Guidance and Striving: ibn al-Qayyim

ibn al-Qayyim mentioned the following benefit in one of his many valuable written works:

قال تعالى: {والذين جاهدوا فينا لنهدينهم سبلنا} عَلَّقَ سبحانه الهِداية بالجِهاد، فأكمل الناس هِدايةً أَعظمهم جِهادًا، وأَفْرَضُ الجهاد: جهاد النَّفْس، وجهاد الهَوَى، وجهاد الشيطان، وجهاد الدنيا، فمن جاهد هذه الأربعة في الله هداه الله سُبُلَ رِضاهُ المُوصِلَة إلى جَنَّتِه، ومَن ترك الجهاد فاتَهُ مِن الهُدى بحسب ما عَطَّلَ من الجهاد. ـ

Allah said:

وَالَّذِينَ جَاهَدُوا فِينَا لَنَهْدِيَنَّهُمْ سُبُلَنَا

And whoever strives for Us, We will surely guide them to Our ways [29:69]

Allah has linked guidance to striving, so the people with the most complete guidance are those with the greatest striving. And the most necessary type of striving is

  1. Striving against oneself
  2. Striving against one’s lowly desires
  3. Striving against the shaytaan
  4. Striving against this worldly life

Whoever strives against these four things for the sake of Allah, Allah will guide him to the paths of His pleasure which lead to His Jannah. But whoever leaves off this striving has lost out on the guidance in a measure proportional how much he neglected striving.

[al-Fawa’id pg. 59] Continue reading

Those Who Do Evil Out of Ignorance and Then Repent Soon Afterwards: Tafsir al-Baghawi

Allah says in surah al-Nisaa’:

إِنَّمَا التَّوْبَةُ عَلَى اللَّـهِ لِلَّذِينَ يَعْمَلُونَ السُّوءَ بِجَهَالَةٍ ثُمَّ يَتُوبُونَ مِن قَرِيبٍ فَأُولَـٰئِكَ يَتُوبُ اللَّـهُ عَلَيْهِمْ ۗ وَكَانَ اللَّـهُ عَلِيمًا حَكِيمًا * وَلَيْسَتِ التَّوْبَةُ لِلَّذِينَ يَعْمَلُونَ السَّيِّئَاتِ حَتَّىٰ إِذَا حَضَرَ أَحَدَهُمُ الْمَوْتُ قَالَ إِنِّي تُبْتُ الْآنَ وَلَا الَّذِينَ يَمُوتُونَ وَهُمْ كُفَّارٌ ۚ أُولَـٰئِكَ أَعْتَدْنَا لَهُمْ عَذَابًا أَلِيمًا

The only repentance in Allah’s sight is for those who do evil out of ignorance and then repent soon afterwards; it is they to whom Allah will turn in forgiveness. And Allah is Ever All-Knower, All-Wise. * And there is no repentance for those who continue to do evil deeds until death faces one of them and he says, “Now I repent;” nor for those who die while they are disbelievers. For them We have prepared a painful torment. [4:17-18]

In his famous book of tafsir, Imam al-Baghawi commented on this by writing:

قوله تعالى : ( إنما التوبة على الله ) قال الحسن : يعني التوبة التي يقبلها ، فيكون على بمعنى عند ، وقيل : من الله ، ( للذين يعملون السوء بجهالة ) قال قتادة : أجمع أصحاب رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم على أن كل ما عصي به الله فهو جهالة عمدا كان أو لم يكن ، وكل من عصى الله فهو جاهل . وقال مجاهد : المراد من الآية : العمد ، قال الكلبي : لم يجهل أنه ذنب لكنه جهل عقوبته ، وقيل : معنى الجهالة : اختيارهم اللذة الفانية على اللذة الباقية . ـ

Allah’s statement:

إِنَّمَا التَّوْبَةُ عَلَى اللَّـهِ

The only repentance in Allah’s sight …

al-Hasan said, “i.e. the repentance that He accepts. So the word ‘alaa here is used with the meaning of ‘inda.” And others have said that the word ‘alaa is used with the meaning of min.

