Investigate and Verify: Tafsir al-Sa’di

Allah commands the believers in surah al-Nisaa’ by saying:

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا إِذَا ضَرَبْتُمْ فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّـهِ فَتَبَيَّنُوا وَلَا تَقُولُوا لِمَنْ أَلْقَىٰ إِلَيْكُمُ السَّلَامَ لَسْتَ مُؤْمِنًا تَبْتَغُونَ عَرَضَ الْحَيَاةِ الدُّنْيَا فَعِندَ اللَّـهِ مَغَانِمُ كَثِيرَةٌ ۚ كَذَٰلِكَ كُنتُم مِّن قَبْلُ فَمَنَّ اللَّـهُ عَلَيْكُمْ فَتَبَيَّنُوا ۚ إِنَّ اللَّـهَ كَانَ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ خَبِيرًا

O you who have believed, when you go forth in the cause of Allah, investigate; and do not say to one who gives you a greeting of peace “You are not a believer,” seeking the goods of worldly life; for with Allah are many bounties. You yourselves were like that before before Allah conferred His favor upon you, so investigate. Indeed Allah is ever acquainted with what you do. [4:94]

Commenting on this in his famous book of tafsir, sheikh ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn Naasir al-Sa’di wrote:

يأمر تعالى عباده المؤمنين إذا خرجوا جهادا في سبيله وابتغاء مرضاته أن يتبينوا ويتثبتوا في جميع أمورهم المشتبهة. فإن الأمور قسمان: واضحة وغير واضحة. فالواضحة البينة لا تحتاج إلى تثبت وتبين، لأن ذلك تحصيل حاصل. وأما الأمور المشكلة غير الواضحة فإن الإنسان يحتاج إلى التثبت فيها والتبين، ليعرف هل يقدم عليها أم لا؟ ـ

Allah is commanding His believing slaves to investigate and verify the facts in any and all situations which are not completely clear whenever they go out for jihaad in His path and seeking His pleasure.

And things can fall into one of two categories: either they are clear or unclear. Those things which are plain and clear do not require any extra verification or investigation, because clarity has already been achieved. But as for those matters which are not entirely clear and somewhat thorny, then a person must seek to ascertain what is really the case and seek clarity so that he can known whether he should proceed with his plan or not. Continue reading

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“…Until they change what is within themselves”: Tafsir al-Shinqitee

In surah al-Anfaal, Allah informs us that:

ذَٰلِكَ بِأَنَّ اللَّـهَ لَمْ يَكُ مُغَيِّرًا نِّعْمَةً أَنْعَمَهَا عَلَىٰ قَوْمٍ حَتَّىٰ يُغَيِّرُوا مَا بِأَنفُسِهِمْ ۙ وَأَنَّ اللَّـهَ سَمِيعٌ عَلِيمٌ

That is because Allah would not change a favor which He had bestowed upon a people until they change what is within themselves. And indeed, Allah is Hearing and Knowing. [8:53]

Sheikh Muhammad al-Ameen al-Shinqitee commented on this in his tafsir by writing:

ذكر تعالى في هذه الآية الكريمة أنه لا يغير نعمة أنعمها على أحد إلا بسبب ذنب ارتكبه ، وأوضح هذا المعنى في آيات أخر كقوله : إن الله لا يغير ما بقوم حتى يغيروا ما بأنفسهم وإذا أراد الله بقوم سوءا فلا مرد له وما لهم من دونه من وال [ 13 \ 11 ] ، وقوله : وما أصابكم من مصيبة فبما كسبت أيديكم ويعفو عن كثير [ 42 \ 30 ] ، وقوله : ما أصابك من حسنة فمن الله وما أصابك من سيئة فمن نفسك [ 4 \ 79 ] إلى غير ذلك من الآيات

In this noble ayah, Allah mentioned that He will not change a blessing which He has bestowed upon someone except due to a sin which that person has committed.

And Allah has made this meaning clear in a number of other verses, such as His statement: Continue reading

Qualities of the Successful Ones: Tafsir al-Sa’di

Allah describes the successful believers in surah al-Nur by saying:

وَمَن يُطِعِ اللَّـهَ وَرَ‌سُولَهُ وَيَخْشَ اللَّـهَ وَيَتَّقْهِ فَأُولَـٰئِكَ هُمُ الْفَائِزُونَ

And whoever obeys Allah and His Messenger, fears Allah, and exercises taqwa of him – these ones are the successful ones. [24:52]

In part of his commentary on this ayah, sheikh ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn Naasir al-Sa’di wrote:

