Ibn al-Qayyim’s Model for Contemplating the Qur’an

One of the many written works of ibn al-Qayyim al-Jawziyyah is his Risalah al-Tabookiyyah which centers Allah’s command at the beginning of surah al-Ma’idah for the believers to help one another in al-birr and al-taqwa [5:3]. After describing many aspects of this ayah and its implications, ibn al-Qayyim then wrote:

ورأس الأمر وعموده في ذلك إنما هو دوام التفكر وتدبر آيات الله حيث تستولي على الفكر وتشغل القلب فإذا صارت معاني القرآن مكان الخواطر من قلبه وجلس على كرسيه، وصار له التصرف، وصار هو الأمير المطاع أمره، فحينئذ يستقيم له سيره ويتضح له الطريق وتراه ساكنا وهو يباري الريح {وَتَرَى الْجِبَالَ تَحْسَبُهَا جَامِدَةً وَهِيَ تَمُرُّ مَرَّ السَّحَابِ صُنْعَ اللَّهِ الَّذِي أَتْقَنَ كُلَّ شَيْءٍ إِنَّهُ خَبِيرٌ بِمَا تَفْعَلُونَ} . ـ

At the head of all of this and its very foundation is for one to always contemplate and reflect on the ayaat of the Qur’an, so much so that it overpowers one’s other thoughts and becomes the central concern of one’s heart. When the messages of the Qur’an take the place that mere passing thoughts previously held in his heart and begin to rule over it, being what turns his heart and the ruler that it obeys, then his journey becomes smooth and his course becomes clear. So even if it appeared that he was standing still he is in fact moving forward towards Allah fast as the wind.

وَتَرَى الْجِبَالَ تَحْسَبُهَا جَامِدَةً وَهِيَ تَمُرُّ مَرَّ السَّحَابِ صُنْعَ اللَّهِ الَّذِي أَتْقَنَ كُلَّ شَيْءٍ إِنَّهُ خَبِيرٌ بِمَا تَفْعَلُونَ

And you see the mountains, thinking them rigid, while they will pass as the passing of clouds. It is the work of Allah, who perfected all things. Indeed, He is Acquainted with that which you do. [27:88]

فان قلت: إنك قد أشرت إلى مقام عظيم فافتح لي بابه، واكشف لي حجابه، وكيف تدبر القرآن وتفهمه والإشراف على عجائبه وكنوزه؟ وهذه تفاسير الأئمة بأيدينا، فهل في البيان غير ما ذكروه؟ ـ

Now if you were to say, “You have just described a great station, so open up its door for me and remove its veil for me – how does one contemplate and understand the the Qur’an grasp its amazements and great treasures? We have the explanations of the great scholars of tafsir with us, is there anything else to understand the Qur’an beyond what they have already done?”

[See also: Narration-based Tafsir before Opinion-based Tafsir: Sheikh Saalih Aal al-Sheikh]

قلت: سأضرب لك أمثالاً تحتذي عليها وتجعلها إماماً لك في هذا المقصد، قال الله تعالى: {هَلْ أَتَاكَ حَدِيثُ ضَيْفِ إِبْرَاهِيمَ الْمُكْرَمِينَ إِذْ دَخَلُوا عَلَيْهِ فَقَالُوا سَلاماً قَالَ سَلامٌ قَوْمٌ مُنْكَرُونَ فَرَاغَ إِلَى أَهْلِهِ فَجَاءَ بِعِجْلٍ سَمِينٍ، فَقَرَّبَهُ إِلَيْهِمْ قَالَ أَلا تَأْكُلُونَ فَأَوْجَسَ مِنْهُمْ خِيفَةً قَالُوا لا تَخَفْ وَبَشَّرُوهُ بِغُلامٍ عَلِيمٍ فَأَقْبَلَتِ امْرَأَتُهُ فِي صَرَّةٍ فَصَكَّتْ وَجْهَهَا وَقَالَتْ عَجُوزٌ عَقِيمٌ قَالُوا كَذَلِكِ قَالَ رَبُّكِ إِنَّهُ هُوَ الْحَكِيمُ الْعَلِيمُ} . ـ

My response would be: Let me give you some things that you can take as an example and a model to follow for this goal.

