An “Amazing Connection” in the Story of Zakariyyah: Tafsir al-Sa’di

In surah Aali ‘Imran, Allah tells us the story of Zakariyyah, including his du’a to have a son, his amazement at the promise of the fulfillment of this du’a despite his old age and his wife being barren, and his request to have a sign confirming this amazing promise. Sheikh ‘Abd al-Rahman al-Sa’di wrote in his commentary of ayah 3:41:

ـ{ رب اجعل لي آية } أي: علامة على وجود الولد قال { آيتك ألا تكلم الناس ثلاثة أيام إلا رمزًا } أي: ينحبس لسانك عن كلامهم من غير آفة ولا سوء، فلا تقدر إلا على الإشارة والرمز

رَبِّ اجْعَل لِّي آيَةً

[Zakariyyah said] “Lord, make a sign for me”

meaning: a sign of the presence of a son. He replied

آيَتُكَ أَلَّا تُكَلِّمَ النَّاسَ ثَلَاثَةَ أَيَّامٍ إِلَّا رَمْزًا

“your sign is that you will not speak to the people for three days, except by gestures”

meaning: your tongue will be restrained from speaking to them but not due to any disease or malady. So you will not be able to communicate except by way of pointing and gesturing. Continue reading

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Shall We Force You to Believe?: Tafsir al-Shinqitee

In surah Hud, Allah recounts the story of His prophet Nuh, beginning with his calling his people to tawheed, a list of their doubts as to why they disbelieved in him, and then Nuh’s responses to their doubts. Sheikh Muhammad al-Ameen al-Shinqitee comments on the first part of Nuh’s response to his people by writing:

قوله تعالى : قال يا قوم أرأيتم إن كنت على بينة من ربي وآتاني رحمة من عنده فعميت عليكم أنلزمكموها وأنتم لها كارهون . ـ

Allah’s statement:

 قَالَ يَا قَوْمِ أَرَأَيْتُمْ إِن كُنتُ عَلَىٰ بَيِّنَةٍ مِّن رَّبِّي وَآتَانِي رَحْمَةً مِّنْ عِندِهِ فَعُمِّيَتْ عَلَيْكُمْ أَنُلْزِمُكُمُوهَا وَأَنتُمْ لَهَا كَارِهُونَ

Nuh said, “O my people, what do you think if I am on clarity from my Lord, and a Mercy has come to me from Him, but that has been obscured from your sight – shall we compel you to accept it while you have a strong hatred for it? [11:28]

ذكر تعالى في هذه الآية الكريمة عن نبيه نوح : أنه قال لقومه : أرأيتم [ 11 \ 28 ] ، أي : أخبروني إن كنت على بينة من ربي [ 11 \ 28 ] ، أي : على يقين ونبوة صادقة لا شك فيها ، وأعطاني رحمة منه مما أوحى إلي من التوحيد والهدى ، فخفي ذلك كله عليكم ، ولم تعتقدوا أنه حق ، أيمكنني أن ألزمكم به ، وأجبر قلوبكم على الانقياد والإذعان لتلك البينة التي تفضل الله علي بها ، ورحمني بإيتائها ، والحال أنكم كارهون لذلك ؟ يعني ليس بيدي توفيقكم إلى الهدى وإن كان واضحا جليا لا [ ص: 178 ] لبس فيه ، إن لم يهدكم الله جل وعلا إليه . ـ

In this noble ayah, Allah mentions that His prophet Nuh said to his people:

أَرَأَيْتُمْ

Do you think … Continue reading

“So Turn Away From Them”: Sheikh Saalih al-Fawzan

Sheikh Saalih al-Fawzan mentioned the following in a part of a series of classes he gave on the explanation of the mufassal surahs:

