Being Patient During and After Trials: Tafsir al-Sa’di

Allah says in surah Hud:

وَلَئِنْ أَذَقْنَا الْإِنسَانَ مِنَّا رَحْمَةً ثُمَّ نَزَعْنَاهَا مِنْهُ إِنَّهُ لَيَئُوسٌ كَفُورٌ * وَلَئِنْ أَذَقْنَاهُ نَعْمَاءَ بَعْدَ ضَرَّاءَ مَسَّتْهُ لَيَقُولَنَّ ذَهَبَ السَّيِّئَاتُ عَنِّي ۚ إِنَّهُ لَفَرِحٌ فَخُورٌ * إِلَّا الَّذِينَ صَبَرُوا وَعَمِلُوا الصَّالِحَاتِ أُولَـٰئِكَ لَهُم مَّغْفِرَةٌ وَأَجْرٌ كَبِيرٌ

And if We give man a taste of mercy from Us and then We withdraw it from him, indeed, he is despairing and ungrateful. * But if We give him a taste of favor after hardship has touched him, he will surely say, “Bad times have left me.” Indeed, he is exultant and boastful – * Except for those who are patient and do righteous deeds; those will have forgiveness and great reward. [11:9-11]

In his famous book of tafsir, sheikh ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn Naasir al-Sa’di commented on these ayaat by writing:

يخبر تعالى عن طبيعة الإنسان، أنه جاهل ظالم بأن الله إذا أذاقه منه رحمة كالصحة والرزق، والأولاد، ونحو ذلك، ثم نزعها منه، فإنه يستسلم لليأس، وينقاد للقنوط، فلا يرجو ثواب الله، ولا يخطر بباله أن الله سيردها أو مثلها، أو خيرا منها عليه. ـ

Allah is informing us of the nature of man, that he is ignorant and unjust because when Allah causes him to experience some of His mercy, such as health, provision, offspring, etc., and then later removes it from him, man gives in to hopelessness and lets himself be ruled by despair. He does not feel any hope for Allah’s reward, nor does it cross his mind that Allah might return that blessing to him, or might give him another similar blessing, or might even give him something better that what he had had. Continue reading

Reflecting on the Wonders of Allah’s Creation: Sheikh Faisal Aal Mubarak

In his brief explanation of al-Nawawi’s Riyadh al-Saliheen, Sheikh Faisal Aal Mubarak provided the following valuable comments about a recurring theme in the Qur’an:

باب التفكير في عظيم مخلوقات الله تَعَالَى وفناء الدنيا وأهوال الآخرة وسائر أمورهما وتقصيرنفس وتهذيبها وحملها عَلَى الاستقامة
Chapter: Reflecting on the Wonders of Allah’s Creation, the Passing Nature of this Worldly Life, the Terrors of the Hereafter and other related matters. Also, Recognizing One’s Own Deficiencies, Removing Them and Motivating Oneself to Be Upright

التفكر في المخلوقات: كالعرش، والكرسي، والسماء والأرض يدل على كمال الخالق وعظمته. ـ

Reflecting on the Wonders of Allah’s Creation – such as the ‘Arsh – the Throne, the Kursi – the Footstool, the sky and the earth. All of these things point to the grandeur and complete perfection of the Creator.

وفي الحديث: «ما السماء والأرض، وما بينهما في العرش إلا كحلقة أُلْقيتْ في فلاة من الأرض» ، وقد قال الله تعالى: {وَمَا قَدَرُوا اللَّهَ حَقَّ قَدْرِهِ وَالأَرْضُ جَمِيعاً قَبْضَتُهُ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ وَالسَّماوَاتُ مَطْوِيَّاتٌ بِيَمِينِهِ سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَى عَمَّا يُشْرِكُونَ} [الزمر (67) ] .” ـ

There is a hadith:

The heavens and the earth in comparison to the kursi are like a plate of armor in the midst of a desert, and the kursi in comparison to the Throne is itself like a plate of armor in the midst of a desert.

And Allah said:

وَمَا قَدَرُوا اللَّهَ حَقَّ قَدْرِهِ وَالأَرْضُ جَمِيعاً قَبْضَتُهُ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ وَالسَّماوَاتُ مَطْوِيَّاتٌ بِيَمِينِهِ سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَى عَمَّا يُشْرِكُونَ

They have not appraised Allah with true appraisal, while He will take the entire earth within His grip on the Day of Resurrection and the heavens will be folded in His right hand. Exalted is He and high above what they associate with Him. [39:67]

والتفكُّر في فناء الدنيا: يبعثه على الزهد فيها، والإِقبال على الآخرة. ـ

Reflecting on the Passing Nature of this Worldly Life – this promotes more self-restraint when it comes to pursuing the pleasures of this worldly life, instead turning one’s attention to the hereafter.