Allah says: Continue reading

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What the Salaf Meant by “Abrogation”: Ibn al-Qayyim

In the midst of a discussion urging people not to be hasty or eager to issue legal rulings, ibn al-Qayyim mentioned the following narration about naskh – frequently translated as “abrogation” – and then added some valuable commentary afterwards:

وقال ابن وهب : حدثنا أشهل بن حاتم عن عبد الله بن عون عن ابن سيرين قال : قال حذيفة : إنما يفتي الناس أحد ثلاثة : من يعلم ما نسخ من القرآن ، أو أمير لا يجد بدا ، أو أحمق متكلف ، قال : فربما قال ابن سيرين : فلست بواحد من هذين ، ولا أحب أن أكون الثالث ـ

… ibn Sireen said: Hudhayfah said,

The only ones who issue legal rulings to the people are one of the following three types: 1) someone who knows which parts of the Qur’an have been subject to naskh, 2) a ruler who cannot find any alternative, or 3) an imbecile who fancies himself as being qualified.

The sub-narrator said: I think ibn Sireen said, “I am neither one of the first two, and I would not like to be the third.”

قلت : مراده ومراد عامة السلف بالناسخ والمنسوخ رفع الحكم بجملته تارة وهو اصطلاح المتأخرين ، ورفع دلالة العام والمطلق والظاهر وغيرها تارة ، إما بتخصيص أو تقييد أو حمل مطلق على مقيد وتفسيره وتبيينه حتى إنهم يسمون الاستثناء والشرط والصفة نسخا لتضمن ذلك رفع دلالة الظاهر وبيان المراد ، فالنسخ عندهم وفي لسانهم هو بيان المراد بغير ذلك اللفظ ، بل بأمر خارج عنه ، ومن تأمل كلامهم رأى من ذلك فيه ما لا يحصى ، وزال عنه به إشكالات أوجبها حمل كلامهم على الاصطلاح الحادث المتأخر . ـ Continue reading

The Entire Qur’an is about al-Tawheed: ibn al-Qayyim

In one of his many writings, sheikh al-Islam ibn al-Qayyim wrote the following important words:

كل آية في القرآن فهي متضمنة للتوحيد شاهدة به داعية إليه، فإن القرآن إمَّا خبر عن الله وأسمائه وصفاته وأفعاله فهو التوحيد العلمي الخبري، و إمَّا دعوة إلى عبادته وحده لا شريك له وخلع كل ما يعبد من دونه فهو التوحيد الإرادي الطلبي، و إمَّا أمر ونهي وإلزام بطاعته في نهيه وأمره فهي حقوق التوحيد ومكملاته، و إمَّا خبر عن كرامة الله لأهل توحيده وطاعته وما فعل بهم في الدنيا وما يكرمهم به في الآخرة فهو جزاء توحيده، و إمَّا خبر عن أهل الشرك وما فعل بهم في الدنيا من النكال وما يحل بهم في العقبى من العذاب فهو خبر عمن خرج عن حكم التوحيد، فالقرآن كله في التوحيد وحقوقه وجزائه وفي شأن الشرك و أهله وجزائهم

Every ayah in the Qur’an involves al-Tawheed – bearing witness to it and inviting to it.

The Qur’an is always one of the following:

○ Information about Allah, His names and attributes, His actions. This is the tawheed of knowledge and information.

○ Or it is is calling the people to the sole worship of Allah with no partners and doing away with everything else that is worshiped besides Him. This is the tawheed that is sought to be put into practice.

○ Or it is commands and prohibitions and mandating you to obey Him in His prohibitions and commands. This is actualizing al-tawheed and putting it fully into practice. Continue reading

Speaking About Allah Without Knowledge is the Foundation of All Shrik, Kufr, & Innovation: Ibn al-Qayyim

The great scholar ibn al-Qayyim al-Jawziyyah mentioned the following words in his famous Madaarij al-Saalikeen:

فصل القول على الله بغير علم
Speaking About Allah Without Knowledge

وأما القول على الله بلا علم فهو أشد هذه المحرمات تحريما ، وأعظمها إثما ، ولهذا ذكر في المرتبة الرابعة من المحرمات التي اتفقت عليها الشرائع والأديان ، ولا تباح بحال ، بل لا تكون إلا محرمة ، وليست كالميتة والدم ولحم الخنزير ، الذي يباح في حال دون حال . ـ

As for speaking about Allah without knowledge, this is the most strongly forbidden prohibition and the greatest of them in sinfulness. Because of that, it is mentioned in the fourth level of prohibited things, something that all the divine legislations agreed upon. It is not permitted in any situation nor can it take any other ruling than prohibited. This is unlike carrion, blood, or swine, all of which can become permissible in certain situations.

