The Foundation of Self-Reckoning in the Qur’an: Tafsir al-Sa’di

Allah addresses the believers in surah al-Hashr by saying:

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا اتَّقُوا اللَّـهَ وَلْتَنظُرْ نَفْسٌ مَّا قَدَّمَتْ لِغَدٍ ۖ وَاتَّقُوا اللَّـهَ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّـهَ خَبِيرٌ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ * وَلَا تَكُونُوا كَالَّذِينَ نَسُوا اللَّهَ فَأَنسَاهُمْ أَنفُسَهُمْ ۚ أُولَٰئِكَ هُمُ الْفَاسِقُونَ * لَا يَسْتَوِي أَصْحَابُ النَّارِ وَأَصْحَابُ الْجَنَّةِ ۚ أَصْحَابُ الْجَنَّةِ هُمُ الْفَائِزُونَ

O you who believe, have taqwa of Allah and let every soul look at what it has sent forth for tomorrow. And have taqwa of Allah. Allah is entirely aware of what you do. * And do not be like those who forgot Allah so He made them forget themselves. Those are the losers. * The people of the Hellfire and the people of Jannah are not equal. The people of Jannah are are the successful ones. [59:18-20]

In his famous commentary on the Qur’an, sheikh ‘Abd al-Rahman al-Sa’di explained this passage by writing:

يأمر تعالى عباده المؤمنين بما يوجبه الإيمان ويقتضيه من لزوم تقواه، سرا وعلانية، في جميع الأحوال، وأن يراعوا ما أمرهم الله به من أوامره وشرائعه وحدوده، وينظروا ما لهم وما عليهم، وماذا حصلوا عليه من الأعمال التي تنفعهم أو تضرهم في يوم القيامة، فإنهم إذا جعلوا الآخرة نصب أعينهم وقبلة قلوبهم، واهتموا بالمقام بها، اجتهدوا في كثرة الأعمال الموصلة إليها، وتصفيتها من القواطع والعوائق التي توقفهم عن السير أو تعوقهم أو تصرفهم، وإذا علموا أيضا، أن الله خبير بما يعملون، لا تخفى عليه أعمالهم، ولا تضيع لديه ولا يهملها، أوجب لهم الجد والاجتهاد. ـ

Allah is commanding His believing slaves to be consistent in their taqwa of Him, just as their eemaan requires and mandates of them. This is true whether in private or in public: in all of their situations. And He is commanding them to mind the commands, legislation and limits that Allah has instructed them with, and to consider what is in their favor and what is against them and to consider how their deeds will end up helping or hurting them on the Day of Resurrection.

If they did that, then they would keep the Hereafter at the front of their minds and prioritize their condition on that Day and exert themselves in doing many good deeds that which conduct them to a good end, and purify themselves from any dead ends and roadblocks which would stop them from reaching that joy or delay them or turn them away from it. Then, if they were to also consider that Allah is completely aware of everything that they do – none of their actions being hidden from Him; He neither lets their good deeds to go waste nor does He neglect their sins – then that would inevitably drive them to work and exert themselves in good.

وهذه الآية الكريمة أصل في محاسبة العبد نفسه، وأنه ينبغي له أن يتفقدها، فإن رأى زللا تداركه بالإقلاع عنه، والتوبة النصوح، والإعراض عن الأسباب الموصلة إليه، وإن رأى نفسه مقصرا في أمر من أوامر الله، بذل جهده واستعان بربه في تكميله وتتميمه، وإتقانه، ويقايس بين منن الله عليه وإحسانه وبين تقصيره، فإن ذلك يوجب له الحياء بلا محالة. ـ

This noble ayah is the basis for a slave taking himself to account and teaches us that one should examine himself:

If he finds sins, he should rectify them by ceasing to commit them, sincerely repenting, and turning away from the factors which lead to those sins.

If he finds shortcomings in himself regarding any of the things that Allah has commanded, then he should work harder and seek his Lord’s aid in fulfilling and fully actualizing those matters.

He should make a comparison between Allah’s blessings and goodness towards him and his own shortcomings, for that will undoubtedly produce a sense of shame within him.

والحرمان كل الحرمان، أن يغفل العبد عن هذا الأمر، ويشابه قوما نسوا الله وغفلوا عن ذكره والقيام بحقه، وأقبلوا على حظوظ أنفسهم وشهواتها، فلم ينجحوا، ولم يحصلوا على طائل، بل أنساهم الله مصالح أنفسهم، وأغفلهم عن منافعها وفوائدها، فصار أمرهم فرطا، فرجعوا بخسارة الدارين، وغبنوا غبنا، لا يمكنهم تداركه، ولا يجبر كسره، لأنهم هم الفاسقون، الذين خرجوا عن طاعة ربهم وأوضعوا في معاصيه. ـ

The ultimate failure is for a slave to ignore this issue and instead to be like those people who forgot Allah and ignored remembering Him and fulfilling His rights over them, turning instead to chase their own greed and desires. Such a person will not be successful, nor will he attain his goals. Rather, Allah will cause him to forget what is good for his own self and to ignore what will benefit and help him. So his situation will come to ruin, and he will end up having lost out both in this life and the next. He will be in serious loss, without any way to make up for it or fix it. That is because these people are the fasiqoon – those who go outside of obeying their Lord and engage in disobedience.

فهل يستوي من حافظ على تقوى الله ونظر لما قدم لغده، فاستحق جنات النعيم، والعيش السليم – مع الذين أنعم الله عليهم من النبيين والصديقين والشهداء والصالحين – ومن غفل عن ذكر الله، ونسي حقوقه، فشقي في الدنيا، واستحق العذاب في الآخرة، فالأولون هم الفائزون، والآخرون هم الخاسرون. ـ

So is one who consistently has taqwa of Allah and considers what he sends forth for tomorrow, thereby meriting the bliss of Jannah and a good life alongside the Prophets, truthful ones, martyrs and righteous whom Allah has blessed – is such as person the same as one who neglects remembering Allah and forgets Allah’s rights over him, thereby living a miserable life and meriting punishment in the hereafter? The first type are the successful ones, while the latter are the losers.

[Taysir al-Kareem al-Rahman pg 1006-1007]

See also: Ibn Kathir on Zakah and Tazkiyyah al-Nafs

See also: “So remember Me; I will remember you. And be grateful to Me and do not deny Me”: Tafsir al-Sa’di

See also: Knowing that Allah is Always with You: Sheikh ‘Abd al-Razzaq al-Badr

2 thoughts on “The Foundation of Self-Reckoning in the Qur’an: Tafsir al-Sa’di

  1. Pingback: Ibn Kathir on Zakah and Tazkiyyah al-Nafs | Tulayhah

  2. Pingback: Knowing that Allah is Always with You: Sheikh ‘Abd al-Razzaq al-Badr | Tulayhah

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.