A Parable of What the Disbelievers Spend in This Life: Tafsir al-Sa’di

Allah presents the following parable in surah Aal ‘Imran:

مَثَلُ مَا يُنفِقُونَ فِي هَـٰذِهِ الْحَيَاةِ الدُّنْيَا كَمَثَلِ رِيحٍ فِيهَا صِرٌّ أَصَابَتْ حَرْثَ قَوْمٍ ظَلَمُوا أَنفُسَهُمْ فَأَهْلَكَتْهُ ۚ وَمَا ظَلَمَهُمُ اللَّـهُ وَلَـٰكِنْ أَنفُسَهُمْ يَظْلِمُونَ

The example of what they spend in this worldly life is like that of a wind containing frost which strikes the harvest of a people who have wronged themselves and destroys it. And Allah has not wronged them, but they wrong themselves. [3:117]

Ibn al-Qayyim remarked on this ayah by writing:

هذا مثل ضربه الله تعالى لمن أتفق ماله في غير طاعته ومرضاته . ـ

Allah struck this parable about those who spend their wealth in other things besides obedience to Allah and seeking His pleasure.

[A’laam al-Mawqi’een 1/173]

Imam al-Qurtubi wrote:

ومعنى الآية : مثل نفقة الكافرين في بطلانها وذهابها وعدم منفعتها كمثل زرع أصابه ريح باردة أو نار فأحرقته وأهلكته ، فلم ينتفع أصحابه بشيء بعدما كانوا يرجون فائدته ونفعه . وما ظلمهم الله بذلك ولكن أنفسهم يظلمون بالكفر والمعصية ومنع حق الله تعالى . ـ

The message of this ayah is that the futility, waste and lack of benefit of the disbelievers’ spending is like a cultivated field which is struck with a frigid wind – or a fire – which scorches and destroys it, leaving its owners unable to benefit from it in any way after they had hoped to receive some fruits and benefit from it. And they did not wrong Allah with their spending; rather it was themselves that they wronged with the disbelief, sins and refusing to give Allah His due rights.

[Tafsir al-Qurtubi 4/169] Continue reading

Three Parables in Surah al-Tahreem: ibn al-Qayyim

The great scholar Ibn al-Qayyim mentioned the following in part of his discussion of the parables of the Qur’an:

ومنها قوله تعالى ضرب الله مثلا للذين كفروا امرأة نوح وامرأة لوط كانتا تحت عبدين من عبادنا صالحين فخانتاهما فلم يغنيا عنهما من الله شيئا وقيل ادخلا النار مع الداخلين وضرب الله مثلا للذين آمنوا امرأة فرعون إذا قالت رب ابن لي عندك بيتا في الجنة ونجني من فرعون وعمله ونجني من القوم الظالمين ومريم ابنة عمران التي أحصنت فرجها فنفخنا فيه من روحنا وصدقت بكلمات ربها وكتبه وكانت من القانتين

Another example is Allah’s statement:

‏ضَرَبَ اللَّهُ مَثَلًا لِلَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا اِمْرَأَةَ نُوحٍ وَامْرَأَةَ لُوطٍ كَانَتَا تَحْتَ عَبْدَيْنِ مِنْ عِبَادِنَا صَالِحَيْنِ فَخَانَتَاهُمَا فَلَمْ يُغْنِيَا عَنْهُمَا مِنَ اللَّهِ شَيْئًا وَقِيلَ ادْخُلَا النَّارَ مَعَ الدَّاخِلِينَ

Allah presents an example of those who disbelieved: the wife of Nuh and the wife of Lut. They were under two of Our righteous servants but betrayed them, so those prophets did not avail them from Allah at all, and it was said, “Enter the Fire with those who enter.”

