Exhortations in the Qur’an: Tafsir al-Shinqitee

Allah says in surah al-Nahl:

إِنَّ اللَّـهَ يَأْمُرُ بِالْعَدْلِ وَالْإِحْسَانِ وَإِيتَاءِ ذِي الْقُرْبَىٰ وَيَنْهَىٰ عَنِ الْفَحْشَاءِ وَالْمُنكَرِ وَالْبَغْيِ ۚ يَعِظُكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَذَكَّرُونَ

Indeed, Allah orders justice and good conduct and giving to relatives and He forbids immorality and bad conduct and oppression. He exhorts you that perhaps you will be reminded. [16:90]

Sheikh Muhammad al-Ameen al-Shinqitee went into some detail on each element of this ayah in his tafsir. What follows is one section of that explanation related to the mention of “exhortation” in the final part of the ayah:

وقوله ، يعظكم لعلكم تذكرون [ 16 \ 90 ] ، الوعظ : : الكلام الذي تلين له القلوب . ـ

Allah’s statement:

يَعِظُكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَذَكَّرُونَ

He exhorts you that perhaps you will be reminded

Exhortation – al-wa’th – is speech which serves to soften the heart.

تنبيه : فإن قيل : يكثر في القرآن إطلاق الوعظ على الأوامر والنواهي ; كقوله هنا : يعظكم لعلكم تذكرون [ 16 \ 90 ] ، مع أنه ما ذكر إلا الأمر والنهي في قوله : إن الله يأمر بالعدل ، إلى قوله : وينهى عن الفحشاء . . . الآية [ 16 \ 90 ] ، وكقوله في ( سورة البقرة ) بعد أن ذكر أحكام الطلاق والرجعة : ذلك يوعظ به من كان منكم يؤمن بالله واليوم الآخر [ 2 \ 232 ] ، وقوله ( في الطلاق ) في نحو ذلك أيضا : ذلكم يوعظ به من كان يؤمن بالله واليوم الآخر ، وقوله في النهي عن مثل قذف عائشة : يعظكم الله أن تعودوا لمثله أبدا . . . الآية [ 24 \ 17 ] ، مع أن المعروف عند الناس : أن الوعظ يكون بالترغيب والترهيب ونحو ذلك ، لا بالأمر والنهي . ـ

A Point Deserving of Attention:

[Question] One might point out that there are a number of places throughout the Qur’an where the term al-wa’th – exhortation – is applied to commands and prohibitions, such as Allah’s statement:

يَعِظُكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَذَكَّرُونَ

… He exhorts you that perhaps you will be reminded [16:90]

despite the fact that this ayah only mentions commands and prohibitions:

إِنَّ اللَّـهَ يَأْمُرُ بِالْعَدْلِ وَالْإِحْسَانِ وَإِيتَاءِ ذِي الْقُرْبَىٰ وَيَنْهَىٰ عَنِ الْفَحْشَاءِ وَالْمُنكَرِ وَالْبَغْيِ

Indeed, Allah orders justice and good conduct and giving to relatives and He forbids immorality and bad conduct and oppression … [16:90]

Likewise with His statement in surah al-Baqarah following the discussion of the rulings of divorce and coming back together where He says:

ذَٰلِكَ يُوعَظُ بِهِ مَن كَانَ مِنكُمْ يُؤْمِنُ بِاللَّـهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الْآخِرِ

That is the exhortation given to whoever of you believes in Allah and the Last Day [2:232]

as well as His statement in surah al-Talaq following a similar passage where He says:

ذَٰلِكُمْ يُوعَظُ بِهِ مَن كَانَ يُؤْمِنُ بِاللَّـهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الْآخِرِ

That is the exhortation given to whoever of you believes in Allah and the Last Day [65:2]

And also in His statement prohibiting the future instances like the slander of ‘Aa’ishah:

يَعِظُكُمُ اللَّـهُ أَن تَعُودُوا لِمِثْلِهِ أَبَدًا إِن كُنتُم مُّؤْمِنِينَ

Allah exhorts you to not ever return to the likes of this if you are in fact believers [24:17]

yet most people understand exhortations to be done by offering hope or instilling fear or other such methods, not simply through giving commands and prohibitions.

فالجواب : أن ضابط الوعظ : هو الكلام الذي تلين له القلوب ، وأعظم ما تلين له قلوب العقلاء أوامر ربهم ونواهيه ; فإنهم إذا سمعوا الأمر خافوا من سخط الله في عدم امتثاله ، وطمعوا فيما عند الله من الثواب في امتثاله . وإذا سمعوا النهي خافوا من سخط الله في عدم اجتنابه ، وطمعوا فيما عنده من الثواب في اجتنابه ; فحداهم حادي الخوف والطمع إلى الامتثال ، فلانت قلوبهم للطاعة خوفا وطمعا . ـ

The response to this would be that the criteria for an exhortation is that it is speech which serves to soften the hearts, and the thing which most softens the hearts of those with intellect are the commands and prohibitions of their Lord. That is because when they hear a command they fear Allah’s displeasure if they do not comply with it and they hope for Allah’s reward for carrying it out. And when they hear a prohibition they fear Allah’s displeasure if they don’t avoid it and they hope for Allah’s reward for avoiding it. So fear and hope spur them on to carry out the commands, and their hearts become softened to obedience out of both fear and hope.

[Adhwaa’ al-Bayaan 2/436]

See also: Studying the Qur’an and the Softening of Hearts: ibn Kathir

See also: A Recurring Sequence in the Qur’an: al-Zarkashi

2 thoughts on “Exhortations in the Qur’an: Tafsir al-Shinqitee

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

  2. Pingback: Tafsir of Surah al-Baqarah 228-233: al-Tafsir al-Muyassar | Tulayhah

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