فقال: ومن يطع الله ورسوله فيصدق خبرهما ويمتثل أمرهما، ويخش الله أي: يخافه خوفا مقرونا بمعرفة، فيترك ما نهى عنه، ويكف نفسه عما تهوى، ولهذا قال: ويتقه بترك المحظور؛ لأن التقوى -عند الإطلاق- يدخل فيها فعل المأمور، وترك المنهي عنه، وعند اقترانها بالبر أو الطاعة – كما في هذا الموضع – تفسر بتوقي عذاب الله، بترك معاصيه، ـ

Allah’s statement:

وَمَن يُطِعِ اللَّـهَ وَرَ‌سُولَهُ

and whoever obeys Allah and His messenger

so he affirms what they have informed him of and complies with their commands Continue reading

Fear the Fire Whose Fuel is Men and Stones: Tafsir al-Baghawi & Tafsir al-Qurtubi

In the beginning of surah al-Baqarah, Allah challenges the disbelievers that if they doubt the authenticity of the Qur’an to produce a single surah like it. He then follows this up by saying:

فَإِن لَّمْ تَفْعَلُوا وَلَن تَفْعَلُوا فَاتَّقُوا النَّارَ الَّتِي وَقُودُهَا النَّاسُ وَالْحِجَارَةُ ۖ أُعِدَّتْ لِلْكَافِرِينَ

But if you do not – and you will never be able to – then fear the Fire whose fuel is men and stones, prepared for the disbelievers. [2:24]

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

ـ ( التي وقودها الناس والحجارة ) قال ابن عباس وأكثر المفسرين يعني حجارة الكبريت لأنها أكثر التهابا وقيل جميع الحجارة وهو دليل على عظمة تلك النار وقيل أراد بها الأصنام لأن أكثر أصنامهم كانت منحوتة من الحجارة كما قال ” إنكم وما تعبدون من دون الله حصب جهنم ” ( 98 – الأنبياء ) . ـ

 الَّتِي وَقُودُهَا النَّاسُ وَالْحِجَارَةُ

… whose fuel is men and stones

ibn ‘Abbaas and the majority of the mufassiroon have said that ‘stones‘ here means sulfur because sulfur is very prone to igniting and burning.

It is also said that it is referring to all kinds of stones and that this demonstrates the severity and intensity of this fire.

And it is also said that what is intended by ‘stones‘ here are idols because most of their idols used to be statues made of stone. This is like what Allah said: Continue reading

“It is only revealed to me that your god is but one God”: Imam al-Shinqitee

In a work of his devoted to clarifying supposed contradictions in the Qur’an, sheikh Muhammad al-Ameen al-Shinqitee mentioned the following in part of his discussion of surah al-Anbiyah:

وَقَوْلِهِ تَعَالَى: قُلْ إِنَّمَا يُوحَى إِلَيَّ أَنَّمَا إِلَهُكُمْ إِلَهٌ وَاحِدٌ فَهَلْ أَنْتُمْ مُسْلِمُونَ [21 \ 108] . ـ

Allah’s statement:

قُلْ إِنَّمَا يُوحَىٰ إِلَيَّ أَنَّمَا إِلَـٰهُكُمْ إِلَـٰهٌ وَاحِدٌ ۖ فَهَلْ أَنتُم مُّسْلِمُونَ

Say, “It is only revealed to me that your god is but one God; so will you be those who submit to Him?” [21:108]

عَبَّرَ فِي هَذِهِ الْآيَةِ الْكَرِيمَةِ بِلَفْظِ: «إِنَّمَا» وَهِيَ تَدُلُّ عَلَى الْحَصْرِ عِنْدَ الْجُمْهُورِ، وَعَلَيْهِ فَهِيَ تَدُلُّ عَلَى حَصْرِ الْوَحْيِ فِي تَوْحِيدِ الْأُلُوهِيَّةِ. ـ

In this noble ayah, Allah uses the wording of “innama” which indicates a restriction [i.e. “it is only revealed to me…”] according to the majority opinion. So according to that position, this would seem to indicate that the divine revelation is restricted the matter of Tawheed al-‘Uloohiyyah – singling out Allah alone for deification and worship.

