Why Allah began listing the prophets with Nuh: Tafsir al-Baghawi

Allah said in surah al-Nisaa’:

إِنَّا أَوْحَيْنَا إِلَيْكَ كَمَا أَوْحَيْنَا إِلَىٰ نُوحٍ وَالنَّبِيِّينَ مِن بَعْدِهِ ۚ وَأَوْحَيْنَا إِلَىٰ إِبْرَ‌اهِيمَ وَإِسْمَاعِيلَ وَإِسْحَاقَ وَيَعْقُوبَ وَالْأَسْبَاطِ وَعِيسَىٰ وَأَيُّوبَ وَيُونُسَ وَهَارُ‌ونَ وَسُلَيْمَانَ ۚ وَآتَيْنَا دَاوُودَ زَبُورً‌ا

Indeed, We have revealed to you, [O Muhammad], as We revealed to Nuh and the prophets after him. And we revealed to Ibrahim, Ismaa’eel, Ishaaq, Ya’qub, al-Asbaat, ‘Eesaa, Ayyub, Yunus, Haaroon, and Sulaiman, and to Dawud We gave the Zabur. [4:163]

In part of his commentary on this ayah, Imam al-Baghawi made the following point:

وأنزل : ( إنا أوحينا إليك كما أوحينا إلى نوح والنبيين من بعده ) فذكر عدة من الرسل الذين أوحى إليهم ، وبدأ بذكر نوح عليه السلام لأنه كان أبا البشر مثل آدم عليه السلام ، قال الله تعالى : ” وجعلنا ذريته هم الباقين ” ( الصافات – 77 ) ولأنه أول نبي من أنبياء الشريعة ، وأول نذير على الشرك ، وأول من عذبت أمته لردهم دعوته ، وأهلك أهل الأرض بدعائه وكان أطول الأنبياء [ ص: 311 ] عمرا وجعلت معجزته في نفسه ، لأنه عمر ألف سنة فلم تسقط له سن ولم تشب له شعرة ولم تنتقص له قوة ، ولم يصبر نبي على أذى قومه ما صبر هو على طول عمره . ـ

Allah revealed:

إِنَّا أَوْحَيْنَا إِلَيْكَ كَمَا أَوْحَيْنَا إِلَىٰ نُوحٍ وَالنَّبِيِّينَ مِن بَعْدِهِ

Indeed, We have revealed to you, [O Muhammad], as We revealed to Nuh and the prophets after him… [4:163]

So He mentioned a number of the messenger to whom He gave divine revelation and He began by mentioning Nuh (‘alaih al-salaam) because he was a father to mankind, similar to Adam (‘alaih al-salaam). Allah said [regarding Nuh]: Continue reading

The Meaning of the Title “al-Maseeh”

In his book of tafsir, Imam al-Shawkaani brought the following discussion about the meaning of the term al-Maseeh (the Messiah). Imam al-Shawkaani generally borrowed heavily – even word for word – from Imam al-Qurtubi’s linguistic discussions, often summarizing and simplifying them into a list format. Some supplementary notes from al-Qurtubi will be mentioned here in brackets [] for the sake of clarity:

[والمسيح لقب لعيسى ومعناه الصديق ; قاله إبراهيم النخعي . ـ]

[al-Maseeh is a title for ‘Eesaa (Jesus) and its meaning is al-Siddeeq (“the truthful one”) – this is what Ibrahim al-Nakha’ee said.]

والمسيح اختلف فيه مماذا أخذ ؟ فقيل : من المسح ; لأنه مسح الأرض ; أي : ذهب فيها فلم يستكن بكن ، وقيل : إنه كان لا يمسح ذا عاهة إلا برئ ، فسمي مسيحا ، فهو على هذين فعيل بمعنى فاعل ، ـ

al-Maseeh – there is differing as to where it was derived. So it is said: (it was derived) from al-mash (wiping), for he swept over the earth, meaning he traversed over it and did not take residence in any dwelling place.

And it is said: It was the case that he would not touch someone with an infirmity except that they would be cured, so he was called Maseeh.