وَضَرَبَ اللَّهُ مَثَلًا لِلَّذِينَ آمَنُوا اِمْرَأَةَ فِرْعَوْنَ إِذْ قَالَتْ رَبِّ ابْنِ لِي عِنْدَكَ بَيْتًا فِي الْجَنَّةِ وَنَجِّنِي مِنْ فِرْعَوْنَ وَعَمَلِهِ وَنَجِّنِي مِنَ الْقَوْمِ الظَّالِمِينَ

And Allah presents an example of those who believed: the wife of Fir’awn, when she said, “My Lord, build for me near You a house in Paradise and save me from Fir’awn and his deeds and save me from the wrongdoing people.”

وَمَرْيَمَ ابْنَتَ عِمْرَانَ الَّتِي أَحْصَنَتْ فَرْجَهَا فَنَفَخْنَا فِيهِ مِنْ رُوحِنَا وَصَدَّقَتْ بِكَلِمَاتِ رَبِّهَا وَكُتُبِهِ وَكَانَتْ مِنَ الْقَانِتِينَ

And [the example of] Maryam, the daughter of ‘Imran, who guarded her chastity, so We breathed into her Our Ruh, and she testified to the truth of the Words of her Lord, and His Scriptures, and she was of the devoutly obedient. [66:10-12]

فاشتملت هذه الآيات على ثلاثة أمثال مثل للكفار ومثلين للمؤمنين فتضمن مثل الكفار أن الكافر يعاقب على كفره وعداوته لله ورسوله وأوليائه ولا ينفعه مع كفره ما كان بينه وبين المؤمنين من لحمة نسب أو صلة صهر أو سبب من أسباب الاتصال فإن الأسباب كلها تنقطع يوم القيامة إلا ما كان منها متصلا بالله وحده على أيدي رسله فلو نفعت وصلة القرابة والمصاهرة أو النكاح مع عدم الإيمان لنفعت الوصلة التي كانت بين لوط ونوح وامرأتيهما فلما لم يغنيا عنهما من الله شيئا قيل ادخلا النار مع الداخلين

These ayaat include three parables: one of the disbelievers and two of the believers.

The example of the disbelievers shows that a disbeliever will be punished for his disbelief and opposition to Allah, His Messenger and His allies, and that as long as this disbelief is present, no blood relations or family ties through marriage or any other kind of connection that one might have with the believers will have any benefit. All of these connections will be cut off on the Day of Resurrection, except for those which were connected to Allah alone by way of His Messengers. Continue reading

Points of Contrast Between Surah al-Falaq and Surah al-Nas

One of the valuable books of Badr al-Deen ibn Jamaa’ah (d. 733AH) was Kashf al-Ma’aani fee al-Mutashaabih min al-Mathaani, which focused on providing explanations for the slight differences in otherwise similar ayaat. In his discussion of surah al-Nas, ibn Jamaa’ah included the following notes:

مسألة: قوله تعالى: (بِرَبِّ النَّاسِ * مَلِكِ النَّاسِ * إِلَهِ النَّاسِ ) إلى آخر السورة. المستعان به في هذه ثلاث صفات، والمستعاذ منه شر واحد وهو: الوسوسة. وفى سورة الفلق: المستعاذ به بصفة واحدة، والمستعاذ منه أربعة أشياء؟ . ـ

Question: Allah’s statement:

بِرَبِّ النَّاسِ * مَلِكِ النَّاسِ * إِلَـٰهِ النَّاسِ

… in the Lord of mankind * the Master of mankind * the God of mankind [114:1-3]

until the end of the surah.

Here, there are three characteristics through which aid is sought and one evil against which protection is sought, which is the whispering of the shaytaan. But in surah al-Falaq, it is only one characteristic through which protection is sought but four things against which protection is sought. What is the significance of this? Continue reading

More Astray Than Cattle: Ibn al-Qayyim

Allah presents the following description of the disbelievers by way of comparison in surah al-Furqan:

أَمْ تَحْسَبُ أَنَّ أَكْثَرَهُمْ يَسْمَعُونَ أَوْ يَعْقِلُونَ ۚ إِنْ هُمْ إِلَّا كَالْأَنْعَامِ ۖ بَلْ هُمْ أَضَلُّ سَبِيلًا

Or do you think that most of them hear or reason? They are nothing more than like cattle. In fact, they are even more astray from the path. [25:44]

Commenting on this ayah, the great scholar ibn al-Qayyim wrote:

فشبه أكثر الناس بالأنعام والجامع بين النوعين التساوي في عدم قبول الهدى والانقياد له

Allah has compared most of mankind to cattle here, and the characteristic that both groups have in common is their lack of accepting the truth and conforming to it.

