Surahs that the Prophet Used To Recite Together: al-Nawawi

Imam Muslim included the following narration in his Saheeh in the midst of a number of hadith narrations related to the prayers:

جَاءَ رَجُلٌ يُقَالُ لَهُ نَهِيكُ بْنُ سِنَانٍ إِلَى عَبْدِ اللَّهِ فَقَالَ يَا أَبَا عَبْدِ الرَّحْمَنِ كَيْفَ تَقْرَأُ هَذَا الْحَرْفَ أَلِفًا تَجِدُهُ أَمْ يَاءً مِنْ مَاءٍ غَيْرِ آسِنٍ أَوْ مِنْ مَاءٍ غَيْرِ يَاسِنٍ قَالَ فَقَالَ عَبْدُ اللَّهِ وَكُلَّ الْقُرْآنِ قَدْ أَحْصَيْتَ غَيْرَ هَذَا قَالَ إِنِّي لأَقْرَأُ الْمُفَصَّلَ فِي رَكْعَةٍ ‏.‏ فَقَالَ عَبْدُ اللَّهِ هَذًّا كَهَذِّ الشِّعْرِ إِنَّ أَقْوَامًا يَقْرَءُونَ الْقُرْآنَ لاَ يُجَاوِزُ تَرَاقِيَهُمْ وَلَكِنْ إِذَا وَقَعَ فِي الْقَلْبِ فَرَسَخَ فِيهِ نَفَعَ إِنَّ أَفْضَلَ الصَّلاَةِ الرُّكُوعُ وَالسُّجُودُ إِنِّي لأَعْلَمُ النَّظَائِرَ الَّتِي كَانَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم يَقْرُنُ بَيْنَهُنَّ سُورَتَيْنِ فِي كُلِّ رَكْعَةٍ ‏.‏ ثُمَّ قَامَ عَبْدُ اللَّهِ فَدَخَلَ عَلْقَمَةُ فِي إِثْرِهِ ثُمَّ خَرَجَ

A man named Nuhayk ibn Sinan came to ‘Abdullah ibn Mas’ood and said, “Abu ‘Abd al-Rahman, how do you recite this letter – as an alif of a yaa’? Is it

مِّن مَّاءٍ غَيْرِ آسِنٍ

… of unstagnant water … [47:15]

or is it

مِنْ مَاءٍ غَيْرِ يَاسِنٍ

… of un-stagnating water … [compare to 47:15]”

Ibn Mas’ood replied, “And you have memorized the entire Qur’an except for this?” He replied, “I recite all of the Mufassal surahs in a single raka’ah.” Ibn Mas’ood said, “Rushing through it like poets rush. There are some people who recite the Qur’an but it does not pass beyond their throats. But if it were to reach the heart and take hold within it, then it would have an effect. The best parts of the prayer are the rukoo’ and the sujood. I am well-acquainted with the pairs of similar surahs that Allah’s Messenger used to recite together in a single raka’ah.” Then ibn Mas’ood stood up to leave and ‘Alqamah followed behind him.

[Saheeh Muslim #822]

In his famous explanation of Saheeh Muslim, Imam al-Nawawi wrote the following commentary on this hadith:

قوله للذي سأل ابن مسعود عن آسن : ( كل القرآن قد أحصيت غير هذا الحرف ) هذا محمول على أنه فهم منه أنه غير مسترشد في سؤاله ، إذ لو كان مسترشدا لوجب جوابه وهذا ليس بجواب . ـ

Ibn Mas’ood response of “And you have memorized the entire Qur’an except for this?” to the man who asked about the wording of the ayah could be interpreted as ibn Mas’ood sensing that this person wasn’t asking in good faith. For if the person had legitimately wanted an answer to that question, he would have pressed for an answer rather than the non-answer that he received. Continue reading

The Muttaqoon do not Persist in Sin: Tafsir ibn Kathir

In part of surah Aal ‘Imraan, Allah describes the muttaqoon with the following characteristic:

وَالَّذِينَ إِذَا فَعَلُوا فَاحِشَةً أَوْ ظَلَمُوا أَنفُسَهُمْ ذَكَرُوا اللَّـهَ فَاسْتَغْفَرُوا لِذُنُوبِهِمْ وَمَن يَغْفِرُ الذُّنُوبَ إِلَّا اللَّـهُ وَلَمْ يُصِرُّوا عَلَىٰ مَا فَعَلُوا وَهُمْ يَعْلَمُونَ

And they are those who, when they commit an immoral act or wrong themselves, they remember Allah and so ask for forgiveness of their sins. And who forgives sins except Allah? And they do not persist in what they were doing while they know. [3:135]

The famous mufassir al-haafidh ibn Kathir explained the final phrase of this ayah by writing:

وقوله : ( وهم يعلمون ) قال مجاهد وعبد الله بن عبيد بن عمير : ( وهم يعلمون ) أن من تاب تاب الله عليه . وهذا كقوله تعالى : ( ألم يعلموا أن الله هو يقبل التوبة عن عباده ) [ التوبة : 104 ] وكقوله ( ومن يعمل سوءا أو يظلم نفسه ثم يستغفر الله يجد الله غفورا رحيما ) [ النساء : 110 ] ونظائر هذا كثيرة جدا

Regarding Allah’s statement

وَهُمْ يَعْلَمُونَ

… while they know

Mujaahid and ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Ubayd ibn ‘Umayr explained this by saying, “While they know that whoever turns in repentance, Allah will turn to him in forgiveness.”

And this is like Allah’s statements: Continue reading

Understanding Words Within Their Contexts: al-‘Izz ibn ‘Abd al-Salam

While discussing guidelines for understanding the Qur’an, al-‘Izz ibn ‘Abd al-Salam once wrote:

السياق مرشد إلى تبين المجملات وترجيح المحتملات وتقرير الواضحات وكل ذلك بعرف الاستعمال فكل صفة وقعت في سياق المدح كانت مدحا وكل صفة وقعت في سياق الذم كانت ذما فما كان مدحا بالوضع فوقع في سياق الذم صار ذما واستهزاء وتهكما بعرف الاستعمال مثاله ذق إنك أنت العزيز الكريم أي الذليل المهان لوقوع ذلك في سياق الذم وكذلك قول قوم شعيب إنك لأنت الحليم الرشيد أي السفيه الجاهل لوقوعه في سياق الإنكار عليه وكذلك إنا أطعنا سادتنا وكبراءنا لوقوعه في سياق ذمهم بإضلال الأتباع وأما ما يصلح للأمرين فيدل على المراد به السياق كقوله تعالى وإنك لعلى خلق عظيم أراد به عظيما في حسنه وشرفه لوقوع ذلك في سياق المدح وقوله إنكم لتقولون قولا عظيما أراد به عظيما في قبحه لوقوع ذلك في سياق الذم

The context of a passage is the key to clarifying what is ambiguous, weighing the merits of different possible explanations, and arriving at a clear conclusion. And all of this is done within the norms of the language.

Every description that is mentioned within a passage praising someone or something is itself a praise, and every description mentioned within a passage criticizing someone or something is a criticism.

Whatever is normally a form of praise that is found in a passage criticizing someone or something has become a form of criticism, mockery and ridicule, as is well-known when is comes to language usage.

Take for example: Continue reading

A Command to Be Patient and the Means to Do So: Tafsir al-Sa’di

At the end of surah Taha, Allah says:

وَلَوْلَا كَلِمَةٌ سَبَقَتْ مِن رَّبِّكَ لَكَانَ لِزَامًا وَأَجَلٌ مُّسَمًّى * فَاصْبِرْ عَلَىٰ مَا يَقُولُونَ وَسَبِّحْ بِحَمْدِ رَبِّكَ قَبْلَ طُلُوعِ الشَّمْسِ وَقَبْلَ غُرُوبِهَا ۖ وَمِنْ آنَاءِ اللَّيْلِ فَسَبِّحْ وَأَطْرَافَ النَّهَارِ لَعَلَّكَ تَرْضَىٰ * وَلَا تَمُدَّنَّ عَيْنَيْكَ إِلَىٰ مَا مَتَّعْنَا بِهِ أَزْوَاجًا مِّنْهُمْ زَهْرَةَ الْحَيَاةِ الدُّنْيَا لِنَفْتِنَهُمْ فِيهِ ۚ وَرِزْقُ رَبِّكَ خَيْرٌ وَأَبْقَىٰ * وَأْمُرْ أَهْلَكَ بِالصَّلَاةِ وَاصْطَبِرْ عَلَيْهَا ۖ لَا نَسْأَلُكَ رِزْقًا ۖ نَّحْنُ نَرْزُقُكَ ۗ وَالْعَاقِبَةُ لِلتَّقْوَىٰ

