Allah is Not Shy to Strike a Parable of a Mosquito: Tafsir al-Sa’di

In the early part of surah al-Baqarah, Allah says:

إِنَّ اللَّـهَ لَا يَسْتَحْيِي أَن يَضْرِبَ مَثَلًا مَّا بَعُوضَةً فَمَا فَوْقَهَا ۚ فَأَمَّا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا فَيَعْلَمُونَ أَنَّهُ الْحَقُّ مِن رَّبِّهِمْ ۖ وَأَمَّا الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا فَيَقُولُونَ مَاذَا أَرَادَ اللَّـهُ بِهَـٰذَا مَثَلًا ۘ يُضِلُّ بِهِ كَثِيرًا وَيَهْدِي بِهِ كَثِيرًا ۚ وَمَا يُضِلُّ بِهِ إِلَّا الْفَاسِقِينَ * الَّذِينَ يَنقُضُونَ عَهْدَ اللَّـهِ مِن بَعْدِ مِيثَاقِهِ وَيَقْطَعُونَ مَا أَمَرَ اللَّـهُ بِهِ أَن يُوصَلَ وَيُفْسِدُونَ فِي الْأَرْضِ ۚ أُولَـٰئِكَ هُمُ الْخَاسِرُونَ

Allah is not shy to strike a parable of a mosquito or something even less than that. As for those who have eemaan, they know that it is the truth from their Lord. But as for those who disbelieve, then they say, “What does Allah intend by this parable?” He misguides many with it and guides many with it. And He does not misguide any except for the faasiqoon. * Those who break the covenant of Allah after having taken it, and who sever what Allah has commanded to be connected, and who bring about corruption on the earth. It is they who are the losers. [2:26-27]

Sheikh ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn Naasir al-Sa’di wrote the following commentary on these ayaat:

يقول تعالى: إن الله لا يستحيي أن يضرب مثلا ما أي: أي مثل كان بعوضة فما فوقها لاشتمال الأمثال على الحكمة، وإيضاح الحق، والله لا يستحيي من الحق، وكأن في هذا، جوابا لمن أنكر ضرب الأمثال في الأشياء الحقيرة ، واعترض على الله في ذلك. فليس في ذلك محل اعتراض. بل هو من تعليم الله لعباده ورحمته بهم. فيجب أن تتلقى بالقبول والشكر. ولهذا قال: فأما الذين آمنوا فيعلمون أنه الحق من ربهم فيتفهمونها، ويتفكرون فيها. ـ

Allah says:

إِنَّ اللَّـهَ لَا يَسْتَحْيِي أَن يَضْرِبَ مَثَلًا مَّا

Allah is not shy to strike a parable …

meaning: of any sort, whether

بَعُوضَةً فَمَا فَوْقَهَا

… of a mosquito or something even less than that

because these parables contain wisdom and provide clarification of the truth, and Allah is not shy of the truth. And it is as if this is a response to whose who disapproved of Allah striking parables of lowly things and objected to Allah having done that. However they had no place to object to that. On the contrary, this is an example of Allah teaching His slaves and showing mercy to them, so it must be received with acceptance and gratitude. That is why Allah said:

فَأَمَّا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا فَيَعْلَمُونَ أَنَّهُ الْحَقُّ مِن رَّبِّهِمْ

As for those who have eemaan, they know that it is the truth from their Lord.

for they understand it and reflect on it.

فإن علموا ما اشتملت عليه على وجه التفصيل، ازداد بذلك علمهم وإيمانهم، وإلا علموا أنها حق، وما اشتملت عليه حق، وإن خفي عليهم وجه الحق فيها لعلمهم بأن الله لم يضربها عبثا، بل لحكمة بالغة، ونعمة سابغة. ـ

If they are able to have a good understanding of what it entails, then it increases them in their knowledge and eemaan. But even if that is not the case, they still know that it is the truth and that what it entails is the truth, even if its truth is hidden to them. That is because they know that Allah does not strike any parable aimlessly or without purpose. Rather, it is done for some greater reason and as a significant blessing.

وأما الذين كفروا فيقولون ماذا أراد الله بهذا مثلا فيعترضون ويتحيرون، فيزدادون كفرا إلى كفرهم، كما ازداد المؤمنون إيمانا على إيمانهم، ولهذا قال: يضل به كثيرا ويهدي به كثيرا فهذه حال المؤمنين والكافرين عند نزول الآيات القرآنية. قال تعالى: وإذا ما أنزلت سورة فمنهم من يقول أيكم زادته هذه إيمانا فأما الذين آمنوا فزادتهم إيمانا وهم يستبشرون وأما الذين في قلوبهم مرض فزادتهم رجسا إلى رجسهم وماتوا وهم كافرون فلا أعظم نعمة على العباد من نزول الآيات القرآنية، ومع هذا تكون لقوم محنة وحيرة وضلالة وزيادة شر إلى شرهم، ولقوم منحة ورحمة وزيادة خير إلى خيرهم، فسبحان من فاوت بين عباده، وانفرد بالهداية والإضلال. ـ