ثم قال لنبيه محمد : (فَتَوَلَّ عَنْهُمْ) ، أي : لا تلتفت إلى أقوالهم ، واعتراضاتهم ، ولا تعبأ بها أبداً ، ولا تهمك ؛ لأنه كان يحزن على قومه ، أنهم يدخلون النار ، وأنهم يكفرون بالله ، (فَلَعَلَّكَ بَاخِعٌ نَّفْسَكَ عَلَىٰ آثَارِهِمْ) (لَعَلَّكَ بَاخِعٌ نَّفْسَكَ أَلَّا يَكُونُوا مُؤْمِنِينَ) ، أي : مهلك نفسك ، فالرسول كان حريصا ، وكان يحزنه ما عليه قومه ، لأنه يريد لهم السلامة ، والنصيحة ، ويريد لهم النجاة ، فإذا رآهم على ما هم عليه من العناد فإنه يحزن . ـ

Then Allah said to His Prophet Muhammad:

فَتَوَلَّ عَنْهُمْ

So turn away from them [51:54]

meaning: don’t pay heed to what they say and their opposition, don’t ever let it bother you or concern you. That is because the Prophet used to grieve for his people [i.e. the Quraish], worrying that they would enter the Hellfire and because they disbelieved in Allah.

فَلَعَلَّكَ بَاخِعٌ نَّفْسَكَ عَلَىٰ آثَارِهِمْ

Perhaps you would kill yourself in grief because of them [18:6]

لَعَلَّكَ بَاخِعٌ نَّفْسَكَ أَلَّا يَكُونُوا مُؤْمِنِينَ

Perhaps you would kill yourself with grief that they will not be believers. [26:3]

meaning: that you would destroy yourself. For the Messenger desired their guidance very much, and used to grieve for his people, because he wanted good for them and to advise them, and he wanted their salvation. So when he would see them in their state of obstinate refusal he would be saddened.

قال تعالى : (وَلَقَدْ نَعْلَمُ أَنَّكَ يَضِيقُ صَدْرُكَ بِمَا يَقُولُونَ) ، (قَدْ نَعْلَمُ إِنَّهُ لَيَحْزُنُكَ الَّذِي يَقُولُونَ ۖ فَإِنَّهُمْ لَا يُكَذِّبُونَكَ وَلَـٰكِنَّ الظَّالِمِينَ بِآيَاتِ اللَّـهِ يَجْحَدُونَ) ، فهذه تسلية للرسول . ـ

Allah said: Continue reading

“O you who have believed, look after your own souls”: Tafsir al-Sa’di & al-Shinqitee

In surah al-Maa’idah, Allah commands the believers by saying:

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا عَلَيْكُمْ أَنفُسَكُمْ ۖ لَا يَضُرُّكُم مَّن ضَلَّ إِذَا اهْتَدَيْتُمْ ۚ إِلَى اللَّـهِ مَرْجِعُكُمْ جَمِيعًا فَيُنَبِّئُكُم بِمَا كُنتُمْ تَعْمَلُونَ

O you who have believed, look after your own souls. Those who have gone astray will not harm you when you have been guided. To Allah is you return all together; then He will inform you of what you used to do. [5:105]

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

يقول تعالى: { يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا عَلَيْكُمْ أَنْفُسَكُمْ } أي: اجتهدوا في إصلاحها وكمالها وإلزامها سلوك الصراط المستقيم، فإنكم إذا صلحتم لا يضركم من ضل عن الصراط المستقيم، ولم يهتد إلى الدين القويم، وإنما يضر نفسه. ـ

Allah says:

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا عَلَيْكُمْ أَنفُسَكُمْ

O you who have believed, look after your own souls.

meaning: exert yourselves in their rectification, their perfection, and making them steadfast in traversing the Straight Path. For once you have rectified yourselves, then those who have strayed from the Straight Path and are not guided to the upright religion will not harm you; it is only themselves that they harm.

ولا يدل هذا على أن الأمر بالمعروف والنهي عن المنكر، لا يضر العبدَ تركُهما وإهمالُهما، فإنه لا يتم هداه, إلا بالإتيان بما يجب عليه من الأمر بالمعروف والنهي عن المنكر. نعم، إذا كان عاجزا عن إنكار المنكر بيده ولسانه وأنكره بقلبه، فإنه لا يضره ضلال غيره. ـ

However this does not mean that slacking off in commanding the good and forbidding the evil or abandoning it completely is something that does not negatively affect a slave. For the fact of the matter is that being guided is not complete unless one follows through with the commanding of good and forbidding of evil which that guidance demands of him. Yes, even if he is not able to take action against wrongdoing by means of his hands or his tongue and is only able to disapprove of them in his heart, then still the misguidance of others will not harm him.