فإن المحرمات نوعان : محرم لذاته لا يباح بحال ، ومحرم تحريما عارضا في وقت دون وقت ، قال الله تعالى في المحرم لذاته قل إنما حرم ربي الفواحش ما ظهر منها وما بطن ثم انتقل منه إلى ما هو أعظم منه فقال والإثم والبغي بغير الحق ثم انتقل منه إلى ما هو أعظم منه ، فقال وأن تشركوا بالله ما لم ينزل به سلطانا ثم انتقل منه إلى ما هو أعظم منه ، فقال وأن تقولوا على الله ما لا تعلمون فهذا أعظم المحرمات عند الله وأشدها إثما ، فإنه يتضمن الكذب على الله ، ونسبته إلى ما لا يليق به ، وتغيير دينه وتبديله ، ونفي ما أثبته وإثبات ما نفاه ، وتحقيق ما أبطله وإبطال ما حققه ، وعداوة من والاه وموالاة من عاداه ، وحب ما أبغضه وبغض ما أحبه ، ووصفه بما لا يليق به في ذاته وصفاته وأقواله وأفعاله . ـ

You see, prohibited things can be classified into two types:

  1. Things which are forbidden due to some intrinsic quality, which are not allowed in any situations
  2. Prohibited things whose prohibition is in effect in certain situations but not others

Allah spoke about those things whose prohibition is intrinsic by saying:

قُلْ إِنَّمَا حَرَّمَ رَبِّيَ الْفَوَاحِشَ مَا ظَهَرَ مِنْهَا وَمَا بَطَنَ 

Say: My Lord has only forbidden immoralities – what is apparent of them and what is concealed …

then He moved on to those prohibitions which are even greater by saying: Continue reading

The Great Merits of Reciting the Qur’an with Contemplation: ibn al-Qayyim

The great scholar ibn al-Qayyim al-Jawziyyah once wrote:

فَلَو علم النَّاس مَا فِي قِرَاءَة الْقُرْآن بالتدبر لاشتغلوا بهَا عَن كل مَا سواهَا فَإِذا قَرَأَهُ بتفكر حَتَّى مر بِآيَة وَهُوَ مُحْتَاجا إِلَيْهَا فِي شِفَاء قلبه كررها وَلَو مائَة مرّة وَلَو لَيْلَة فقراءة آيَة بتفكر وتفهم خير من قِرَاءَة ختمة بِغَيْر تدبر وتفهم وأنفع للقلب وأدعى الى حُصُول الايمان وذوق حلاوة الْقُرْآن وَهَذِه كَانَت عَادَة السّلف يردد احدهم الاية الى الصَّباح وَقد ثَبت عَن النَّبِي انه قَامَ بِآيَة يُرَدِّدهَا حَتَّى الصَّباح وَهِي قَوْله {إِن تُعَذبهُمْ فَإِنَّهُم عِبَادك وَإِن تغْفر لَهُم فَإنَّك أَنْت الْعَزِيز الْحَكِيم} فقراءة الْقُرْآن بالتفكر هِيَ اصل صَلَاح الْقلب . ـ

If people only knew the great value of reciting the Qur’an with reflection, then they would devote themselves to it above anything else. For when one recites with contemplation, when he comes across an ayah which contains something needed to rectify his heart, he would repeat that ayah, perhaps as many as one hundred times or even for the entire night! For reciting a single ayah with contemplation and understanding is better, more beneficial for one’s heart, and more likely to bring about an increase in eemaan and tasting the sweetness of the Qur’an than reciting the entire Qur’an without reflection or understanding.

This used to be the practice of the Salaf, that one of them might repeat a single ayah until the morning came. It has also been authentically attributed to the Prophet that he stood in the night prayer until the morning came repeating a single ayah, which was:

إِن تُعَذبهُمْ فَإِنَّهُم عِبَادك وَإِن تغْفر لَهُم فَإنَّك أَنْت الْعَزِيز الْحَكِيم

If You punish them, then they are Your slaves. And if You forgive them, then You are the Mighty, the Wise. [5:118]

For reciting the Qur’an with contemplation is the very basis of the heart’s rectification. Continue reading

Which are More Virtuous, the First Ten of Dhu’l-Hijjah or the Last Ten of Ramadan?

