Iblees’ Promise to Misguide Mankind: Tafsir al-Baghawi

Allah recounts the story of Adam and Iblees in surah al-A’raaf, including in the following ayaat. This passage begins with Allah addressing Iblees by saying:

قَالَ فَاهْبِطْ مِنْهَا فَمَا يَكُونُ لَكَ أَن تَتَكَبَّرَ فِيهَا فَاخْرُجْ إِنَّكَ مِنَ الصَّاغِرِينَ * قَالَ أَنظِرْنِي إِلَىٰ يَوْمِ يُبْعَثُونَ * قَالَ إِنَّكَ مِنَ الْمُنظَرِينَ * قَالَ فَبِمَا أَغْوَيْتَنِي لَأَقْعُدَنَّ لَهُمْ صِرَاطَكَ الْمُسْتَقِيمَ * ثُمَّ لَآتِيَنَّهُم مِّن بَيْنِ أَيْدِيهِمْ وَمِنْ خَلْفِهِمْ وَعَنْ أَيْمَانِهِمْ وَعَن شَمَائِلِهِمْ ۖ وَلَا تَجِدُ أَكْثَرَهُمْ شَاكِرِينَ

Allah said, “Descend from Paradise, for it is not for you to be arrogant therein. So get out; indeed, you are of the debased. * Iblees said, “Reprieve me until the Day they are resurrected.” * Allah said, “Indeed, you are of those who are reprieved.” * Iblees said, “Because You have put me in error, I will surely sit in wait for them on Your straight path. * Then I will come to them from before them and from behind them and on their right and on their left, and You will not find most of them grateful. [7:13-17]

In part of his commentary on these ayaat, the great mufassir Imam al-Baghawi wrote:

قوله تعالى : ( فما يكون لك أن تتكبر ) بمخالفة الأمر ، ( فيها ) أي : في الجنة ، فلا ينبغي أن يسكن في الجنة ولا السماء متكبر مخالف لأمر الله تعالى : ( فاخرج إنك من الصاغرين ) من الأذلاء ، والصغار : الذل والمهانة . ـ

Allah said:

فَمَا يَكُونُ لَكَ أَن تَتَكَبَّرَ

… for it is not for you to be arrogant …

in opposition to My command

فِيهَا

… therein.

meaning in Jannah, for it is not appropriate for a prideful opposer of Allah’s command to reside in Jannah or in the heavens

فَاخْرُجْ إِنَّكَ مِنَ الصَّاغِرِينَ

So get out; indeed, you are of the debased.

one of the humiliated ones. And the word used here implies humiliation and disgrace.

ـ ( قال ) إبليس عند ذلك ، ( أنظرني ) أخرني وأمهلني فلا تمتني ، ( إلى يوم يبعثون ) من قبورهم وهو النفخة الأخيرة عند قيام الساعة ، أراد الخبيث أن لا يذوق الموت . [ ص: 218 ] ـ

قَالَ

He said …

i.e. Iblees said in response to that

أَنظِرْنِي

… “Reprieve me …”

give me time, leave me be and do not cause me to die

إِلَىٰ يَوْمِ يُبْعَثُونَ

“… until the day they are resurrected.”

resurrected from their graves, which will be at the last blow of the horn when the Hour is established. This filthy one did not want to taste death.

ـ ( قال ) الله تعالى ، ( إنك من المنظرين ) المؤخرين ، وبين مدة النظر والمهلة في موضع آخر فقال : ( إلى يوم الوقت المعلوم ) ، ( الحجر 38 ) وهو النفخة الأولى حين يموت الخلق كلهم . ـ

Allah the Exalted said

إِنَّكَ مِنَ الْمُنظَرِينَ

“You are among those given reprieve.”

i.e. those whose time is postponed, and He clarified the length of this reprieve and respite in another place when He said

إِلَىٰ يَوْمِ الْوَقْتِ الْمَعْلُومِ

Until the Day of the appointed time [15:38]

which is the first blowing of the horn when all of the created beings will die.

