He is upon a Light from His Lord: Tafsir al-Tabari

Allah asks the question in part of surah al-Zumar:

أَفَمَن شَرَحَ اللَّـهُ صَدْرَهُ لِلْإِسْلَامِ فَهُوَ عَلَىٰ نُورٍ مِّن رَّبِّهِ ۚ فَوَيْلٌ لِّلْقَاسِيَةِ قُلُوبُهُم مِّن ذِكْرِ اللَّـهِ ۚ أُولَـٰئِكَ فِي ضَلَالٍ مُّبِينٍ

So is one whose breast Allah has opened to Islam and he is upon a light from his Lord [like one whose heart rejects it]? So woe to those whose hearts are hardened against the remembrance of Allah. Those are in manifest error. [39:22]

The great mufassir Muhammad ibn Jarir al-Tabari began his commentary of this ayah by writing:

يقول – تعالى ذكره – : أفمن فسح الله قلبه لمعرفته ، والإقرار بوحدانيته ، والإذعان لربوبيته ، والخضوع لطاعته ( فهو على نور من ربه ) يقول : فهو على بصيرة مما هو عليه ويقين ، بتنوير الحق في قلبه ، فهو لذلك لأمر الله متبع ، وعما نهاه عنه منته فيما يرضيه ، كمن أقسى الله قلبه ، وأخلاه من ذكره ، وضيقه عن استماع الحق ، واتباع الهدى ، والعمل بالصواب . وترك ذكر الذي أقسى الله قلبه ، وجواب الاستفهام ؛ اجتزاء بمعرفة السامعين المراد من الكلام ، إذ ذكر أحد الصنفين ، وجعل مكان ذكر الصنف الآخر الخبر عنه بقوله : ( فويل للقاسية قلوبهم من ذكر الله ) . ـ

Allah says: Is the one whom Allah makes a space in his heart for knowing Him, for affirming His unrivaled divinity, for completely submitting to His Lordship, for yielding to His obedience

فَهُوَ عَلَىٰ نُورٍ مِّن رَّبِّهِ

… and he is upon a light from his Lord

Allah is saying: so this person has clarity and certainty regarding what he is upon due to the light of truth in his heart, and because of that he is characterized by following Allah’s commands and turning away from whatever Allah has prohibited for him which he would otherwise like to do.

Is this person like the one whom Allah has hardened his heart, has made it devoid of His remembrance, has restricted it from heeding the truth, from following the guidance, and from doing what is right?!

And Allah omitted explicitly mentioning those whose hearts He had hardened because mentioning one of the two opposite categories was sufficient for those listening to know the intended meaning of the sentence. But He placed the explicit mention of the other category in the following clause:

فَوَيْلٌ لِّلْقَاسِيَةِ قُلُوبُهُم مِّن ذِكْرِ اللَّـهِ

Then woe to those whose hearts are hardened against the remembrance of Allah.

ـ [ ص: 278 ] وبنحو الذي قلنا في ذلك قال أهل التأويل . ذكر من قال ذلك : ـ

There are several statements in the same vein as what we have mentioned from the experts of this field, and we will mention some of them below:

حدثنا بشر قال : ثنا يزيد قال : ثنا سعيد ، عن قتادة قوله : ( أفمن شرح الله صدره للإسلام فهو على نور من ربه ) يعني : كتاب الله ، هو المؤمن به يأخذ ، وإليه ينتهي . ـ

… Qatadah said: Allah’s statement:

أَفَمَن شَرَحَ اللَّـهُ صَدْرَهُ لِلْإِسْلَامِ فَهُوَ عَلَىٰ نُورٍ مِّن رَّبِّهِ

So is one whose breast Allah has opened to Islam and he is upon a light from his Lord …

meaning: the Book of Allah. He is a believer in it, he takes it and refers back to it.

حدثنا محمد قال : ثنا أحمد قال : ثنا أسباط ، عن السدي قوله : ( أفمن شرح الله صدره للإسلام ) قال : وسع صدره للإسلام ، والنور الهدى . ـ

… al-Suddi said: Allah’s statement:

أَفَمَن شَرَحَ اللَّـهُ صَدْرَهُ لِلْإِسْلَامِ

So is one whose breast Allah has opened to Islam …

He expanded his chest to Islam, the light and the guidance.

حدثت عن ابن أبي زائدة عن ابن جريج عن مجاهد ( أفمن شرح الله صدره للإسلام ) قال : ليس المنشرح صدره مثل القاسي قلبه . ـ

… Mujahid said about this: the one whose heart has been opened is not like the hard-hearted one.

قوله : ( فويل للقاسية قلوبهم من ذكر الله ) يقول – تعالى ذكره – : فويل للذين جفت قلوبهم ونأت عن ذكر الله وأعرضت ، يعني عن القرآن الذي أنزله – تعالى ذكره – مذكرا به عباده ، فلم يؤمن به ، ولم يصدق بما فيه . وقيل : ( من ذكر الله ) والمعنى : عن ذكر الله ، فوضعت ” من ” مكان ” عن ” ، كما يقال في الكلام : أتخمت من طعام أكلته ، وعن طعام أكلته بمعنى واحد . ـ

Allah’s statement:

فَوَيْلٌ لِّلْقَاسِيَةِ قُلُوبُهُم مِّن ذِكْرِ اللَّـهِ

 So woe to those whose hearts are hardened against the remembrance of Allah.

Allah is saying: Woe to those hearts have dried up and become distant from the remembrance of Allah, turning away. I.e. turning away from the Qur’an which Allah sent down as a reminder to His slaves. So they do not believe in it, nor do they acknowledge the truth of its contents.

[Some brief linguistic discussion has been omitted from the translation here]

وقوله : ( أولئك في ضلال مبين ) يقول – تعالى ذكره – : هؤلاء القاسية قلوبهم من ذكر الله في ضلال مبين ، لمن تأمله وتدبره بفهم أنه في ضلال عن الحق – جائر . ـ

Allah’s statement:

أُولَـٰئِكَ فِي ضَلَالٍ مُّبِينٍ

Those are in manifest error.

Allah is saying: These ones whose hearts are hardened to the remembrance of Allah are in plain error to anyone who reflects and considers with understanding, such a person will see that they have strayed from the truth in error.

[Tafsir al-Tabari 21/277-278]

Read more from surah al-Zumar here

See also: “We showed him the way, either he will be grateful or ungrateful”: Sheikh Muhammad Bazmool

See also: “This is the best of what has been said concerning the definition of taqwa…”

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.