Using a Non-Canonical Recitation as Evidence: Tafsir ibn Kathir

In surah al-Ma’idah, Allah describes the expiation of a broken oath as follows:

 فَكَفَّارَتُهُ إِطْعَامُ عَشَرَةِ مَسَاكِينَ مِنْ أَوْسَطِ مَا تُطْعِمُونَ أَهْلِيكُمْ أَوْ كِسْوَتُهُمْ أَوْ تَحْرِيرُ رَقَبَةٍ ۖ فَمَن لَّمْ يَجِدْ فَصِيَامُ ثَلَاثَةِ أَيَّامٍ

… So its expiation is the feeding of ten needy people from the average of that which you feed your families or clothing them or the freeing of a slave. But whoever does not find the means – then a fast of three days. … [5:89]

al-Haafidh Ismaa’eel ibn Kathir addressed the ayah at length in his tafsir. In the midst of his discussion, he turns to a question regarding the fast:

واختلف العلماء : هل يجب فيها التتابع أو يستحب ولا يجب ويجزئ التفريق؟ على قولين : أحدهما أنه لا يجب التتابع ، هذا منصوص الشافعي في كتاب ” الأيمان ” ، وهو قول مالك لإطلاق قوله : ( فصيام ثلاثة أيام ) وهو صادق على المجموعة والمفرقة ، كما في قضاء رمضان ; لقوله : ( فعدة من أيام أخر ) [ البقرة : 184 ] . ـ

The scholars have differed as to whether the days of fasting for this expiation must be done consecutively or if that is only recommended without reaching the level of obligation, thus making it permissible to fast them non-consecutively. They fall into two camps:

The first position holds that it is not required to fast them consecutively. This the opinion of Imam al-Shafi’ee as is mentioned in the book al-Ayman, as well as being the position of Imam Malik. This was based off the general nature of Allah’s statement:

فَصِيَامُ ثَلَاثَةِ أَيَّامٍ

then a fast of three days

which could apply to both fasting them consecutively or non-consecutively, just as is the case when making up any missed days of Ramadan according to Allah’s statement:

فَعِدَّةٌ مِّنْ أَيَّامٍ أُخَرَ

then an equal number from other days [2:184]

ونص الشافعي في موضع آخر في ” الأم ” على وجوب التتابع ، كما هو قول الحنفية والحنابلة ; لأنه قد روي عن أبي بن كعب وغيرهم أنهم كانوا يقرءونها : ” فصيام ثلاثة أيام متتابعات ” . ـ

But in another place in al-Umm, al-Shafi’ee stated that it was in fact obligatory to fast this expiation consecutively, as is also the position of the Hanafis and Hanbalis. That position is based off what has been reported that Ubay ibn Ka’b and others used to recite this ayah as:

فصيام ثلاثة أيام متتابعات

then a fast of three consecutive days [compare to 5:89]

قال أبو جعفر الرازي ، عن الربيع ، عن أبي العالية ، عن أبي بن كعب أنه كان يقرؤها : ” فصيام ثلاثة أيام متتابعات ” . ـ

Abu Ja’far al-Razi reported from al-Rabee’, from Abu’l-‘Aliyah, from ‘Ubay ibn Ka’b that he used to recite it as:

فصيام ثلاثة أيام متتابعات

then a fast of three consecutive days [compare to 5:89]

وحكاها مجاهد والشعبي وأبو إسحاق ، عن عبد الله بن مسعود . ـ

Mujahid, al-Sha’bi and Abu Ishaaq also reported this from ‘Abdullah ibn Mas’ood.

وقال إبراهيم : في قراءة عبد الله بن مسعود : ” فصيام ثلاثة أيام متتابعات ” . ـ

And Ibrahim [al-Nakha’ee] said: In the recitation of ‘Abdullah ibn Mas’ood it was

فصيام ثلاثة أيام متتابعات

then a fast of three consecutive days [compare to 5:89]

وقال الأعمش : كان أصحاب ابن مسعود يقرءونها كذلك . ـ

And al-A’mash said: The students of ibn Mas’ood used to recite it that way.

وهذه إذا لم يثبت كونها قرآنا متواترا ، فلا أقل أن يكون خبرا واحدا ، أو تفسيرا من الصحابي ، وهو في حكم المرفوع . ـ

So then, even if these recitations cannot be definitely confirmed through mutawatir transmission as being Qur’an, then at the very least it has still been transmitted at level below mutawatir. Or this recitation could be understood to be the explanation of a Companion, which is something that takes the same ruling as a statement of the Prophet.

وقال أبو بكر بن مردويه : حدثنا محمد بن علي ، حدثنا محمد بن جعفر الأشعري ، حدثنا الهيثم بن خالد القرشي ، حدثنا يزيد بن قيس ، عن إسماعيل بن يحيى عن ابن عباس قال : لما نزلت آية الكفارات قال حذيفة : يا رسول الله ، نحن بالخيار؟ قال : ” أنت بالخيار ، إن شئت أعتقت ، وإن شئت كسوت ، وإن شئت أطعمت ، فمن لم يجد فصيام ثلاثة أيام متتابعات ” . وهذا حديث غريب جدا . ـ

Abu Bakr ibn Mardawayh said … that ibn ‘Abbaas said:

When this ayah of expiation was revealed, Hudayfah said, “O Messenger of Allah, do we have a choice in the matter?” The Prophet responded, “You do have a choice. If you wish you can free a slave. If you wish you can clothe others. And if you wish, you can feed others. Then whoever cannot find a way to do these options should fast three consecutive days.”

However this hadith was only transmitted by one narrator at several places in its chain.

[Tafsir ibn Kathir 3/177]

Sheikh ‘Abd al-Kareem al-Khudayr briefly mentioned a principle related to this topic when he said:

ما ثبت عن الصحابة رضي الله عنهم من القراءات بأسانيد صحيحة مما لا يوافق الرسم العثماني تُرد على أساس أنها قرآن؛ لأنها لم تثبت في مصحف عثمان، وتُقبل على أساس أنها تفسير؛ لصحة إسنادها إلى الصحابي، وتفسير الصحابي مقبول، ويُعمل به إن جرى مجرى التفسير. ـ

Any qiraa’aat which are authentically traced back to the Companions with sound chains of transmission but do not match the written form of the official ‘Uthmani mushaf are rejected as being Qur’an. That is because they are not verified in the mushaf of ‘Uthman. However these same qiraa’aat are accepted as being tafsir due to the strength of their chains of narration going back to the Companion because the tafsir of a Companion is accepted. So such qiraa’aat can be used for the purposes of tafsir.

[As found here]

See also: Non-Canonical Recitations Can Help Explain the Qur’an: al-Zarkashi

See also: The Types of Tafsir: Sheikh Muhammad Bazmool

See also: Tafsir of the Qur’an and its Connection to the Qiraa’aat: al-Suyooti

See also: The Fiqh of Oaths – Imam al-Sa’di

2 thoughts on “Using a Non-Canonical Recitation as Evidence: Tafsir ibn Kathir

  1. Pingback: Clarification on the Qiraa’aat and the Ahruf: al-Qurtubi | Tulayhah

  2. Pingback: The Seven Qiraa’aat are all Part of One Harf: ibn Taymiyah | Tulayhah

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.