وقوله: { إِلَى اللَّهِ مَرْجِعُكُمْ جَمِيعًا } أي: مآلكم يوم القيامة، واجتماعكم بين يدي الله تعالى. { فَيُنَبِّئُكُمْ بِمَا كُنْتُمْ تَعْمَلُونَ } من خير وشر. ـ

And Allah’s statement: Continue reading

Know that your wealth and your children are but a trial: Tafsir al-Tabari

Allah informs the believers in surah al-Anfal:

وَاعْلَمُوا أَنَّمَا أَمْوَالُكُمْ وَأَوْلَادُكُمْ فِتْنَةٌ وَأَنَّ اللَّـهَ عِندَهُ أَجْرٌ عَظِيمٌ

And know that your wealth and your children are but a trial, and that Allah has with Him a tremendous reward [8:28]

Commenting on this in his famous book of tafsir, Imam Abu Ja’far Muhammad ibn Jarir al-Tabari wrote:

قال أبو جعفر : يقول تعالى ذكره للمؤمنين : واعلموا ، أيها المؤمنون ، أنما أموالكم التي خولكموها الله ، وأولادكم التي وهبها الله لكم ، اختبار وبلاء ، أعطاكموها ليختبركم بها ويبتليكم ، لينظر كيف أنتم عاملون من أداء حق الله عليكم فيها ، والانتهاء إلى أمره ونهيه فيها . ” وأن الله عنده أجر عظيم ” ، يقول : واعلموا أن الله عنده خير وثواب عظيم ، على طاعتكم إياه فيما أمركم ونهاكم ، في أموالكم وأولادكم التي اختبركم بها في الدنيا . وأطيعوا الله فيما كلفكم فيها ، تنالوا به الجزيل من ثوابه في معادكم . ـ

I say: Allah is telling the believers, “Know, O you believers, that the wealth which Allah has granted you and the offspring which Allah has given you are a test and a trial that has been given to you in order to test and try you by means of them. So look to how you behave when it comes to fulfilling Allah’s rights over you in relation to these things, and set your limits at what Allah has commanded and forbidden you regarding these things.”

وَأَنَّ اللَّـهَ عِندَهُ أَجْرٌ عَظِيمٌ

… and that Allah has with Him a tremendous reward

Allah is saying, “And know that Allah has with Him tremendous good to be given as reward for obedience to Him in what He has commanded and forbidden regarding the wealth and offspring which have been used to test you in this worldly life. So obey Allah with what He has entrusted to you. Through doing so you will receive a great reward in the hereafter.

ـ 15934 – حدثني الحارث قال ، حدثنا عبد العزيز قال ، حدثنا المسعودي ، [ ص: 487 ] عن القاسم ، عن عبد الرحمن ، عن ابن مسعود ، في قوله : ” إنما أموالكم وأولادكم فتنة ” ، قال : ما منكم من أحد إلا وهو مشتمل على فتنة ، فمن استعاذ منكم فليستعذ بالله من مضلات الفتن . ـ

… ibn Mas’ood said about Allah’s statement:

وَاعْلَمُوا أَنَّمَا أَمْوَالُكُمْ وَأَوْلَادُكُمْ فِتْنَةٌ

And know that your wealth and your children are but a trial

“There is not one of you who is not involved in some trial, so whoever wants to seek refuge, let him seek refuge in Allah from the misguidance of trials.”

