Those who do not witness al-Zoor: Tafsir al-Tabari

In surah al-Furqaan, Allah devotes a number of ayaat to describing the characteristics of the ‘ibaad al-Rahman (the slaves of the Most Merciful). Among these descriptions is His statement:

وَالَّذِينَ لَا يَشْهَدُونَ الزُّورَ وَإِذَا مَرُّوا بِاللَّغْوِ مَرُّوا كِرَامًا

And they are those who do not witness al-zoor, and if they pass by some ill talk, they pass by it with dignity. [25:72]

al-Haafidh ibn Kathir clarified the meaning of “those who do not witness” briefly in his tafsir by writing:

 والأظهر من السياق أن المراد : لا يشهدون الزور ، أي : لا يحضرونه; ولهذا قال : ( وإذا مروا باللغو مروا كراما ) أي : لا يحضرون الزور ، وإذا اتفق مرورهم به مروا ، ولم يتدنسوا منه بشيء ; ولهذا قال : ( مروا كراما ) . ـ

From the context, it appears that the intended meaning of “they do not witness al-zoor” is that they are not present for it or in attendance when it is happening. In line with this, Allah said:

وَإِذَا مَرُّوا بِاللَّغْوِ مَرُّوا كِرَامًا

and if they pass by some ill talk, they pass by it with dignity.

meaning: they are not in attendance when al-zoor occurs, and if they do happen to pass by it, then they do not let it sully them in the least. In this vein, Allah said:

مَرُّوا كِرَامًا

they pass by it with dignity.

[Tafsir ibn Kathir 6/132]

There were a number of different interpretations of the meaning of al-zoor among the salaf. Sheikh ibn al-Jawzi summarizes these different opinions as follows: Continue reading

“Do not Follow that of which you have no Knowledge”: Tafsir al-Shinqitee

In surah al-Israa – also sometimes referred to as surah Bani Israa’eel -, Allah commands:

وَلَا تَقْفُ مَا لَيْسَ لَكَ بِهِ عِلْمٌ ۚ إِنَّ السَّمْعَ وَالْبَصَرَ وَالْفُؤَادَ كُلُّ أُولَـٰئِكَ كَانَ عَنْهُ مَسْئُولًا

And do not follow that of which you have no knowledge. Certainly the hearing, and the sight, and the heart of each of those you will be questioned. [17:36]

The scholars of tafsir have differed regarding the meaning of this command. Ibn al-Jawzi summarized the different opinions in his book of tafsir by writing:

وللمفسرين في المراد به أربعة أقوال : ـ
أحدها: لا ترم أحدا بما ليس لك به علم، رواه العوفي عن ابن عباس .ـ
والثاني: لا تقل: رأيت، ولم تر، ولا سمعت، ولم تسمع، رواه عثمان بن عطاء، عن أبيه، عن ابن عباس، وبه قال قتادة .ـ
والثالث: لا تشرك بالله شيئا، رواه عطاء أيضا عن ابن عباس .ـ
والرابع: لا تشهد بالزور، قاله محمد بن الحنفية .ـ

There were four different opinions among the mufassiroon as to the intended meaning of this phrase:

1) Do not levy accusations of which you do not have knowledge against anyone. al-‘Awfi transmitted this from ibn ‘Abbaas.

2) Do not say, “I saw such-and-such” when you did not see it, nor say “I heard such-and-such” when you did not hear it. ‘Uthman ibn ‘Ataa’ transmitted this from his father from ibn ‘Abbaas, and Qataadah also mentioned this.

3) Do not associate any partners with Allah. ‘Ataa also narrated this from ibn ‘Abbaas.

4) Do not bear false witness. And this is what Muhammad ibn Haneefiyyah said.

[Zad al-Maseer 5/36]

Imam ibn Jarir al-Tabari also mentioned these different positions in his own tafsir along with their chains of narration. He then concluded with the following reconciliation of those opinions by writing: Continue reading

An Example of Added Meaning from the Different Qiraa’aat

The different qiraa’aat (recitations) of the Qur’an are an important part of tafsir and the sciences of the Qur’an, but a subject which does not receive much discussion in the English language. We have translated a brief introduction to this matter from sheikh ‘Abd al-‘Azeez bin Baaz, which we would recommending reading as a primer before proceeding with this article.

What follows is a simple and – inshaAllaah – easy-to-understand example of how the differences in the transmitted recitations can add to the meaning of an ayah, as illustrated in these excerpts from the tafsirs of sheikh Muhammad al-Ameen al-Shinqitee and imam Abu Ja’far Muhammad ibn Jarir al-Tabari. Please note that some level of familiarity with Arabic will greatly facilitate understanding this example.

In part of his explanation of surah Maryam, sheikh Muhammad al-Ameen al-Shinqitee wrote the following:

قوله تعالى : واذكر في الكتاب موسى إنه كان مخلصا وكان رسولا نبيا ، اعلم أن في قوله ” مخلصا ” قراءتين سبعيتين : قرأه عاصم وحمزة والكسائي بفتح اللام بصيغة اسم المفعول ، والمعنى على هذه القراءة أن الله استخلصه واصطفاه : ويشهد لهذا المعنى قوله تعالى : قال ياموسى إني اصطفيتك على الناس برسالاتي وبكلامي الآية [ 7 \ 144 ] ، ومما يماثل هذه القراءة في القرآن قوله تعالى : إنا أخلصناهم بخالصة ذكرى الدار [ 38 \ 46 ] ، فالذين أخلصهم الله هم المخلصون بفتح اللام . ـ

Allah’s statement:

وَاذْكُرْ‌ فِي الْكِتَابِ مُوسَىٰ ۚ إِنَّهُ كَانَ مُخْلَصًا وَكَانَ رَ‌سُولًا نَّبِيًّا

And mention in the Book, Moosaa. Indeed, he was mukhlasan, and he was a messenger and a prophet. [19:51]

You should know that there are two different readings of the word mukhlasan that are present in the seven well-known recitations. ‘Aasim, Hamzah, and al-Kasaa’ee recited it with a fathah on the letter laam, which makes it take the form of ism al-maf’ool (direct object). According to this recitation, the meaning is that Allah selected and chose him. And this meaning is attested to by Allah’s statement:

قَالَ يَا مُوسَىٰ إِنِّي اصْطَفَيْتُكَ عَلَى النَّاسِ بِرِ‌سَالَاتِي وَبِكَلَامِي

[Allah] said, “O Moosaa, I have chosen you over the people with My messages and My words…” [7:144]

And among the wordings in the Qur’an which resemble this reading is Allah’s statement:

إِنَّا أَخْلَصْنَاهُم بِخَالِصَةٍ ذِكْرَ‌ى الدَّارِ‌

Indeed, We chose them for an exclusive quality: remembrance of the home (of the Hereafter) [38:46]

For those whom Allah has chosen are the mukhlasoon, with a fathah on the letter laam. Continue reading