Encouragement and Intimidation in the Qur’an: Tafsir ibn Kathir

Allah concludes surah al-An’aam by saying:

إِنَّ رَبَّكَ سَرِيعُ الْعِقَابِ وَإِنَّهُ لَغَفُورٌ رَّحِيمٌ

Your Lord is certainly swift in punishment, and He is certainly forgiving and merciful. [6:165]

After commenting on the immediate meaning of this ayah, al-haafidh ibn Kathir took this opportunity to highlight a larger stylistic feature of the Qur’an:

وقوله : ( إن ربك سريع العقاب وإنه لغفور رحيم ) ترهيب وترغيب ، أن حسابه وعقابه سريع ممن عصاه وخالف رسله ( وإنه لغفور رحيم ) لمن والاه واتبع رسله فيما جاءوا به من خير وطلب . ـ

This statement contains both incitement through intimidation and incitement through encouragement: that Allah’s reckoning and punishment is swift for those who disobey Him and oppose His messengers

وَإِنَّهُ لَغَفُورٌ رَّحِيمٌ

and He is certainly forgiving and merciful

to those who align themselves with Him and follow His Messenger in the goodness and  that they have brought and what they command.

وكثيرا ما يقرن تعالى في القرآن بين هاتين الصفتين ، كما قال تعالى : وقوله : ( نبئ عبادي أني أنا الغفور الرحيم وأن عذابي هو العذاب الأليم ) [ الحجر : 49 ، 50 ] ، وقوله : ( وإن ربك لذو مغفرة للناس على ظلمهم وإن ربك لشديد العقاب ) [ الرعد : 6 ] وغير ذلك من الآيات المشتملة على الترغيب والترهيب ، فتارة يدعو عباده إليه بالرغبة وصفة الجنة والترغيب فيما لديه ، وتارة يدعوهم إليه بالرهبة وذكر النار وأنكالها وعذابها والقيامة وأهوالها ، وتارة بهذا وبهذا لينجع في كل بحسبه . جعلنا الله ممن أطاعه فيما أمر ، وترك ما عنه نهى وزجر ، وصدقه فيما أخبر ، إنه قريب مجيب سميع الدعاء ، جواد كريم وهاب . ـ

Allah frequently pairs these two qualities and mentions them in conjunction throughout the Qur’an. Take for instance His statement: Continue reading

Which Surahs were Revealed in Installments or All at Once: al-Suyooti

In part of his famous handbook on the Qur’anic sciences, al-Itqan, sheikh Jalal al-Deen al-Suyooti included a chapter on which parts of the Qur’an were revealed all at once and which parts were revealed in installments. What follows is the slightly abridged form of this chapter, as found in sheikh Muhammad Bazmool’s abridgement of al-Itqan:

النَّوْعُ عَشَرَ : مَا نَزَلَ مُفَرَّقًا وَمَا نَزَلَ جَمْعًا
Chapter 10: What was Revealed in Parts and What was Revealed All Together

الْأَوَّلُ – ما نزل مفرقا – غَالِبُ الْقُرْآنِ‏ . ‏ وَمِنْ أَمْثِلَتِهِ فِي السُّوَرِ الْقِصَارِ‏ : ‏ اقْرَأْ أَوَّلُ مَا نَزَلَ مِنْهَا ، إِلَى قَوْلِهِ : ‏ ‏مَا لَمْ يَعْلَم . ‏ وَالضُّحَى أَوَّلُ مَا نَزَلَ مِنْهَا ، إِلَى قَوْلِهِ : ‏ ‏فَتَرْضَى‏ ‏ كَمَا فِي حَدِيثِ الطَّبَرَانِيِّ . ـ

The first category – the surahs which were revealed in installments – accounts for most of the Qur’an. Some examples of this in the smaller surahs include:

اقْرَأْ

Recite … [96:1]

which went from that first part of it to be revealed until

مَا لَمْ يَعْلَمْ

… that which he did not know [96:5]

and surah al-Duhaa [93], which went from its beginning until Continue reading

A History of the Printing of the Qur’an

Dr. Husam al-Deen Tahir ‘Abd al-Mun’im, an Egyptian professor of Arabic and researcher in the Qur’anic Sciences, authored a long article on the history of the mushaf – the Qur’an in written form  – from the time of the Prophet until modern times.