A question was posed to Sheikh al-Islaam ibn Taymiyah: Which are more virtuous, the first ten of Dh’ul-Hijjah or the last ten of Ramadan? So he replied:

أيام عشر ذي الحجة أفضل من أيام العشر من رمضان، والليالي العشر الأواخر من رمضان أفضل من ليالي عشر ذي الحجة

The days of the first ten of Dhu’l-Hijjah are more virtuous than the days of the last ten of Ramadan while the nights of the last ten of Ramadan are more virtuous than the nights of the first ten of Dhu’l-Hijjah.

[Majmoo’ al-Fataawa 25/154]

Ibn Taymiyah’s student Ibn al-Qayyim commented and elaborated upon his teacher’s response in one of his own works by writing:

وإذا تأمل الفاضل اللبيب هذا الجواب وجده شافيا كافيا، فإنه ليس من أيام العمل فيها أحب إلى الله من أيام عشر ذي الحجة. وفيها يوم عرفة ويوم النحر ويوم التروية. وأما ليالي عشر رمضان فهي ليالي الأحياء التي كان رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم يحييها كلها، وفيها ليلة خير من ألف شهر. فمن أجاب بغير هذا التفصيل، لم يمكنه أن يدلي بحجة صحيحة

If one were to consider the honor and sensibleness of this answer, he would find it to be comprehensive and sufficient. Indeed, there are no days in which deeds are more beloved to Allah than the first ten days of Dhu’l-Hijjah – and they contain the Day of ‘Arafah, the Day of the Sacrifice, and the Day of Tarwiyah [the 9th, 10th, and 8th days, respectively]. Continue reading

The Deen is Built on Two Foundations: Dhikr and Shukr – Ibn al-Qayyim

al-‘Allaamah ibn al-Qayyim wrote the following beneficial words in his famous work, al-Fawaa’id:

مبنى الدين على قاعدتين: الذكر والشكر، ـ

The deen is built on two foundations: al-Dhikr and al-Shukr [remembrance and gratitude].

قال تعالى {فاذكروني أذكركم واشكروا لي ولا تكفرون} سورة البقرة، الآية: 152، ـ

Allah said:

فَاذْكُرُ‌ونِي أَذْكُرْ‌كُمْ وَاشْكُرُ‌وا لِي وَلَا تَكْفُرُ‌ونِ

So remember Me; I will remember you. And be grateful to Me and do not deny Me. [2:152].

وقال النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم لمعاذ: «والله إني لأحبك فلا تنس أن تقول دبر كل صلاة: اللهم أعنِّي على ذكرك وشكرك وحسن عبادتك»، ـ

And the Prophet said to Mu’adh, “By Allah, verily I love you, so do not forget to say at the end of every salaah, ‘O Allah, aid me in remembering You and gratitude to You and in excellent worship of You.”

وليس المراد بالذكر مجرد ذكر اللسان بل القلبي واللساني، وذكره يتضمن ذكر أسمائه وصفاته وذكر أمره ونهيه وذكره بكلامه، وذلك يستلزم معرفته والإيمان به وبصفات كماله ونعوت جلاله والثناء عليه بأنواع المدح. وذلك لا يتم إلا بتوحيده. ـ

And the intended meaning of al-dhikr is not merely dhikr of the the tongue – rather of both the heart and the tongue. And making dhikr of Him comprises dhikr of His names and attributes, of His commands and prohibitions, and making dhikr of Him with His Words. And that necessitates knowing Him and having al-eemaan in Him and in His perfect qualities and marvelous attributes and extolling Him with all sorts of praise. And this is not made completed except by singling Him out with tawheed.

فذكره الحقيقي يستلزم ذلك كله ويستلزم ذكر نعمه وآلائه وإحسانه إلى خلقه. ـ

And the true dhikr of Him requires all of that and requires remembering His blessings, favors and excellent treatments towards His creation.

وأما الشكر فهو القيام له بطاعته والتقرب إليه بأنواع محابه ظاهرا وباطنا، ـ

And as for al-shukr, then it is establishing obedience to Him and seeking nearness to Him through the various forms of those things which He loves – both outwardly and inwardly.

وهذان الأمران هما جماع الدين، فذكره مستلزم لمعرفته، وشكره متضمن لطاعته، ـ

And these two issues comprise the entire deen, for dhikr of Him requires knowing Him, and shukr of Him involves being obedient to Him. Continue reading

Complaining about Allah vs. Complaining to Allah: ibn al-Qayyim

In his famous book of assorted benefits, al-Fawaa’id, Ibn al-Qayyim mentions the following issue:

فَائِدَة الْجَاهِل يشكو الله إِلَى النَّاس وَهَذَا غَايَة الْجَهْل بالمشكو والمشكو إِلَيْهِ فَإِنَّهُ لَو عرف ربه لما شكاه وَلَو عرف النَّاس لما شكا إِلَيْهِم

A point of benefit: The ignorant one complains about Allah to the people, and this is the height of ignorance when is comes to complaining about something and complaining to someone. For if he had known his Lord, then he would not have complained about Him, and if he had known the people, then he would not have complained to them.