And were it not for a command that has previously come from your Lord and a decreed term, then punishment would be incumbent. * So be patient with what they say and exalt the praises of your Lord before the rising of the sun and before its setting. And also during period of the night give praise, and at the ends of the day, that you may be pleased. * And do not extend your eyes to what He has given to some others, the beauty of this worldly life, in order to test them through it. And the provision of your Lord is better and more lasting. * And enjoin your family to pray and be steadfast in it. We do not ask you for provision; We provide for you. And the good end is a result of al-taqwa. [20:129-132]

Sheikh ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn Naasir al-Sa’di wrote the following commentary of these ayaat:

ـ [وَلَوْلَا كَلِمَةٌ سَبَقَتْ مِن رَّبِّكَ لَكَانَ لِزَامًا وَأَجَلٌ مُّسَمًّى * فَاصْبِرْ عَلَىٰ مَا يَقُولُونَ وَسَبِّحْ بِحَمْدِ رَبِّكَ قَبْلَ طُلُوعِ الشَّمْسِ وَقَبْلَ غُرُوبِهَا ۖ وَمِنْ آنَاءِ اللَّيْلِ فَسَبِّحْ وَأَطْرَافَ النَّهَارِ لَعَلَّكَ تَرْضَىٰ] هذا تسلية للرسول، وتصبير له عن المبادرة إلى إهلاك المكذبين المعرضين، وأن كفرهم وتكذيبهم سبب صالح لحلول العذاب بهم، ولزومه لهم، لأن الله جعل العقوبات سببا وناشئا عن الذنوب، ملازما لها، وهؤلاء قد أتوا بالسبب، ولكن الذي أخره عنهم كلمة ربك، المتضمنة لإمهالهم وتأخيرهم، وضرب الأجل المسمى، فالأجل المسمى ونفوذ كلمة الله، هو الذي أخر عنهم العقوبة إلى إبان وقتها، ولعلهم يراجعون أمر الله، فيتوب عليهم، ويرفع عنهم العقوبة، إذا لم تحق عليهم الكلمة. ـ

وَلَوْلَا كَلِمَةٌ سَبَقَتْ مِن رَّبِّكَ لَكَانَ لِزَامًا وَأَجَلٌ مُّسَمًّى * فَاصْبِرْ عَلَىٰ مَا يَقُولُونَ وَسَبِّحْ بِحَمْدِ رَبِّكَ قَبْلَ طُلُوعِ الشَّمْسِ وَقَبْلَ غُرُوبِهَا ۖ وَمِنْ آنَاءِ اللَّيْلِ فَسَبِّحْ وَأَطْرَافَ النَّهَارِ لَعَلَّكَ تَرْضَىٰ

And were it not for a command that has previously come from your Lord and a decreed term, then punishment would be incumbent. * So be patient with what they say and exalt the praises of your Lord before the rising of the sun and before its setting. And also during period of the night give praise, and at the ends of the day, that you may be pleased.

This is a consolation to the Messenger and something to encourage him to be patient despite how those who deny and turn away throw themselves into peril. It also makes clear that their denial and disbelief are a valid reason for punishment to be unleashed on them and to stay with them. For Allah has created factors which lead to punishment, and these factors arise out of sins and then stay attached to the one who committed them, and these people certainly have put those factors in place for themselves. However the thing which is holding the punishment back from them is the command of your Lord which involves leaving them without punishment for a time. But Allah has already set a fixed time, so it is just that fixed time and the authority of Allah’s command which holds back the punishment from them until its time comes. And perhaps they will return to Allah’s religion, in which case Allah would turn to them in forgiveness and lift the punishment from them, in which case His command would not be actualized.

