Reasons Why the Tafsir of the Sahabah Differed: Muhammad Bazmool

Sheikh Muhammad Bazmool, a professor at Umm al-Qura University in Mecca, wrote a brief post accounting for the differences found among the Qur’anic explanations of the Sahabah. We have translated it below:

الاختلاف الواقع بين الصحابة في التفسير هو من اختلاف التنوُّع، ولا يقع بينهم اختلاف من باب التضادِّ، إلا فيما لا يصحُّ عنهم. ـ

The differing that did occur among the Sahabah in the field of tafsir is simply variations on a theme. There was not any differing among them that was actual in opposition or conflict, except for things that cannot actually be authentically attributed to them.

ووجه ما يجيء عنهم من اختلاف في التفسير يعود إلى أمرين: ـ

The reasons why there were some differences among their explanations of the Qur’an all go back to two issues:

الأمر الأوَّل: أن تتعدَّد أسماء الشيء وأوصافُه، وشروطه وأركانه، فتارةً يذكره أحدُهم باسمٍ غير ما يذكره به الآخر، وتارةً يذكره بركن فيه غير ما يذكره الآخر، ولا اختلاف تضاد بينهما، كمن يقول: اركع ركعتين، والآخر يقول: اسجد سجدتين، فالسجود والركوع من أركان الصلاة، ويعبَّر بهما عن الركعة من القيام والقراءة والركوع والرفع منه والسجود والجلوس بين السجدتين والسجود الثاني. ـ

1. A single thing can have multiple names, or multiple characteristics, conditions or key parts. So sometimes one of the Sahabah would call something a certain name while another mentioned it by a different name. In other instances, perhaps one of them would refer to the entire thing by one of its essential components while another mentioned it by a different key part. So there is no conflict or contradiction between the two. This is just like if one person said, “Pray two raka’aat” and another person said, “Pray to sajdahs”, because the sujood and the rukoo’ are both essential pillars of the salaah. So the term rukoo’ can be used to refer to the entire salaah without the need to mention the standing, recitation, bowing, coming back up from bowing, prostrating, sitting between the two prostrations or the second prostration. Continue reading

There has Certainly Been an Excellent Example for You in Ibrahim

One of the valuable books of Badr al-Deen ibn Jamaa’ah (d. 733AH) was Kashf al-Ma’aani fee al-Mutashaabih min al-Mathaani, which focused on providing explanations for the slight differences in otherwise similar ayaat. What follows are his notes related to surah al-Mumtahinah [60]:

مسألة: قوله تعالى: (قَدْ كَانَتْ لَكُمْ أُسْوَةٌ حَسَنَةٌ فِي إِبْرَاهِيمَ وَالَّذِينَ مَعَهُ) ثم قال تعالى: (لَقَدْ كَانَ لَكُمْ فِيهِمْ أُسْوَةٌ حَسَنَةٌ) كرر ذلك مرتين، فما فائدة تكراره؟ . ـ

Question: Allah says

قَدْ كَانَتْ لَكُمْ أُسْوَةٌ حَسَنَةٌ فِي إِبْرَاهِيمَ وَالَّذِينَ مَعَهُ

There has certainly been an excellent example for you in Ibrahim and those with him … [60:4]

and then He says:

لَقَدْ كَانَ لَكُمْ فِيهِمْ أُسْوَةٌ حَسَنَةٌ

There has certainly been an excellent excellent for you in them … [60:6]

This has been repeated twice, so what is the benefit of it being repeated? Continue reading

Levels of Explanation Needed for the Qur’an: al-Zarkashi

In his famous handbook to the Qur’anic sciences, al-Burhan fee ‘Uloom al-Qur’an, sheikh Badr al-Deen al-Zarkashi dedicated one chapter to discussing the different levels of explanation needed for different parts of the Qur’an. We have added a numbering system to this translation in an effort to facilitate navigating the the sections and many examples it includes:

ينقسم القرآن العظيم إلى : ما هو بين بنفسه ، بلفظ لا يحتاج إلى بيان منه ، ولا من غيره ، وهو كثير . ومنه قوله – تعالى – : التائبون العابدون ( التوبة : 112 ) الآية ، وقوله : إن المسلمين والمسلمات ( الأحزاب : 35 ) الآية ، وقوله : قد أفلح المؤمنون ( المؤمنون : 1 ) ، وقوله : واضرب لهم مثلا أصحاب القرية ( يس : 13 ) ، وقوله : ياأيها الذين أوتوا الكتاب آمنوا بما نزلنا مصدقا ( النساء : 47 ) . ـ

The Qur’an can be divided into the following categories:1. Those parts which are clear in and of themselves, with wordings that do not require any further clarification, and these are very common.