So according to these two meaning, it takes the form of an adjective with the meaning of an active participle. Continue reading

The wisdom of not disclosing the date of Laylatu’l-Qadr: Imam al-Baghawi

In his tafsir of surah al-Qadr, Imam Abu Muhammad al-Baghawi mentions some of the different opinions regarding the date of Laylatu’l-Qadr and then concludes by writing:

وفي الجملة : أبهم الله هذه الليلة على هذه الأمة ليجتهدوا في العبادة ليالي رمضان طمعا في إدراكها ، كما أخفى ساعة الإجابة في يوم الجمعة ، وأخفى الصلاة الوسطى في الصلوات الخمس ، واسمه الأعظم في الأسماء ، ورضاه في الطاعات ليرغبوا في جميعها ، وسخطه في المعاصي لينتهوا عن جميعها ، وأخفى قيام الساعة ليجتهدوا في الطاعات حذرا من قيامها . ـ

In sum, Allah left the exact date of Laylah al-Qadr uncertain for this ummah in order that they might strive in worship during all the nights of Ramadan in hopes of attaining it. This is just as He concealed which hour of Friday is the hour in which supplications are accepted, and just as He concealed which of the five daily prayers is the middle prayer, or which of His names is the greatest. His pleasure is in acts of obedience, so let the people aspire to do them all, and His displeasure is in acts of disobedience, so let them abstain from all of them. And Allah also concealed the time of the Final Hour in order that the people would exert themselves in acts of obedience in watchfulness of its establishment.

[Tafsir al-Baghawi 8/491]

See also: The date of Laylatu’l-Qadr being unknown – “Perhaps that is better for you”: Ibn Kathir

See also: The Meaning of “Laylah al-Qadr”: Sheikh ibn ‘Uthaymeen

See also: Allah’s commendations for those who pray during the night

See also: “We are not able to perform qiyaam al-lail”: Responses from the salaf

See also: The Blessed Night is Laylah al-Qadr, not the Middle of Sha’baan

“Blessed is whoever is at the fire and whoever is around it” : Tafsir al-Baghawi

While recounting the story of Moosaa approaching the burning bush in surah al-Naml, Allah says:

إِذْ قَالَ مُوسَىٰ لِأَهْلِهِ إِنِّي آنَسْتُ نَارً‌ا سَآتِيكُم مِّنْهَا بِخَبَرٍ‌ أَوْ آتِيكُم بِشِهَابٍ قَبَسٍ لَّعَلَّكُمْ تَصْطَلُونَ * فَلَمَّا جَاءَهَا نُودِيَ أَن بُورِ‌كَ مَن فِي النَّارِ‌ وَمَنْ حَوْلَهَا وَسُبْحَانَ اللَّـهِ رَ‌بِّ الْعَالَمِينَ

[Mention] when Moosaa said to his family, “Indeed, I have perceived a fire. I will bring you from there information or will bring you a burning torch that you may warm yourselves.” * But when he came to it, he was addressed, “Blessed is whoever is at (lit. “in”) the fire and whoever is around it. And exalted is Allah, Lord of the worlds. [27:7-8]

Commenting on the second ayah in his book of tafsir, Imam al-Baghawi wrote:

ـ ( فَلَمَّا جَاءَهَا نُودِيَ أَنْ بُورِكَ مَنْ فِي النَّارِ وَمَنْ حَوْلَهَا ) أَيْ : بُورِكَ عَلَى مَنْ فِي النَّارِ أَوْ مَنْ فِي النَّارِ ، وَالْعَرَبُ تَقُولُ : بَارَكَهُ اللَّهُ وَبَارَكَ فِيهِ ، وَبَارَكَ عَلَيْهِ ، بِمَعْنًى وَاحِدٍ . ـ

فَلَمَّا جَاءَهَا نُودِيَ أَن بُورِ‌كَ مَن فِي النَّارِ‌ وَمَنْ حَوْلَهَا

But when he came to it, he was addressed, ‘Blessed is whoever is at (lit. “in”) the fire and whoever is around it’ [27:8]

Meaning: Blessings upon those at (lit. “in”) the fire. And the Arabs say, “baarak Allaahu” (God bless), “baarak feehi” (blessings ‘in’ him) and “baarak ‘alaihi” (blessings on him) all with the same meaning.