After discussing the collection and dissemination of the mushaf during the times of Abu Bakr and ‘Uthman, the introduction of dots, vowel symbols, and division markings during the time of the Umayyads, and the attention devoted to producing beautiful hand-written mushafs during the Abbasid and Ottoman eras, the author then turned to the advent of the printing press and the history of printed mushafs, as translated below. Pictures of the different printings have been added by the translator to supplement the article.

وقد شهد عصر العثمانيين علامة فارقة في تاريخ المصحف، وهي ظهور المطبعة التي اخترعها جوتنبرج في ألمانيا عام 1436م، ولم تلبث أن استقدمها العثمانيون إلى الأستانة بعد تحفظ فقهي كبير، حيث كان الفقهاء يفتون بحرمة طباعة المصحف والكتب الدينية، وتعددت التفسيرات لهذا الموقف، فمن قائل إنه التخوف من تحريف القرآن وتغيير حروفه، ومن قائل إنه التخوف من تواكل طلاب العلم وتركهم الحفظ، ومن قائل إن الطباعة كانت تمثل تهديدا لفئات كثير من الفقهاء والقضاة وكبار موظفي الدواوين ممن كانوا يعتمدون في تحصيل رزقهم على نسخ الكتب والمصاحف.ـ

The era of the Ottomans witnessed a milestone in the history of the mushaf, which was the advent of the printing press that Gutenberg invented in Germany in 1436 CE, and it was not long before the Ottomans brought it to Astana [modern-day Istanbul] after some significant fiqh-based reservations, for the scholars held different positions as to whether it was permissible to print the mushaf and other religious works, with a number of different interpretations. Some argued against it based on the fear that it would distort the Qur’an and alter its letters. Others argued against it based on the fear that students of knowledge would rely on printed works and leave off memorization. Others said that printing was a threat to groups such as scholars, judges, and the upper management of libraries who relied on copying books and mushafs for their livelihood.

ومهما يكن من أمر فقد عرفت المطبعة طريقها إلى دار السلطنة العثمانية، كما عرفت طريقها إلى بعض البلاد الإسلامية في فترات تاريخية مبكرة، إلا أن المصحف لم يطبع في أيٍ منها إلا متأخرا نسبيا إذا ما قورن بطبعات القرآن في أوربا.ـ

In any case, the printing press found its way to the Ottoman government, as well as to some Islamic countries in early historical periods, but the mushafs was not printed in any of them until relatively late when compared to the Qur’an editions in Europe.

فقد طبع القرآن لأول مرة في البندقية في حدود سنة 1530م ، ويذكر بعض الباحثين أن السلطات الكنسية أمرت بإعدام هذه النسخة، ثم طبع في هانبورغ سنة 1694م بإشراف المستشرق الألماني هنكلمان، وامتلأت بالأخطاء الطباعية وأخطاء أخرى، ويوجد نسخة منها في دار الكتب المصرية وفي مكتبة الملك سعود بالرياض، كما طبع المصحف في مدينة بتافيا الإيطالية سنة 1698م.ـ

The Qur’an was printed for the first time in Venice near the year 1530 CE, and some researchers mention that the Papal authorities ordered the destruction of this copy. It was next printed in Hamburg in the year 1694 CE under the supervision of the German orientalist Hinckelmann, and it was filled with typographical errors as well as other errors. There is a copy of it in the Egyptian National Library and in the King Sa’ud Library in Riyadh. A mushaf was also printed in the Italian city of Padua in 1698 CE. Continue reading