وجعل الأكثرين أضل سبيلا من الأنعام لأن البهيمة يهديها سائقها فتهتدي وتتبع الطريق فلا تحيد عنها يمينا ولا شمالا والأكثرون يدعوهم الرسل ويهدونهم السبيل فلا يستجيبون ولا يهتدون ولا يفرقون بين ما يضرهم وبين ما ينفعهم والأنعام تفرق بين ما يضرها من النبات والطريق فتتجنبه وما ينفعها فتؤثره

And He stated that most people are even more astray from the path than cattle. That is because a herder drives the livestock, resulting in them being guided and following the path without deviating to the right or left. However, for most people, despite the messengers calling them and guiding them, they do not respond to the call nor do they adopt their guidance, nor do they even distinguish between what is harmful or beneficial to them. Meanwhile cattle do distinguish between what harms them, such as certain plants and paths which they thus avoid, and what benefits them, which they then take an interest in. Continue reading

The Battles of the Prophet Mentioned in the Qur’an: ibn al-Qayyim

The great scholar ibn al-Qayyim mentioned the following in his biography of the Prophet, Zad al-Ma’aad:

فصل في غزواته وبعوثه وسراياه صلى الله عليه وسلم
Chapter on the Battles Led by Prophet, Military Expeditions in which No Fighting Occurred, and Battles Led by the Sahabah

غزواته كلها وبعوثه وسراياه كانت بعد الهجرة في مدة عشر سنين ، فالغزوات سبع وعشرون ، وقيل : خمس وعشرون ، وقيل : تسع وعشرون ، وقيل غير ذلك ، قاتل منها في تسع : بدر ، وأحد ، والخندق ، وقريظة ، والمصطلق ، وخيبر ، والفتح ، وحنين ، والطائف . وقيل : قاتل في بني النضير ، والغابة ، ووادي القرى من أعمال خيبر . وأما سراياه وبعوثه ، فقريب من ستين . ـ

All of the battles led by the Prophet, military expeditions in which no fighting occurred, and battles led by the Sahabah occurred after the Hijrah and took place over the course of ten years.

There were a total of 27 battles led by the Prophet, though some counted 25 or 29 or other numbers.

The Prophet himself fought in nine of them, which were:

  • Badr
  • Uhud
  • al-Khandaq
  • Quraythah
  • al-Mustalaq
  • Khaybar
  • al-Fath (the victory of Mecca)
  • Hunayn
  • al-Taa’if

And some say that he also fought in the battle of Banu al-Nadheer, the battle of al-Ghabah, and the battle of Wadi al-Quraa, which was part of the battle of Khaybar. Continue reading

A Parable of Two Slaves: Ibn al-Qayyim

Allah strikes the following parable in surah al-Zumar:

ضَرَبَ اللَّـهُ مَثَلًا رَّجُلًا فِيهِ شُرَكَاءُ مُتَشَاكِسُونَ وَرَجُلًا سَلَمًا لِّرَجُلٍ هَلْ يَسْتَوِيَانِ مَثَلًا ۚ الْحَمْدُ لِلَّـهِ ۚ بَلْ أَكْثَرُهُمْ لَا يَعْلَمُونَ

Allah presents an example of one man owned by quarreling partners and another man belonging exclusively to a single man – are they equal in comparison? Praise be to Allah! But most of them do not know. [39:29]

The great scholar Ibn al-Qayyim commented on this ayah by writing:

هذا مثل ضربه الله سبحانه للمشرك والموحد فالمشرك بمنزلة عبد يملكه جماعة متنازعون مختلفون متشاحون والرجل المتشاكس الضيق الخلق فالمشرك لما كان يعبد آلهة شتى شبه بعبد يملكه جماعة متنافسون في خدمته لا يمكنه أن يبلغ رضاهم أجمعين . ـ

Allah has made this parable about one person who associates others with Allah and another person who singles Him out for worship. The one who associates partners with Allah is like a slave owned by a group of clashing, conflicting, and quarreling people. The word mutashaakis used in this ayah means one who has stiff and inflexible character. Similarly, when a person tries to worship multiple deities, he is like a slave owned by a group of people all competing with one another for his service, thus preventing him from being able to please them.

والموحد لما كان يعبد الله وحده فمثله كمثل عبد لرجل واحد قد سلم له وعلم مقاصده وعرف الطريق إلى رضاه فهو في راحة من تشاحن الخلطاء فيه بل هو سالم لمالكه من غير تنازع فيه مع رأفة مالكه به ورحمته له وشفقته عليه وإحسانه إليه وتوليه لمصالحه فهل يستوي هذان العبدان . ـ

On the other hand, when a person worships Allah exclusively, then he is like a slave with a single master. Such a person is completely at the service of his master and knows what his master wants and how to please Him. He is free from any joint-owners quarreling over him and is instead entirely in the service of his owner without any others clashing over him. At the same time, he enjoys the care, mercy, kindness, and goodness that his owner has towards him, and the fact that his owner considers his best interests. Continue reading

Gentle Speech in the Qur’an: ibn al-Qayyim

The great scholar ibn al-Qayyim wrote the following beautiful words regarding some qualities of the da’wah of the Prophets and the language found in the Qur’an:

كثير من الناس يطلب من صاحبه بعد نيله درجة الرياسة الأخلاق التي كان يعامله بها قبل الرياسة فلا يصادفها فينتقض ما بينهما من المودة وهذا من جهل الصاحب الطالب للعادة وهو بمنزلة من يطلب من صاحبه إذا سكر أخلاق الصاحي وذلك غلط فإن الرياسه سكرة كسكرة الخمر أو أشد ولو لم يكن للرياسة سكرة لما اختارها صاحبها على الآخرة الدائمة الباقية فسكرتها فوق سكرة القهوة بكثير ومحال أن يرى من السكران أخلاق الصاحي وطبعه

Many people would like it if a friend of theirs who has reached some level of leadership would treat them the same way that he used to before becoming a leader; however the friend will not agree and this leads to a break in the affection between them. But this is a result of the first person’s ignorance of reality. What he did is like if he were to ask a friend to behave the same way drunk as when he was sober. This is a mistake. Leadership is an intoxication, just like the intoxication of alcohol, or perhaps even stronger. For if leadership were not intoxicating, then no one would choose and prioritize it over the everlasting and eternal hereafter. Its intoxicating effect is much stronger than that of coffee. And it is impossible for a drunken person to exhibit the same behavior or character as a you would see from a sober person.

ولهذا أمر الله تعالى أكرم خلقه عليه بمخاطبة رئيس القبط بالخطاب اللين فمخاطبة الرؤساء بالقول اللين أمر مطلوب شرعا وعقلا وعرفا ولذلك تجد الناس كالمفطورين عليه وهكذا كان النبي رؤساء العشائر والقبائل وتأمل امتثال موسى لما أمر به كيف قال لفرعون هل لك إلى أن تزكى وأهديك إلى ربك فتخشى فأخرج الكلام معه مجرج السؤال والعرض لا مخرج الأمر وقال إلى أن تزكى ولم يقل إلى أن أزكيك فنسب الفعل إليه هو وذكر لفظ التزكي دون غيره لما فيه من البركة والخير والنماء ثم قال وأهديك إلى ربك أكون كالدليل بين يديك الذي يسير أمامك وقال الى ربك استدعاء لأيمانه بربه الذي خلقه ورزقه ورباه بنعمه صغيرا ويافعا وكبيرا ـ