وَقَالَ قَوْمٌ : الْبَرَكَةُ رَاجِعَةٌ إِلَى مُوسَى وَالْمَلَائِكَةِ ، مَعْنَاهُ : بُورِكَ فِي مَنْ طَلَبَ النَّارَ ، وَهُوَ مُوسَى عَلَيْهِ السَّلَامُ ) ( وَمَنْ حَوْلَهَا ) وَهُمُ الْمَلَائِكَةُ الَّذِينَ حَوْلَ النَّارِ ، وَمَعْنَاهُ : بُورِكَ فِيكَ يَا مُوسَى وَفِي الْمَلَائِكَةِ الَّذِينَ حَوْلَ النَّارِ ، وَهَذَا تَحِيَّةٌ مِنْ عِنْدِ اللَّهِ – عَزَّ وَجَلَّ – لِمُوسَى بِالْبَرَكَةِ ، كَمَا حَيَّا إِبْرَاهِيمَ عَلَى أَلْسِنَةِ الْمَلَائِكَةِ حِينَ دَخَلُوا عَلَيْهِ فَقَالُوا : رَحْمَةُ اللَّهِ وَبَرَكَاتُهُ عَلَيْكُمْ أَهْلَ الْبَيْتِ . ـ

A people said, “the barakah (blessings) refers to Moosaa and the angels”, meaning blessings on the one who sought the fire, and that is Moosaa (‘alaihis salaam).

وَمَنْ حَوْلَهَا

Whoever is around it

and they are the angels who were around the fire, meaning ‘blessings on you, O Moosaa, and on the angels who were around the fire’, and this is a greeting of blessings from Allah to Moosaa, just as He greeted Ibrahim via the tongues of the angels when they entered upon him and said,

رَ‌حْمَتُ اللَّـهِ وَبَرَ‌كَاتُهُ عَلَيْكُمْ أَهْلَ الْبَيْتِ

May the mercy of Allah and His blessings be upon you, people of the house [11:73] Continue reading

The Prophet clarified much of what the Ahl al-Kitaab used to conceal: Tafsir al-Shinqitee

Imam Muhammad al-Ameen al-Shinqitee wrote in his book of tafsir:

قوله تعالى : يا أهل الكتاب قد جاءكم رسولنا يبين لكم كثيرا مما كنتم تخفون من الكتاب [ الآية [ 5 \ 15 ] ، لم يبين هنا شيئا من ذلك الكثير الذي يبينه لهم الرسول – صلى الله عليه وسلم – مما كانوا يخفون من الكتاب ، يعني التوراة والإنجيل ، وبين كثيرا منه في مواضع أخر . ـ

Allah’s statement:

يَا أَهْلَ الْكِتَابِ قَدْ جَاءَكُمْ رَ‌سُولُنَا يُبَيِّنُ لَكُمْ كَثِيرً‌ا مِّمَّا كُنتُمْ تُخْفُونَ مِنَ الْكِتَابِ وَيَعْفُو عَن كَثِيرٍ‌ ۚ قَدْ جَاءَكُم مِّنَ اللَّـهِ نُورٌ‌ وَكِتَابٌ مُّبِينٌ

O People of the Scripture, there has come to you Our Messenger making clear to you much of what you used to conceal of the Scripture and overlooking much. There has come to you from Allah a light and a clear Book. [5:15]

Nothing was explained here of the many things things which were clarified to them by the Messenger (ﷺ) of what they used to conceal of their scripture, meaning the Tawrah and the Injeel, but He clarified much of it elsewhere.

فمما كانوا يخفون من أحكام التوراة رجم الزاني المحصن ، وبينه القرآن في قوله تعالى : ألم تر إلى الذين أوتوا نصيبا من الكتاب يدعون إلى كتاب الله ليحكم بينهم ثم يتولى فريق منهم وهم معرضون [ 3 \ 23 ] . ـ

So from the things which they used to conceal of the legislative rulings of the Tawrah was the stoning of the virgin fornicator, and the Qur’an clarified this in His statement: Continue reading

Ibn Taymiyah on the Books of Tafsir

In Majmoo’ al-Fataawa, Sheikh al-Islaam Ibn Taymiyah was asked:

أي التفاسير أقرب إلى الكتاب والسنة ؟ الزمخشري ؟ أم القرطبي ؟ أم البغوي ؟ أو غير هؤلاء ؟

Which tafsir is nearest to the Qur’an and Sunnah: al-Zamakhshari, al-Qurtubi, al-Baghawi, or another one?