وَرَأى بعض السّلف رجلا يشكو إِلَى رجل فاقته وضرورته فَقَالَ يَا هَذَا وَالله مَا زِدْت على أَن شَكَوْت من يَرْحَمك وَفِي ذَلِك قيل : ـ

One of the salaf saw a man who was complaining to another man about his poverty and dire need, so he said, “O you! By Allah, the only thing you’ve done is to complain to someone who does not take pity on you for that.” And it is said:

إذا شَكَوْت إِلَى ابْن آدم إِنَّمَا … تَشْكُو الرَّحِيم إِلَى الَّذِي لَا يرحم

When you complain to a son of Adam
You are only complaining about the Most Merciful One to someone who does not show mercy Continue reading

The Subtleties of the Supplications of Ayyub and Yusuf – ibn al-Qayyim

Ibn al-Qayyim al-Jawzi wrote the following points of benefit in his famous work entitled al-Fawaa’id:

 من لطائف دعاء أيوب عليه السلام .ـ

From the subtleties of the supplication of Ayyub (‘alaihi al-salaam):

قوله تعالى (( وأيوب إذ نادى ربَّهُ أنِّي مَسِّنِيَ الضُّر و أنتَ أرحمُ الراحِمين )) الأنبياء 83 جمع في هذا الدعاء بين : حقيقة التوحيد ،وإظهار الفقر والفاقة إلى ربه ، ووجود طعم المحبة في التملق له ، والإقرار له بصفة الرحمة ، وأنه أرحم الراحمين ، والتوسل إليه بصفاته سبحانه ، وشدة حاجته هو وفقره . ـ

Allah said,

وَأَيُّوبَ إِذْ نَادَىٰ رَ‌بَّهُ أَنِّي مَسَّنِيَ الضُّرُّ‌ وَأَنتَ أَرْ‌حَمُ الرَّ‌احِمِينَ

And [mention] Ayyub, when he called to his Lord, ‘Indeed, adversity has touched me, and you are the Most Merciful of the merciful.’ [21:83].

He combined several things in this supplication:

-the reality of al-tawheed,
-and demonstrating his poverty and neediness of his Lord,
-and the presence of his deep-seated love in his adulation of Him,
-and his affirming Allah’s quality of al-Rahmah [Mercy] and that He is the Most Merciful of the merciful ones,
-and supplicating to Him by means of His attributes – Exalted is He – and by the severity of his personal need and poverty. Continue reading

A sin may be beneficial for a person: Ibn al-Qayyim

The great scholar Ibn al-Qayyim (may Allaah have mercy on him) wrote:

إن الذنب قد يكون أنفع للعبد إذا اقترنت به التوبة من كثير من الطاعات ، وهذا معنى قول بعض السلف : قد يعمل العبد الذنب فيدخل به الجنة ويعمل الطاعة فيدخل بها النار ، قالوا : وكيف ذلك قال : يعمل الذنب فلا يزال نصب عينيه إن قام وإن قعد وإن مشى ذكر ذنبه فيُحدِثُ له انكساراً وتوبةً واستغفارا وندما فيكون ذلك سبب نجاته ، ويعمل الحسنة فلا تزال نصب عينيه إن قام وإن قعد وإن مشى كلما ذكرها أورثته عجباً وكبرا ومنة فتكون سبب هلاكه

Sin may be more beneficial for a person – if it leads him to repent – than engaging in many acts of obedience. This is the meaning of the statement of one of the salaf,

“‘A person may commit a sin and enter Paradise because of it, or he may do an act of worship and enter Hell because of it.’ They said, ‘How is that?’ He replied, ‘He may commit a sin and then it remains at the forefront of his thoughts, and when he stands or sits or walks he remembers his sin. So then there comes about shame, repentance, seeking forgiveness and regret, so that that will be the means of his salvation. And [on the other hand] one may perform a good deed and it remains at the forefront of his thoughts, so when he stands or sits or walks he always remembers it and it results in him being amazed [with himself] and prideful. So that will be from the cause of his doom.'”

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