هذا في سورة هود في قوله تعالى: {فَبَشَّرْنَاهَا بِإِسْحَاقَ وَمِنْ وَرَاءِ إِسْحَاقَ يَعْقُوبَ} وهذه هي القصة نفسها. ـ

○ Allah’s statement:

فَأَوْجَسَ مِنْهُمْ خِيفَةً

Then he felt afraid of them [51:28]

That was because when he saw that they were not eating any of the food he brought he felt some fear of them within himself that perhaps they had ill intentions. For if a guest eats the food that the master of a house brings, he will feel at peace and pleased. So when the guests came to see that, they said:

لَا تَخَفْ ۖ وَبَشَّرُوهُ بِغُلَامٍ عَلِيمٍ

“Do not fear.” And they gave him glad tidings of an intelligent son. [51:28]

and this son was Ishaaq, not Ismaa’eel. That is because Ibrahim’s wife was amazed at this news and said:

عَجُوزٌ عَقِيمٌ

“a barren old woman!” [51:29]

i.e., someone like me cannot have a child, so how could I have a child? As for Ismaa’eel, he was the child of Ibrahim’s slave woman Hajar and he was the oldest and the first born. Allah made this distinction clear in surah Hud when He said:

فَبَشَّرْنَاهَا بِإِسْحَاقَ وَمِنْ وَرَاءِ إِسْحَاقَ يَعْقُوبَ

Then We gave her glad tidings of Ishaaq and after Ishaaq of Ya’qub [11:71]

and that is referring to the very same incident as is mentioned in this surah.

وقوله تعالى: {فَأَقْبَلَتِ امْرَأَتُهُ فِي صَرَّةٍ فَصَكَّتْ وَجْهَهَا وَقَالَتْ عَجُوزٌ عَقِيمٌ} فيه بيان ضعف عقل المرأة وعدم ثباتها، إذ بادرت إلى الندبة فصكت الوجه عند هذا الإخبار. ـ

○ Allah’s statement:

فَأَقْبَلَتِ امْرَأَتُهُ فِي صَرَّةٍ فَصَكَّتْ وَجْهَهَا وَقَالَتْ عَجُوزٌ عَقِيمٌ

His wife approached with a cry, striking her face and saying, “A barren old woman!”

This shows the weakness of women’s intellect and their emotional state as she was so shocked that she wailed and struck her face upon hearing this news.

وقوله: {عَجُوزٌ عَقِيمٌ} فيه حسن أدب المرأة عند خطاب الرجال واقتصارها من الكلام على ما يتأدى به الحاجة، فإنها حذفت المبتدأ ولم تقل أنا عجوز عقيم، واقتصرت على ذكر السبب الدال على عدم الولادة لم تذكر غيره، وأما في سورة هود فذكرت السبب المانع منها ومن إبراهيم وصرحت بالعجب.ـ

○ Allah’s statement:

عَجُوزٌ عَقِيمٌ

“A barren old woman!”

This statement indicates a good etiquette for women to observe when speaking to unrelated men. She was brief in what she said, only using the words necessary to make herself clear. She omitted the subject from her speech as she did not say, “I am a barren old woman”, instead only mentioning the reason for the lack of children without mentioning anything else. Meanwhile in surah Hud she mentioned the preventative force both from her end and from Ibrahim while also wailing in amazement.

وقوله تعالى {قَالُوا كَذَلِكِ قَالَ رَبُّكِ} متضمن لاثبات صفة القول له. وقوله {إِنَّهُ هُوَ الْحَكِيمُ الْعَلِيمُ} متضمن لإثبات صفة الحكمة والعلم اللذين هما مصدر الخلق والأمر، فجميع ما خلقه سبحانه صادر عن علمه وحكمته، وكذلك أمره وشرعه مصدره عن علمه وحكمته. ـ

○ Allah’s statement:

قَالُوا كَذَلِكِ قَالَ رَبُّكِ

They said, “That is what your Lord has said …” [51:30]

This contains an confirmation that speaking is one of Allah’s attributes.

○ And His statement

إِنَّهُ هُوَ الْحَكِيمُ الْعَلِيمُ

“… Indeed, He is All-Wise, All-Knowing” [51:30]

contains a confirmation of His attributes of Wisdom and Knowledge, the two qualities from which both His actions of creation and His commands begin from, for everything that He has created emanates from His Knowledge and Wisdom. Likewise, the starting point of His commandments and His legislation is also His Knowledge and Wisdom.