He responded by writing:

 وأما ” التفاسير ” التي في أيدي الناس فأصحها ” تفسير محمد بن جرير الطبري ” فإنه يذكر مقالات السلف بالأسانيد الثابتة وليس فيه بدعة ولا ينقل عن المتهمين كمقاتل بن بكير والكلبي والتفاسير غير المأثورة بالأسانيد كثيرة كتفسير عبد الرزاق وعبد بن حميد ووكيع وابن أبي قتيبة وأحمد بن حنبل وإسحاق بن راهويه . ـ

As for the the books of tafsir which are available to the people, then the most authentic of them is the tafsir of Muhammad ibn Jarir al-Tabari [Tafsir al-Tabari] (d. 310 H), for it mentions the statements of the salaf with the reliable chains of narrations, and there is neither bid’ah in it nor does he transmit from people who have been accussed of fabrication such as Muqaatil ibn Bakeer or al-Kalbi. And there are many books of tafsir which do not bring the narrations with chains such as the tafsir of ‘Abd al-Razzaaq [ibn Hammaam] (d. 211 H), ‘Abd ibn Humayd (d. 249 H), Wakee’ [ibn al-Jarraah] (d. 197 H), ibn Abi Qutaybah (d. 276 H), Ahmad ibn Hanbal (d. 241 H), and Ishaaq ibn Raahawayh (d. 238 H).

وأما ” التفاسير الثلاثة ” المسئول عنها فأسلمها من البدعة والأحاديث الضعيفة ” البغوي ” لكنه مختصر من ” تفسير الثعلبي ” وحذف منه الأحاديث الموضوعة والبدع التي فيه وحذف أشياء غير ذلك . ـ

As for the three tafseers which were inquired about, then the safest of them from bid’ah and weak ahaadeeth is al-Baghawi (d. 516 H), though it is abridged from Tafsir al-Tha’labi, and he [Imam al-Baghawi] removed the fabricated ahaadeeth and bid’ah therein from it, and omitted other things as well. Continue reading

“Close friends, that Day, will be enemies to each other- except for the muttaqoon”

Allah informs us about one of the features of the Day of Recompense in surah al-Zukhruf when He says:

لْأَخِلَّاءُ يَوْمَئِذٍ بَعْضُهُمْ لِبَعْضٍ عَدُوٌّ إِلَّا الْمُتَّقِينَ

Close friends, that Day, will be enemies to each other – except for the muttaqoon

[al-Qur’an 43:67]

In his tafsir of this ayah, Imam al-Baghawi brings a statement from ‘Ali (raadiAllaahu ‘anhu) concerning this ayah where he said: Continue reading

Seek the Hereafter, and do not forget your share of the dunya: Tafsir al-Baghawi

In surah al-Qasas, Allah says:

وَابْتَغِ فِيمَا آتَاكَ اللَّـهُ الدَّارَ‌ الْآخِرَ‌ةَ ۖ وَلَا تَنسَ نَصِيبَكَ مِنَ الدُّنْيَا ۖ وَأَحْسِن كَمَا أَحْسَنَ اللَّـهُ إِلَيْكَ ۖ وَلَا تَبْغِ الْفَسَادَ فِي الْأَرْ‌ضِ ۖ إِنَّ اللَّـهَ لَا يُحِبُّ الْمُفْسِدِينَ

But seek, through that which Allah has given you, the home of the Hereafter; and do not forget your share of the world. And do good as Allah has done good to you. And do not seek corruption in the land. Indeed, Allah does not like corrupters. [28:77]

Imam al-Baghawi, in his book of tafsir, wrote:

 ـ ( وابتغ فيما آتاك الله الدار الآخرة ) اطلب فيما أعطاك الله من الأموال والنعمة والجنة وهو أن تقوم بشكر الله فيما أنعم عليك وتنفقه في رضا الله تعالى  . ـ

But seek, through that which Allah has given you, the home of the Hereafter” – seek, through that which Allah has bestowed on you of wealth, blessings, and Jannah – and that is done through skukr (gratitude) to Allah concerning that with which He has blessed you and that you spend in the pleasure of Allah the Exalted.