وَقَدْ جَاءَتْ آيَاتٌ أُخَرُ تَدُلُّ عَلَى أَنَّهُ أَوْحي إِلَيْهِ غَيْرَ ذَلِكَ كَقَوْلِهِ: قُلْ أُوحِيَ إِلَيَّ أَنَّهُ اسْتَمَعَ نَفَرٌ مِنَ الْجِنِّ الْآيَةَ [72] ، وَقَوْلِهِ: تِلْكَ مِنْ أَنْبَاءِ الْغَيْبِ نُوحِيهَا إِلَيْكَ [11 \ 49] ، وَقَوْلِهِ: نَحْنُ نَقُصُّ عَلَيْكَ أَحْسَنَ الْقَصَصِ بِمَا أَوْحَيْنَا إِلَيْكَ الْآيَةَ [12 \ 3] . ـ

However, a number of other ayaat have come which show other things being revealed to him, such as Allah’s statement: Continue reading

We made the way easy for him: Tafsir al-Tabari & Tafsir ibn Kathir

In surah ‘Abasa, Allah mentions the following passage:

قُتِلَ الْإِنسَانُ مَا أَكْفَرَهُ * مِنْ أَيِّ شَيْءٍ خَلَقَهُ * مِن نُّطْفَةٍ خَلَقَهُ فَقَدَّرَهُ * ثُمَّ السَّبِيلَ يَسَّرَهُ * ثُمَّ أَمَاتَهُ فَأَقْبَرَهُ * ثُمَّ إِذَا شَاءَ أَنشَرَهُ * كَلَّا لَمَّا يَقْضِ مَا أَمَرَهُ

Cursed is man, how he disbelieves! * What did Allah create him from? He created him from a sperm-drop, and then apportioned him * Then He made the way easy for him * then He causes him to die and makes a grave for him * then, when He wills, He will raise him up * No! Man has not yet accomplished what Allah has command of him [80:17-23]

The salaf and the mufassiroon differed as to the meaning of the ayah:

ثُمَّ السَّبِيلَ يَسَّرَهُ

Then He made the way easy for him

al-Haafidh Ismaa’eel ibn Kathir summarized the two opinions of the salaf and later scholars by writing:

ـ ( ثم السبيل يسره ) قال العوفي عن ابن عباس ثم يسر عليه خروجه من بطن أمه وكذا قال عكرمة والضحاك وأبو صالح وقتادة والسدي واختاره ابن جرير . ـ

ثُمَّ السَّبِيلَ يَسَّرَهُ

Then He made the way easy for him

al-‘Awfi relayed that ibn ‘Abbaas explained it as: then Allah made man’s exit from his mother’s womb easy for him.

This is just as ‘Ikrimah, al-Dhahhaak, Abu Saalih, Qataadah, and al-Suddi said. And this was the preferred position of ibn Jariri [al-Tabari]. Continue reading

Rulings Related to the Mosques in the Qur’an: Tafsir al-Sa’di

Allah says in surah al-Nur:

فِي بُيُوتٍ أَذِنَ اللَّـهُ أَن تُرْفَعَ وَيُذْكَرَ فِيهَا اسْمُهُ يُسَبِّحُ لَهُ فِيهَا بِالْغُدُوِّ وَالْآصَالِ * رِجَالٌ لَّا تُلْهِيهِمْ تِجَارَةٌ وَلَا بَيْعٌ عَن ذِكْرِ اللَّـهِ وَإِقَامِ الصَّلَاةِ وَإِيتَاءِ الزَّكَاةِ ۙ يَخَافُونَ يَوْمًا تَتَقَلَّبُ فِيهِ الْقُلُوبُ وَالْأَبْصَارُ * لِيَجْزِيَهُمُ اللَّـهُ أَحْسَنَ مَا عَمِلُوا وَيَزِيدَهُم مِّن فَضْلِهِ ۗ وَاللَّـهُ يَرْزُقُ مَن يَشَاءُ بِغَيْرِ حِسَابٍ

In houses which Allah has allowed to be raised and that His name be mentioned therein; exalting Him in them in the morning and the evenings * Men whom neither commerce nor sale distracts from the remembrance of Allah and performance of prayer and giving of zakah. They fear a Day in which the hearts and eyes will turn about – * That Allah may reward them according to the best of what they did and increase them from His bounty. And Allah gives provision to whom He wills without account. [24:36-38]

Commenting on this in his well-known tafsir of the Qur’an, sheikh ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn Naasir al-Sa’di wrote:

أي: يتعبد لله في بيوت عظيمة فاضلة، هي أحب البقاع إليه، وهي المساجد. أذن الله أي: أمر ووصى أن ترفع ويذكر فيها اسمه هذان مجموع أحكام المساجد، فيدخل في رفعها: بناؤها وكنسها وتنظيفها من النجاسة والأذى، وصونها من المجانين والصبيان الذين لا يتحرزون عن النجاسة، وعن الكافر، وأن تصان عن اللغو فيها، ورفع الأصوات بغير ذكر الله . ـ

Meaning: to draw near to Allah in these great, virtuous houses which are the most beloved places to Him, i.e. the mosques.