Taking up Partners: Tafsir al-Sa’di

Allah describes the disbelievers in surah al-Baqarah by saying:

وَمِنَ النَّاسِ مَن يَتَّخِذُ مِن دُونِ اللَّهِ أَندَادًا

And there are some people who take up partners besides Allah… [2:165]

Commenting on this phrase, sheikh ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn Naasir al-Sa’di wrote:

وفي قوله: { اتخذوا } دليل على أنه ليس لله ند وإنما المشركون جعلوا بعض المخلوقات أندادا له, تسمية مجردة, ولفظا فارغا من المعنى، كما قال تعالى: { وَجَعَلُوا لِلَّهِ شُرَكَاءَ قُلْ سَمُّوهُمْ أَمْ تُنَبِّئُونَهُ بِمَا لَا يَعْلَمُ فِي الْأَرْضِ أَمْ بِظَاهِرٍ مِنَ الْقَوْلِ } { إِنْ هِيَ إِلَّا أَسْمَاءٌ سَمَّيْتُمُوهَا أَنْتُمْ وَآبَاؤُكُمْ مَا أَنْزَلَ اللَّهُ بِهَا مِنْ سُلْطَانٍ إِنْ يَتَّبِعُونَ إِلَّا الظَّنَّ } ـ

Allah’s referring to them as “taking up partners” is proof that Allah does not actually have any equals and that the mushrikoon merely treat some of created beings like equals to Him, but those are nothing more than titles and words devoid of any real substance. That is like how they say:

وَجَعَلُوا لِلَّهِ شُرَكَاءَ قُلْ سَمُّوهُمْ أَمْ تُنَبِّئُونَهُ بِمَا لَا يَعْلَمُ فِي الْأَرْضِ أَمْ بِظَاهِرٍ مِنَ الْقَوْلِ

Yet they ascribe partners to Allah. Say: “Name them! Is it that you will inform Him of something in the earth that He does not know, or is it just a show of false words?” [13:33] Continue reading

al-Tawheed in Surah al-Burooj: ibn al-Qayyim

In part of his work dedicated to discussing the oaths is the Qur’an, ibn al-Qayyim wrote the highlighted the following point in part of his treatment of surah al-Burooj:

وقد اشتملت هذه السورة على اختصارها من التوحيد

Despite its short size, this surah – surah a-Burooj (85)contains numerous proofs for al-Tawheed:

على وصفه سبحانه بالعزة المتضمنة للقدرة والقوة وعدم النظير

It characterizes Allah as Mighty, a term which encompasses complete ability, power and the absence of any peer. [see 85:8]

والحمد المتضمن لصفات الكمال والتنزيه عن أضدادها مع محبته وإلهيته

It describes Him as being Praiseworthy, which entails attributes of completion and negates any opposite deficient qualities. This also points to His qualities of love and His divine nature. [see 85:8]

وملكه السموات والأرض المتضمن لكمال غناه وسعة ملكه

It mentions His ownership of the heavens and the earth, which indicates a complete lack of need for anyone or anything else, as well as pointing to the expansiveness of His ownership. [see 85:9] Continue reading

Understanding Texts which Promise Hellfire for Sins Less than Shirk: Sheikh ‘Abd al-Razzaq al-Badr

In his thirtieth lesson on Kitab al-Tawheed, sheikh ‘Abd a-Razzaq al-Badr mentioned the following important topic for understanding the Qur’an and the Sunnah:

وختم رحمه لله تعالى هذه الترجمة بهذا الحديث حديث أبي موسى الأشعري رضي لله عنه قال : قال رسول لله صلى لله عليه وسلم : ((ثلاثة لا يدخلون الجنة : مدمن الخمر، وقاطع الرحم، ومصدق لسحر)) رواه أحمد وابن حبان في صحيحه . وهذا الحديث معاشر الإخوة الكرام من أحاديث الوعيد والتهديد في مثل هذه الكبائرالعظيمة وعظائم الأمور المرتكَبة . ـ

The author – may Allah have mercy on him – concluded the chapter with this hadith of Abu Moosaa al-Ash’ari (may Allah be pleased with him) who said that Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) said:

Three people will not enter al-Jannah: the drunkard, the one who cuts off family ties, and the one who believes in magic.

