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.

أمر الله رسوله بالصبر على أذيتهم بالقول، وأمره أن يتعوض عن ذلك، ويستعين عليه بالتسبيح بحمد ربه، في هذه الأوقات الفاضلة، قبل طلوع الشمس وغروبها، وفي أطراف النهار، أوله وآخره، عموم بعد خصوص، وأوقات الليل وساعاته، لعلك إن فعلت ذلك، ترضى بما يعطيك ربك من الثواب العاجل والآجل، وليطمئن قلبك، وتقر عينك بعبادة ربك، وتتسلى بها عن أذيتهم، فيخف حينئذ عليك الصبر.ـ

Allah commands His Messenger to be patient with the harm they inflict on him with their words, and He commands him to respond to that harm by seeking Allah’s aid through exalting the praises of his Lord in these blessed times:

Before the rising of the sun and before its setting

At the ends of the day: its first and last parts. This is an example of mentioning something more general after mentioning something specific.

During the night hours

If you were to do this then you will be pleased with the reward that your Lord gives you – both in this life and in the next -, and you would will find peace of heart and your eyes would take pleasure in the worship of your Lord. And this would serve to divert you away from their harms and make it easier for you to exercise patience.

ـ [وَلَا تَمُدَّنَّ عَيْنَيْكَ إِلَىٰ مَا مَتَّعْنَا بِهِ أَزْوَاجًا مِّنْهُمْ زَهْرَةَ الْحَيَاةِ الدُّنْيَا لِنَفْتِنَهُمْ فِيهِ ۚ وَرِزْقُ رَبِّكَ خَيْرٌ وَأَبْقَىٰ] أي: لا تمد عينيك معجبا، ولا تكرر النظر مستحسنا إلى أحوال الدنيا والممتعين بها، من المآكل والمشارب اللذيذة، والملابس الفاخرة، والبيوت المزخرفة، والنساء المجملة، فإن ذلك كله زهرة الحياة الدنيا، تبتهج بها نفوس المغترين، وتأخذ إعجابا بأبصار المعرضين، ويتمتع بها – بقطع النظر عن الآخرة – القوم الظالمون، ثم تذهب سريعا، وتمضي جميعا، وتقتل محبيها وعشاقها، فيندمون حيث لا تنفع الندامة، ويعلمون ما هم عليه إذا قدموا في القيامة، وإنما جعلها الله فتنة واختبارا، ليعلم من يقف عندها ويغتر بها، ومن هو أحسن عملا، كما قال تعالى: { إِنَّا جَعَلْنَا مَا عَلَى الْأَرْضِ زِينَةً لَهَا لِنَبْلُوَهُمْ أَيُّهُمْ أَحْسَنُ عَمَلًا* وَإِنَّا لَجَاعِلُونَ مَا عَلَيْهَا صَعِيدًا جُرُزًا } ـ

وَلَا تَمُدَّنَّ عَيْنَيْكَ إِلَىٰ مَا مَتَّعْنَا بِهِ أَزْوَاجًا مِّنْهُمْ زَهْرَةَ الْحَيَاةِ الدُّنْيَا لِنَفْتِنَهُمْ فِيهِ ۚ وَرِزْقُ رَبِّكَ خَيْرٌ وَأَبْقَىٰ

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.

Meaning: Do not extend your eyes in amazement and do not go back to look again and again in approval at the conditions of this worldly life and those who have been well-endowed with delicious foods and drinks, fine clothing, well-decorated housing, and beautiful women. All of that is just the passing beauty of this worldly life which those misguided souls rejoice in and which those heedless one take as wonders in their eyes, and the wrong-doing people take enjoyment in – all of which serves to turn their attention away from the hereafter. But then the end comes quickly and reaches every one of them, killing what they love and crave. They will then feel remorse, but that regret will not benefit them, and they will then know what they had been upon as they approach the Judgement. Allah has made all of this as a trial and a test so that He would know who would stop and be fooled by these things and who would be best in deeds. This is like what Allah said:

إِنَّا جَعَلْنَا مَا عَلَى الْأَرْضِ زِينَةً لَهَا لِنَبْلُوَهُمْ أَيُّهُمْ أَحْسَنُ عَمَلًا * وَإِنَّا لَجَاعِلُونَ مَا عَلَيْهَا صَعِيدًا جُرُزًا

Indeed, We have made that which is on the earth adornment for it that We may test them as to which of them is best in deed. * And we shall certainly make all that is on the earth into a bare dry soil. [18:7-8]

ـ { وَرِزْقُ رَبِّكَ } العاجل من العلم والإيمان، وحقائق الأعمال الصالحة، والآجل من النعيم المقيم، والعيش السليم في جوار الرب الرحيم { خير } مما متعنا به أزواجا، في ذاته وصفاته { وَأَبْقَى } لكونه لا ينقطع، أكلها دائم وظلها، كما قال تعالى: { بَلْ تُؤْثِرُونَ الْحَيَاةَ الدُّنْيَا وَالْآخِرَةُ خَيْرٌ وَأَبْقَى } ـ

وَرِزْقُ رَبِّكَ خَيْرٌ وَأَبْقَىٰ

And the provision of your Lord is better and more lasting

In terms of this life, this is referring to knowledge and eemaan and actualizing that with righteous good deeds. In terms of the next life, it is referring to the enduring pleasures and a life free of trouble near to the Lord, al-Raheem. This is