لِلَّذِينَ يَعْمَلُونَ السُّوءَ بِجَهَالَةٍ

… is for those who do evil out of ignorance …

Qatadah said, “The Companions of Allah’s Messenger were all in agreement that anything done in disobedience to Allah is ignorance regardless of whether it is done intentionally or not, and that everyone who disobeys Allah is ignorant.” Continue reading

Why do the Mufassiroon differ?: Ibn Taymiyah

One section of the book Majmoo’ al-Fataawa ibn Taymiyah begins with the following question:

وسئل رحمه الله عن قوله صلى الله عليه وسلم { من فسر القرآن برأيه فليتبوأ مقعده من النار } ” فاختلاف المفسرين في آية واحدة إن كان بالرأي فكيف النجاة ؟ وإن لم يكن بالرأي فكيف وقع الاختلاف والحق لا يكون في طرفي نقيض أفتونا . ؟

He was asked – may Allah have mercy on him – about the statement of the Prophet, “Whoever interprets the Qur’an according to his own opinion, then let him take his seat in the Hell-Fire”:

If the different positions that the hold mufassiroon regarding certain ayah arose due to their personal opinions, then how can they be saved? Or if these different positions where not a product of their own personal opinions then how did these different opinions come to be when the truth is not at odds with itself? Won’t you give us a verdict?

Sheikh al-Islaam ibn Taymiyah responded by saying:

فأجاب رحمه الله تعالى ينبغي أن يعلم أن الاختلاف الواقع من المفسرين وغيرهم على وجهين : ” أحدهما ” ليس فيه تضاد وتناقض ; بل يمكن أن يكون كل منهما حقا وإنما هو اختلاف تنوع أو اختلاف في الصفات أو العبادات وعامة الاختلاف الثابت عن مفسري السلف من الصحابة والتابعين هو من هذا الباب فإن الله سبحانه إذا ذكر في القرآن اسما مثل قوله : { اهدنا الصراط المستقيم } فكل من المفسرين يعبر عن الصراط المستقيم بعبارة يدل بها على بعض صفاته وكل ذلك حق بمنزلة ما يسمى الله ورسوله وكتابه بأسماء كل اسم منها يدل على صفة من صفاته فيقول بعضهم : { الصراط المستقيم } كتاب الله أو اتباع كتاب الله [ ص: 382 ] ويقول الآخر : { الصراط المستقيم } هو الإسلام أو دين الإسلام ويقول الآخر : { الصراط المستقيم } هو السنة والجماعة ويقول الآخر : { الصراط المستقيم } طريق العبودية أو طريق الخوف والرجاء والحب وامتثال المأمور واجتناب المحظور أو متابعة الكتاب والسنة أو العمل بطاعة الله أو نحو هذه الأسماء والعبارات . ـ

One needs to understand that the differing which occurs among the mufassiroon – and among others as well – occurs in two ways.

First, there is differing which does not actually involve any opposition or contradiction. In fact, it is possible that both of the different stances are true and that it is only a differing of categorization or a differing in descriptions or acts of worship. Out of what has been authentically transmitted, the bulk of differing among the scholars of tafsir of the salaf, namely the sahabah and the taabi’oon, falls into this category. For when Allah mentions a term in the Qur’an such as His statement: Continue reading

When Repentance Will No Longer Be Accepted: Sheikh Faisal Aal Mubarak

Since it was authored by Imam Abu Zakariyyah Yahya al-Nawawi (d. 676Ah/1277CE), the book Riyadh al-Saliheen has been a hadith collection in constant circulation among the Muslims due the great benefits that it contains. As a result, numerous explanations have been given and written for this book. One such explanation was that of sheikh Faisal Aal Mubarak (d. 1376Ah/1957CE). Like his explanations of many other essential works, sheikh Faisal’s commentary here is very direct and selective. We have marked the original text of Riyah al-Saliheen in blue, and sheikh Faisal’s commentary is in black:

ـ 17 – وعن أبي هريرة رضي الله عنه قال : قال رسول الله ﷺ : ” من تاب قبل أن تطلع الشمس من مغربها تاب الله عليه” . ((رواه مسلم)) . ـ

17. On the authority of Abu Hurayrah, he said that Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) said:

Whoever turns in repentance before the sun rises from the west, Allah will turn in to him in forgiveness.

Reported by Muslim.

قبول التوبة مستمر ما دام باب مفتوحا ، فإذ إغلق لم تقبل . قال الله تعالى : [يَوْمَ يَأْتِي بَعْضُ آيَاتِ رَبِّكَ لَا يَنفَعُ نَفْسًا إِيمَانُهَا لَمْ تَكُنْ آمَنَتْ مِن قَبْلُ أَوْ كَسَبَتْ فِي إِيمَانِهَا خَيْرًا] (الانعام 158) يعني إذا طلعت الشمس من مغربا لم ينفع الكافر إيمانه ولا العاصي توبته . ـ

The acceptance of repentance is ongoing as long as the door of repentance is open, but when that door is closed it will not be accepted.