ـ 15935 – حدثني يونس قال ، أخبرنا ابن وهب قال ، قال ابن زيد ، في قوله : ” واعلموا أنما أموالكم وأولادكم فتنة ” ، قال : ” فتنة ” ، الاختبار ، اختبارهم . وقرأ : ( ونبلوكم بالشر والخير فتنة وإلينا ترجعون ) [ سورة الأنبياء : 35 ] . ـ

ibn Zayd said about this statement:

The “trial” here is a test, meaning their test

and he recited:

وَنَبْلُوكُم بِالشَّرِّ وَالْخَيْرِ فِتْنَةً ۖ وَإِلَيْنَا تُرْجَعُونَ

And We shall test you with evil and with good as a trial. And to Us shall you return. [21:35]

[Tafsir al-Tabari 13/486-487]

See also: Ibrahim’s interactions with his father: Tafsir al-Shinqitee

See also: Four categories of parentage and four categories of offspring: Tafsir ibn Kathir

We gave Ibrahim good in this life: Tafsir al-Shawkani

In the end of Surah al-Nahl, Allah describes Ibrahim with several attributes, including:

وَآتَيْنَاهُ فِي الدُّنْيَا حَسَنَةً

And We gave him good in this world [16:122]

The scholars of tafsir have brought a number of explanations for this phrase, and Sheikh Muhammad al-Shawkani collected the majority of them in his tafsir where he wrote:

وآتيناه في الدنيا حسنة أي خصلة حسنة أو حالة حسنة ، وقيل هو الولد الصالح ، وقيل الثناء الحسن ، وقيل النبوة ، وقيل الصلاة منا عليه في التشهد ، وقيل هي أنه يتولاه جميع أهل الأديان ، ولا مانع أن يكون ما آتاه الله شاملا لذلك كله ولما عداه من خصال الخير

وَآتَيْنَاهُ فِي الدُّنْيَا حَسَنَةً

And We gave him good in this world

i.e. good qualities or a good condition.

  • Some have said that it refers to righteous offspring.
  • Some have said that it refers to good praise and commendation.
  • Some have said that it refers to the station of prophethood.
  • Some have said that it refers to our prayers upon him during the tashahud.
  • And still others have said that it refers to the people of all religions inclining towards him in affection.

And there is nothing to prevent that which Allah gave him from including all of these good qualities or even more.

[Fath al-Qadeer 1/808] Continue reading

Craving Wealth and Rulership: ibn Taymiyah

In one of his many writings, sheikh al-Islam ibn Taymiyah made the following insightful comments:

لا ريب أن الحرص والرغبة في الحياة الدنيا وفي الدار الدنيا من المال والسلطان مضر كما روى الترمذي عن كعب بن مالك قال : قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم ” { ما ذئبان جائعان أرسلا في زريبة غنم بأفسد لها من حرص المرء على المال والشرف لدينه } ” قال الترمذي حديث حسن صحيح . فذم النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم الحرص [ ص: 143 ] على المال والشرف وهو الرياسة والسلطان وأخبر أن ذلك يفسد الدين مثل أو فوق إفساد الذئبين الجائعين لزريبة الغنم . ـ

There is no doubt that craving and pining after this worldly life and the wealth and rulership in it is something harmful. This is just as al-Tirmidhi relayed from Ka’b ibn Malik who said: Allah’s Messenger said:

Two hunger wolves let loose in the sheep pen is no more destructive to them than a person’s craving for wealth and rulership is to his religion.

and al-Tirmidhi said that this was a hasan saheeh hadeeth. So the Prophet criticized pining after wealth and al-sharf – which is positions of rulership and authority – and he informed us that such things corrupt one’s religion as much if not more than the destruction that two hunger wolves unleash upon an enclosure of sheep.

وهذا دليل على أن هذا الحرص إنما ذم لأنه يفسد الدين الذي هو الإيمان والعمل الصالح فكان ترك هذا الحرص لصالح العمل وهذان هما المذكوران في قوله تعالى { ما أغنى عني ماليه } { هلك عني سلطانيه } وهما اللذان : ذكرهما الله في سورة القصص حيث افتتحها بأمر فرعون وذكر علوه في الأرض وهو الرياسة والشرف والسلطان ثم ذكر في آخرها قارون وما أوتيه من الأموال وذكر عاقبة سلطان هذا وعاقبة مال هذا ثم قال : { تلك الدار الآخرة نجعلها للذين لا يريدون علوا في الأرض ولا فسادا } كحال فرعون وقارون ; فإن جمع الأموال من غير إنفاقها في مواضعها المأمور بها وأخذها من غير وجهها هو من نوع الفساد . ـ