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Ibn Mas’ood and the Prophet’s Final Review of the Qur’an

In a small booklet dedicated to a study of the narrated statements regarding the final review of the Qur’an that the Prophet performed with the angel Jibril in the year of his death, sheikh Muhammad Bazmool included the following valuable and clarifying discussion:

المسألة التاسعة : العرضة الأخيرة ، هي قراءة زيد أو قراءة ابن مسعود؟ ـ
Issue #9: The Final Review of the Qur’an, was it in the recitation of Zayd ibn Thabit or the recitation of ibn Mas’ood?

عن شَقِيقُ بْنُ سَلَمَةَ، قَالَ خَطَبَنَا عَبْدُ اللَّهِ فَقَالَ وَاللَّهِ لَقَدْ أَخَذْتُ مِنْ فِي رَسُولِ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم بِضْعًا وَسَبْعِينَ سُورَةً، وَاللَّهِ لَقَدْ عَلِمَ أَصْحَابُ النَّبِيِّ صلى الله عليه وسلم أَنِّي مِنْ أَعْلَمِهِمْ بِكِتَابِ اللَّهِ وَمَا أَنَا بِخَيْرِهِمْ‏.‏ قَالَ شَقِيقٌ فَجَلَسْتُ فِي الْحِلَقِ أَسْمَعُ مَا يَقُولُونَ فَمَا سَمِعْتُ رَادًّا يَقُولُ غَيْرَ ذَلِكَ‏.‏ ـ

Shaqeeq ibn Salamah said: ‘Abdullah ibn Mas’ood addressed us one day and said:

I swear by Allah that I learned seventy-something surahs directly from Allah’s Messenger, and I swear by Allah that the Companions of the Prophet know that I am one of the most knowledgeable of them when it comes to the Qur’an, although I am not the best of them.

and Shaqeeq said, “I sat in the sittings, listening to what was said and I did not hear anyone refuting what he said.”

ولفظ مسلم : عَنْ شَقِيقٍ، عَنْ عَبْدِ اللَّهِ، أَنَّهُ قَالَ ‏{‏ وَمَنْ يَغْلُلْ يَأْتِ بِمَا غَلَّ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ‏}‏ ثُمَّ قَالَ عَلَى قِرَاءَةِ مَنْ تَأْمُرُونِي أَنْ أَقْرَأَ فَلَقَدْ قَرَأْتُ عَلَى رَسُولِ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم بِضْعًا وَسَبْعِينَ سُورَةً وَلَقَدْ عَلِمَ أَصْحَابُ رَسُولِ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم أَنِّي أَعْلَمُهُمْ بِكِتَابِ اللَّهِ وَلَوْ أَعْلَمُ أَنَّ أَحَدًا أَعْلَمُ مِنِّي لَرَحَلْتُ إِلَيْهِ ‏.‏ قَالَ شَقِيقٌ فَجَلَسْتُ فِي حَلَقِ أَصْحَابِ مُحَمَّدٍ صلى الله عليه وسلم فَمَا سَمِعْتُ أَحَدًا يَرُدُّ ذَلِكَ عَلَيْهِ وَلاَ يَعِيبُهُ ‏.‏ ـ

In the wording of Muslim, Shaqeeq relayed that ‘Abdullah ibn Mas’ood said

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How The Qur’an Describes Itself: Tafsir al-Sa’di

After a brief introduction, Sheikh ‘Abd al-Rahman al-Sa’di opened his book of thematic tafsir with the following chapter on the descriptions of the Qur’an found within the Qur’an itself:

ـ [مقدمة في ذكر أوصاف القرآن العامة الجامعة] ـ

Introduction: Some of the General Features of the Qur’an

في ذكر أوصاف القرآن العامة الجامعة قد وصف الله كتابه بأوصاف جليلة عظيمة تنطبق على جميعه، وتدل أكبر دلالة على أنه الأصل والأساس لجميع العلوم النافعة، والفنون المرشدة لخير الدنيا والآخرة: ـ

Allah has described His Book with many wonderful and tremendous qualities which apply to it in its entirety and which show with the utmost certainty that it is the foundation and the basis for all beneficial knowledge and all rightly-directed practices that lead to good in both this life and in the hereafter.

وصفه بالهدى والرشد، والفرقان، وأنه مبين وتبيان لكل شيء؛ فهو في نفسه هدى، ويهدي الخلق لجميع ما يحتاجونه من أمور دينهم ودنياهم، ويرشدهم إلى كل طريق نافع، ويفرق لهم بين الحق والباطل، والهدى والضلال، وبين أهل السعادة والشقاوة بذكر أوصاف الفريقين، وفيه بيان الأصول والفروع بذكر أدلتها النقلية والعقلية، فوصفه بهذه الأوصاف المطلقة العامة التي لا يشذ عنها شيء في آيات كثيرة. ـ

He described it as “a guidance”, “right direction,” “a criterion”, and that it is clear and a clarification for everything. So it is in-and-of-itself guidance, and it guides the created beings to everything that they need in terms of both their religion and their worldly lives and it directs them to every beneficial path. It shows them the difference between truth and falsehood, between guidance and misguidance, and between the people of ultimate joy and the people of ultimate sorrow through mentioning the qualities of these two groups.