والعلم والحكمة متضمنان لجميع صفات الكمال، فالعلم يتضمن الحياة ولوازم كمالها من القيومية والقدرة والبقاء والسمع والبصر وسائر الصفات التي يستلزمها العلم التام، والحكمة تتضمن كمال الإرادة والعدل والرحمة والإحسان والجود والبر، ووضع الأشياء في مواضعها على أحسن وجوهها، ويتضمن إرسال وإثبات الثواب والعقاب. ـ

Together, Knowledge and Wisdom encompass all the qualities of perfection and completeness. To have Knowledge of course necessitates that one is living, and all the qualities of the completeness and perfection of that life follow from that, such as His sustaining all of creation, His power, His eternal existence, His hearing and seeing and all other qualities which must follow from His quality of having complete and total knowledge. And to have Wisdom necessarily entails perfect design, justice, mercy, beneficence, generosity, kindness, and placing things in their proper places in the best of ways. It also entails Him sending messengers and confirms that people’s deeds will be recompensed with reward and punishment.

كل هذا العلم من اسمه الحكيم كما هي طريقة القرآن في الاستدلال على هذه المطالب العظيمة بصفة الحكمة، والإنكار على من يزعم أنه خلق الخلق عبثا وسُدى وباطلاً فحينئذ صفة حكمته تتضمن الشرع والقدر والثواب والعقاب، ولهذا كان اصح القولين أن المعاد يعلم بالعقل وأن السمع ورد بتفصيل ما يدل العقل على إثباته. ـ

All of these meanings can be found in Allah’s name al-Hakeem – the All-Wise -, and this is the way of the Qur’an, that all of these great matters go back to His attribute of Wisdom. This also disproves those who claim that Allah created the creation in vain without any purpose or meaning. For here this quality of Wisdom encompasses His divine legislation, His divine pre-ordination, and His ultimate reward and punishment. And so the stronger of the two positions is that the fact that we will ultimately be returned to Allah for judgement can be known by means of one’s intellect and that learning its finer details from the revelation further confirms what one’s intellect initially indicated.

ومن تأمل طريقة القرآن وجدها دالة على ذلك. وانه سبحانه يضرب لهم الأمثال المعقولة التي تدل على إمكان المعاد تارة ووقوعه أخرى، فيذكر أدلة القدرة الدالة على إمكان المعاد وأدلة الحكمة المستلزمة لوقوعه. ـ

Whoever contemplates the style of the Qur’an will find that it does support this position, for Allah gives many examples meant to be understood by the intellect which sometimes point to the possibility of that ultimate return to Allah and at other times point to its inevitability. Allah mentions evidence related to His Power to prove that this ultimate return is possible, while He mentions evidence related to His Wisdom to show that it will definitely take place.

ومن تأمل أدلة المعاد في القرآن وجدها كذلك مغنية بحمد الله عن غيرها، كافية شافية موصلة إلى المطلوب بسرعة، متضمنة للجواب عن الشبه العارضة لكثير من الناس. وإن ساعد التوفيق كتبت في ذلك سفراً كبيراً لما رأيت في الأدلة التي أرشد إليها القرآن من الشقاء والهدى وسرعة الإنصاف، وحسن البيان، والتنبيه على مواضع الشبه والجواب عنها بما ينثلج له، الصدر ويكثر معه اليقين، بخلاف غيره من الأدلة فإنها على العكس من ذلك وليس هذا موضع التفصيل. ـ

And whoever contemplates the evidences found in the Qur’an for the ultimate return to Allah will find them to be completely sufficient on their own – alhamdulillaah – without need for any other proofs and able to quickly convince one of their point. They hold answers to the doubts that many people have. If Allah enables me, I would like to write a large volume on this subject. I am motivated to do so because I see the evidences which the Qur’an uses to contain a cure, guidance, direct communication, excellent clarity, as well as alerting the reader to points of doubt and then addressing them. All of these things are presented in a way that pleases the heart and increases one’s certainty, unlike other sources of evidence which have the opposite effect. However now is not the time to go into detail about all of this.

والمقصود: أن صدور الخلق والأمر عن علم الرب وحكمته. واختصت هذه القصة بذكر هذين الإسمين لاقتضائهما لتعجب النفوس من تولد مولود بين أبوين لا يولد لمثلهما عادة، وخفاء العلم بسبب هذا الإيلاد وكون الحكمة اقتضت جريان هذه الولادة على غير العادة المعروفة فذكر في الآية اسم العلم والحكمة المتضمن لعلمه سبحانه بسبب هذا الخلق وغايته وحكمته في وضعه موضعه من غير إخلال بموجب الحكمة. ـ

The main point is this: the very origin of Allah’s acts of creation and His commandments is His Knowledge and Wisdom. This story mentions these two names is particular due to the surprise that of course comes from hearing that a child was born from two parents who typically could not conceive and because the reason for this birth and the wisdom behind it being done outside of the normal means was not known. So Allah mentioned His Names of Knowledge and Wisdom in this ayah which indicate His knowledge of the reasons behind this special creation as well as His intent and divine wisdom that doing it in this way was nothing but the height of wisdom.

