Allah Promises You Forgiveness and Bounty: Tafsir al-Tabari & ibn Kathir

Allah says in surah al-Baqarah:

الشَّيْطَانُ يَعِدُكُمُ الْفَقْرَ وَيَأْمُرُكُم بِالْفَحْشَاءِ ۖ وَاللَّـهُ يَعِدُكُم مَّغْفِرَةً مِّنْهُ وَفَضْلًا ۗ وَاللَّـهُ وَاسِعٌ عَلِيمٌ

The Shaytaan promise you poverty and commands you to commit immorality, but Allah promises you forgiveness from Him and bounty. And Allah is Generous and All-Knowing [2:268]

The famous mufassir Abu Ja’far Muhammad ibn Jarir al-Tabari opened his tafsir of this ayah by writing:

قال أبو جعفر: يعني بذلك تعالى ذكره: ” الشيطان يعدكم “، أيها الناس- بالصدقة وأدائكم الزكاة الواجبة عليكم في أموالكم (85) – أن تفتقروا=” ويأمركم بالفحشاء “، يعني: ويأمركم بمعاصي الله عز وجل، وترك طاعته= (86) ” والله يعدكم مغفرة منه “ (87) يعني أن الله عز وجل يعدكم أيها المؤمنون، أن يستر عليكم فحشاءكم، بصفحه لكم عن عقوبتكم عليها، فيغفر لكم ذنوبكم بالصدقة التي تتصدقون=” وفضلا “ يعني: ويعدكم أن يخلف عليكم من صدقتكم، فيتفضل عليكم من عطاياه ويسبغ عليكم في أرزاقكم.ـ

I, Abu Ja’far, say: What Allah means here is:

الشَّيْطَانُ يَعِدُكُمُ

the shaytaan promises you …

O mankind, that giving charity and paying the zakah that is required of your wealth will make you poor

وَيَأْمُرُكُم بِالْفَحْشَاءِ

… and commands you to commit immorality

i.e. he commands you to disobey Allah and to stop obeying Him.

وَاللَّـهُ يَعِدُكُم مَّغْفِرَةً مِّنْهُ

But Allah promise your forgiveness from Him …

i.e. Allah promise you, O believers, that He will cover your immoralities by pardoning you from the punishment due to you for them. So He will forgive you of your sins by way of the charity that you voluntarily give.

وَفَضْلًا

… and bounty.

i.e. He promises you that He will repay you for your charitable spending, for He will bless you in what He grants you and provide you with ample provisions.

[Tafsir al-Tabari 5/571]

al-Haafidh ibn Kathir also summarizes the meaning of this ayah by writing:

ومعنى قوله تعالى : ( الشيطان يعدكم الفقر ) أي : يخوفكم الفقر ، لتمسكوا ما بأيديكم فلا تنفقوه في مرضاة الله ، ( ويأمركم بالفحشاء ) أي : مع نهيه إياكم عن الإنفاق خشية الإملاق ، يأمركم بالمعاصي والمآثم والمحارم ومخالفة الخلاق ، قال [ الله ] تعالى : ( والله يعدكم مغفرة منه ) أي : في مقابلة ما أمركم الشيطان بالفحشاء ) وفضلا ) أي : في مقابلة ما خوفكم الشيطان من الفقر ) والله واسع عليم )ـ

The meaning of Allah’s statement

الشَّيْطَانُ يَعِدُكُمُ الْفَقْرَ

The shaytaan promises you poverty …

i.e. he incites fear of poverty in you so that you would cling on to what you have and not give it in charity seeking Allah’s pleasure.

وَيَأْمُرُكُم بِالْفَحْشَاءِ

… and commands you to commit immorality

i.e. in addition to telling you not to spend in charity out of fear of poverty, he also instructs you to perform acts of disobedience, sins, forbidden deeds, and bad manners.

Allah says:

وَاللَّـهُ يَعِدُكُم مَّغْفِرَةً مِّنْهُ

But Allah promise your forgiveness from Him …

i.e. in contrast to how the shaytaan commands you to commit immorality

وَفَضْلًا

… and bounty.

i.e. in contrast to how the shaytaan incites fear of poverty in you.

وَاللَّـهُ وَاسِعٌ عَلِيمٌ

And Allah is Generous and All-Knowing.

[Tafsir ibn Kathir 1/699]

See also: Whoever Does an Ant’s Weight of Good Will See It: Tafsir ibn Kathir

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

See also: The Example of Those who Spend Their Wealth in Allah’s Path …: Ibn al-Qayyim

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