It contains a explanation of both fundamental principles and secondary matters, mentioning evidences both of textual and intellectual natures for these. So Allah characterized the Qur’an completely and unrestrictedly with these qualities, and none of its many ayaat fall outside of these descriptions. Continue reading

Links Between the Beginnings and Ends of Surahs: al-Suyooti

In part of his chapter on the munasabat [connections and links between ayaat and surahs] in his famous handbook on the Qur’anic sciences, Imam al-Suyooti mentioned the following:

من هذا النوع مناسبة فواتح السور وخواتمها ، وقد أفردت فيه جزءا لطيفا سميته مراصد المطالع في تناسب المقاطع والمطالع . ـ

Another type of munasabat are those between the beginning of a surah and its conclusion. I have written a work specifically focused on this category of munasabat entitled Maraasid al-Mataali’ fee Tanaasub al-Maqaati’ w’al-Mataali’.

وانظر إلى سورة القصص كيف بدئت بأمر موسى ونصرته ، وقوله فلن أكون ظهيرا للمجرمين [ القصص : 17 ] . وخروجه من وطنه ، وختمت بأمر النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم بأن لا يكون ظهيرا للكافرين ، وتسليته عن إخراجه من مكة ، ووعده بالعود إليها لقوله في أول السورة إنا رادوه [ القصص : 7 ] . ـ

Consider how surah al-Qasas begins with with the story of Moosaa, his helping the man in the market, his statement:

فَلَنْ أَكُونَ ظَهِيرًا لِّلْمُجْرِمِينَ

So I will never again be a helper to the criminal wrong-doers [28:17]

and his leaving his homeland. Then it ends with commanding the Prophet to not be a helper to the disbelievers and giving him some consolation for his leaving Mecca. And Allah also gives him a promise that he will return to Mecca in His statement:

إِنَّا رَادُّوهُ

… Indeed, We shall bring him back … [28:7]

قال الزمخشري : وقد جعل الله فاتحة سورة قد أفلح المؤمنون وأورد في خاتمتها إنه لا يفلح الكافرون [ المؤمنون : 117 ] . فشتان ما بين الفاتحة والخاتمة . ـ

al-Zamakhshari said: Allah placed Continue reading

A Brief Discussion of Sabr in the Qur’an: Sheikh Faisal Aal Mubarak

In many of the chapters in Riyadh al-Saliheen, Imam al-Nawawi would begin with some relevant ayaat before listing the hadith narrations he had selected. Sheikh Faisal Aal Mubarak added some valuable commentary of these ayaat in his explanation of Riyadh al-Saliheen. The original text from al-Nawawi will be in blue, and the commentary will be in black:

باب الصبر
Chapter on Sabr [Steadfast Patience]

قال الله تعالى : {يا أيها الذين آمنوا اصبروا وصابروا} ((آل عمران : 200) ـ

Allah said:

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا اصْبِرُوا وَصَابِرُوا

O you who believe, persevere and endure … [3:200]

الصبر ثلاثة أنواع : صبر على طاعة الله ، وصبر عن محارم الله ، وصبر على أقدار الله وقد أمر الله تعالى بالصبر على ذلك كله . ـ

There are three types of sabr:

Sabr in obedience to Allah

Sabr against the prohibitions of Allah

Sabr in the face of the divine decrees of Allah

and Allah has commanded us to have sabr in all of these things. Continue reading

Tafsir of Surah al-Baqarah 47-57: al-Tafsir al-Muyassar

This is the fifth installment of our translation of al-Tafsir al-Muyassar‘s explanation of surah al-Baqarah, covering ayaat 47-57, in which Allah reminds the Children of Israel of His blessings upon them and their ingratitude for those blessings. See the series guide here for more information.

يَا بَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ اذْكُرُوا نِعْمَتِيَ الَّتِي أَنْعَمْتُ عَلَيْكُمْ وَأَنِّي فَضَّلْتُكُمْ عَلَى الْعَالَمِينَ

O Children of Israel, remember My favor which I bestowed upon you and that I favored you over all creation. [2:47]

يا ذرية يعقوب تذكَّروا نعمي الكثيرة عليكم، واشكروا لي عليها، وتذكروا أني فَضَّلْتكم على عالَمي زمانكم بكثرة الأنبياء، والكتب المنزَّلة كالتوراة والإنجيل. ـ

47. O offspring of Ya’qub, remember My many favors upon you and be grateful to Me for them, and remember that I favored you over all the created beings of your time. This favoring was by way of the many prophets and revealed scriptures such as the Tawrah and the Injeel.

