How to Distinguish Muhkam from Mutashaabih: Sheikh Muhammad Bazmool

Sheikh Muhammad Bazmool, a professor at Umm al-Qura University in Mecca, wrote the following question and answer:

كل أهل البدع يستدلون بالقرآن والسنة، ويرون أدلتهم محكمة وأدلة مخالفيهم من المتشابه! ما السبيل الذي استطيع أن أميز أن استدلالي بالآية أو الحديث هو استدلال بالمحكم دون المتشابه؟ ـ

[Question] All of the people of innovation use the Qur’an and the Sunnah as evidences to support their positions and consider their own evidences to be muhkam (clear-cut and definitive) while believing that the evidence of those who oppose them are mutashaabih (ambiguous and uncertain). How can I determine if my use of an ayah or hadith to support a position is actually relying on something muhkam rather than something mutashaabih?

هذا السؤال يجول في خاطر بعض الناس ويبحث عن جواب، واسأل الله تبارك وتعالى أن يعين عليه ، فأقول: ـ

[Response] This question deals with a challenge that some people face and for which they are searching for an answer. I ask Allah to aid us in that, and I would respond:

أولاً : لتعلم أنه ليس مجرد الاستدلال بالآية أو بالحديث يجعل استدلالك مبني على حجة صحيحة، حتى يتحقق في الآية التي تستدل بها والحديث أنهما من المحكم وليسا من المتشابه. ولذلك جاء عن عبدالله بن عمرو بن العاص رضي الله عنه: “العلم آية محكمة أو سنة ماضية أو فريضة قائمة”؛ فانظر لم يقل العلم الآية و الحديث، حتى قيد الآية بأن تكون محكمة والسنة بأن تكون ماضية . ـ

First, you should know that just because you bring an ayah or a hadith to support your point does not necessarily mean that what you are trying to prove is built of a strong foundation until you verify that the ayah or hadith which you are using as evidence is actually muhkam and not mutashaabih. There is something in this vein from ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Amr ibn al-‘Aas where he said,

“Knowledge is a muhkam verses or an established sunnah or a valid derived ruling.”

Notice that he did not say “knowledge is an ayah or a hadith” without stipulating that the ayah had to be muhkam and that the sunnah had to be established. Continue reading

The Death of the Scholars: Tafsir al-Baghawi & al-Qurtubi

Allah says in surah al-Ra’d:

أَوَلَمْ يَرَوْا أَنَّا نَأْتِي الْأَرْضَ نَنقُصُهَا مِنْ أَطْرَافِهَا ۚ وَاللَّـهُ يَحْكُمُ لَا مُعَقِّبَ لِحُكْمِهِ ۚ وَهُوَ سَرِيعُ الْحِسَابِ

Have they not seen that We set upon the land, reducing it from its borders? And Allah decides; there is no adjuster of His decision. And He is swift in account. [13:41]

Commenting on this, Imam al-Baghawi wrote:

قوله تعالى ( أولم يروا ) يعني : أهل مكة ، الذين يسألون محمدا صلى الله عليه وسلم الآيات ( أنا نأتي الأرض ننقصها من أطرافها ) أكثر المفسرين على أن المراد منه فتح ديار الشرك ، فإن ما زاد في ديار الإسلام فقد نقص من ديار الشرك ، يقول : ( أولم يروا أنا نأتي الأرض ننقصها من أطرافها ) فنفتحها لمحمد أرضا بعد أرض حوالي أرضهم ، أفلا يعتبرون ؟ هذا قول ابن عباس ، وقتادة ، وجماعة . ـ

Allah’s statement:

أَوَلَمْ يَرَوْا

Have they not seen …

i.e. Haven’t the people of Mecca, those who ask Muhammad for miracles, seen

أَنَّا نَأْتِي الْأَرْضَ نَنقُصُهَا مِنْ أَطْرَافِهَا

… that We set upon the land, reducing it from its borders?

Most of the mufassiroon held that the intended meaning here is Islamic conquests of the non-Muslim lands, for the increases of the Muslim lands took away from the non-Muslim lands. Continue reading

How Do Differences in the Qiraa’aat Affect the Tafsir?