This is a proof that this craving is dispraised precisely because it corrupts one’s deen, that is, one’s eemaan and righteous deeds. So a person should leave off this avarice for the sake of doing good deeds. And these objects of desire are also mentioned together in Allah’s statement: Continue reading

The Qur’an Addresses Multiple Christian Creeds: Tafsir ibn Kathir

Allah says in part of surah al-Nisaa’:

يَا أَهْلَ الْكِتَابِ لَا تَغْلُوا فِي دِينِكُمْ وَلَا تَقُولُوا عَلَى اللَّـهِ إِلَّا الْحَقَّ ۚ إِنَّمَا الْمَسِيحُ عِيسَى ابْنُ مَرْيَمَ رَسُولُ اللَّـهِ وَكَلِمَتُهُ أَلْقَاهَا إِلَىٰ مَرْيَمَ وَرُوحٌ مِّنْهُ ۖ فَآمِنُوا بِاللَّـهِ وَرُسُلِهِ ۖ وَلَا تَقُولُوا ثَلَاثَةٌ ۚ انتَهُوا خَيْرًا لَّكُمْ ۚ إِنَّمَا اللَّـهُ إِلَـٰهٌ وَاحِدٌ ۖ سُبْحَانَهُ أَن يَكُونَ لَهُ وَلَدٌ ۘ لَّهُ مَا فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَمَا فِي الْأَرْضِ ۗ وَكَفَىٰ بِاللَّـهِ وَكِيلًا

O People of the Book, do not go to extremes in your religion! And do not say anything about Allah other than the truth! The Messiah, ‘Eesaa the son of Maryam is nothing other than a Messenger of Allah, and a word of His which He sent to Maryam, and a soul from Him. So believe in Allah and in His Messengers. And do not say “three”. Stop! That is better for you! Allah is only one god; exalted is He above having a son. To Him belongs all that is in the heavens and the earth. And Allah is sufficient as a disposer of affairs [4:171]

In his famous book of commentary on the Qur’an, al-haafidh Ismaa’eel ibn Kathir mentioned the following words in the midst of his explanation of this ayah. These words should serve to rebut the notion spread by some Christians that the Qur’an is confused about Christian beliefs. On the contrary, this passage demonstrates that the Qur’an addresses different beliefs of different Christian sects in different places:

وقوله : ( فآمنوا بالله ورسله ) أي : فصدقوا بأن الله واحد أحد ، لا صاحبة له ولا ولد ، واعلموا وتيقنوا بأن عيسى عبد الله ورسوله ; ولهذا قال : ( ولا تقولوا ثلاثة ) أي : لا تجعلوا عيسى وأمه مع الله شريكين ، تعالى الله عن ذلك علوا كبيرا . ـ

Allah’s statement:

فَآمِنُوا بِاللَّـهِ وَرُسُلِهِ

So have eemaan in Allah and His messengers

meaning: believe that Allah is One, singular with neither partner nor offspring, and know and have certainty that ‘Eesaa is a slave of Allah and His messenger. And so Allah says:

وَلَا تَقُولُوا ثَلَاثَةٌ

And do not say “three”

meaning: Do not make ‘Eesaa and his mother as two partners alongside Allah – high and exalted is Allah above such a thing. Continue reading

Clarifying “Allah does not guide the wrong-doers”: Imam al-Sa’di

In a book of assorted benefits from the Qur’an which Sheikh ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn Naasir al-Sa’di authored over the course of one Ramadan, he mentioned the following point of clarification on a topic of great importance:

إن قلت : إن الله أخبر في غير موضع أنه لا يهدي القوم الظالمين ، ولا يهدي القوم الفاسقين والقوم الكافرين والمجرمين ء ونحوهم والواقع أنه هدى كثير من الظالمين والفاسقين والقوم الكافرين والمجرمين مع أن قوله صدق وحق، لا يخالفه الواقع أبداً ؟! ـ

If one were to say: Allah has informed us in more than one place that He does not guide the wrongdoing people, nor does he guide those people who cross all limits, nor the disbelieving people, nor the criminal wrongdoers and so on, while the reality is that He has in fact guided many of these wrongdoing people, ruler-breakers, disbelievers and criminals. However Allah’s Word is true and correct, and never is at odds with reality. [So what is the resolution to this issue?!]