ثم ذكر سبحانه وتعالى قصة الملائكة في إرسالهم لهلاك قوم لوط، وإرسال الحجارة المسومة عليهم. وفي هذا ما يتضمن تصديق رسله وإهلاك المكذبين لهم والدلالة على المعاد والثواب والعقاب لوقوعه عياناً في هذا العالم، وهذا من اعظم الأدلة الدالة على صدق رسله لصحة ما أخبروا به عن ربهم. ـ

○ Allah then mentions the story of the angels who were sent to destroy the People of Loot and sending marked stones down upon them. This section of the story contains points related to Allah supporting His Messengers and destroying those who deny them. It also contains evidence for the ultimate return to Allah and the associated reward and punishment, as punishment was already made manifest in this world. That in and of itself is one of the greatest proofs that points to the truthfulness of Allah’s Messengers – the fact that they were accurate in the information that they conveyed from their Lord.

ثم قال تعالى: {فَأَخْرَجْنَا مَنْ كَانَ فِيهَا مِنَ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ فَمَا وَجَدْنَا فِيهَا غَيْرَ بَيْتٍ مِنَ الْمُسْلِمِينَ} ففرق بين الإسلام والإيمان هنا لسر اقتضاه الكلام، فإن الإخراج هنا عبارة عن النجاة فهو، إخراج نجاة من العذاب ولا ريب إن هذا مختص بالمؤمنين المتبعين للرسل ظاهرا وباطناً. ـ

○ Next is Allah’s statement:

فَأَخْرَجْنَا مَنْ كَانَ فِيهَا مِنَ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ * فَمَا وَجَدْنَا فِيهَا غَيْرَ بَيْتٍ مِنَ الْمُسْلِمِينَ

So We brought out whatever believers were in the cities. * And We did not find anything besides a single house of the Muslims therein. [51:35-36]

Here, Allah makes a distinction between al-Islam and al-Eemaan for a subtle reason that is required by the context. For the term “brought out” is used to mean deliverance from the punishment, and there is no doubt that this deliverance is specific to the believers who follow the Messengers both outwardly and inwardly.

وقوله تعالى: {فَمَا وَجَدْنَا فِيهَا غَيْرَ بَيْتٍ مِنَ الْمُسْلِمِينَ} لما كان الموجودون من المخرجين أوقع اسم الإسلام عليهم لأن امرأة لوط كانت من أهل هذا البيت وهي مسلمة في الظاهر، فكانت في البيت الموجودين لا في القوم الناجيين، وقد اخبر سبحانه عن خيانة امرأة لوط، وخيانتها أنها كانت تدل قومها على أضيافه وقلبها معهم، وليست خيانة فاحشة فكانت من أهل البيت المسلمين ظاهراً وليست من المؤمنين الناجيين. ـ

Allah’s statement:

فَمَا وَجَدْنَا فِيهَا غَيْرَ بَيْتٍ مِنَ الْمُسْلِمِينَ

And We did not find anything besides a single house of the Muslims therein. [51:36]

When describing those in the group who were “brought out”, Allah applied the term al-Islam to their house because Loot’s wife was among the members of this household and was a Muslim in outward appearance. So she was included as a member of this house but not among the people who were saved from the punishment. Allah has informed us of the treachery of Loot’s wife, which is that she told her people about Loot’s guests and that her heart was in their camp. She did not engage in their sexual depravity, for she was to all appearances a member of the Muslim household, however she was not one of the believers and she was not saved.

ومن وضع دلالة القرآن وألفاظه مواضعها تبين له من أسراره وحكمة ما يبهر العقول ويعلم أنه تنزيل من حكيم حميد. ـ

One of the effects of the Qur’an placing its evidences and words in just the perfect way is that its subtle benefits and wisdoms become clear. This in turn amazes one’s intellect and lets one know that this Qur’an is a revelation from the Most Wise, the Most Praiseworthy.