The following Q&A took place with sheikh ‘Abdullah al-‘Awaaji, former professor of Tafsir at the Islamic University of al-Madinah, on Twitter on February 10th, 2020:

هل اختلاف اللفظ في القراءات يغير تفسير الكلمة في القرآن الكريم

Question: Does a difference in wording among the qiraa’aat change the explanation of that word in the Qur’an?

الاختلاف في القراءات بالنسبة للمعنى نوعان١-ما لا أثر له في التفسير، الاختلاف في وجوه الأداء،كالتسهيل والإمالة والمدود.٢-ما له أثر في التفسير،وأثره نوعان: ـ

Answer: There are two types of differences among the qiraa’aat when it comes to the meaning of a word:

1) Differences which do not have any effect on the explanation of the word. These are differences in the way that a word in articulated, such as lightening, imalah, and the mudood.

2) Differences which do have an effect on the explanation. These effects can be furthered divided into two categories: Continue reading

Completing the Qur’an in Three Months for One who is Ill: Sheikh ‘Abd al-Kareem al-Khudayr

The following question was posed to sheikh ‘Abd al-Kareem al-Khudayr during the radio program Noor ‘Alaa al-Darb:

سؤال: لا أستطيع ختم القرآن الكريم في شهر؛ لشدة ما أعانيه من مرض يُضعفني عن القراءة، فهل يجوز ختم القرآن لمدة تصل إلى ثلاثة أشهر؟ ـ

Question: I am unable to complete the Qur’an in one month due to the difficulty I face from an illness which makes me too weak to recite. Is is permissible for me to complete the Qur’an over a period of three months?

الجواب: {لاَ يُكَلِّفُ اللَّهُ نَفْساً إِلاَّ وُسْعَهَا} [البقرة: 286]، فإذا كان لا يستطيع أن يختم في شهر أو أقل من شهر فإنه يختم في المدة التي يتمكن فيها من قراءة القرآن؛ لأن هذا من ضمن التكاليف الشرعية التي تسقط عند العجز، فإذا عجز عن ذلك فلا يكلف الله نفسًا إلا وسعها، وإذا حبسه المرض عن تحقيق ما يريد وكان قبل ذلك يفعله كأن كان يقرأ في كل سبع، ثم بعد ذلك مرض وصار لا يطيق ذلك كُتب له من الأجر ما كان يعمله صحيحًا، وإذا كان السفر يعوقه عما كان يفعله في الحضر كُتب له ما كان يفعله مقيمًا، وهذا من فضل الله -جل وعلا- ولطفه بعباده. ـ

Response: 

لاَ يُكَلِّفُ اللَّهُ نَفْساً إِلاَّ وُسْعَهَا

Allah does not charge a soul beyond its capacity [2:286]

So if he is not able to complete the Qur’an in a month or less then he should complete it in the amount of time which it takes him to complete it. That is because this falls under the legal responsibilities of the Sharee’ah which are dropped when one is unable to fulfill them. So if he is unable to do that, then Allah does not charge a soul beyond its capacity. Continue reading

Whoever Does Any Part of Righteous Deeds …: Tafsir al-Tabari

Allah says in surah al-Nisaa’:

وَمَن يَعْمَلْ مِنَ الصَّالِحَاتِ مِن ذَكَرٍ أَوْ أُنثَىٰ وَهُوَ مُؤْمِنٌ فَأُولَـٰئِكَ يَدْخُلُونَ الْجَنَّةَ وَلَا يُظْلَمُونَ نَقِيرًا

And whoever does any part of righteous deeds, whether male or female, while being a believer – those will enter Paradise and will not be wronged even a speck on a date seed. [4:124]

In part of his commentary on this ayah, Imam Abu Ja’far Muhammad ibn Jarir al-Tabari wrote:

فإن قال لنا قائل: ما وجه دخول: ” مِن ” في قوله: ” ومن يعمل من الصالحات “، ولم يقل: ” ومن يعمل الصالحات “؟ قيل: لدخولها وجهان: ـ

Someone might ask: Why is the phrase “any part of” included in “any part of righteous deeds” rather than just saying “and whoever does righteous deeds”?

In that case, we would respond by saying: there are two reasons why it is included.