 ـ ( ولا تنس نصيبك من الدنيا ) قال مجاهد ، وابن زيد : لا تترك أن تعمل في الدنيا للآخرة حتى تنجو من العذاب ، لأن حقيقة نصيب الإنسان من الدنيا أن يعمل للآخرة . وقال السدي : بالصدقة وصلة الرحم . وقال علي : لا تنس صحتك وقوتك وشبابك وغناك أن تطلب بها الآخرة . أخبرنا عبد الواحد المليحي ، أخبرنا أبو الحسن أحمد بن محمد بن شاذان ، أخبرنا أبو يزيد حاتم بن محبوب الشامي ، أخبرنا حسين المروزي ، أخبرنا عبد الله بن المبارك ، أخبرنا جعفر بن برقان ، عن زياد بن الجراح ، عن عمرو بن ميمون الأودي قال : قال رسول الله – صلى الله عليه وسلم – لرجل : وهو يعظه : ” اغتنم خمسا قبل خمس : شبابك قبل هرمك ، وصحتك قبل سقمك ، وغناك قبل فقرك ، وفراغك قبل شغلك ، وحياتك قبل موتك ” الحديث مرسل . قال الحسن : أمره أن يقدم الفضل ويمسك ما يغنيه ، قال منصور بن زاذان في قوله : ” ولا تنس نصيبك من الدنيا ” ، قال : قوتك وقوت أهلك

And do not forget your share of the world.” Mujaahid and ibn Zaid said, “Do not leave off working in the this life for the Hereafter until you are saved from the punishment. For the reality of man’s share of the world is that he works for the Hereafter.” And al-Suddi said, “With saqadah and connecting the familial relations.” And ‘Ali said, ” Do not forget your health, strength, youth, or wealth, so that you can use them to seek the Hereafter.” And ‘Amr ibn Maymoon al-Awdi said: The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said while he was giving admonition, “Seize five things before five things: 1) your youth before your old age, 2) your health before your sickness, 3) your wealth before your poverty, 4) your free-time before being busy, and 5) your life before your death.” And this hadeeth is mursal (i.e. missing a link somewhere in its chain of narration). And al-Hasan said, “He commanded him to prioritize the blessings and take hold of that which would benefit him.” Mansoor ibn Zaadhaan said about His statement, “Do not forget your share of the world” – “[meaning] your strength and the strength of your family.”

 ـ ( وأحسن كما أحسن الله إليك ) [ أي : أحسن بطاعة الله ] كما أحسن الله إليك بنعمته . وقيل : أحسن إلى الناس كما أحسن الله إليك ( ولا تبغ الفساد في الأرض ) من عصى الله فقد طلب الفساد في الأرض ( إن الله لا يحب المفسدين ) ـ

And do good as Allah has done good to you” – meaning: do good through obedience to Allah just as Allah has done good for you by His blessings. And it is said: Do good to the people just as Allah has done good to you. “And do not seek corruption in the land” – whoever disobeys Allah, then he has sought corruption in the land. “Indeed, Allah does not like corrupters.

[Tafsir al-Baghawi 6/221-222]

See also: The Story of Qarun: Tafsir al-Sa’di

The Sibghah of Allah: Tafsir al-Sa’di

Allah mentions in surah al-Baqarah:

صِبْغَةَ اللَّـهِ ۖ وَمَنْ أَحْسَنُ مِنَ اللَّـهِ صِبْغَةً ۖ وَنَحْنُ لَهُ عَابِدُونَ

The Sibghah* of Allah, and which Sibghah can be better than Allah’s? And we are, to Him,  worshippers. [2:138]

*Translator’s note: the word sibghah linguistically means a dye or coloring, however the majority of the mufassiroon explain it here to refer to the deen of Allah. Imam al-Baghawi captures the intent of this dual meaning well when he reports:

قوله تعالى : ( صبغة الله ) قال ابن عباس في رواية الكلبي وقتادة والحسن : دين الله ، وإنما سماه صبغة لأنه يظهر أثر الدين على المتدين كما يظهر أثر الصبغ على الثوب

And His statement, “the sibghah of Allah” – Ibn ‘Abbaas said in the narration of al-Kalbi, as did Qataadah and al-Hasan: [it means] the deen of Allah, and it is only called sibghah [dye, coloring] because the effects of the deen manifestly appear on one who adheres to the deen just as the effects of the dyes manifestly appear on the clothing.