ـ ( قال فبما أغويتني ) اختلفوا في ” ما ” قيل : هو استفهام يعني فبأي شيء أغويتني ؟ ثم ابتدأ فقال : ( لأقعدن لهم ) وقيل : ” ما ” الجزاء ، أي : لأجل أنك أغويتني لأحقدن لهم . وقيل : هو ” ما ” المصدرية موضع القسم تقديره : فبإغوائك إياي لأقعدن لهم ، كقوله ” بما غفر لي ربي ” ( يس ، 27 ) ، يعني : لغفران ربي . والمعنى بقدرتك علي ونفاذ سلطانك في . ـ

قَالَ فَبِمَا أَغْوَيْتَنِي

He said, “So bi-maa You caused me to go astray …”

There is some differing as to the meaning of the word “maa” here.

Some said that this is a question, meaning, “For what have You caused me to go astray?” In that case, the next word would begin a new phrase, with Iblees saying

لَأَقْعُدَنَّ لَهُمْ

I will surely sit in wait for them …

Others said that the word “maa” holds the meaning of compensation, i.e. “Because you have caused me to go astray I am embittered against them.”

Still others say that the word “maa” is a place-holder for an oath, and that if the entire sentence were to be spelled out it would be, “So I swear by Your misguiding me that I will surely sit in wait for them.” And this is like Allah’s statement

بِمَا غَفَرَ لِي رَبِّي

That my Lord has forgiven me … [36:27]

meaning: By my Lord’s forgiveness.

So the meaning according to this is, “I swear by Your might and Your irresistible authority.”

 وقال ابن الأنباري : أي فبما أوقعت في قلبي من الغي الذي كان سبب هبوطي من السماء ، أغويتني : أضللتني عن الهدى . وقيل : أهلكتني ، وقيل : خيبتني ، ( لأقعدن لهم صراطك المستقيم ) أي : لأجلسن لبني آدم على طريقك القويم ، وهو الإسلام . ـ

al-Anbari explained it by saying, “So because of the deviance that has been placed in my heart which is the very cause for me being expelling from the heavens …”

And the word

أَغْوَيْتَنِي

Aghwaytani

You caused me to go astray

means “You have misled me away from the truth”. Others said it meant “You have destroyed me”. Still others said it meant “You have thwarted me.”

لَأَقْعُدَنَّ لَهُمْ صِرَاطَكَ الْمُسْتَقِيمَ

I will surely sit in wait from them on Your straight path.

meaning: I will surely sit in waiting for the children of Adam on your straight way, which is Islam.

ـ ( ثم لآتينهم من بين أيديهم ) قال علي بن أبي طلحة عن ابن عباس : من بين أيديهم أي من قبل الآخرة فأشككهم فيها ، ( ومن خلفهم ) أرغبهم في دنياهم ، ( وعن أيمانهم ) أشبه عليهم أمر دينهم . ( وعن شمائلهم ) أشهي لهم المعاصي ، وروى عطية عن ابن عباس : ( من بين أيديهم ) من قبل دنياهم ، يعني أزينها في قلوبهم ، ( ومن خلفهم ) من قبل الآخرة فأقول : لا بعث ، ولا نشور ، ولا جنة ، ولا نار . ( وعن أيمانهم ) من قبل حسناتهم ، ( وعن شمائلهم ) من قبل سيئاتهم . ـ

ثُمَّ لَآتِيَنَّهُم مِّن بَيْنِ أَيْدِيهِمْ

Then I will surely come to them from in front of them …

‘Ali ibn Abi Talhah reported that ibn ‘Abbaas said:

“from in front of them” means from the direction of their hereafter so I will cause them to have doubts about it

“and from behind them” that I will make them eager for this worldly life of theirs

“and from their rights” meaning I will cause them to be confused about their religion

“and from their lefts” meaning that I will make acts of disobedience appealing to them

‘Atiyyah reported that ibn ‘Abbaas said:

“From in front of them” – from the direction of their worldly life, meaning that he makes it pleasant-seeming in their hearts

“and from behind them” – from the direction of the hereafter, saying, “There is no resurrection and no being gathered together. There is no Jannah and no Hellfire.”