وَأَمَّا الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا فَيَقُولُونَ مَاذَا أَرَادَ اللَّـهُ بِهَـٰذَا مَثَلًا

But as for those who disbelieve, then they say, “What does Allah intend by this parable?”

so they object to it and are perplexed, and therefore they further increase in their disbelief, just as the believers further increased in their eemaan. That is why Allah said:

يُضِلُّ بِهِ كَثِيرًا وَيَهْدِي بِهِ كَثِيرًا

He misguides many with it and guides many with it.

So this is the state of the believer and the disbeliever when the ayaat of the Qur’an are revealed. Allah says:

وَإِذَا مَا أُنزِلَتْ سُورَةٌ فَمِنْهُم مَّن يَقُولُ أَيُّكُمْ زَادَتْهُ هَـٰذِهِ إِيمَانًا ۚ فَأَمَّا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا فَزَادَتْهُمْ إِيمَانًا وَهُمْ يَسْتَبْشِرُونَ * وَأَمَّا الَّذِينَ فِي قُلُوبِهِم مَّرَضٌ فَزَادَتْهُمْ رِجْسًا إِلَىٰ رِجْسِهِمْ وَمَاتُوا وَهُمْ كَافِرُونَ

And when a surah is revealed, there are some who say, “Which of you has had his eemaan increased by this?” As for those who have eemaan, then it increased their eemaan and they rejoice. * But as for those who have sickness in their hearts, then it added on doubt to their uncertainty, and they die while they are disbelievers. [9:124-125]

For there is no greater blessing upon the slaves than the revelation of the Qur’anic ayaat. But even though that is the case, for some people this is a trial, confusion, misguidance, and something which increases them in evil. Meanwhile, for other people it is a blessing, a mercy, and something which increases them in good. Exalted is He who made these differences among His slaves, and Who is alone in giving guidance and misguidance!

ثم ذكر حكمته في إضلال من يضلهم وأن ذلك عدل منه تعالى فقال: وما يضل به إلا الفاسقين أي: الخارجين عن طاعة الله; المعاندين لرسل الله ; الذين صار الفسق وصفهم; فلا يبغون به بدلا فاقتضت حكمته تعالى إضلالهم لعدم صلاحيتهم [ ص: 51 ] للهدى، كما اقتضت حكمته وفضله هداية من اتصف بالإيمان وتحلى بالأعمال الصالحة. ـ

Then Allah goes on to mention His reasoning for misguiding those whom He has misguided, which is that that is a form of His justice, for He said:

وَمَا يُضِلُّ بِهِ إِلَّا الْفَاسِقِينَ

And He does not misguide any except for the faasiqoon.

meaning: those who go outside of obedience to Allah and resist and oppose His messengers. These are the people for whom fisq has become one of their characteristics, so they do not even seek to change this condition of theirs. Therefore, Allah’s wisdom entails that they would be misguided due to them not being fit for guidance, just as how His wisdom and graciousness entails guiding those who are characterized by eemaan and who beautify that eemaan with righteous good deeds.

والفسق نوعان: نوع مخرج من الدين، وهو الفسق المقتضي للخروج من الإيمان; كالمذكور في هذه الآية ونحوها، ونوع غير مخرج من الإيمان كما في قوله تعالى: يا أيها الذين آمنوا إن جاءكم فاسق بنبإ فتبينوا الآية . ـ

And there are two types of fisq:

  1. A type which takes one outside of Islam. This is the fisq which entails leaving the fold of eemaan, and it is this type which is mentioned here in this ayah and in other similar passages.
  2. A type which does not take one outside the fold of eemaan, for example as is in Allah’s statement:

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا إِن جَاءَكُمْ فَاسِقٌ بِنَبَإٍ فَتَبَيَّنُوا أَن تُصِيبُوا قَوْمًا بِجَهَالَةٍ فَتُصْبِحُوا عَلَىٰ مَا فَعَلْتُمْ نَادِمِينَ

O you who have eemaan, when a faasiq comes to you with news, verify it … [49:6]

ثم وصف الفاسقين فقال: الذين ينقضون عهد الله من بعد ميثاقه وهذا يعم العهد الذي بينهم وبينه والذي بينهم وبين عباده الذي أكده عليهم بالمواثيق الثقيلة والإلزامات، فلا يبالون بتلك المواثيق; بل ينقضونها ويتركون أوامره ويرتكبون نواهيه; وينقضون العهود التي بينهم وبين الخلق. ـ

Next Allah proceeds to describe the faasiqoon by saying:

الَّذِينَ يَنقُضُونَ عَهْدَ اللَّـهِ مِن بَعْدِ مِيثَاقِهِ

Those who break the covenant of Allah after having taken it …

and this encompasses both 1) covenants made between Allah and His slaves as well as 2) those covenants between slaves, which are matters of great importance to Allah. These people are not concerned about these covenants; in fact they break them and leave off Allah’s commandments and prohibitions, and they break the agreements which they had taken with other members of the creation.