Allah said: Continue reading

Assorted Qur’an Benefits #21

What follows is a collection of benefits originally posted on our Facebook page and Telegram Channel in the first part of December 2017:

♦ Ibn Kathir’s Approach to the Qiraa’aat in his Tafsir

The great mufassir al-haafidh Ismaa’eel ibn Kathir explained the approach he took in his tafsir towards linguistic discussion and the qiraa’aat by writing:

 وفي جبريل وميكائيل لغات وقراءات ، تذكر في كتب اللغة والقراءات ، ولم نطول كتابنا هذا بسرد ذلك إلا أن يدور فهم المعنى عليه ، أو يرجع الحكم في ذلك إليه ، وبالله الثقة ، وهو المستعان . ـ

Regarding the words “Jibreel” and “Meekaa’eel” [c.f. 2:98], there are a number of linguistic issues and different recitations which are mentioned in the books of language and qiraa’aat. But we will not elongate this book of ours by going through these topics unless the meaning of an ayah centers around that or unless a legal ruling related to an ayah hinges on one of those things. In Allah do we place our trust, and it is from Him that we seek aid.”

[Tafsir ibn Kathir 1/343]


♦ Continuing Rewards

Allah says in surah al-Tin:

لَقَدْ خَلَقْنَا الْإِنسَانَ فِي أَحْسَنِ تَقْوِيمٍ * ثُمَّ رَدَدْنَاهُ أَسْفَلَ سَافِلِينَ * إِلَّا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَعَمِلُوا الصَّالِحَاتِ فَلَهُمْ أَجْرٌ غَيْرُ مَمْنُونٍ

We have certainly created man in the best form * then we return him to the lowest of the low * Except for those who believe and do righteous good deeds – for them there is a reward without interruption [95:4-6]

Commenting on these latter two ayaat in his book of tafsir, ibn al-Jawzi wrote:

 وقال النخعي: إذا بلغ المؤمن من الكبر ما يعجز عن العمل كتب له ما كان يعمل، وهو قوله تعالى: فلهم أجر غير ممنون وقال ابن قتيبة: المعنى: إلا الذين آمنوا في وقت القوة والقدرة، فإنهم حال الكبر غير منقوصين وإن عجزوا عن الطاعات، لأن الله تعالى علم أنهم لو لم يسلبهم القوة لم ينقطعوا عن أفعال الخير، فهو يجري لهم أجر ذلك . ـ

Ibrahim al-Nakaa’i said: When a believer reaches old age and is no longer able to perform good deeds, what he used to do will continue to be written for him. This is as Allah says, “For them there is a reward without interruption”. Continue reading

Explanation of Ayah al-Kursi: al-Tafsir al-Muyassar

Allah says the following in surah al-Baqarah, in the ayah known as Ayah al-Kursi:

اللَّـهُ لَا إِلَـٰهَ إِلَّا هُوَ الْحَيُّ الْقَيُّومُ ۚ لَا تَأْخُذُهُ سِنَةٌ وَلَا نَوْمٌ ۚ لَّهُ مَا فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَمَا فِي الْأَرْضِ ۗ مَن ذَا الَّذِي يَشْفَعُ عِندَهُ إِلَّا بِإِذْنِهِ ۚ يَعْلَمُ مَا بَيْنَ أَيْدِيهِمْ وَمَا خَلْفَهُمْ ۖ وَلَا يُحِيطُونَ بِشَيْءٍ مِّنْ عِلْمِهِ إِلَّا بِمَا شَاءَ ۚ وَسِعَ كُرْسِيُّهُ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضَ ۖ وَلَا يَئُودُهُ حِفْظُهُمَا ۚ وَهُوَ الْعَلِيُّ الْعَظِيمُ

Allah – none has the right be worshiped except Him, al-Hayy al-Qayyoom. Neither tiredness nor sleep overtakes Him. To Him belongs whatever is in the heavens and whatever is in the earth. Who can intercede with Him except by His permission? He knows what is ahead of you and what is behind you, and they grasp nothing of His knowledge except what He wills. His foot-stool extends over the heavens and the earth, and He feels no fatigue in guarding them. And He is al-‘Alee al-‘Atheem. [2:255]