Some examples include:

Ex 1. Allah’s statement:

التَّائِبُونَ الْعَابِدُونَ الْحَامِدُونَ السَّائِحُونَ الرَّاكِعُونَ السَّاجِدُونَ الْآمِرُونَ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ وَالنَّاهُونَ عَنِ الْمُنكَرِ وَالْحَافِظُونَ لِحُدُودِ اللَّـهِ ۗ وَبَشِّرِ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ

They are those who repent, worship, praise, fast, bow, prostrate, command the good, forbid evil, and observe the regulations of Allah. And give glad tidings to the believers [9:112]

Ex 2. and His statement: Continue reading

He Gave You Hearing, Sight, and Hearts That You Might Give Thanks: Tafsir ibn Kathir

Allah says in surah al-Nahl:

وَاللَّـهُ أَخْرَجَكُم مِّن بُطُونِ أُمَّهَاتِكُمْ لَا تَعْلَمُونَ شَيْئًا وَجَعَلَ لَكُمُ السَّمْعَ وَالْأَبْصَارَ وَالْأَفْئِدَةَ ۙ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَشْكُرُونَ

And Allah has brought you out from the wombs of your mothers knowing nothing. And He gave you hearing, sight, and hearts that you might give thanks. [16:78]

al-Haafidh Ismaa’eel ibn Kathir wrote the following under his commentary of this ayah:

ذكر تعالى منته على عباده ، في إخراجه إياهم من بطون أمهاتهم لا يعلمون شيئا ، ثم بعد هذا يرزقهم تعالى السمع الذي به يدركون الأصوات ، والأبصار اللاتي بها يحسون المرئيات ، والأفئدة – وهي العقول – التي مركزها القلب على الصحيح ، وقيل : الدماغ ، والعقل به يميز بين الأشياء ضارها ونافعها . وهذه القوى والحواس تحصل للإنسان على التدريج قليلا قليلا ، كلما كبر زيد في سمعه وبصره وعقله حتى يبلغ أشده .ـ

Allah mentions how He has blessed His slaves by bringing them out of their mothers’ stomachs when they did not know anything and then after that providing them with the hearing with which they can grasp sounds and the vision with which they can perceive things and the minds (al-af’idah) – i.e. the intellects, which are housed in the heart according to the most correct position, though some say that they are housed in the brain – and intellects by which one can distinguish between harmful and beneficial things. These abilities and senses come to a person in stages bit by bit. As he gets older and older his hearing, vision and intellect continue to improve until he reaches maturity. Continue reading

A Question about the Length of the Makki Surahs

I posed the following question to sheikh ‘Abdullah al-‘Awaaji, a professor of Tafsir at the Islamic University of al-Madinah, via Twitter on the @ConsQuran channel on November 2, 2019:

احسن الله إليكم . ذكر السيوطي في الاتقان : “أخرج الطبراني ، عن ابن مسعود : نزل المفصل بمكة ، فمكثنا حججا نقرؤه ، لا ينزل غيره .” كيف نفهم هذا اثر وسور طويل نزلت قبل الهجرة كسورة الكهف و سورة يوسف وسورة الأعراف ونحوها . بارك الله فيك . ـ

[Question] May Allah be good to you. al-Suyooti mentions the following quote in al-Itqan:

al-Tabarani brought a report from ibn Mas’ood that:

The Mufassal surahs were revealed in Mecca, so we remained reciting these for years without anything else being revealed.

How should we understand this narration when long surahs such as surah al-Kahf, surah Yusuf, surah al-A’raf and others were revealed before the Hijrah?

May Allah bless you.

أولًا في ثبوت ذلك عن ابن مسعود رضي الله عنه نظر والراجح تضعيفه وقد مال محققو الاتقان ط المجمع الى تحسينه تساهلًا لانه يتعلق بالتفسير ،وممن ضعفه لعلتين مؤثرتين المحقق أد/ سعد الحميد في ج ١ من تخقيقه لسنن سعيد بن منصور وهذه صورة كلامه ـ

[Response] Firstly, there is some question as to whether this is actually an authentically transmitted statement of ibn Mas’ood. The predominant opinion is that it is weak, though the verifier of al-Itqan inclined towards grading it as acceptable due to his more relaxed standards with material related to tafsir. One of those who graded this report as weak due to two problems in its chain was the verifier Dr. Sa’d al-Humayd in the first volume of his critical edition of the Sunan of Sa’eed ibn Mansoor, and you can see the image of his comments below. Continue reading

Assorted Qur’an Benefits #26

What follows is a collection of Qur’anic benefits that were originally posted on our social media pages in May and June of 2018, which overlapped Ramadan of that year. As a result, a number of these benefits are related to Ramadan in one way or another:

♦ Silence is Golden

Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali mentions the following narration in part of his famous commentary on Arba’een al-Nawawi:

وسئل ابن المبارك عن قول لقمان لابنه : إن كان الكلام من فضة ، فإن الصمت من ذهب ، فقال : معناه : لو كان الكلام بطاعة الله من فضة ، فإن الصمت عن معصية الله من ذهب . وهذا يرجع إلى أن الكف عن المعاصي أفضل من عمل الطاعات ، وقد سبق القول في هذا مستوفى .ـ

Ibn al-Mubarak was asked about Luqman’s statement to his son, that “If speech were made of silver, then refraining from speech is made of gold.”