This was reported by Ahmad and by ibn Hibban in his Saheeh. This hadith is one of a number of hadith narrations entailing threats and warnings for these sorts of grave major sins and terrible acts.

قال عليه الصلاة والسلام ((ثلاثة لا يدخلون الجنة)) أي الجنة عليهم حرام ، ((ثلاثة لا يدخلون الجنة)) فهوالمذكورة في هذا الحديث ؛ لأن وعيد بعدم خول الجنة مما يدل على عظم هذا الأمر وفداحته وكبر هذه الخطا فاعلها تُوعد بعدم خول الجنة . ـ

The Prophet said, “Three people shall not enter al-Jannah” – meaning that Jannah is forbidden for them. “Three people shall not enter al-Jannah” and they are the ones mentioned in this hadith. The threat of not entering al-Jannah indicates the weightiness and grave nature of this thing and the gravity of the error of anyone who commits it, so much so that he is threatened with not being able to enter al-Jannah. Continue reading

Assorted Qur’an Benefits #36

The following short quotes and excerpts were originally published on our social media channels during the second half of October 2019:

♦ The Virtue of Teaching the Qur’an

Allah says in surah Fussilat:

وَمَنْ أَحْسَنُ قَوْلًا مِّمَّن دَعَا إِلَى اللَّـهِ وَعَمِلَ صَالِحًا وَقَالَ إِنَّنِي مِنَ الْمُسْلِمِينَ

And who is better in speech than one who invites to Allah and does righteousness and says, “Indeed, I am of the Muslims.” [41:33]

Ibn Hajr al-‘Asqalani mentioned this ayah in his explanation of Imam al-Bukhari’s chapter entitled “The Best of You Are Those Who Learn the Qur’an and Teach it” and commented on the first quality mentioned in the ayah by saying:

وَالدُّعَاءُ إِلَى اللَّهِ يَقَعُ بِأُمُورٍ شَتَّى ، مِنْ جُمْلَتِهَا تَعْلِيمُ الْقُرْآنِ وَهُوَ أَشْرَفُ الْجَمِيع

Calling to Allah can be done through many different ways, one of which is teaching the Qur’an, which is the most noble of them all.

[Fath al-Bari 9/76]


Sabr in the Qur’an

In his work dedicated to the virtues of Sabr and Shukr (steadfast patience and gratitude), Imam ibn al-Qayyim preceded his discussion of the places where Sabr is mentioned in the Qur’an by writing: Continue reading

Tafsir of Surah al-Baqarah 168-176: al-Tafsir al-Muyassar

This is the sixteenth installment of our translation of al-Tafsir al-Muyassar‘s explanation of surah al-Baqarah, covering ayaat 168-176. This passage continues discussing the great crime, harms and punishments of concealing or altering the truth that Allah has revealed. See the series guide here for more information about this series and other installments.

يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ كُلُوا مِمَّا فِي الأَرْضِ حَلالًا طَيِّبًا وَلا تَتَّبِعُوا خُطُوَاتِ الشَّيْطَانِ إِنَّهُ لَكُمْ عَدُوٌّ مُبِينٌ * إِنَّمَا يَأْمُرُكُمْ بِالسُّوءِ وَالْفَحْشَاءِ وَأَنْ تَقُولُوا عَلَى اللَّهِ مَا لا تَعْلَمُونَ

O mankind, eat from whatever is on the earth that is lawful and good, and do not follow the footsteps of the shaytaan. He is certainly a clear enemy to you. * He only orders you to do evil and immorality and to say what you do not know about Allah. [2:168-169]

