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.

For if there were any ties of kinship of family ties or marital connections that brought about benefit despite a lack of eemaan then it would have been the ties between Lut and Nuh and their respective wives.

فَلَمْ يُغْنِيَا عَنْهُمَا مِنَ اللَّـهِ شَيْئًا وَقِيلَ ادْخُلَا النَّارَ مَعَ الدَّاخِلِينَ

But they did not avail them at all against Allah, and it was say, “Enter the hellfire along with those who enter it.”

قطعت الآية حينئذ طمع من ركب معصية الله وخالف أمره ورجا أن ينفعه صلاح غيره من قريب أو أجنبي ولو كان بينهما في الدنيا أشد الاتصال فلا اتصال فوق اتصال البنوة الأبوة والزوجية ولم يغن نوح عن ابنه ولا إبراهيم عن أبيه ولا نوح ولا لوط عن امرأتيهما من الله شيئا قال الله تعالى لن تنفعكم أرحامكم ولا أولادكم يوم القيامة يفصل بينكم وقال تعالى يوم لا تملك نفس لنفس شيئا وقال تعالى واتقوا يوما لا تجزى نفس عن نفس شيئا وقال واخشوا يوما لا يجزى والد عن ولده ولا مولولد هو جاز عن والده شيئا إن وعد الله حق

So here this ayah cuts off any hope of a person who disobeys Allah and opposes His commands while hoping that someone else’s righteousness – whether it be someone he is related to or otherwise – would benefit him. This is the case even if the two of them had the closest of connections of this worldly life, for there is no connection higher than the connection of a prophet to his son or spouse. Yet Nuh could not do anything to avail his son against Allah, nor could Ibrahim for his father or Nuh or Lut for their wives. Allah said:

لَن تَنفَعَكُمْ أَرْحَامُكُمْ وَلَا أَوْلَادُكُمْ ۚ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ يَفْصِلُ بَيْنَكُمْ ۚ وَاللَّـهُ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ بَصِيرٌ

Never will your relatives or your children benefit you; the Day of Resurrection He will judge between you. And Allah, of what you do, is Seeing. [60:3]

And He said:

يَوْمَ لَا تَمْلِكُ نَفْسٌ لِّنَفْسٍ شَيْئًا

It is the Day when a soul will not possess for another soul [power to do] a thing [82:19]

And He said:

وَاتَّقُوا يَوْمًا لَّا تَجْزِي نَفْسٌ عَن نَّفْسٍ شَيْئًا

And fear a Day when no soul will suffice for another soul at all [2:48]

And He said:

وَاخْشَوْا يَوْمًا لَّا يَجْزِي وَالِدٌ عَن وَلَدِهِ وَلَا مَوْلُودٌ هُوَ جَازٍ عَن وَالِدِهِ شَيْئًا ۚ إِنَّ وَعْدَ اللَّـهِ حَقٌّ

and fear a Day when no father will avail his son, nor will a son avail his father at all. Indeed, the promise of Allah is truth [31:33]

وهذا كله تكذيب لأطماع المشركين الباطلة أن من تعلقوا به من دون الله من قرابة أو صهر أو نكاح أو صحبة ينفعهم يوم القيامة أو يجيرهم من عذاب الله أو هو يشفع لهم عند الله وهذا أصل ضلالة بني آدم وشركهم وهو الشرك الذي لا يغفره الله وهو الذي بعث الله جميع رسله وأنزل جميع كتبه بإبطاله ومحاربة أهله ومعاداتهم

All of these ayaat serve to refute the false hopes of the mushrikoon that he will receive some sort of benefit from any connection that he has to others besides Allah – such as ties of kinship or extended family or marriage or friendship – on the Day of Resurrection or that these relations could protect him from Allah’s punishment or intercede for him with Allah on his behalf. This thinking is the very root of the mankind’s misguidance and shirk, and it is the shirk that Allah will not forgive. It it the very thing which Allah sent all of His Messengers and revealed all of His Scriptures to do away with and to declare war against those who engage in it.

وأما المثلان اللذان للمؤمنين فأحدهما امرأة فرعون ووجه المثل أن اتصال المؤمن بالكافر لا يضره شيئا إذا فارقه في كفره وعمله فمعصية الغير لا تضر المؤمن المطيع شيئا في الآخرة وإن تضرر بها في الدنيا بسبب العقوبة التي تحل بأهل الأرض إذا أضاعوا أمر الله فتأتي عامة فلم يضر امرأة فرعون اتصالها به وهو من أكفر الكافرين ولم ينفع امرأة نوح ولوط اتصالهما بهما وهما رسولا رب العالمين

Now, as for the two examples of the believers, then the first one is the wife of Fir’awn. The point of this example is that a believer’s connection to a disbeliever will not harm him at all so long as he separates himself from the disbeliever’s disbelief and actions. So the disobedience of someone else will not harm the obedient believer at all in the hereafter, even though he may be harmed by that in this worldly life due to a punishment which would be unleashed on the people of the earth when Allah’s command is neglected and the punishment is sent in a sweeping fashion.

So the wife of Fir’awn was not harmed by her connection to Fir’awn even though he was one of the worst disbelievers, while the wives of Nuh and Lut did not benefit from their connections to their husbands despite their husbands being Messengers of the Lord of all creation.

المثل الثاني للمؤمنين مريم التي لا زوج لها لا مؤمن ولا كافر فذكر ثلاثة أصناف من النساء المرأة الكافرة التي لها وصلة بالرجل الصالح والمرأة الصالحة التي لها وصلة بالرجل الكافر والمرأة العزب التي لا وصلة بينها وبين أحد فالأولى لا تنفعها وصلتها وسببها والثانية لا تضرها وصلتها وسببها والثالثة لا يضرها عدم الوصلة شيئا

The second example of the believers is Maryam who did not have any husband, neither believing or disbelieving. So Allah mentioned three types of women here:

A disbelieving woman with some connection to a righteous man

A righteous woman with some connection to a disbelieving man

An unmarried woman without any connection to anyone

The first category does not benefit from her connection or lineage. The second category is not harmed by her connection or lineage. And the third category is not harmed at all by the lack of any connection.

[A’lam al-Mawqi’een 1/188-190]

Explore more parables of the Qur’an here: Parables of the Qur’an Article Index

Read another explanation of these parables here: Two disbelieving women and two believing women: Tafsir al-Sa’di

See also: The story of ‘Eesaa, his mother, Zakariyyah and Yahya – Imam al-Sa’di

See also: An “Amazing Connection” in the Story of Zakariyyah: Tafsir al-Sa’di

See also: The Wives of the Prophet and the Parables of Surah al-Tahreem: ibn al-Qayyim [forthcoming, inshaAllaah]

One thought on “Three Parables in Surah al-Tahreem: ibn al-Qayyim

  1. Pingback: Two disbelieving women and two believing women: Tafsir al-Sa’di | Tulayhah

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