أحدهما: أن يكون الله قد علم أن عبادَه المؤمنين لن يُطيقوا أن يعملوا جميع الأعمال الصالحات، فأوجب وَعده لمن عمل ما أطاق منها، ولم يحرمه من فضله بسبب ما عجزتْ عن عمله منها قوّته. ـ

Firstly, Allah knows that His believing slaves will never be able do all of the righteous good deeds. He therefore made His promise apply to those who perform the good deeds within their capacity without depriving anyone of His bounty due to a lack of ability to perform those deeds. Continue reading

How to Acquire a Firm Understanding of Tafsir: Sheikh Saalih al-‘Usaymi

What follows is an excerpt from a lecture given by sheikh Saalih al-‘Usaymi in Masjid al-Nabawi during Ramadan 1432 in a series of classes regarding tafsir. This excerpt focuses on how to study tafsir and acquire a firm understanding in the field, effectively providing a curriculum in this area:

إذا تقرر مقامُ علم التفسير وعِظمُ جلالته فينبغي أن يعلمُ المرءُ بعدُ أن كل مغلوقٍ له طريقٌ يوصل إليه, وهذه قاعدةٌ أجمعت عليها الأمم قاطبةً, فمن أراد شيئاً من الأمور الحسيّة أو المعنويّة فلابد أن يسلك طريقاً يفضي به إليه وجادةً تدلُّ عليه, ولما كان العلم مطلوباً معنويً فإن له جادةً توصل إلى كلِ فنٍّ ويشهدُ لذلك ما رواه مسلم بنُ الحجاج في ((صحيحه)) من حديث سليمان الأعمش عن أبي صالح الزيات عن أبي هريرة , أن النبي قال فذكر حديثاً وفيه: <<ومن سلك طريقاً يلتمسُ فيه علماً سهل الله له به طريقاً إلى الجنة>>. وكما أن الجنة لها طرقٌ توصل إليها وهي الأعمالُ الصالحة, والاعتقادات الكاملة, فكذلك كلٌ فنٍّ من الفنون له طريقٌ يوصل إليه, ويقال حينئذٍ: إن معرفة تفسير الله لها طريقٌ توصلُ إليها وتفضي سالكها من الإحاطة بعلم التفسير. ـ

Once you understand the great importance and tremendous merit of understanding the tafsir of the Qur’an, then you must also know that there is a way to reach every objective. This is something that all people agree on, without exception. Whoever wants something, whether physical or intangible, he must take the steps and the means to reach it. So since the knowledge that you seek it something intangible, then one must have the dedication that it takes to succeed in any field of knowledge. This is supported by what Muslim ibn al-Hajjaaj transmitted in his Saheeh from the hadith of Sulayman al-Ash’ath ibn Abi Salih al-Ziyaat on the authority of Abu Hurayrah that the Prophet said in part of a longer hadith:

Whoever traverses a path in search of knowledge, then Allah will make the path to Jannah easy for him because of that.

So just as Jannah has paths leading to it – namely righteous deeds and correct beliefs -, then likewise every field of study has a path that leads to it. So here we can say: There is a path for coming to know the meanings that Allah intended in His Book which will take whoever traverses it to the goal of having a comprehensive understanding of the field of tafsir.

ولا يمكن أن يتلقى علم التفسير بدون شيخ. فعند أبي داود من حديث الأعمش عن عبدالله بن عبدالله, عن سعيد بن جُبير, عن ابن عباس أن النبي قال:<< تسمعون ويُسمع منكم ويسمعُ ممن سمع منكم>>. وإسنادهُ قوي. وهذا الحديث حُجةٌ أن كلَّ علم من العلوم لا يؤخذُ إلا بالتلقي. ويعلمُ أيضاً أن من الغلط من يظنُ أن علم التفسير يؤخذُ بالقراءة المجردة بكتب التفسير, لأن التفسير ليست معادلات رياضيةٍ تحفظ وإنما هو علمٌ يَجمعُ بين إدراك جُملٍ من الأصول والقواعد مع صفاء النفوس وصلاحية القلوب= فعند ذلك يحاطُ بالتفسير. ــ

It is not possible to receive a good understanding of tafsir without a teacher. Abu Dawud brings the hadith of al-A’mash on the authority of ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Abdullah on the authority of Sa’eed ibn Jubayr on the authority of ibn ‘Abbaas that the Prophet said:

You hear from me and others will hear from you and then others will hear from those who heard from you.

And its chain of narration is strong.