يا أيها الناس كلوا من رزق الله الذي أباحه لكم في الأرض، وهو الطاهر غير النجس، النافع غير الضار، ولا تتبعوا طرق الشيطان في التحليل والتحريم، والبدع والمعاصي. إنه عدو لكم ظاهر العداوة إنما يأمركم الشيطان بكل ذنب قبيح يسوءُكم، وبكل معصية بالغة القبح، وبأن تفتروا على الله الكذب من تحريم الحلال وغيره بدون علم.ـ

168-169. O mankind, eat from what Allah has provided and permitted for you on the earth. Those are the things which are clean, not filthy; beneficial, not harmful. And do not follow the shaytaan‘s ways of treating forbidden things as permitted, treating permitted things as forbidden, innovations, and sin. He is certainly a plain enemy. The shaytaan only commands you to do all forms of despicable sins that will harm you and all kinds of utterly reprehensible sins, and to fabricate lies about Allah such as treating forbidden things as permitted, treating permitted things as forbidden, and other such lies not based on any knowledge.

وَإِذَا قِيلَ لَهُمُ اتَّبِعُوا مَا أَنزَلَ اللَّـهُ قَالُوا بَلْ نَتَّبِعُ مَا أَلْفَيْنَا عَلَيْهِ آبَاءَنَا ۗ أَوَلَوْ كَانَ آبَاؤُهُمْ لَا يَعْقِلُونَ شَيْئًا وَلَا يَهْتَدُونَ

And when they are told, “Follow what Allah has revealed,” they say, “Rather, we will follow what we found our fathers doing.” Even if their fathers did not understand anything nor were they guided?  [2:170]

وإذا قال المؤمنون ناصحين أهل الضلال: اتبعوا ما أنزل الله من القرآن والهدى، أصرُّوا على تقليد أسلافهم المشركين قائلين: لا نتبع دينكم، بل نتبع ما وجدنا عليه آباءنا. أيتبعون آباءهم ولو كانوا لا يعقلون عن الله شيئًا، ولا يدركون رشدًا؟ـ

170. When the believers sincerely advise the people of misguidance by saying, “Follow the Qur’an and guidance that Allah has revealed,” they persist in blind-following their polytheist ancestors, saying, “We will not follow your religion. Instead, we will follow what we found our fathers doing.” Will they follow their fathers even if their fathers did not understand anything about Allah, nor did they practice an upright way of life? Continue reading

Those Who Hear Nothing But Calls and Cries: Tafsir al-Sa’di

Allah strikes the following parable in surah al-Baqarah:

وَمَثَلُ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا كَمَثَلِ الَّذِي يَنْعِقُ بِمَا لَا يَسْمَعُ إِلَّا دُعَاءً وَنِدَاءً ۚ صُمٌّ بُكْمٌ عُمْيٌ فَهُمْ لَا يَعْقِلُونَ

And the likeness of those who disbelieve is like that of one who shouts at what hears nothing but calls and cries. Deaf, dumb, and blind, so they do not understand. [2:171]

Commenting on this ayah, Sheikh ‘Abd al-Rahman al-Sa’di wrote:

لما بين تعالى عدم انقيادهم لما جاءت به الرسل, وردهم لذلك بالتقليد, علم من ذلك أنهم غير قابلين للحق, ولا مستجيبين له, بل كان معلوما لكل أحد أنهم لن يزولوا عن عنادهم، أخبر تعالى, أن مثلهم عند دعاء الداعي لهم إلى الإيمان كمثل البهائم التي ينعق لها راعيها, وليس لها علم بما يقول راعيها ومناديها، فهم يسمعون مجرد الصوت, الذي تقوم به عليهم الحجة, ولكنهم لا يفقهونه فقها ينفعهم

After clearly showing their lack of compliance with what the messengers brought and their rejection of the messengers on the basis of blind following, it has become clear that they are not receptive or responsive to the truth. On the contrary, it has become plain to everyone that they will persist in their obstinance. Continue reading