It is for these reasons that Allah commanded one of his most honorable created beings to address the leader of the Egyptians with gentle speech. Addressing those in leadership positions with gentle speech is a positive thing according to the sharee’ah, according to reason, and according to custom. Because of that, you find that people are naturally inclined to do so. And that was how the Prophet behaved towards the leaders of the different tribes and clans. Consider the example of Moosaa when he received this command, look at how he addressed Fir’awn: Continue reading

Birr and Ihsan towards Non-Muslims: Ibn al-Qayyim

Allah says in surah al-Mumtahinah:

لَّا يَنْهَاكُمُ اللَّـهُ عَنِ الَّذِينَ لَمْ يُقَاتِلُوكُمْ فِي الدِّينِ وَلَمْ يُخْرِجُوكُم مِّن دِيَارِكُمْ أَن تَبَرُّوهُمْ وَتُقْسِطُوا إِلَيْهِمْ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّـهَ يُحِبُّ الْمُقْسِطِينَ * إِنَّمَا يَنْهَاكُمُ اللَّـهُ عَنِ الَّذِينَ قَاتَلُوكُمْ فِي الدِّينِ وَأَخْرَجُوكُم مِّن دِيَارِكُمْ وَظَاهَرُوا عَلَىٰ إِخْرَاجِكُمْ أَن تَوَلَّوْهُمْ ۚ وَمَن يَتَوَلَّهُمْ فَأُولَـٰئِكَ هُمُ الظَّالِمُونَ

Allah does not forbid you to deal justly and kindly with those who did not fight against you on account of religion and did not drive you out of your homes. Verily, Allah loves those who deal justly. * It is only those who fought against you on account of religion and drove you out of your homes, and helped to drive you out that Allah forbids you to take as friends and allies. And whosoever will befriend them, then such are the wrongdoers. [60:8-9]

The great scholar Ibn al-Qayyim mentioned the following point regarding these ayaat:

فإن الله سبحانه لما نهى في أول السورة عن اتخاذ المسلمين الكفار أولياء وقطع المودة بينهم وبينهم ، توهم بعضهم أن برهم والإحسان إليهم من الموالاة والمودة ، فبين الله سبحانه أن ذلك ليس من الموالاة المنهي عنها ، وأنه لم ينه عن ذلك بل هو من الإحسان الذي يحبه ويرضاه ، وكتبه على كل شيء ، وإنما المنهي عنه تولي الكفار والإلقاء إليهم بالمودة

When Allah prohibited the Muslims from taking the disbelievers as close friends and allies and cut off the affection between them at the beginning of this surah [60:1], some might think that birr and ihsan – good behavior and excellent treatment – towards them would fall under those prohibited categories of close friendship and affection.

So Allah clarified that these things are not part of the close relationships that He had prohibited, and that He does not prohibit the believers from them. On the contrary, birr and ihsan towards them falls within the excellent behavior which Allah loves and is pleased with, and which He has ordained for everything. What is prohibited is only taking the disbelievers as close friends and allies and meeting them with love and affection.

[Ahkaam Ahl al-Dhimmah 1/301] Continue reading

Guidance and Striving: ibn al-Qayyim

ibn al-Qayyim mentioned the following benefit in one of his many valuable written works:

قال تعالى: {والذين جاهدوا فينا لنهدينهم سبلنا} عَلَّقَ سبحانه الهِداية بالجِهاد، فأكمل الناس هِدايةً أَعظمهم جِهادًا، وأَفْرَضُ الجهاد: جهاد النَّفْس، وجهاد الهَوَى، وجهاد الشيطان، وجهاد الدنيا، فمن جاهد هذه الأربعة في الله هداه الله سُبُلَ رِضاهُ المُوصِلَة إلى جَنَّتِه، ومَن ترك الجهاد فاتَهُ مِن الهُدى بحسب ما عَطَّلَ من الجهاد. ـ