ويقطعون ما أمر الله به أن يوصل وهذا يدخل فيه أشياء كثيرة، فإن الله أمرنا أن نصل ما بيننا وبينه بالإيمان به والقيام بعبوديته ، وما بيننا وبين رسوله بالإيمان به ومحبته وتعزيره والقيام بحقوقه، وما بيننا وبين الوالدين والأقارب والأصحاب وسائر الخلق بالقيام بتلك الحقوق التي أمر الله أن نصلها. ـ

وَيَقْطَعُونَ مَا أَمَرَ اللَّـهُ بِهِ أَن يُوصَلَ

… and who sever what Allah has commanded to be connected …

and this includes many different matters, for Allah has commanded us to establish a connection of eemaan and servitude between us and Him, and a connection of eemaan, love, reverence, and giving the due rights between us and His messenger, and a connection of discharging the due rights which Allah has commanded us to fulfill between us and our parents, our relatives, our spouses, and all other members of the creation.

فأما المؤمنون فوصلوا ما أمر الله به أن يوصل من هذه الحقوق، وقاموا بها أتم القيام، وأما الفاسقون، فقطعوها، ونبذوها وراء ظهورهم; معتاضين عنها بالفسق والقطيعة; والعمل بالمعاصي; وهو: الإفساد في الأرض. ـ

But as for the believers, they fulfill that duty of discharging the rights which Allah has commanded and fulfilling them to the fullest degree. But the faasiqoon cut off those rights and ignore them, tossing them behind their backs, giving only wickedness, the cutting of ties, and acts of disobedience instead. All of that is corruption in the earth.

ف أولئك أي: من هذه صفته هم الخاسرون في الدنيا والآخرة، فحصر الخسارة فيهم; لأن خسرانهم عام في كل أحوالهم; ليس لهم نوع من الربح; لأن كل عمل صالح شرطه الإيمان; فمن لا إيمان له لا عمل له ; وهذا الخسار هو خسار الكفر، وأما الخسار الذي قد يكون كفرا; وقد يكون معصية; وقد يكون تفريطا في ترك مستحب، المذكور في قوله تعالى: إن الإنسان لفي خسر فهذا عام لكل مخلوق; إلا من اتصف بالإيمان والعمل الصالح; والتواصي بالحق; والتواصي بالصبر; وحقيقته فوات الخير; الذي كان العبد بصدد تحصيله وهو تحت إمكانه. ـ

So

أُولَـٰئِكَ

It is they …

meaning: those who have these characteristics

هُمُ الْخَاسِرُونَ

… who are the losers.

So this state of loss is made specific to them because their state of being in loss applies to every single state and condition of theirs; they do not possess any kind of success at all. Because a condition for the validity of any righteous good deed in the presence of eemaan. So whoever does not have eemaan, then he does not have any good deeds. This loss is the loss that comes with disbelief.

But as for the loss which could be referring to disbelief, or could be referring to sins, or could be referring to one’s negligence in failing to perform the encouraged actions – the loss which is mentioned in Allah’s statement:

إِنَّ الْإِنسَانَ لَفِي خُسْرٍ

Indeed, man is in loss [103:2]

then this type of loss is in effect for all created beings, except for those who are characterized by eemaan, righteous good deeds, encouraging one another in the truth, and encouraging one another to have steadfast patience.

And the true meaning of loss is a slave allowing some good which was available to him and which he was actually capable of doing to pass him by.

[Taysir al-Kareem al-Rahman pg. 27-28]

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

See also: A Reward Without Interruption: Tafsir al-Tabari

See also: Clarifying “Allah does not guide the wrong-doers”: Imam al-Sa’di

See also: Parables of the Qur’an Article Index

4 thoughts on “Allah is Not Shy to Strike a Parable of a Mosquito: Tafsir al-Sa’di

  1. Pingback: Clarifying “Allah does not guide the wrong-doers”: Imam al-Sa’di | Tulayhah

  2. Pingback: Tafsir of Surah al-Baqarah 21-29: al-Tafsir al-Muyassar | Tulayhah

  3. Pingback: Introduction to the Parables of the Qur’an: Tafsir al-Shinqitee | Tulayhah

  4. Pingback: The Purpose of Parables in the Qur’an: Tafsir al-Shinqitee | Tulayhah

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