“and from their rights” – from the direction of their good deeds

“and from their lefts” – from the direction of their sins

وقال الحكم : من بين أيديهم : من قبل الدنيا يزينها لهم ، ومن خلفهم : من قبل الآخرة يثبطهم عنها ، وعن أيمانهم : من قبل الحق يصدهم عنه ، وعن شمائلهم : من قبل الباطل يزينه لهم . وقال قتادة : أتاهم من بين أيديهم فأخبرهم أنه لا بعث ولا جنة ولا نار . ومن خلفهم : من أمور الدنيا يزينها لهم ويدعوهم إليها ، وعن أيمانهم : من قبل حسناتهم بطأهم عنها ، وعن شمائلهم : زين لهم السيئات والمعاصي ودعاهم إليها أتاك يا ابن آدم من كل وجه غير أنه لم يأتك من فوقك لم يستطع أن يحول بينك وبين رحمة الله . وقال مجاهد : من بين أيديهم وعن أيمانهم من حيث يبصرون ، ومن خلفهم وعن شمائلهم حيث لا يبصرون . وقال ابن جريج : معنى قوله حيث لا يبصرون أي لا يخطئون وحيث لا يبصرون أي لا يعلمون أنهم يخطئون . ـ

al-Hakam said:

“From in front of them” – from the direction of this worldly life and beautifying it to them

“and from behind them” – from the direction of the hereafter by making them loose hope in it

“and from their rights” – from the direction of the truth by turning them away from it

“and from their lefts” – from the direction of falsehood by making it seem good to them

Qatadah said:

He comes to them “from in front of them” by telling them that there is no resurrection or Jannah or Hellfire

“and from behind them” meaning with things of this worldly life, making them seem appealing to them and inviting them to them

“and from their rights” meaning from the direction of their good deeds by slowing them down in these

“and from their lefts” by making sins and disobedience appealing to them and calling them to those things

O son of Adam, he comes to you from every direction except that he doesn’t come to you from above for he is not able to come between you and the mercy of Allah.

Mujahid said:

From in front of them and from their rights where they can see him, and from behind them and from their lefts where they cannot see him.

Ibn Jurayj further explained the statement of Mujahid by saying:

When he said, “from where they do not see” he meant from where they do not consider themselves to have fallen into error. “From where they do not see” means from where they do not know that they have fallen into error.

ـ ( ولا تجد أكثرهم شاكرين ) مؤمنين ، فإن قيل : كيف علم الخبيث ذلك ؟ قيل : قاله ظنا فأصاب ، قال الله تعالى ” ولقد صدق عليهم إبليس ظنه ” ( سبأ 20 ) . ـ

وَلَا تَجِدُ أَكْثَرَهُمْ شَاكِرِينَ

And you will not find most of them to be grateful.

i.e. you will not find most of them to be believers.

If one were to ask, “How did this filthy one know that?” then the response would be that he said that as a guess and happened to be correct, for Allah said:

وَلَقَدْ صَدَّقَ عَلَيْهِمْ إِبْلِيسُ ظَنَّهُ

and Iblees did indeed prove his guess about them to be true [34:20]

[Ma’aalim al-Tanzeel 3/218-219]

See also: I will mislead them all, except Your chosen servants: Tafsir al-Shinqitee

See also: Shaytaan’s address to the disbelievers at the end of time: Tafsir al-Sa’di

2 thoughts on “Iblees’ Promise to Misguide Mankind: Tafsir al-Baghawi

  1. Pingback: Shaytaan’s address to the disbelievers at the end of time: Tafsir al-Sa’di | Tulayhah

  2. Pingback: I will mislead them all, except Your chosen servants: Tafsir al-Shinqitee | Tulayhah

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