Allah said:

وَالَّذِينَ جَاهَدُوا فِينَا لَنَهْدِيَنَّهُمْ سُبُلَنَا

And whoever strives for Us, We will surely guide them to Our ways [29:69]

Allah has linked guidance to striving, so the people with the most complete guidance are those with the greatest striving. And the most necessary type of striving is

  1. Striving against oneself
  2. Striving against one’s lowly desires
  3. Striving against the shaytaan
  4. Striving against this worldly life

Whoever strives against these four things for the sake of Allah, Allah will guide him to the paths of His pleasure which lead to His Jannah. But whoever leaves off this striving has lost out on the guidance in a measure proportional how much he neglected striving.

[al-Fawa’id pg. 59] Continue reading

Surahs Recited on Friday and Their Themes: Ibn al-Qayyim

The great scholar Ibn al-Qayyim included a long section listing the merits of Friday in his wonderful and expansive biography of the Prophet. What follows is one of those points which discusses how the surahs that the Prophet recited on Fridays as well as the sermons that he gave fit with that day and its themes:

 الثالثة والثلاثون : إنه يوم اجتماع الناس وتذكيرهم بالمبدأ والمعاد ، وقد شرع الله سبحانه وتعالى لكل أمة في الأسبوع يوما يتفرغون فيه للعبادة ويجتمعون فيه لتذكر المبدأ والمعاد ، والثواب والعقاب ، ويتذكرون به اجتماعهم يوم الجمع الأكبر قياما بين يدي رب العالمين ، وكان أحق الأيام بهذا الغرض المطلوب اليوم الذي يجمع الله فيه الخلائق ، وذلك يوم الجمعة ، فادخره الله لهذه الأمة لفضلها وشرفها ، فشرع اجتماعهم في هذا اليوم لطاعته ، وقدر اجتماعهم فيه مع الأمم لنيل كرامته ، فهو يوم الاجتماع شرعا في الدنيا ، وقدرا في الآخرة ، وفي مقدار انتصافه وقت الخطبة والصلاة يكون أهل الجنة في منازلهم ، وأهل النار في منازلهم ، كما ثبت عن ابن مسعود من غير وجه أنه قال : ( لا ينتصف النهار يوم القيامة حتى يقيل أهل الجنة في منازلهم وأهل النار في منازلهم وقرأ : ( أصحاب الجنة يومئذ خير مستقرا وأحسن مقيلا ) ) [ الفرقان : 24 ] وقرأ : ( ثم إن مقيلهم لإلى الجحيم ) ، وكذلك هي في قراءته . ـ

Point 33: That Friday is the day on which the people come together and are reminded of their origins and their ultimate return to Allah. Allah had legislated a day of the week for each ummah to dedicate to worship and to gather together to remember their origins, their ultimate return to Allah, and the reward and punishment. Through this, they are reminded of their gathering together on the greatest day of gathering together when they will be standing in front of Lord of all creation. And the most fitting day for this purpose is the day on which Allah will gather the created beings all together, which is the day of Jumu’ah.

Allah saved this day for this ummah due to its merits and virtue and so He legislated that the people should gather together on it for the purpose of obeying Him. Furthermore, He also decreed that it would be a Friday that they, as well as the other nations, will be gathered up to receive His grace [i.e. that the Day of Judgement will be on a Friday]. So it is a day of legislated gathering in the life of this world as well as the day of divinely-decreed gathering in the next life.

And by the midpoint of that Day in the hereafter – equivalent to the time of the khutbah and prayer during the worldly life – the people of Jannah will be in their final places and the people of the Hellfire will be in their final places. This is as has been authentically transmitted from ibn Mas’ood via multiple routes of transmission, who said, “It will not reach the midpoint of the day of the Day of Judgement before the people of Jannah take their mid-day nap in their ultimate dwelling places and the people of the Hellfire are in their final dwelling places” and then he recited: Continue reading