Continue reading

Reasons for Differences in Tafsir: Sheikh Khalid al-Batili

In part of his explanation of sheikh Muhammad al-‘Uthaymeen’s primer on the fundamentals of tafsir, sheikh Khalid al-Batili (professor at Imam Muhammad ibn Sa’ud University in Riyadh) provided the following beneficial list of nine reasons why differences may occur when explaining the Qur’an, along with examples:

أسباب الاختلاف في التفسير
Reasons for Differences in Tafsir

الخلاف بين المفسرين في التفسير القرآن له أسباب منها

There are a number of reasons why differences occur among the mufassiroon in their explanations of the Qur’an, including:

السبب الأول: :الاشتراك . وهو اللفظ الدال على أكثر من معنى في لغة العرب. والمشترك قد يكون من أحرف التضاد، وقد لا يكون. وإذا كان من أحرف التضاد ، فقد يجوز حمل الآية على المعنيين المتضادين، ويكونان بمثابة التفسيرين للآية، ويكون هذا إذا اختلف المحل . وقد يمتنع حمل الآية عليهما معا، ويلزم من القول بأحدهما نفي الآخر . ـ

The First Reason: al-ishtirak (polysemy), which means that a single word could have more than one meaning in the Arabic language. This can sometimes result in a different meaning, though not necessarily.

When this does result in a different meaning, then it may be possible to interpret the ayah according to both of these meanings, and both of these meanings become explanations of the ayah. But if the different meanings conflict, then that is not possible.

In other cases, it may be impossible to interpret the ayah according to both meanings of the word, as the meaning of one negates the meaning of the other. Continue reading

Ibn al-Qayyim on Surah al-‘Asr

In his book detailing the oaths made in the Qur’an, ibn al-Qayyim wrote the following regarding surah al-‘Asr:

ومن ذلك اقسامه ( بالعصر ) على حال الإنسان في الآخرة هذه السورة على غاية اختصارها لها شأن عظيم حتى قال الشافعي رحمه الله : لو فكر الناس كلهم فيها لكفتهم

Another example of Allah’s oaths is that He swears by al-‘Asr about the condition of mankind in the hereafter. Despite its brevity, the contents of this surah hold something of tremendous value, so much so that al-Shafi’ee said, “If all of mankind were to reflect on this it would be sufficient for them.”

والعصر المقسم به قيل : هو الوقت الذي يلي المغرب من النهار وقيل : هو آخر ساعة من ساعاته وقيل : المراد صلاة العصر وأكثر المفسرين على أنه الدهر وهذا هو الراجح وتسمية الدهر عصرا أمر معروف في لغتهم قال : ( ولن يلبث العصران يوم وليلة إذا طلبا أن يدركا ما تيمما ) ويوم وليلة بدل من العصران

The ‘Asr that Allah is swearing by here has been said to mean several things:

  • that it is the time of day right before dusk
  • that it is the last part of the day
  • that it is referring to the ‘Asr prayer

But most of the mufassiroon hold that it is referring to time itself, and this is the strongest position. Using the word “‘Asr” to refer to time is something well-known in the Arabic language, as in this line of poetry:

ولن يلبث العصران يوم وليلة ***** إذا طلبا أن يدركا ما تيمما

The two ‘Asrs – day and night – will not persist
if they both seek to attain their goals

and here the words “day and night” are used in place of the two ‘Asrs.