وبهذا خرج الجواب عن السؤال المشهور وهو: أن الإسلام أعم من الإيمان فكيف استثناء الأعم من الأخص، وقاعدة الاستثناء تقتضي العكس وتبين أن المسلمين المستثنين مما وقع عليه فعل الوجود، والمؤمنين غير مستثنين منه بل هم المخرجون الناجون. ـ

And this point about Loot’s wife brings an answer to the well-known question as to which term is more general, al-Islam or al-Eemaan? [The answer being that al-Islam is more general.] But this raises another question: how could the more general term not be part of the more specific term? Actually, the rule is the opposite, and this passage makes it clear a Muslim is not necessarily a mu’min (believer), while a mu’min is by definition also a Muslim and therefore it was only the believers who were delivered and saved.

وقوله تعالى: {وَتَرَكْنَا فِيهَا آيَةً لِلَّذِينَ يَخَافُونَ الْعَذَابَ الأَلِيمَ} فيه دليل على أن آيات الله سبحانه وعجائبه التي فعلها في هذا العالم وأبقى آثارها دالة عليه وعلى صدق رسله إنما ينتفع بها من يؤمن بالمعاد ويخشى عذاب الله تعالى كما قال الله تعالى في موضع آخر {إِنَّ فِي ذَلِكَ لآيَةً لِمَنْ خَافَ عَذَابَ الآخِرَةِ} ، وقال تعالى: {سَيَذَّكَّرُ مَنْ يَخْشَى} فان من لا يؤمن بالآخرة غايته أن يقول: هؤلاء قوم أصابهم الدهر كما أصاب غيرهم ولا زال الدهر فيه الشقاوة والسعادة. وأما من آمن بالآخرة وأشفق منها فهو الذي ينتفع بالآيات والمواعظ. ـ

○ Allah’s statement:

وَتَرَكْنَا فِيهَا آيَةً لِّلَّذِينَ يَخَافُونَ الْعَذَابَ الْأَلِيمَ

And We left therein a sign for those who fear the painful punishment [51:37]

This contains a proof that the only ones who will benefit from Allah’s signs and the amazing acts that He has done in this world and left as reminders to serve as proofs for Him and the truthfulness of His Messengers are those who believe in the ultimate return and fear the punishment of their Lord. This is just as Allah said in another passage:

إِنَّ فِي ذَلِكَ لآيَةً لِمَنْ خَافَ عَذَابَ الآخِرَةِ

Indeed in that is a sign for those who fear the punishment of the Hereafter [11:103]

as well as:

سَيَذَّكَّرُ مَنْ يَخْشَى

He who fears Allah will be reminded [87:10]

Those who do not believe in the hereafter might simply say, “They were a people who were struck by the sands of time just like other people besides them, as is the way of things, that the time will come for both the miserable and the joyous people alike.” But those who do believe in the hereafter and fear it, they are the ones who will benefit from these ayaat and exhortations.

والمقصود بهذا إنما هو التنبيه والتمثيل على تفاوت الأفهام في معرفة القرآن واستنباط أسراره وآثار كنوزه ويعتبر بهذا غيره، والفضل بيد الله يؤتيه من يشاء. ـ

In closing the whole point of this was simply to draw attention to the different levels of comprehension when it comes to understanding the Qur’an and extracting its secrets and treasures, and to provide some examples that might be useful for others. Ultimately, attaining higher levels in something in Allah’s Hand and He grants that to whom He wills.

[Risalah al-Tabookiyyah pg 63-72]

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

See also: The Great Merits of Reciting the Qur’an with Contemplation: ibn al-Qayyim

See also: Contemplating the Qur’an: Sheikh bin Baaz

See also: Reciting the Qur’an without Understanding: Sheikh bin Baaz

See also: Which is more virtuous: reading a small amount of the Qur’an with tarteel and contemplation, or a large amount quickly? – Ibn al-Qayyim

See also: An Overview of Surah al-Dhariyat (51): Ibn Taymiyah

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7 thoughts on “Ibn al-Qayyim’s Model for Contemplating the Qur’an

  1. Pingback: How to Contemplate the Qur’an: Sheikh Muhammad Bazmool | Tulayhah

  2. Pingback: The Great Merits of Reciting the Qur’an with Contemplation: ibn al-Qayyim | Tulayhah

  3. Pingback: Contemplating the Qur’an: Sheikh bin Baaz | Tulayhah

  4. Pingback: An Overview of Surah al-Dhariyat (51): Ibn Taymiyah | Tulayhah

  5. Pingback: Which is more virtuous: reading a small amount of the Qur’an with tarteel and contemplation, or a large amount quickly? – Ibn al-Qayyim | Tulayhah

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