[Tafsir al-Baghawi 1/158]

Sheikh ‘Abd al-Rahman al-Sa’di, in his book of tafsir, commented on this ayah by writing:

أي‏:‏ الزموا صبغة الله‏,‏ وهو دينه‏,‏ وقوموا به قيامًا تامًا‏,‏ بجميع أعماله الظاهرة والباطنة‏,‏ وجميع عقائده في جميع الأوقات‏,‏ حتى يكون لكم صبغة‏,‏ وصفة من صفاتكم، فإذا كان صفة من صفاتكم‏,‏ أوجب ذلك لكم الانقياد لأوامره‏,‏ طوعا واختيارًا ومحبة‏,‏ وصار الدين طبيعة لكم بمنزلة الصبغ التام للثوب الذي صار له صفة‏,‏ فحصلت لكم السعادة الدنيوية والأخروية‏,‏ لحث الدين على مكارم الأخلاق‏,‏ ومحاسن الأعمال‏,‏ ومعالي الأمور، فلهذا قال ـ على سبيل التعجب المتقرر للعقول الزكية ـ ‏:‏ ‏{‏وَمَنْ أَحْسَنُ مِنَ اللَّهِ صِبْغَةً‏}‏ أي‏:‏ لا أحسن صبغة من صبغته‏.‏

Meaning: they have been prescribed the sibghah of Allah, and it is His deen, and to establish it in the correct way and in its totality, with all of the its acts – both outwardly and inwardly – and with all of its beliefs during all times, until it becomes like a sibghah [dye, coloring] for them and one of their attributes. So then when it is one of their attributes, that mandates that they would conform to its commands in obedience, by their own choice and loving to do so. The deen would become part of their very nature like a sibghah which has completely dyed an article of clothing such that it took on that attribute (of its color). And this would entail happiness in this life and in the hereafter for them, since the deen stimulates them towards noble manners, excellent actions, and lofty affairs. So because of this as a rhetorical means of affirming the point for those of pure minds He said, “and which Sibghah can be better than Allah’s?” – meaning: there is no better sibghah than His sibghah. Continue reading

“We guided them, but they preferred blindness over guidance”

In surah Fussilaat, Allah briefly mentions some details of the story of the people of Thamud when He says:

وَأَمَّا ثَمُودُ فَهَدَيْنَاهُمْ فَاسْتَحَبُّوا الْعَمَىٰ عَلَى الْهُدَىٰ فَأَخَذَتْهُمْ صَاعِقَةُ الْعَذَابِ الْهُونِ بِمَا كَانُوا يَكْسِبُونَ * وَنَجَّيْنَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَكَانُوا يَتَّقُونَ

And as for Thamud, We guided them, but they preferred blindness over guidance, so the thunderbolt of humiliating punishment seized them for what they used to earn. And We saved those who believed and used to fear Allah. [41:17-18]

Commenting of this, Imam al-Sa’di writes:

وأما ثمود وهم القبيلة المعروفة الذين سكنوا الحجر وحواليه، الذين أرسل اللّه إليهم صالحًا عليه السلام، يدعوهم إلى توحيد ربهم، وينهاهم عن الشرك وآتاهم اللّه الناقة، آية عظيمة، لها شرب ولهم شرب يوم معلوم، يشربون لبنها يومًا ويشربون من الماء يومًا، وليسوا ينفقون عليها، بل تأكل من أرض اللّه،

And as for the Thamud, they were a well-known tribe which resided in al-ijr and thereabouts, to whom Allah sent aalih (‘alaihis salaam). He called them to taweed of their Lord and forbade them from shirk. And Allah gave them the camel as an amazing ayah (sign, miracle). For it was drinking and for them was drinking on known days (i.e. alternating days of access to the water sources for the camel and the people of Thamud). They drank from its milk one day and they drank from the water another day, and they did not spend on it (i.e. its provision). Rather it ate from the land of Allah. Continue reading