أَذِنَ اللَّـهُ

Allah has allowed …

meaning: He has commanded and enjoined that

أَن تُرْفَعَ وَيُذْكَرَ فِيهَا اسْمُهُ

… to be raised and that His name be mentioned therein

These two things encompass all the rulings related to the mosques. For raising the mosques includes: building them, sweeping them and cleaning out any forms of impurity or harm, protecting them against young children and the mentally ill who are not attentive against physical impurities, and against the disbelievers. And it involves preventing certain things from occurring in them such as idle speech and raising one’s voices for some other purpose than the remembrance of Allah.

Continue reading

How the Sahabah Used to Divide the Qur’an: Tafsir ibn Kathir

al-Haafidh Ismaa’eel ibn Kathir began his tafsir of surah Qaaf (50) with the following discussion of how many of the Sahabah used to divide their nightly recitation of the Qur’an:

وهذه السورة هي أول الحزب المفصل على الصحيح ، وقيل : من الحجرات . وأما ما يقوله العامة : إنه من ( عم ) فلا أصل له ، ولم يقله أحد من العلماء المعتبرين فيما نعلم . والدليل على أن هذه السورة هي أول المفصل ما رواه أبو داود في سننه ، باب ” تحزيب القرآن ” ثم قال : حدثنا مسدد ، حدثنا قران بن تمام ، ( ح ) وحدثنا عبد الله بن سعيد أبو سعيد الأشج ، حدثنا أبو خالد سليمان بن حبان – وهذا لفظه – عن عبد الله بن عبد الرحمن بن يعلى ، عن عثمان بن عبد الله بن أوس ، عن جده – قال عبد الله بن سعيد : حدثنيه أوس بن حذيفة – ثم اتفقا . قال : قدمنا على رسول الله – صلى الله عليه وسلم – في وفد ثقيف ، قال : فنزلت الأحلاف على المغيرة بن شعبة ، وأنزل رسول الله – صلى الله عليه وسلم – بني مالك في قبة له – قال مسدد : وكان في الوفد الذين قدموا على رسول الله – صلى الله عليه وسلم – من ثقيف ، قال : كان رسول الله [ – صلى الله عليه وسلم – ] كل ليلة يأتينا بعد العشاء يحدثنا – قال أبو سعيد : قائما على رجليه حتى يراوح بين رجليه من طول القيام – فأكثر ما يحدثنا ما لقي من قومه قريش ، ثم يقول : لا سواء وكنا مستضعفين مستذلين – قال مسدد : بمكة – فلما خرجنا إلى المدينة كانت سجال الحرب بيننا وبينهم ، ندال عليهم ويدالون علينا . فلما كانت ليلة أبطأ عن الوقت الذي كان يأتينا فيه ، فقلنا : لقد أبطأت عنا الليلة ! قال : ” إنه طرأ علي حزبي من القرآن ، فكرهت أن أجيء حتى أتمه ” . قال أوس : سألت أصحاب رسول الله – صلى الله عليه وسلم – : كيف تحزبون القرآن ؟ فقالوا : ثلاث ، وخمس ، وسبع ، وتسع ، وإحدى عشرة ، وثلاث عشرة ، وحزب المفصل وحده . ـ

This surah [surah Qaaf] is the first surah of the mufassal section of the Qur’an according to the correct opinion, though some say surah al-Hujurat is.

As for what some of the common folk say, that the mufassal section begins from Juz’ ‘Amma’, there is no basis for this and not a single scholar of repute has voiced this position as far as I know.

The proof that surah Qaaf is the beginning of the mufassal section is what Abu Dawud transmitted in his Sunnah collection, under the chapter of “The Division of the Qur’an”. He said:

… Aws ibn Hudhaifah said: We came upon the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) in a delegation of Thaqif. The signatories of the pact came to al-Mughirah ibn Shu’bah as his guests. The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) made Banu-Malik stay in a tent of his.

Musaddad – who was in the delegation of Thaqif which came to the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) – said: The Prophet used to visit and talk with us every day after the night prayer. Continue reading

The Prohibition of Music in the Qur’an: Tafsir al-Qurtubi

Near the beginning of surah Luqman, Allah says what can be literally translated as:

وَمِنَ النَّاسِ مَن يَشْتَرِي لَهْوَ الْحَدِيثِ لِيُضِلَّ عَن سَبِيلِ اللَّـهِ بِغَيْرِ عِلْمٍ وَيَتَّخِذَهَا هُزُوًا ۚ أُولَـٰئِكَ لَهُمْ عَذَابٌ مُّهِينٌ