The authors of al-Tafsir al-Muyassar, an abbreviated work of salafi tafsir written in modern times, provided the following explanation of this ayah. The book al-Tafsir al-Muyassar is written as commentary in the margins of the Madinah Mushaf, so the explanations function as a sort of gloss or almost like a paraphrase of the ayah with some additional comments:

الله الذي لا يستحق الألوهية والعبودية إلا هو، الحيُّ الذي له جميع معاني الحياة الكاملة كما يليق بجلاله، القائم على كل شيء، لا تأخذه سِنَة أي: نعاس، ولا نوم، كل ما في السموات وما في الأرض ملك له، ولا يتجاسر أحد أن يشفع عنده إلا بإذنه، محيط علمه بجميع الكائنات ماضيها وحاضرها ومستقبلها، يعلم ما بين أيدي الخلائق من الأمور المستقبلة، وما خلفهم من الأمور الماضية، ولا يَطَّلعُ أحد من الخلق على شيء من علمه إلا بما أعلمه الله وأطلعه عليه. وسع كرسيه السموات والأرض، والكرسي: هو موضع قدمي الرب- جل جلاله- ولا يعلم كيفيته إلا الله سبحانه، ولا يثقله سبحانه حفظهما، وهو العلي بذاته وصفاته على جميع مخلوقاته، الجامع لجميع صفات العظمة والكبرياء. وهذه الآية أعظم آية في القرآن، وتسمى: آية الكرسي. ـ

Allah, the One besides Whom no one else deserves to be deified or worshiped.

He is al-Hayy – the Ever-Living – Who exemplifies every aspect of complete life in a manner befitting His majesty. He is the One presiding over everything. Continue reading

The Best Method of Tafsir: al-Zarkashi

Sheikh Badr al-Deen al-Zarkashi included the following brief but comprehensive words in part of his discussion of the sources of tafsir in his famous handbook to the Qur’anic sciences, al-Burhan:

قيل : أحسن طريق التفسير أن يفسر القرآن بالقرآن ، فما أجمل في مكان فقد فصل في موضع آخر ، وما اختصر في مكان فإنه قد بسط في آخر . فإن أعياك ذلك فعليك بالسنة ، فإنها شارحة للقرآن ، وموضحة له ، قال الله – تعالى – : وما أنزلنا عليك الكتاب إلا لتبين لهم الذي اختلفوا فيه وهدى ورحمة لقوم يؤمنون ( النحل : 64 ) ولهذا قال – صلى الله عليه وسلم – : ألا إني أوتيت القرآن ومثله معه . يعني السنة ؛ فإن لم يوجد في السنة [ ص: 316 ] يرجع إلى أقوال الصحابة ، فإنهم أدرى بذلك ، لما شاهدوه من القرائن ، ولما أعطاهم الله من الفهم العجيب ، فإن لم يوجد ذلك يرجع إلى النظر والاستنباط بالشرط السابق . ـ

Some have said that the best method of tafsir is to explain the Qur’an by means of the Qur’an itself because whatever has been mentioned in general terms in one place has been explained in more detail in another place and whatever has been summarized in one spot has been discussed at length elsewhere.

And if you are not able to do that, then you must turn to the Sunnah for it is an explanation of the Qur’an and serves to make it clear. Allah said:

وَمَا أَنزَلْنَا عَلَيْكَ الْكِتَابَ إِلَّا لِتُبَيِّنَ لَهُمُ الَّذِي اخْتَلَفُوا فِيهِ ۙ وَهُدًى وَرَحْمَةً لِّقَوْمٍ يُؤْمِنُونَ

And We have not revealed the Book to you except for you to make those things which they have differed about clear to them and as guidance and mercy for a people who believe [16:64]

It was in this same vein that the Prophet said, “Indeed, I have been given the Qur’an and the likes of it along with it”, meaning the Sunnah. Continue reading

Two Types of Allah’s “With-ness” in Context: Imam al-Sa’di

One of the many beneficial books authored by Sheikh ‘Abd al-Rahman al-Sa’di is Tanbeehaat al-Lateefah, an explanation of ibn Taymiyah’s famous al-‘Aqeedah al-Waasitiyyah. The following is a brief excerpt from that work dealing with better understanding the places in the Qur’an where Allah mentions His “with-ness”:

وإذا أردت أن تعرف هل المراد المعية العامة أو الخاصة، فانظر إلى سياق الآيات: فإن كان المقام مقام تخويف ومحاسبة للعباد على أعمالهم، وحث على المراقبة، فإن المعية عامة، مثل قوله: {مَا يَكُونُ مِنْ نَجْوَى ثَلَاثَةٍ} [المجادلة: 7] الآية، وإن كان المقام مقام لطف وعناية من الله بأنبيائه وأصفيائه، وقد رتبت المعية على الاتصاف بالأوصاف الحميدة، فإن المعية معية خاصة، وهو أغلب إطلاقاتها في القرآن، مثل: {أَنَّ اللَّهَ مَعَ الْمُتَّقِينَ} [التوبة: 123] {إِنَّ اللَّهَ مَعَ الصَّابِرِينَ} [البقرة: 153] {لَا تَحْزَنْ إِنَّ اللَّهَ مَعَنَا} [التوبة: 40] ونحوها.ـ

If you want to know whether the intended meaning of Allah’s with-ness in an ayah is general or specific, then look at the context of the ayah. If it comes in a place of intimidation and taking the slave to account for his actions or inciting him to take himself to account then it is a general with-ness, such as His statement:

مَا يَكُونُ مِن نَّجْوَىٰ ثَلَاثَةٍ إِلَّا هُوَ رَابِعُهُمْ وَلَا خَمْسَةٍ إِلَّا هُوَ سَادِسُهُمْ وَلَا أَدْنَىٰ مِن ذَٰلِكَ وَلَا أَكْثَرَ إِلَّا هُوَ مَعَهُمْ أَيْنَ مَا كَانُوا ۖ ثُمَّ يُنَبِّئُهُم بِمَا عَمِلُوا يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّـهَ بِكُلِّ شَيْءٍ عَلِيمٌ

There is no private conversation of three except that He is the fourth of them, nor of five except that He is the sixth of them – and no less than that nor more except that He is with them wherever they are. Then on the Day of Resurrection He will inform them of what they did. Indeed Allah is all knowing of all things. [58:7]

But if it comes in a place of gentleness and care from Allah towards His prophets and chosen ones and the with-ness is stipulated by some praiseworthy quality, then this is the specific type of with-ness, which is the more commonly-found type in the Qur’an. Examples include: Continue reading

Remarks on the Contents of Surah Taha: Ibn Taymiyah

In one of his many writings, Sheikh al-Islaam ibn Taymiyah mentioned the following:

سورة طه وقال شيخ الإسلام رحمه الله فصل ” سورة طه ” مضمونها تخفيف أمر القرآن وما أنزل الله تعالى من كتبه فهي ” سورة كتبه ” – كما أن مريم ” سورة عباده ورسله ” – افتتحها بقوله : { ما أنزلنا عليك القرآن لتشقى } . . إلى قوله : { تنزيلا ممن خلق الأرض والسماوات العلا } . ثم ذكر قصة موسى ونداء الله له ومناجاته إياه وتكليمه له وقصته من أبلغ أمر الرسل فلهذا ثنيت في القرآن ; لأنه حصل له الخطاب والكتاب وأرسل إلى فرعون الجاحد المرتاب المكذب للربوبية والرسالة وهذا أعظم الكافرين عنادا واستوفى القصة في هذه السورة إلى قوله : { رب زدني علما } ثم ذكر قصة آدم ; لأنها أول النبوات . ـ

The contents of Surah Taha include the ease of the Qur’an and what Allah has sent down in His Books, so it is “the Surah of His Books“, just as Surah Maryam was “the Surah of His servants and messengers”.

The surah opens with Allah’s statement:

مَا أَنزَلْنَا عَلَيْكَ الْقُرْآنَ لِتَشْقَىٰ * إِلَّا تَذْكِرَةً لِّمَن يَخْشَىٰ * تَنزِيلًا مِّمَّنْ خَلَقَ الْأَرْضَ وَالسَّمَاوَاتِ الْعُلَى

We have not sent the Qur’an down to you to cause you to be distressed * But only as a reminder to those who fear * It is a revelation from the One who created the earth and the high heavens [20:2-4]

Then He mentioned the story of Moosaa and Allah’s call to him, His private discussion with him, and His speaking to him.

The story of Moosaa is one of the most amazing things of any the messengers, which is why it is returned to so frequently throughout the Qur’an. For Moosaa was granted both direct speech from Allah as well as a scripture, and Allah sent him to Fir’awn, the incredulous disbelieving denier of both Allah’s lordship and of the fact that Allah sent messengers. He was the gravest of all the disbelievers in his obstinance. So this story occupies this surah until Allah’s statement: Continue reading