فالجواب : أن الذي أخبر أنه لا يهديهم هم الذين حقت عليهم الشقوة وكلمة العذاب، فإنها إذا حقت وتحققت وثبتت ووجبت فإن هذا لا يتغير ولا يتبدل، قال تعالى: (وَكَذَٰلِكَ حَقَّتْ كَلِمَتُ رَبِّكَ عَلَى الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا أَنَّهُمْ أَصْحَابُ النَّارِ) [الغافر 6] ، (كَذَٰلِكَ حَقَّتْ كَلِمَتُ رَبِّكَ عَلَى الَّذِينَ فَسَقُوا أَنَّهُمْ لَا يُؤْمِنُونَ ) [يونس 33] ، ( إِنَّ الَّذِينَ حَقَّتْ عَلَيْهِمْ كَلِمَتُ رَبِّكَ لَا يُؤْمِنُونَ * وَلَوْ جَاءَتْهُمْ كُلُّ آيَةٍ حَتَّىٰ يَرَوُا الْعَذَابَ الْأَلِيمَ) [يونس 96-97]. الذين اقتضت حكمة الله تعالى أنه لا يهديهم لكونهم لا يصلحون للهداية ولا تليق بهم، ( وَلَوْ عَلِمَ اللَّـهُ فِيهِمْ خَيْرًا لَّأَسْمَعَهُمْ ۖ وَلَوْ أَسْمَعَهُمْ لَتَوَلَّوا وَّهُم مُّعْرِضُونَ) [الأنفال 23] وهم الذين مردوا على أسباب الشقاء ورضوها واختاروها على الهدى . ـ

The response would be that what He has told us is that He does not guide those who are deserving of punishment and ultimate sorrow. So when this is deserved, its causes are enacted, set firmly in place and must take place. In that case there can be no change or alteration. Allah said:

وَكَذَٰلِكَ حَقَّتْ كَلِمَتُ رَبِّكَ عَلَى الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا أَنَّهُمْ أَصْحَابُ النَّارِ

And thus has the word of your Lord come into effect upon those who disbelieved, that they are eternal dwellers of the Fire. [40:6] Continue reading

Why Study the Sayings of the Salaf?: Muhammad Bazmool

Sheikh Muhammad Bazmool, a professor at Umm al-Qura University in Mecca, wrote the following beneficial note:

ما فائدة الآثار الواردة عن السلف وعندنا القرآن والسنة ؟ ـ
What is the Benefit of the Transmitted Saying of the Salaf when We Already Have the Qur’an and the Sunnah?

ـ ◇سؤال : ما فائدة الآثار الواردة عن السلف وعندنا القرآن والسنة ؟ ـ

Question: What is the benefit of the transmitted sayings of the salaf when we already have the Qur’an and the Sunnah?

ـ ◇الجواب : الآثار الواردة على السلف على أنواع؛ ـ

Response: There are a number of different types of the transmitted sayings of the salaf:

ـ #النوع_الأول : آثار موقوفة أو مقطوعة ولها حكم الرفع، يعني يأتي قول صحابي أو أثر عن تابعي له حكم الحديث المرفوع، فهذا حكمه حكم الحديث المروي. وجملة كثيرة من الأحاديث النبوية نقلت على هذه الصورة. فالاهتمام بالآثار فيه حفظ جملة كثيرة قد تكون ثلث أو ربع أو خمس الأحاديث فيها، والله اعلم. ـ

1) Mawqoof or Maqtoo’ narrations that take a Marfoo’ ruling – meaning that there is the saying of a Companion or the saying of a Tabi’ee which takes the ruling of a Marfoo’ hadith, so it is treated in the same way as a saying attributed to the Prophet. In fact, a large number of Prophetic hadith narrations have been conveyed in this manner. So by giving attention and importance to these sayings we preserve a large body of hadith narrations, maybe even as big as a third or a fourth or a fifth of them, and Allah knows best. Continue reading