وَاتَّقُوا يَوْمًا لَّا تَجْزِي نَفْسٌ عَن نَّفْسٍ شَيْئًا وَلَا يُقْبَلُ مِنْهَا شَفَاعَةٌ وَلَا يُؤْخَذُ مِنْهَا عَدْلٌ وَلَا هُمْ يُنصَرُونَ

And fear a day when no soul can avail another soul in the least and when no intercession will be accepted from him nor will any ransom be accepted from him, nor will they be helped. [2:48] Continue reading

Three Parables in Surah al-Tahreem: ibn al-Qayyim

The great scholar Ibn al-Qayyim mentioned the following in part of his discussion of the parables of the Qur’an:

ومنها قوله تعالى ضرب الله مثلا للذين كفروا امرأة نوح وامرأة لوط كانتا تحت عبدين من عبادنا صالحين فخانتاهما فلم يغنيا عنهما من الله شيئا وقيل ادخلا النار مع الداخلين وضرب الله مثلا للذين آمنوا امرأة فرعون إذا قالت رب ابن لي عندك بيتا في الجنة ونجني من فرعون وعمله ونجني من القوم الظالمين ومريم ابنة عمران التي أحصنت فرجها فنفخنا فيه من روحنا وصدقت بكلمات ربها وكتبه وكانت من القانتين

Another example is Allah’s statement:

‏ضَرَبَ اللَّهُ مَثَلًا لِلَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا اِمْرَأَةَ نُوحٍ وَامْرَأَةَ لُوطٍ كَانَتَا تَحْتَ عَبْدَيْنِ مِنْ عِبَادِنَا صَالِحَيْنِ فَخَانَتَاهُمَا فَلَمْ يُغْنِيَا عَنْهُمَا مِنَ اللَّهِ شَيْئًا وَقِيلَ ادْخُلَا النَّارَ مَعَ الدَّاخِلِينَ

Allah presents an example of those who disbelieved: the wife of Nuh and the wife of Lut. They were under two of Our righteous servants but betrayed them, so those prophets did not avail them from Allah at all, and it was said, “Enter the Fire with those who enter.”

وَضَرَبَ اللَّهُ مَثَلًا لِلَّذِينَ آمَنُوا اِمْرَأَةَ فِرْعَوْنَ إِذْ قَالَتْ رَبِّ ابْنِ لِي عِنْدَكَ بَيْتًا فِي الْجَنَّةِ وَنَجِّنِي مِنْ فِرْعَوْنَ وَعَمَلِهِ وَنَجِّنِي مِنَ الْقَوْمِ الظَّالِمِينَ

And Allah presents an example of those who believed: the wife of Fir’awn, when she said, “My Lord, build for me near You a house in Paradise and save me from Fir’awn and his deeds and save me from the wrongdoing people.”

وَمَرْيَمَ ابْنَتَ عِمْرَانَ الَّتِي أَحْصَنَتْ فَرْجَهَا فَنَفَخْنَا فِيهِ مِنْ رُوحِنَا وَصَدَّقَتْ بِكَلِمَاتِ رَبِّهَا وَكُتُبِهِ وَكَانَتْ مِنَ الْقَانِتِينَ

And [the example of] Maryam, the daughter of ‘Imran, who guarded her chastity, so We breathed into her Our Ruh, and she testified to the truth of the Words of her Lord, and His Scriptures, and she was of the devoutly obedient. [66:10-12]

فاشتملت هذه الآيات على ثلاثة أمثال مثل للكفار ومثلين للمؤمنين فتضمن مثل الكفار أن الكافر يعاقب على كفره وعداوته لله ورسوله وأوليائه ولا ينفعه مع كفره ما كان بينه وبين المؤمنين من لحمة نسب أو صلة صهر أو سبب من أسباب الاتصال فإن الأسباب كلها تنقطع يوم القيامة إلا ما كان منها متصلا بالله وحده على أيدي رسله فلو نفعت وصلة القرابة والمصاهرة أو النكاح مع عدم الإيمان لنفعت الوصلة التي كانت بين لوط ونوح وامرأتيهما فلما لم يغنيا عنهما من الله شيئا قيل ادخلا النار مع الداخلين

These ayaat include three parables: one of the disbelievers and two of the believers.

The example of the disbelievers shows that a disbeliever will be punished for his disbelief and opposition to Allah, His Messenger and His allies, and that as long as this disbelief is present, no blood relations or family ties through marriage or any other kind of connection that one might have with the believers will have any benefit. All of these connections will be cut off on the Day of Resurrection, except for those which were connected to Allah alone by way of His Messengers. Continue reading