 فأقسم سبحانه بالعصر لمكان العبرة والآية فيه فإن مرور الليل والنهار على تقدير قدرة العزيز العليم منتظم لمصالح العالم على اكمل ترتيب ونظام وتعاقبهما واعتدالهما تارة وأخذ أحدهما من صاحبه تارة واختلافهما في الضوء والظلام والحر والبرد وانتشار الحيوان وسكونه وانقسام العصر إلى القرون والسنين والأشهر والأيام والساعات وما دونها – آية من آيات الرب تعالى وبرهان من براهين قدرته وحكمته

Allah is swearing by al-‘Asr because of its admonishing effect and the amazing features it contains. The days and nights go by in the determined measurements that Allah – the All-Powerful, the All-Wise – has appointed for them, moving in the most perfectly regulated and organized way, for the benefit and well-being of the universe, with each perfectly following the other. Sometimes the day and the night are even in length, while sometime one of them takes from the other. The days and the nights differ in their light and darkness, in their heat and cold, and in the way that the living beings go about their activities or rest. And time can be divided into eras, years, months, days, hours, and so on – which is itself one of the miracles of our Lord and a proof of His might and wisdom. Continue reading

Assorted Qur’an Benefits #37

The following short quotes and excerpts were originally published on our social media channels during November 2019:

♦ Those Who Recite the Qur’an but Do Not Know its Tafsir

In part of the introduction to his famous book of tafsir, Imam al-Qurtubi mentioned the following statement:
وقال إياس بن معاوية : مثل الذين يقرءون القرآن وهم لا يعلمون تفسيره كمثل قوم جاءهم كتاب من ملكهم ليلا وليس عندهم مصباح فتداخلتهم روعة ولا يدرون ما في الكتاب ومثل الذي يعرف التفسير كمثل رجل جاءهم بمصباح فقرءوا ما في الكتاب. ـ
Iyaas ibn Mu’awiyah said, “Those who recite the Qur’an but do not know its tafsir are like a people who received a letter from their king during the night but do not have any lamp with them, so alarm comes over them and they do not know what the letter contains. But one who knows its tafsir is like a man who brings them a lamp so that they can read what the letter contains.”
[Tafsir al-Qurtubi 1/41]

♦ A Light for the Munafiqoon

Allah describes the munafiqoon in surah al-Nisaa’ by saying:

إِنَّ الْمُنَافِقِينَ يُخَادِعُونَ اللَّـهَ وَهُوَ خَادِعُهُمْ

Indeed, the hypocrites [think to] deceive Allah, but He is deceiving them. [4:142]

In his explanation of this, Imam al-Qurtubi mentioned the following narration: Continue reading

Tafsir of Surah al-Baqarah 177-182: al-Tafsir al-Muyassar

This is the seventeenth installment of our translation of al-Tafsir al-Muyassar‘s explanation of surah al-Baqarah, covering ayaat 177-182. In this passage, Allah defines what piety is and then follows that up with a series of commands for the pious ones to follow. See the series guide here for more information about this series and other installments.

لَّيْسَ الْبِرَّ أَن تُوَلُّوا وُجُوهَكُمْ قِبَلَ الْمَشْرِقِ وَالْمَغْرِبِ وَلَـٰكِنَّ الْبِرَّ مَنْ آمَنَ بِاللَّـهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الْآخِرِ وَالْمَلَائِكَةِ وَالْكِتَابِ وَالنَّبِيِّينَ وَآتَى الْمَالَ عَلَىٰ حُبِّهِ ذَوِي الْقُرْبَىٰ وَالْيَتَامَىٰ وَالْمَسَاكِينَ وَابْنَ السَّبِيلِ وَالسَّائِلِينَ وَفِي الرِّقَابِ وَأَقَامَ الصَّلَاةَ وَآتَى الزَّكَاةَ وَالْمُوفُونَ بِعَهْدِهِمْ إِذَا عَاهَدُوا ۖ وَالصَّابِرِينَ فِي الْبَأْسَاءِ وَالضَّرَّاءِ وَحِينَ الْبَأْسِ ۗ أُولَـٰئِكَ الَّذِينَ صَدَقُوا ۖ وَأُولَـٰئِكَ هُمُ الْمُتَّقُونَ

Piety is not that you turn your faces towards the east or the west. Rather, piety is the one who believe in Allah and the Last Day and the angels and the Book and the prophets, and gives wealth despite his love for it to relatives, orphans, the poor, wayfarers, those who ask, and in freeing slaves, and who establish the prayer and give the zakah and fulfill their promises when they make an agreement, and who are patient during poverty and hardship and in battle. Those are the ones who are truthful. And those and the pious ones. [2:177]