This hadith serves as a proof that every single type of knowledge must be received and learned under a teacher. Continue reading

Assorted Qur’an Benefits #30

What follows is a collection of the short benefits published on Tulayhah social media during December 2018 and January 2019:

♦ Those who Fear their Lord Unseen

In surah al-Mulk, Allah says:

إِنَّ الَّذِينَ يَخْشَوْنَ رَبَّهُم بِالْغَيْبِ لَهُم مَّغْفِرَةٌ وَأَجْرٌ كَبِيرٌ

Indeed, those who fear their Lord unseen will have forgiveness and a great reward. [67:12]

Sheikh ‘Abd al-Rahman al-Sa’di commented on this by writing:

لما ذكر حالة الأشقياء الفجار، ذكر وصف الأبرار السعداء فقال: إن الذين يخشون ربهم بالغيب أي: في جميع أحوالهم، حتى في الحالة التي لا يطلع عليهم فيها إلا الله، فلا يقدمون على معاصيه، ولا يقصرون عما أمرهم به

After having mentioned the condition of the miserable sinful people, Allah then described the righteous people of ultimate joy by saying, “Indeed, those who fear their Lord unseen …” – meaning: in all circumstances, even in those instances when no one will know what they do except Allah, and so they neither proceed into disobeying Allah nor do they fall short of what He has commanded them to do.

[Taysir al-Kareem al-Rahman pg. 1033]


♦ Understanding Life and Death
Continue reading

Tafsir of Surah al-Baqarah 87-96: al-Tafsir al-Muyassar

This is the ninth installment of our translation of al-Tafsir al-Muyassar‘s explanation of surah al-Baqarah, covering ayaat 87-96. This passage focuses on Banu Israa’eel‘s refusal to believe in what Allah has sent to them. See the series guide here for more information about this series and other installments.

وَلَقَدْ آتَيْنَا مُوسَى الْكِتَابَ وَقَفَّيْنَا مِن بَعْدِهِ بِالرُّسُلِ ۖ وَآتَيْنَا عِيسَى ابْنَ مَرْيَمَ الْبَيِّنَاتِ وَأَيَّدْنَاهُ بِرُوحِ الْقُدُسِ ۗ أَفَكُلَّمَا جَاءَكُمْ رَسُولٌ بِمَا لَا تَهْوَىٰ أَنفُسُكُمُ اسْتَكْبَرْتُمْ فَفَرِيقًا كَذَّبْتُمْ وَفَرِيقًا تَقْتُلُونَ

And We gave the Scripture to Moosaa and followed him up with other messengers. And We gave ‘Eesaa the son of Maryam clear signs and supported him with the Ruh al-Qudus. Isn’t it that whenever a messenger came to you with something your souls did not like you became arrogant, so you denied some and killed others. [2:87]

ولقد أعطينا موسى التوراة، وأتبعناه برسل من بني إسرائيل، وأعطينا عيسى ابن مريم المعجزات الواضحات، وقوَّيناه بجبريل عليه السلام. أفكلما جاءكم رسول بوحي من عند الله لا يوافق أهواءكم، استعليتم عليه، فكذَّبتم فريقًا وتقتلون فريقًا؟ـ

87. And We granted Moosaa the Tawrah and followed him up with other messengers from Banu Israa’eel. And We granted ‘Eesaa the son of Maryam clear miracles and strengthened him with Jibreel (peace by upon him). Isn’t it the case that every time a messenger came to you with revelation from Allah that didn’t match with your desires, you rose up against him, and so you denied some and killed others.

وَقَالُوا قُلُوبُنَا غُلْفٌ ۚ بَل لَّعَنَهُمُ اللَّـهُ بِكُفْرِهِمْ فَقَلِيلًا مَّا يُؤْمِنُونَ

And they said, “Our hearts are wrapped.” No, rather Allah has cursed them for their disbelief, for how little do they believe! [2:88]

وقال بنو إسرائيل لنبي الله ورسوله محمد صلى الله عليه وسلم: قلوبنا مغطاة، لا يَنْفُذ إليها قولك. وليس الأمر كما ادَّعَوْا، بل قلوبهم ملعونة، مطبوع عليها، وهم مطرودون من رحمة الله بسبب جحودهم، فلا يؤمنون إلا إيمانًا قليلا لا ينفعهم.ـ

