Responding to Allah’s Blessings with Indifference: Tafsir ibn Kathir

Allah says the following in part of surah Luqman:

أَلَمْ تَرَ أَنَّ الْفُلْكَ تَجْرِي فِي الْبَحْرِ بِنِعْمَتِ اللَّـهِ لِيُرِيَكُم مِّنْ آيَاتِهِ ۚ إِنَّ فِي ذَٰلِكَ لَآيَاتٍ لِّكُلِّ صَبَّارٍ شَكُورٍ * وَإِذَا غَشِيَهُم مَّوْجٌ كَالظُّلَلِ دَعَوُا اللَّـهَ مُخْلِصِينَ لَهُ الدِّينَ فَلَمَّا نَجَّاهُمْ إِلَى الْبَرِّ فَمِنْهُم مُّقْتَصِدٌ ۚ وَمَا يَجْحَدُ بِآيَاتِنَا إِلَّا كُلُّ خَتَّارٍ كَفُورٍ

Do you not see that ships sail through the sea by the favor of Allah that He may show you of His signs? Indeed in that are signs for everyone patient and grateful. * And when waves come over them like canopies, they supplicate to Allah, sincere to Him in religion. But when He delivers them to the land, then some of them are muqtasid. And none reject Our signs except every treacherous and ungrateful one. [31-31-32]

The salaf and the scholars differed over how to interpret the word muqtasid in this context. al-Haafidh ibn Kathir offered the following discussion of this issue:

قال : ( فلما نجاهم إلى البر فمنهم مقتصد ) قال مجاهد : أي كافر . كأنه فسر المقتصد هاهنا بالجاحد ، كما قال تعالى : ( فلما نجاهم إلى البر إذا هم يشركون ) [ العنكبوت : 65 ] . ـ

Allah says:

فَلَمَّا نَجَّاهُمْ إِلَى الْبَرِّ فَمِنْهُم مُّقْتَصِدٌ

But when He delivers them to the land, then some of them are muqtasid

Mujahid said, “meaning disbelievers”.

It is as if he was interpreting the word al-muqtasid in this instance in the sense of one who denies Allah’s sole right to be worshipped, as Allah said:

فَلَمَّا نَجَّاهُمْ إِلَى الْبَرِّ إِذَا هُمْ يُشْرِكُونَ

But when He delivers them to the land, then they associate others with Him in worship [29:65]

وقال ابن زيد : هو المتوسط في العمل . وهذا الذي قاله ابن زيد هو المراد في قوله : ( فمنهم ظالم لنفسه ومنهم مقتصد ومنهم سابق بالخيرات ) [ فاطر : 32 ] ، فالمقتصد هاهنا هو : المتوسط في العمل . ويحتمل أن يكون مرادا هنا أيضا ، ويكون من باب الإنكار على من شاهد تلك الأهوال والأمور العظام والآيات الباهرات في البحر ، ثم بعدما أنعم عليه من الخلاص ، كان ينبغي أن يقابل ذلك بالعمل التام ، والدؤوب في العبادة ، والمبادرة إلى الخيرات . فمن اقتصد بعد ذلك كان مقصرا والحالة هذه ، والله أعلم . ـ

And ibn Zayd explained it by saying: They are halfhearted in their deeds.

And what ibn Zayd mentioned is the meaning of the word as it comes in Allah’s statement:

فَمِنْهُمْ ظَالِمٌ لِّنَفْسِهِ وَمِنْهُم مُّقْتَصِدٌ وَمِنْهُمْ سَابِقٌ بِالْخَيْرَاتِ بِإِذْنِ اللَّـهِ

Among them are those who wrong themselves, and those who are muqtasid, and those who excel at good deeds by Allah’s permission [35:32]

So the muqtasid here is the one who is not fully-committed in terms of his deeds.

And it is also possible that there are two messages intended here, that this ayah is a form of criticism of those who witness such terrifying and grave events and such clear signs of Allah’s power while at sea: after the blessing of having been saved they ought to respond to that blessing by being fully-committed in their actions, consistent in worship, and hastening to do good. So whoever becomes lacking in his commitment after such events has fallen short and this is his state. And Allah knows best.

[Tafsir ibn Kathir 6/351]

See also: Allah has subjected everything in the creation to mankind: Tafsir al-Shawkaani

See also: When One Plans to Sin but then Does Not: Tafsir ibn Kathir

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4 thoughts on “Responding to Allah’s Blessings with Indifference: Tafsir ibn Kathir

  1. Pingback: When One Plans to Sin but then Does Not: Tafsir ibn Kathir | Tulayhah

  2. Pingback: Allah has subjected everything in the creation to mankind: Tafsir al-Shawkaani | Tulayhah

  3. Assalam Alaykom WaRahmatullah. Jaxakumullah Khair for the translation.
    One comment though is I think you got the translation for ثم بعدما أنعم عليه من الخلاص wrong.
    الخلاص is different than الإخلاص. The word الخلاص means “being saved”.

    Wassalam Alaykom

    • wa ‘alaikum as salaam wa rahmatullaahi wa barakaatuh,

      Wa iyyaak, and may Allah reward you tremendously for pointing out that mistake of mine. You are absolutely correct, and when I went back I also found basic grammatical problems in the English as well.

      I have been trying a new method of posting for the past few months which has meant fewer revisions, but clearly this translation suffered because of that. May Allah reward you for bringing not only this particular mistranslation but also this larger issue to my attention.

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