ليس الخير عند الله- تعالى- في التوجه في الصلاة إلى جهة المشرق والمغرب إن لم يكن عن أمر الله وشرعه، وإنما الخير كل الخير هو إيمان من آمن بالله وصدَّق به معبودًا وحدَه لا شريك له، وآمن بيوم البعث والجزاء، وبالملائكة جميعًا، وبالكتب المنزلة كافة، وبجميع النبيين من غير تفريق، وأعطى المال تطوُّعًا- مع شدة حبه- ذوي القربى، واليتامى المحتاجين الذين مات آباؤهم وهم دون سن البلوغ، والمساكين الذين أرهقهم الفقر، والمسافرين المحتاجين الذين بَعُدوا عن أهلهم ومالهم، والسائلين الذين اضطروا إلى السؤال لشدة حاجتهم، وأنفق في تحرير الرقيق والأسرى، وأقام الصلاة، وأدى الزكاة المفروضة، والذين يوفون بالعهود، ومن صبر في حال فقره ومرضه، وفي شدة القتال. أولئك المتصفون بهذه الصفات هم الذين صدقوا في إيمانهم، وأولئك هم الذين اتقَوا عقاب الله فتجنبوا معاصيه.ـ

177. Goodness according to Allah does not lie in turning one’s face in prayer towards the direction of the east or the west unless that is done according to Allah’s command and legislation. True goodness is only the faith of one who believes in Allah and affirms Him as the only One deserving of worship without any partners; and believes in the Day of resurrection and recompense; and in all the angels; and all of the revealed scriptures; and in all of the prophets without making any distinctions between them; and who voluntarily gives wealth despite his love for it to relatives, the needy orphans whose parents have died before they reached maturity, the needy who are overcome with poverty, the needy travelers who have been separated from their families and wealth, those beggars who are driven to ask by severe need; and who spend to free slaves and prisoners of war; and who establish the prayer and pay the obligatory zakah; and who fulfill their promises; and who are patient in the face of poverty, sickness, and in the midst of battle. Those who are characterized by these qualities are the ones who are truthful in their faith, and those are the ones who fear Allah’s punishment and therefore avoid disobeying Him. Continue reading

Allah’s Comparison of the Dunya and Water: Tafsir al-Qurtubi

In surah al-Kahf, Allah presents the following comparison:

وَاضْرِ‌بْ لَهُم مَّثَلَ الْحَيَاةِ الدُّنْيَا كَمَاءٍ أَنزَلْنَاهُ مِنَ السَّمَاءِ فَاخْتَلَطَ بِهِ نَبَاتُ الْأَرْ‌ضِ فَأَصْبَحَ هَشِيمًا تَذْرُ‌وهُ الرِّ‌يَاحُ ۗ وَكَانَ اللَّـهُ عَلَىٰ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ مُّقْتَدِرً‌ا

And strike an example of the life of this world for: It is like water which We send down from the sky, and the vegetation of the earth mingles with it. Then it becomes dry remnants, scattered by the winds. And Allah holds power over all things [18:45]

In part of his commentary on this ayah, Imam al-Qurtubi wrote:

وقالت الحكماء : إنما شبه – تعالى – الدنيا بالماء لأن الماء لا يستقر في موضع ، كذلك الدنيا لا تبقى على واحد ، ولأن الماء لا يستقيم على حالة واحدة كذلك الدنيا ، ولأن الماء لا يبقى ويذهب كذلك الدنيا تفنى ، ولأن الماء لا يقدر أحد أن يدخله ولا يبتل كذلك الدنيا لا يسلم أحد دخلها من فتنتها وآفتها ، ولأن الماء إذا كان بقدر كان نافعا منبتا ، وإذا جاوز المقدار كان ضارا مهلكا ، وكذلك الدنيا الكفاف منها ينفع وفضولها يضر . ـ

Some of the wise ones have said: Allah only likened the life of this worldly life to water because:

1) Water does not does remain stable in any place, just as this worldly life does not remain in one place Continue reading