خَيْرٌ

better …

both at its core and in its qualities than what we have provided to the others

وَأَبْقَى

… and more lasting

because it will never be cut off. Its sustenance and shade will be everlasting. This is similar to what Allah said:

بَلْ تُؤْثِرُونَ الْحَيَاةَ الدُّنْيَا وَالْآخِرَةُ خَيْرٌ وَأَبْقَى

But you prefer the life of this world * though the hereafter is better and more lasting [87:15-16]

وفي هذه الآية، إشارة إلى أن العبد إذا رأى من نفسه طموحا إلى زينة الدنيا، وإقبالا عليها، أن يذكرها ما أمامها من رزق ربه، وأن يوازن بين هذا وهذا. ـ

This ayah indicates that if a person finds himself craving the beautiful things of this worldly life and being preoccupied with that, then he should remind himself of the provisions of his Lord which lie ahead and then compare these provisions to those provisions.

ـ [وَأْمُرْ أَهْلَكَ بِالصَّلَاةِ وَاصْطَبِرْ عَلَيْهَا ۖ لَا نَسْأَلُكَ رِزْقًا ۖ نَّحْنُ نَرْزُقُكَ ۗ وَالْعَاقِبَةُ لِلتَّقْوَىٰ] أي: حث أهلك على الصلاة، وأزعجهم إليها من فرض ونفل. والأمر بالشيء، أمر بجميع ما لا يتم إلا به، فيكون أمرا بتعليمهم، ما يصلح الصلاة ويفسدها ويكملها. ـ

وَأْمُرْ أَهْلَكَ بِالصَّلَاةِ وَاصْطَبِرْ عَلَيْهَا ۖ لَا نَسْأَلُكَ رِزْقًا ۖ نَّحْنُ نَرْزُقُكَ ۗ وَالْعَاقِبَةُ لِلتَّقْوَىٰ

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.

Meaning: Exhort your family to make the prayer – both obligatory and optional – and make sure that they do it.

A command to do something is also a command to do all the things that are required in order to accomplish that command. So this command is also a command to teach one’s family what makes the prayer valid, what makes it invalid and what makes it complete.

ـ { وَاصْطَبِرْ عَلَيْهَا } أي: على الصلاة بإقامتها، بحدودها وأركانها وآدابها وخشوعها، فإن ذلك مشق على النفس، ولكن ينبغي إكراهها وجهادها على ذلك، والصبر معها دائما، فإن العبد إذا أقام صلاته على الوجه المأمور به، كان لما سواها من دينه أحفظ وأقوم، وإذا ضيعها كان لما سواها أضيع، ثم ضمن تعالى لرسوله الرزق، وأن لا يشغله الاهتمام به عن إقامة دينه، فقال: { نَحْنُ نَرْزُقُكَ } أي: رزقك علينا قد تكفلنا به، كما تكفلنا بأرزاق الخلائق كلهم، فكيف بمن قام بأمرنا، واشتغل بذكرنا؟! ورزق الله عام للمتقي وغيره، فينبغي الاهتمام بما يجلب السعادة الأبدية، وهو: التقوى، ولهذا قال: { وَالْعَاقِبَةُ } في الدنيا والآخرة { لِلتَّقْوَى } التي هي فعل المأمور وترك المنهي، فمن قام بها، كان له العاقبة، كما قال تعالى { وَالْعَاقِبَةُ لِلْمُتَّقِينَ } ـ

وَاصْطَبِرْ عَلَيْهَا

… and be steadfast in it.

meaning: be steadfast in establishing the prayer within its proper times and fulfilling its pillars and etiquettes while being in a state of humble devotion. This command is given because that is something difficult for the soul to do, however one must disapprove that feeling and struggle against it and always be steadfast against it. For if a person establishes his prayer in the way that he has been commanded, then everything else in his religion will become more upright and easier to maintain. But if he neglects the prayer, then he will neglect everything else.

Then Allah guarantees provision to His Messengers and tells him to not let his concern for his provision preoccupy him from practicing his religion, for He said:

نَحْنُ نَرْزُقُكَ

We will provide for you

meaning: We have taken your provision as Our responsibility, just as we have taken the provision of all the created beings as Our responsibility, so then what about those who fulfill Our commands and busy themselves with Our remembrance?! Allah’s provision [in this world] is given to both the pious and the impious alike, so one ought to concern himself with what will enable him to attain everlasting joy, and that is al-taqwa. That is why Allah says:

وَالْعَاقِبَةُ

And the good end …

in both this life and the next

لِلتَّقْوَى

… is a result of al-taqwa

which is: fulfilling the commands and avoiding the prohibited things. So whoever has al-taqwa will have a good end, just as Allah says:

وَالْعَاقِبَةُ لِلْمُتَّقِينَ

And the good outcome is for the muttaqoon [28:83]

[Taysir al-Kareem al-Rahman pg. 601-602]

See also: Do not extend your eyes towards the enjoyment of this world: Imam al-Sa’di

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

  1. Pingback: Do not extend your eyes towards the enjoyment of this world: Imam al-Sa’di | Tulayhah

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