88. Banu Israa’eel told Allah’s prophet and messenger Muhammad (peace and blessing be upon him) that, “Our hearts are covered; your speech cannot reach them.” But things are not as they claim. Rather, their hearts are cursed and sealed over and they have been thrown out of Allah’s mercy due to their rejection of faith. So they will not believe, except for a small amount of faith which will not benefit them. Continue reading

Those Who Threw Off the Guidance that Allah Gave Them: Tafsir al-Sa’di

Allah says in surah al-A’raaf:

وَاتْلُ عَلَيْهِمْ نَبَأَ الَّذِي آتَيْنَاهُ آيَاتِنَا فَانسَلَخَ مِنْهَا فَأَتْبَعَهُ الشَّيْطَانُ فَكَانَ مِنَ الْغَاوِينَ * وَلَوْ شِئْنَا لَرَفَعْنَاهُ بِهَا وَلَـٰكِنَّهُ أَخْلَدَ إِلَى الْأَرْضِ وَاتَّبَعَ هَوَاهُ ۚ فَمَثَلُهُ كَمَثَلِ الْكَلْبِ إِن تَحْمِلْ عَلَيْهِ يَلْهَثْ أَوْ تَتْرُكْهُ يَلْهَث ۚ ذَّٰلِكَ مَثَلُ الْقَوْمِ الَّذِينَ كَذَّبُوا بِآيَاتِنَا ۚ فَاقْصُصِ الْقَصَصَ لَعَلَّهُمْ يَتَفَكَّرُونَ * سَاءَ مَثَلًا الْقَوْمُ الَّذِينَ كَذَّبُوا بِآيَاتِنَا وَأَنفُسَهُمْ كَانُوا يَظْلِمُونَ * مَن يَهْدِ اللَّـهُ فَهُوَ الْمُهْتَدِي ۖ وَمَن يُضْلِلْ فَأُولَـٰئِكَ هُمُ الْخَاسِرُونَ

Recite to them the news of the one to whom We gave Our signs, but he threw that off and so the shaytaan followed him up, so he was one of those who went astray. * And if We had wished, We could have raised him up by them, but he clung to the earth and followed his desire. The likes of this one is the likes of a dog: if you drive it away it pants and if you leave it alone it pants. Those are the likes of the people who deny Our signs. So relate this story so that they might reflect. * What an evil likeness – the people who denied Our signs and used to wrong themselves. * Whoever Allah guides, then he is the guided one, and whoever Allah leads astray, then they are the losers. [7:175-178]

Commenting on this passage in his book of tafsir, sheikh ‘Abd al-Rahman al-Sa’di wrote:

يقول تعالى لنبيه صلى الله عليه وسلم: وَاتْلُ عَلَيْهِمْ نَبَأَ الَّذِي آتَيْنَاهُ آيَاتِنَا أي: علمناه كتاب اللّه، فصار العالم الكبير والحبر النحرير. فَانْسَلَخَ مِنْهَا فَأَتْبَعَهُ الشَّيْطَانُ أي: انسلخ من الاتصاف الحقيقي بالعلم بآيات اللّه، فإن العلم بذلك، يصير صاحبه متصفا بمكارم الأخلاق ومحاسن الأعمال، ويرقى إلى أعلى الدرجات وأرفع المقامات، فترك هذا كتاب اللّه وراء ظهره، ونبذ الأخلاق التي يأمر بها الكتاب، وخلعها كما يخلع اللباس. فلما انسلخ منها أتبعه الشيطان، أي: تسلط عليه حين خرج من الحصن الحصين، وصار إلى أسفل سافلين، فأزه إلى المعاصي أزا. فَكَانَ مِنَ الْغَاوِينَ بعد أن كان من الراشدين المرشدين. ـ

Allah is telling His Prophet:

وَاتْلُ عَلَيْهِمْ نَبَأَ الَّذِي آتَيْنَاهُ آيَاتِنَا

Recite to them the news of the one to whom We gave Our signs

i.e. We taught this person the Book of Allah and so he became a major scholar and learned religious leader

فَانْسَلَخَ مِنْهَا فَأَتْبَعَهُ الشَّيْطَانُ

but he threw that off and so the shaytaan followed him up

Continue reading