So ibn al-Mubarak said, “The meaning is: that if speech in obedience to Allah were made of silver, then refraining from speech that is disobedience to Allah is made of gold.”

This goes back to the point that refraining from disobedience is better than [voluntary] acts of obedience, and we have already provided a sufficient discussion of that.

[Jaami’ al-‘Uloom wa-‘l-Hikam 1/341 – under hadith #15]


♦The Latter Part is More Virtuous Than the Earlier Part

While discussing the merits of the second half of Ramadan, ibn Rajab al-Hanbali mentioned the following more general point: Continue reading

Tafsir of Surah al-Baqarah 21-29: al-Tafsir al-Muyassar

This is the second installment of our translation of al-Tafsir al-Muyassar‘s explanation of surah al-Baqarah, covering ayaat 21-29. See the series guide here for more information and previous installments.

أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ اعْبُدُوا رَبَّكُمُ الَّذِي خَلَقَكُمْ وَالَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَّقُونَ

O mankind! Worship your Lord who created you and those before you in order that you might exercise taqwa (2:21)

نداء من الله للبشر جميعًا: أن اعبدوا الله الذي ربَّاكم بنعمه، وخافوه ولا تخالفوا دينه؛ فقد أوجدكم من العدم، وأوجد الذين من قبلكم؛ لتكونوا من المتقين الذين رضي الله عنهم ورضوا عنه. ـ

21) This is a call from Allah to mankind as a whole telling them to worship Allah who has nurtured and raised them up with His blessings and to fear Him and not go against His religion. For Allah brought you into existence out of nothing, and He brought those who were before into existence as well. This is so that you would be among those who exercise taqwa, those with whom Allah is pleased and who are pleased with Allah.

الَّذِي جَعَلَ لَكُمُ الْأَرْضَ فِرَاشًا وَالسَّمَاءَ بِنَاءً وَأَنزَلَ مِنَ السَّمَاءِ مَاءً فَأَخْرَجَ بِهِ مِنَ الثَّمَرَاتِ رِزْقًا لَّكُمْ ۖ فَلَا تَجْعَلُوا لِلَّـهِ أَندَادًا وَأَنتُمْ تَعْلَمُونَ

He who made the earth a bed for you and the sky a canopy, and He sent rain down from the sky. With it, He brought forth fruits as provision for you. So do not make any equals with Allah while you know. (2:22) Continue reading

A Parable of Two Slaves: Ibn al-Qayyim

Allah strikes the following parable in surah al-Zumar:

ضَرَبَ اللَّـهُ مَثَلًا رَّجُلًا فِيهِ شُرَكَاءُ مُتَشَاكِسُونَ وَرَجُلًا سَلَمًا لِّرَجُلٍ هَلْ يَسْتَوِيَانِ مَثَلًا ۚ الْحَمْدُ لِلَّـهِ ۚ بَلْ أَكْثَرُهُمْ لَا يَعْلَمُونَ

Allah presents an example of one man owned by quarreling partners and another man belonging exclusively to a single man – are they equal in comparison? Praise be to Allah! But most of them do not know. [39:29]

The great scholar Ibn al-Qayyim commented on this ayah by writing:

هذا مثل ضربه الله سبحانه للمشرك والموحد فالمشرك بمنزلة عبد يملكه جماعة متنازعون مختلفون متشاحون والرجل المتشاكس الضيق الخلق فالمشرك لما كان يعبد آلهة شتى شبه بعبد يملكه جماعة متنافسون في خدمته لا يمكنه أن يبلغ رضاهم أجمعين . ـ

Allah has made this parable about one person who associates others with Allah and another person who singles Him out for worship. The one who associates partners with Allah is like a slave owned by a group of clashing, conflicting, and quarreling people. The word mutashaakis used in this ayah means one who has stiff and inflexible character. Similarly, when a person tries to worship multiple deities, he is like a slave owned by a group of people all competing with one another for his service, thus preventing him from being able to please them.

والموحد لما كان يعبد الله وحده فمثله كمثل عبد لرجل واحد قد سلم له وعلم مقاصده وعرف الطريق إلى رضاه فهو في راحة من تشاحن الخلطاء فيه بل هو سالم لمالكه من غير تنازع فيه مع رأفة مالكه به ورحمته له وشفقته عليه وإحسانه إليه وتوليه لمصالحه فهل يستوي هذان العبدان . ـ

On the other hand, when a person worships Allah exclusively, then he is like a slave with a single master. Such a person is completely at the service of his master and knows what his master wants and how to please Him. He is free from any joint-owners quarreling over him and is instead entirely in the service of his owner without any others clashing over him. At the same time, he enjoys the care, mercy, kindness, and goodness that his owner has towards him, and the fact that his owner considers his best interests. Continue reading