And among the people are those who purchase idle talk in order to mislead others from the path of Allah without knowledge and who take it as a mockery. For these ones, there is a humiliating punishment [31:6]

In part of his commentary on this ayah, the great mufassir imam Muhammad al-Qurtubi explained this ayah according to the understanding of the salaf by writing:

و ( لهو الحديث ) : الغناء ; في قول ابن مسعود وابن عباس وغيرهما . النحاس : وهو ممنوع بالكتاب والسنة ; والتقدير : من يشتري ذا لهو أو ذات لهو ; مثل : واسأل القرية . أو يكون التقدير : لما كان إنما اشتراها يشتريها ويبالغ في ثمنها كأنه اشتراها للهو . ـ

The phrase:

لَهْوَ الْحَدِيثِ

“idle talk”

means music. This is according to the statements of ibn Mas’ood, ibn ‘Abbaas, and others.

al-Nahhaas said: Music is prohibited according to the Qur’an and the Sunnah.

قلت : هذه إحدى الآيات الثلاث التي استدل بها العلماء على كراهة الغناء والمنع منه . والآية الثانية قوله تعالى : وأنتم سامدون . قال ابن عباس : هو الغناء بالحميرية ; اسمدي لنا ; أي غني لنا . ـ

I [Imam al-Qurtubi] say: This is one of three ayaat in the Qur’an which the scholars use as evidence for the position that music is something hated and prohibited. The second ayah is Allah’s statement: Continue reading

“Only those who hear will respond”: Tafsir al-Tabari and Tafsir al-Sa’di

Allah says in surah al-An’aam:

إِنَّمَا يَسْتَجِيبُ الَّذِينَ يَسْمَعُونَ ۘ وَالْمَوْتَىٰ يَبْعَثُهُمُ اللَّـهُ ثُمَّ إِلَيْهِ يُرْجَعُونَ

Only those who hear will respond. But the dead – Allah will resurrect them; then to Him they will be returned. [6:36]

In his famous book of tafsir, Imam Abu Ja’far Muhammad ibn Jarir al-Tabari commented on this ayah by writing:

 قال أبو جعفر : يقول – تعالى ذكره – لنبيه محمد – صلى الله عليه وسلم – : لا يكبرن عليك إعراض هؤلاء المعرضين عنك ، وعن الاستجابة لدعائك إذا دعوتهم إلى توحيد ربهم والإقرار بنبوتك ، فإنه لا يستجيب لدعائك – إلى ما تدعوه إليه من ذلك – إلا الذين فتح الله أسماعهم للإصغاء إلى الحق ، وسهل لهم اتباع الرشد ، دون من ختم الله على سمعه ، فلا يفقه من دعائك إياه إلى الله وإلى اتباع الحق إلا ما تفقه الأنعام من أصوات رعاتها ، فهم كما وصفهم به الله – تعالى ذكره – : صم بكم عمي فهم لا يعقلون [ سورة البقرة : 171 ] ـ

I, Abu Ja’far, say: Allah is addressing His Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) by saying: Do not be distressed by the rejection of these ones who turn away from you and from responding to your call when you call them to singling out their Lord in worship and affirming your prophet-hood. For none will respond to your call – that is, those things which you are calling to – except for those whom Allah has opened their hearing to listen to the truth and then made it easy for them to follow the correct guidance. This is to the exclusion of those whom Allah has placed a seal over their hearing, so they do not understand this call to worship Allah and to follow the truth, this call of yours which is directed to them. They do not understand it any more than cattle understand the voice of their herder. So they are like those whom Allah described in this way:

وَمَثَلُ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا كَمَثَلِ الَّذِي يَنْعِقُ بِمَا لَا يَسْمَعُ إِلَّا دُعَاءً وَنِدَاءً ۚ صُمٌّ بُكْمٌ عُمْيٌ فَهُمْ لَا يَعْقِلُونَ

And the example of those who disbelieve, is as that of him who shouts to those that that hear nothing but calls and cries. (They are) deaf, dumb and blind. So they do not understand. [2:171]

ـ” والموتى يبعثهم الله ” يقول : والكفار يبعثهم الله مع الموتى ، فجعلهم – تعالى ذكره – في عداد الموتى الذين لا يسمعون صوتا ، ولا يعقلون دعاء ، ولا يفقهون قولا إذ كانوا لا يتدبرون حجج الله ، ولا يعتبرون آياته ، ولا يتذكرون فينزجرون عما هم عليه من تكذيب رسل الله وخلافهم . ـ

وَالْمَوْتَىٰ يَبْعَثُهُمُ اللَّـهُ

But the dead – Allah will resurrect them Continue reading